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Q and A with malazanempire No 1 (2003)

Page history last edited by PBworks 13 years, 10 months ago


Whoo! Any writer out there who pays no attention to his or her readers should be shot (no, don't take me literally). Hello one and all, I've spent more than a few hours the last couple of days reading this thread and that, finishing here on this one. To those of you who took time to reply to my query, my heartfelt thanks. Are all fan sites like this one? Anyway, you've swept aside my uncertainty and as for future acknowledgement of this site, count on it.


All right, some questions to go through, but first, some news (reward time, in gratitude for your commantary). Blood Follows will appear in a four novella trilogy coming out soon, so those of you who missed it first time round, hang in there. Now, there's been plenty of speculation about Midnight Tides, and I have no wish to take the wind out of any sails, so all I'll say is, you'll recognise a few names in the first half of the prologue, and another you'll know as soon as you see him in the second part of the prologue. Apart from that, there's one and only one: Trull Sengar. I could give you a character list but he's the only name you'll recognise.


Before there's wild panic, the abandonment of other characters is a temporary one, this book only. The Bonehunters centres on Tavore's new army. Toll the Hounds takes us back to Darujhistan. Reaper's Gale -- well, I'll hold back on the rest for now. You can expect to see a lot of the old cast reappearing -- I don't intend to leave anyone behind, honest.


So, for Midnight Tides, you'll just have to trust me. The new take on the pantheon is more of a variation than something entirely disconnected from what you already know. I've just sent off a 225 word blurb thing to my editor, so it should appear on the publisher's site sooner rather than later. I'm 300 pages into the novel, smooth sailing so far (touch wood), on chapter 10, which begins in the city of Letheras, with a visit to a brothel to retrieve a dead woman. That won't seem so strange when you reach that scene. Really.


Okay, some questions already touched on. To the others....


Coltaine reborn, will he have a role in future books? Not in this series, I don't think. I may change my mind, but don't put money on it.


Platoon and influences on my characters? Hmm, you know, that film would have worked better if Stone hadn't lost his stones at the end when the Sheen character voice-overs what's been obvious for the previous two hours, that he had two directions in which to go, each embodied by the two rival soldiers in the squad. Well, yeah, no kidding, mate! I'll take Apocalypse Now or Full Metal Jacket over Platoon any day, and in a lot of ways Apocalpyse Now was a real influence in my fantasy writing, that surreal juxtaposition of in-the-dirt grunt point of view and overwhelming firepower raining down from the sky -- that's the siege of Pale in a nutshell.


The deragoth mystery will be revealed in due course. Thus far, all that's been revealed (maybe) is that the two hounds Rake killed who escaped the sword ended up conjoined with the Deragoth in those statues. Either that or the Hounds of Shadow and those of Darkness are diametrically opposed -- if one's around its opposite can't be. The secret lies in Dessimbelackis (no connection to Dassem, btw).


Malazan weapons and armour. No real plate armour. Banded or scaled or chain. Longswords are more Norse or Saxon than a spartha. Normally one-handed. Longknives are usually single-edged, with a slight downward taper beginning two-thirds of the way down. Thin-bladed, the blade itself about thirty inches long.


Finding character names seems, on reflection, pretty damned random. Although I'll occasionally do the Dickensian trick of creating one perfectly suited to that character's personality. I could tell you the origin of Quick Ben but it might take the allure off the character, so I won't.


Is Tiam male or female. Female, sometimes a mother, sometimes a lover, sometimes a daughter, and sometimes all three, but always female. The next book will have in the glossary Baruk's interpretation of the Draconic family tree ... all three versions.


Heboric's healing of Scillara reversed the circumcision, yes.


Apsalar most certainly will return. Lady Atheilen, how old are you again? You write better than fellow students of mine at the Iowa Writers' Workshop. UVic has a very good writing program btw....


The ascendant Whiskeyjack? All rightie, this ties in with concerns I've seen expressed about resurrections in the novels. Curious. Paran is the only character truly resurrected, because in his re-animation he is essentially the same person he was before. Maybe Duiker, too. Tattersail was reborn, as was Nightchill, but Silverfox is a very different creature. Baudin as a servant of Hood is perforce very dead, and will remain so. The Bridgeburners who make a re-appearance in HoC are ghosts. Ascended, yes, resurrected, no. Coltaine is a month old and his mother still has to hold him out when he pees. No fast return there. Felisin is gone. Toc's just inhabiting a different body. Will there be any more resurrections? Only one, and it's what all the others are leading to.


Will my stuff ever get adapted into an RPG computer game? Beats me, no one's asked.


