Tuesday, January 28, 2020

Juliette Wade Interview - Mazes of Power

Photo Content from Juliette Wade

Juliette Wade‘s habit of asking “why” about everything has led her to explore the world both above and below the ground. She has lived in Japan and France, and holds degrees in linguistics and anthropology. The author of many published short stories, she lives in the San Francisco Bay Area with her Aussie husband and her two sons, who support and inspire her.

What inspired you to pen your first novel?
The world of Varin and the book Mazes of Power were inspired in quite different ways! Varin was born when I took a trip to France when I was twelve years old, and visited the Gouffre de Padirac, which is an underground cave system so large you can actually take a boat ride on an underground river. The scale of the place awed me, and about a year later, I got an idea for an underground cave city, which was how Varin was born. The idea for Mazes arose because I had been thinking about writing a story about two adult brothers in a political rivalry, and suddenly asked myself, "But how did all of this start? What was it like for them growing up together? What was it like for their mother? How did they grow to be so different, and what led them to make the decisions that placed them on different paths?" The answers to those questions ended up taking me past the level of traditional tropes into a fascinating world of psychology, conflict, and personal emotion. It not only gave rise to a novel, but changed my whole approach to the way I had been writing stories in the Varin world.

Tell us your latest news.
Well, my book is coming out! It will be available everywhere on February 4th in hardback, ebook, and also audio formats. The audiobook is performed by Michael Crouch, Brian Nishii, and Will Ropp, and it's amazing. I can also mention that I'm currently working hard on the manuscript for Book 2 of the Broken Trust, Transgressions of Power, which should be out sometime in 2021.

Who or what has influenced your writing, and in what way?
I have to say, in the "who" department, that I've been deeply inspired by the work of Ursula K. Le Guin. Not only is her work graceful and insightful, but I deeply appreciate the anthropological sensibility that she brings to the worlds she creates. 

As for "what" has influenced my writing, I would have to say my work in linguistics and discourse analysis. I spent several years studying the structure of language and learning how to analyze the way that people express social identity and alignment in their choice of words. Those skills have turned out to be super valuable in helping me learn how to express the complex social relationships among the people of Varin.

Tell us your most rewarding experience since being published.
There have been a lot of these, but it was a real treat to work with DAW on the cover design for Mazes of Power. I felt that I was really listened to in the process of discussing what we wanted as a cover concept, and the artist Adam Auerbach came up with a design that showcases the levels of the cavern city of Pelismara, and the caste system of Varin. It's a design that is easily grasped at first glance, but also rewards closer looking. I hope readers will find the story rewarding in a similar way.

What do you hope for readers to be thinking when they read your novel?
I would like readers to think about the various ways in which the structures of our society influence the decisions we make.

In your new book; MAZES OF POWER, can you tell my Book Nerd community a little about it?
Mazes of Power follows a power struggle in an underground city that has stood for a thousand years. When the Eminence of Varin dies of a contagious fever, seventeen-year-old Tagaret and his sociopathic brother Nekantor are thrown into a competition for Heir to the throne.

For those who are unfamiliar with Tagaret, how would you introduce him?
Tagaret is a member of the noble caste of Varin and son of the Speaker of the Eminence's Cabinet. He's seventeen years old, and very wealthy and privileged, but neither wealth nor privilege can protect him from the inbred decline of his caste, or from the abuses of his father and brother. He looks to music and art to make his life bearable, and longs for change.

If you could introduce one of your characters to any character from another book, who would it be and why?
I would introduce my character Imbati Aloran to Kalr Five from Ancillary Sword by Ann Leckie. Aloran is a member of Varin's Imbati servant caste, who works for Tagaret's mother. Kalr Five is one of the soldiers on Breq's ship. Both of them appreciate the importance of being competent and working behind the scenes, and they both also appreciate aspects of art in domestic life. 

You have the chance to give one piece of advice to your readers. What would it be?
Never stop learning.


  • 1. "Tagaret believed in music the same way he believed in the sky. It was unreachable, invisible, transcendent, and somehow a promise that there had to be more to life than this."
  • 2. "Imbati, love where you serve."
  • 3. "There are so few times in our lives when we're truly unwatched. If you let one pass you by, it might never come again."
  • 4. "You've seen how influence patterns shift when a family isn't unified."
  • 5. "I'd say Kinders fever was misfortune enough for any man."
  • 6. "It's wonderful news. The Eminence is going to die."
  • 7. "My heart is as deep as the heavens. No word uttered in confidence will escape it."
  • 8. "The twelve Great Families loomed all around, each one fighting over who would enter the game – who would become the focus of power, and the target for death, the boy who walked that twisting path to the center."
  • 9. "Ripples moved outward, disturbing everything. Was there still a pattern? But there was one, there had to be, or there could be no way to see where the next knife might come."
  • 10. "There was no safe way out of the politics and distrust, just as there was no way out of Pelismara."
Best date you've ever had?
For my twenty-fourth anniversary, my husband took me to my hometown. It was the first time I'd been there in the winter rainy season for more than ten years. It's a really different feeling to see the town in the rain from seeing it in the sun, which is when most people come to see it. We took a vintage taxi across town to a beautiful restaurant I hadn't been to since I lived there. It was the most marvelous feeling, to eat together and enjoy bringing our past together with our present.

