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Q and A with malazanempire No 2 (2003)

Page history last edited by PBworks 11 years, 6 months ago

 

 

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.

 

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.

 

Reave: the encyclopedia will include a bestiary compendium.

 

Lady A: 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.

 

Adelphi: Paran does not reappear in Midnight Tides.

 

Rodeoranch: 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.

 

Caladan B: 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.

 

Shadowlord: 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?

 

Malarion: 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.

 

Monok: 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!

 

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'.

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

Shadowlord: 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.

 

Next question: my notes messed up your name, but: Gethol's absence in the glossary was another one of those nefarious oversights I should blame someone else for, but can't.

 

Caladan B: Torvald Nom will return.

 

Jhag: 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.

 

 

Cheers

SE

 

PART II

 

All right, so it wasn't four days. Not four Earth days anyway. Turned out I needed a longer break than I'd thought at the time. In any case, hello everyone. Here's part two, picking up where I left off.

 

Sty Irregular: How did Karsa do so well against the Deragoth, and was it in some way due to the fact that the two Hounds of Shadow are 'dead'? Hmm. I think one tends to view the quintessential barbarian as someone with little more than strength and blind courage as assets, in the Conan style. I suppose in many ways Karsa was modelled on that, so that, outwardly, he comes across as big, mean and somewhat unwitting. Alas, lots of characters who encounter him think the same way, and pay for it later. I loved Howard's Conan, and Kull, and Bran, but at the same time a lot has changed in the genre, and with Karsa I wanted to riff on the original archetype, while at the same time keeping him appropriately non-verbal, often inarticulate. Which makes him easily under-estimated, whereas someone like Anomander Rake, with all his intellect and mystery, can be over-estimated (in comparison). Karsa killed the Deragoth because he was meaner, and far mroe stubborn than they were. It was a battle of wills, both bestial, perhaps, but the intent was for something primal, where the reader could witness (as did Kalam and QB) the sheer relentlessness of Karsa Orlong. The linkage to the 'dead' Hounds of Shadow is less clear, and did not relate in any way to the vulnerability of the Deragoth.

 

Calot: will there be a continuation of the thematic progression of 'wandering,' 'holds' and 'houses' of the Azath? Only if I need there to be one, and as yet I don't see that need. In terms of metaphor, the Azath progression mimicks the evolution of civilisation. From hunter-gatherer to tribal to sedentary. The novels are set in that final stage, with some notable exceptions, and I don't think there will be any leap forward within the series.

 

Jhag: Is Moby the same as Trout sen Bhokarala? If by this you ask, are they the same species, then yes. Sort of. Moby is a demon, after all, whereas Trout was a D'ivers. The form is the same, if not the substance. How does one become a mage? I'm sure I mentioned this elsewhere, but it's acquired through discipline and study, usually under the tutelage of another mage, but not always. Personality often guides the aspect, or warren, one chooses. But not always. Helpful, eh? Now, Crone's age. Ugh. Gardens of the Moon is, dare I say what you all already know, somewhat inconsistent in its details. Maybe one day I'll be able to get back to it and do a full revision.

 

Anomander: the relationship between the Deragoth and Dessimbelackis is a plot-thread, so you will get your answer, eventually. Honest.

 

Jhag: Is Fener a Soletaken? No, I don't think so.

 

Shadowlord: are all gods ascendants? If you mean ascendant in the general sense of being very powerful, then yes. If you mean ascendant in terms of progression, then there are exceptions. Most of the animistic ones, for example (the totemic, tribal ones) derived from the act of worship, or the attribution of significance to a particular place.

 

Gothos: Is Hood a Jaghut? Another plot-thread. Wait and see.

 

Bottle: What's Kruppe's warren? Does he have one? Alas, Kruppe must remain a mystery (even to me).

 

Shadowlord: is Graymane alive? Rumours abound regarding Graymane, and some of them are wrong, whilst others are just wishful thinking.

 

Lady A: the date of Trull's imprisonment. Finally, here, I can clear one up and so end the musing on a number of threads. The year noted in the book is wrong! Both years noted, in the prologue and then later, should be 1159. Apologies most heartfelt. Trull does not spend an inordinate amount of time on the wall.

