This Interview has been provided by Orbit, and is printed with their permission.
Described by SFX as ‘refreshing, fun, thoughtful, different, absorbing’, and selected by SFX editor Dave Golder as his book of the year for 1998, K. J. Parker’s Colours in the Steel is the first volume in The Fencer Trilogy. Published in paperback in March, this ‘intriguing tale of magic, manipulation and revenge’ (Starburst) continues with The Belly of the Bow in April in large-format paperback. We asked K. J. Parker to let us into a few secrets about his writing.
Who or what inspired you to write fantasy?
Being able to write history how it should have been.
How would you describe your novel, in less than 10 words?
Very, very, very, very, very good. And ridiculously cheap.
Is Perimadeia based on a real place?
Downtown Byzantium, with a bit of Venice and a smidgeon of Mont St Michel. And it smells like Cleveland.
Do you fence yourself?
European-style fencing; not for years. These days I’m more into the Japanese stuff, particularly Iaido. It’s the only swordfighting you can practise sitting down.
If you could write your own quote for the front cover of your novel, what would it be?
‘Technically accurate’ Siege-Engine Builder’s Monthly
When Hollywood makes the movie of Colours in the Steel, which actor would you like to play the lead role of Bardas Loredan?
Yikes. Kevin Costner (in Field of Dreams mode), possibly. Or a specially freeze-dried Val Kilmer.
What advice would you give to budding fantasy authors?
Keep it together. Try and make it real.
Which is more important: character or story?
Do you believe in happy endings?
Only in the way I believe in New Guinea; it exists, but it doesn’t affect me much.
Do you have a daily routine when you’re writing?
Most of my time’s spent gawping in despair at a blank screen. Just when I’ve decided to give it up and take up macrame instead, something occurs to me. I write it down, quickly. Then it’s 4 a.m. and time to go to bed.
Why do you think that fantasy has become so popular over the last twenty years?
Because it allows writers to explore themes that mainline literature can’t reach any more.
How do you think fantasy will change over the next twenty years?
I hope it’ll become stronger, more ambitious.
What would be your fantasy desert-island book?
The Once & Future King by T. H. White
What is your favourite scene from a novel?
The riddle contest in The Hobbit. Maybe.
What do you do to relax?
Make things I can write about in the next book …