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By Patrick (2006-05-16)
ōQ: As co-creators of the Malazan universe, was there ever a plan for you and Steven to actually write the series together, much like authors such as Margaret Weis and Tracy Hickman have collaborated over the years? Or did you both have your own stories to tell, and thus elected to go your separate ways?
Steve and I co-wrote a number of screenplays - long ago. We used a single pad of yellow legal notepaper that we passed back and forth across the table in coffeeshops, taking turns writing dialogue and scenes, etc. It was very rewarding creatively, reacting to what he came up with then passing the pad back for his reaction - like a great game of chess, only we were both winners. We found we could co-write screenplays in that manner but we both knew it wouldnít work for novel writing so we didnít even attempt it. Now, we both do have our "own stories to tell" but they are still woven together in that - if the plan can be kept to - they still cross and merge in various ways and at various moments.
Q: You guys initially wrote GARDENS OF THE MOON as a screenplay. Just out of curiosity, how different was it from what was published?
Yes, if I remember correctly, Gardens was written out as described above. And, if memory serves, the novel followed very closely to what we had in the screenplay (a copy of it remains buried somewhere in my notes, and Steve might still have a copy too).
Q: How far along are you with RETURN OF THE CRIMSON GUARD and when might we see it published? Where will the majority of the action in RETURN OF THE CRIMSON GUARD take place? Quon Tali? Assail? Korelri?
A first finished draft of Return was done before any of the novels ever saw publication - a good warning to those of you toiling away on your own projects: never throw anything away! Steve read it, of course, as we exchanged everything. He handed it back beautifully packaged in a cardboard mailing box with its title penned on it and he told me "send it out." I never did; it went into a drawer. Iím not certain why, perhaps I didnít think I was yet a good enough writer (perhaps Iím still not, itís no longer for me to say, others will judge now). In any case, it all has to be completely rewritten pretty much from the ground up with entire new characters, etc, to bring it into alignment with what has now been established. Iím not certain how far Iím through it at this point in that Iíve no idea how long itís going to take to get to the end. I can say that the majority of the action will take place on the home continent of the empire, Quon Tali.
Q: This from another interview you did: ęAh, here I can be unequivocal in saying that, yes, I (and Steve) both believe that Malaz is vastly different from the general popular fantasy series of the genre. We deliberately set out to achieve this goal of convention challenge, contravention, and reversal. It is deliberately anti-heroic in a genre heretofore reserved for heroic indulgences all this because we have faith in the intelligence anddiscrimination of genre readers to recognize when they are not being talked (or written) down to. In many ways the entire series is an extended critical study of the genre itself how it works, why it works how far can it be pushed to evolve?Ľ
Do you feel that this might explain why most Malazan fans appear to be well-read fantasy aficionados, who enjoy the series exactly because it is unlike everything else on the market today? By the same token, could this also explain why the "mainstream" readers have not yet caught on?
Ah, an invitation to pontificate! With this question Iím not quite sure what you mean by "mainstream." Do you mean readers of mainstream epic fantasy such as that of Terry Goodkind, Raymond E. Feist, Robert Jordan, George R. R. Martin, etc, etc? If so, itís hard to say. Much of the traditional attraction of the genre (that is, of the last seventy years or so) has been the simple escapism of good guys rewarded and bad guys punished together with the "Pleasure Principle" of well-established expectations met seamlessly and on time. Maintream fantasy keeps to this safe uncomplicated niche (why rock the boat?). What we are attempting in Malaz is to see how far these conventions can be challenged by the importation of more complicated concerns such as moral ambiguity, explorations of character, and the big question, what does it mean to be "human"?
Q: You and Steven have mapped out his 10 Malazan novels, which means that you basically know everything that will take place. Regardless of that fact, name a couple of scenes in which Steven still managed to blow your mind.
Everything Steve writes frankly manages to blow my mind - even when I "know" what will happen. Knowing the outcome is not important; Malaz is more about the ride than the destination. Itís the journey, the art of the unfolding that is important. And neither of us yet knows "entirely" what will happen anyway, weíre both still inventing/sculpting the details, the execution of it all (so to speak). If I were pressed to choose anything, I would have to single out his characters. Iskaral Pust for example. How does Steve do it? How does one scare up anything so original from ground that has been plowed so thoroughly as epic fantasy has? Amazing - and scary for my own work. A very high bar to work next to.