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By Patrick (2007-09-16)
Q: In an era in which epic fantasy authors such as Jordan, Martin and Williams write a book every two or three years, you somehow manage to release a Malazan installment every year or so. And that's on top of coming up with a novella and producing The Dark to boot! What is your work ethic?
I write four hours a day six or seven days a week. There's no pressure on daily word count or anything like that, just the time invested. It seems to be working. Toll the Hounds is taking a little longer, due primarily to personal issues.
Q: Speaking of The Dark, can you tell us a little more about that project? Are you happy with the way everything has occurred? What can we expect from The Dark in the coming months?
That form of media is pure chaos -- trying to find a backer, especially here in Canada, is very difficult. Film and television is bound up in something called Telefilm Canada, which is a hotbed of mediocrity intent on perpetuating mediocrity (hence our moribund film productions, not counting Quebec which is on the right track and has balls besides). We've had battles with them on feature film projects as well -- to get funding one needs to sign on a 'script editor' from a rather short list of acceptable people. Now, try to imagine a script editor reading a script and coming back to the producer and saying: 'it's just fine'. If they did that, they'd be out of a job. Therefore, according to the script editor, every script needs reworking. It has to, since that's how they're paid. What kind of system is this? Where the demand is justified by the supplier and the customer (us) has no say in it? It's insane. Make work for shitty writers who can't hack it in the real world and for whom 'ambition' is a pejorative.
Can I go on? I will.
Q: There has been a palpable momentum shift in both THE BONEHUNTERS and REAPER'S GALE. It looks as though the first five volumes were meant to lay the groundwork for the rest of the series, but in the last two we've seen the storylines coming together and we're starting to get an inkling of how many of them are related. Is there more pressure now, as you must tie all those plotlines together and bring the series to a satisfying close?
No. Don't forget, I've known where this was going all along. The challenge now is to ensure that I deliver to the best of my writing ability.
Q: Both Cameron and yourself have explained in past interviews how intricately the 15 books you have planned from the start have been mapped out. Still, have the plotlines diverged much since you began writing the series? 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?
The overall arc has not changed, because it was kept rather simple. Specific details that are elaborations on that arc have indeed burgeoned and gone off in unexpected directions -- it's more the case of finding the repercussions and following them no matter where they end up, and this can be surprising and often is, which I suppose is what ensures that we as writers continue to find motivating in a series as long as this one.
Q: Characters often take a life of their own. Which of your characters do you find the most unpredictable to write about?
Unpredictability usually shows up in actual dialogue. As a writer, I have a fair sense of the characters, since when writing their points of view I am pretty much co-existing in their brains (which can, on occasion, be a scary place). But it's with dialogue that things let loose, generally in a humourous direction, although not always.