Another mystery-horror-fantasy hits shelves today in the form of K.A. Doore’s The Impossible Contract. Come back to the world of Ghadid and the lands beyond, as we follow Thana trying to take down a necromancer, Amastan makes a cameo, and the greatest curmudgeon of a healer graces the pages. Learn more about the process of writing the book, some more world-building details, and what to read while we’re all pining for The Unconquered City.
Returning to Ghadid
It seems that the political structures remain, but we get to see a bit of the world beyond. What inspired Thana’s danger-filled journey through the desert?
I wanted to separate Thana from any support she could have received from her cousins and force her to work on her own. And really, she wants that, too. She’s a little overeager to jump on the chance to leave home and prove herself. On top of that, forcing her outside of her comfort zone and element, while giving her room to grow, also gives her room to continue being hyper-competent.
Plus, you know, the added bonus of getting to explore the desert and potentially encounter more of the dangers that lurk there.
What was your favorite scene or moment to write?
Oh, this one’s tough because all of my favorites are spoilers. But if I stick to the non-spoilery bits, I’d easily have to say the interactions between Amastan and Thana. I’ve rewritten those scenes about a dozen times, but their shared respect and ease with each other, despite being almost complete opposites, was always a delight to revisit. They’re basically siblings, with all the platonic love that entails—and, of course, the occasional fights.
The bound are so scary but so cool. From where did you draw the inspiration for their design and function?
So I didn’t explicitly set out to recreate zombies, but really—what did I expect to happen when I started trapping spirits inside of corpses? Most of their design came from general world-building and extrapolating what less-than-scrupulous people could do with jaan. Turns out: a lot! Like bind them to corpses and release them upon their enemies. Fun!
Given the number of poisons referenced in this book, did you have a favorite you came upon while researching for this novel?
I never sat down and specifically researched poisons for this book, but I had read a few books about poison along the way (like The Poisoner’s Handbook, which is about the beginnings of forensics in the US and fantastic) and I know a few chemists/biologists. None of the poisons in the book have a one-to-one in reality, but I did steal symptoms and reactions from real poisons and mixed them all about for fun.
The Road to Publishing
Since you had queried The Impossible Contract, in what ways is that book different from the tale we’ll read today?
The final version has one less sandstorm! And quite a few less dreary caravan scenes. I had to cut it down from 130,000 to 105,000 words over the course of multiple edit rounds and what went was a lot of padding, for the most part, but I also halved most of the traveling scenes. But I didn’t just cut things out—I also added that riverside chat between Mo and Thana. That scene was one of the very last edits and also surprisingly crucial. I’m glad I had the chance to add it.
What were some other challenges experienced while working on this book?
Learning how to write a bit leaner, a bit sparser. Cutting out all the fun desert stuff I’d learned during my research phase (oof, so much Fun Facts™ that just clunked up the flow). Really exploring a sapphic romance for the first time in my writing and trying to understand what that looked like to me during a period when there weren’t really any sapphic fantasies.
What other projects are on the horizon after The Perfect Assassin?
If you love queer mains, snarky side characters, epic world-building, and necromancy, then you’ll love THE UNSPOKEN NAME by AK Larkwood—out 2/11/2020 from Tor.
If you love gentle sapphic romance, a main character in WAY over her head, stakes mounting by the hour, and really cool magic, then you’ll love THE WINTER DUKE by Claire Eliza Bartlett—out 3/3/2020 from Little Brown.
If you need something NOW that’s full of cranky necromancers, undead, secrets, and has a main character who just really needs a nap, then you should read LORD OF SECRETS by Breanna Teintze.
K.A. Doore grew up in Florida, but has since lived in lush Washington, arid Arizona, and cherry-infused Michigan. While recovering from climate whiplash, she’s raised chickens, learned entirely too much about property assessment, photographed cacti, and now develops online trainings, none of which has anything to do with—perhaps has everything to do with—her BA in Classics. Follow her on Twitter. The Impossible Contract comes out November 12th and can be purchased from my local indie Unabridged Books, Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and wherever books are sold.