Video Q&A, with captions for your convenience, and transcript for your preference!

Well, better late than never, right? Sorry, folks, technical difficulties caused some delay, but here is the Q&A video. 

Warning: graphic abuse of adverbs and filler words ahead. 

If you want the goods but can't/won't use sound, we've also got a transcript below. Just keep scrolling. Thanks so much for your questions, everyone. We're kind of glad we're small timers and didn't get slammed, or the captioning process would have been even more of an ordeal.



MATT: Hello, people! It's Matt and Ash here with some questions to answer. *introverted pause* I would call this shameless self-promotion but as two introverts nothing we ever really do is truly shameless.


ASH: We're deeply ashamed right now.


MATT: Especially her. I get to hide behind the camera where I belong.


ASH: Lucky.


MATT: I have a face for radio, as they say.


(Ash's note: He's actually very handsome.)


MATT: So we're going to start easy here, since we're sitting in front of three shelves, one you can't see since it's directly behind Ash, but what are all of these things behind her? Mostly board games and books. So, Ash, what are your top 3 favorite board games that we have here?


ASH: So, top 3 right now – this could change – I really like Blood Rage. You're just a bunch of warring Viking warriors that are duking it out for plunder and glory in the middle of Ragnarok. I'm really bad at it, but that doesn't really impact my enjoyment at all. On the middle shelf, which you can't see, is a bunch of Lovecraft mythos themed games and probably my favorite one on there is Eldritch Horror. Just sort of a global fight to solve mysteries and stop an extra-dimensional threat.


<points> On this shelf, my favorite is Mysterium, which is a very surreal game that features a lot of really artistically drawn cards. You're trying to help a ghost solve their murder and there's nothing in the world quite like it so I enjoy it. You?


MATT: Matt: Well for me, ah, I think my top one on there is going to be Arkham Horror, which is very similar in theme to Eldritch Horror, but it's deeper, more complicated, and takes a long time to set up. Which I consider part of the process since it has a lot of neat art and lore.


I would agree with Blood Rage but not for the same reasons. Sending my own soldiers off to glorious death in order to win a game is excellent. And strategy games are in my wheelhouse, so I like to savor the taste of victory against my friends. <evil chuckle>


The third one is a recent addition, a gift from my brother and sister-in-law: it's Q-bitz. It's much simpler to set up, fast to play. It's about solving puzzle patterns with six-sided cubes which resemble dice just enough to make me interested.


That's enough about the board games, we'll dig into what we're really here for! So Ash, how do I--or, the people watching--know that the book we wrote, Lady Vago's Malediction, is for them?


ASH: So, our target audience is made up of people who love vintage gothics, historical fiction, and high fantasy in general. We like the dark, brooding atmosphere of gothics, lots of stylish women in peril. Historical fiction, you've got those really immersive descriptions of court life and a lot of stylish women making trouble for other people, which is fun. And then you've got high fantasy, which has your magic and your dragons and other mythical beasts and monsters. Sometimes they're an allegory for real world stuff and sometimes they're just there 'cause they're really cool. We have things in our book for both reasons!


MATT: I would agree. Get into it more in one of the following questions about where a lot of the ideas that I injected came from. But yes, there's undead which are genuine undead. There is definitely magic. But more importantly it's about court intrigues, mystery, and a sense of impending doom, lending itself well to the horror genre. There's a lot of reasons to dig into the book, but from what our early readers have said it's a very character driven narrative, and the characters's experiences are very compelling.


ASH: Yep, you know that it's going to end badly from the get-go, but that doesn't seem to spoil anyone's experience or the need to keep turning pages just to find out how bad "bad" gets.


MATT: Within the first ten or so pages I'd say you know basically everybody is dead and it's more a question of how they got there.


ASH: And why!


MATT: So speaking of the characters, who is your favorite character in the story?


ASH: I love all of the characters like they were my very own children. Um, probably the one that I have a soft spot for is Dugan. He's a very grouchy and reactionary old man, but my years in retail management have definitely made me able to relate to a character who is frustrated by these young upstarts coming in and thinking that they're just gonna change everything and make it better for everyone and the rest of the company is just gonna fall in line, and..<shakes head> that's not how that works. That's not how any of this works.


MATT: My favorite character is...as it appears on the page, "JEAR-old", who early in his creation I jokingly referred to as "YAR-old". As is wont with my random ideas the name "YAR-old" has stuck with me throughout the entire process of the story, so in my mind, he is "YAR-old", but everyone is allowed to make their own conclusions on that! He's a painfully awkward, book-smart alchemist whose knowledge is far beyond the era that story is more or less set in. (Ash note: he says “more or less” because the dual timelines make “when” a bit tricky to place.)


In fact, our editor suggested that one of the things he does through the story is very similar to suggesting somebody take anti-depressants in take anti-depressants in the modern day, which stuck with him. But I can definitely see eye-to-eye with somebody who is socially awkward! There's definitely a bit of darkness in Jarold which I can also relate to quite well...but I'm going to avoid spoiling anything about the particular characters, and if you'd like to know more...<conspiratorial whisper> buy and read the book.


