First Cup of Coffee – February 11, 2020


Reader Questions on THE ORCHID THRONE

Pretty pretty page proofs (with cover flats) of THE FIERY CROWN! I’m doing my final read of this book, then going straight into writing book 3: THE PROMISED QUEEN.

(For those patiently waiting on THE FATE OF THE TALA, it’s still with my copy editor. As soon as I get it back, I’ll turn it around and get it to you!)

Sometimes readers email me questions through the contact form on the website, so I’ve decided to do a periodic Mailbag feature here on the blog, because other people in the class might have the same question. 😉 Today’s questions are about THE ORCHID THRONE.  For those who didn’t see yesterday, a chance reader happened to spot THE ORCHID THRONE at Powell’s City of Books in Portland, Oregon. They’ve been one of my favorite bookstores for a long time now – and pretty much the top priority to visit when I first went to Portland, years ago. So, seeing my book as a Staff Pick there was a real thrill!! And then the generous David D. Levine (at the behest of fellow SFWA Board Member Curtis Chen) went to Powell’s last night and snapped a pick of the shelf talker (who knew it was called that???) for me, so I could read what it said. *Blissful Sigh*

And now, on to the questions!

I’m in the middle of reading The Orchid Throne and am loving it. I have a question about how Conri was able to acquire is muscled body. As a slave for 14 – 20 years, wouldn’t he have been malnourished and therefore stunted in his growth, both in height and mass? You would have the empire feed the slaves a lot of protein, at the least. But, they wouldn’t bother, since there’s plenty more slaves from the rest of the empire, right? Wouldn’t Conri more closely resemble his father, half-starved and missing all his teeth? I know these a really picky questions, but they keep coming up in my head every time Conri’s body type is mentioned.

This is something I thought about quite a lot – and there IS a really good reason that Con, Sondra, and the others were fed decently. BUT, you find out more about it in the sequel, The Fiery Crown, and it will become important in book 3, The Promised Queen. So, I can’t tell you too much without spoilering things. The short answer is this particular group was fed well and kept in good health ostensibly to mine more vurgsten. That also left them perky enough to escape and stage a rebellion. I don’t think toothless and emaciated people would be fighting off guards and making a bid for freedom. To hint at the long answer… think about who Con is. Sondra, too, and why Ambrose joined up with them.

 

Could you give an island in our universe that corresponds to the size and shape of Calanthe? Is it, say, the size and shape of Ireland?

I can’t because this is an alternate world and, as much as possible, I try to keep away from comparisons to our world. The characters in that world don’t think of themselves in terms of how Calanthe compares to Ireland, so I don’t either. Calanthe isn’t an alternate Ireland, nor an alternate Virgin Gorda for that matter. It’s its own place, so any measurements would be in terms of that world.

 

Second, if Calanthe is the Isle of Paradise, that would suggest a tropical/semi-tropical location. Where did Tertulyn get the ice to help cool Lia

Remember that Calanthe is a island of refined pleasures, too, and part of a vast network of kingdoms even before it was acquired by the empire. There’s extensive trade and shipping, so all sorts of delicacies – including ice – can be brought in. It’s a mistake to view a world on the verge of a technological revolution as this one is as being ignorant or unable to devise solutions to simple problems like insulation. Even in our own ancient world, non-tech civilizations employed clever insulation to bring ice to the tropics.

 

Is there a map of The Orchid Throne world available, even if just a very rough first draft?

No, I don’t, Drawing maps isn’t part of my process typically, as I see the world in my head. When I have drawn maps, it’s because my editor asked for them – and in this case, she hasn’t.

 

How old is Conri?

He’s about 28, a couple years older than Lia.

 

Thanks everyone for reading! It’s really wonderful to see the excitement for this series.