The fire festival is basically a traveling carnival/fair.  The idea came from when I was growing up in Philadelphia, my elementary/middle school (I attended this school from 1st to 8th grade), Our Lady of Ransom, always had a carnival in the parking lot the end of August and the week before school started in September.  For me, it was both highly anticipated and dreaded, because its arrival meant school was starting.

There are more references to Margg – I particularly like this line, “Margg’s a mean old grump, a spiteful hag and an overgrown bully.”  Yes, I really don’t like her!  And thinking about school (grades 6th to 8th), I was the one everyone picked on and I think Margg represents more than that one lady I worked with.  She’s the bully I never stood up to and now she’s preying on Yelena.

The fugitive exercise is a way for Yelena to test out the waters in case she decides to escape.  She’s still in survival mode, but she’s thinking about her options.

In this chapter, Criollo makes its appearance.  I’d originally called it Xocolatl, but my editor thought it sounded to Mayan/Aztec (which it is).  Yes, it’s chocolate.  But since it has magical properties, I needed another name.  When doing my research on chocolate, I found other names.  Xocolatl is a bitter, spicy Aztec drink the was the precursor to modern hot chocolate and Criollo is one of the varieties of the cacao tree.  The cacao tree is also called Theobroma cacao.  Theobroma means “food of the gods.”

In order to describe the taste and feel of the chocolate melting on my tongue, I did lots and lots of research, eating whole bars of Dove™ chocolate in the name of research.  Yes, I sacrificed my waistline for my readers!  Here’s a little known fact, my husband developed the recipe for Dove™ Dark chocolate!

My husband also provided me with lots of information on chocolate and many of the details are accurate.  In fact, Poison Study is quoted in the textbook, Chocolate: History, Culture, and Heritage by Louis E. Grivetti (and a hundred other authors).  Also Yelena and the Commander LOVE it and Valek is unimpressed is a clue about the Commander :).

Question 10 - How did Valek warn his intended assassination victims?

Don't answer this question in the comments!! This is another chance to win! There will be 31 questions for each chapter note published. Collect the answers to ALL the questions (or your best guess) and then enter to win a T-shirt at the end of the month (I'll post the Rafflecopter on the 31st).


  1. The truth I never imagined it was chocolate, I always thought it was a type of coffee even if Rand dismissed that idea. I would have been influenced only by being chocolate hahaha...

    1. My husband thinks chocolate is a magical substance, but then he's a chocoholic. I once had three ladies hear me mention Dove Dark from across a noisy mall - I bring them to book signings - and they came right on over and not only enjoyed a free sample, but bought my book.

  2. I never thought it was chocolate either


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