Tell Me How It Ends by Quinton Li is a coming-of-age cozy fantasy with a queer cast, witches, and tarot. It is a sweet story about friendship, adventure, and magic. I reviewed the book here.
You can find Quinton on Instagram, Twitter, and their Website.
You can find the book on Goodreads, Amazon, and their Website.
I was incredibly lucky to be able to interview Quinton about the role of platonic love in the story.
What made you decide to write a story that focused on platonic love?
As someone on the ace spectrum, I believe I just gravitate towards this focus. Here we have an innocent Iris exploring the world, and I didn’t want romantic love to be in the spotlight when it came to Iris learning more about herself. Platonic love is special too, and learning to embrace it more can mean you build fulfilling relationships. I also knew that it would be tricky to fit a fleshed out romance into the novel, since we only have mentions of the love interest until we meet her in act 3. At that point it would seem rushed for them to become a couple, especially because what just happened to all of them took emotional and physical energy. I am looking forward to exploring more of Iris’ romantic side in later books!
Iris’s relationship with her mother and siblings is not exactly close and the story focuses on found family. Why was that something you wanted to highlight?
Perhaps it’s some sort of rebellious Quinton coming out. I’ve grown up around a lot of collectivism family ideals, where you must put family first in everything. I’ve had upsetting experiences around family members lashing out because I wanted to prioritise other people in certain situations. This comes to reflect in my characterisation for Tell Me How It Ends. What brings the bunch together is that they are all trying to get away from something, which isn’t always the solution, but the series will continue to look into the effects of this and how someone may develop on this path.
Iris and Marin develop a close relationship pretty quickly and there is a line that says that sometimes people feel close within a matter of days or a matter of years. Why did you want to show Marin and Iris becoming close so quickly?
Honestly Iris deserves someone who cares for her, and Marin proved that they wanted to spend time with Iris, outside of their mission. Marin very well could’ve been a stoic character who only wanted to complete the mission, but they really love interacting with other people and making friends, or at least making a good impression. The two bonded quickly with just as quick events one after another – and while they don’t know everything about each other yet, they have a feeling that they would do well together. There doesn’t have to be a time criteria to calling someone a friend and wanting to protect them!
What parts of Iris and Marin’s relationship do you want to explore in future work?
This was hinted at during Tell Me How It Ends – Marin’s desire for attention and to please, and Iris’ desire to not be called to attention and to please. Both have different personalities but most people in general look for validation as they move through life. We can see in TMHIE that sometimes Marin’s actions are confusing to Iris, and that confusion may build up to frustration. Marin doesn’t have any ill feelings towards Iris, but perhaps if she starts paying attention to other people… pursuing romantic relationships, then they may feel left out, and that communication piece + navigating an asexual identity in a group where everyone seems to be getting into relationships, could definitely be interesting to explore.
Was it easy or hard writing the dynamics between Iris, Marin, and Myst? Since they are all so different and Marin and Myst already had a relationship before Iris came into the picture?
The scenes where we see Marin and Myst together and they display their friendship of a few years, were really fun to write. Something runs differently in Marin around Myst… that familiar flair of theirs is there, but they obviously have some reservations about how Myst makes choices and acts. I like to think of them as a typical older and younger brother dynamic. They love each other at heart, though their disagreements can turn sour without the proper communication. Now to actually answer the question – it wasn’t hard, it just took a while to shape out Myst, as we don’t spend as much time with him and as the author, I’ve developed Iris and Marin more. I actually look forward to seeing how the quartet of Iris, Marin, Myst and Kalaya work around each other, in casual or even serious settings, from now on.
Was there a moment between Iris and Marin that you felt really solidified or exemplified their relationship and the lengths they would go to help each other?
Their time on the pirate ship – chef’s kiss to me. Marin took the lead on getting them on the ship, though he obviously wants to include Iris in the things they find out. Marin shows a lot of trust in Iris by bringing her with them to see what they found, and then Iris shows trust in Marin in letting them go and taking initiative in creating a plan. When they embrace in the aftermath, I feel a click between them, that they truly know they want to be there for each other.
People often look for romantic love in books, was there any worry, or excitement to write a book that didn’t focus on romantic love?
Both worry and excitement! Because a lot of readers want to see queer love in books, but may not consider platonic love on the same level. I worry that while Iris is lesbian, it may not “count” because we don’t dive deeply into Iris’ relationship with Kalaya. Though I am excited, because I love platonic love, and want to share it with everyone. On the contrary to my fear about Iris’ attraction, I’m excited to show a budding relationship where Iris has time and room to learn about this person she admires, and now she can actually spend time in person. She’s never really been attracted to guys, subtly noted in a few chapters, so she is still a lesbian and that’s awesome for her
Is there anything about platonic love that you’d want people to understand? Or that you hoped was presented to the reader in TMHIE?
- Platonic love comes around in different ways
- Just like with romantic love, you don’t have to platonically love someone right away (Iris doesn’t feel the same level of affection to Myst as she does Marin)
- Platonic love is a great foundation for a romantic connection
- Platonic love can involve declarations of affection verbally and physically
- Platonic love is so so strong!
Are there any other books that feature platonic love that you would recommend?
The Last Sun by K.D. Edwards
Good Omens by Neil Gaiman and Terry Pratchett