"Mawage. Mawage is what bwings us togefer today. Mawage, that bwessed awangement, that dweam wifin a dweam..."
(From The Princess Bride ^_^)
Today I'm answering FAQs about marriage. (That dweam wifin a dweam.)
Spoiler status: ALL of these questions contain Graceling spoilers, which is why I'm separating this paragraph from the questions themselves with a delightful picture of my youngest fan, whose name is Callum. If you don't want to know what happens in Graceling, STOP READING!
CONSIDER YOURSELF WARNED!
IF YOU'RE STILL READING, YOU'D BETTER BE IN THE MOOD FOR GRACELING SPOILERS!!!!
(Okay, yes, I take spoilers more seriously than perhaps is necessary. ^_^)
1. Will Katsa and Po ever get married?
I never, ever discuss future plot things, except with my editor, my agent, and my official First Readers. This is partly because (1) until a first draft is written, I need to be free to have it to myself, without the interference of anyone else -- without the pressure of other people's questions, worries, opinions, or expectations. It needs to be my book and only my book, my business and only my business. That is the only way a book can grow. It's also partly because (2) before a book goes to typesetting, anything is subject to change.
So I'll never, ever answer a question like this. (Which I doubt will surprise anyone. ^_^)
However, I do have a counter-question. My question is: Why do you ask? Do they need to be married for their relationship to be genuine? I challenge you to think about this. Bounce it around. See where it lands.
2. I love the themes of choice, independence, and sacrifice in Graceling. It was refreshing to read about a heroine whose purpose wasn’t necessarily to “get married and settle down.” That said, I do still love a “happily ever after” ending. For the first time (ever) I felt like I got equal measure of independence and HEA (lo and behold, they are not mutually exclusive!). I love that! So my question is – was independence + HEA your goal from the beginning or did the characters just fall into place that way?
Awesome question. The simple answer is both: my characters fell into place that way from the very beginning. I knew Katsa was dedicated to her independence and I knew she was going to fall in love. It was, very simply, who Katsa was and where Katsa was headed when she came to me. (And it also made for a really fun conflict to write! ^_^)
I suppose I could say more, but I'm not sure where to go with it, and I don't want to bore everyone to tears. If you have follow-up questions, please feel free to leave them in the comments, and I'll be be happy to think about them and maybe say more in future.
3. Some of your online reader reviews say that Graceling has an anti-marriage message. Do you have a response to that?
Well, normally I would say that I don't want to get into it, because I don't think my opinion, as the author, really matters. And I respect any reader's right to his or her own opinion! However, if I were to express a few thoughts of my own, they might sound a little something like this....
First, some facts: there are some existing, steady marriages quietly depicted in the book. There is also one, single, solitary character who feels that marriage is not the right choice personally for her. Remember, Katsa herself doesn't try to stop other people from marrying; she even hopes for happy marriages for other people. Them's the facts.
I didn't write Graceling with any particular messages in mind. But if it does have a message, I hope it's not anti-marriage, but rather, pro- "being true to yourself." I think that being true to yourself sometimes -- not always, but sometimes -- means thoughtfully, intelligently choosing to take a route that differs from the norm.
Here is something that Jon and Rumer Godden (writers for both children and adults) wrote in their book Two Under the Indian Sun: "We knew that marriage was not the only kind of love."
If Katsa and Po find a way to relate to each other that works for them and that involves self-respect, mutual respect, self-examination, mutual delight, mutual regard, and honest communication, how can their relationship be a bad thing?
I invite my readers to discuss this in the comments, but I feel that I've said enough -- maybe more than an author should. So I'll be reading, but not joining in.
Also, I'd like to thank Sarah, Deborah, Sam, and Becca for helping me, way back in October, to formulate my response to this question!