THE DEATH BLEAK : For centuries he has haunted the nations, taking the blood gain further than any before him. THE PYRE : His storied stronghold deep in the Forest of Naeethe. AND I, EMBER : Sent by the Lights to stop him from becoming the one thing that all nations fear the most.
We've made it! The final week of the Summer Book Club! I hope you've been able to join in for one or two of the other books. If not, fall is a lovely season for reading!
I'm excited for us to be leaving the streets of Rhysdon and entering the cold, frozen beauty of the Pyre. There are dangers here. There are threats. Treachery and menace are closer than they've ever been.
But so is light. So is hope.
Writing The Beast of Ten was a wonderful and daunting experience. How does one address such disparity between light and dark? How is such a fate navigated? How, when your world has fallen into darkness, does one find the courage to light a single candle? The only one to answer such questions is Ember, for this is her tale.
It was quite the journey for me, as I hope it is for you. Find a cozy place, feel the slight shift in the air, and brace yourself, for it is time to read The Beast of Ten.
Hey! So you've finished your first reading of The Q? Great! I've got a wrap-up Q&A, as well as some random facts. If you haven't read The Q, there are some hints/spoilers to the plot below. You can find The Q here.
I'm glad you've made your first trip to Rhysdon, and that it was as enjoyable to read as it was for me to write! From start to finish, I had a smile on my face every time I worked on The Q. With passport in my back pocket, I eagerly toured the city, following Quincy and Arch, and was delighted with what I found there.
Here are a few questions I've been asked:
1) Where did the idea for The Q come from?
Every fall for the last several years, my friend Rose and I hold an annual Writer's Retreat in a place called Mantua. One of the first years, I was thinking about how we connect with different people, or presume to connect... As I was reclining on the couch, a very dangerous thing at a writer's retreat because naps are a real threat, I asked myself what could that look like in the 1890's, when the industrial revolution of the decades before was full steam ahead. (Forgive the pun. It was shamefully deliberate.)
And that was when I saw an image in my mind. It was of a young woman, a girl of 18, sitting at a counter with a single light illuminating her work. She was doing something with figures and profits. That was my first view of Quincy St. Claire and the offices of The Q. It didn't take long for me to discover where I was and what exactly The Q was, and then it was just a matter of getting to know the cadre of characters coming in and out The Q's front door.
That is often how I am introduced to the books. I ask a question and a door opens with an entire world behind it. Or I glimpse an image in my mind and follow it down the rabbit hole. Or a character presents themselves to me, flesh and bones, and waiting for me to find the words to set their hearts beating. And so The Q began with Quincy at her desk late at night. And I followed the trail from there.
2) Did you study printing presses before writing The Q?
I did read up on the history of the presses, yes. And then as I was hanging out at The Q, I recognized what I'd seen and overheard conversations where they discussed the presses.
3) Where did Quincy St. Claire come from?
I've had many readers say Quincy St. Claire is unlike any character they've ever met. Well. Goodness, that's just how she was from the first moment. I didn't know everything about Quincy's past until I overheard Fisher speaking with Arch. It was interesting, then, to see how many of her previous actions were reflections of that. And then her extraordinary talents shape her pointed personality. Quincy is an product of her past and her genius.
4) Is there a sequel?
There are a few things on the horizon. First, a short story that takes place a year and a half after The Q ends. I wasn't expecting to write this but one morning, there they were, having a bit of a war with words, and I was right back in.
Second, there is a companion novel. I wasn't expecting it. I don't think The Q should have a sequel in the strictest sense. But one November evening I was in the bath, a place of great inspiration for me (grin), when Crow strode into the picture of my mind. His expression announced, "I've a story for you, love." I was thrilled. I called my older sister right away (still in the bath) and said, "Crow has a book!"
It takes place three years after The Q ends. Our favorite smuggler finds himself in need of a solicitor...
5) When did Arch begin to fall for Quincy?