Jaghut as a word has no earthly influence by way of origin. I just liked the way it looks on the page. I pronounce it Jag-goot but accenting the first syllable and falling off on the last syllable.


The realm of Shadow. More will be revealed in due course, especially in Toll the Hounds.


Dessembrae -- the cult sees their god as male, but his grief as female.


A few more things ... there was more than one chaining of the crippled god. The account that Kruppe reads has merged all of them into one (hence his comment about finding his grandmother's name in the list -- had he read further, he just might have). One of the things that always fascinated me in my readings of recorded people's histories has been the strange notion of time, especially the way it's sometimes compressed, other times stretched out. There's a history of the Goths I once read that does this again and again; as do a few versions of the Norse creation myth. As a writer of fiction, I realised this was exceedingly useful, particularly in the way it could mislead. Yeah, I'm a mean bastard, ain't I just. Anyway, The Malazan Book of the Fallen is a compiled history, warts and all. It's not above brazen manipulation of events and facts, because, well, that's the nature of the beast. By this, do I mean it as a way of squirming out of things? No, you'd all never let me get off that easily. I just love the feel of an uncertain history, as all histories are. If none of you had any questions, then I'd be worried.


Enough to chew on for a while? I hope so. Cheers to you all.






Hello one and all,


I'm writing this via email since I seem unable to log in on the site. Presumably, Lady A, you will be able to post this in the Q&A thread on the forum, for which I applaud in advance your technical accuity.


I have gone through the questions and will take them in sequence. If I skip a few here and there it's probably because they've already been answered.


Q: Shadowlord

RE: Coltaine reborn not having a future role in the series Does this mean there is DEFINITELY going to be another Malazan Series? Please?


Also, you mentioned that MT would include Trull. Does this not mean it will include Onrack etc.? Or are they all killed off in the prologue? Or is MT just the Trull's story? I suppose you can't really answer any of those but its worth a try...

1) Are all the ranks in every house constantly full of people we don't know about, or are they just often empty?

2) How powerful would you say Karsa is compared to some of the other powerful chars (i.e. Rake, Brood, Paran, Gothos)? Its jus that there is a debate going around the HoC forum over whether Karsa is too powerful...

er...something else...what was it...hmmm...ah yes! Is there any more info on the Encyclopedia? Will it be produced after the books pr during them? also, your books would no longer hold that sense of mystery because of the way you plunge us into the middle of your world with no info, revealing things only slowly, becasue the encyclopedia would tell us everything...Or will it? lol, that was ratehr long winded and useless, basically, im just asking for some more info on the Encyclopedia...thanks again, you have the rather useless admiration of The Shadowlord...



I have some vague notions about additional novels set in the Malazan world, but I suspect I will take a break for a time once the ten books in this series are done. I have some non-Malazan works I want to tackle first, in any case. Regarding an encyclopedia, yes, one is in the works. It will include all information up to and including the fifth book, along with extra maps (not yet published but relevant) and illustrations. And corrections. Ideally, I'd like to include a CD version with a search engine -- not just for your benefit but for me as well! While Midnight Tides virtually wrote itself these past eight-nine months, and came out at around 162 000 words, I'm feeling somewhat worn out. So it might be good timing for a breather -- the encyclopedia might suffice. Especially given a new twist to the whole proceedings which I can't elaborate on just yet. Something for you to speculate about. I note you also have questions about roles in the Deck of Dragons. Are they filled all the time? Probably, somewhere, with individuals in certain scenarios assuming the archetypes as required. You also ask how powerful Karsa Orlong is compared to everyone else, and that's a harder question to answer. When it comes to attitude, he's a freight train. Sometimes that counts for more than raw power. It was sheer stubbornness that let him kill the Deragoth, or that's what I had hoped to portray in those scenes.

Q: Reave The Just

Mr E,

Not really a question, but I know I speak for a lot of us (megalomania?) in that a Bestiary/Companion addition with lots of glossy pics would be fantastic. Maybe something for the publishers to think about for the future.

PS - I love the "uncertainty" and implied depth to the history in your books. makes it all seem more "real" somehow.



The encyclopedia will include a bestiary compendium.

Q:Lady Atheilen

It has been my one of my very greatest dreams in life to get complimented on my writing by my favourite author...THANK YOU, THANK YOU, THANK YOU! *faints* You have made my day after a grueling math exam. To answer your question...I am 14, and you have just given me another argument in my ongoing Let Lady A go to Victoria instead of Redneck University when she graduates campaign. (Redneck University is UNBC, btw) so THANK YOU AGAIN! Okay, I will shut up about that now.One question: In MOI, you seemed to imply that Kallor would become King of the HOC, but in the appendix of HOC, you listed him as Reaver. Could you clear this up for us? Thanks.



