It's Only a Game Tag: Welcome, Welcome...

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Magic is in the air. Caraval is almost over--and I'm here to celebrate it while we can. I'm not getting emotional, YOU'RE getting emotional. I'm not ready to say goodbye! Although the series is nearing its end, the memories of it will stick with me for the rest of my life. If you're interested in talking about and saying goodbye to this series, you can join in here.

There are three ways to play a part of Caraval's festivities. Which would you be and why? 

I would likely be a performer or a participant. I'm leaning towards performer, though. There's just something so appealing about slipping into the disguise of someone else, even for only a little while. Having those moments out with friends where we pretend to be someone else or participating in plays has always been a thrill for me. It just fits my personality better. Participating in Caraval would be wild and intense, and full of adventure, but I think I'd rather be a part in creating it--or rather, enhancing it. 

During Legendary we learned that the Fates pictured in the Deck of Destiny are trapped in the cards after they once walked the earth. For the complete list of the Fates, click here.

Each of the Fates represent something that has the potential for, well, disaster. I knew when I wrote out the question that anything I decide would be spur of the moment. Because, it's complicated and I'm conflicted. I think the one I would want to cross least of all would be The Prince of Hearts, even if I loved Jacks in Legendary.

Here's why: the idea of someone being able to control my heartbeat and my emotions? It makes my skin crawl. I don't know why that is the most terrifying thing to me, but it is. Therefore, NOPE. Thank you, next.

As for fates I'd want to cross paths with? Theoretically, I'd be interested in meeting The Assassin.

Which is contradicting, because there's something terrifying in that as well. All of the fates are. The thing is, I'm not even sure about why I'd want to. The Assassin is just who came to my mind first--namely, because moving through time and space is so very intriguing. I'd have questions. Fearful ones, but questions nonetheless.

Tella imagined that all of that power would lead to bits of madness. I think that this says it all. Maybe it's a form of madness to want to look madness in the eye and ask questions.

Do you believe in bad omens?

WHY DID I DO THIS TO MYSELF? Oops! I am on the fence about this one. I'm always thinking, hey, 'this is a strange coincidence' or 'that was weird' when there is something bad that has happened. When I was in high school, I was convinced that me reading the Lurlene McDaniel novel Telling Christina Goodbye only brought bad luck to me or my friends. Which is naivety and fear, but still had me questioning if luck--and in other ways--curses were real.

Let me explain:

The first time I read it, one of my classmates got into a really bad car accident. The next time I read it, I got hit by a car and nearly died. I always felt like it was a bad omen and have not read the book since, even though I know it had nothing to do with any of the events above.

So. In a way, I do believe in luck and being luckless. In the magical context, absolutely--bad omens are real. They foreshadow what's to come. In real life? Not so much.

While reading Caraval and Legendary, we become acquainted with the very different, but similarly determined, Dragna sisters: Scarlett and Donatella/"Tella"--which do you see yourself in the most? Do you find it difficult knowing when to walk away from something? And/or: Do you have a sister or friend who you'd love or protect like they do each other?

This was BEYOND TOUGH. I love both Scarlett and Tella. In Caraval, Scarlett was my favourite of the two, but in Legendary I realized I felt a lot more for Tella. I think that they are both reflections of me in some ways and are truly two sides of the same coin. Ultimately, there's so many layers to Tella and each of these layers feel very much so like me.

I always have difficulty walking away from something. Possibly to the point where it's not all that healthy. I'm a very determined person and once I single in on something, I latch onto it for the long haul. I'm still learning how to let go and walk away from things.

My best-friends, Sammy and Becca, are the sisters I never had. I'm an only child so I can't say for certain that it's the same thing--it isn't. But, I can say that I love them and I'd protect them against a hell of a lot and know that they'd do the same thing for me.

We all find magic in different places. Caraval is that for those who play it. What is the closest thing to magic in our world, for you?

Maybe magic is real in our world, maybe it isn't. For me, there are two things that feel magical and standout from the ordinary qualities our lives possess. Music and literature. Because both of these things can be either an extremely intimate experience or an adventure in its own right, it leads to this feeling that can only be described as magic.

Caraval, of course, is one of the books that feels most like magic. Harry Potter, Splintered and The Shadowhunter Chronicles are some of the other series that feel like pure magic to me. As for music, there is so much to list--a good song, with good vocals and composition, is probably my number one source of magic.

Scarlett's "borrowed" gown shifts to suit her moods. One of the first experiences where we see its magic is when it transforms itself into the colour of seduction and secrets: Cerise. If you were to put on an enchanted item of clothing, what colour would it become?

Scarlett's magical dress is, without a doubt, one of my favourite magical items. Both in Caraval and in fiction in general. Just go ahead and consider me enchanted by it because it's like a mood ring only in dress form. Colour psychology is one of my favourite topics to throw out there, really, so I had to include something like this.

On any normal day, I'd probably be wearing black because I have this complex where I think I am THE BOSS. Black represents authority and power. Also, it just looks damn good on people so like, shrug. I don't think that the dress would shift to that colour, though. Not with my mood of late.

