Today I am so pleased to welcome Iris Foxglove to Joyfully Jay. The author has come to talk to us about their latest release, The Prince’s Vow. They have also brought along a great giveaway. Please join me in giving Iris Foxglove a big welcome!
Iris Foxglove has written some questions and answers to share with us today!
How did you come up with the characters? Who are they?
Adrien: Adrien’s major conflict throughout the series has been all about the disconnect between perception and reality. People assume he has no chance of actually being king in book one, but then Adrien stands his ground to protect Sabre. He’s dismissed again in book two, and reveals he has a more active interest in the affairs of his country than previously thought. He’s constantly underestimated, and it isn’t until book three that he starts to wonder if he shouldn’t tear down that false perception of him and live authentically.
Also, he knows what he wants and he isn’t afraid to go for it!
Isiodore: Isiodore has a lot of history with…pretty much everyone in the series. As King Emile’s friend and closest confidant, he is used to having a great deal of power. In Mislia, he has none. Power in Mislia is determined by magic, and Isiodore has none of that, which makes protecting Adrien a job and a half. Isiodore also has a tendency of trying to keep himself distant emotionally from his partners, and that just isn’t possible with Adrien right next to him. Isiodore can’t hide behind his duties anymore. He learns a great deal about Adrien very quickly, and exploring how his preconceived ideas break down as he develops a deeper respect and affection for Adrien has been a real delight to write.
Hektor, Flick, and Baz: Hektor and Flick existed as characters before any of the others, actually. The two of them and Baz, Hektor’s brother, were all part of a much earlier story that was set aside. As a result, they’re all very dear to our hearts. They made Mislia what it is, really! They’re all ride or die for each other, and Flick and Hektor have a rock solid bromance going on. You’ll definitely see more of them in the future!
Summer and Tanis: Or, as Foxglove affectionately calls them, lesbian beach grandmas. Summer can be a little blunt at times, but she has a great font of empathy for other people, which explains why she’s walking a dangerous line to keep people like Adrien, Isiodore, and Hektor safe.
Summer and Tanis are not directly inspired by anyone, but Foxglove’s disreputable past as an out gay teen put them in contact with a number of older lgbtq women who took Foxglove under their collective wing. There is an element of that in Summer and Tanis.
Also, we wanted to explore what a marriage between a demon and their host would look like in a country where that sort of bond isn’t uncommon.
The Archmage: He’s a real piece of work. We’re fond of writing antagonists who have a chance of putting in the hard work to change and grow as people (hi, Devon!), but the Archmage is too deep in his desire to root out dissidents to want to change. He and his demon bring out the worst in each other, and are caught in an endless loop.
(Iris here — am I tempted to redeem him somehow? Yes, yes I am. Blame my love of RPG video game villains for that, haha. But sometimes people are just terrible, and the Archmage definitely falls into that category!)
Calliope: Initially, the Archmage was going to have three children: Baz, Hektor, and a little girl who we briefly named Calliope. Calliope had a big personality, but she just didn’t fit in the story or setting. She might show up in a different form in a later book, but for now, Baz and Hektor are the only children of the Archmage.
Adrien’s visions: Are they definitely going to come true? That’s hard to say! Some visions are symbolic, and what Adrien does see doesn’t always pan out in the same way. One of Adrien’s worst visions as a child was of Sabre in danger, but it turns out he was seeing only a glimpse of the climactic ending of book one. With so little to go on, Adrien has to rely on guesswork, and that’s not always foolproof.
How did you do the worldbuilding for the series?
Iris: It’s a long story, but I did a lot about eight years ago during a time in my life when I was in desperate need of escapism. I’d lost a dear friend very suddenly, and was in a toxic job that I hated and made me miserable every moment I was there. I have a background in ancient history, so I spent several months dealing with the grief of losing my friend by immersing myself in this created world — not writing stories because my heart hurt too much, but writing long, dry faux-historical documents about language development, economic policies, trade routes, you name it. My specific area of study was ancient Greece, so you’ll notice a lot of Greek-inspired words/names in our world (called Iperios, though I’m not sure we’ve actually used that word in the series yet!) I drew maps, I researched climate patterns, I knew this world better than my own and lost myself in it for a while. Then, when I felt better, I shoved it all away in a drawer and went on to change jobs, then I started writing contemporary romance.
When Foxglove and I were writing together, our stories started in a fandom setting and slowly we’d started writing epic stories of original characters and their CHILDREN, so we figured, hey, we might want to do this in our own world since we’ve gone so far into our own mythology. When we discussed writing original content, I remembered all those months of careful planning and world-building and said, “So, hey, uh….”
Then I sent them like 323423 documents and badly-drawn maps and said, “So, I do have this if you’re interested….?” And luckily for me, Foxglove is AMAZING at world-building. Their ability to draw detailed mythology about fictional worlds is unparalleled, it’s seriously awe-inspiring and one of my favorite things about them as a co-writer. I felt like I’d finally reached a place where I could share this with someone, and I couldn’t have picked a better person to share it with. Seeing these stories come to life is one of the most amazing and wonderful experiences of my life. Especially because we were able to work on it together, changing things to suit our stories and really make it a shared universe, which is honestly what I always hoped it would be. I can’t thank Foxglove enough for taking this wild journey with me! And the world is SO much fuller and more fleshed-out now, too. When I think about where I was when I first initially created this world, and how happy I am now — nearly a decade later — to be playing in it, I wish I could go back and tell myself that it was going to work out that way and I shouldn’t be so sad. But I think it happened exactly as it should, and I wouldn’t change a minute of it.
