Eric Nylund has been interviewed here at BSC before by our esteemed editor and owner of the site, Jay Tomio, answering questions about his first novel in his YA series about the half-Immortal, half-Infernal twins, Eliot and Fiona Post, in Mortal Coils. Eric also answered questions about his involvement writing several Halo novels, and working with Microsoft on the Halo games.
Now, the second novel in his remarkable and fantastic series, All That Lives Must Die, is out in the stores, and I think it’s even better than Mortal Coils. Eric has kindly agreed to do another interview for BSC, and answer questions related to the Post series, his influences, and his future plans. I hope you enjoy reading the interview, and if you haven’t yet read Mortal Coils and All That Lives Must Die, I highly recommend that you check them out. As I wrote in my review of his newest book, I think this series will solidify his reputation as one of the best YA authors of today.
Douglas R. Cobb: My first question, Eric, is really about both Mortal Coils and All That Lives Must Die. The Post twins, Eliot and Fiona, engage in games of vocabulary insult, using obscure references and Latin and Greek sometimes to insult each other. I think it’s pretty cool, and you introduce your readers to different languages and mythology in a fresh and interesting way. What made you decide to have them interact in games of vocabulary insult, and what purpose does it serve your plots?
Eric Nylund: Well, the Post twins grew up without the usual toys and entertainments that you and I take for granted—TV, comic books, video games, normal friends. Their impressive brains were their main form of diversion. Hence-mind games. It also gives the reader a glimpse into their impressive store of knowledge.
Now, could you tell our readers who have been some of your literary influences, and who you’ve recently read that our readers might also enjoy reading?
My early literary influences were Roger Zelazny and Harlan Ellison. Recent favorites are Robert Heinlein (his “juveniles”) Phillip Pullman and Michael Buckley.
I noticed that at the back of All That Lives Must Die, there is a Reading Guide. Does this mean that your novels might be possibly on the reading lists for English classes, or is the guide there for reading groups to discuss?
This started as more of a guide for parents and their kids. Many of my early readers would tell me their children would pick up and read the book after they were done with it, and this would stimulate some interesting parent-child conversations! But yes, it also works equally well for reading groups and classroom discussions/assignments.
There’s a lot of action in the series, but what I also like is that the Post house is filled with an extensive collection of some of the world’s finest literature, like Shakespeare, Chaucer, Mark Twain, etc.
Their mother, Audrey, aka Atropos, one of the three Fates, and grandmother Cee want the twins to be well read and educated, but is this emphasis on the literature they are surrounded with also because you grew up around lots of books?
I remember spending hour and hours when I was a kid in used bookstores. I gravitated to the oldest, rarest editions— gilded covers, leather spines and old leathery paper. Wow. They were so mysterious and seemed ancient to me. I guess it made a lasting impression.
How does Eliot get his violin, and why is it named Lady Dawn?
Eliot gets the violin from his father, Lucifer. The gift has some strings attached (sorry, couldn’t help that!) When Eliot plays Lady Dawn he can produce super powerful magic , for example, make the sun rise earlier than physically possible. But, of course, the readers will find out there much more to “her” than just magic.
Speaking of gifts, who gives Fiona her rusty bracelet, and what does it become when she uses it? Also, what are the two gifts that Audrey gives Eliot and Fiona, and what does she do to Eliot’s later on in All That Lives Must Die, and why?
That bracelet is made for a metal that feel from Heaven during the great war among the angels (when Lucifer also fell).
Audrey gives her children more modern gifts—cell phones and credit cards with nearly unlimited balances.
In All That Lives Must Die, Eliot and Fiona have moved to San Francisco, and they are enrolled in the Paxington Institute, where they must face yet more challenges and trials. Failure potentially means death. What is the entrance exam like, and what are the parts of the exam that they do the worst on about, and why?
The entrance exam is literally that: a test to find the school’s entrance. The Post Twins, having been sheltered all their lives from magical knowledge, are going to have real trouble in a school that teaches you magic, and where your classmate have been trained almost from birth.
Who in mythology was Perry Millhouse, a character in your series, and what happens to him?