So, beyond the characters, ah, obviously there's two of us writing this so this is going to be another forked question, but Ash, what was the biggest inspiration for YOU, that you brought into the story?


ASH: <gestures> All of the books that you see here (we'll jump into them just a little bit more for one of the later questions) but it's kind of a blend of all of my favorite gothics, some of my favorite fantasies, and then the really strong-willed and sort of tragic women that have made a big impact on history. And all of that was sort of simmering in my brain while I was working on this


MATT: On my end, I am less thoroughly read than my wife as far as fantasy novels go. I've been creating content for a small little tabletop game that some of you might know called Dungeons and Dragons. It's been just about 20 years, maybe a little more, that I've been creating my own stories for it. Ah, but I didn't start creating stories because I wanted to play D&D. It was the other way around for me. I started playing D&D because I wanted to craft and create stories.


My wife, Ash, started writing a novel based on some of the characters from several years ago that I played in college. She was in the campaign as well as my roommate, a few other friends here and there depending on who was available. Seeing that in book form clicked something in my brain that made me want to take it to that stage as well. I feel like the stories created by D&D characters are not what I want to tell, but they are definitely an engine for adding more pieces to the puzzle. I want to tell something a bit more in-depth. Something a bit more beautiful than wanting to stab everything in the face that crosses your path.


ASH: There is a kind of beauty in that though! And we don't want to take that out of our D&D when we play that semi-weekly.


MATT: That's fair enough. I will also give a head nod the creative minds behind Critical Role. They were another source of inspiration for finding art in the things that we do in daily life. To express ourselves through art. As much as I am typically loathe to label myself as anything artistic, I will embrace the idea that writing these stories is indeed artistic.


So! Now that we each have our own perspectives, I suppose the next question ought to be: how does coauthoring work for us?


ASH: Um, we're still figuring that out because we're both pretty new at it. But something that is pretty well set is that it all starts with Matt. He builds the world, he plots the plot, and he conceptualizes all these characters. And then once he hands [over] all of that really raw, powerful material, I get to polish it up and be really finicky over the prose itself. I love being obsessive about word choice and then sort of putting the homey (?) touches on worldbuilding. So, if Matt is building the house then I'm thinking about the paint colors, the curtains, the house plants and whatnot.


MATT: Generally speaking, I don't have the patience for much of that, so it works out pretty well for me! I get to do the part that I like best, which is the worldbuilding and the character creation to some degrees. Some of the characters that I write stay exactly as they are. Ash creates additional characters or adds more depth to some existing characters. Two examples in the book I feel more or less came off exactly as they were written in what I had put forth first were Dugan and Jarold – coincidentally, our two favorites. Ones that she really gave personality to were <laughing> the two focal characters of the story, which is where the gothic romance takes place: Rovena and her husband, Baron Vago...Kalsten.


One of my early concepts, which was one of the hinging points for part of the story is Rovena's dad. I have a soft spot for conspiring merchants, and he fits that role nicely. Ash created a character that I never envisioned, a lady knight who, in my opinion, is characterized quite well in the story.


It's great when I'm reading her version because I get to meet a new character that fits perfectly well in my world. Making that shared experienced is definitely a net positive as somebody who has generally created content alone for a long time.


ASH: Yes! Rovena uses her wits, but there's definitely a fair share of lady knights running around, which I am 100% here for. In future volumes, you can be sure that there's going to be more of those kinds of archetypes and the variations on them to come.

MATT: So! To wrap this up, what should our viewers (readers) read next?


ASH: <gleeful smile> Well...so <gestures again> as I said, these are the books that were floating around in my mind while I was writing this. You've got your classics: Wuthering Heights, Rebecca, and A Long Fatal Love Chase. All of those are very beautifully written, um, very dramatic, and then all of them are very tragic as well. Then you've got a couple of historicals. This one's about Eleanor of Aquitane [Eleanor of Aquitane: A Life by Alison Weir] and this one is about the Lady Jane Grey [Innocent Traitor by Alison Weir]. Those are tragic in their own way, but definitely some trouble-making women who I really admire.


And then we've got The Last Unicorn by Peter S. Beagle, which is my new bible, basically. And then you'll have the Curse of Chalion and Paladin of Souls. One of our reviewers actually said that the courtly dialogue reminded them very strongly of the Curse of Chalion which I took as a very high compliment.


So if you haven't already read those then I strongly recommend them. Depending on what about the book resonated with you, there's definitely more of that in all of these. <more gesturing, so proud of her collection>


MATT: For my part, the answer is a bit different than that. For recommendations for different genres... definitely take my wife's advice. For me, it largely depends on when you're watching this. If it's immediately, or forthcoming from the release of this video, then please, by all means, listen to her. But if it's several months from now that you're watching this, then then my top suggestion is going to be the sequel to Lady Vago's Malediction, and the companion novel that we'll be releasing along the same timeline. Definitely keep your eyes peeled for those if they don't exist already when you're watching this. But that's all for today, we'll put the stop here. Have a good morning, day, evening, night.


ASH: What even is time? Thanks for hanging out with us. We'll see you later!

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