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MICA: Written by #1 New York Times bestselling author, Marieke Nijkamp, Kith & Kin follows a brand new adventure that delves into the unexplored history of the daring half-elf twins, Vex'ahlia and Vax'ildan. And it returns to some of the iconic moments that forged Vox Machina's most unbreakable bond. Kith & Kin is available in hardcover, ebook, and audiobook formats, and is available wherever books are sold. The audiobook is narrated by the wonderful Robbie Daymond, along with Laura Bailey and Liam O'Brien reprising their roles as Vex and Vax. For more information, please head to criticalrolebooks.com. And now, we have a special Q&A with Vex and Vax themselves, and the author, Marieke. Thank you guys for joining me here today.

LIAM: Woo.

LAURA: Hey.

MARIEKE: Yay!

MICA: (laughs) I like all the excited "yays." So I guess this is a question for all of you guys. Are there any new characters that you're especially excited for the readers to meet in this book?

LAURA: Ooh! Yes.

MICA: No spoilers!

LAURA: Yeah, 100 percent. There are characters that I cannot wait. I cannot say them at all. But I can say that there were-- Oh god.

LIAM: There's all kinds of characters. Oh, you go, you go.

LAURA: No, I will say that there was one. There's one character, when I got to it, I literally started giggling out loud and I texted Liam. I think I was ahead of you in the draft that we were reading at that time, and I was like, "(gasps) I just got to this." And that's all I'll say. I was really, really excited.

LIAM: I think the only safe thing to talk about is Syldor. Dad. Because no one's going to be surprised by his involvement in this book, but we get to see him with them a bit more. And things have been made canonical. Is that the word? That's the word, right?

LAURA: I think so.

LIAM: Okay.

MICA: I know we are avoiding spoilers in this Q&A. However, I think this is one thing we can spoil. When exactly is Kith & Kin set?

LAURA: It takes place-- I like how we're hogging all the answers, Marieke.

MARIEKE: Oh, that's okay, don't worry.

MICA: Maybe the author could answer.

MARIEKE: That saves me from accidentally spoiling anything.

LAURA: It takes place about three years. Three years before Vox Machina happens. In addition to that, there are numerous flashbacks throughout different periods in the twins' life. S. Lives.

MICA: It's just one life.

LAURA: Yeah, it is.

LIAM: It is, until it isn't.

LAURA: Aw.

LIAM: Aw.

MICA: That's ominous. (laughter) Well, for Marieke. Laura. (laughter) I want to know what was the process like writing this book? How involved were Liam and Laura? And I'm sure Matt, to a certain extent, as this is his brain-child. And what was it like working with all of them?

MARIEKE: I mean, you were very involved at pretty much every stage of the process, which I loved. So basically, from my initially pitching the book, to the first draft, and the rounds of edits that came after. Yeah, I think you read and saw and commented on it all. It feels great to have your main characters talk back to you specifically. That never happens, and it's a delight.

MICA: Well, if it does happen, usually something might be up. If your characters are talking to you outside of your own head. But I'm sure that must have been a certainly unique experience that not a lot of authors can relate to, which is actually having the source material one-on-one, right there to guide you left or right, or right or wrong. Was that difficult? Easy to adapt to? A better process?

MARIEKE: I mean, I was used to writing other people's characters before, but usually you just write in the tradition of other people's interpretations of certain characters. So there is definitely a conversation going on, but it's slightly less direct, I guess. And in this case, there was just the opportunity of figuring out, "Hey, if this scene is happening, if this situation is happening, what would either of your characters do? What would the most sensible reaction be?" I don't know, I can imagine that it may be weird. It didn't take me much time to get used to, because at the end, I just wanted to make sure I got the characters right as best as I could, and I wanted to do justice by them. So for me, every bit of feedback was super helpful in making sure that we got to that point eventually.

LIAM: It was a really sort of a fun and fascinating process. One of the main strengths for Marieke to join us and be the writer for this is that we weren't bringing someone in cold who was unfamiliar. Marieke watched all of Campaign One as it unfolded, as it happened. So you already knew everything there was to know that was canonical and was more than just referenced obliquely in the past, which we did all the time, saying, "Oh, this happened," but it just floats amorphously in the twins' past. And without getting too much into spoilers, but there are things that are crystallized for the first time ever in this book. So it was really fun seeing-- And oftentimes, you were right on the money from the get-go, but just turning the dial slightly. And another aspect of this book, we delved into comic books before, but comic books are shorter in scope, the stories, in my experience so far. And each issue is just a little, bite-sized chunk of story being put forth. And a novel is so much more than that. It's so expansive and just getting through it was very, very time consuming. So in the past, you'd able to see what little bit of-- With comic books, we'd be able to see what little bit of dialogue would be rattled off, but for this, it's so much. So it was like handing over the twins like babies to you, Marieke, and then we went out to the movies for the first time. Like two parents going, "Okay, you watch the twins and we'll be back." And we'd look on the baby monitor, we'd call home and everything was fine.

