I’ve read the first two books in Tracy Townsend’s Thieves of Fate series so far, and my favorite thing about them is the relationships between the characters, so I’m super excited to have a guest post from the author today about that exact thing! I love finding books that have strong bonds between characters, so I found her thoughts really interesting, and hopefully you will too. To celebrate the release of the second book this week, check out what Tracy has to say below, and be sure to check out The Nine and The Fall as well!
Growing up, most of my friends were boys. This wasn’t because of any internalized misogyny of “I’m not like other girls” or “I don’t get girls.” I did get other girls, and like them. I just didn’t find many of the ones who would be most important in my life until college or well after. Being “among the guys” was just a side-effect of having an older brother, and male cousins, and the hand-me-downs that go with both.
Growing up around boys teaches you a surprising amount about love. That shouldn’t be a surprise, yet people are often baffled when I tell them this. Perhaps it’s because of the deeply-ingrained American idea of rugged male aloofness: that men are meant to be stoic, stolid barriers to emotions beyond bravado. I only appreciate how wrong that is because the boys and men I grew up around showed me, and each other, so many kinds of love. I have to thank them for that; it taught me how to write about anything but romance.
Don’t get me wrong. I have great respect for romance, both as an experience and as a genre. My mother read romance novels voraciously. Their happily ever after (or ever after-ish) endings were a balm to the wounds she dragged home after long hours working as a nurse in an oncology unit or neonatal ICU. We need stories of love going right, of people pairing off and finding their other halves. They help us believe in the good in the world. But I rarely write about romantic love, because the pairing off I feel most confident portraying is what I saw among those many male friends (and some of my own friendships with women).
I write bromance. I write frenemies. I write Platonic pairs, and “work spouses,” and found families of oddballs and misfits. I write people who are so opinionated and problematic that when they meet each other, they can’t help but eventually have a moment where they regard each other in silence and nod, thinking, “Well, all right then. You’re it, aren’t you? The only one who will put up with me.”
I write a lot of love into my books, but only some of it involves kissing.
The two great “romances” of my series aren’t between lovers at all. One is between a foster father and his ward, two wounded, wary people who thought they needed no one, until they found each other. The other is between two brothers-in-arms who are more old marrieds than working partners: familiar with each other’s every fussy habit and complaint, they are the Felix and Oscar of mercenary duos, absolutely imperfect for each other.
I call these relationships romances because they fit the definition, deep down in their marrow. They are relationships built on deep attraction and need, like calling out to like. The Alchemist and Rowena; Anselm and the Alchemist. Theirs are stories about love. The tenderness a parent feels for a child is its own kind of romance — a passionate desire to protect, and nurture, and reward. The intimate understanding of an old, complicated friendship, too, fits the bill. It is two beings who complete something in each other, sometimes enough that they can speak without words. We sell human connections short when the only romances we care about are those that involve physical chemistry and bodily actions.
Of course, there’s a bit of kissing in my most recent book, too. Who am I to ignore that side of human nature? The secret liaisons between the kept woman and her benefactor. The lesbian Dr. Frankenstein and her shady ex-police inspector partner. The poisoned caress of a leader who has burrowed into her followers’ deepest trust.
Well. No one ever said love had to be simple — just damned important.
About the Series
In the dark streets of Corma exists a book that writes itself, a book that some would kill for…
Black market courier Rowena Downshire is just trying to pay her mother’s freedom from debtor’s prison when an urgent and unexpected delivery leads her face to face with a creature out of nightmares. Rowena escapes with her life, but the strange book she was ordered to deliver is stolen.
The Alchemist knows things few men have lived to tell about, and when Rowena shows up on his doorstep, frightened and empty-handed, he knows better than to turn her away. What he discovers leads him to ask for help from the last man he wants to see—the former mercenary, Anselm Meteron.
Across town, Reverend Phillip Chalmers awakes in a cell, bloodied and bruised, facing a creature twice his size. Translating the stolen book may be his only hope for survival; however, he soon realizes the book may be a fabled text written by the Creator Himself, tracking the nine human subjects of His Grand Experiment. In the wrong hands, it could mean the end of humanity.
Rowena and her companions become the target of conspirators who seek to use the book for their own ends. But how can this unlikely team be sure who the enemy is when they can barely trust each other? And what will happen when the book reveals a secret no human was meant to know?
An apothecary clerk and her ex-mercenary allies travel across the world to discover a computing engine that leads to secrets she wasn’t meant to know–secrets that could destroy humanity. Eight months ago, Rowena Downshire was a half-starved black market courier darting through the shadows of Corma’s underside. Today, she’s a (mostly) respectable clerk in the Alchemist’s infamous apothecary shop, the Stone Scales, and certainly the last girl one would think qualified to carry the weight of the world on her shoulders a second time. Looks can be deceiving. When Anselm Meteron and the Alchemist receive an invitation to an old acquaintance’s ball–the Greatduke who financed their final, disastrous mercenary mission fourteen years earlier–they’re expecting blackmail, graft, or veiled threats related to the plot to steal the secrets of the Creator’s Grand Experiment. They aren’t expecting a job offer they can’t refuse or a trip halfway across the world to rendezvous with the scholar whose research threw their lives into tumult: the Reverend Doctor Phillip Chalmers. Escorting Chalmers to the Grand Library of Nippon with her mismatched mercenary family is just a grand adventure to Rowena until she discovers a powerful algebraic engine called the Aggregator. The Aggregator leads Rowena to questions about the Grand Experiment she was never meant to ask and answers she cannot be allowed to possess. With her reunited friends, Rowena must find a way to use the truths hidden in the Grand Library to disarm those who would hunt down the nine subjects of the Creator’s Grand Experiment, threatening to close the book on this world.
About the Author
Tracy Townsend is the author of The Nine and The Fall (books 1 and 2 in the Thieves of Fate series), a monthly columnist for the feminist sf magazine Luna Station Quarterly, and an essayist for Uncanny Magazine. She holds a master’s degree in writing and rhetoric from DePaul University and a bachelor’s degree in creative writing from DePauw University, a source of regular consternation when proofreading her credentials. She is the former chair of the English department at the Illinois Mathematics and Science Academy, an elite public boarding school, where she teaches creative writing and science fiction and fantasy literature. She has been a martial arts instructor, a stage combat and accent coach, and a short-order cook for houses full of tired gamers. Now she lives in Bolingbrook, Illinois with two bumptious hounds, two remarkable children, and one very patient husband. You can find her at Twitter @TracyATownsend, and online at www.tracytownsend.net.