Petrichor Deep Dive
Good god, we’re already in April. How the hell is this year going by so fast? It feels like it was just yesterday that I was starting this blog with a hope and a prayer behind me. I think it’s safe to say by now that it’s going… well? Perhaps that’s just going to jinx things. Either way, let’s carry on with the topic du jour and talk about Petrichor, the third and final book in the main portion of The Tempest Series.
Let’s get started!
So, we’re at the point in the series now where it’s pretty damn hard for me to avoid spoiling things for those who haven’t read the previous books. Ideally, all of you reading this are devoted fans who have devoured all of my work ten times over (XD), but for those of you who haven’t gotten caught up on this particular series, bear with me and cover your ears.
Petrichor takes place a scant few weeks after the cataclysmic events of Deluge. Aisling is dead, Avenir is re-dead, and Corbet is stuck with a throne in a Court that hates and fears him in equal measure. Ruari, who he now remembers, is estranged from him in all but name; they can’t be public about their relationship being on the mend for fear of how it might affect them politically, and the Twins, Unseelie advisors to Avenir first and Corbet now, are clearly scheming to take what they view rightfully belongs to them. Enemies lurk behind every door, and Corbet, poor bastard that he is, just wishes his one island in the storm didn’t live so far away.
This book is… probably one of the darkest in the series, and is definitely the darkest in the main trilogy that makes up the core story of Ruari and Corbet’s romance. I always feel a smidge of guilt over that as I don’t think Brontide is all that tonally comparable to its later works. I think most of my regular readers expect me to be fairly inclined towards darker content at times, either in terms of gore, emotional turmoil, or horror elements in general, but Petrichor was only my third work. I wonder if it blindsided anyone, or if Deluge was dark enough to prepare people before we took the plunge into this and Apricity after it…
Out of all of them, I think this is the book with the best overall plot progression, if not overall execution, but I think a lot of that has to do with me being firmly lodged in the Tempest world at this point. I knew the world thoroughly at this point, had two books under my belt, and was more confident in my ability to execute complicated plots—though at this point, I think Petrichor is woefully straight forward compared to some of my more recent work. We still had a solid, tangible “villain” in this one, or should I say villains? I think I set my focus on being creative in terms of my characters and world building instead of making the plot harder to predict. It’s not a bad thing, but something I can’t help but notice when I look back at this book now.
But I’m just rambling at this point. If there’s one thing I think I should talk about when it comes to Petrichor, it’s not the tone or the plot: it’s the characters. Namely, our antagonists and our hero, who, for those who have read this book, is not Corbet or even Ruari. It’s Breena, and oh boy, do we need to talk about Breena.
The villains first though.
So. Maol and Muire. The Twins. Christ, where to start with these two? It’s not often I write characters I specifically want the audience to hate unabashedly, but man, these two were the first to get that dubious honor from me. It’s been so long that I can’t even tell you guys why I chose to make them twins. If I had to guess now, it was probably because of the creepiness of the speech pattern I ended up giving them. I was trying really hard to think of interesting concepts for the fae, and one of the first questions I pondered was “How are they born?” I ended up coming up with the concept of a Spring, which more or less just means they’re spawned by nature itself every spring. It’s a slow process and not many fae are created at once. Sometimes, only one or two manifest, and that’s been a problem for both Courts, especially during and after the war with the Milesians. They were few to begin with, and even a thousand years later, they’re still struggling to make their numbers up. It’s led to quite a bit of problems, especially as the fae tried to create shortcuts to bolster their numbers—some more cruel and drastic than others. But we’ll get more into detail about that come Hiraeth.
The gist of the twins’ origins came from exploring the idea of nature fucking up. Of nature making something wrong. What was one became two, and god, was it fucked up. I don’t believe the fae have any use for the concept of a “soul” the way humans do, but they have their essence, and that essence can have flaws. I actually have a reference image from way back when that I used when describing these two unglamored. I believe it was unused silent hill monster concept art (so I won’t post it here given it’s not my art, but if anyone wants to see it, DM me on twitter), and if that doesn’t tell you anything about these two, then I don’t know what will. I wanted them to be terrifyingly wrong, but in their own minds, they’re perfect, so long as they’re together. Fae don’t have families. The idea of siblings, parents, blood-kin isn’t a thing, but these two are known as the twins for a reason. They do.
In their minds, that makes them special. Better. In everyone else’s, though, they’re terrifyingly off.
