As I receive questions I’ll post some of them along with my answers here.
Icelyn says that Rincas will keep her secret but actually he doesn’t and doesn’t even seem to know why she’s missing.Icelyn starts the story with a very inflated view of herself, and basically assumes that everyone adores her, when that’s not really the case. So she thinks that of course Rincas won’t mind but he does – she’s left him in the lurch – and he complains to release some of his frustrations, but not enough to betray her secret (that she’s out with Adorane.) It’s a little clue to her general thoughtlessness, which is the way she starts.Icelyn says that 292 years is 7 lifetimes, which would mean that the average life expectancy is only 42 years old. Why so young? By contrast, she keeps saying that they are only “children” at age 17 (e.g. p.7) and won’t be marrying for many years. If the life expectancy was really 42, they’d be considered adults by a very young age, no?They have barely any medical advancements or technology, being in a very primitive society, so their life expectancy suffers. Also, many children die in childbirth, which always brings down life expectancy. But even so, you’re right, it’s a strange mix, with a holdover from western modern culture, where kids are considered kids until they’re at least 18 (and beyond!) (Also, Icelyn starts in this story being afraid of adulthood – especially being promised to Torrain, that’s her unique perspective at that moment, saying they are just kids. Adorane, for example, wouldn’t agree.)Why are they so surprised that the Wall is weak and flimsy since it’s common knowledge that the beasts can’t live at high altitudes (hence a strong Wall wouldn’t be necessary to keep them out).Because the Wall is =at a low enough altitude that they’re still afraid that there could still be something scary there. It’s at the outside border of where the Threatbelows could maybe roam, and they don’t know the exact number of feet above sea level that represents the height the Threatbelows cannot pass. Also, remember, the whole Threatbelow menace is almost just a myth to them at this point, so they don’t know all the rules and details. It’s almost like a haunted house to us. We might logically know something that should keep us from being scared, but if there are scratches and groans and creaks we are still scared.Adorane says they’ve been hunting out there for years so why has he never seen one of the Cloudies? Why was Jarvin the only one to ever be attacked/killed? And why did no one in the Kith ever talk about him being missing?Yes, the Cloudies were getting more desperate, and more hungry, and this was the first time in generations they’d come so far up the mountain. The why of it has to do with the same reason that Mountaintop was starting to be poisoned now, and not earlier. That will be explored more in the second novel.I can’t exactly pinpoint why I felt this way but the size of the Kith seemed to me to be totally incongruous with the interpersonal relationships in the Kith. It is such a tiny community and yet no one seems to really know each other or even be familiar with each other, even when they must have grown up together like siblings (e.g. Torrain and Icelyn).Growing up in a small community, I can tell you that you can definitely not be close to people even though you’re forced into proximity with them every day, and even when the pickings are slim in terms of other friends. But this distance that you’re picking up on is also part of Icelyn’s perspective. She starts out closed off from most people, close to very few. Her father, her mother, Adorane, and Belubus are about it when it comes to close relationships. She has no close girlfriends, no sister, etc. So that’s why the relationships that she forms later in the story are so significant to her. For the first time, she is enjoying a genuine community. (Plus, I’d have liked to explore all those other people in the Kith and Icelyn’s specific relationships with them, but the book is already 500+ pages long…)It’s a little odd that we never meet Catalandi.Agree, but, like I’ve said before, the book was already 500+ pages, and this wasn’t really her story! Catalandi plays a bigger role in later books.I don’t think you ever explain why Belabus was disbursed.It’s hinted at. He confronted Nicholas about Tranton’s growing influence, so Tranton targeted him and had him disbursed.I don’t quite understand why/how Icelyn has this special connection with the Anahgwin. I get why they can’t hurt her since she is a descendant of Lovely, but why can she communicate with them verbally and telepathically, etc?Icelyn doesn’t completely understand it either, and the Anaghwin can really only explain it poetically (“because we share a pulse” or “like trees whose roots have grown together”) Scientifically, it’s because Sean designed them to be able to communicate extra-verbally, with a certain hive mentality like is seen in insect colonies, only far more sophisticated. Icelyn has some secrets that will be revealed in later books that will better explain why she can tap into that communication too.It’s a little strange that the Disbursed are introduced but then totally left out of the rest of the book.They are revisited in the second novel. They didn’t have any further role to play in the story once Icelyn escaped.Lovely was actually the cause of humanity’s destruction but I don’t think that this is ever acknowledged.Yes, in a sense, she was. Her mercy saved Amp and Omathis’ lives, but doomed humanity, at least in a sense. There’s a part in the second novel where Icelyn struggles with this, and tries to reconcile herself to it. Would she choose that Lovely not set them free, and instead this entire Anaghwin / Croathus race is wiped out, if it meant that humanity was not slaughtered? Icelyn wouldn’t like that, either. It’s confusing sometimes. Both paths contain pain.But it’s a little more complicated than that, too. The second novel explores more what happened between Amp and Omathis escaping and the beginning of the slaughter of humanity. A number of events occur, actually, that push them to do what they end up doing.
For The Threat Below, why did you choose to write in first and third person, and in past and present tense?
I know it’s an unusual choice – I’ve never seen it done before, but what I was looking for was a way to tell an intimate yet larger story.
1st and third: I wanted to be able to explore this world through Icelyn’s eyes. I enjoy the immediacy of a first person perspective, but normally it would then constrain all story lines to only action where she was physically present. I had a bigger story to tell, so thus the switch to third person.
Present and past. It was feeling inherently less dramatic to do a first person perspective in past tense, as if Icelyn had already survived whatever was going on and was now safely resting somewhere and telling us about it (so how bad could it have been?) Everything she was experiencing seemed more vital and dangerous in present tense, like there was a real chance that she could die. However, the third person perspective doesn’t have the same issue, because the third person teller isn’t in the story. I don’t enjoy how third person present reads nearly as much.
I know the use of both is a choice that some may question, because it can be a little jarring at times, but that’s why I ultimately think it works well for what I was trying to accomplish. This is a big world with many different personalities and pressures and even species – multiple perspectives bashing against each other are fitting. I’m confident it was the best way to tell this particular story.