Inteview with Laurell K. Hamilton
Q:Can you give readers a foretaste of what to expect in Seduced by Moonlight?
Laurell K. Hamilton:I don't give hints about what is in a book. I have had to stop answering these kinds of questions, because I always give away something major without intending to!
Q:This book plunges more deeply than ever into the sexuality of your characters and their culture, to the extent that there is scarcely a page that doesn’t feature some variety of sexual transaction between two or more characters, some of it quite dark and violent. Can you talk a little bit about the importance of sex to the fey?
LH:I take exception to the term "sexual transaction." That implies prostitution or something else equally tawdry, and there is nothing tawdry about any of the sex in Seduced By Moonlight.
It is not that sex is so integral to fey culture, but more that they do not have the same cultural bias against it that American culture seems to have. Sex isn't sinful or bad to the fey. The second reason for the apparent obsession with sex is that whoever can produce an heir for the throne, gets the throne. I would think that would be incentive enough for anyone!
Q: I’m intrigued by the various hands of power manifested by the sidhe. Is there a mythical basis for powers like Merry’s hand of blood, or did you invent them? How do the hands of power differ from the “ordinary” magical abilities of the sidhe, such as glamour, and what awakens them? Finally, are these abilities possessed, at least potentially, by all the fey, from sidhe on down, or only some of them?
LH:The hands of power differ from ordinary magic in that you have to have at least some Sidhe blood in order to manifest them. They are really the beginning of the power that sets the Sidhe apart from the rest of the fey. So no, all fey do not have them. But the fey can do other things that the Sidhe cannot. Many of the lesser fey are better at what we would call telekinesis but used to be described as Brownies moving things around the house.
The Sidhe were supposed to have all kinds of amazing abilities, if you go back and read the mythic cycles for Ireland. Some of them were supposed to be giants who could walk from one land mass to another in a single stride or be able to tow boats. I have actually toned down the magical abilities they were supposed to possess. I couldn't figure out how to work it with actual biology.
Q:So many of the Seelie and Unseelie sidhe were once gods, yet they all, apparently, had gods of their own: Danue and her nameless Consort. Who or what are these powerful beings? Are they sidhe themselves, or something beyond the sidhe?
LH: Danue is the ancestral goddess of many Celtic peoples. She may by the same as Anu in Ireland or Don in Wales. What most people don't understand is that the Celts were tribal, which means almost every 20 miles you might have a different pantheon with similar jobs but different names or different spellings. Why Danue then?
First, because I though it would confuse the reader if I kept switching names. Second, because the Tuatha De Danaan are what the Daoine Sidhe originally were before they were forced underground and became the fey. Tuatha De Danaan means Children of the Danue. It is traditional, especially with Irish and Welsh myth and folklore, that the gods and heroes acknowledge a power, or powers, greater than themselves. They pray to the Great Goddess or God depending on the tribe and how cleaned up the monks who came later made it.
This idea that there is always something greater than yourself I think is central to understanding the myths and mindset of the Celts. It makes sure that you never get too full of yourself, because there is a greater power.
Q:One of the main plot lines running through this series is the gradual loss of power and vitality in the Seelie and Unseelie courts. This stems from long before they came to America, but seems to have accelerated since then. Magical abilities have lessened or been lost altogether, magical artifacts have vanished, and fertility has sharply declined. How much of this dwindling is the fault of the Queen of Air and Darkness and her Seelie counterpart, the King of Light and Illusion? What keeps the members of the two courts from banding together to overthrow their leaders in hopes of restoring the former glory of the sidhe?
LH:I cannot really answer this without giving away parts of the book or early books if someone hasn't read them yet. But I am going with the idea that the King or Queen is tied to the land, and the fertility of the ruler and the land are combined. If the ruler is not doing well, then the land doesn't do well, nor the people do well. I am taking what is supposed to be metaphoric in the feudal system and making it absolutely true.
As to throwing over their leaders, I think, one, they are afraid of their leaders, and two, they argue amongst themselves quite a bit. It is hard to get together and keep a secret long enough. Conspiracies are a great deal harder on a mass scale to put together if you read about actual palace coup attempts in feudal societies. Trying to do this for real is a lot harder than it sounds. You would need some of the people in power to actually help you. You don't really end up overthrowing the leadership; you just replace it with another one that is very similar.
Q:Why can’t the sidhe use magic to heal their infertility? Isn’t there a hand of power that heals?
LH:They can heal, but they cannot heal their infertility. I cannot really answer this question in more detail without giving away something that will occur later in the series. Sorry about that!
Q:Merry’s cousin and enemy, Prince Cel, is physically offstage for this book—presumably being tortured for his actions in A Caress of Twilight. At the risk of another question you can’t or won’t answer, will he be back for the next book?
LH:This one I’m happy to answer, and the answer is: I don't know. Whether or not Prince Cel appears in the next book will depend on the time frame and how much longer he has to be punished.
Q:Do you have favorites among Merry’s ever-expanding group of fey guardians and bedmates? Are they the same as Merry’s?
LH:I have my favorites, and Merry does as well. I think she makes her choice very clear as to whom she loves, whom she cares about, but she's also royal enough to know that just because you love someone doesn't mean that that is going to be the best person to be King. Merry has been raised to rule. As romantic and wonderful as it might seem to let who you love get in the way of who would be the best ruler, if you knew that your people might die and the person you love might be condemned to a death sentence if you let him rule and he was bad at it, that might be incentive enough not to let your heart answer the question for you.
Q:Will Christianity or any other human religion—or the deities and supernatural beings of those religions—play a more overt part in future books?
LH:I don't see us getting into the religious issue very much. Many of the deities for the Celts already have followers among human religion. Many of the people who are Wiccan or follow the path of Wicca are Celtic-tradition witches.
Religion is the basis for many forms of culture and mythos. I don't see the clash of particular religions as being a major issue in these books. I think what you’ll see in future books is going to be more politics, literal politics, than politics of faith.
Q:What’s next for Laurell K. Hamilton? Are there any projects going on that you’re particularly excited about?
LH:I am always excited about whatever I am doing. Seduced By Moonlight comes out in February, and I am perilously close to the end of the next Anita Blake book: Incubus Dreams, book number twelve! I am very excited about that, and it will be out in October 2004. We are working on the Anita Encyclopedia, which will have a different title: right now, the working title is Anitapedia. That is a group effort here. It is an interesting project to look at, kind of a retrospective kind of thing. Other than that, it would be nice to have time to write some more short stories, but I don't see that happening anytime soon.