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By Patrick (2008-03-31)
- For the benefit of those not familiar with you and your work, what can you tell us about James Barclay the author?
Well, Iím an English fantasy author. Iíve been writing ever since I was eleven years old, itís just something Iíve always done. My first book was Dawnthief. It was published in 1999 and kicked off the stage of The Raven, my group of heroes. There have been six novels in the series so far and another to come. In between, Iíve written a novella and a big sweeping epic fantasy duology but more about that later, I think.
Iíve always written in the fantasy genre, and I donít see myself moving away in any serious way for the foreseeable future. I love what fantasy provides. The escape it gives me as a writer and a reader. Iím proud to be associated with the genre. I donít pretend to write literary fantasy. Iím a thriller writer at heart and though later books have considerably more depth in terms of subject and detail, Iíll not lean too far from action, I donít suppose.
I write the sort of books I want to read, the sort that I was not finding when I set out to be a novelist. I love the thrills of a good action novel, the pace, the repartee, the bordering-on-the-outrageous stunts that heroes can pull. I love watching characters grow throughout a series, seeing them develop far away from their rootsÖ yíknow, just like real people. I get criticised for my characterisation at times but I think it unfair. People are deep and complex and as a rule reveal very little about themselves in the short-term. They are also inconsistent beyond their basic principles. Thatís probably the only consistent thing about us allÖ
I try to write books that entertain. I donít wish to teach or preach. I want readers to have fun, to get engaged with my characters and become lost in the action. I think I get it right quite a lot of the time.
- You made a name for yourself with The Chronicles of the Raven and Legends of the Raven. Without giving anything away, what can you tell potential readers about those two trilogies?
In a nutshell, they are heroic action fantasy. Very fast paced; heaps of action and pithy dialogue; characters you grow to love but should not become too attached to if you can help it; plots that involve love, friendship, honour, courage and redemption; also scheming, cheating, politics, assassination, treachery, hack and slay. Violence too. Because the world is one of sword and magic fighting. These two things equal much blood and death if you ask me and I donít believe in sugaring the act or consequences of violent action. I leave that to Errol Flynn.
Itís well-known that the genesis of these books was a role-playing game called ĎDragon Questí I played many years ago with a group of friends. And a super game system it was too. The group of characters in that game became ĎThe Ravení and the first novel, Dawnthief is a classic quest novel to a large extent. But I laid down some markers concerning action and lack of sentimentality nonetheless. The other five books in the two trilogies are not classic quest novels, not to my mind anyway.
The Raven are a group of mercenaries just past their prime but still the best fighting team in their world, Balaia. They take on one last big payday before retirement and end up in a fight to save the world from the return of an ancient evil. To do that they have to cast a spell so powerful it can destroy everything. Tricky business. Thatís the guts of Dawnthief. All the later novels carry over story threads and consequences. I have invasions of dragons and demons, I have elven plagues, I have warring magic colleges, I have young children invested with power they cannot control.
And in the midst of it all, I have The Raven doing what they do. Their methods are sometimes questionable and you could argue they are morally grey but they believe in themselves and in the good that will ultimately come of their success. Some of the heroes make it to the end of each book but I donít guarantee which ones. The ante is upped with each outing of The Raven. The consequences of failure become so much broader and all-encompassing.
Go out and buy, I say. Take a ride and donít look backÖ