I've been in a funk lately, so I think it would be a gray toned blue colour. Gray pigments would be a good representation of that dull ache of anxiety that I've been feeling, but blue would represent other aspects of my personality--namely, something loyal. Apparently I'm mostly loyal tO MY ANXIETY, OKAY?

Do you believe in the impossible? Or are you a skeptic?

I think that wishes and impossibilities, in a way, tie back into the question of luck. So, I'm kind of on the same page as Julian: I trust only what I see.

Honestly I like to believe in impossible things but also need facts to rely on. So, I'm somewhere in between the skeptic and the believer. It's probably why I ship Mulder and Scully so intensely on The X-Files. I can acknowledge both ends of this particular spectrum.

Facts are, of course, facts. But it's also a bit naive to believe we know everything about our universe when the real fact of the matter is that we don't. I need solid proof to throw my whole weight at most things in this life but that doesn't mean I'm not open to a lot.

No, I don't believe that Big Foot and Alien Bob are teaming up with the Lizard People to bring us all destruction on March 13th, 2020, but I think there's still a lot more to be discovered in our world, and the universe, than anyone cares to admit.

What was something you fiercely believed in as a child?

Okay, honestly, I believed in a lot of silly things. Didn't we all? Isn't that what childhood is about? A lot of my childhood imagination came from magic--I believed in a lot. I believed that if I pointed my finger at something and said the right things, I'd be able to make something happen like Sabrina Spellman did.

I think the funniest thing that I believed as a child was that Narnia was somewhere I could travel to.

My grandma had something in her bathroom that was a cross between a cupboard and a wardrobe that she kept towels and toiletries in. I tried to find my way to Narnia in it. I straight up planned my visit like someone planning a family vacation.

When it didn't work, I convinced myself maybe the cabinet under her sink would work. When that didn't work, I cried (straight up wailed) and got some pity ice cream. So, I still kind of won that one.

Who's your favourite in the Caraval series?

Caraval is full of vivid settings and characters. In fact, it's one of my favourite cast of characters. Of. All. Time. I like that they all fit a specific archetype and are like puzzle pieces to the bigger picture of a series long arch. I think that my top three characters, though, would be: Tella, Legend and Jack/The Prince of Hearts.

But, I also like/am intrigued by: Scarlett, Aiko, Julian and essentially all of the characters we meet.

My reasoning for this is that they are each a different kind of character.  Sometimes, there are characters who are interchangeable and easy to mix up but that's never been the case with Caraval.

There's some morally gray areas for each of them. There's a lot of complexities. There's this richness to the development of each of them that just draws me in. Those complexities are what draw me to a character--I just want to know what makes them tick, what their motives are, where they're going to go and how far they'll go to reach certain goals.

Aiko tells Scarlett that people don't expect the truth at Caraval. "They won't want it either. A lot of the people here don't expect to win the wish; they come here for an adventure." How would you play the game? Are you a seeker of truth or breathless adrenaline?

Well, if I had to play the game I'd definitely land on the breathless adrenaline portion of it all. I seek out the truth above all else in real life, but if it's only a game--I'd separate myself and try to accept the knowledge that nothing about it is real. I love a good adventure as much as the next person and I'm under no illusion that a lot of the games would trick my mind often.

There's no doubt in my mind that it would be difficult. It's all easier said than done, but I find that with all the smoke and mirrors of Caraval I'd never find the truth. So, why try? After-all, real life arrives again when the game is over and I can seek out the truth afterwards if need be.

Scarlett and Tella both have to pay a peculiar price in the series. For Scarlett, she pays with some of her life. Tella pays with her rest. They are both remarkably similar, because they are losing something in the process. Which would you rather give up? Or are you unwilling to sacrifice either?

To be real, I rarely sleep as it is. That's not an exaggeration, it's a fact. I take hours to fall asleep and I have learned to run on less sleep and more coffee. So, losing my sleep would be a much bigger sacrifice because I already get so little.

At the same time, it's not a very definitive nod to what the cost actually means. I think, though, I'd still be more willing to give away a day of my life if there had to be a choice. I'd be uncomfortable with it and I'd really, really be pissed off. That being said, if I had a choice in the matter, I'd be unwilling to sacrifice either. I'm #THATBITCH. 

Scarlett loves the colour gold because it feels hopeful and magical. What gives you hope?

There is a lot in this world that will discourage us. Yet, there's still so much that brings us hope.

I find hope in characters and people who do inspiring things. Everything you need to know about a person is in their actions. Lately, there's been little that I've found brings me hope. It's no secret that the last six months have been a struggle for me, but, there's been some lightness at the end of the tunnel.

Like my good friend, Kayle, who, upon seeing me struggle financially sent me some money to make things even slightly easier on me; to all the others who've been quick to listen and help out. Another thing that gives me hope is the fact that places like Little Free Libraries exist and that the book community is quick to donate books for other readers to freely access.

It's always these little things that bring people together that give me the most hope.

Scarlett loves the colour gold because it feels hopeful and magical. What gives you hope? 