Beyond just making them aberrations though, I wanted to make these villains pitiful. From the start, all we know is that they’re power hungry, desperate for respect, and determined to climb to the top of the mountain no matter what they have to do to get there. Avenir knew what they were and kept them close, and it always struck me as particularly cruel that they were kept so close to the seat of power and yet given no real authority until Corbet came into the picture. I’m not too sure if they’d have behaved the same had Avenir given them more deference from the start. The twins are a malignant mystery, no matter what way you slice it.
One of the funniest memories I have of this series as a whole was watching the audience reception for the twins drastically change as we went from Deluge to Petrichor. So many people told me they loved the twins and how creepy they were when we first met them, and then their opinions just plummeted in the next book XD Not to be crass, but hearing which of your characters the audience wants to fuck is a good litmus test on whether or not you’ve made a good character. Several people wanted to fuck the twins in Deluge. They… decidedly stopped with that when they read Petrichor.
I suppose I should be proud of myself for that. I wanted them to be reprehensible, and boy howdy, were they ever. On the opposite of the spectrum, however, is our next topic: Breena.
Breena. Breena, Breena, Breena. Goodness gracious, BREENA. This girl. This girl was never supposed to become so important to the plot of the series as a whole. She is the definition of a pawn crossing to the end of a chess board, somehow, and becoming queen in the process. When I first wrote Brontide, I made a habit of not thinking about things very hard. If I needed a new character to serve as a one-off component in a chapter, I’d hit up the nearest friend I was chatting with and say, “Hey, make me a fae.” They’d give me a general physical description, sometimes one or two character traits, and then I’d fit them into whatever I was writing without missing a beat. It kept me from having to think too hard or break my flow to create something from nothing, and Breena was the last one to be created for Brontide.
But she was kind. She was fun. People liked Breena when that book came out, and when I began planning Deluge, I knew I needed Ruari to have at least one friendly face in the Unseelie Court while he was there. Breena was Unseelie. She was deceptively kind for an Unseelie, and that comes into play in Hiraeth, but she fit the spot I needed, so she became Ruari’s confidant and aid as the Courts threatened to crash down atop their heads.
In Petrichor, she continued to fill that spot; Corbet is alone, and he needs allies. Breena was Ruari’s friend, so it made sense for him to trust her, and by trusting her, she became a close observer of their relationship. They were her first friends, and when the Courts threatened to once again come crashing down atop everyones’ heads—and Corbet at risk of losing his entirely—Breena stepped up.
As I’m incredibly fond of saying, Breena is my little lionheart. The cover of Petrichor is covered in dandelions for a reason; the page number illustrations are dandelion greens because of her. She was such an unintentional hero-in-the-making that it boggles my mind even now. She’s getting her own book in Hiraeth because she became such a monumental character that she deserves to have her story come to a fully realized end. I’m not sure how many of you are aware of just how much her character arc even blindsided me. I don’t think I’ve ever had a character get away from me more than she’s done throughout this series, but I can’t be mad about it. She’s always been the sort of person to go where she’s needed and do what needs to be done, even if her voice is quiet and her hands can’t stop shaking. She’s the kind of friend we all wish we had. She’s the reason this series even had a happily ever after.
To be honest, we all owe Breena a round of thanks for what she’s done. I just hope I can do her justice in Hiraeth, because at this point? By god, she’s earned it.
Now, onto some questions.
Where did the name of the books/series come from? How do they tie into each particular book’s story?
I touched on this a bit last month, but that was mainly just talking about why I made three books instead of the two I’d initially planned. So, the answer is… Christ, I don’t think there’s a super interesting story or reason behind it. Titles are difficult and my default is to opt for finding one obscure word (or semi-obscure, since I don’t think any of these titles are that out-there) to encompass each book as a whole. Brontide is named Brontide because the main conflict stems from damage caused by a terrible storm. If I had hindsight on my side in this regard, I’d say something about how the whole conflict with Avenir and the broken Solstice serves as the rumbles of far off thunder, a portent to the storm that has yet to come, since everything really goes to shit after Ruari leaves the barrier just to do Corbet a favor. That was the decision that set everything off, but honestly, I didn’t know all of that when I titled it XD I wish I could claim it was intentional, but a lot of this series wasn’t.
Deluge and Petrichor really just came into being because I wanted to run with the theme of storms if I was going to write three books. Because of the 2nd and 3rd position of each story, the titles work regardless of whatever I did with the stories themselves. And… to be frank, the petrichor only comes at the very end of that book XD It’s pretty damn dire throughout it until we hit that final chapter.
