Rin Chupeco has written obscure manuals for complicated computer programs, talked people out of their money at event shows, and done many other terrible things. She now writes about ghosts and fantastic worlds but is still sometimes mistaken for a revenant. She is the author of The Girl from the Well, its sequel, The Suffering, and The Bone Witch trilogy. Her new novel is The Never Tilting World, the first book of a duology. Rin Chupeco has agreed to talk about it with Kelli Lowers for the LAPL Teen blog.
What was your inspiration for The Never Tilting World?
I've always wanted to write a story that would address the extreme weather itself as the enemy/big bad, instead of only dealing with the consequences of it. I also live in the Philippines, where I can more easily see the effects of climate change than in other places such as say, USA.
Is this novel inspired by any specific mythologies?
I drew a lot of inspiration from Assyrian mythology, in particular! The original goddess of the world is named Inanna, which is a reference to the Assyrian/Babylonian goddess Inanna, who famously descended into the underworld and barely made it out alive. Her story is a recurring theme throughout the series, and her descendants are also the goddesses sworn to protect the world, so her legend is known among them. Unfortunately, there's more to her mythos than what it appears to be—but no one is completely sure, because very little history has survived the world's breaking.
I am a fan of your world-building in your novels. What is your process on creating these worlds?
I think the main reason worldbuilding is a strength of mine is because when I start a story, knowing only the basic outlines of it, the first thing I concentrate on is the world, which I treat like a secondary character in itself. I'd like it to have its own personality, in a way. Aeon is a bit like that scarred war veteran with severe PTSD who would rather attack anything and anyone it deems to be a threat rather than treat its symptoms. If I already have characters in mind, my first priority is to figure out the kind of world they'll be living in that can adversely affect them the most. From there, it's all about building the details around that concept. A broken world means most parts of Aeon would have Here Be Dragons all over them. It means none of the characters are sure what lies beyond their territory because the world has changed drastically and most people who've tried to document those changes didn't make it back alive.
What inspired the planet Aeon?
A lot of research into eyeball planets! These are tidally locked planets—usually with a binary system, eg two planets that revolve around each other instead of multiple planets revolving around a larger star, like our solar system—where night and day are permanently fixed. This means extreme heat on one side of the world, and extreme cold on the other side—excepting certain key areas where the heat and the cold mix together, forming an eyeball-like pattern on the world's surface, hence the name. Eyeball planets are theoretically habitable, but only on certain stretches of the world, so that's the environment I wanted to base the story around.
Did you have difficulties writing this world and its forms of elemental magic?
The challenge was taking the sparseness and the unknowns of the world and expanding them to feel rich in detail regardless. Unlike other worlds I've made, the characters know virtually little. There are only two know cities. Everything else is either barren desert or infested by some kind of corrupted creatures, and it was difficult to peel back Aeon like an onion, exposing one layer each time my main characters venture further out into the unknown. I also made grids for the magic system, where each ability is basically two kinds of elements combined. A gate is a magic user's dominant element. Each gate user can wield only one kind of element. Someone with a terra gate but can channel water patterns would be a Mudforger, able to squeeze water out of the earth (a useful tool for the desert!). Someone with the same terra gate, but can instead channel only terra patterns are Stoneforgers, able to reinforce armor. Arjun, for example, has a fire gate that can channel fire patterns, making him both a danger to others and to himself if he's careless. All goddesses though, can channel all the gates and patterns, excepting aether for one of them (for spoiler reasons!). Lan, a healer, has an aether gate, which can only wield aether patterns, though she uses this as offense as well as for healing.
Why did you choose to write the novel with four point of views instead of just one or two?
There is a very huge spoiler for this at the climax of the book where the reasons for it become more obvious. The original plan had been to use the POVs of my twin goddesses, Haidee and Odessa—but I also realize that given the personalities I had for them, coupled with the limitations on their freedoms when the story begins, that you wouldn't be able to see the whole picture without adding two more characters, Lan and Arjun into the mix—both who know a lot of things about Aeon that the goddesses don't.
Are Lan, Odessa, Haidee, Arjun or any other characters inspired by or based off specific individuals?
All four takes on a part of my personality in some way, actually. I'm a big sucker for romance like Odessa, am extremely stubborn and singleminded like Haidee, and of course, deal with trauma poorly like Lan. Arjun though, is probably the one that's most like me out of everyone. He's extremely self-deprecating, a huge smartass, and his bark tends to be worse than his bite.
How did the novel change and evolve as you wrote and revised it? Are there any characters or scenes that were lost in the process that you wish had made it to the published version?
I'm very happy to say that I'm usually very economical when it comes to scenes and characters. I usually wind up using all the scenes in the first draft, and TNTW was no exception. I referenced that in a panel once, joking about why would I write characters out if I could just kill them off.
What message do you hope readers will take away from reading this novel as well as the next one?
I hope you enjoy traveling with Odessa, Haidee, Arjun, and Lan as much as I enjoyed writing them! Even when they are sometimes the most ridiculous, exasperating characters at times.
What are you currently reading?
Is there a world from a novel (any novel, including yours) that you would like to physically visit?
I would thrive on Terry Pratchett's Discworld, is all I can say. I would pretty much be a literal troll there, simply because I hate the heat and function a thousand percent better in a cold climate, or maybe in the inside of a refrigerator.
What was your favorite book when you were a child?
The Count of Monte Cristo. (I was both an early and advanced reader) It's still actually my favorite book of all time, and I read it a few times a year just because it's still so enjoyable every time.
Can you name your top five favorite or most influential authors?
Was there a book you felt you needed to hide from your parents?
All the Harlequin romance books, They're very lenient when it comes to things I read, but I just wanted to avoid the awkward conversations for those. The irony is they were my mom's and I snuck them out of the bookshelves at night!
Is there a book that changed your life?
The Sandman graphic novels by Neil Gaiman blew my mind. It went beyond the limitations of what I previously thought a graphic novel had, and it inspired me to look at writing books the same way. I write every series with experimental styles, and I don't want any of my books to sound like the previous series I've written, and if I have to change my writing style or add in a new technique because I believe it would help the story, then I'll do it!
Is there a book that you think every teen should read?
The Sandman graphic novels, for all the reasons above!
Do you think any of your books could or should be turned into a graphic novel?
I think The Girl from the Well series would be gorgeous as graphic novels, but I would want the subversively, beautifully horrifying Junji Ito treatment.
When can we expect the next book in this series?
Same time next year! Most likely mid-October, 2020!
Are you working on anything else?
My next series, Wicked as You Wish, will be out in March of 2020! I've got a couple of other WIPs in the works—strangely enough, they're adult fantasies this time! The characters that sprung to mind for them are much older and requires a lot more things that kids usually wouldn't be doing—they involve a gay heist and a demonic Regency romance, respectively!
The Never Tilting World takes readers into a universe containing a planet split between day and night. Journey to the world of Aeon where generations of twin goddesses have ruled until one sister’s betrayal split the world in two. A Great Abyss now divides two realms: one cloaked in eternal night, the other scorched beneath an ever-burning sun. While one sister rules the frozen fortress of Aranth, her twin rules the sand-locked Golden City—each with a daughter by their side. Now those young goddesses must set out on separate, equally dangerous journeys in hopes of healing their broken world. No matter the sacrifice it demands.
Told from four interweaving perspectives, this sweeping duology packs elemental magic, star-crossed romance, and incredible landscapes into a spectacular fantasy adventure that’s equal parts Frozen and Mad Max: Fury Road.