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Cyndere Pits Beauty Against Beast
Fantasy author Jeffrey Overstreet told SCI FI Wire that his latest novel, Cyndere’s Midnight–the sequel to Auralia’s Colors–was inevitable, since his least favorite English-language phrase is “The End.”
“When I finished Auralia’s Colors, I wanted to turn around, go back and explore the questions that were left unanswered,” Overstreet said in an interview. “There were so many characters I wanted to get to know better, and some who I’d left stranded in trouble.”
Cyndere’s Midnight is the story of a beauty and a beast–or, rather, a beauty and a whole pack of murderous beasts. “The beast is called Jordam; he’s one of the half-human/half-monsters from the corrupt, crooked people of House Cent Regus,” Overstreet said. “He and his three brothers are a dangerous pack of predators, prowling about the Expanse. But Jordam has encountered Auralia’s colors, and the experience changed him, lighting a feeble glimmer of conscience within him. When Jordam meets Cyndere, things get interesting.”
Cyndere is the daughter of House Bel Amica’s queen. “And her world is falling apart,” Overstreet said. “Her husband was slain, her father drowned at sea, and her mother is controlled by malevolent wizards called ‘Seers.’ So she seeks solitude and solace at her favorite Bel Amican outpost, hoping for solitude and a time to grieve.”
The woods, the creatures and the labyrinths of the novel’s world came to Overstreet while he was exploring the natural world around him. “Nature, like art, speaks not just to the intellect, but also to the conscience and the heart,” he said. “Something speaks to me when I stand at the edge of Puget Sound’s glory, just 10 minutes from my house, or when I hike through the woods beside Flathead Lake in Montana, or when I spend time in the desert outside of Santa Fe. It changes me. I want to explore that mystery in these stories.”
The world of the beastmen took Overstreet by surprise. “As I explored a world in which beautiful things have become distorted and corrupt, I began to think about how vulnerable we are to similar corruption,” he said. “The poisonous nature of fear, pride and appetite are reflected in nature’s own afflictions. It took shape in a backward kind of way–but as I wrote down the details of this wasteland, I found myself thinking about spiritual realities.” –John Joseph Adams