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By Patrick (2007-05-16)
Q: Everyone is the sum of many experiences and situations, both preceding them and of their own making. It is interesting how you explore this human reality in the character of Imriel. How do his unique situation, station, heritage, and upbringing challenge you as you continue to develop him in your story? How would you like readers to relate to him as a character?
A lot of Imrielís journey is about overcoming his history. Heís an abuse survivor with a bundle of conflicting desires and impossibly heroic role models; not to mention an infamous mother. While the circumstances are over-the-top Ė this is epic fantasy, after all Ė I think a lot of readers can relate to the underlying emotional journey. In many ways, heís easier to relate to than PhŤdre; heís not a godís chosen with a great and terrible destiny, heís just a guy trying to figure out who he is. Although some great and terrible things happen along the way!
Q: Cover art has become a very hot topic of late. What are your thoughts pertaining to that facet of a novel, and what do you think of the various covers that have graced your books? Do you have a personal favorite?
I guess Iíve been out of the loop; I didnít know it was a hot topic! By and large, authors donít have a whole lot of say in cover art, so I donít spend a great deal of time fretting over it anymore. Iíll help my editor tweak the concept, but ultimately, if everyone at the publisher is happy, Iím good with it. They know what sells better than I do. Did I ever envision PhŤdre with bangs? No, but Iíll live. My personal favorite is Kushielís Chosen, which I find the most sophisticated of them. Though it could simply be that there are no bangs visible, too.
Q: Which secondary character do you most enjoy writing about? Which do you find the most challenging?
It varies from book to book, but in Justice, itís definitely Sidonie. Until now, weíve never seen anything but her public persona, which is very different from her private one. She has a dry sense of humor I enjoy, and surprisingly few inhibitions. Conversely, the toughest one in this instance is Queen Ysandre. Sidonieís affair with Imriel ultimately puts her in conflict with her mother. I tried to walk a fine line in conveying Ysandreís outrage without making her entirely unsympathetic.
Q: While the fantasy genre is filled with long series, you have always stayed within the boundaries of either a duology or a trilogy. Is there a reason for that? Would you consider writing something longer?
So far, that just seems to be the length of story arc that suits my Muse. Iím certainly open to the possibility of writing a longer series if the inspiration strikes, but I donít feel the need to do it just for the sake of doing it.
Q: M. John Harrison recently wrote this post on his blog:
"Every moment of a science fiction story must represent the triumph of writing over worldbuilding.
Worldbuilding is dull. Worldbuilding literalises the urge to invent. Worldbuilding gives an unneccessary permission for acts of writing (indeed, for acts of reading). Worldbuilding numbs the readerís ability to fulfil their part of the bargain, because it believes that it has to do everything around here if anything is going to get done.
Above all, worldbuilding is not technically neccessary. It is the great clomping foot of nerdism. It is the attempt to exhaustively survey a place that isnít there. A good writer would never try to do that, even with a place that is there. It isnít possible, & if it was the results wouldnít be readable: they would constitute not a book but the biggest library ever built, a hallowed place of dedication & lifelong study. This gives us a clue to the psychological type of the worldbuilder & the worldbuilderís victim, & makes us very afraid."
Needless to say, a multitude of people disagree with Harrison's postulation. What's your take on Harrison's post and the concept of worldbuilding in general?
I think the point heís trying to make is buried under hyperbole. Sure, Iíve read books that fit his description, but to dismiss the concept of worldbuilding out of hand is a gross oversimplification. A well-built world thatís alive with just enough detail and provides a backdrop that allows the characters and plot to shine is a joy to visit. And too, there are books in which the worldbuilding is so extraordinary and inventive that the setting almost becomes the protagonist. For me, Mervyn Peakeís Gormenghast trilogy is a classic example, while a more recent one is China Miťvilleís Perdido Street Station.
As far as the idea that writers with an affinity for worldbuilding are a specific psychological type goes, thatís just silly.
Q: Anything you wish to share with your fans?
Yes, there will be further books in the Kushiels series! However, Iím currently taking a break from Terre díAnge and working on a completely different project; so different, Iíll be taking on a new identity for this one and writing under a pseudonym. The bookís working title is Santa Olivia. Iím calling it a post-punk desert bordertown fable, with boxing and cute girls in love.
Like I said... different!
Interview by Patrick
Copyright - Patrick fantasyhotlist.blogspot.com