Mortal Heart by Robin LaFevers
(His Fair Assassin, #3)
Release Date: November 4, 2014
Publisher: HMH Books for Young Readers; 464 pages
Annith has watched her gifted sisters at the convent come and go, carrying out their dark dealings in the name of St. Mortain, patiently awaiting her own turn to serve Death. But her worst fears are realized when she discovers she is being groomed by the abbess as a Seeress, to be forever sequestered in the rock and stone womb of the convent. Feeling sorely betrayed, Annith decides to strike out on her own.
She has spent her whole life training to be an assassin. Just because the convent has changed its mind doesn't mean she has...
Robin LaFevers was raised on a steady diet of fairy tales, Bulfinch’s mythology, and 19th century poetry. It is not surprising she grew up to be a hopeless romantic.
Though she has never trained as an assassin or joined a convent, she did attend Catholic school for three years, which instilled in her a deep fascination with sacred rituals and the concept of the Divine. She has been on a search for answers to life’s mysteries ever since.
While many of those answers still elude her, she was lucky enough to find her one true love, and is living happily ever after with him in the foothills of southern California.
In addition to writing about teen assassin nuns in medieval Brittany, she writes books for middle grade readers, including the Theodosia books and the Nathaniel Fludd, Beastologist series. You can learn more about those books at www.rllafevers.com.
Where you can find Robin:
Website | Twitter | Facebook | Goodreads | Pinterest | Tumblr
Going on a book tour to promote your book, what’s been the greatest thing that’s happened to you in the past and what are you looking forward to for you upcoming tour to promote Mortal Heart?
Unquestionably, meeting all the amazing readers, booksellers, and book bloggers! My lord, what an amazing community to be a part of! Truly, I have the coolest job on the planet!
I do have to say, another great moment from the last tour was having dinner with my publicist just before an event in Boston when we both got the news that DARK TRIUMPH had made the NYT Bestseller list! I was absolutely gob-smacked—making the list wasn’t even on my radar, so it was a huge deal, and to be able to share it with my publicist and publisher just made it all the sweeter.
What was the easiest about writing Ismae, Sybella and Annith, individually and what is probably the most difficult thing about writing each character?
The easiest about writing three different girls was being able to start each book with a fresh new character arc and a sense of embarking on a whole new adven-ture rather than trying to draw out one story over three books. Also, the clarity with which I saw each girl. They were all so real and individual to me, right from the moment of inception. And then, the need to know more—about them, their circumstances, where they’d come from and how they’d behave when backed into a corner—that desire to know more about them pulled me through the writing of each of their stories.
The hardest part was making sure their individual voices made it onto the page. I mean, they were so completely different when I heard them in my head, but I needed to be certain that I captured that for the readers. Writing about teen girls in the middle ages with its conventions and world view and trying to stay authentic to that automatically restricts your language and word choices. And then I had to create three separate voices within those restrictions and make sure they were distinct enough that they felt individual to the readers. For example, Ismae was the least educated and least complicated thinker of the three. She was the daughter of a turnip farmer, after all! So her voice was simpler (not less smart, just less formal) and more straightforward. Plus she was always looking for chances to use her newfound skills, which found its way into her voice.
Sybella on the other hand, had much more formal education and had a more refined upbringing, so her voice reflected that both in her vocabulary, her education level, and the way she moved through the world from a more privileged position. But she also had much, much darker thoughts and was filled with more complex emotions than Ismae was.
Annith had an extensive education, like Sybella, but it was convent based rather that from the secular world, so that colored her voice. She was also much more pious than the other two, her faith having sustained her from an early age, so that was a component of her voice as well.
Also, starting from scratch with each new book was hard, especially while on such a tight schedule. There was a lot of getting to know each of the girls and their love interests and that took time. I couldn’t just pick up where I’d left off.
When the story idea came to you, were you originally planning on writing each book about a different character with the same story going on throughout each one? And if so, were they in the order that we got or did you originally think a different order?
About twenty pages into Grave Mercy I knew that I would be telling the three girls’ stories. I was so intrigued by the sheer possibilities of who might end up at the convent—what sorts of girls, what their circumstances might be, what twist of fate had landed them at the convent, and then how all of that would have shaped them as people.
And yes, because of the nature of the events of their individual stories, I absolutely knew the order I would tell them in right from the beginning.
What kind of emotions and nerves are you feeling with the final book just about to come out in less than a month? What’s it like completing a trilogy?
Oh god. I am feeling ALL THE NERVES and ALL THE EMOTIONS. Especially since the first trade review of Mortal Heart wasn’t in love with it. Luckily, Mortal Heart has received three starred reviews since then, so I’ve resumed breathing again.
I worry that readers will be satisfied with the way I’ve ended the story. I get, intellectually, that you can’t please all the readers all the time, but it’s hard when you let people down, so I dearly hope that as many of them as possible like the way I’ve concluded things.
Also, I will not lie. Completing a trilogy is, for me at least, exhausting. I’ve always been fairly prolific, but these books—especially the third one—were far longer and more complex than anything else I’d ever written. The time constraints really put my muse through her paces. She is now hiding away in a mountain retreat, recuperating. :-)
Out of all three books, what is your absolute favorite scene that you wrote? Ex-cluding spoilers, of course.
Gah! All of my favorite scenes are spoilers—because by their very nature, spoilers are intense, change-everything type of scenes, which are so rewarding to write. But other than those, I’m going to have to say that any scene with Sybella and Beast, Annith and Balthazaar, or Ismae and Duval was great, great fun. I love writing the interaction between strong women and men who are not only worthy of them, but worthy opponents.
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