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By Patrick (2007-05-16)
Q: Okay, you thought we'd let you go easy, but enough of that! The question every fan wants me to ask you has to do with how far along are you with RETURN OF THE CRIMSON GUARD? Will you meet your deadline?
Well, youíll be glad to know that Iíve just handed in the completed run-through to Bantam. What you may not be happy to know is how much I had to leave out to achieve that completed project. It was agonizing, but perhaps all that material might be another novel Ö. So, itís in, deadline met. Now weíll see what the editors at Bantam have to say. Usually these things take a year. So, spring Ď08.
I say it was agonizing but I also enjoyed it immensely. If the readers have half the fun I had with Return it should do well. Itís very different from Knives, much more expansive. In any case, already Iíve exceeded my comfort level for talking about it. Maybe Iím too damned Canadian that way.
Q: Without giving anything away, what can you tell us of RETURN OF THE CRIMSON GUARD? (Sorry, the good old "read and find out" answer cannot be used! Just give us a little something to whet our appetite!)
The original manuscript for this second novel, like Knives, was actually completed long ago. It spends time with characters such as Greymane, Traveller, Blues, and Skinner Ė and so I am pleased that many fans of the world have expressed interest in these very characters Ė ones Steve and I marked out long ago for development.
Briefly, I can say that the mercenary company the Crimson Guard returns to its home and the home of the empire, Quon Tali, where they find the continent torn by a civil war precipitated both by Empress Laseenís policies and cruel political calculation. They return to fulfill their vow to destroy the empire, but just what that entails becomes one of the complicating issues.
Q: The fact that Steven has written 7 novels and 3 novellas in the Malazan universe has laid down a lot of groundwork for the saga. Is it harder to write a novel like RETURN ON THE CRIMSON GUARD now, knowing that everything must fit with what has been established by previous Malazan volumes? Or does that existing structure make the process easier?
It makes it all both easier in some regards but harder in others. Basically, he and I both know the major structural turns of any of the novels, but the devil is in the details, as they say. Throwaway lines in any of his or my pieces could derail plans for things further down the way. Such potential will always remain a danger but it should be clear by now that neither of us are the sort to obsess over small continuity issues, weíre interested in the big picture.