Tue
Feb 24 2009 12:02pm

In Shade and Shadow...in 60 Seconds

Bestselling authors Barb & J.C. Hendee told Tor.com that their new book, In Shade and Shadow, is the first in a new series, continuing their Noble Dead saga.

“We’re writing a ‘saga’ as opposed to a single series or multiple separate series simply set in the same world,” Barb said in an interview. “The saga is comprised of several connected series, one leading into the next. We’ve completed the first six-book series, ending with Child of a Dead God. In Shade and Shadow is the first novel of Series 2.”

The original idea for the saga came to them one night back in 2001. “We came across a notion in a book called The Vampire Encyclopedia by Mathew Bunson,” J.C. said. “It related information regarding the origins of the ‘dhampir,’ a name given by Slavonic gypsies to the child of a vampire male and a female mortal. In medieval Serbia and Yugoslavia, charlatans took advantage of this myth by pretending to be dhampirs.”

Both of them had dabbled in fiction related to the undead, and they’d always wanted to work with high fantasy as well. “The synthesis of the dhampir notion just naturally fit for us in a medieval alternative fantasy world,” Barb said. “And the readers just loved that first book, Dhampir.”

In Shade and Shadow picks up about a year and a half after series 1 finale, Child of a Dead God. “In [that volume] one of our main characters, Wynn Hygeorht the sage, found a library inside an ancient castle,” J. C. said. “The texts there were penned by vampires from a thousand or more years ago. She carries some of these out and brings them back to a small, newly created branch of her guild in Magiere and Leesil’s homeland. She is immediately given the task of taking the texts across the sea and another continent to the founding branch of the Guild of Sagecraft, her home. She is looking forward to being part of the translation team who will work on one of the greatest finds related to the Forgotten History.”

In In Shade and Shadow, Wynn is home once more in Calm Seatt, Malourné, at the guild’s founding branch on the central continent,” Barb said. “But all the ancient texts (and her own journals) have been confiscated and locked away, only to be viewed and translated by her superiors. Not only is she denied access to the texts, she is treated by her peers as mentally unbalanced. No one believes her wild tales of vampires, dhampirs, and ghosts.”

As the book begins, two young sages are returning from a local scribe shop with freshly transcribed copies of some translation work. “They are murdered in an alley,” J. C. said. “After seeing their bodies, Wynn panics and begins to fear something supernatural—something ‘undead’—is seeking information in the texts she brought back. It is willing to kill for that knowledge. When she realizes her superiors are unwilling to entertain such a notion, she quietly launches her own investigation.”

When it comes to worldbuilding, the Hendees try to stick to what is reasonable and has verisimilitude, even for a fantasy setting. “Early on, we knew people of different continents—even nations and little pocket lands—wouldn’t speak the same language or dialect,” J. C. said. “There’s no such thing as a ‘common tongue,’ and sometimes a single word misspoken or mistranslated can have a small to large, immediate or long term effect. We like to face the realistic challenges for their spice and use these to enhance character, setting, and especially plot.”

The readers’ view into the world is filtered by limited character viewpoint. “So we spend time considering what in the character’s world would affect them, from political and ideological influences, to which local business or natural resources are present or not,” Barb said.

J. C. said that magic exists in almost all fantasy works, but the Hendees’ magic is structured, difficult, and time-consuming, as such pursuits logically would be. Barb added: “There is always one of two things we use in selecting elements for our world: reason or rationale.”

2 comments
Ruby Blotzer
1. angellemarcs
I love Love LOVE the Noble Dead Series and cannot wait to read this one. It is probably the best vampire series out there, even better than that 'other' one people seem to rave about. I'll be looking forward to reading this.
Megan Messinger
2. thumbelinablues
readers just loved that first book, Dhampir
Not this reader. The new ones sound more up my alley than D&D meets B-movie Dracula, though, so you never know. May steal from my s.o. and read the first chapter. The covers are still an eyesore, though.

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