Page 1 of 4
By Patrick (2007-08-28)
Q: You know how eager your fans are regarding the new novel. Without giving anything away, what can you tell them about Red Seas under RedSkies?
RSURS is my attempt to move the series forward substantially while retaining the flavor that made TLOLL whatever it was... to sort of broaden the horizons of the story while preserving that somewhat gritty, grimy, people-actually-live-here sort of feel of the world.
RSURS is also my attempt to write a nautical adventure fantasy in which... how can I put this... in which sailing ships are not stable, comfortable, rock-solid little platforms that zoom conveniently about the ocean for months at a time, with blessedly content and pleasant crews. Despite their romantic glory, they're also creaking, swaying, tossing, smelly nightmares for those who aren't used to them, including our protagonists.
I like to have it both ways -- beauty and grandeur and mystery piled on top of a grounded sense of the muck and hardships of actual life, especially in this sort of archaic age.
Q: When we did the interview last year, you had yet to sell a single book. Yes, the hype was rather high, but no one knew if this thing would be a success or not. I guess it's now fair to claim that it was a success! Yet by the time The Lies of Locke Lamora was released, Red Seas under Red Skies was almost completed. So you basically wrote these two manuscripts in your basement, as any aspiring author would.
Sort of. The first portion of TLOLL, the part that sold the book and kicked off this whole wild affair, was quite literally written in my parents' basement. In late 2004, I moved to the townhouse I live in now, where TLOLL was finished in my third-floor office. That's where RSURS was put together, and where the third book has been shaping up. So I guess at some point authors stop barricading themselves in underground retreats and start seeking the high ground.
Q: I was wondering if your approach to writing volume 3 has changed with everything that occurred this last year? For instance, you now realize what it means to have fans. How does it feel to have them analyze every little detail, putting everything you write under the microscope?
It was an extremely paralyzing thought at first, but I suppose you just have to shrug and get over it, since you can't do even the tiniest thing about it. Learning not to freak out about that crap is the first survival skill an author should practice. There are no stalkers camped out on my front lawn, so all attention at this point is good attention.
Q: And with TLOLL's commercial success on both sides of the Atlantic, do you perceive that expectations from your publishers will be higher, now that you have proven that you can make it?
I certainly hope so... higher expectations all around mean that it's easier to convince the people holding the purse strings to cut loose for crazy publicity stunts involving blimps, holograms, and fireworks displays. But seriously, I'm not sure if ever-higher expectations are actually what it's about. The second book, barring freak success, is probably not going to suddenly sell ten times as many copies as the first. What they're looking for now, as best I know, is to make sure each new book retains at least a significant portion of the sales of the first, and doesn't plummet like a rock. There's an awful lot of inside baseball I could throw out in response to a question like this, and I'd be lying if I said I understood it all yet myself.
Q: I guess I want to know if graduating from the aspiring writer status to the "established" author with his own fan base alters the way you approach your craft?
No. Fundamentally, I try to write books that I myself would want to read if I hadn't written them, and I of course flatter myself that I like to read entertaining and worthwhile books. I don't write 'for' anyone; I just write in the sincere hope that first my wife, and then my little circle of first readers, and then my general readership will all like it. But that's a hope, and not my driving imperative.