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By Patrick (2006-06-23)
Q: Have the plotlines diverged much since you began writing your different series, or did you have the entire plot more or less figured out from the very beginning? Were any characters added or further fleshed out beyond your original intention? Have you made any changes to your initial plans during the course of the writing of those series?
RH: No more so than usual. In writing any multi part story, there are changes that occur as the writing goes along. As characters develop, the writer sees better paths to tell the tale. For Soldier Son, the basic shape of the story is pretty much the same as when I started. The characters always take on greater depth during the writing; it would be a pretty bare story if they stayed as the stick figures that the outline gives. Part of the fun of writing is watching that happen.
Q: How would you like to be remembered as an author? What is the legacy you'll leave behind?
RH: Hm. I don't think I've given this a great deal of thought. Off the top of my head, I think the legacy I'll leave behind will have a lot more to do with how I live my life and how I've influenced my children and grandchildren than it will with the books I write. I'm much too close to my own books to know if any of them will have any staying power past five or ten years, let alone past my life time. But I am almost certain that the values I give to my family will be passed down to later generations. I think of myself as a storyteller, and I think I can tell stories to this particular generation ofreaders. But whether my books will last into the future is really hard to say. I think our world is changing at a much faster rate than at any time in history, and I expect that rate of change to accelerate as the years go by. So it's hard to tell if the stories I'm telling right now will have anything to say to readers 20 or 30 years from now. Only a tiny percentage of books have staying power. I'd have to be pretty egotistical to think that mine will make the cut.
Q: Do you already have plans for another fantasy series following the completion of THE SOLDIER SON trilogy? I remember you telling me that you had the idea which made you write THE TAWNY MAN while writing THE LIVESHIP TRADERS.
RH: I have ideas, but nothing that I'm ready to talk about yet. There are always a queue of books and stories waiting to be told. The problem is deciding which one is most compelling and interesting at this time, and which ones need to stew a little longer. Sometimes the only way to find out is to try a chapter or two. And when I hit a wall and can't tell what happens next, I know that the story needs to age a bit longer, or that perhaps there's a piece of it that I haven't discovered yet.
Q: As a writer, you have managed to surpass yourself with every new book since the publication of THE FARSEER trilogy. Is this a goal you set for yourself, to raise the bar higher for each new project?
RH: Oh, that makes me smile. I think very many people would disagree with you! A lot of the feedback I get is from readers who want me to go back and write more about Fitz and The Fool rather than venture into new worlds, characters and stories. So I don't think those readers would say I have 'surpassed myself.' But I also think that is very common, and not something for me to take too seriously.
I think every writer hopes that the new book will be better and stronger than the ones that have come before it. But I think that if a writer continues to challenge himself, he must expect that sometimes there will be failures, experiments that don't succeed, or that he will venture into new territory where his readers may not wish to follow him. Obviously, I don't think that a writer should flinch from trying new things and telling new stories. But I also don't think a writer can expect the readers to be more thrilled with each new book. Some will want another helping of the same story the writer told last time. Others will be willing to try new things. And some will try the story, and either like it better or think the writer made a big mistake. All a writer can do is trying to tell a very good story every time.