Trivia: Starting Over in Another World with My Level 99 Self-Doubt

I had less of a roadmap going into this one than with any volume of this series so far, which is why has the most “running on vibes” style of the bunch. But I ended up enjoying it a lot. This story was written right after book 7, which also has a cynical and sweary lead, so the biggest challenge was lightening up the voice without losing Berry’s snarkiness entirely.

Honestly, I don’t have a whole lot to say behind the scenes for this one. I let my plant nerdiness and food-porn tendencies take over, and enjoyed the balance between sincerity / emotional weight and the lighter, fluffier settling-down-in-town / tavern-hijinks side of the story. Berry isn’t quite a fish out of water, and they aren’t quite in their element, either; that was also interesting to play with.

I didn’t originally intend for Alexandre to be such a notable character, but his personality (only barely referenced in Therapist 4) made for an interesting foil to Berry’s. It was nice to spend more time with the Two Claws crew; Lavender doesn’t have much time with them in books 3 and 4.

It felt good to write a triple-A character (asexual, aromantic, agender) for a change of pace. The rest of the series has been tilted at least in part toward romance (and the next one dives directly into it), so it’s nice to explore some other kinds of connections between people: workplace associations, friendships, mentorship.

I’m not agender myself, I don’t think — I define myself as loosely nonbinary, but the label doesn’t not fit — so long story short, I hope I did the portrayal justice. It’s important to me to try to sprinkle different types of representation into my work, and into this series into particular. Berry’s style of being agender is nothing like the being-of-pure-magic genderlessness of the dragons in book 5. (Nor is their style the same as Alme, the uptight science nerd and ride-or-die-to-a-fault friend from Healers book 3.)

And I do realize in retrospect that technically Berry isn’t human in this life. I am sorry to play into the “inhuman nonbinary character” trope. I think we may have some more human ace/aro rep if I get around to writing the Bards’ College story someday, and I’m not about to stop throwing nonbinary characters in willy-nilly, either. 🙂

Finally, the cover portrayal is a bit feminine and that’s fine, but Berry has no canonical AGAB — I never decided on one, it isn’t relevant to their story, and there isn’t a correct answer.

As alluded to in the end notes, we’ll see Berry again in book 7.


For writing this one I dipped into a lot of alternative ‘80s and darkwave. This playlist is basically neither.

Please Please Please Let Me Get What I Want” by the Smiths, though the version linked here is a live version by Johnny Marr because fuck Morrissey. (There are lyrics eventually; this one just has an extremely long intro.)

I swear I did not relisten to this song before writing this story. It’s just buried in my subconscious. So if it forms a roadmap for this entire character, that tracks.

It’s My Life” by Talk Talk

True Seekers” by Sleigh Bells

Goodbye Yellow Brick Road” by Elton John (sorry, but it is. Also this kind of thing would have been contemporary with Berry’s childhood, which I like to keep in mind)

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