Last week was the first installment of my Your Questions Answered series where I try my best to give answers to the various questions you submitted a couple of weeks back. This week we continue with the fun! And this week, one my answers you won’t find anywhere but right here on ellebeauregard.com! So read on, faithful reader, and let me know what you think in the comments!
Q.3: (Exclusive to the blog!) Being a linked pair… are they born for each other? Is it like soulmates? Why is it so rare to be linked?
A.3: This is a great question–and one I’ve been hoping someone would ask! There’s two questions here, really, so I’ll address them in turn:
A linked pair weren’t made for one another–but their connection makes it seem that way. Having access to the other’s emotions/presence/wellbeing, and having those things tied to your own wellbeing–and vice-versa–means that, as a couple, they are truly committed to the other’s success, happiness, health, etc. It’s always been clear to me that there is a sort of magic (if you can call it that) that contributes to the linking phenomenon–the same magic that seems to exist between two people who share a spark or connection in the real world–but there is also a lot of luck and happenstance. Leah and Drake are linked–they also happen to love one another, and would have fallen in love, even if the linking thing hadn’t sped up the process. (Leah acknowledges this in Recast; though it’s easy to assume she’s being seventeen-year-old-dramatic, she also happens to be right; Drake later acknowledges it in Stand.) But being linked doesn’t necessarily mean that you’d have fallen in love otherwise–it just worked out that way for them, which is part of why they are so dynamic as a couple.
There have been very few linked pairs throughout all of shifter history–but there used to be more than there are today. That’s because, long ago, there was a greater number of complete shifters. Complete shifters being the most concentrated expression of the shifter trait, it makes sense that their numbers would dwindle. To put it in genetic terms, if being a shifter is a recessive trait (as is explained in Shift) then being a complete shifter is like the super-mega-recessive version of that. It’s a multi-gene expression trait, so adding one drop of non-shifter material to that gene pool is likely to create non-complete shifter offspring* (see Collin, for example, as explained in Recast.) So, is the linking phenomenon an indirect way for the shifter trait to ensure its survival? Possibly. I think that’s a side effect of it that perpetuates its existence–assuming the linked pair has offspring–but that’s not the purpose. This is where the happenstance comes in again: two complete shifters happen to be linked because of the way their gifts interact–in other words, coincidence.
*The Brayton line is an exception to this genetics lesson. One woman in each generation is a complete shifter within the Brayton family tree. And, just like Leah, that shifter does not have to have shifter parents. The genetics lesson could still apply to Leah’s offspring, except that a) Drake is also a complete shifter, so she and Drake would have complete shifter children, and b) even if she weren’t with Drake, her female offspring (at least one) would most likely be a complete shifter because of the Brayton pattern**
**There’s more mythology behind this, actually, but it’s too much to put here. Suffice it to say, Leah always assumes that Drake and the Kings are the most powerful shifters because they can shift into animals and humans, but that isn’t really true–there’s room for two families on that pedestal. 🙂
Q.4: I’ve always wondered why Arizona? I mean I live here so I’m totally a fan of it but it’s always had me curious.
A.4: Ah, yes. Why Arizona? The short answer is Cecelia. She is the reason, but let me explain: When I started writing Shift, I knew Leah’s aunt was eccentric, and she lived in the desert, but I didn’t know specifically where that desert was. So I went to the library and the interwebs in search of the right place with the following criteria in mind:
- An opresively hot summer–not just really warm, but, like, seriously hot.
- A rural location with a town nearby
- The fauna necessary to make some of my other ideas work.
Turned out Southern Arizona was most likely to have the level of heat I was looking for; there’s also a little color-changing lizard that’s native to the area, as well as a toad. So I took to the maps in search of the right rural town, and BAM! There was Tubac. Then when I found out it’s now widely regarded as an artists’ colony, it was just too good to be true. So to Tubac Leah went!
Years later, when I visited Tubac, it was alarming the degree to which it was right. There is nowhere else Cecelia, Samantha, Harris, and Drake could have lived. As silly as it sounds, I sort of believe I found Tubac for that book because I was supposed to. Shift and Tubac were made for one another.
Damn, writing this is making me want to go back.
Next week, I’ll answer the last two questions, so be sure to check back in! ‘Til next week!
*Goes to Expedia to check flights to Tubac*