Cate Tiernan is the author of the SWEEP series and the newly released IMMORTAL BELOVED. Today one of the novel’s central characters, River, is at The Hiding Spot to answer a few questions about Nastasya, the main character, and her unique name.
You first met Nastasya in 1929. What was your first impression? What 5 words best describe the girl you encountered.
Wet, bloody, clueless, remorseless, and belligerent. I first met Nastasya (she was using the name Christiane at the time) minutes after she and Incy wrecked their car, killing one human girl and gravely injuring another. But there was no concern, no understanding of how badly they had messed up. Mostly she was upset about her clothes, and just wanted a ride to the nearest town. It was so disheartening and unattractive. I offered her help, larger help on a personal-karma scale, but she was not at a place where she would hear me. Not yet. People can only hear what they can hear.
Without getting into spoilery specifics, how is today’s Nastasya different from the person you met so briefly in 1929?
In some ways she’s the same–the innate nature of people usually doesn’t change. But she has a few chinks in her armor now, and is trying to be willing to see herself differently, see the world differently. She has a bit more self-awareness, and seems more able to put her behavior into a larger context, which is showing her how pointless and soulless it can be. She can do it–I know she can. But I know it’s really hard, and I know she has to swallow her pride over and over again, which is never easy. Actually she seems younger now, partly because she seems less sure of herself, less world-weary. It’s interesting, watching her change. It’s always interesting, doing what I do.
When you first met, Nastasya went by another name, but, like now, you called yourself River. Have you held different aliases? Is there a story behind your name?
I’ve called myself River, on and off, for almost three hundred years. It seems like me. The name I was born under was Aulina. Some of us enjoy changing names frequently, but I find it’s harder for me, and gets harder as I get older. I feel settled into myself, and my name reflects that. I know that probably in the next ten years or so, I’ll have to pretend to die, then come back as my own daughter or niece to inherit this property, so I can continue the work I’m doing. But I’m not looking forward to changing my name. I’m taking suggestions, though.
New name, new town, new life. Nastasya has done it too often to count. And there’s no end in sight. Nothing ever really ends… when you’re immortal. But this time is different: Nastasya knows that this new town must hold her salvation—or her death.
Nastasya was born into darkness, and has embraced it her whole life. Four hundred years ago, a tragedy robbed her of her birthright, and she’s been living a lie ever since. Now, four centuries of exploring the depths and limits of dark power has left Nastasya feeling sickened unto death. If she continues down this road, she will end up as a very dark, twisted, evil thing—with unthinkable power. Or she can begin the long, painful road toward light, and reclaim the destiny that others tried to destroy.
They’re rare. You may have never met one, never sat next to one on a plane, never eaten in the same restaurant at the same time. But the Immortals are there. Have always been there. Will always be there. Moving among humans, playing out their own cursed fate. Sometimes subtly, sometimes with huge, sweeping implications for mankind. But no one will ever know. Except you.