Have you guys seen my copies of these books? I annotated the hell out of them. No joke, I went through a lot of tabs for both Caraval and Legendary. There's just so much that I loved about this series, that it was impossible for me to not make notes.

Here are some of the highlights of my favourites in both books:

“Hope is a powerful thing. Some say it’s a different breed of magic altogether. Elusive, difficult to hold on to. But not much is needed."

“Scarlett was not fond of fate. She liked to believe if she were good, good things would happen. Fate left her feeling powerless, and hopeless, and with an overall feeling of lessness. To her, fate seemed like a larger, omnipotent version of her father, stealing her choices and controlling her life without any regard for her feelings. Fate meant that nothing she did mattered.” 

“She’d once heard emotions and desires fueled the magic that made wishes possible. But either Scarlett didn’t feel enough, or the stories she’d heard about wishes were made of lies.”  
 "What have I always told you about the future?" 
"Every person has the power to write her own," Tella said.  
 "That's right," her mother said. "Your future can be whatever you wish. We all have the power to choose our own destiny."

"In that moment Tella wasn't sure she liked him at all. She hated the claim he just made. Saying something was for someone else's own good was almost always another way of justifying something wrong. Of course since she'd said it first, she couldn't properly berate Julian the way she wanted.

"Tella claimed she didn't want love--she liked to say love trapped and controlled and ripped hearts apart. But the truth was she also knew love healed and held people together, and deep down she wanted it more than anything." 
What is your happy place? Is it a person? A place? Something nestled away in fiction?

I feel safest amongst my friends and family. I feel pretty safe amongst our little book community. My other happy places are at home, in front of my microphone, or in the pages of my favourite books.

Do you ship anything in Caraval? If so, who? If not, pick any relationship from any fandom.

As far as relationships go, the center of the series is the platonic/familial bond between Scarlett and Tella and that, of course, is my favourite. Romantically speaking, I really am intrigued by the differing dynamics between: Tella/Legend and Scarlett/Julian.

What is your favourite archetype when it comes to the characters of Caraval? Who do you think fits the title of "villain" best of all? Is there one?

I find the actors/performers in Caraval and Legend himself to be the most intriguing batch of morally gray characters. Like, ever. I think that each of them toe the line between good and bad really well and there's all these motives and goals that are just... intense. You never quite know what they'll do and for what reason.

I find The Prince of Hearts to be one of the more intriguing "bad" guys of the series. Tied pretty evenly with Legend. There's a lot to be said for them.

Whether you're a performer or participant or watcher. 

For me, this is complicated. It all depends on circumstance. If I had my friends or family with me, or they were at risk during the game, I'd definitely be more selfless. Without a doubt, I'd put them first and push through it all for them and them alone.

If not, if it really was only a game, if the only thought I'd have was to win or have an adventure, I'd be on the selfish end of things. I really do love a challenge. Most of all, I love to win.

What books have been nearly impossible for you to shake off or forget through the years?

There are so many books that have burrowed under my skin through the years and never truly left. I have a strangely good memory for details in literature, especially ones that I loved. Caraval and, duh, Legendary are two obvious choices for this one. I've been thinking about this whole series since the ARC of the first book landed on my doorstep.

The first books that got under my skin were: Harry Potter and the Philospher's Stone by J.K Rowling, The Girl Death Left Behind by Lurlene McDaniel, Killing Mr. Griffin by Lois Duncan, Gossip Girl by Cecily von Ziegesar and Candle in the Wind by Maureen Crane Wartski. They're honestly unforgettable for me, personally.

Others! Nowadays, you can find me thinking about these series and/or books constantly:
  • The Shadowhunter Chronicles by Cassandra Clare 
  • Addicted, Calloway Sisters and Like Us series by Krista & Becca Ritchie 
  • The Hunger Games Trilogy by Suzanne Collins 
  • Charlotte Holmes Series by Brittany Cavallaro 
  • Sharp Objects by Gillian Flynn 
  • The Fever by Megan Abbott 
  • The Girls by Emma Cline
  • Splintered Trilogy by A.G. Howard 
  • Daisy Jones & the Six and The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo by Taylor Jenkins Reid 
  • Where Rainbows End/Love Rosie by Cecelia Ahren 
  • Dangerous Girls by Abigail Haas 
  • The Hazel Wood by Melissa Albert 
  • Pretty Little Liars by Sara Shepard 
I'll stop there so I don't throw fifty-seven OTHER BOOKS AT YOU GUYS. 'Cos I probably could. Truly. 
Self explanatory!

So, I know I wrote these questions but I'M BAFFLED ABOUT WHY I DID THIS ONE. I mean ??? I'M NOT THAT SMART. Okay, okay, I'm being dramatic but the truth remains: I don't know! I want to see some sort of conclusion that is worthy of the first two books. Stephanie Garber has crafted one of my favourite fictional worlds with this series and I have faith that she'll write a satisfying ending.

One of the things I love most about this series is that it never goes quite the same way that I expect. And the best experience of it is the way it all unravels. You just have to read and wait and get lost in it.

Because I made this tag, I'm not going to directly tag anyone. If you love Caraval, consider yourself tagged. Here's the original entry containing all the details.

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