To be perfectly honest, I didn’t even land on The Tempest Series as the series name until I physically had to make the book listing and had to pick something so I could set up my pre-order page. As most authors will tell you, titles either come to you instantly or they’re like pulling teeth. What they don’t tell you, though, is that series names are even HARDER. Imagine having to encapsulate a 300+ page book with just one word (or a few, sue me, I like one-word titles, and at this point, it’s practically part of my brand). Now, take that struggle and double it by multiple books and a phrase or word that has to now encapsulate ALL of them as a whole. It’s HARD. It sucks. The Tempest Series felt like a cop out even then, but it was pithy, and it stuck.
Apricity is probably the only book (besides Hiraeth, but I’ll save that for whenever the book inevitably comes out) with an intentional title. The word means “the warmth of the sun in winter”. This was a story about Aisling and Avenir’s love, and a sun in the midst of winter encapsulates those two perfectly, as well as the role Aisling plays in the war of the Milesians. It also coincidentally falls into the weather-y nature of the series at large, so when one of my friends sent me the word with a joking “fourth Tempest book title???” attached… Well, like I’ve said before: I’ve written books for stupider reasons.
I’ve also had a friend dm me saying she had a dream she held a Tempest sequel but the cover was green, and I read that message and looked at Sun and went, “Hey, can we make the Breena book green?”
I’m stupidly simple sometimes. I hope you guys appreciate it.
Which character is your favorite?
Is this where I give the obligatory “that’s like asking me which child is my favorite” line? In some ways, it is that, but also, I often rank characters based on how easy they are for me to write XD And in this case, that’d be Ruari. As much as I adore Corbet—and I do adore him—there’s something around Ruari’s history that really resonates with me. I think he’s a massively colossal idiot when he’s in love, but I fell in love with him myself while writing his sections in Apricity. There’s something that resonates with the idea of him being a soldier in a war making terrible decisions for the sake of his men. For his soldier days, I modeled Ruari’s rise after Constantine. He was a man who inspired loyalty in those who followed him, and when the orders from on high spat in the face of the suffering and loss they’d suffered, that they’d been forced to witness while the monarchs stayed sequestered in their Courts, away from the bloodshed and fear… The troops banded around the man they hoped could make things right: Ruari.
When he’s not mooning after Corbet, I think Ruari is a fascinatingly deep character with a mountain’s worth of pain and guilt living in his chest where his heart used to be. Tragic irony is a pretty big theme throughout this series, and Ruari may have the most resting on his shoulders. The man did so much in his hopes of bringing the Courts back above ground, and it was all for nothing. He killed so many of his kin for a pipedream, and for what? Everyone in this series does the best they can in the situations they find themselves in, and nine times out of ten, it’s meaningless, or it makes things worse. I love Ruari for that. He’s a man who knows how much blood he has on his hands, and he’s done his best to justify it to himself so he can keep moving forward. It’s a wonder, honestly, that he’s able to show such levity when Corbet falls in his lap, but really, I think that’s a testament to how empty his life’s been up to that point.
I could probably talk about Ruari for ages if I’m allowed XD There’s just a lot of fun to be had in his mixture of overbearing, lovesick, and guilt. He’s a usurper. He’s a lover. He’s the most pathetic man you’ve ever met, and he’d die before he has to lose another war—be it a battle of swords and soldiers or a political machination that threatens the one selfish thing he’s allowed himself to have ever since he stole the throne from Aisling. And I think that’s pretty spiffy.
But I’m curious what you guys think. What do you feel about Ruari? How did the ending of the main series hit you? I think this was one of the first books that made me cry while writing it, and I have to admit, I was incredibly emotional when it came to writing that final chapter. Ruari and Corbet mean so much to me, even if I do look back on these books with some regrets. They were my first real original characters. They were the culmination of years of work, of strain and toil, and so many sleepless nights. I wouldn’t have written books without them. It’s… pretty emotional for me to even think about at this point, and I don’t know who I’ll be once I finish Hiraeth and say goodbye to this world for the last time.
Hopefully, I’ll be someone those two would be proud of. I can’t say they’d be too fond of me after all I’ve put them through… but I hope they’d be proud of me regardless. I’ve done the best I could with them, and I hope what I’ve yet to give them is enough to make up for the pain I caused them in getting to that point.
We’ll finish out this series with Apricity’s deep dive next month, so I hope you guys are excited for that. After that… we’ll probably take a break from deep-dives to explore individual characters or new worlds I’m working on before we get back into the thick of it with The Duskriven Chronicles. Sound fun? Let me know!
Until next time,