LAURA: Yeah. Yeah, because it's one thing to hand off your characters for dialogue. And we've certainly, doing the animated series and everything, we've had other people write our dialogue as the twins, and then depending on how you say it, you make it your own or whatever. But to have somebody write their thoughts was such a unique experience. So that was just a really cool thing to get to read through every iteration that you wrote and see where-- You fully understood the mindset that we had in different situations. And a lot of times, when we were doing it in the campaign and playing the game, I wondered if the things that I was thinking were coming across in the mannerisms that I was having as Vex or something. I think a lot of people that watched the show, maybe didn't catch certain nuances, but you so did. (laughs) It just made me so happy when we were reading it and going, Yes, this nailed it." You totally got the vulnerabilities, which was really cool.

LIAM: Yeah, you knew the twins. What adjusting there was, I think in my mind, was mostly just getting ready to tee them up for the beginning of Campaign One, for an episode that so many people have seen. You created the story and wrote scenes between people where it made perfect sense and it was great story work. But we would go back and forth and talk about, well, if they're going to show up on the shores of Campaign One with this sort of point of view or they feel this way about the world or other people, can we nudge this two inches to the left so that they show up at that train station right where they should be? It was so clear reading through how well you knew our characters, which was such a boon to the project. So it was fun getting to just sort of barely push and pull and tweak here and there. I don't know, it was a great collaboration process, like the best creative projects are.

MARIEKE: Yeah, and I think that part specifically, for me as a writer, it was slightly intimidating at first until it wasn't, because it's such a comfort to know that if things don't quite work or if some tweaking needed to happen, that you would both have very clear ideas of what that needed to be, what that should be to you. Further the story, further the characters. To me, I really enjoyed that. I loved having that perspective, too, and having that sense of collaboration.

LIAM: Also, every snarky exchange they had in the book or any time one of them would sort of piss on the other like we do, just big smile every time.

MARIEKE: It also helps to be the eldest sibling of three and just adding some of that into it. Being like, "Ah yes, I do understand how siblings work."

LAURA: Oh yes, you do. (laughs)

MARIEKE: It was a very interesting way of-- I majored in history, medieval history, specifically. So I'm technically a trained historian, and this felt as close as I got to figuring out details from history and sort of fitting all of it together.

MICA: I think Liam just history-nerded out over there.

LIAM: It's so cool.

MARIEKE: This is why there's ancient books on my bookshelf.

LAURA: I want to touch them all.

MICA: In thousands of years, there will be somebody else smelling Kith & Kin and being like, "Oh, that's a good ancient book smell. You could tell this was written by a historian."

LIAM: I don't think you have enough books in that room yet.

MICA: No.

LIAM: Yeah.

MARIEKE: No, no, I'm actually putting in more bookcases.

LIAM: Those big window areas, you could fill those in completely. I'm just saying, you could block out the sun.

MICA: Who needs windows? Who needs couches? You can get rid of those, add some more bookshelves.

LAURA: Read on the floor.

MICA: There you go.

MARIEKE: I mean, I've definitely-- When I was in college, basically built a bed out of books and just put a mattress on them. So that works, I'm sure that works with a couch, too.

LIAM: For everything, for insulation, the fire-- Maybe not the fireplace, the kitchen.

MICA: No, no, no. Maybe not the kitchen, either. Fire is there, too. But we clearly have the best author to tell these characters' stories here. My goodness, you are so dedicated and passionate. And the fact that you were a fan before and watched the whole story unfold. So I have to know, was that intimidating, knowing that you've watched these characters grow and now you're in charge of telling their story?

MARIEKE: Oh yeah, no, there was definitely a part of just switching off my fan-brain and being like, "Okay, so I'm approaching this as a book, as I would any other book." Because if I didn't, I would just freak out and stare blankly at my screen for an hour. So yeah, I was fine.

MICA: Oh man. Well, what was the most exciting part of the writing process and this project? And also, counterintuitively, or counter-actively? On the other side.

LAURA: Counterpoint-idily?

MICA: Counterpoint, that one. What was the most challenging part?

