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By Hobbit (2006-01-24)
CHRISTOPHER GOLDEN, author of THE MYTH HUNTERS, and TIM LEBBON, author of DUSK, have a few pints too many and chat about their upcoming Bantam Spectra releases . . .
Interview with Christopher Golden and Tim Lebbon
LEBBON: Hi Chris, good to see you again. While I get the beers in—and you're trying a real British real ale, I insist — here's a question for you to mull over: THE MYTH HUNTERS is very overtly fantasy, yet it seems to be tied to 'this world' by its use of recognised fantasy creatures. Why is this?
GOLDEN: First of all, Tim, last time we were together, you and your mates were drinking Budweiser, so let's not talk about real British ale. Heh heh. Budweiser. All of that respect I had for Brit pubs is out the window, amigo. Regarding THE MYTH HUNTERS, I'd say that's fairly true, though it goes deeper than that. The story begins in the real world and returns there over and over again throughout the trilogy, which is called THE VEIL. The thing is, on the other side of the Veil are all the creatures of folklore and legend from all of the world's cultures, or at least, the ones that have survived. But, also, there are loads of people over there, and they're those who've disappeared from this world, or their descendants. So, in addition to giants and the Sandman and Jack Frost and Kitsune and Blue Jay and Jezi-Baba, there are the offspring of Amelia Earhardt and the Mayans and the lost colony of Roanoke. Your real question, though, is why. When I write fantasy - all of it dark — I need a bridge to get there. I've rarely written fantasy that doesn't begin in the real world or at least have significant roots there. It's not that I don't enjoy reading that sort of story, but as a writer, I want to get my hooks into the reader as deeply as I can, and I find that the real world connections and settings, the characters they can really identify with, give me the bridge I need for that. It allows me to feel more intimately knowledgeable about my characters, and hopefully that means we'll all care more about them.
GOLDEN: Woo. That was long-winded. How about that ale, now? And while I'm quenching my thirst, I'll turn the tables on you. With DUSK and its sequel, DAWN, you've done precisely the opposite. You've built a world from scratch with no connection to the "real" world, and done an extraordinary job of it. I did a lot of inventing for THE MYTH HUNTERS, but it's all built on top of more familiar things. How do you go about inventing from the ground up, and did you find it more or less difficult than you imagined?
LEBBON: Here you are, a pint of Old Waddlestrop's Fludgemuffler. And if you spread that Budweiser story, I have to warn you I know people who will make sure you're never heard from again. Now, to the question: I don't think any fantasy world is invented from the ground up. There has to be a rooting in reality, and generally it's that the characters are human. They may look, talk and act strangely—they may have differing religions, social hierarchies, race histories, and unfeasibly large ears—but they're essentially humans in a strange world. That's where the reader's acceptance comes in: they read about these strange new characters, but there's still love and death, war and hate, birth and betrayal. It would be very, very difficult writing a fantasy novel concerning slug creatures that don't interact, talk or fight wars, wouldn't it? And so to DUSK and DAWN ... the books contain new religions, creatures, races of humans, geographies, drugs, food, drinks and histories ... but the main characters are very humans in their actions. That said, I had great fun building this world, because it was immensely liberating not being constrained by the world we know. I could write about tumblers, which resemble sentient tumbleweed. I could write about fledge mines, where the mind-transferring drug fledge is excavated by fledgers who spend their whole lives belowground. I could even mess with the laws of physics! I loved it!
LEBBON: You finishing that pint? Want another? I'd recommend the Badger's Furbat. Now, research for THE MYTH HUNTERS must have been a bugger! You've tied in mythologies from several cultures, did you spend a lot of time immersing yourself in myths and legends from around the world?
GOLDEN: Absolutely, but it was an utter pleasure. In fact, you'd have to look at the research from two perspectives. First, yes of course I did research specifically for this book, everything from vanished armies from Nanking to world folklore on harvest deities to South American frog gods. But that's only the recent research. I've been interested in this sort of thing from a very young age and of course have read for pleasure and for research all of this wonderful stuff throughout my life. So what ended up in THE MYTH HUNTERS and the rest of THE VEIL is an accumulation of a lifetime's worth of weirdness. What I truly relish when writing this series, though, is the opportunity to take bits of folklore and embellish, taking and creating what I need for this story, sometimes crashing disparate legends together to make one thing, or a new version. For instance, in the world of THE VEIL, there's the Sandman—and the various facets of his legend, including the Dustman and La Dormette and Wee Willie Winker and all of that—and then there are the Sandmen, which are a bunch of Red Caps (aka Bloody Caps), who went to work for him a long time ago in an effort to save their own butts and help sanitize his legend.
GOLDEN: Getting back to the world building in DUSK, what sorts of influences did you draw on in the process? You're known primarily as a horror writer, but are you a fantasy reader?
Copyright Christopher Golden and Tim Lebbon