Sunday, April 3, 2011

Guest Post By Tansy Rayner Roberts

Tansy Rayner Roberts has a brand new book out called The Shattered City! To celebrate the release of Book Two of her Creature Court series, she's doing a blog tour!

Fantasy With Frocks

Sarah asked: "What is your favourite style or outfit in the series, and why?"

I think this is my favourite question I've been asked so far!  I am a complete sucker for fantasy with frocks, and while making clothes is not my superpower, I always pay close attention to what my characters wear.

(the current book I'm working on features a heroine who is quite disinterested in clothes and to be honest I have no idea how to deal with that)

Velody, one of the main protagonists of Power and Majesty & The Shattered City, is a dressmaker, and so she sees clothes first, and people second.  At one point, in Power and Majesty, she notes the glamorous gear that the members of the Creature Court tend to wear, and laments that she should be dressing them, not  leading them!

I have many favourite outfits from this series!  Many of them belong to the first book (such as the rose petal  dress Velody makes for the Duchessa, and the frocks Velody and Delphine wear to the theatre, not to mention the leather trousers Ashiol steals from Velody, and the boots he "liberates" from Poet.  I also have some extreme favourites from Book Three, Reign of Beasts (to be released in Oct/Nov this year) including a red flapper frock, a frock made entirely of skysilver, a couple of the good old reliable brown sentinel cloaks being put to rather saucy use, some steampunky Edwardian fashions, and the chance - finally - to put the  Duchessa in breeches rather than a skirt.  But that's the future, and we're not there yet!

So let's talk about the fashions of Book Two: The Shattered City. First of all, and most obvious, I have to rave about the gown that's on the front cover.  I had to concede on the cover image of Book One, because honestly I do understand how hard it would be to depict Isangell's rose petal dress as I described it.  But the cover for Book Two more than made up for it - depicting a perfect image of Velody in the antique green ballgown she ends up wearing for an important section of the novel.

I have other favourites, though!  An embroidered waistcoat that causes nothing but trouble.  A collection of animal costumes to be worn by children.  A flame gown, Velody's latest creation for the Duchessa:

The silk was cool to the touch.  It was a magnificent gown:
flame-orange, trimmed with soft charcoal-black leaves of silk that
tumbled from the Duchessa's shoulders to her knees.  A perfect
festival dress for the chief day of sacrifice, the centrepiece of the
sacred games which would shortly be taking over the city.

But actually, my favourite outfit from Book Two is worn by the catty, wicked Livilla, usually seen in vampish ensembles while sucking on a cigarette holder...

It was Livilla, dressed in a long white morning dress as if she
was a daughter of the Great Families, all pearls and pale green 
accessories.  She wore gloves, and even her cosmetick was muted.  
They had been right, damn it.  Livilla was putting on a show.

She was alone, despite the table being set for three.  As Ashiol 
came down the grey stone steps, Livilla dropped a sugar cube 
into her own teacup with a tiny splash.  "You're here," she said, 
sounding pleased with herself.  "I knew you loved me really."

Okay, it doesn't sound all that impressive, but to my mind it's worth it for this later exchange...

Ashiol turned, surveying the city below.  Flamebolts had hold of
the librarion and were spreading to other buildings on the Octavian
hill.  Poet was right, Livilla was the only Lord in that part of the
  He soared to her, body glowing with animor.  "Livilla, what the
frig?"    She was dressed like a matrona again, in the same modest
gown she had worn to take tea with the Duchessa, a rope of pearls
hanging to her knees.  What kind of maniac danced the sky in beads?
"Ashiol darling, you can't expect me to catch flamebolts.  I have my
hair to think of."
  He growled under his breath.  "Put the fire out.  Move it!"
  "Who died and made you Power and Majesty?"
  Ashiol hesitated to go chimaera, just for a moment, unsure what he
might find when he reached for that shape.  Then, realising his
weakness, he threw himself into his chimaera form, black and powerful
and edged with claws.  And yes, wings, back where they belonged,
barely even hurting as he swiped out at Livilla.
    "Such a bully," she said, eyes flashing with animor, but turned
and arced her body over the river where it curved behind the
Balisquine.  She dipped down then soared up again like a swan, and a
trail of river water followed her in a fan-like tail.  Livilla dropped
down over the Octavia and the water exploded over the flames,
drenching the buildings in a haze of light and animor.
  Livilla had always been an artist in the sky, when she wanted to
be.    "Good enough, my king?" she asked archly when the flames were
    Ash returned to Lord form and kissed her once on the cheek.
"Where did you get that stupidly respectable dress?"
  "Stole it from a nun."
  "That explains a lot, really."


Tansy Rayner Roberts is the author of Power and Majesty (Creature Court Book One) and The Shattered City (Creature Court Book Two, April 2011) with Reign of Beasts (Creature Court Book Three, coming in
November 2011) hot on its tail. Her short story collection Love and Romanpunk will be published as part of the Twelfth Planet Press "Twelve Planets" series in May.

This post comes to you as part of Tansy's Mighty Slapdash Blog Tour, and comes with a cookie fragment of new release The Shattered City.


  1. It's interesting to see your comment on the cover of Power and Majesty. I have to confess it screamed chick lit - and the novel is nothing like that. If I hadn't read other stories by you I would have just put it back on the shelf. The Shattered City cover would have drawn me in - even if I hadn't been waiting for it ever since I finished Power and Majesty.

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