Perry Millhouse is one of the villains the Post Twins have to face. He was originally Prometheus, the bringer of fire to mankind. He dies…but part of his fiery legacy lives on in another character.
Eliot and Fiona wind up on the Scarab Team. Who is the captain of the team, and what are the only two classes Eliot and Fiona have their first semester at Paxington? Also, could you please let our readers in on what the competitions are like that the various teams are required to participate in, and what happens to teams that lose too many competitions?
Fiona ends up as Captain of her team in gym class. Gym is one of the Twins’ classes, the other is History of Magic (which starts at the beginning of time and works its way all the way to the present).
Gym class is a series of “capture the flag” competitions with other teams on a super-crazy, Multi-story jungle gym that would give Ender from ENDER’S GAME and the X-men in their Danger Room a run for their money.
Students who lose and/or get poor grade are not allowed to continue to next year at Paxington. One quarter of each class is flunked. So if you end up graduating form Paxington, you’ve really accomplished something!
Who is Jezebel, and how is she so effective in influencing Eliot, even though he knows if she–or anyone–is lying to him? Also, who is Robert Farmington, and who is he spying for, and how does Eliot end up training with him?
Jezebel …poor Jezebel…she went to hell and was handpicked by one of the nastiest fallen angels specifically to appeal to Elliot. She’s a knockout…and even before she was given a boost of Infernal powers to help her out, she knew how to twist and break the hearts of young men. Watch out Eliot!
Robert a teenage spy for the League of Immortals ( basically all the gods from mythology ), but he has a spot soft in his heart for damsels in distress, which tends to get him in a lot of trouble!
Here’s a shorter, though related, question, Eric. What is the Pact of Indomitable Servitude?
Some very nasty magic the fallen angels use to make sure their servant (Jezebel among others) don’t turn and use their Infernal-granted powers to backstab their masters. As you’d expect in any Infernal contract…there are loopholes.
Who is Henry Mimes, and what does he mean when he calls Audrey “his Queen of Swords”?
Henry Mines was also known as Hermes or Mercury or “the Big Bad Wolf” from fairy tales. He’s The Post Twins’ uncle. As far as as the Queen of Swords reference, well, that’s something we’ll see more of in the third book.
Are you going to have Fiona and Eliot take elective courses in the third book of the series? If so, do you have some ideas in mind already for the classes they’ll choose to take?
Yes. One elective course. And yes, I know what that they are…and its super cool and unexpected..if they can survive the homework!
One of the many, many things I really liked about All That Lives Must Die is the fight that Eliot and Jezebel get in with the Shadow Legions when they make a wrong turn leaving the Paxington Institute one night.
What are the Shadow Legions, and why does Jezebel tell Eliot that the main reason they’re attacked is because of her?
The shadow legions are shadows from hell that can take any nightmarish shape. Jezebel is in the middle of an Infernal civil war — imagine having to deal with that–in addition to high school homework!
Who is Sobek, and what is his prophecy, if telling our readers won’t give too much away? Also, who are the “Heralds of the End of Days,” and what causes them to “split asunder”?
Sobek is the Egyptian god (one with a crocodile head) who kind of befriends the Twins . The Heralds of the End of Days alludes that they twins will bring about Armageddon.
Why does Eliot get a “Warrant of Death” signed against him? What does Louis suggest to Audrey that they do?
The immortals (gods) are worried that Eliot with side with his father and the fallen angels against them in the coming war (see Armageddon above).
Louis suggest something truly radical to Audrey to save Elliot … but you’ll have to read the books to fins out what.
We’ve made it to the final question! Both Mortal Coils and All That Lives Must Die have their titles taken from Shakespeare’s play, “Hamlet.”
Will your third book in the planned series of five also take it’s title from “”Hamlet”? And, are you working on it now, and are you planning on writing more Halo novels in the future?
Yes, yes, and no.
Those were some excellent answers, Eric! I can’t wait to read the rest of your series about the Post twins, and see what happens to them next! I and the BSC staff thank you for agreeing to do this interview, and wish you much success in the coming years.
Thanks so much for asking such great questions. Please tell your readers drop by website www.ericnylund.net or if they have questions or comments to email me at firstname.lastname@example.org