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By Patrick (2006-02-15)
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 TEMERAIRE/HIS MAJESTY'S DRAGON.
Naomi Novik: I can do better than that; there's an excerpt of the first chapter of the book available online: http://www.temeraire.org/
There will also be samplers available at several upcoming sff conventions, including the New York Comic-Con this February and San Diego Comic-Con in July.
What do you feel is your strength as a writer/storyteller?
NN: I have a deep affection for my own characters, which I try to share with the reader; I think a writer can't hope to engage her audience if she isn't herself deeply engaged with the work. I've also surprised myself, writing the Temeraire books, by discovering a real taste for battle scenes -- not something I would have expected to enjoy as much as I do, but there's a great deal of fun both in working out where to have action scenes to advance the overall work, and then coming up with twists and turns to make them interesting in their own right.
What author makes you shake your head in admiration? Which ones do you feel had the biggest influence and you and your work?
What was the spark that generated the idea which drove you to write TEMERAIRE in the first place?
NN: I recently had one of those head-shaking moments reading Michael Chabon's The Final Solution; he performs a sort of virtuoso balancing act in his prose, staying just shy of too ornate, which I would love to one day master.
Patrick O'Brian has been a tremendous influence on my work; it's not too much to say that his Aubrey/Maturin series was the inspiration for the Temeraire series.
Were you given a reason as to why the title of the first volume would be different in the UK and in North America? Was it just a question of putting the word "dragon" in the title?
NN: The marketing folks at Del Rey came back with some useful feedback from various major buyers, who felt the title wasn't accessible enough -- and partly that's because the US launch is in mass-market, which means a much larger print run. So my US editor Betsy Mitchell asked me to come up with a new one, and His Majesty's Dragon was my choice. If I had to choose, I do like Temeraire a bit better, but I think His Majesty's Dragon also successfully evokes the setting, so it wasn't a tremendous wrench.
Have foreign rights to the series been sold? If so, in which languages?
NN: Yes indeed -- so far, foreign rights have been sold to HarperCollins in the UK, Random House Germany, De Boekerij in Holland, Santillana in Spain, and most recently to AST in Russia. Any forthcoming editions will be announced on my website.
Now that this first trilogy is completed and will be published by the end of the spring, what current projects are you working on? What will be the next book/series to be published, and when can we expect that?
NN: I am in fact already at work on the fourth book of the Temeraire series, which is tentatively slated to be out in the US in Spring 2007. I have a few other writing projects in train, but they are too amorphous to go into detail yet.
Given the choice, would you take a New York Times bestseller, or a World Fantasy Award? Why, exactly?
NN: I have to say first that I reject the idea that bestsellers can't also be "good" books, and vice versa. For me, part of the measure of a truly great book is that it is read and loved by many people, whether emotionally or thoughtfully, and that it satisfies on both levels.
If I were forced to choose, though, I would take the New York Times bestseller -- on a practical level, that kind of success opens many doors for creativity; but aside from that, much of the joy for me in writing is to share my work with many readers, to be part of a larger conversation.