Doesn't the college at Nanaimo have a creative writing program? The thing to look for when attending such a program is, I think, learning the essence of craft. The technical aspects of fiction (or poetry), and by that I mean narrative structure. I recommended UVic because of instructors like Bill Valgardson (who I think has just or is about to retire, alas), who will approach writing as a craft, rather than some airy fairy mystery. Now, I don't know who's left at UVic, and my sense of reputations for various programs may be a bit out of date. Back in my days, the only one to avoid was UBC, because it had a weird attitude and was something of a factory of mediocrity. Who knows, that might have changed by now. Big programs aren't necessarily the good ones. Research the staff and the guest instructors before deciding. You've a few years yet anyway. At UVic I got talked into the Co-op program, which placed me in writing jobs that resulted in two things: one, I learned how to prostitute my facility with words, and two, I gained work experience that helped tide me over years later. The former is soul destroying for lots of reasons, but especially for the way it takes writers and swallows them whole, as soon as the necessities of daily life force upon you the need for a regular income. As you can see, I am ambivalent about the Co-op (and likely this will get back to the folks at UVic and I'll become persona non grata, oh well). On the one hand, it was an education writing for the federal government (guaranteed to turn you into a cynic), the forestry service (good pay but I won't say anything else), and a major chemical company (on which I could wax endlessly, but none of it good); while on the other hand those jobs served to enlighten me on what I did not want to do with my life. Anyway, there are some good books on writing out there -- I'd recommend Jack Hodgins and John Gardner.

Back to the Malazan world. Kallor as King or Reaver? The intent was, he certainly aspired to be king, and still does. But the throne is not empty. You also remind me I had said something about the Draconic family tree -- can you remind me again on that one?

The series is more or less plotted out as far as the major arcs are concerned, though I've left plenty of room to maneuver which will hopefully keep things fresh and spontaneous.

Q: Adelphi

Mr. Erikson, when will Paran reappear in the novel?



Paran does not reappear in Midnight Tides.

Q: RodeoRanch

One question from me. What, if anything, do you plan to write when you finish the Malazan series? I know there are still six books left but hey, it never hurts to look ahead!



What's beyond the Malazan series? I have and will write again contemporary fiction. I also have in mind a couple of novels of the Tim Powers ilk. The Bauchelain and Korbal Broach novellas will continue, and I might well tackle a few more SF projects. Film scripts are ongoing, with one in pre-production here in Canada, a prairie comedy if you can believe it. I wouldn't mind getting some fantasy Malazan-style on the television, but that is one very thick brick wall to batter through and I'm not optimistic.

Q: Caladanbrood

Just wondering about warrens, can you do anything with any warren, or is Telas just restricted to fire spells, and Denul just healing, ar are they just what each is best at doing? Cos' at Pale, when Tayschrenn was killing of the mages, A'Karonys was engulfed by ice, but Tayschrenn wields Telas...



Are warrens aspect specific? Generally, yes. The death of A'karonys in Gardens seems consistent with that. The 'unmentioned continent' is just that -- not one subject to Malazan Empire predations. Regarding Fener, he's not out of the woods yet, which, being a boar, is only natural. More of Fener will come.

Q: Shadowlord

Could we actually know the name of your world?



A name for the Malazan world? There was one, once, years ago. But only as a joke. Named after a doctor mentioned in a Steely Dan song, alliterative. Right now, no, there's no name for the world. Strange, isn't it?

Q: Malarion

I'm actually more interested in how you went about writing these books. Have you planned it all out to the smallest detail, or is it a loose thread that you follow? Indeed, how often do you write for the moment and to hell with your earlier plan?

I would love to hear if you had a system, for as a hopeful writer myself I need all the help I can get. Do you often sit and look at the screen and think to yourself, I would rather think about this than write it? I get this all of the time. It's a lonely business.



