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By Patrick (2007-03-13)Q: Without giving anything away, could you give your readers a taste of SHADOWPLAY?
It takes the stories in the first volume and deepens them. We find out more about what really exists BEHIND the world that the main characters knew -- what they thought was the truth. We also see a lot more of both the human world and the lands behind the Shadowline, and get to know some of the "bad guys" a lot better and learn why they're doing what they're doing. And there's monsters and stuff. (I always like monsters and stuff.)
Q: Authors often claim that the second volume of a trilogy is the most difficult one to write. Was it the case with SHADOWPLAY? Working on SHADOWMARCH was in all likelihood different from any of your previous writing endeavors for it started off as a web-based project. Was it more or less "business as usual" working on its sequel?
It was definitely difficult, because I had to do a lot of plotting and world-construction that would normally have been done during the first volume, but didn't because at the time (while it was an online serial) I was just making it up on the fly and writing for deadline. So in the second volume I was often figuring out answers for things I would normally have already known AS I WAS WRITING those things. Interesting. Not restful. But I think in the long run the odd origin will work, as most hurdles do, to make the story interesting and unique.
Q: What was the spark that generated the idea which drove you to write SHADOWMARCH and the rest of the series in the first place?
Way back when -- and I mean WAY back, like mid-90s -- I had some talk with artists Roger Dean and Mike Kaluta about working on a fantasy film. That never happened, but I started thinking the genre was better suited for episodic television, since one of fantasy's glories is extensive worldbuilding, something you can do a lot better over 26 episodes or whatever than in a 2 hour movie. So I began to construct a story that would mostly be based in a single location. I never managed to make it happen as a television show, but I became interested in the characters and the setting and wanted to do something with it, so I made SHADOWMARCH first an online project, then a book.
Q: Have the plotlines diverged much since you began writing the 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 the series?
Yes, yes, and yes. I had some general ideas, some of which are still in play, for the overall story, but I didn't think much beyond what's become the first volume precisely because I didn't want to lose the air of spontaneity -- otherwise, why bother to publish online as you write. I'd like to say I always know everything that's going to happen in my books, but I find that although I need to know a lot of the ending, and lots of highlights, I also need to discover things along the way. That's what makes books more than simply plot, at least for me.
Q: Were there any perceived conventions of the fantasy genre which you wanted to twist or break when you set out to write SHADOWMARCH and its sequel? What about Memory, Sorrow, and Thorn?
Not so much break conventions as to take what I'd learned in the past fifteen or twenty years of writing and apply it to another epic fantasy. I'm not really an iconoclast so much as a BENDER of icons and expectations. I like to create an unconscious dialogue with the readers who are trying to outthink me. It's like being a baseball pitcher: even if you have great stuff, a blazing fastball and a vicious curve, you still do best against professional hitters if you also change speeds a lot on those pitches and mix them up -- deliver them at unexpected moments. Fantasy readers tend to read, well, a lot of fantasy fiction. I like to use that against them and keep them off-balance. (It also works for readers who aren't as deeply into the genre, but they may not realize what's happening to them.)