MARIEKE: I think for me, the most exciting part was exploring bits and pieces of backstory that had been mentioned at some point on screen that I knew I wanted to incorporate into the story. And finding all of those details and figuring out every little detail that was said over the years, and seeing if I could fit it in to make sure it fit canonically and there wouldn't be too many contradictions. So I love playing with those puzzle pieces, and just making sure that it came out the way I wanted it to, to do justice to these characters. I think in terms of the most intimidating, or like the hardest parts, there wasn't really any. (chuckles) (laughter) It was one of those books where it was just very easy to get lost in and work on and just forget about the world for a couple of weeks or months at a time and then keep going. And that was really nice. I think probably the hardest part initially was just getting the voices right, and making sure that I found the right balance between early stages twins, and knowing what they would have to be like at the start of Vox Machina. So it's different writing to a certain starting point, as opposed to writing towards the ending. So that took some figuring out details and getting the arc of the story just right, and figuring out what the best way to end it was in such a way that it will still makes sense as a starting point, too, if that makes sense. So, yeah, that was definitely a different approach than what I was used to, but also something that I just enjoyed a lot.

LIAM: I thought that was an interesting and fun challenge of the project. Which was, we know how the twins are in the very first episode of the show that people have seen. So they kind of needed to show up on the doorstep of Campaign 1 with that point of view and those life experiences. And so there were moments along the way as we collaborated with Marieke of thinking like: Well, this is a great-- although, they are going to feel X, Y, and Z when they show up on day one. So maybe it's more in this direction instead of quite that direction. You get to the same result for the story that we're telling here. But they'll show up on the shores of Campaign 1 in the right mind frame. And I can't really think of another project I've ever worked on that had sort of-- that kind of nuance to it. Where you're trying to tell, like you just said, a complete story with a satisfying ending, but also teeing them up for the future. It was fascinating.

MICA: Liam and Laura, you guys were talking about how you had never really had Vax and Vex's thoughts spoken out loud before. And now, obviously, they're in a book. I feel like that must have been a weirdly personal experience for you guys, almost like an autobiography was being written. Could you expand more on what it's like to have things that were never spoken now immortalized forever?

LIAM: It was definitely different. I think you were alluding to this, Laura, but when we act, right, and even when you read lines of dialogue in a comic book or hear them in an animated series, as an audience member, you can still interpret what you think the character is feeling, or you project your own beliefs about what they're feeling. Well, you know, it's different for every viewer. But with the novel, it is down, which is why it was such a different experience to be like we're crystallizing exactly what each of these moments means to each of them. It's like public record.

LAURA: Yeah. It's very much like-- It feels like we have those memories, like we lived that life. So yeah. Seeing them written down just felt right. If that makes sense.

MICA: Yeah. And, Marieke, you, as we have learned, were a fan before writing this book. What was it like to step into the mindset of two characters who you've watched their lives unfold over years? And now you, as Liam said, are in charge of these babies and the parents have left the building?

MARIEKE: Yeah, no, it was so much fun to sort of take everything I'd seen during the campaign, and everything I'd just had ideas about, or thoughts about and take all those tiny little puzzle pieces, and fit them all together, and try to find ways to fit them in the book, and make them make sense, or make them part of a greater narrative in such a way that it wouldn't contradict anything that happens, but also sort of add it to this story. So there was quite a bit of rewatching stuff and researching and putting on my historian hat and sort of figuring out all the source material, and what's happening, and how to use that and change it into the story and reading endless Wikipedia pages, and sources, and just everything to try to make this as the best thing it could be, but also most respectful of the source material.

LIAM: You did an excellent job because you both crystallized things, again, that just floated nebulously in the air around us that we've spoken to or alluded to, but also created stuff out of whole cloth that felt like it had always been there.

MARIEKE: Thank you. It was so much fun.

LIAM: Good history making.

MARIEKE: Yes. Yes, I'm sure my professors really appreciate my putting my medieval grad degree to good use and turning it into this. I actually did tell my college advisor at some point that I was going to use my degree to write fantasy books and he was not amused.

MICA: What?!

MARIEKE: I think it is the perfect preparation for any sort of fantasy.

LAURA: Yes!

MICA: Isn't medieval history just one big fantasy book anyway?

MARIEKE: Yeah, yeah.

MICA: Yeah.

MARIEKE: 100 percent.

MICA: Know what I mean?

MARIEKE: I mean, to be fair, actual medieval history is slightly more diverse than most fantasy books. But, you know, aside from that.

MICA: See?

MARIEKE: (chuckles)

MICA: I think your advisor needs to read Kith & Kin and get a sense of humor.

MARIEKE: 100 percent.

LAURA: That's right. You know what's funny? This is bringing it back a minute, but you know how I said it feels like we lived these lives or I have these memories. Reading the book-- after reading it, it feels the same as when we played it in the campaign. The memory that I have of the characters, it fills in that same place, so it-- Is that dumb to say?

