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By Patrick (2008-01-27)
- Your newest title is one of the most eagerly awaited fantasy book of 2007. What is it about A Sword from Red Ice that made the novel more arduous to write than your previous books?
At one point A Sword From Red Ice became too big for me. I had ten point-of-view characters to write for, and while I was swapping between them I had a sense that I was losing focus. Raif, his brother, sister and clan, and Ash are the main subjects of the series, and I had to stop and refocus upon them. That meant cutting out characters who I was genuinely interested in and delaying their appearances until later in the series. Then I went back and restructured the book. This took time. However, the main reason why the book took so long is that I was developing as a writer. By the time I reached the final scene, the prologue and early parts of the book no longer reflected my experience as a writer. My work has, I hope, become leaner and more truthful. Iím glad I took the time to rewrite and revise: I think Sword is a better book because of it.
- What can readers expect from the subsequent two volumes of the series?
Readers should expect to learn more about the characters; what they are capable of under pressure and what has the power to break them. I love my characters, but itís not a blind love. They have faults, terrible faults, and the rest of the series will reveal and highlight them. Subsequent books will offer chances for greatness, goodness, and redemption. At this point even I donít know who will succeed and who will fail. As I writer Iím interested in the conflicts we carry in our hearts. Weíre afraid, yet we act in face of that fear. We love passionately, yet weíre rarely selfless. Books IV and V will show Raif coming to terms with hard realities. How do you live a life when youíre cut off from your family, home and community? What is your responsibility when you can kill an enemy so effortlessly, from a distance, that you donít have to look him in the eye?
- What are the main challenges that you will face as an author in order to finish the series the way you have always envisioned it?
The primary challenge for me is tell the truth. Iím writing Epic Fantasy and itís a genre with strong traditions, and my focus is to keep the story pertinent. I donít want the world and the characters to be archaic constructions that have no relation to how we live our lives today. I want readers to think,"Yes, I recognize this. Iíve felt like that. Iíve been in a situation where I had to make that choice." The series is written on a large scale--countries, clans, continents, races--and my main challenge is to hold that scale in tension while telling the personal stories within it.
- What's the progress report on the fourth volume the Sword of Shadows saga? Any tentative title and release date yet?
Iím writing Book IV right now. If you attended World Fantasy in Saratoga you got a sneak preview of the Prologue, which I used for a reading. The book will be finished next year and I expect it to be published in 2009.
- What was the spark that generated the idea which drove you to write the Sword of Shadows in the first place?
Iíve always been fascinated with cold climates: arctic tundra, glaciers, sea ice, pine forests blanketed in snow. For me, cold and remote places are filled with wonder and possibility. I have a sense that mysteries lie beneath the ice, that if one were to fall through a fissure in a glacier one might find oneself in another world. The Sword of Shadows series started, quite simply, because I wanted to set a story in a bleak and windswept land.
- Characters often take on a life of their own. Which of your characters did you find the most unpredictable to write about?
The characters who are the most insecure are the least predictable. Ash, who is deeply insecure, is capable of great shifts in behavior. Sheís missing the firm foundation of a family who loved her, and that makes her vulnerable. Oddly enough, the Dog Lord, Vaylo Bludd, never had a family who loved him either, but he has a strong sense of who he is. Ash is a lot younger and hasnít developed that yet. Plus, she literally doesnít know where she came from. The Dog Lord always knew he was an unwanted, illegitimate son. That sense of self, when present in a character, makes behavior more predictable. When itís missing anything can happen.