Writer, author, and noted agnostic Robert Green Ingersoll once said that, “In nature there are neither rewards nor punishments; there are consequences.” And no one learned that the hard way like Rory Thorne, the main character in K. Eason’s fairy tale-infused sci-fi novel How Rory Thorne Destroyed The Multiverse. But the consequences of Rory’s actions in Destroyed weren’t just limited to the follow-up novel, How The Multiverse Got Its Revenge; they’re continuing in Eason’s new one, Nightwatch On The Hinterlands (hardcover, Kindle), even though it takes place many, many years later (funny how that works). In the following email interview, Eason discusses what inspired this new story, including how it is also not the end of the story.
I’d like to start with some background. We went in deep on the two novels of The Thorne Chronicles in previous interviews [which you can read here and here], but for people who hate clicking links, what were How Rory Thorne Destroyed The Multiverse and How The Multiverse Got Its Revenge about and when and where did they take place?
The Thorne Chronicles are about power and privilege — the costs of those things, the responsibility, and sometimes the inevitability.
How Rory Thorne Destroyed The Multiverse was about the princess Rory Thorne, who dodged an arranged marriage, rescued the prince, and then ran off to Not Be A Princess(tm) and pay no attention to politics…while also started a civil war that spills out into a human-space spanning conflict. How The Multiverse Got Its Revenge was about what happens when Rory encounters the consequences and ramifications of that war and has no choice but to recognize the effects she’s had on the politics she’s been avoiding. While salvaging a ship, she discovers there’s a whole set of xenos out there she knew nothing about, and they’re having their own wars…and they’ve started dealing with one faction of the human civil war, as well. She has to negotiate, if not a peace, then at least a deferment for a war she is sure humanity cannot win. She helps create an alliance of other, friendl(ier)y xenos and humanity — the Confederation — and at the very end, is taking steps to unify that alliance into something that can stand against the encroaching and aggressive vakari Protectorate.
And then what is Nightwatch On The Hinterlands about, when and where does it take place, and how is it connected, both chronologically and narratively, to The Thorne Chronicles?
Nightwatch takes place about century after the Thorne Chronicles. The war Rory feared finally happened, oh yes it did, and while humanity did not lose…they did not exactly win, either. An arithmantic miscalculation has torn a long tear in the aether, and monsters that live in the very, very deep layers have come spilling out. This tear, The Weep, cuts through planets as well as interstellar space, and it is on one of those planets that this story takes place.
Nightwatch is a much smaller story — the politics are local, rather than galactic.
Now, in the interview we did for Revenge, you mentioned writing a book which would be, “…set in the future that comes out of Rory’s (and her friends’) decisions in Rory and Revenge.” I assume Nightwatch On The Hinterlands is that book…
Oh yeah, this is it.
So then where did you get the idea for Nightwatch On The Hinterlands?
Truth? A D&D game I played in a few years ago, run by my best friend — it had some fantastic character dynamics I wanted to explore, and creepy monsters. But I’d also been bingeing BBC procedurals, and I had mysteries on the brain, so I decided to see if I could make those elements fit together…in space. At which point I realized I already had arithmancy and alt-science with the Thorne Chronicles, so…there we go. (Nightwatch was conceived of, and actually drafted, before Multiverse).
How Rory Thorne Destroyed The Multiverse and How The Multiverse Got Its Revenge were fairy tale fantasy space operas. Is Nightwatch On The Hinterlands one as well?
Oh, the genre question….hmmm. Space-fantasy-mystery with a big side of horror.
Are there any writers, or maybe specific stories, that had a big influence on Nightwatch On The Hinterlands but not on How Rory Thorne Destroyed The Multiverse and How The Multiverse Got Its Revenge?
Not particularly — I mean, everything I read goes into the pot, as it were, but I can’t point to any in particular.
How about such non-literary influences as movies, TV shows, or games? Did any of those have a big influence on Nightwatch On The Hinterlands?
Dungeons & Dragons, Mass Effect, and Halo for sure.
And how about Tinycat? What influence did your cat — who, I assume, is either super small or really big and really into irony l — have on Nightwatch On The Hinterlands?
She is tiny. And despite her conviction that she is, in fact, the center of the multiverse, she had no particular influence, except that Iari has cats, and I needed cat names quick, and she was the one in the room with me at the time.
To go back to the aforementioned interview for Revenge, when talking about the book that may or may have become Nightwatch On The Hinterlands, you said, “I hope [this] becomes more of a series.” Is Hinterlands the first book in a series?
There’s a sequel to Nightwatch forthcoming in 2022, Nightwatch Over Windscar, but I have no hard plans for more after that. (Or even nebulous plans, at the moment.)
So then do Nightwatch On The Hinterlands and Nightwatch Over Windscar form a duology like How Rory Thorne Destroyed The Multiverse and How The Multiverse Got Its Revenge did?
Yes, they do.
As we’ve been discussing, Nightwatch On The Hinterlands is set in the aftermath but also well after the events of The Thorne Chronicles. What do you think someone will get out of Hinterlands if they’ve previous read The Thorne Chronicles that they won’t if this is the first book they’ve read?
They will have prior experience with all the xeno species for sure, and possibly opinions that may be challenged or complicated by the characters and events in Nightwatch. They will understand the origins of the Aedis nanomecha, too.
Earlier I asked if Nightwatch On The Hinterlands had been influenced by any movies, TV shows, or games. But to flip things around, do you think Nightwatch On The Hinterlands would work as the basis for a movie, show, or game?
It might be a good limited series on one of the streaming services, if it could be animated. I don’t think it’d work at all as live-action. It’s too involved for a single film, and the story is pretty fixed for gameplay. It has a lot of interiority, though, which I think would be tough to translate onto a screen.
And if someone wanted to do that, who would you want to do the voices of Iari, Gaer, and the other main characters?
Honestly, I don’t know. Jennifer Hale or Claudia Black for Iari. Travis Willingham or Steven Barr for Char because they can hit that super deep, vaguely menacing tone. I have no idea for Gaer, honestly…Liam O’Brien or Matthew Mercer have the vocal flexibility to make him sound like his mouth-parts are very different from standard mammal. Marcus Mauldin would be a great Corso.
Finally, if someone enjoys Nightwatch On The Hinterlands, what book of someone else’s that mixes fairy tales and science fiction would you suggest they read next?
I just read an advanced copy of this amazing debut by Ciel Pielot called Bluebird that has, not a fairy tale vibe, but a mix of magi-tech and adventure and fantastic characters. Very nonstop action. You’ll have to wait for February, though, sorry (but go pre-order).
I also read and loved Network Effect by Martha Wells. Then I went and read everything she wrote; that took me most of the winter. I loved Rebecca Roanhorse’s Black Sun, and Arkady Martine’s A Desolation Called Peace, too.