Monday, November 12, 2012

Guest Post

Since the publication of The Duchess of the Shallows (, we've been asked a lot of questions. One of the most interesting is why two gay men would choose to create a heterosexual female hero. The truth is, we didn't create Duchess; she found us.            Duchess started out as nothing more than the flicker of an idea: a thief living in a fog-shrouded and rumor-haunted city. We settled on her name – and thus her gender - before almost anything else. She started with a couple disadvantages: she was poor, her family was dead, and our story began just as she was being kicked out of her home for the last eight years. And then we realized that fate had one more difficult card to deal our heroine: being female in a culture that favors males.

            One example of this social inequity is seen  in Duchess' interactions with Ivan Gallius, a low-born smuggler who agrees to pay off the debt of  the widowed Lady Agalia Eusbius, in return for her hand in marriage. In Rodaas, this means the lady must take this man as her lord and master, an arrangement with far too many parallels in human history. Duchess resented the unenviable position into which Agalia was forced, and we learned just how strong and determined she was not to follow suit. The more we delved into the story, the more it became clear that this inequity would not discourage Duchess but embolden her...and educate us. We didn't take the perspective of "Duchess is a woman and this what a woman would do." Instead, Duchess took it upon herself on more than one occasion to tell us. It was simply not in her to go gentle into that good night.

            And she turned out to be one of our many teachers. We learned that in Rodaas there are many have-nots: immigrants like the Domae, tolerated but never permitted the full privileges of society. The beggars who make a daily sojourn to Temple District to plead a living from their betters. The ganymedes, male sexual objects in a society that normally reserves such treatment for women. These people all had stories to tell, lessons to teach, and each had the full capacity to be a hero. And we were delighted to meet them.

            We're now hard at work on the The Fall of Ventaris, which continues the tale of the redoubtable Duchess, and we're pleased to report she's still handing out lessons. Of course, in that process we also learn about ourselves, the challenges we face and what it means to be an outsider. So we're glad Duchess found us, and hopeful that she'll continue to show us what it means to be who she is...and who we are.

About the authors:
Neil McGarry and Daniel Ravipinto are, collectively, a computer programmer, afraid of heights, a former technical writer, a rabid Go-Go's fan, a board-game designer, a founding member of the Alan Turing Fan Club, an award-winning interactive-fiction author, a native Philadelphian, an ex-drummer, one heck of a party thrower, a pianist, from New Jersey, the holder of three degrees, an avid role-player, an improvisational actor, an uncle, a stand-up comedian, not particularly fond of flying, a video gamer, a lover of Halloween, a story-game/RPG developer, and an Ultimate Frisbee enthusiast. They are currently hard at work on the next installment of Duchess' story, The Fall of Ventaris.

Buy links: 

Authored by Neil McGarry, Daniel Ravipinto
Illustrated by Amy Houser

Number of pages: 326
Genre: fantasy
Publisher: Peccable Productions

A game is played in the fog-shrouded city of Rodaas, and every citizen, from the nameless of the Shallows to the noblest of the Garden, is a player or a pawn. And no one is as he appears.

Not Minette, brothel-keeper and obsessive collector of secrets. Not Uncle Cornelius, fearsome chief of the gang of brutes and murderers known as the Red. Not the cults of Death, Wisdom, and Illumination, eternally scheming and plotting along the Godswalk.

And certainly not the orphaned bread girl known as Duchess.

Yet armed with nothing more than her wits, her good friend Lysander and a brass mark of dubious origin Duchess will dare to play that game for the most coveted of prizes: initiation into a secret society of thieves, spies and rumormongers who stand supreme in a city where corruption and lies are common coin.

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