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RB: I terms of exposure, I think it will open up the doors for potential authors.
GK: A lot of us would not have careers if not for these guys.
RB: One thing I was really impressed with in The Briar King was how you were able to convey a lot of the information about the world through the characters. It came across very genuinely, rather than big info dumps, almost pages long like some authors. How do you straddle that line and decide what to leave out of the story and what to reveal? Is this where the editors come in?
GK: When I tried to break in the business years ago, I was writing short stories. I tended to start with a little info dump, to let you as the reader know what the world was like and then we will get on to the story. I canít remember the editorís names because it has been so long, but they basically said you canít start your story out with a dissertation youíve got to start it with something interesting. May be interesting to you. One of the things I worked on, once I realized some of those editors knew what they were talking about, were interesting ways to submit information to the reader. I essentially had to do that with the Age of Unreason books, because there is so much information in those books about the 18th century. Thereís a lot that I was studying in the 18th c. that in the end I didnít use at all. Something Harry Turtledove said was "the-Iíve-done-my-research-now-you-have-to-pay-for-it-syndrome." You can never let that get in the way of story. So I find it, first of all, more interesting and convincing to introduce facts through conversation and action rather than dissertation. I think itís just a better way to do it, and itís more engaging. If the characters are moving through this world, then they have some part in it. None of them know everything or notice everything. Thatís one reason I like to use so many different characters. The characters have a certain point of view, they notice certain things and donít notice others. If Aspar looks at the world, Neil looks at the world and Winna looks at the world, if all these people look at the world then reveal something about it, then the reader starts putting it all together. Thatís why I like so many different cameras on the action.
RB: I think that makes it ultimately more believable. The characters are living in the world and theyíve got to believe in it if the readers are to believe in the world.
In both The Kingdom of Thorn and Bone, and The Age of Unreason you carved out an initial fantasy setting of the early colonial times of America or the Roanoke colony in The Briar King. As you said with The Age of Unreason you had to do a lot of research, while on the surface it seems like there would be some that people would be familiar with but there is a lot more going on. With The Age of Unreason did writing about this time period and putting a spin on it come to you first or were there other ideas?
GK: Age of Unreason? The first were in the category of these small ideas. When I decided to place the story when I did in the early 18th Century, and I started doing the research, more or less fortuitously, I found that it was this incredibly rich period that almost nobody had touched. Bizzarely enough, Vonda McIntyre wrote a book set in nearly the same period, about Louis XIV, The Sun and The Moon.
RB: Didnít that win the Nebula?
GK: Yes, it was an excellent book too and I was in place to really appreciate it since I had just done the research she had. We were both living in Seattle at the time so we had several conversations about it. There was no way either of us couldnít have known that the other was working on a late 17th early 18th century novel. I didnít pick that period to be different, I picked it because it had to be set on the cusp between science and other ways of knowing the world, that just happened to be when it was. In terms using my story as a vehicle to introduce people to the 18th Century, that really wasnít even in my mind. It was just inevitable, there was just no other way to do it. I did become fascinated with the period. I am sure there s some information I just threw in gratuitously, because I just felt people ought to know this. But for the most part, I try to keep my storytelling in charge. Certainly you can read The Briar King and never realize any of those people were descendant from the Roanoke colonists.
There were sort of a lot Easter eggs for history nuts and language nuts but you donít have to get any of them to get whatís going on. Just little freebies for those who know about it.
I have a hard time believing in Fantasy that is completely unconnected to our world. Iíve said before if youíve got running around with Christian names running around in a Fantasy world and there was never a Christ it seems very odd to me. Or for that matter, people running around in a world thatís not Ireland or not originally from Ireland who have Irish names.
RB: Yeah, speaking in accented tongues and what not.
GK: Ultimately everybody from the world of The Briar King and that place came from here at some point in time, the Roanoke colonists were just the last arrivals. But again to understand the story you donít have to know that, thatís just for me.
RB: Are we ever going to see how exactly these people were brought over or any of them returning to our world, or is that further down in the storyline of The Kingdoms of Thorn and Bone?
GK: If that happens, its going to be waaay down the road. Iíve got plenty to deal with in the next book without returning to the deep past. I probably will at some point go back to those questions, because there are things people interested enough in...that at some point certainly may be necessary for me in the order if work things out to go back on such unsung events. Funny is that the people who have read the book who want to know about these interim periods, too like the reign of the Black Jester and all that, which I guess is one of the dangers of creating a world.
RB: With the Age of Unreason have you considered returning to the world you created (and then almost destroyed) with either additional novels, series or short stories?
GK: I did a short story that was published in Amazing when it was still up an running a couple of years ago between the first two books. Right now I have no particular plans to return to that world because the Kingdom of Thorn and Bone is really going to keep me busy for the next couple of years. Iím also at this working on another Star Wars book.
RB: Is it in The New Jedi Order?
GK: Yeah, itís the penultimate book, Iím fairly busy also writing short stories for Star Wars Insider.
RB: About the NJO, it seems as if SF readers either stick to media tie ins or original fiction. Seeing how Lucasfilms & Del Rey are bringing in a lot of different writers has sparked my interest, and I think it is going pretty well. How collaborative is the writing process? Do you discuss things with the other authors?
GK: Oh yeah...Very collaborative. Even outlining things is very complicated. I just essentially started this book and had the outline approved maybe a month and half ago?
RB: Last book in the series?
GK: Second to last book, I think James Luceno is writing the last book. I had to coordinate with him, I had to coordinate with the two writers before me and every book between now and then that hasnít been written or published. There are three or four of us right now who are trying to get our outlines in shape or our final manuscripts in shape and we all have to talk to each other because we are dealing with the same characters. For instance the book right before mine is going through fairly extensive revision. Certainly weíve got some interesting people writing the New Jedi Order, they had Greg Bear do one of the Prequel era books.
RB: Iíve got to ask, have you had a chance to meet with George Lucas or talk to him or is he out on the Ranch?
GK: Yeah, heís on the ranch. Some authors have gone out there, but only those who are on the big planning phases, Iím just one of the who stepped in and wrote a couple of books and stepped out. Though because of the nature of the thing I had to determine some of things about the Yuuzhan Vong, but havenít been to the ranch.
RB: I just had to ask that.
GK: (laughs) No, no we donít all get to go, but it would be kind of cool.