Evolution Sunday: S.M. Boyce

Hello, lovely readers! It’s been a while since I posted an Evolution Thursday, and today’s is extra special. And not just because it’s Sunday. I’ve tossed out the standard questions. Today’s interview is completely unique and tailored specifically to SM Boyce and her epic fantasy series, The Grimoire Trilogy. 

Treason is the second book of The Grimoire series. When we leave Kara and Braeden in Lichgates, they have found a deserted village. It gives them some time and space away from the rest of Ourea to catch their breath. Treason picks up about a week later, and Braeden and Kara are due at a gala event.

WR: Ms. Boyce. The gala is talked about during the last third of Lichgates, so clearly you knew where you were going with the second book well before finishing Lichgates, but the plot of Treason takes off like a rocket.

What gave you the idea for The Grimoire? Did you have many of the ideas in Treason before you finished the Lichgates? Or did you take the gala piece and build off of it?

SM: I’ve been building The Grimoire Trilogy since 2006…it was one of those ideas that sparked with a single thought and then snowballed into something epic. I’ve been designing the world, which is pretty complex, all this time. In fact, I really only sat down to write Lichgates in January 2011. So that was a long time spent on designing the outlines, character sketches, and world building.

I had all three novels outlined before I sat down to write Lichgates. Now, an outline has to be flexible, and rewrites in Lichgates forced changes in the subsequent books. But I knew the general outline of Treason before I ever released Lichgates. Likewise, even though Treason released October 27, I had the full Heritage outline written long before I finished Treason.

WR: So, we can check “plotter vs pantser” off the list. What was the single thought that became The Grimoire?

SM: The Grimoire Trilogy actually started when I was a kid playing with some clay in my aunt’s basement. I started making these “spellcasters” (tripped-out wands, really). While I made them, I started fabricating these different cultures, each with their own caster. Eventually, I created special coins that gave the casters more power, and that led to other tools that gave the casters even more power. All in the course of an afternoon, mind you.

This got me thinking. What sort of people used these casters? What were they like? Where did they live? Did they have crazy pets?

Those people became the yakona in my Grimoire Trilogy. The casters disappeared as the story evolved, and I’m honestly glad I didn’t keep them. The story is stronger for it. But I still have those casters in my closet after all these years. It’s fun to go look at them now and again and see how the story evolved from some easy-bake clay and a wild imagination.

WR: I want to talk to you a little about your leads. Let’s start with Braeden. Boy, the dude can take a hit. And a kick and an insult too. And that’s just being thick-skinned. He’s a complex guy to start, but in Treason you make him face more of his demons. By the end, he’s either going to be a smear on the wall or a candidate for sainthood. Braeden thinks the former is likely, but still, he fights the good fight. Why? What’s in it for him?

SM: Yeah, Braeden is one tough man. For the longest time, even he doesn’t know why he fights. He’s spent his life running, lying, and trying to redeem himself for it. Yet when we get to Treason, he has to face what he is for the first time and truly fight against the dark nature that has ruled him since he was born. I mean, his instinct is to kill people. He enjoys murder, but hates himself for liking it. It’s a terrible curse, and he fights because he just wants to be a good person.

For ages, Braeden thought being a good person meant breaking his ties to the throne and to the family that gives him this natural propensity for murder—but when he realizes that’s not possible, he almost gives up. I think if he hadn’t met Kara, he probably would have given up. But she brings laughter and fun into his otherwise dark life, and he’s never had that before. He can trust her with anything, and he’s never had that leisure before, either. As the story progresses, he starts to discover more reasons to fight.

In his journey through Treason, Braeden learns what it will take to rule and starts to believe he has what it takes to lead the subjects he’d originally condemned as evil. For the first time in his life, he has real hope that he can overcome and truly be a good man.

WR: I think it helps that Kara’s American college student background helps. Generation Y has been taught to accept other people as they are. Most of them even seem to get it, and Kara certainly does.

Kara literally stumbled into her role as the vagabond and to her credit, she’s embraced it. And being the vagabond has bad sides, namely the ghost of the old vagabond in her head becoming vocal at inopportune moments. My question about Kara actually has to do with Deirdre (a soul-stealer) as well. In Lichgates, Kara’s dad was about to tell her something important before he met a gruesome fate. Kara seems to have forgotten. When will we come back around to the family’s secret and how will it impact the story?

SM: As you all remember from early on in Lichgates, Kara’s father told her to find a small wooden chest that he’d hidden in a photo cabinet near the stairs. She did find it, if you recall, but Deidre interrupted her chance to open it.

I know the chest from Kara’s father is something that seemed left unresolved in Lichgates, but I promise it was entirely intentional. Kara certainly didn’t forget the chest, but she never had an opportunity to go back and get it because Carden’s men kept a close watch on her old rental home. In Treason, though, we finally see what’s in the chest…and discover what it means.

WR: Before we go, I want to talk a little about the Blood heirs. You’ve mentioned Braeden’s growth. He used to hate what he was, but he’s coming to understand that there’s more to him and to the role he plays. Other Blood heirs are changing in ways that would surprise other people. Gavin, the young Blood of Hillside, in particular, but also Aurora, the Kirelm heir, who I feel has been criminally underestimated by everyone. Is this indicating a change in Ourea’s power structure, or is this just what happens when these kids come into their own?

SM: This is an incredibly insightful question, and you’re spot on. War changes lives, especially those who lead during tumultuous times. On top of that, each generation brings with it its own distinct set of beliefs, strengths, and weaknesses. The youth of a nation will bring with them new ideologies and methodologies when they take over. So with all of these factors combined, we see the power shifts that shape Ourea’s future and emerging leaders.

It’s clear that the power structure that has existed to this point hasn’t worked. Not really. Ourea has been at war for thousands of years but it’s always been behind the scenes. This is really the final war. It’s the first all-or-nothing fight that’s included every major player in the kingdoms, and that pressure is changing the way the Bloods think.

WR: I typically ask a list of questions during Evolution Thursday, but today I have just one. After Treason, there will be Heritage, the conclusion of The Grimoire Series. But what’s next? What story idea is sitting in the class right now, raising his hand madly, begging you to call on him?

SM: Oh man, and he is waving his hand like mad.

I actually have a crazy little plan: I’m going to write Heritage and the first in my new series—an urban fantasy/fairytale blend called Wispvine—at the same time. They’ll both release in Fall 2013. After that, I’ll release 2 books a year: one novella from the Grimoire Trilogy, and one more novel in the Wispvine series. It’s a tall order, but I think I can do it!

I only have about three novellas planned for the Grimoire Trilogy bonus journals, but about five prepared for Wispvine. That means once I finish the Grimoire books, I’ll probably switch to a third series I have brewing in the back of my mind: a paranormal horror with ghosts, ghouls, and demons that will keep you up at night. H’oh boy, I can’t wait for that one!

Me: Neither can I. It’s been lovely having you here today. Lovely readers, keep your eyes out for Treason. It’s an awesome ride.

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