MICA: No.

LAURA: I don't know if I'm saying it right, you know. But it feels like it just filled in the gap of these puzzle pieces that we had already created. And it feels like a memory again.

LIAM: And I used to imagine their time growing up together a lot and what it would be like in Syngorn. I thought about those days a lot. And so it was just magic to have places fleshed out and made real and have great moments that just exist forever as part of the twins' history. I mean, you know, it's-- I'm kind of reiterating something I said, but we trusted you to raise the babies for a while, and here they are, now they know how to walk and now they know--

LAURA: And your descriptions of environments that we'd only ever thought of before. (satisfied grunt)

LIAM: Yeah.

LAURA: It was so dead on. It was so perfect.

MARIEKE: I had so much fun with those. I'm really glad that that came through, but that was such a delight, just playing with that and trying to make it as real as possible.

MICA: And going off of that, I have to wonder how much of those filling in, as Liam said, taking these nebulous thoughts and crystallizing them, where from your mind, Marieke, or from your input, Liam and Laura?

LAURA: I mean, I think most of it probably came from Marieke.

MICA: Oh.

LAURA: You know, we would read what she wrote and then just add notes in or give suggestions about-- Really, it was mostly about, like, thought patterns, or if something felt vastly out of character, which nothing ever did. It was more like, "I think in this moment she wouldn't show as much vulnerability," or "I think, maybe they're bickering a little too hard right here. There would be a little more," you know, so.

LIAM: Yeah, it was really just, again, like I said earlier, it was just like turning the dial here and there, but there was a mix in the stuff that's looking back at their past. There were a few moments that we know happened from things that we've said in the campaign, but then there were also very important moments to the story that just-- they came from your mind and they just fit in perfectly.

MICA: That's so cool to have somebody help establish your own canon. To have somebody help write your story, and fill in the gaps. I also wonder how much backstory was worked out for the game that you two had discussed, and maybe wasn't outright spoken that was shared with and fleshed out. And how much was specifically developed for the book, if you had to give a percentage?

LAURA: Oh gosh.

MICA: A vague percentage.

LAURA: I know, a percentage! Mathematics.

MICA: I'm sorry.

LIAM: We always talked about their childhood a lot. I mean.

LAURA: Yeah.

LIAM: Both when we played at home and then when we were like, "We're going to make a show of this, are we? Okay." And we got together and had a lunch. There was a--

LAURA: Yeah, like this back and forth of, "And then they did this and then they did this."

MICA: Aw!

LAURA: Yeah. And then outside of that, as we were playing, you know, we just would flesh out their background more and more as we played and the amount of conversations that you and I had during the campaign of, "This happened, right?" "Okay." "I imagine we had a moment like this when we were younger." "Yes. We definitely had something like that."

LIAM: Yeah, just collaborative storytelling over a period of 10 years, at this point.

LAURA: Yeah.

MICA: Hoo.

LIAM: Pretty cool. Pretty cool.

MICA: 10? Time is fake.

LAURA: Yeah.

LIAM: If you include this book, yeah.

LAURA: Yeah, that's how long.

LIAM: Yeah.

MICA: Wow. Oh my goodness. Wow. I don't know why that shocked me so hard, but it really did. (laughter)

MICA: Okay. Well, that's the perfect for this next question. You guys have been Vax and Vex for 10 years. So how did it feel now that Campaign 2 has ended and we are freshly in Campaign 3 to step back into those pointy-toed, half-elven boots. I'm assuming they're pointy-toed.

LAURA: (laughs) Are they pointy-toed?

MICA: Are they pointy-toed?

LIAM: Like Santa's elves.

MICA: I mean, there's no boots on the cover, which, by the way--

LAURA: That's true. I don't think-- It's beautiful. It's so beautiful. I don't think they're pointy-toed.

MICA: They're probably not, are they?

LIAM: I don't think they're pointy-toed.

LAURA: I think they're roundy-toed.

LIAM: Our ears are not fully pointed. They're--

LAURA: No.

LIAM: -- rounded.

LAURA: They're rounded like their ears. (laughs)

MICA: Are you saying you never specifically talked about their pointy-toed boots, Marieke, in the book?

MARIEKE: Nope.

LAURA: Is it too late to add?

MICA: We got to.

MARIEKE: I was going to say, clearly, that's an oversight.

MICA: We got to take back the books, you guys. Unpublish them. We have things to fix.

MARIEKE: Sorry, just give us another few months. They'll be fine.

