Juliet Kemp is joining us today to talk about their novel, The Rising Flood. Here’s the publisher’s description:
Hope alone cannot withstand a rising flood
A darkness writhes in the heart of Teren.
The Academy is unleashing demons on dissenters, and refugees rush to leave the capital with nothing but their lives and a hope.
That hope brings them to the city of Marek, Teren’s only major port, which harbours dreams of independence. But Marek is not as stable as it seems.
Marcia, Heir to House Fereno, has spent the last two years fighting to keep Marek safe and prosperous – but with child, her relationship in ruins and the increasing threat of Teren to worry about, can she find her way through? The printing houses of the city run rabble-rousing polemic, penned by an increasingly frustrated majority who feel left out of the rule and riches of Marek. They demand change, and Marcia can’t help but agree with much of what they’re saying.
On the other side of the bridge, the tiny group of Marek’s remaining sorcerers must negotiate their way through troubles of their own. Cato, Marcia’s exiled brother, and Reb, her ex-lover, are trying to train a new generation of sorcerers and both are having problems. Jonas simply won’t take ‘no’ for an answer from Cato; and Reb’s two students feel held back, both know that change, and strife, may be coming – and neither are ready to deal with it. But Reb cannot bring herself to move faster.
Between them, the five sorcerers alongside Marek’s cityangel can expel a single demon. But Teren has many, and other fears loom on the horizon. Out-of-season storms rampage across the Oval Sea, threatening trade – and Jonas’ family, out plying the trade winds – and the unseasonable weather threatens Marek itself.
Menaced by the distant capital, by dissension from within, and even by nature itself – will the rising flood lift all boats?
Or will they be capsized?
What’s Juliet’s favorite bit?
THE RISING FLOOD is the third installment (of four planned) of my fantasy Marek Series. The series is set in the city of Marek, where magic and politics – both internal and external to the city – intertwine. In The Rising Flood, some of the tensions, political, magical, and interpersonal, that have been building in the earlier books are coming to a head.
My favourite bit is not a single part but a strand woven through the book: the building of a new relationship between Marcia (Heir to House Fereno, one of Marek’s thirteen ruling Houses) and her co-parent-to-be Andreas that covers friendship, parenting, sex, and politics, but not romance.
In the previous book,Shadow And Storm, Marcia’s mother blackmails her into agreeing to produce an heir to their House; at the beginning of The Rising Flood, when Marcia’s sorcerer girlfriend Reb discovers this – and, more pertinently, that Marcia’s been lying to her by omission for months – their relationship implodes. Marcia, grieving the breakup, is still on the hook for finding someone to sign a child-contract, even if all she wants from them is material for conception. (Marek child-contracts can cover a range of things from conception to marriage). She ends up accepting an unusually generous co-parenting offer from Andreas, the young Head of another House. The contract is politically useful for both of them – Marcia’s House are historically stronger than Andreas’, but Marcia’s rather been burning through allies lately. She could use some support.
Although Marcia and Andreas have had a couple of interesting conversations, they don’t know each other well. Once she accepts the contract, they slowly become better friends – and lovers, on a casual footing.
I enjoyed introducing Andreas: young, and unexpectedly Head of his House after two family tragedies, but finally finding his feet and beginning to make his own deals and decisions. But he’s also willing to engage with Marcia’s campaign to get the Houses to think a little more about the rest of Marek, not just their part of it – assisted, to Marcia’s chagrin, by his friend (who happens to be Marcia’s ex and political nemesis) Daril Leandra-Heir. Daril might have his eye firmly on the main chance, and very few scruples, but he does have one or two genuine political beliefs. If the three of them can work together, that might even be what’s needed to shift Marek. If anyone can risk trusting Daril, that is.
What I wanted with Marcia and Andreas was to write a relationship that grew over the course of the book, that could support them disagreeing, and that wasn’t going to become a romantic one. I wanted them to build a strong bond as friends, co-parents, allies, and occasional lovers, whilst also showing them maintaining their own boundaries through that. Writing all of those scenes was really rewarding.
The situation becomes challenging for Andreas when political and magical problems bring Marcia and Reb together again; especially since, as a good Marekhill House Head, he doesn’t (exactly) believe in magic, and certainly doesn’t want to engage with it. When the Teren Lieutenant Selene, back from the Teren capital, threatens to expose Marcia and Reb’s prior relationship, Marcia calls her bluff, and ends up defending Marek magic in the Council. Andreas needs to decide which way to jump, and it’s not a wholly straightforward decision.
Will Andreas support Marcia regardless? Will Marcia apologise properly to Reb, and will that be enough for the two of them to overcome their problems?
Well, you’ll need to read the book to find out.
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, The Deep And Shining Dark, of their Marek Serieswas on the Locus 2018 Recommended Reads list. Their short fiction has appeared in venues including 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. They can be found on Twitter as @julietk, or at https://julietkemp.com.