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As you may know, we keep finding new types of bacteria on the ocean bottoms near thermal vents. DNA analysis shows that some of these bacteria aren't related to any other creatures on earth, and many biologists now believe that life may have evolved dozens of times . My basic concept for the Reavers is that they and their kin evolved separately from the plants and animals on their planet's surface.
As you may have noticed, these are not insects. They have interior lungs to breathe with. However, in order to cope with the abrasive environment, they have developed a skin so thick it almost seems to be an exoskeleton. At the same time, in order to squeeze through tight places, they can compact their bodies down in the same way that a giant Jamaican water roach does.
They communicate chemically, as ants do, though their vocabulary is much larger even than a human vocabulary. Beyond that, unlike ants, they are able to "erase" their scents, so that they can communicate effectively. And they see in the electro-magnetic spectrum, much as sharks do.
Within the scope of the books, I haven't been able to deal with the subtleties of Reaver society very well. It's one of those things that you create, but which my human characters still don't know about. More of that will come out in book 4
Q: I guess that goes to show you still need to know a good deal of scientific facts if you are writing fantasy. Sounds like the most difficult part of the Runelords was the Reavers. Is this true or do you find it more difficult with other things such as the human interactions/relationships
A: Actually, for me science isn't difficult, it's fun, and most of the time writing is play. Creating creatures and worlds is sometimes easier for me than creating characters. But for the story to really work, you have to have great characters with powerful conflicts
I'm not even sure that I like the word "creating." When things are going good, when I'm really hot, I don't feel like I'm "creating" the world so much as I am "discovering" it. There are times when I'm imagining a scene and it takes on a life of its own, it twists away from me and surprises me, and then I sit and type as fast as I can, trying to keep up. But getting to that point is the hard part of writing. I have to immerse myself in the fantasy world night and day, and if I try to go back to the real world for a bit--say to calculate my taxes or take care of my family--then I lose it. Getting back to that point where I'm re-immersed can take days
When I'm writing, my wife has learned to put up with me. I'll be driving along and miss an exit--and not notice it for twenty minutes. Then she'll gently ask "Where are you going?", and I'll sheepishly admit that I was thinking about a scene that I wrote today, planning the rewrite, or I'll tell her about the scene I was in as I drove. As I've told her a dozen times, "Being spacey more than just an occupational hazard for a science fiction writer, it's a job requirement."
So, if you want to know what the hardest part is, half the time I feel as if it's getting completely immersed. But that's not the roughest part. Being inside is beautiful, but the really tough part, the real hell of this job, is when I'm forced to withdraw and re-enter the real world. Not because it's so hard, but because it's so painful. Every time you withdraw, you feel as if you've lost something.