LAURA: For your question. I don't think-- It's weird because it doesn't feel like we're jumping back into the characters of Vax and Vex. It feels like Vax and Vex live in us forever. And so when we do anything as the twins, it's mostly like opening a door and saying, "Come on in, friend." You know, it just feels like a part of yourself is coming out again.

LIAM: Yeah, at this point, it's the most natural thing in the world. The twins are some percentage a creation that Laura and I made together. But a lot of it is just how Laura and I are together, which is why I think they ring so true. We're really close, wonderful friends who made something together. And so, you know--

LAURA: Who occasionally bicker.

LIAM: Just a little bit.

LAURA: He's like, "What?"

LAURA and LIAM: (laugh)

MICA: I also want to point out for people watching that may not know, Liam and Laura actually do have the same birthday. I learned this last year, and thought it was a joke. I didn't realize that they were actually born on the same day. So they are--

LAURA: A couple of years apart.

MICA: A couple years apart.

LAURA: Thank you.

MICA: A couple years apart.

LIAM: Little bit.

MICA: But still, they are twins through and through.

LAURA: Yeah.

MICA: I genuinely saw you guys posting about it on Twitter. I was like, "Ha ha, funny, you guys play twins." And everyone's like, "No, Mica, they were born on the-- They have the same birthday." I was like (gasps).

LIAM: That is a running gag, at this point.

MICA: I get it now.

LAURA: Yeah.

MICA: It makes sense.

LAURA: We actually, before we ever started playing together, we celebrated our birthdays together.

MICA: It was meant to be, that's so cute.

LIAM: And we just love falling into it. I mean, even when we're not working, when the group or just Laura and I go to lunch or something, it's has echoes of the twins in it all the time. Even when we're at the table playing a Zemnian wizard and a leetle blue tiefling, the twins are bubbling right under the surface. They're not gone.

LAURA: Yeah.

LIAM: Ever.

LAURA: That was probably the hardest part about starting the second campaign after Campaign 1 was like, "Oh yeah, we got to shut down that twin--"

LIAM: Yeah, we're not thick as thieves anymore.

LAURA: "-- intuition right now."

MICA: Aw, that's so cute.

MARIEKE: That's actually one of my favorite parts about getting your guys' comments on the book because occasionally, most of the time, it would just be like, "Vax or Vex would probably do X or a Y." And very occasionally, it would be, "I would do this or that," "I would say this or that." And it was a lot of fun.

LAURA: I don't think I ever realized if I did that. I don't know if I recognized the fact that that was happening.

MARIEKE: I think both of you did at some point,

LAURA: How funny.

MARIEKE: There we're a few tiny moments like that. And I was like, "Ah, yeah." (chuckles) "that makes sense."

LAURA: That's when you know we're fully invested because we're thinking as the character and that's who we are.

MICA: Whoop, that character bleed.

LAURA: (laughs) Yeah.

MICA: Marieke, I have a very, very important question for you, that I know that hundreds of thousands of fans are wondering. Is Trinket in this book?

MARIEKE: I thought we were not going to give any spoilers?

MICA: Ah! Is that--?

MARIEKE: Yep.

LAURA: (laughs)

MARIEKE: Also, I feel like if you read the cover copy, that gives a hint. But yes.

LAURA: Yes, Trinket is in it.

LIAM: Yes.

LAURA: It wouldn't be a twin tale without Trinket.

MICA: I was like, "I'm going to start reading it out loud." (laughter)

LIAM: This is his redemption arc. He starts as a villain, but slowly is won over to the twins.

MICA: Perfect.

MARIEKE: Yep.

MICA: Perfect.

MARIEKE: That's absolutely what the book is about.

MICA: Do we get to see baby Trinket?

LAURA: The book is totally told from Trinket's perspective.

MICA: Yes! Yes, that's all I want.

LAURA: Oh my god, can we make a book from Trinket's perspective?

LIAM: What's going on? This book is all-- It's just the letter M over and over. (laughter)

LIAM and LAURA: (growling) (laughter)

MICA: Release that for April Fool's Day. Just Trinket's version. It's just keyboard smashes.

MARIEKE: That sound amazing.

LAURA: You know when we did that back in the day when we were doing our Spotify playlist, you know, back when we were doing our playlist for our characters, yeah, we did a Trinket playlist, and it was just all animals songs. And then the descriptions of the songs were just "Grr," "Mmm," "Hmm", "Hmm." It was so stupid.

MICA: What a good boy. Aw.

MARIEKE: Amazing. So perfect.

MICA: I would absolutely Kickstart, crowdfund a Trinket's version of Kith & Kin, if it came to that, if the demand was high enough, which we know will be.

