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By Patrick (2005-03-21)
Patrick has talked to Tad Williams about his books and inspirations.
Throughout all your series and novels, are there characters that you particularly enjoy/enjoyed writing? Why is that? By the same token, are there characters that you absolutely don't/didn't enjoy writing about? For what reason?
Tad Williams: I certainly have enjoyed some characters more than others --generally because they're funny. I enjoy working with a character who is either intrinsically humorous, or who gets lots of good lines. I can't say I didn't enjoy writing any of my characters, although the particularly unpleasant ones can be a little weird to write. Still, doing a psychopath has its own rewards as a writer -- you get to work with something quite different (you hope) from your own personality, which is a wonderful challenge.
What would you say was the hardest part of the entire process involved in the writing of both Memory, Sorrow and Thorn and Otherland? Where did you get the initial idea that drove you to create both series in the first place?
TW: The hardest part of any long-story process is staying as excited as you were when you began. This often means new characters, plot-twists, all kinds of things that keep you interested and creative as a writer and (one hopes) have the same sort of effect on the readers.
OTHERLAND came from me actually working with VR, and getting interested not just in the thing itself, but where it might go in time. That coupled with my love of story-telling made for an immediate creative buzz, and the story evolved from there. MS&T had a more complicated derivation, but sprung up in part because I had read so much BAD post-Tolkienian epic fantasy, yet still had a fondness for the genre, and said, "Okay, so put your money where your mouth is. Write one yourself."
What authors have had the biggest influence on you?
TW: Tolkien, Ray Bradbury, Thomas Pynchon, John Updike, Theodore Sturgeon, Fritz Leiber, Barbara Tuchman, Ursula LeGuin, Charles Dickens, Michael Moorcock, Kurt Vonnegut, Phillip K. Dick, to name a few. Oh, T. H. White, of course. P. G. Wodehouse. Anthony Burgess and Harlan Ellisoni. Evelyn Waugh. Terry Southern. Hunter S. Thompson.
What do you feel is your strength as a writer/storyteller?
TW: I think I'm good at creating realistic worlds, and characters that feel as complex as real people. Also, I have a pretty good sense of rhythm, so I think I'm better than some at writing long works that keep people involved by the judicious use of "stuff suddenly happening."
What author makes you shake your head in admiration?
TW: Pynchon, and his wonderful Mandelbrot recursions, the sidebar stories that turn into other bits and those bits mutating into other little bits in perfect theatrical imitation of the seemingly endless -- and, in fact, I guess actually endless -- way that real life has no "center".