Original piece by Mary E. Pearson

The thing about writing is you can’t plan everything—no matter how hard you try. And really, that is one of the pure joys. Discovery. Though I had some pretty solid ideas about the main characters in Dance of Thieves—Jase and Kazi—the rest of the characters were peripheral—just out of line my of sight. I’d figure them out when I got there.

I’ve been down that road before, so I shouldn’t have been surprised, but I was when some secondary characters took hold of my heart and shook it madly—and often made me laugh. Kazi was a soldier so I knew that meant she would have some fellow soldiers she worked with, but I didn’t know how large a role they would end up playing in the story and in Kazi’s life. Wren and Synové (I can’t even type their names without smiling) are girls with a past as broken as Kazi’s—all of them orphans and survivors of their harsh life in Venda.

As the story unfolded, the three girls relationships became a complex tapestry that I loved watching surface and deepen chapter after chapter—their devotion, but their distance too. These were girls who had lost much, and were afraid to lose again. Still, they patched together a different kind of family. Not traditional in any sense, but just as strong. They are a powerful sisterhood that has each other’s backs.

Jase on the other hand, Kazi’s nemesis, comes from just the opposite kind of background. He has a large, intimate, loyal, boisterous family, that reveres its long history and tradition. I knew as a writer, a large family was going to be a challenge to wrangle—keeping all ten of them distinct, and keeping their strong personalities and voices under control when they were all in the same room wouldn’t be easy!

But I love exploring family dynamics so I was ready for that challenge. And again, family members that were only a vague haze in the back of my mind when I began, became flesh and blood brothers and sisters with strong agendas of their own. They weren’t just window dressing but pivotal, dimensional players who threw wrenches in the plot, and played havoc with Jase and Kazi’s emotions—and mine too.

And then there were the dead family members . . . I won’t even get into that. But there was quite a varied cast here, and somewhere still pulling strings and heartstrings from the grave. They played much more pivotal roles than I ever could have foreseen.

So as you read, I want you to know, that some of the book grew from my own ideas, and some of it grew from the large cast of characters—both alive and dead—and I hope you come to love (and hate sometimes hate) them as I did.

Happy reading!

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