Last Halloween Costume you wore and when?
Last Halloween (2019) I dressed up as Hornet from the game Hollow Knight. I designed and sewed the costume myself.

What’s the most ridiculous fact you know?
There are no ridiculous facts.

What is your most memorable travel experience?
My most memorable travel experience was when my parents took me to Europe during my father's sabbatical when I was twelve years old. We purchased a Volkswagen Vanagon pop-top camper and spent ten weeks traveling and camping around France, Belgium, and the Netherlands. There were a ton of memorable stops, and one of them inspired me to write a novel series!

What were you doing the last time you really had a good laugh?
Spending time sharing memes with my two teenage sons.

Where can readers find you?
Readers can find me on Facebook and Twitter (@JulietteWade), and also at my website, juliettewade.com . I also run a YouTube show called Dive into Worldbuilding that livestreams every Tuesday at 4pm Pacific. Videos of our discussions HERE. Writeups can be found HERE, and I also run a workshop to accompany the show HERE.

This debut work of sociological science fiction follows a deadly battle for succession, where brother is pitted against brother in a singular chance to win power and influence for their family.

The cavern city of Pelismara has stood for a thousand years. The Great Families of the nobility cling to the myths of their golden age while the city's technology wanes.

When a fever strikes, and the Eminence dies, seventeen-year-old Tagaret is pushed to represent his Family in the competition for Heir to the Throne. To win would give him the power to rescue his mother from his abusive father, and marry the girl he loves.

But the struggle for power distorts everything in this highly stratified society, and the fever is still loose among the inbred, susceptible nobles. Tagaret's sociopathic younger brother, Nekantor, is obsessed with their family's success. Nekantor is willing to exploit Tagaret, his mother, and her new servant Aloran to defeat their opponents.

Can he be stopped? Should he be stopped? And will they recognize themselves after the struggle has changed them?


“The impressively winding plot, layered worldbuilding, and psychologically acute characterizations are sure to hold readers’ attention. Wade is an author to watch.” —Publishers Weekly (starred review)

“Delicious political intrigue and really cool world building.” —Ann Leckie, Hugo and Nebula award-winning author of Ancillary Justice

“A vivid, thrilling journey through a wonderfully realized and wonderfully complex world; and a fascinating look at power and its exercise across different strata of an intricate society.” —Aliette de Bodard, Nebula award-winning author of The Tea Master and the Detective

“A twisty ride through family drama and tangled politics, Mazes of Power carries readers into a world of love and treachery, and doesn’t let them go.” —Laura Anne Gilman, author of The Cold Eye

“A deliciously complex, glittering work of family intrigue and life-or-death politics in a world that’s utterly alien, with characters who are all-too human. I loved it.” —Kelly Robson, Hugo award-winning author of Gods, Monsters, and the Lucky Peach

“Mazes of Power is a gasp-inducing political Hunger Games packed with intrigue, assassins, and stunning social dynamics. I didn’t want it to end!” —Beth Cato, author of Breath of Earth

“Mazes of Power is a taut, tense, wonderfully claustrophobic entry into a world and society brimming with surprises and secrets. Loved it and cannot wait for more!” —Julie E. Czerneda, author of The Web Shifter’s Library series

“[Mazes of Power] is a deeply political novel, that treats with the complexities of caste as much as with the arrogance of ambition; and it steps as lightly through its major themes of political and mental disorder as it does through its plotlines of romance and revolution. This book is a delight to read, and a constant surprise, offering consequences as unexpected to the reader as they are to the characters.” —Chaz Brenchley, Lambda award-winning author of Bitter Waters

“Mazes of Power showcases Wade’s ability to take the reader deep inside a fully alien culture on the grandest scale yet—even if the ‘aliens’ are fully human.” —Stanley Schmidt, author of Night Ride and Sunrise

“Mazes of Power is one of those novels that redefines the genre. The storyline draws you in immediately, with characters that range from sympathetic to charming to downright terrifying in their insanity, but despite the initial, fairly conventional coming-of-age plot, this book dives fearlessly into darker questions…. With compassion and keen insight, not to mention the skill of a gifted storyteller, Wade has created Varin, a world without a sun, a society crumbling under the weight of its own survival, and characters desperate for power and for love…a world that will leave readers clamoring for more.” —Deborah J. Ross, author of The Seven-Petaled Shield

You can purchase Mazes of Power at the following Retailers:

And now, The Giveaways.
Thank you JULIETTE WADE for making this giveaway possible.
1 Winner will receive a Copy of Mazes of Power (The Broken Trust #1) by Juliette Wade.


  1. "What is something you think everyone should do at least once in their lives?" Eat a Scotch egg!

  2. Learn how to swim. It's very relaxing & great exercise.

  3. They should travel to the home of their ancestors. You only need a DNA test to give you the general area!