Search This Blog

Saturday, April 2, 2011

Guest Post - Tansy Rayner Roberts - Why the Creature Court

With the release of The Shattered City due for April, I have asked Tansy to give us a glimpse of why she chose to write about the Creature Court and where she got her sources for it. Tansy's first book 'Power and Majesty' had a different style of writing that took your breath away. Here is her answer:

Why the Creature Court, and what sources did I use to come up with the whole idea?

Magical courts have been a long part of the fantasy tradition - Titania and Oberon’s courts in A Midsummer Night’s dream, the Seelie and Unseelie Courts, and of course the many formalities of well-dressed vampires.  Camelot and the court of King Arthur is one of the central hubs around which fantasy orbits.  Hierarchy allows for all kinds of delicious plots to enfold, whether they are about thwarted ambition, or the heaviness of the crown.

The historical courts which are most firmly lodged in my own creative subconscious are those of Imperial Rome, brought to us by such ancient scholars as Suetonius, Tacitus and Pliny the Younger, and by modern historical novelists such as Robert Graves and Lindsey Davis.  I have a deep love of Roman history, which has brought us such wild and improbably crazy characters as Livia, Caligula, Agrippina and Nero.  It’s entirely possible that none of these people lived nearly as melodramatic lives as the historians suggest, but I choose to believe otherwise.  They now form part of an epic myth cycle all about blood and poison, sex and death, love gone wrong and families torn apart by distrust and betrayal.

I love stories about broken people who form their own dysfunctional stories, and I love court politics, and I love magic that is dark and wild and doesn’t entirely make sense.  I poured all of these things into the books that make up the Creature Court trilogy.

The Creature Court themselves are a dangerous bunch, deeply attached to their hierarchy.
The lowest are the courtesi, who can change into their animal and only have lesser powers. They cannot stay in the Court without being under the protection of a Lord.  The Lords can change into two magical forms: their animal and a more powerful, glowing version of themselves.  They can fly and fight in both forms.  The most powerful of all are the Kings, who have a third magical form, the mighty chimaera.  When Lords become Kings, they are supposed to leave behind all previous allegiances and friendships and be completely independent.  But only one King can be Power and Majesty over the whole Court, and the others are supposed to serve him.

That’s where it start getting messy.  Because the best thing about rules is the breaking of them, and it doesn’t matter how formal the structure is supposed to be, once people and their emotions get involved, messiness always ensues.

The Power and Majesty may be the leader and ruler of the Creature Court, but he also has the greatest amount of animor, a magic which can be used for great feats, but also has a tendency to push people towards corruption and emotional instability.  The most powerful are often the most paranoid... and the most damaged.  

You might have noticed a lot of male pronouns in my description!  One of the things I love to do, particularly with stories that deal with traditional fantasy tropes, is to challenge old words, and make them work differently.  In the Creature Court trilogy I have, for example, written three books about magic battles that only happen at night, without using the words ‘magic’ or ‘night’.  I also wanted to address the use of the word ‘king.’  I’m all for warrior queens in fantasy and history, but there’s no denying that the word ‘queen’ has completely different connotations to the word ‘king.’  One of the things I wanted to do with these books was to pull some of the gender associations away from the word ‘king’ so that when a woman steps up into that role, there isn’t a different word for what she is.

Girls can be kings too!  And in Shattered City (Creature Court Book Two) that’s where things really start to get complicated...

===">Tansy Rayner Roberts is the author of Power and Majesty (Creature Court Book One) and The Shattered City (Creature Court Book Two, April 2011) with Reign of Beasts (Creature Court Book Three, coming in November 2011) hot on its tail. Her short story collection Love and Romanpunk will be published as part of the Twelfth Planet Press “Twelve Planets” series in May.

This post comes to you as part of Tansy’s Mighty Slapdash Blog Tour, and comes with a cookie fragment of new release The Shattered City:

The blood did not hurt her, but Velody could feel it sticking to her fur, twitching against her nose.  She couldn’t smell anything but the blood, which was how she ended up surrounded by cats, black and silent, without warning.  She shaped into lord form, fast and fierce, glowing brightly as she hovered naked only a few inches from the rooftop.    

Ashiol changed a beat after her, hovering there with that look on his face, the one he always got soon after they had faced each other as cats and mice - as if he was reminding himself that he wasn’t allowed to eat her.



  1. I like the way that Velody can be both a great artisan, a kick arse warrior and none of it feels forced or unrealistic in the context of the Creature Court world.

  2. I agree Sean! Tansy has a very good writing style and people don't have to be just one type of person.


Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...