Do I have a system when planning these books? Well, sort of. I have a good sense of the overall conflict, the progression of major events. But as mentioned earlier, I leave lots of room for improvisation on the details. The thing with planning is it can go too far very easily until, as you say, you find yourself content with thinking about it rather than writing it. I have talked with many other writers and I find my approach is rather unusual, since I start with theme. That would be THEME. And title. Everything else derives from those, and the writing only works when in service to those -- all else is extraneous. I gather most writers don't work that way. And I create visually -- it all arrives in images, stop-time, which, if relevant, acquire significance and resonance generated by the overall theme. Sounds complicated here, but it isn't at all. Just the functioning of a messed up brain, I think. As rational as the process of writing is on a technical level, everything important comes from the gut. Somewhere on your site someone made some comment on characters as plot devices, which I found intriguing, since all characters are plot devices. Any plot dependent on acts of god and otherwise random pivotal events is a waste of time. It's where fiction and reality are most disparate. No sane reader could be satisfied with a plot that doesn't derive from characterisation -- what they say, what they do, what they believe. Forester once noted that the following sequence: 'A queen dies, then the king dies' (I'm badly paraphrasing here) is not a story; but, 'a queen dies, then the king dies of grief' is a story. Two identical events, two very different takes. Is the queen's death a plot device? In fiction, yes, it is. It's also the trigger, and every story needs triggers, big ones little ones. Was Pormqual's failure at Aren foreshadowed? I think so, it better have been, in fact. Was there something inevitable about it? I hope so. Anyway, for me, a novel has a goal, the writing reaches towards a central, defining moment, one where theme and circumstance and character and everything else converges into a single image. Usually comes near the end, and it's the pay-off. Either works or doesn't -- the reader decides.

Q: Monok

Are you ever going to combine all the forthcoming Broach + Bauchelain novellas into an omnibus edition at something less than daylight robbery?!



Sorry, jumped over your question there. I think there will be an omnibus Korbal Broach and Bauchelain edition in the future, likely published by Bantam. But hey, I've got to write the stories first!

Q: Reave and Twist

Mr E, When you spent time in England, which historical/archaeological sites (if any) did you take a look at? My personal faves are Maiden Castle (Dorset), Housesteads on Hadrian's wall and (a bit obvious this one) Stonehenge.



Reave & Twist: I visited lots of sites in England. I don't recall finding Stonehenge boring, but it did make me sad. Looked so small from the road, so beleagured. I imagine living nearby would dull the wonder somewhat, but for me it remains an extraordinary place, made all the more poignant by its present circumstance. Standing stones, tumulus, barrows, monastery ruins. hill-forts, roman ruins, you name it, I was there. Best of all was walking anywhere and everywhere and finding artifacts. I loved doing that. One of the most affecting sites I visited was Maiden Castle in the south. I could spend whole days there. Hastings was good for all the 'what ifs'.

Q: Piccolo

Will your books published in Italy? ( or in others terms: have same Italian editor contacted you?) I read your books in english but it's harder than with other authors! ( my english is not too good!)



You know, I don't know if there are Italian rights as of yet. I'll ask.

Q: Monk

Are there going to be any more breeds of demon/ new elder races?



New breeds of demon? Yes, plenty. New Elder Races? No.

Q: Jhag

Ihave a question about warrens. Im now re-rereading GotM and I was wondering why Quick Ben didnt physically went into the warrens when he contacted Lock and when he went to Shadowthrone. Are you safer if you do it that way? Can you do things you otherwise wouldnt be able to do?



Quick Ben's spiritual travels aren't much safer, but they're easier.

Q: Shadowlord

Mr. Erikson, another question: Will Brukhalian be turning up again, and will he be connected to High House Death?



Will Brukhalian return in some role? I don't know, yet. His end was one of those 'images' I mentioned earlier. It's where he was headed all along. The story in my mind regarding him seems to end there, but that's not saying it won't start up again sometime later. At the moment though, there's a sense of finality.

Q: Maltaran

What happened to Gethol? In MoI he was recruited as Herald of High House Chains, but neither he nor the position are mentioned in the appendix of HoC.



Gethol's absence in the glossary was another one of those nefarious oversights I should blame someone else for, but can't.

Q: Caladanbrood

Mr. E, will we be seeing Torvald Nom again in the series? He was my favorite charcter in HoC.



Torvald Nom will return.

Q: Jhag

What does Hoods Realm look like? The impression I get so far is that its a Hades/Pluto type of place. Good and bad in the same place and no one wants to be there. Do I have good impressions? And in GotM there is made mention of a hell. Whats the hell? Hoods Realm, the Abyss? (Could have been a bad translation btw if you have no idea what I'm talking about, read the first two books translated)



Hood's Realm -- we'll see more it anon, unfortunately. It's a bloody wasteland, alas. What does that say about me? Not sure. Nothing good, I suspect. The mention of 'hell' in GotM got past all the proof-readers. Dammit.



A temporary stop here. There's a music festival here which I am going to. I'll resume this in four days.





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