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By Patrick (2006-01-21)
Now that many purists and aficionados consider you one of the best fantasy authors in the world, is there added pressure when it comes down to writing a new addition to the series?
SE: If there's pressure, it's to do with time management -- the edit of The Bonehunters especially involved a lot of back and forth, given its length -- which meant I had to drop everything else at that time. Some other manuscripts needed some editing as well, then TOR sent me on a signing/reading junket down the US West Coast which while fun took five days out of my writing schedule. That kinda pressure, sure.
The other kind, dealing with the expectations of readers, the answer is no, not at all. The thing's mapped out so I know what I'm doing (I hope that simply relieves your readers rather than coming across as boastful -- really, I do know what I'm doing!) and I can see the light at the tunnel's end. As mentioned earlier, I'm fairly certain I will surprise readers with future events, with enough twists and turns to keep them reading.
What would you say was the hardest part of the entire process involved in the writing of the Tales of the Malazan Book of the Fallen? Each new addition reveals yet more depth to a series which has shown just how rich and complex it truly is. What was the spark that generated the idea which drove you to write the series in the first place?
SE: The first question: the hardest part was twofold. One was finding a publisher. The second was convincing myself that writing the series really has been as easy as it has seemed and continues to seem -- I mean, it should be hard, right? The plot-lines and arcs are so folded and interwoven you could make a trampoline out of them strong enough to handle a plummeting bus. And yet it all arrives, timely and satisfying (to me) with nary a wayward step. It feels uncanny, Patrick. I wasn't drawn to halt once in the entire writing of Midnight Tides, for example. Not even a half-hour's pause. At times I felt like a spectator to the whole creation process. Pretty much the same for The Bonehunters and now Reaper's Gale. It just flows. Scary.
The second question: oh the sparks were all negative things, frustrations at the genre's confounding predictability. Wanting to write something in fantasy I myself would like to read (and not just me, but Cam as well -- the one reader who stays in my head as I write). Wanting to kick the tropes around, wanting to get rid of that endless quasi-medieval class-conscious blueblood crap. Wanting a fantasy world as multicultural as this one (the preponderance of white-skinned heroes and blonde princesses ... man, what century is this?). Wanting a fantasy world with a history beyond the Dark Lord of three hundred years ago who's found a rock that will help him rise again and do, oh, bad things; a world with geology and geography, etc.
Sure, there's some good stuff out there, but it wasn't enough. Maybe still isn't.
If you could go back in time, what advice would you give the younger Steven Erikson concerning his writing career?
SE: Find the secret potion that would de-complicate Gardens of the Moon. It must exist. Problem was/is, I don't see anything confusing in it. Wish I could, wish I did. The world was as full for me then as it is now -- and to write a history the way I wanted to, well, I still haven't got an answer. Poor young Steven Erikson -- sorry, mate, you're on your own.
Is a World Fantasy Award something you covet?
SE: Not really. It'd be nice, eventually, but I don't toss and turn at night chewing on it. Having been a judge ... well, never mind that -- the system does not really allow for books in a series (barring the > first one). It would be nice to see a special category for series, though.
What's the progress report pertaining to REAPER'S GALE? Is it likely that the book will be released a year following THE BONEHUNTERS?
SE: From my own standpoint, progress is just fine. The first half of a novel (for me) always takes longer than the second half. It's where everything is set up, after all. The second half is the pay-off -- which means more action (drama?), which is always quicker to write. I'm at that halfway point right now in Reaper's Gale, so the pace is just about right.
To a large extent, however, my pace and completion date do not relate much to release dates. The Bonehunters was done last spring, after all. Mysterious arcana is involved in the publishing house when it determines release dates. Outa my hands.