LAURA: Yeah.

MICA: We know.

LIAM: Mrawr and Grawr, yeah.

MICA: Mrawr and Grawr, yes.

LAURA: Mrawr and Grawr,

LAURA and MICA: Mrawr and Grawr.

MARIEKE: Perfect.

MICA: Oh man. And off of that, maybe this is something that Laura could answer, Marieke can answer this. We've reached the Trinket stage of the Q&A. We have to know. What does Trinket like to do? What are his favorite hobbies? What are his favorite foods? What's going on with Trinket?

LIAM: You can do it. You can canonize this now, Marieke. What does he like? Like salmon, trout?

MICA: Honey.

LAURA: Yeah.

LIAM: Blackberries, raspberries.

LAURA: Berries, berries. He loves berries.

MARIEKE: There's quite a few berries in this book.

LAURA: Yeah.

MICA: Really?

MARIEKE: Yep. At least several mentions of them.

LAURA: Yeah.

MARIEKE: So.

LAURA: He loves berries.

MICA: Good for him.

LAURA: He loves pie. That's not in the book, but he does love pie.

MICA: You heard it here first, folks.

MARIEKE: Second edition, we should add pointy-toed boots.

LAURA: Yes, yes.

MARIEKE: And pie.

LAURA: Yes. Yes, please.

MARIEKE: Perfect.

LIAM: I was about to say paleo, but you just shot that down with the pie. (laughter)

MICA: Is a Trinket a gym bro? Is that what we're learning? (laughter)

MICA: He actually does CrossFit.

LIAM: No.

MICA: In his free time.

LAURA: Right?

MICA: (laughs) Oh man. All right, I promise we're getting back to actual, serious questions now. I just-- I really needed to know about Trinket. Without any more spoilers, even though I do want to know if Trinket is a baby, and we get to see him grow up, and be hand-fed by-- You know, I digress. What other backstory moments should we look forward to seeing expanded upon in this novel, that aren't too spoiler-y?

LAURA: I mean, I think I can say, based on your question and your previous question, we do get to see a little bit of Trinket's origin. But that's all I'll say about that.

LIAM: So you might see small glimpses of Byroden? I did. I said it.

LAURA: Mm-hmm, mm-hmm.

LIAM: It's out there.

LAURA: You did it.

LIAM: Yep, yep.

MICA: For Liam and Laura, I know we've talked about how deeply personal this story is, and telling the twins' stories once again, and how long they've been with you, so how did it feel when you finally read the first draft of this book?

LAURA: (sighs)

LIAM: I can't believe that just the-- a novel exists now. I mean, Laura and I kind of have similar stories of falling in love with fantasy growing up, and we both read a lot of the same books when we were younger, and my history of loving fantasy starts with these books, and so to be here now, and have the twins living and breathing in this is just unbelievable to me. So reading through it was so many different things. It was like, "Oh my god, I'm looking at that moment happen." "Oh my god, there's a whole fucking book that exists about these two nitwits now."

LAURA: Yeah.

LIAM: It was just--

LAURA: Beep!

LIAM: -- many layers of story. Sorry.

LAURA: Yeah, it's unreal. The thought that, you know, because when I was younger, and I'm picking up fantasy novels, I didn't understand their deeper connection to greater stories. I just saw a book that looked interesting and picked it up, and through it, developed this huge love of fantasy. And the thought that somebody else could, you know, be wandering through a store and pick up this novel, you know, and not have any knowledge of Vox Machina or Critical Role in general, it just makes me so happy that they might just fall in love with these characters.

MICA: Yeah, that's a great lead-in to another question. For people, you know, not me, but other people who haven't possibly seen Campaign 1, how accessible is this book to newcomers?

LAURA: I think incredibly.

LIAM: Great read for anyone who loves fantasy. Sure. Absolutely.

LAURA: Yeah.

LIAM: If you ingest a lot of a good fantasy stories and fantasy pulp, and also if you just like books, I don't think you need-- I mean, you'll definitely love all the connections that you see to the show in the past and everything preexisting, but you can come to this fresh, easy.

LAURA: Yeah, and I mean, I think it would be a great precursor to watching anything. You know?

LIAM: I think there were even a few-- I can't remember specifics now, but there were a few moments where when we're going through different versions of this, where I'd be like, "I love this. I don't know that anyone will know what it is."

MICA: (laughs)

LIAM: Who's coming at this for the first time, so I always tried to have that lens of longtime fans of this story and brand new people, and occasionally I'll be like, "Oh, you kind of have to know everything to understand this moment." That happened once or twice. I don't know, but that was all just part of the fun, the fun process.