This is kind of a fun question, because I know the answer to this but it's never revealed in the book. James Arch had an interest in, and some degree of a crush of admiration on, Quincy St. Claire before he ever took the job as The Q's solicitor. He knew Ezekiel, Quincy's uncle, as a friend of the Arch family, and had heard of Quincy, both personally from Ezekiel and publicly as Rhysdon grew more fascinated with Quincy St. Claire. Because of these things, he was vastly impressed with her intelligence. When the opportunity presented itself to work for her, he counted himself quite lucky to have acquired the post. Not that he was expecting it to be such a difficult task. As happens when we admire someone from afar, Arch was in for a surprise as to the reality of Quincy St. Claire. Ever more impressed while somewhat baffled. But he did always think she was attractive.
6) Who is your favorite side character?
Oh, I'm quite fond of them all. Can't pick, really. Fisher is just... And everyone at The Q. Crow, dear me. Lord Arch, Mary. Priest has a special place in my heart. Any time with him, the air thick with a sharp wit and cigar smoke, was a pleasure.
A few facts:
- If you read The Ruby Prince, I mentioned how in all of my books there is some item my characters choose from my world. Well, the shared magical object that occupies both Beth Brower's world and Quincy St. Claire's world is...the red scarf. My mother gave it to me one year for Christmas. She had already bought me a gift, but on her way out of a store had seen this wonderful, vermilion red scarf. It is a favorite winter companion. So you can imagine I was thrilled when I saw right away that Quincy St. Claire owned one as well.
- Readers remark how different The Q is from The Books of Imirillia. The fun thing is that I wrote them at the same time. Often working on sections then leapfrogging into the other books, then back again. The whimsical nature of writing The Q carried its own tang, with a jaunty tilt necessary to the story.
- The moment when Quincy confesses to Arch that they have the same tailor kept me snickering all day, she was so put off by it.
- If the reader pays attention, they will see that Arch always uses charcoal grey envelopes for his stationary.
- Quincy and Fisher celebrating St. Ezekiel's day caught me by surprise. I had no idea what they'd be about, but it was a pleasure to follow them around. It's something I'd like to remember every year. Fresh lemons, anyone?
- Allowing the reader to really sink into Quincy's life was important to me. No rush, no cutting out thirty percent of the story. While there are some styles of editing that trim out all extra space for the sake of moving the plot at a hopping pace, I refused to ignore the day to day and how things wove together. It wasn't enough to tell the story of Quincy and The Q. The reader needed to live in Rhysdon, to feel as if the pages were their home, and feel bereft of its streets at the end of the book. Isn't it by noticing the small moments of a character that we understand the big decisions, after all?
Thanks for joining me for a read of The Q! If you have any other questions you'd like answered, just leave a comment below!
Next and final week? The Beast of Ten.
Spoiler Alert: This is the soundtrack for the entire book, so if you're not quite finished, beware that there might be some light spoilers ahead.
I hope you've been enjoying your time in Rhysdon! But now it's time to add some music to the mix! I've listened to this soundtrack many times but it's been a little while now, so I look forward to playing it through again. If you'd like to join me, you can find The Q's soundtrack here.
Also, I am in the process of transferring this page into a play list on Spotify (which allows you to register for free). Cheers!
Many readers have wondered where exactly is Rhysdon, as there was no map included in the book. Well, there are several clues found in the pages of the clue. It's a bit of a game. For example: James Arch, traveling to London, mentions he will be crossing both channels. That is because Rhysdon is the capital city of an island nation called Greater Rhysdon. We know from The Q that it has its own monarchy and its own government, and while there are influences similar to both England and France, it also claims its own culture. I put a map below, a temporary thing until I can work up an official map from 1898, but it gives you the location of Greater Rhysdon and its place in Western Europe. We will, of course, get to know some more details because of a current project. Until then, enjoy the map below!
Is it where you expected it to be? Let me know!