Mary E Pearson chats the world building behind the Remnant Chronicles and more

Learn about the world building behind her trilogy.


Earlier in the year, Hodder and Stroughton released new covers for Megan Whalen Turner’s The Queen’s Thief series. We chatted with Megan herself on the new covers and much more. Today, we are here to celebrate another favourite of ours, The Remnant Chronicles, getting new UK covers. We have the lovely Mary E Pearson here with us to chat about the world building behind the trilogy.

Please tell us what you like most about the new covers.

This is so hard to answer because I love so much about all of them. First of all, in another lifetime I was a graphic designer and artist, and I love how all the design elements flow together so beautifully. That is no small feat. And the colour! The three together look like jewels. And the design itself is so rich and layered—I wish I could weave it all into a blanket and wrap myself up.

The YA scene has changed quite a bit since 2014, when the Remnant Chronicles first got released. What do you think makes this trilogy as appealing as it was in 2014?

I tend to write about timeless subjects: love, hate, finding truth, agency, and voice, the things we have always grappled with as human beings. And in the current climate, maybe we are wrestling with some of those things even more.

Have you revisited the trilogy yourself recently? And have you ever wished that you wrote something differently?

I frequently have to revisit it when writing other stories in the universe (I almost have it memorized by now!) and there are always passages and sentences I would revise—a word choice here or there—but the overall forward arc of the books I am happy with. Ultimately, it is about the character’s journey and the way they change and grow and affect those and the world around them.

Let’s jump into the books. First of all, are you a First Daughter?

Nope! Second daughter and last of the brood. And that meant my voice was always last to be heard, which perhaps made me more of an observer and listener? Priming for a life as a writer?

In the Kiss of Deception, we don’t know who Rafe and Kaden are supposed to be until much later. How do you balance between dropping enough hints such that the reveals would make sense, and making it suspenseful?

It was tricky! I had to be careful in the “Rafe” and “Kaden” chapters, that they only spoke of their immediate interactions in Terravin, and not their other lives. Likewise, in the “Assassin” and “Prince” chapters, I made sure they didn’t talk about recent interactions with Lia that might exclude the other from being present. I made slips along the way, but revision took care of that. They main point of it, really, was so the reader would give them both careful consideration, and not sum them up by their titles or outward appearance.

The Kiss of Deception is set mainly in the summer festivities in a small village, and everything feels very fascinating, from the log wrestling to the Festival of Deliverance. Where did you draw the inspirations from?

I’m a very visual person and I had a huge bulletin board full of pictures of various places and architecture. One of those places was a little beach town in California, and another was the colourful island of Burano in Venice, Italy, that I visited some years ago and fell in love with. The cultural details grew from going to modern fairs and festivals and imagining them in a new way.

Within the Remnant Chronicles, there are often interesting excerpts, such as from the Morrighan Book of Holy Text and the Song of Venda. What was the creation process like? Did you write these excerpts specifically for those scenes or did you select them from a larger collection?

I wrote them both ways. Initially, some of the histories and prophecies came to me in whole gulps, but as I got to know and understand more about this world, I wrote more pieces to fill in the gaps.

And on that topic, what was the process of creating the different languages like?

Ha! I always laugh when I look back on that process. At first, I wrote it just for the sound and cadence without a lot of consistency on what each word meant. My agent asked me specifics and I didn’t have them. It turned out, my brilliant agent also had a PHD in linguistics, and she helped me shape up the languages—and even had me conjugating verbs for words that didn’t really exist! It feels like a real language now.

Lia’s gift was slowly unveiled throughout the trilogy. How did you choose what gift she has?

This is a subject I would LOVE to talk about, but it is very spoilerish. I will say, I wanted to explore a strength that I see in many women that is often disregarded, and I imagined what might happen if the world was struggling in the worst way to survive, how this knowing might flourish and become key to survival, a trait that is woven into us as strongly as our DNA.

And finally, as the Remnant Chronicles progress, Lia has different attitudes towards duty and destiny. How has your own attitude towards these changed from 2014 to now?

I feel now as I did then. It is all about choice and voice—a women’s right to be heard and to choose her own destiny.

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