As anyone who’s ever been stuck in traffic will tell you, it’s not really conducive to creative thought. But in the following email interview with writer K. Eason about her new novel How Rory Thorne Destroyed The Multiverse (hardcover, Kindle), she explains how being stuck on L.A.’s infamous 405 led her to write what she calls “a feminist fairy tale in space.”
I always like to start with an overview of the plot. So, what is How Rory Thorne Destroyed The Multiverse about?
A princess, blessed (and cursed) by fairies at her birth is betrothed to a prince in a distant land (space station) and, upon arrival, runs afoul of her evil stepfather’s political aspirations and has to rescue herself and her prince with her wits and a little math-magic.
Where did you get the idea for How Rory Thorne Destroyed The Multiverse and how did the story evolve as you wrote it?
It began in traffic on the 405 in L.A. It was hot, the cars were crawling along. In an effort to distract my husband and save his blood pressure (who, brave man, was driving) I said, “You know what we need? A feminist fairy tale in space. Where the fairies are aliens. And one of them is punk.” …and so, Rory was born. Originally, I wasn’t thinking of a novel; I’d gotten as far as imagining Rory’s birth and the naming scene with the fairies. It was only when I reached the end of the first chapter that I realized it was a chapter, and I had a book on my hands.
So is How Rory Thorne Destroyed The Multiverse a feminist fairy tale fantasy space opera? Or are there other genres at work in it as well? Because “feminist fairy tale fantasy space opera mystery puppet show with cheese” has a nice ring to it.
That’s a fair description: feminist fairytale fantasy space opera. No puppets. No cheese. There is curry, however, and soup, and ubiquitous coffee.
You previously wrote the Bones Of Gods trilogy [Enemy, Outlaw, and Ally], as well as numerous short stories. Are there any writers that were a big influence on How Rory Thorne Destroyed The Multiverse but not on anything else you’ve written?
William Goldman’s The Princess Bride and Neil Gaiman/Terry Pratchett’s Good Omens, and Pratchett separately for the Discworld novels. Also, Robin McKinley’s Beauty, which I found pretty young and which led me down the path of fairy-tale retellings.
How about such non-literary influences as movies, TV shows, and video games; did any of them have a big impact on How Rory Thorne Destroyed The Multiverse?
Now, How Rory Thorne Destroyed The Multiverse is the first of two books in a duology you’re calling The Thorne Chronicles. What is the other book going to be called and when will it be out?
The working title is An Invasion Of Arithmancy, and it’s scheduled for fall of 2020.
Cool. What was it about this story that made you feel it should be a duology as opposed to a really long novel or a trilogy or whatever a five-book series is called?
I hadn’t planned for the second book; I wrote Rory originally as a stand-alone. When my agent was shopping it around, various editors expressed interest in a sequel, so…there we have it.
So then when in the process of writing How Rory Thorne Destroyed The Multiverse did you come up with the story for the second book?
Well after its completion. Maybe six months? I had this raggedy draft of a short story involving the characters that took place after the end of Rory about a space-piratey adventure in which Rory herself was more of a supporting cast member, and I decided to make it into the first chapter. (In the manuscript now, that short story is disbursed among several chapters, none of the them first, and Rory’s a main character. Drafting is weird.)
And when you were writing the second book, did you come up with anything of major consequence that prompted you to change something in How Rory Thorne Destroyed The Multiverse?
There are more xeno species in the second book, and more xeno-human interactions, so I had to seed those species into the first story without drawing too much attention to them.
As you know, some people will wait until the second book comes out before reading How Rory Thorne Destroyed The Multiverse, and some of them will then read both books back-to-back. But is there a reason you think they shouldn’t wait?
You should read How Rory Thorne Destroyed The Multiverse now because it’s fun! And also, because it’s about personal agency, and how making small choices can add up to Big Things(tm). That’s important on a good day, but it’s especially timely now, because it’s easy to feel powerless in the general trash fire of US (world) events.
Finally, if someone enjoys How Rory Thorne Destroyed The Multiverse, what similar book of someone else’s would you suggest they read while waiting for An Invasion Of Arithmancy to come out?
I mean, if you have not read The Princess Bride, go out and do that. But go find all the fairy tale recastings and retellings, too. Robin McKinley, Catherynne Valente, Aliette de Boudard, Janet Yolen, Erzebet Yellowboy, all the editions of Cabinet-des-feés (to name a few).