Today, a guest post from Sharon Shinn!
Those of you who regularly read Rachel’s blog know that she has kindly written reviews of my new “Uncommon Echoes” trilogy: Echo in Onyx, Echo in Emerald, and Echo in Amethyst. For those who haven’t seen her reviews, here’s the short description of the trilogy:
In the Kingdom of the Seven Jewels, only the highest nobles are attended by echoes—creatures who look exactly like them, who move with them in perfect synchronicity, but who have no thoughts or volition of their own. Centuries ago during wartime, the echoes were a gift from the triple goddess, who bestowed them as a way to keep nobles safe from constant attempts at assassination.
But what if an echo wasn’t always exactly as it appeared—?
The trilogy was released in March by Audible.com and currently the books are only available in audio. But print and digital editions will be coming out in late June or early July for those who prefer to read the old-fashioned way (if digital counts as old-fashioned).
Rachel invited me to do a giveaway on her blog, so I’m going to give away three free download codes, one for each book. (Taken together, they do tell a single overarching story, but you should be able to read each book on its own with no trouble. If you read one of the later books first, you’ll ruin one or two surprises—but not the biggest surprises.) Let us know in the comments if you’d like to be part of the drawing, and I’ll pick names a week from now, on Monday the 20th.
To give a little more insight into the books, I thought that here I would answer three of the questions I’ve gotten most often since the audiobooks have come out.
1. Where did you get the idea for the echoes?
It’s actually hard to remember! I know I was thinking about what happens when titled nobles get married, and one person brings various servants and companions into the other person’s house, and what kind of tension that might cause. From there it was just a step or two to the concept of the echoes—companions who accompany their originals everywhere they go, from ballroom to dining room to bedroom. How would that work? Wouldn’t it be weird and awkward, at least in some situations? What kind of person would you have to be to not find it weird and awkward? Could I create a story in which echoes just seemed to be a normal part of life? And could I then create a way to disrupt that normalcy so that an echo being “different” could put my main characters in jeopardy?
When I was writing the first book, I joked that my one-sentence description of the story was “‘Orphan Black’ meets The Far Pavilions.” Maybe not quite accurate, but…
2. Why do you switch point-of-view characters in every book?
I’ve done this in almost every series I’ve written. Partly because even when I write a series, I tend to write standalone books—I wrap up the main plot and the main romance in a single story so that a reader who comes to the series at any point can still read and enjoy the book in hand. And partly because world-building is such an important part of the fantasy genre, and once I’ve gone to the trouble of building a world, I find it fun to explore it from a number of different viewpoints.
That was particularly true with this trilogy. Once I’d established the basic concept of the echoes, I wanted to look at a couple of different ways to disrupt the idea—to truly make the echoes “uncommon.” So some of the questions I tackled were: What happens if an echo dies? Would it be possible for someone to move between bodies—from original to echo to echo? Under what circumstances could an echo gain consciousness and a personality of its own? Those story ideas were so dissimilar that I wanted to work with different voices to tell each one.
3. Will you write more echo books?
Maybe! I have an idea for one—about somewhat disreputable twin sisters who pretend to be an echo and an original so they can attend fancy parties and scam the nobles. Of course, Something Goes Wrong and they get swept up in royal intrigue. Not sure yet if I’ll write it, but I think it sounds like fun.
If all that sounds intriguing, sign up today for the drawing! Thanks, Rachel, for the chance to talk about my books.