If you thought that the cuteness of Mary Robinette Kowal and Marie Brennan’s joint author tours begins and ends with them dressing up in period garb, then you’ve got a lot to learn. In fact, they’ve just shared their latest geeky bonding session from their tour earlier this year for (respectively) Of Noble Family and Voyage of the Basilisk: They wrote fanfic set in each other’s universes!
It all started with a giant claw. Well, no—actually, it started with porn.
These are authors who really know the ins and outs of each other’s universes—at least, enough to ask the kinds of questions that lead to bonkers what-ifs. Like when Marie asked Mary if she had ever considered the more scandalous uses of glamour, in her Glamourist Histories. To which Mary immediately responded that her protagonist Vincent had been commissioned to design a glamural depicting the gods and other mythological figures in all their rowdy glory for the debaucherous Hellfire Club.
Like any good writer, how could Marie ignore a story like that? So she wrote about Jane discovering her husband’s student “masterpiece” and posted it online:
Jane cleared her own throat, as if that would do anything to cool her face. Or, for that matter, her wits. “It is very cleverly done, nonetheless.”
“You need not flatter me, Muse.”
“Oh, I do not flatter,” she said, recovering something like equilibrium. “There are flaws, without doubt. The balance of the composition is off; the knot of figures on the grass there is much too densely placed — though I suppose if they were farther apart, they would not all be able to interact at once, as they are doing now. And although my knowledge such things is limited in the extreme, I believe there are some elements you have depicted as rather improbably large.”
Now, there was only one way that Mary got Marie to share her fanfic—and that was by returning the favor. You see, while traveling together, they got to talking about the replica dinosaur bones and claws that are part of Marie’s show-and-tell. One offhand comment from Mary about how that claw could make a nasty murder weapon, and the next thing she knew, she was introducing Lady Trent to Australia’s favorite private detective, Miss Fisher:
Running a finger along the fossil, Miss Fisher frowned at it. “And what do you make of the fossil itself?” She turned her head and her eyes widened with a delighted smile. “It is not every day that one gets to consult one of the foremost dragon naturalists in the world.”
“Flattery is not necessary, my dear. I am too old to be swayed by it.”
“And I have found that flattery is always best when it is true.” She cocked her head, long jade earrings dangling provocatively against the pale skin of her neck. “You did not earn your accolades for some other accomplishments, did you?”
I have found that peering over the rim of my glasses, while it does not allow me to see any better, does have a decided effect on the viewer. It is a small compensation for being required to wear them. In any case, I did so now. “Dragons and their cousins have been my only interest. And if you are familiar with me, at all, then you know precisely what event caused my notariety. Now as to the fossil… I suspect that the claw is outsized for the creature, but without any other evidence, I can tell you nothing about the dragon it belonged to. Although…”
“What?” She leaned forward, and the delighted curiousity was more to my taste than her honeyed words.
“The serrations on the bottom of the claw remind me a little of the Greater Lutjarran Sandwyrm, though that is much smaller. I would want to see the base of it. If you find it.”
Perhaps the best part is that Mary and Marie took two very different tacks with their fanfiction: One is a snarky, steamy “missing scene,” while the other one goes impossibly what-if, mashing up two beloved characters. What will their next book tour adventures bring?!