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By Patrick (2005-07-21)
What is your work ethic? Tell us a little more about your writing routine.
RH: My basic routine starts early each morning. I start off with the daily paper and a cup of chai (I recently gave up coffee), do the necessary family organizing for the day (Iím a full time mom and grandmother) and then turn on the computer and get at it. Iím not in my desk chair all day; that is really bad for my back and hands, and when I do get on a marathon keyboarding session, I pay for it later. But I am writing all the time. Mundane chores are a great way to engage a different part of your mind while letting your writing brain work on dialogue or mull over that corner youíve painted your character into. Of course I check my email daily and visit my newsgroup once or twice a day. The computer is turned off at about midnight.
The fact that you have your personal website and newsgroup is an indication that interaction with your readers is important to you as an author. How special is it to have the chance to interact directly with your fans on a daily basis?
RH: Interacting with readers on a daily basis is like any other friendship. It covers the whole spectrum from amazing to awful, sometimes in half an hour! Seriously, I think interacting with people who have read my books works for me because the books are the starting point rather than the entire relationship. I know youíve visited my newsgroup, and youíve probably noticed that very little space is actually devoted to discussing my books. Instead it covers all sorts of topics with international input, sometimes serious and sometimes silly but always interesting. One thing I enjoy about the newsgroup is the high level of courtesy. There are misunderstandings, but I think that we are generally very tolerant. Some of our members have English as a second language, and I think that makes all of us aware that using language can be an inexact science. Often when it seems someone was being arrogant, it turned out to be a language difficulty, and we were all glad that flames were not the first choice response.
You were recently in France to attend a convention. And to promote the release of SHAMAN'S CROSSING, you'll be going on a book tour that will take you to Europe and Australia. Although time-consuming, how important is it for you to travel abroad to meet your readers?
RH: I enjoy it. The travel is interesting, and meeting the readers even more so. I think readers enjoy the chance to talk with authors.
That said, I donít think book tours are a necessary facet of being a writer. Very often when I come home from a trip, I feel a sort of panic when I think of all the days that have passed without my being engaged in a solid work schedule. Iím a person who has to stay Ďin the bookí in order to write daily. If I leave it alone for a few days, getting the book going again is like trying to start a car that hasnít been run all winter. It takes some work. So I do my best to write every day when Iím traveling.
Writing 2 sets of trilogies from the POV of FitzChivalry was, in my opinion at least, a tour de force. How were you able to do it in such a realistic fashion, considering that you had to put yourself in the perspective of a male character?
RH: This question and number 10 have pretty much the same answer.
Your characterizations always stand out, and character growth is omnipresent in each novel/series. One thing that strikes me is how all your characters stay true to themselves, enabling the readers to identify with what they are going through. Is this something you continuously strive to accomplish, or is this just a knack you have?
RH: My technique with characters is to try to let each character be the main character in his own story. Even if someone is just a Ďwalk oní, it helps to remember that maybe that barmaid is near the end of her shift and is really tired, and to let her behave accordingly. When I first started writing, I found it was very easy for me to fall into that trap where I made all of the characters do what they must to make the plot advance smoothly. I wound up with minor characters who existed only to take a bullet for the protagonist or to be the romantic prize to be won. Cardboard.
When the characters are not true to themselves, the story loses its veracity. If you can put on the skin of even your minor characters and say, "What would I really want to do next? Wouldnít I duck when I saw the arrow coming?" the plot becomes more interesting and the characters are believeable.
When ASSASSIN'S QUEST was released, you claimed that you had no future plans to write another Fitz series. At which point during the writing of THE LIVESHIP TRADERS did you realize that there was another tale in the making?
RH: I was midway through the first book, Ship of Magic, when I realized that one of the characters was behaving in a suspicious manner. That was my first inkling that something was going on in the back of my mind that I hadnít consciously planned. And that is as much as Iíll say about that to avoid spoilers.
You once told me that writing THE LIVESHIP TRADERS had been a welcome break from Fitz's intense, first-person focus. Did you have to prepare yourself differently for your 3 past trilogies? Did the writing of SHAMAN'S CROSSING involve more research and preparation than the previous series?
RH: Each book requires its own unique research because each book covers different topics. When writing fantasy, I think itís always best to ask, "Historically and culturally, how did this work in our world?" and attempt to understand it. Then, of course, I mix in the fantasy element, but I try to do it with enough touch-points to our world that the reader has some sense of familiarity.
Interview by Patrick
Copyright - Patrick fantasyhotlist.blogspot.com