Welcome back to UTC, Jacqueline! We’ve been intrigued by your Kushiel’s Legacy series for years and we are so happy we finally took that huge plunge and started reading. This is such an intricate world and the way you depict it is beautiful! How did the idea of this series come about?
Thanks for the kind words, and for having me back! The Kushiel’s Legacy series emerged from a conjunction of different elements. I wanted to write an epic fantasy with a mature emotional sensibility, vibrant female characters, and lush, lyrical language. I wanted to tell a story with a vast, sweeping arc, but one that was rife with intrigue. Research I was doing into angelology for a work-for-hire project inspired the theological framework, and a trip to the south of France, where I fell in love with the landscape and the quality of the light, inspired the setting.
KUSHIEL’S DART tackles some very dark topics. As the creator, how was it getting into the mindset required to write some of these scenes?
From the first spark of inception, the character of Phèdre was who she was – a highly trained, masochistic courtesan-spy. I put a lot of thought into determining if this was an idea worth doing and if it could be done in a manner that wasn’t exploitative or sensational. Ultimately, I decided that it could be uniquely subversive to take the elements of eroticism and violence which pervade so much of our popular culture out of the subtext and put them in the foreground. I did a lot of research into BDSM to ensure that aspect was handled with integrity, which is one of the reasons consensuality is a sacred tenet in D’Angeline culture.
All of that said, there are a few sequences over the course of the series that were definitely challenging to write; I had to go to some pretty dark places, and I was glad to leave them behind.
Phedre is one of the strongest heroines I’ve read in a while. Raising from adversities and rebounding stronger than she was before. What would you say is your favorite thing about her?
No matter what happens, Phèdre never gives up. She refuses to accept the role of victim, and has tremendous resilience and inner strength that see her through betrayal and incredible hardships. Although her awesome foreign language skills run a close second!
This series also has a companion series called the Naamah Trilogy. Can you tell us a bit about this?
It’s set in the same milieu with a heroine, Moirin, who’s the opposite of Phèdre in many ways – largely untaught, wholly unsophisticated, raised in rustic isolation in Alba. I wanted to be able to look at Terre d’Ange through fresh eyes, and her character afforded me the opportunity to do so. She falls in love easily, at times unwisely, and makes mistakes that set her far-flung destiny in motion. Ultimately, I think the Naamah series has a more adventure-tale, Indiana Jones vibe to it.
If you had to describe KUSHIEL’S DART in 3 words, what would they be?
Opulent. Epic. Erotic.
What was your favorite thing about getting this story on paper?
Knowing that the story was fully told, and told well. This is bittersweet, but my great-aunt Harriett, who was an avid reader and one of my biggest supporters, passed away before the final volume in the original Kushiel trilogy was finished. At that point, the ending only existed in my head. One of Aunt Harriett’s last requests was to know how Phèdre’s story ended, and I’m so grateful that that was a gift I was able to share with her; and now that these stories exist outside me.
“When Love cast me out, it was Cruelty who took pity on me.”
In a kingdom born of angels, Phedre is an anguisette, cursed or blessed to find pleasure in pain. Sold to the Court of Night Blooming Flowers, her fate as a beautiful but anonymous courtesan was sealed. Her bond was purchased by the nobleman Anafiel Delauney, who recognized the scarlet mote in Phedre’s eye as the rare mark of one touched by a powerful deity. Under Delauney’s patronage she is trained in history, politics, language, and the use of body and mind as the ultimate weapon of subterfuge in a dangerous game of courtly intrigue.
Guided into the bed chambers of Terre D’Ange’s most influential nobles, Phedre uncovers a conspiracy against the throne so vast that even her teacher cannot see the whole of it. As her nation is besieged by invading hordes from the north, the most unthinkable threat to her beloved home comes from traitors within. Betrayed and blindsided by her own longings, only Phedre and her trusted bodyguard Josselin are left to cross borders and warring armies in a race to stop the final blow from falling.
Enter a lush world of pleasure houses, ambitious warlords, scheming courtiers, and the harsh justice of blessed deities through the eyes of a heroine like no other. Sprawling and darkly sensual, Jacqueline Carey’sKushiel’s Dart is the start of a truly original fantasy series.
We have three (3) paperback copies of KUSHIEL’S DART up for grabs!