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By Patrick (2007-02-13)
Q: 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 novel?
I'm ludicrously flattered by how you put the question. In fact I feel great pressure every time I write anything. I'd love it if everyone loved everything I ever wrote, but of course it won't happen, and I think in the long term it's worth risking that - even knowing that - for the sake of not always doing the same thing. You ask an indulgence of your readers that way, no question, but I hope they'll think it's worth it in the long term, even if they don't always love each individual book.
In this case, obviously, the fact that it's a YA book is a major change, and I hope people think it's worked.
Q: What was the spark that generated the idea which drove you to write PERDIDO STREET STATION, THE SCAR, KING RAT and IRON COUNCIL in the first place?
Q: Were there any perceived conventions of the fantasy genre which you wanted to twist or break when you set out to write those novels?
In the first few years of my writing I spoke quite often about this sort of thing. Most of my opinions on that topic are public record, and I think there's a real danger of me becoming a complete bore about it, particularly fairly simple and uncontroversial opinions which can sound very self-important. I'm reminded of Alan Alda's comedian in 'Crimes and Misdemeanors' endless repetition of his trite mantra 'If it bends, it's funny: if it breaks, it's not funny', each time thinking he's saying something remarkable and profound. So I hope you'll forgive me ducking the question in an effort not to become too much of a self-parody.
Q: Your books have garnered what can best be described as a cult following. However, many doubt that they will ever become "mainstream." With that in mind, how rewarding is it to realize how successful the novels have been worldwide and continue to be to this day?
Of course any success is incredibly rewarding, and a success that allows you to write full-time is as much as I, or any writer I know, could possibly hope for. I've been extremely lucky.
Q: You have won the Arthur C. Clarke Award, the British Fantasy Award, and you were a finalist for the Hugo Award, the Philip K. Dick Award, the World Fantasy Award and the British Science Fiction Award. How important are those accolades to you?
It's incredibly flattering to have the books acknowledged by juries and/or prize committees. Of course these things are always subjective, so I think you'd be very foolish to think that if you win over another book, your work is necessarily 'better' - that would be ludicrous. And of course I disagree with the decisions of prize-juries easily often enough to know that they're not infallible. But it's always a huge honour and kick to win, even with those - perfectly true - caveats.
Q: Honestly, do you believe that the speculative fiction genre will ever come to be recognized as veritable literature? Truth be told, in my opinion there has never been this many good books/series as we have right now, and yet there is still very little respect (not to say none) associated with the genre.
Probably not, unfortunately. I hope I'm wrong, and certainly there's more of an open-mindedness now than there has been for a while, but these things are often cyclical.
Q: Characters often take a life of their own. Which of your characters did you find the most unpredictable to write about?
I'm never surprised by my own characters. I just don't write that way. Sometimes they change a lot in the development of the book, but I don't tend to feel like they're escaping me. I know plenty of magnificent writers who do write, and feel, that way, but I'm not one of them.