My Favorite Bit: Patrice Sarath talks about THE SISTERS MEDEROS
Patrice Sarath is joining us today with her novel The Sisters Mederos. Here’s the publisher’s description:
Two sisters fight with manners, magic, and mayhem to reclaim their family’s name, in this captivating historical fantasy adventure.
House Mederos was once the wealthiest merchant family in Port Saint Frey. Now the family is disgraced, impoverished, and humbled by the powerful Merchants Guild. Daughters Yvienne and Tesara Mederos are determined to uncover who was behind their family’s downfall and get revenge. But Tesara has a secret – could it have been her wild magic that caused the storm that destroyed the family’s merchant fleet? The sisters’ schemes quickly get out of hand – gambling is one thing, but robbing people is another…
Together the sisters must trust each another to keep their secrets and save their family.
What’s Patrice’s favorite bit?
At its heart, The Sisters Mederos is about family relationships and about the roles that everyone in a family gets assigned, whether they want to or not. My favorite parts are those scenes where the family interacts, each according to their own interests. Many of these scenes take place during mealtimes. I loved writing the repartee, including (and maybe especially) the bickering that even the happiest families fall into.
Here is a snippet of one of these breakfast table scenes:
“Well?” Alinesse, Brevart, and Samwell demanded. Yvienne took a breath. The moment of truth had come.
“[The letter’s] from Mastrini’s. I didn’t tell you in case nothing came of it, but I gave them my vitae to see if they could find a governess position for me.”
“WHAT?!” It seemed her family was to be surprised by everything that morning. She waited for them to calm down. She could hardly shout over their demands for an explanation.
“It makes the most sense, you all know that. I am well able to teach, especially older girls. It would be foolish for my education to go unused.”
Especially the actual education, the one before she wasted six years at Madam Callier’s.
“Yvienne, my dear — you can’t be serious,” Brevart said. Her father set down the paper and peered at her, his spectacles perched on the top of his head as usual. His eyes were unblinking and wet. She felt a pang. Where was the long-range thinking merchant of her youth? Her father had grown old.
“I am serious, Father. It’s the best way to help the family. I can earn a wage and add it to our small annuity. It’s not much, but we can begin to get ahead at last.”
Such a poor ambition. And her plan to trade information with Treacher had turned to cold ashes. But that doesn’t matter, she thought. Because a governess is in a position to hear things and see things, and she fully intended to take advantage of her new position.
Uncle Samwell grunted. “Not sure that I approve. Governesses have a reputation.”
“Nonsense. No one would treat Yvienne that way,” Brevart said. Samwell just raised his eyebrows at his brother-in-law’s naiveté and went back to his coffee.
“Which House is it?” Mother asked.
“It’s the TreMondis. They have two daughters, ages twelve and eight, and a son, age six.” Butterflies fluttered in her stomach. Even as a cover, she would have to take care to do a respectable job as a governess.
“The TreMondis,” Alinesse said. She tsked. “Small, but I suppose it could be worse.” Yvienne hid her exasperation. So like Alinesse, first to take umbrage at Yvienne’s position, and then look down her nose at the House that hired her. She glanced at Brevart.
He grunted. “Not very steady, is he? Married that foreign woman? A bit more money than business sense; not sure what they’re doing with expeditions East across the Chahoki wastelands.”
“Word at AEther’s is they did quite well with the last one,” Samwell pointed out, grabbing the last biscuit and slathering on butter. “Maybe this is a good thing. The girl can get us in on the next venture. Do your best, Vivi. Talk business with Alve TreMondi. Impress him. Men like a smart girl.”
“The sea I understand,” Brevart objected. “The desert — no. Chahoki horse soldiers, for one thing. Bandits, for another. Don’t listen to him, Yvienne. Your Uncle’s head is full of dreams.”
Samwell rolled his eyes and Yvienne gave him a rueful look. Too bad her parents never listened to Uncle. He was impulsive, a liar, and completely full of himself, but he thought like a merchant. They underestimated him, just the way they did Tesara. She glanced over at her sister, who had opened her letter and was reading it with a curious expression. Interesting, she thought. What was Tesara up to? With no expression, Tesara laid the letter down next to her plate, as if to draw no attention to it.
“What’s that there?” Uncle Samwell demanded, loud and intrusively. “What do you have, Monkey?”
Alinesse and Brevart turned their attention to their second daughter. With all eyes on her, Tesara said, “It’s quite amusing, actually. It’s an invitation to a salon, for Saint Gerare’s Day. From the Idercis.”
This time the parents and Samwell were struck dumb with astonishment. Alinesse leaned over and snatched the letter from her daughter.
“Let me see that.” She scanned the letter, a wrinkle appearing between her eyebrows. “What on earth? Why on earth? The Idercis! You don’t even know the Idercis! We don’t even know the Idercis! This must be some kind of joke.”
“Maybe it’s an olive branch,” Tesara suggested. “I can’t remember if Mrs Iderci gave me the cut direct on the Mile, but if she did, perhaps she’s feeling bad about it.”
“Well, you can’t go. That’s final. That’s absurd. They must have you mistaken for someone else. You aren’t even out, not that that is a possibility right now, but…”
“Mama,” Tesara interrupted. “It’s all right. I don’t intend to go.”
Alinesse settled her ruffled feathers. “Of course you won’t.”
Uncle reached for the invitation, snapping his thick fingers. “Well, if she won’t have it, I’ll take it, Alinesse. I keep telling you two, business isn’t anything except relationships. And the Idercis’ salon will be full of beautiful, profitable relationships. Hiding in here won’t get you back in the game.”