MICA: Marieke, was it a bit of a challenge for you as such a longtime fan, not putting in 50,000 little Easter eggs as you were writing the book?

LIAM: You gotta. You gotta.

MARIEKE: A little bit, yeah. You're always on the lookout for those moments and being able to throw stuff in, but I've always like-- I was a fantasy fan from a young age, too. Fantasy books were pretty much my gateway into books in general. So I also did approach this the way I would any other fantasy story. So there's this continuous dual side of working on the book. It's wanting to approach it as its own story, but also being very aware of the broader universe around it, and wanting to throw in as many references, and Easter eggs, and small little details as possible.

MICA: I love it. I'm sure it must have been a little bit of a challenge to write these pre-existing characters coming to a specific point where we know exactly who they are, what they do, and what they'll say. Can you talk a little bit about what that process was filling in this gap, knowing where you have to go, but not. You know, it's a delicate dance you had to do.

MARIEKE: Yeah, it was a bit of a challenge, but mostly in a good way. Where usually you write a book towards an ending, whether that's a series ending, or a book ending, or this grand moment where everything wraps up, at least for a little while. And this book occasionally felt more like it was working towards a beginning. And obviously, like Liam mentioned, too, the... readers who know Critical Role will go into it knowing where the twins start out, so that was the point I was working towards. And that-- It felt very much like peeling, but starting at that point and peeling back and going, okay, "Well, if that has to be the ending, how do I go back and turn this into a good novel arc?" And where does the actual beginning of the book needs to be?

LIAM: Yeah, you're sort of like rewinding from where the start that everyone is familiar with and trying to pinpoint, you know, nail down what was their frame of mind and their point of view on the world, and each other, and everything three years ago, 10 years ago, 15 years ago. Which was-- It was a blast to see.

MARIEKE: It was a lot of note cards and figuring out small details, and then so it's like, it's that-- God, what's the word? I'm completely blanking on now. Conspiracy theory boards where you're just like, "Okay, connect that, connect that."

LAURA: Yes.

MARIEKE: That must be connected to that. Yeah.

LIAM: But I'll tell you, Laura and I would message each other a lot when we were going through, and anytime we'd hit, you know, their past, and just we'd "D'aw" a lot at it.

LAURA: Yeah. Yeah, all of the flashback chapters. Is that giving too much away? All of the flashbacks were-- Yeah, they hit home.

MARIEKE: I feel like we could mention the part that there are chapters.

LAURA: Okay.

MICA: That's a spoiler.

MARIEKE: That's okay. Chapters and words.

LAURA: There are chapters.

MICA: There are chapters.

LIAM: It's just all the letter M. I mean, there's nothing.

MICA: Trinket wrote the book!

MARIEKE: Obviously, it's the best letter, so.

MICA: It's true. We can tell you that there is a beginning, a middle, supposedly there's an end. It's a rumor. Don't want to give it away. We can tell you that there's content that you can consume with your eyes, and also your ears, which, wow, is a great segue to the next question. Thanks, Mica. You're welcome, Mica. (laughter)

MICA: Thanks. Great job, you! We have mentioned that, yes, there will be an audio book of Kith & Kin, narrated by the illustrious, beautifully hatted, Robbie Daymond.

LAURA: (laughs)

MICA: And you two will be playing Vax and Vex. Who will be playing who? No, I'm kidding. But I want to know, how different is it doing an audio book versus voiceover, like you are doing for The Legends of Vox Machina?

LAURA: Right? It's very different doing an audiobook.

LIAM: Different kind of voiceover. Sure. We did get to do it together.

MICA: Aw!

LAURA: Thank goodness! Yeah. So much of their dialogue is back and forth, you know? So it made so much sense to actually have us both there.

LIAM: Absolutely. Could you imagine how disjointed?

LAURA: Yeah.

LIAM: (forcefully) If I was all the way up here, (softly) and you were down here. It wouldn't have been good. I think audio books have, I haven't done too many. I've done like four or five, and Robbie's done a lot, but they have a cadence to them. And I listen to a lot of audio books, and you really want something that is just there and steady for you the entire time. Whereas something like the animated series is very dynamic and we have private, quiet moments, the twins do together, and all the characters do, but also places where you're shouting from like the top of one cliff to the bottom and there's things coming at you and you're firing off arrows. So it's like a different-- It's just a different focus for the same thing. And I feel like this story is very intimate for them, so it felt very intimate the entire time.

LAURA: I personally was so excited to get to do the audio book because when we were reading through the book, when I was reading through the book, at least, I always just mentally say the lines as I'm reading them. And so it felt so awesome to get to say it out loud because so much of what you wrote, Marieke, was like, (sighs) it just was so good. It was such good dialogue. And yeah, I was excited to get to speak it.

