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By Patrick (2007-06-26)
Q: Without giving anything away, can you give us a taste of the story that is THE WANDERER'S TALE?
Despite the basic framework of the plot (the "epic fantasy quest") being far from original, that, I reckon, is where the unoriginality of my story ends. According to the quote I was kindly given by LE Modesitt Jr., "...Bilsborough has imbued the quest novel with a gritty realism..." Right on! That'll do for me. Yes, my heroes are foul-mouthed, go to the pub, smoke roll-ups, get divorced, do ca-ca in the woods, and, truth be told, after all that time on the road, smell pretty high. They also fight out of desperation and fear rather than bravery or honour, like thugs or butchers, and there's no glory, only blood and vomit.
Nevertheless, it is a work of IMAGINATION; each character, creature and place is described in fine detail, either realistically or fantastically. Though clearly influenced by Nordic, Celtic and Central Asian folklore, I've endeavoured to sub-create a world of many new, diverse landscapes, cultures, languages and bizarre inventions.
But the main inspiration for my writing comes from a lifetime of walking the Malvern Hills, one of the most fey and hauntingly beautiful places in the world, and the source of inspiration for writers, artists and composers for centuries. It's this facet, above all, that I want readers to enjoy.
And maybe the odd bit of British toilet humour I've thrown in for good measure.
Q: According to some, THE WANDERER'S TALE might be the fantasy debut of the year. Are you happy to have such a positive buzz surrounding the book, or are you afraid that this might raise readers' expectations too high?
Happy? God, yes, I should say so. I've been dreaming of seeing this story in print for over 25 years, and considering I've spent most of those years scraping a living from some of the most soul-sapping, lowest-paid, least-appreciated and generally crappiest jobs in the whole of Christendom (e.g. string maker, pie-meat squasher, pork-scratchings inspector, to name but three) something like "fantasy debut of the year" could only ever be the greatest inflator of my hitherto flaccid ego imaginable. Honestly, I'm so nauseatingly SMUG at the moment, loving every bit of it, and making the most of my delusions of greatness while I can. Let's face it, it may not last that long...
Q: What can readers expect from the sequel, A FIRE IN THE NORTH?
For a start, it's set in the North. So it's a lot colder. Probably why they lit the Fire in the first place. And it's a lot darker, in every way. Twisted, even. Annal Horribilis. I'm quite proud that there are bits in it which almost made my hardened editor spew. It's really in this second volume that the story starts to depart from the more usual 'fantasy epic', and strike out in a style of its own. Subsequent annals will continue this trend.
And unlike some books these days, this story does not suddenly finish with the sort of disappointing abruptness that always leaves me wondering just how committed the author was to writing a great tale, as opposed to getting it over with before the deadline. Indeed, the epilogue is my favourite part of the entire duology.
Q: What the progress report on A FIRE IN THE NORTH? Any tentative release date yet?
February next year, definitely. (Not sure about the US version.)
Q: The cover blurb mentions that there will be many Annals set in the world of Lindormyn. How many different story arcs are planned at this point?
I'm working on several different ideas at the moment, all very different in content to the first two annals. No wars, no quests, these stories should prove to be far more innovative. I'm hoping to break totally new ground. If I don't, there seems little point in writing. I'm determined to avoid churning out an endless slew of clone-like sequels ("The Wanderer Returns", "A Fire In The South", "Lindormyn 3: This Time It's Personal", etc.) like some kind of Lindormyn-o-matic. I've had quite enough experience of the production line in my life as it is.