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By Patrick (2006-05-21)
Let me begin by thanking you both for taking some time off your indubitably busy writing schedule to answer our questions. It is with great pleasure that I welcome this opportunity to do this Q&A.
- For the benefit of those who are unfamiliar with your work, without giving too much away, give us a taste of THE BRONZE CANTICLES.
(TRH) Thrice Upon a Time, there were three worlds ... actually, three incarnations of the same world! Each has its own history, societies and races developing on independent lines and, until recently, completely unaware of the existence of each other. Now, through newly emerging magical forces, they are coming to discover that their worlds will be in collision; one world will rule, one will submit and the third will die ... but which world will fulfill which destiny? And, more importantly, how do these global events affect the lives of the individuals who live in them? I think the thing I like most about the series is how it explores life and its most personal level in the face of global issues.
- What was the spark that generated the idea which drove you to write the series in the first place?
(LCH) Tracy and I went hiking one day in a canyon near our home. We live in the desert south-west of the United States – a place of stark and powerful beauty. If you’ve ever see one of those American Western films with the towering red rock bluffs and cliffs then you have some idea of where we live. We were following a stream and came to an ancient, toppled tree whose roots were exposed. The knots and gnarls of those roots reminded us both of a passage to another world – and the concept just grew from there.
In the same vein, what generated the idea behind the sundered universe of THE DEATH GATE CYCLE?
(TRH) Interestingly while both ideas appear to have similar themes, they are fundamentally different. The worlds of the Bronze Canticles were never ‘sundered’ as the Death Gate worlds: being separate incarnations was their original state. Death Gates world started as a single world and was broken into its classical component parts. However, both do deal with multiple incarnations of a setting in the same space. The idea for Death Gate, however, came as a result of my musings on the troubles in Northern Ireland. The question of a war being conducted for so long and so bitterly that people no longer remembered what the original conflict was about struck me as central to Death Gate.
- 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?
(TRH) Laura always sensed that I enjoyed writing about Dwynwyn in our Bronze Canticles series. As for me, I think I could write about the goblins in that series any day!
- What do you feel is your strength as a writer/storyteller?
(LCH) The structure of story is our specialty. We firmly believe that without a solid foundation in story structure much of the rest of a tale’s telling is just so much chrome. You need the strong frame to make a story really work.
- What authors makes you shake your head in admiration?
(LCH) Ray Bradbury – his prose is poetry.
(TRH) Stephen King. I don’t always like what he writes but I LOVE the way he writes it. His book ‘On Writing’ is, I think, the best on its subject available today.
- If you could go back in time, what advice would you give the younger Tracy Hickman concerning his writing career?
(TRH) You know, I wouldn’t change a thing. Life has its ups and downs – and sometimes those downs can be pretty horrific – but on reflection everything that has happened in my life has lead me to where I am today: and I wouldn’t want it any other way. As for other writers, however, I would advise first – don’t quit the day job. Second – everyone has ideas, it’s the people who do something about them that make a difference. No one can write your story for you – start writing. Third – you have not yet written your best work. Your first efforts will be terrible and clumsy, just like your first steps as a child – but also just as important for you to learn from. Get over the idea of the perfect book. Fourth, nothing is ever wasted. And fifth: drive, craft and discipline can get you through a lot.