Hello friends and welcome to Color the Shelves!
I’m bringing you today an inteview with Rin Chupeco, and author I FINALLY started reading from this year after eyeing their books for a couple years, and quickly grew to enjoy and look forward to whatever they put out next. And you know what’s coming out next from them? As in NEXT WEEK next? THE EVER CRUEL KINGDOM! which is the sequel and conclusion to The Never Tilting World, a book all about goddesses, magic, prophecies and destiny. And it’s sapphic, with a “princess”/bodyguard romance, so like…what else are you waiting for to pick up this duology? But if you need a bit more nudging, here is the chat I had with the author about it:
Hello Rin and welcome to Color The Shelves, I’m so happy to have you on my blog today! To start things off, can you give us five fun facts about THE NEVER TILTING WORLD duology?
1. The mythology surrounding TNTW is heavily inspired by Mesopotamian/Sumerian myths! I am a huge fan of anything that has to do with mythology of all sorts, and the story of Inanna is one of the oldest depictions of a god / hero descending into the underworld to search for a loved one, which is a weakness of mine!
2. It took a close irl friend pointing out that Arjun and Haidee reminded her a lot of me and my spouse, respectively. (I tend to have Arjun’s personality, notably when I am irritated, and my partner is a very intelligent, spontaneous, manic pixie boy). Apparently we even argue the same way, and I didn’t realize all this until two weeks after the book’s release, when she’d read it and cheerfully asked me if it was intentional. It was not.
3. I mentioned this in the acknowledgments page of TNTW, but the book’s premise was inspired by me and my partner taking a trip to Boracay, a popular island tourist spot… and then getting stuck there for nearly a week when an unexpected Cat 5 typhoon came, cut us off from all communication outside the island, and then flooded everything!
4. I wanted both Haidee and Odessa to be distinctive, so as a big anime fan, the concept of multicolored hair appealed to me a lot! I’d always wanted to write that in a book, and this one was the perfect opportunity for it, and then doubled down by making their hair color shifting depending on their mood!
5. One of my favorite characters in the duology actually doesn’t show up until THE EVER CRUEL KINGDOM, though her name was a blink-and-you-might-miss-it reference in THE NEVER TILTING WORLD. I hope y’all love Lisette as much as I do!
Your concept of goddesses is unlike anything that I’ve read before. What inspired and shaped the way you wrote them?
I think a lot of what people often forget about gods and goddesses is that they’re supposed to serve their people. It goes back to gods and goddesses like Dionysus and Persephone, or Osiris, where their bodies are sacrificed for the good of the people they look after. All too often that becomes forgotten because the emphasis of religion as a concept is often on how their creations should serve and worship them and that we all should be grateful they even pay us any attention.
I’ve always thought that the idea of gods as abstract deities that you can’t see with the naked eye, yet exists everywhere and knows everything, makes it harder to blame them in times of tragedy. It’s easier to treat a god like they’re human if they walk the world with you, look like you, and can interact with you, and it also becomes easier to be resentful of them when you think they don’t hold up to their end of the bargain, because humans can be a collectively ungrateful lot. When gods take on a permanent human form, they also become susceptible to human foibles – every mythology I’ve ever studied does this, like the act of even just looking human opens you up to folly. It’s the abstract, physically undefinable god that’s always the all-knowing and never-erring.
So I wanted to bring it back to the older myths and write goddesses whose ancestor had made a very fatal mistake in the past that still resonates down their bloodlines, and I wanted to write about goddesses who have these unbelievable powers yet can still be taken advantage of by greedy people. But most of all I think I wanted to write about goddesses who are still very human, who realize the responsibility they wield but may not always make the right decisions because of it, but do their best like everyone else.
Is there a fun bit of research you came across that didn’t make into the final draft but that you’d like to share with us?
I went very deeply into the study of chimeras – basically mythical creatures with body parts that come from two or more animals. That’s how I came up with creatures in Aeon like the dolugongs – part dolphins and part dugongs – and also a few other nightmare beasts that don’t have a name, but are described in a similar manner. A lot of my research about chimeras wound up in a much different WIP that I’m currently still working on (I’ve described before as Swan Lake meets Untitled Goose Game), so it came in handy in cutting down on the research I needed to do!
While reading you work, I found some elements I absolutely love reading about. So it got me curious: What are some of your favorite tropes, characters arcs/dynamics to write about?
I am very weak for enemies to lovers, just because of the different combinations you can get from that one trope alone. It can be something simple as a clash of personalities and philosophies (like one of the main relationships in the book portrays) and also something I’ve used in other books I’ve written (Tea and Kalen in The Bone Witch, Tala and Ryker, and Cole and Zoe in Wicked As You Wish). But I’ve used it in a darker way in some of my more recent works in progress, where both are actively trying to kill or sabotage one another despite their feelings. I’m a huge fan of tension, and that’s one of the more fun ways to write in both major and minor plots.
I also really love writing cinnamon roll bois / girls / enbys who are soft with their significant others but gruff with everyone else, which both Arjun and Lan are. (I am also accused of being a grouchy person irl but soft on friends, so I suppose I am just writing what I am most familiar with)
As non-spoilery as possible, what should readers expect from THE EVER CRUEL KINGDOM?
Deaths! Indiana Jones-style adventures where everyone winds up in hidden temples and desert battlefields and cause a heck lot of trouble! The truth behind the world’s breaking, and about Inanna’s most carefully guarded secret! Arjun, complaining about everything as per usual!
And last but not least, what’s something you’d like your readers to take away from your story or something you’d like to tell them?
The duology is about climate change and learning to forgive yourself for your mistakes as much as it is about terrifying monsters and found family, but it is also about holding the adults accountable for how their actions affect the future. YA has always been about kids saving the world in various ways, but I also want to emphasize how empowering and satisfying it is to also read about adults owning up to their mistakes and taking responsibility. I think kids need to see this more than ever in books and normalize that this is how it’s supposed to be like.
About the author
Rin Chupeco wrote obscure manuals for complicated computer programs, talked people out of their money at event shows, and did many other terrible things. They now write about ghosts and fairy tales but is still sometimes mistaken as a revenant. They were born and raised in the Philippines and, or so the legend goes, still haunts that place to this very day. Their pronouns are she/they.
About the book
Publication date : November 10th, 2020
Publisher : Harperteen | Harpercollins
Genre : Young Adult | Fantasy
Synopsis : After a treacherous journey and a life-shattering meeting with a twin neither knew they had, Haidee and Odessa expected to emerge from the Great Abyss to a world set right. But though the planet is turning once again, the creatures of the abyss will not rest until they have tasted another goddess’s sacrifice.
To break the cycle, Haidee and Odessa need answers that lie beyond the seven gates of the underworld, within the Cruel Kingdom itself. The shadows of the underworld may hunger to tear them apart, but these two sisters are determined to heal their world—together.
That’s it until next time.
Hope you enjoyed, write to you soon.