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By Patrick (2005-02-21)Patrick has talked to David B. Coe about The LonTobyn Chronicle among other things.
For the benefit of those of us new to your work, without giving too much away, give us a taste of the story that is the LonTobyn Chronicle.
David B. Coe: The LonTobyn Chronicle, very simply, describes the first contact between two societies -- one of them having magic but no technology, the other having advanced technology but no magic. The magical land, Tobyn-Ser, is protected by an Order of mages who derive their powers from psychic connections to birds of prey. The Order comes under attack from agents of the technological land (Lon-Ser) who wish to conquer Tobyn-Ser and take control of its natural resources. A group of mages, led by a young man named Jaryd, must overcome the apathy of a land that has grown too comfortable with its magic and find some accommodation with the people of Lon-Ser. There's a bit of intrigue, a couple of romances, lots of action -- I like to think that it's a fun story. But it also has some ecological themes that I take quite seriously and that mirror some of the environmental issues currently at play in our own world.
Same as the first question, but in regards to the Winds of the Forelands series.
DC: Winds of the Forelands tells the story of a young spoiled prince named Tavis who is in line to become king of the land of Eibithar. Before he can take the throne, though, he's falsely accused of a horrific murder. In trying to prove his innocence and capture the one who actually committed the crime, Tavis uncovers a plot to destroy his realm and its neighbors. He has to win back his place in the line of royal ascension and combat the conspiracy, before his realm and all the Forelands descend into chaos and civil war. The magic system in the Forelands is racially based -- there are two races. One, the Eandi, is strong physically, blessed with fairly long life, but possesses no magic. The Qirsi, on the other hand, are frail, almost sickly, with yellow eyes, white hair, and pale, almost translucent skin. But the Qirsi wield powerful magics that allow them to glean the future, shape matter, speak with animals, raise mists and winds, and bend others to their will. Like the LonTobyn books, Winds of the Forelands has lots of intrigue, a murder mystery, romance, betrayal. But it also deals with serious matters of race and prejudice that have become especially trenchant in the days and months since 9/11, as our society grapples with issues of racial profiling and stereotyping.
Is there a character that you particularly enjoy/enjoyed writing? Why is that? By the same token, is there a character that you absolutely don't like writing about? For what reason?
DC: In a way, I like all my characters, even the "bad" ones. In fact, at times evil characters are more fun to write about than the good guys. That said, there are a few characters who I especially like. In the LonTobyn books, I particularly enjoyed writing about Orris and Melyor. Orris was a mage who started out kind of obnoxious; I wasn't crazy about him at first. But midway through Children of Amarid, the first book of the series, he suffers a terrible loss and has to overcome it in order to prevail against the bad guys. And as Orris struggled to come to grips with his tragedy, I started to like him -- so much so, in fact, that I ended up making him the lead character of the second book in the series, The Outlanders. Originally I had intended to send Jaryd on a long adventure (the details of which I'll skip so as to keep out any spoilers) but I sent Orris instead. Melyor is a woman who lives in Lon-Ser. She's an outlaw, and she really kicks butt, if you don't mind my saying so. But she's also very bright and thoughtful, and her loyalties are tested by events in the second and third books. My favorite characters in the Winds of the Forelands books are probably the two lead characters -- Tavis and his Qirsi friend, Grinsa. As I said before, Tavis starts out as a spoiled brat of a noble and is forced to mature after all the stuff he's put through (as you can see, this is kind of a recurring theme for me). Grinsa is, in many ways, Tavis's mentor, who forces the kid to see himself for who and what he is. Their interaction was a lot of fun to write, especially as the series has gone on and Tavis has started to grow up and become a more sympathetic character. I can't say that there are any characters I hate to write. As I said, even the evil guys are fun. And if they weren't, that would come through to my readers and make them utterly unreadable. I don't like to draw my characters in pure black and white. I prefer shades of grey -- understandable villains and dark heroes. This is especially evident in my more recent books, and I think it marks my growth as an artist that I feel more and more comfortable creating characters who are more ambiguous and difficult to label.