Foxglove: When Iris showed me the notes on her fictional universe, I was blown away. The detail and care that went into the worldbuilding was so present, and at first, I was nervous about suggesting anything that might change it. It’s like someone handing you a castle made of glass, then saying, “Want to add to it?” Wait! What if I break it? What if I accidentally snap off a tower and put it in the wrong place? What if I leave it in the back of the car and it melts? Okay, that metaphor got away from me a little, but you understand the gist.
After that initial apprehension, though, Iris and I were able to take the world she created and really run with it. We were able to shape it into something…not quite new, but ours, and that has been an amazing process.
Personally, I love worldbuilding. One of my favorite books is Ursula K Le Guin’s Always Coming Home, which is basically a study in worldbuilding in and of itself (and yes, I have the version that comes with the cassette tape full of poetry and actual songs. I am that person). I wouldn’t attempt to emulate her, but I love slipping little details into the world Iris and I are writing, bits of lore and story, myth and song. Working with Iris to develop this world further has been an absolute delight.
Why D/s-verse, and what is it?
(D/s-verse as we write it is defined as “biologically imperative kink”, where everyone is born either a submissive or a dominant and has a biological urge to satisfy their alignment. It is absolutely NOT similar to BDSM practices in real life, which we definitely take care to point out. This is high fantasy and the dynamics are entirely fictional.)
Iris: I’m a fandom old, and I’ve been reading/writing D/s-verse fics for years in various fandoms (a lot of JRPGs, as I’ve been a gamer all my life — my first console was an Intellivision in the 80’s, followed by the original NES!)
It’s an older trope, one that came around thanks to a particular Stargate Atlantis fic series, and as a kinky person myself I always found the idea of it fun and interesting to play around with. Especially in a fantasy series where you have nobility and inherited titles, like in Staria, or survival scenarios like Lukos, or a strict military-based society like Arktos. I love the idea of biological imperative kink because it adds such a fun dynamic to characters and their interactions/relationships. There’s been a surge of omegaverse fic both in fandom and in profic, and while I am absolutely supportive of it and happy it exists, it’s not my jam so I don’t tend to read/write it. I hadn’t seen much D/s-verse in original fiction, and thought maybe our stories would find a nice little niche for people who also enjoyed that trope.
Honestly I love the dynamic it brings to sex scenes of course, but I’m also fascinated by the way it impacts society and the rules therein. We have a book upcoming about a sea captain who is a submissive, and I like turning the expected on its head in regards to what that means, exactly. I also like that these imperatives can be satisfied by, say, serving tea or ruling a country — not just in the bedroom. Though of course, I love those dynamics, too! My hope is that it enhances the worldbuilding without eclipsing it, if that makes sense.
I will also never get tired of writing characters fighting their own needs and giving in to the right person (or people!). It’s so much fun, and I adore being able to set the rules of the world and finding ways to work within those established guidelines (and then break them, if we feel like it!)
Foxglove: I am not exactly a fandom old or a newbie. I stayed on the outskirts of fandom for the most part until my mid-twenties. I ran into D/s-verse in…2016 or so, I think. I found it interesting in the way I find many AUs to be interesting–Yes, okay, it exists to make the story a little steamier, but what does it mean for the fictional society as a whole? How does it influence their myths or social structures? Are there rules? What are they?
Adrien de Guillory may be the heir to the throne of Staria, but no one in court believes that the submissive, meek-minded prince will ever be king. What they don’t know is that Adrien is hardly the meek, shy creature he pretends to be and that he has his own plans for the future. To see those plans through, Adrien embarks on a journey to Mislia, the land of his mother’s ancestors, to seek an answer to controlling his magic of foresight.
The one thing Adrien’s visions don’t predict is Isiodore de Mortain, his father’s confidante and the subject of Adrien’s long-standing, deeply embarrassing infatuation. Isiodore intercepts Adrien on his way to Mislia. But it’s too late to turn back—the two of them are now stranded on foreign soil, forced to rely on each other in order to get home in one piece. With Isiodore set on keeping Adrien safe and Adrien determined to become the most troublesome prince in Starian history, a storm is brewing over Mislia…one that will surely sweep both of them out into uncharted waters.
(The Prince’s Vow is an m/m dark fantasy novel, set in a fictional world where everyone is biologically either a dominant or a submissive and compelled to satisfy those urges. As such, the biological imperative kink in this story is pure fantasy, and not intended as a representation of real-life BDSM practices or dynamics.)
Buy Link: Amazon
Iris Foxglove is a shared pen name between two longtime fantasy readers who are committed to writing fun, escapist dark fantasy featuring decadent, kinky stories, intricate world building and unforgettable characters.
- Twitter: https://twitter.com/irisfoxglove
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Iris Foxglove has brought an audiobook of The Traitor’s Mercy to give away to one lucky reader on the tour. Follow the Rafflecopter below to enter.
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