Airship Ambassador: Hi Tina, thanks for joining us for this interview.
TINA CONNOLLY: Thanks for having me!
AA: Let’s start off with your latest book. It’s now 18 years after Copperhead, what is the story of Silverblind all about?
TC: Silverblind tells the story of a grown-up Dorie, the young girl from the Ironskin books. Dorie is an Indiana Jones-type, a field naturalist. All she wants to do is go find wyverns and basilisks in the forests and learn more about them. But when no one will hire a girl to do dangerous field work, she disguises herself as a boy . . . .
AA: Why choose steampunk as the aesthetic and feel? And why the fey?
TC: The steampunk feel grew out of the setting for the first book, Ironskin. Ironskin is set five years after a Great War between the humans and the fey. I ended up doing a bunch of research on post-WW1 Great Britain, to help give the world of Ironskin a more solid foundation. Well, the fey had been supplying humans with clean energy—but trade is now completely finished. So tech was in advance of where we were in our timeline—but then it plummeted and was well behind. Humans are trying to regain all they’ve lost. So it was fun in Ironskin and Copperhead to try to find the technological balance as humans experiment with steam and gas and electricity. The tech has evened out a bit by Silverblind, and the research there is more of the biological/zoological kind.
AA: What was the motivation for creating Silverblind?
TC: When I was writing Ironskin, I thought in the back of my mind that someday I would like to tell grown-up Dorie’s story. However, when my editor at Tor bought Ironskin, she asked me if I had a sequel (because Ironskin ends, not with a cliffhanger exactly, but with it clear that Jane has a new mission.) So that sequel had to be the immediate sequel—Copperhead is set six months later, and follows Jane’s sister Helen as she helps bring about Jane’s goals. But I still wanted to tell Dorie’s story, and I’m glad I finally got to do that in Silverblind.
AA: What can you share with us about Dorie Rochart and Tam Grimsby, as the lead characters in this story?
TC: Right at the very beginning of Ironskin we learn that Dorie is actually half-fey. This has been a challenge for her, obviously, because postwar attitudes toward the fey are highly negative, like they’d probably lock Dorie up for good, just to be safe. Dorie has to keep her fey side under wraps. But being half-fey means she has some unusual powers. So when she disguises herself as a boy, she’s actually shapeshifting into boy form. This is great for getting to hunt wyvern eggs. Less great when she runs into her old friend Tam, whom she hasn’t seen in seven years, not since she did something unforgivable. And now here she is, and he doesn’t recognize her. . . .
AA: Are there any objects or things which play a major role in telling the story? Ships, devices, etc?
TC: Well, wyvern eggs turn out to be important—and the wyverns themselves. Dorie ends up with a pet baby wyvern—Woglet—who won’t leave her alone. Wyverns are cranky and steamy and yodelly—and also darling balls of silver—so Woglet was great fun to write.
AA: What are some of the interesting and important details within the world of Silverblind??
TC: I particularly loved writing about some of the art history and scientific history that Tam discusses in the books. I mean, he gets worked up and excited over figuring out how many claws basilisks are supposed to have, and I really enjoyed that right along with him.
AA: Without giving spoilers, what interesting things will readers find along the way?
TC: Pocket-sized wyverns. College taverns with large murals. Boys hunting down rumors of old fey tales. Girls finding all kinds of different ways to fight the system.
AA: Authors often talk about how elements of their own lives, the reality and the dreams, make their way into their stories. How did this play into Silverblind?
TC: Let’s see—Dorie’s friend Jack is an artist, and I studied art for awhile (and am an inveterate doodler, like Jack), so it was fun to work that in.
AA: What kind of back story is there for Silverblind which didn’t make it into the final book?
TC: Well, because it’s set 18 years after the first two books, I did a lot thinking about what happened to the characters in between. (But some of that is revealed during the course of Silverblind, so I’d rather stay away from spoilers!)
AA: Are there any plans for a fourth book or spinoff?
TC: Currently, there are not. However, a lot of people have asked for a prequel (RT Book Reviews even called that out in their review!) so if I ever come up with a brilliant idea for a novel or novella set around that time I might write that. When I was writing Copperhead, I thought it would be fun to write a spin-off about Frye, a flamboyant theatre actress in that book. And in Silverblind, Helen has twin daughters, and I imagine that jumping forward another ten years and writing their story would be interesting.
We’ll pause here in our chat with Tina Connolly,
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