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Powell's Q&A

Jacqueline Carey

Describe your latest project.
Kushiel's Justice continues the adventures of Imriel de la Courcel, scion of the realm's greatest traitor, adopted son of its greatest heroes. It centers around a white-hot secret love affair between Imriel and his royal cousin Sidonie. Knowing that the realm would be torn apart by their liaison, they choose duty over passion, and Imriel weds the Alban princess to whom he's betrothed. While Imriel struggles to learn to love his new wife, the intensity of his feelings for Sidonie doesn't fade; and in Alba, he becomes the target of mysterious forces who seek to use his passion for her to bind him against his will.

It's unabashedly over-the-top romantic. Not in a way that will give my manly-men readers girl cooties, but in a Princess Bride sort of "I don't mind hearing about the kissing so much, Grandpa" way.


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Introduce one other author you think people should read, and suggest a good book with which to start.
I always recommend Guy Gavriel Kay to fans of my books. He's one of the few fantasy writers who creates mythologies with a genuine sense of the numinous, and his characters are complex and emotionally mature. His standalone novel Tigana is a good introduction to his work.

How did the last good book you read end up in your hands and why did you read it?
A screenwriter on one of my writing lists, Eric Heisserer, recommended a series of graphic novels called Y: The Last Man. I trust his taste, so I gave it a try and got hooked. They're based on the premise that all the men in the world but one, an escape artist named Yorick, have been killed by a mysterious plague. It might not sound like it, but they're clever and fun.

What makes your favorite pair of shoes better than the rest?
They're adorable! And I feel extra-sexy wearing them.

What is your astrological sign? If you don't like what you were born with, to what sign would you change and why?
Libra — the only sign in the Zodiac represented by an inanimate object! But given the chance, I wouldn't switch. I like the whole balance, harmony and appreciation of beauty deal, and we're not as indecisive as advertised.

Describe the best breakfast of your life.
Mimosas and a perfectly poached, velvety-soft egg served over a light, flaky biscuit with a red wine reduction sauce at the North Pond restaurant in Chicago. Since then, I've learned to poach a pretty mean egg, but I haven't tackled the sauce and I'm hopeless as a baker.

What is your favorite indulgence, either wicked or benign?
An ice-cold, dry vodka martini, up, with an olive.

Who are your favorite characters in history? Have any of them influenced your writing?
When I was young, I developed a crush on Alexander the Great after reading Mary Renault's Fire from Heaven and The Persian Boy. In fact, the opening line of Kushiel's Dart is a deliberate homage to the latter, which was actually the first grown-up novel I read. I suspect it gave me a permanent fascination with history and mythology and a propensity for writing larger-than-life characters.

Recommend five or more books on a single subject of personal interest or expertise.

Five Books I've Read at Least Five Times

The Bone People by Keri Hulme. Beautiful and brutal. I once traveled for a week with nothing to read but this book. I read it over and over and never tired of it.

Watership Down by Richard Adams. I'll take Bigwig's last stand in the burrow over Leonidas and the Spartans at Thermopylae any day. This was the last book my mother read out loud to me when I was a kid. It took many long summer afternoons. As soon as she finished, I started reading it myself.

The Horse of Selene by Juanita Casey. It has passages so damn beautiful they make me cry every time.

Little, Big by John Crowley. This is one of the most gorgeously constructed stories I've ever read, and the ending fills me with wonder.

Peter and Wendy by J. M. Barrie. The original story is a lot more sophisticated and subtle than many people realize. I have a beautifully illustrated copy that belonged to my grandmother. My favorite plate is the scene where Peter thinks, "To die will be an awfully big adventure." spacer

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