I adore gems. Did you ever see the animated movie, The Secret of NIMH? There’s a character of a magpie who likes, as he calls them, “Sparklies.” Yup. Me, to a “T”. When we started writing the Persis Chronicles, we decided to name the different Keeps, which are essentially universities, after gems and precious stones. As time went on, there’s even a difference between the Gem Keeps and the Stone Keeps, with the Gem Keeps perceived to be higher class or more desirable.
The next book in the Persis Chronicles is Sapphire Dream, and Rachel and I are working on final edits now so we can submit it for consideration (so please, keep your fingers crossed). The story is about a young man named Cheula, whose first Contract didn’t go as planned. The man with whom he Contracted was abusive and, while Cheula wanted the time to be a success, it didn’t work out and Cheula had to call the Seekers, equivalent to the police.
The most interesting part, for me, about writing this one is that there’s several elements that are directly out of real life – domestic abuse, independence, being willing and able to ask for help, and how to manage home relationships and sexuality. Weaving those kinds of real-world things into a story is fun and rewarding because it makes it more real to me. The characters become real people in the process.