The Big Idea: M. A. Carrick

Collaboration is key. Whether it’s writing a book together, backing a Kickstarter together, or changing the world together, people need each other to make things the best version they can be. Follow along with authors Alyc and Marie, who joined together as M. A. Carrick to bring you the newest novel in their Rook and Rose Trilogy, Labyrinth’s Heart.


All our patterns are real.

The Rook and Rose trilogy features a deck of cards (live on Kickstarter as we speak!) that gets used for divination. We’ve mentioned the pattern deck in our previous Big Idea pieces for The Mask of Mirrors and The Liar’s Knot, because our book titles are drawn from card names . . . but that’s not just a tactic for settling on titles. It’s a nod toward the centrality of pattern in this series as a whole.

It wasn’t originally meant to be that central, though. We knew we wanted Ren, our con artist protagonist, to have a deck of cards she used for divination, and we settled on “pattern” as the name because it echoes the association of threads and weaving with fate. That choice had unforeseen consequences: not only did Vraszenian culture become Textile Motifs Ahoy about 0.18 seconds after we named the deck, but when we sat down to refine the differences between our three magical traditions (imbuing, numinatria, and pattern), our word choice shaped our thinking. Pattern gets used for divination, via the cards, but its core is something deeper.

Pattern is the connections between things.

Or, to borrow a line from Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., “We are tied together in the single garment of destiny, caught in an inescapable network of mutuality.”

That’s the heart of our story. Not a lone heroine changing the world single-handed, but a tapestry of characters bound together by their relationships, both good and bad. Our books are 600-page bricks because we need the room to show those connections, how a tug on a thread here causes the fabric to wrinkle there. And how when change happens, it’s not because one person performed a singular act; it’s because enough threads wove into enough of a net to drag the world in a new direction.

Which sounds very distant and philosophical, but in practice it’s all about the character moments, because those are what we live for (as both writers and readers). There’s violence in our novels — in Labyrinth’s Heart, even war — but what ultimately defeats one of the villains is the severance of connections that have until that point been protecting them. Meanwhile, another person gets saved by the remaking of a connection that’s broken. That’s the damnation or salvation of a lot of our characters: they live or die, find a home or get exiled, achieve their goals or go up in a ball of metaphorical flame, as a consequence of their relationships with the people around them. Not by chance or their own choices alone, but by the bonds they’ve made, or renounced, or failed to form in the first place.

Kind of like our collaboration. We can point to some individual concepts and plot beats and lines where that was definitely Alyc’s doing, or Marie’s . . . but the series as a whole exists because of our friendship, because of the years in which our creative bond has grown and strengthened until it can bear this kind of fruit. Neither of us could have written this trilogy solo — not in the form it has, with all that depth and richness of detail.

When we say “all our patterns are real,” we’re usually talking about the divination that appears in the story. Marie has a deck of blank cards marked up with Sharpie; any time someone in the books lays a pattern, she shuffled and dealt those cards, and whatever we got, we wrote into the text. (Except when our con artist heroine is working with a stacked deck, of course.) But on that deeper level, where pattern isn’t just cards but the connections between things — between people — it’s still true. We came into this series with a set of characters and their relationships, and we built our world and our plot to make those relationships go. They’re the beating heart of the story; pattern is the reflection of that heart.

And did we mention it’s on Kickstarter? We’ve dreamt for years of replacing that Sharpie-marked deck with properly illustrated cards; now, to commemorate the release of Labyrinth’s Heart, we’re trying to make our dream a reality. But the success of a Kickstarter, like the success of a series, isn’t the work of a single person; it involves editors, artists, readers, backers, a whole mass of threads weaving together into a beautiful fabric.

That’s magic, right there.

Labyrinth’s Heart: Amazon US|Barnes & Noble||Powell’s|Indigo (Canada)|Amazon (UK)|Waterstones (UK)

Author socials: Website|Twitter|Marie on Mastodon|Alyc on Mastodon|Marie’s Patreon

2 Comments on “The Big Idea: M. A. Carrick”

  1. I’m excited to hear about the deck! I’m another life, I spent a lot of time studying tarot and divination theory and I have to give the authors credit for one of the most comprehensive, cohesive, and creative tools I’ve ever read about.

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