Juliet Kemp is joining us today to talk about their novel, The City Revealed. Here’s the publisher’s description:
THE CITY REVEALED is the final book (#4) in the Marek Series, although it can be read alone. A lot of tensions are coming to a head; and some long-buried (or at least long-ignored) issues are about to inescapably rise up.
The lower city have had enough of being ignored, but the Council aren’t about to let go of any of their power. Meanwhile, Marcia’s reaching the “actually I’m ready to be done” stage of pregnancy; and her mother Madeleine has gone missing somewhere in Teren. When Marcia’s – and Marek’s – enemy Selene returns from Teren with a collection of demons to make good on her previous threats, Marcia’s brother Cato is the only one with the skill or knowledge to find a solution. But magic alone won’t solve this; especially not when the growing divisions in the city are finally affecting the cityangel and through them, magic itself.
What is Juliet’s favorite bit?
Trans chaotic neutral sorcerer Cato is probably my favourite character in my Marek series (a tricky decision as I do love them all). His relationship with his twin sister Marcia has always been solid, if spiky – but there’s plenty of unspoken tension there, centred on the fact that their mother Madeleine threw Cato out in his teens when he refused to give up magic. Marcia stayed in touch, but Madeleine has refused to even hear Cato’s name ever since.
So my favourite bit in The City Revealed was writing Cato and Marcia’s massive bust-up, when Marcia asks him to save their mother, held hostage by the sorcerous force besieging Marek, and Cato tells her exactly where to get off. Finally, out come all the things neither of them have said for the past decade, while Marcia learnt politics up on the Hill and Cato learnt survival over in the squats, and Cato tells Marcia a couple of home truths about her behaviour. Cato even manages to fall out with his partner Tait too when Tait accidentally gets involved; and the other Marek sorcerer Reb sits Cato down for his own hard-truths conversation.
Family relationships have been an underlying theme throughout the Marek series. The Marek House families are intrinsically political, and I enjoyed creating dynamics which interlock with other plots and themes, both political and magical, in the books. Marcia, unlike Cato, might still be on speaking terms with their mother, but their relationship certainly isn’t straightforward. (Madeleine and Marcia are regularly at odds, and in book 3, The Rising Flood, Madeleine more or less blackmailed her daughter into getting pregnant.) And Marcia’s ex Daril poisoned his father, though Daril isn’t the sort to feel bad over a minor thing like that even if the outcome was a little more severe than he intended. (Gavin died. Eventually. Which meant Daril became Head of House Leandra, so hey, from his perspective it worked out just fine.)
I also wanted Marcia and Cato’s relationship to link Marcia into the lower city right from the start of the series, giving her a sense of Marek that most of her peers on Marekhill and in the Council lack. More than once, it’s been Cato who’s needled Marcia into thinking a little harder about her actions. And it was Cato – or rather, the fact that he was missing – that first introduced Marcia and her sorcerer girlfriend Reb, back in book 1, The Deep And Rising Dark.
Among those ongoing family relationships, Marcia and Cato’s row in this book felt particularly satisfying to write because it’s been so clear to me from the start that while they do love each other, the things they weren’t saying would keep right on festering under the surface unless and until they finally talked about it. I’ve been waiting for three whole books to write one of them – and for lots of reasons, it was always going to be Cato – losing their temper and pulling it all into the open.
And after the row, do they have that real conversation? Well, first of all they’ve got a city to save…
Juliet Kemp is a queer, non-binary, writer (pronouns they/them). They live in London by the river, with their partners, kid, and dog. The first book of their Marek fantasy series, The Deep And Shining Dark, was a Locus 2018 Recommended Read. Their short fiction has appeared in venues including Uncanny, Analog, and Cast of Wonders, and their story “Somewhere Else, Nowhere Else” was short-listed for the WSPA Small Press Award 2020.
When not writing or child-wrangling, Juliet knits, indulges their fountain pen habit, and tries to fit an ever-increasing number of plants into a microscopic back garden.