MARIEKE: I was so excited to hear it.

LAURA: (laughs) Have you gotten to hear it yet?

MARIEKE: Nope.

LAURA: Oh gosh!

LIAM: Aw!

MARIEKE: Nope! That's going to be the first for me, so I'm--

LAURA: Oh my god!

MARIEKE: -- really looking forward to it.

LAURA: I hope you like it.

MARIEKE: Oh, I'm sure.

LIAM: We also heard just a little bit-- We did a little bit of the pickup session for a dropped word or that kind of thing. Little short sessions on our own. And we got to hear, for the first time, a little bit of Mr. Daymond sounding like butter.

LAURA: Yeah.

LIAM: Mm-hmm.

MICA: Could you hear the hat?

LAURA: The sultry tones.

LIAM: You can hear the hat.

MICA: Yeah, yeah.

LAURA: Yeah.

LIAM: Mm-hmm.

MICA: You can definitely tell when it's on. I also want to know, Laura, you said you were saying the words in your head. Was it in the accent, or was it as Laura?

LAURA: Oh, no, it's always as the character. Yeah, I fully read it as Vex, and yes, when I would read Vax's lines, I fully would hear them as Liam.

MICA: Aw!

LIAM: Yeah.

MICA: That's so cute!

LIAM: 10 Years.

MICA: That's precious. All right, I feel like we've gotten to the point of the Q&A where we can ask those silly, "What would your character do?" questions. So, Liam and Laura, if Vax and Vex were to promote this book about themselves, or just any book about themselves in general, in all of the major cities, how would they do it? Or even back home? How would they promote their own book?

LIAM: I don't know. I don't know.

MICA: 10 Years, and you don't know?!

LIAM: Let me see.

MICA: (laughs)

LIAM: Well, I think they'd roll up with, in front of Syngorn and be like, "Here's a fucking bunch of books, you fucking bastards." (laughter) "Read it or don't. We don't care."

LAURA: "Read it or don't."

LIAM: "She cares a little bit, but I don't care at all! Fuck you!" (laughter)

LAURA: I would drop hundreds of copies into every major store in every major town that I could, because I would want them all to know. Everyone.

MICA: (laughs) That's really precious.

LIAM: We'd leave just one copy in Byroden.

LAURA: (laughs) Aw!

LIAM: Just one.

LAURA: Just one. That's all they need.

MICA: Do you think that Vox Machina would read their book, if they gave it to them?

LIAM: I mean, I think Grog will use it as toilet paper.

LAURA: Yeah.

MICA: All right, all right.

LAURA: I think Scanlan would look for the juicy parts.

LIAM: Mm-hmm.

LAURA: Pike would read it. Keyleth would read it.

LIAM: Yeah, sure.

MICA: Yeah.

LAURA: Percy would probably--

LIAM: Percy would read it.

LAURA: He would read parts of it and act like he read all of it.

LIAM: He wouldn't read his wife's book. (laughter)

MICA: He'd be like, "Yeah, sweetie. Yeah, yeah, yeah, I totally read it. Totally, uh-huh, uh-huh, uh-huh. Great, great, great." Would Trinket read it?

LAURA: Of course!

MICA: He's so smart.

LAURA: He's so smart.

LIAM: He wrote it!

MICA: He wrote it!

MARIEKE: Exactly.

MICA: He doesn't have to read it. Trinket wrote it. You're right. God, how could I forget? What a little scholar of a bear she has.

LIAM: It was the best of (growls), and it was the worst of (growls). (laughter)

MICA: Send that bear to college. God!

LAURA: He went, don't worry.

MICA: You're right. You're right. He should be a tenured professor. Honestly, when he retires, he has a place at, what, just Whitestone Academy? Is that a thing?

LAURA: Yes, sure.

MICA: It is now. It is now. All right, thank you guys so much for joining me. This was such a phenomenal conversation. I hope everybody out there listening, watching, got all their questions answered, their minds... scratched, titillated. Anyway, Kith & Kin is available in hardcover, ebook, and audio book formats, and is available wherever books are sold on November 30th. So for more information, head to criticalrolebooks.com. And remember, half-elves always wear pointed boots.

LAURA: No.

MICA: Yes. (laughter)

LIAM: Just one. Not two, just one.

MICA: Just one pointed boot!

LAURA: Just one pointed.

MICA: One round toe! (laughter) Goodbye.

LIAM: High fantasy.

MICA: Goodbye now. (laughter) (epic instrumental music)

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