 

CaladanBrood -- the moon has magic? .... this ties in with various belief systems, and maybe they're true, maybe not. I didn't want anything too direct in such matters, no moon-linked lycanthropy and all that. Beyond that, I admit I haven't given it much thought. There is some celestial stuff touched on here and there, but it's all vague. It may be I will need to bring some aspect of that into focus, sooner or later. We'll see.

 

F'racc: did I read your name right? Details on the bringing down of the Crippled God will trickle out as required in the series, and that refers to motivations as well. You're right to ask them, though, since the answers are crucial to the series. You ask for more on the Crimson Guard and on dragons. Here's a secret truth -- I don't like fantasies all about dragons. Never did. Or, more precisely, I don't much like what's been done to them to date. They're not horses, dammit! And I'm not a fan of the AD&D version, either. I never bought breathing fire or any other technically absurd ability. It strikes me (and maybe not with any claim to originality either) that a dragon can only exist via the essence of magic. That's how they fly. That's how they attack. And, by extension, that's how they think and see the world. Thus far, we've been on the edge. They're always busy doing their own stuff. At the same time, they will become much more relevant later in the series. Hopefully in an original way. As for the Crimson Guard, we'll see them again.

 

Are there other races and other warrens yet to be revealed? What, not complicated enough yet? Why do warrens seem to be weaker the younger they are? Just as a puppy is weaker than a full grown wolf, I guess. Can races produce halfbreeds? yes, it appears so. Although some might prove too unrelated, say the K'Chain Che'Malle and the Forkrul Assail. Does the Crippled God represent an opposing force to the Azath? Not intentionally, and not directly.

 

What comes after this series? I haven't decided.

 

Ensign Truth: dialogue styles are decided by the publisher. I'm sure the US edition will tweak the text to conform to standard US formats. As for Whiskeyjack -- no, he will not reappear in this series. May he rest in peace.

 

Pearl: Mallick Rel. A Jhistal is both a title and a people, more the former now than the latter. We'll see more of him.

 

Thunderchild: Torcon? I don't know, I don't think so, not yet, anyway.

 

Joey Bananas: First-time writers should have the full manuscript done before submitting anything. Both agents and publishers will want to know you can finish what you start. At the same time, the three-chapter pitch still seems to obtain, but personally I'm not convinced it's the way to go. Not many puiblishers read whole manuscripts sent in cold anymore, which puts one in something of a bind. Agents will read (or their assistants will), but you need to research who you send it to. Someone who knows the genre, who has a track record in it, will be a better bet than someone who represents, say, just romance writers, assuming such agents exist. It's hard, but getting a foot in the door through someone you know, or making a contact at a convention, can go a long way.

 

Beyond that, Cornwell's comments in this thread say it better than I could.

 

Oponn: How long was the planning of this series in the works? You know, I can't really remember. I probably started thinking in terms of multiple books when writing Gardens of the Moon, but actual storylines are evolving things, changing in accordance with my changing interests. I know I had the first three novels figured out before I considered extending the series to ten. In rough form, which subsequently found new shape in the writing of them. What do I think when I read 'trash'? My wife thinks most of what I read is trash. Anyway, an interesting question. You can pull different things from different books. Sometimes the idea is brilliant but the writing sucks -- I still come away intrigued. Or the plot rips but the characters belong in Star Wars, in which case I'm entertained anyway. The problem with being a writer is that I have lost the knack of reading solely for pleasure. The critical eye shows up with a skeptical squint and it drives me nuts. Only very occasionally am I infuriated, followed by a vague sense of depression. Anyway, I read far less these days, to my sorrow. Mind you, I did go back and re-read Gustav Hasford's The Short Timers last month, and was subsequently devastated to discover that Hasford had died. We all lost a great writer, and if I was asked to name a perfect novel, it would be The Short Timers.

 

Are all human-accessed warrens descended from Elder warrens? Well, they're all variations on that extended list of elemental forces that make up the Elder Warrens, so I guess, yes is the answer.

 

Abyss: why would the Bridgeburners need a shield anvil, destriant and mortal sword? Nobody's worshipping them, are they? All right, I'm taking the piss, maybe. Maybe. To wit: I can't answer your question, and maybe even won't. Not yet, that is, but you will have your answer eventually.

 

Pearl: Rashan and Meanas. The names are strangely interchangeable depending on where you are. Seven Cities, for example, has a different take than Quon Tali. Darkness and Shadow are obviously linked, and besides, humans are bad at settling semantic distinctions (cf world religions).

 

Ainudil: Do I have Scandihoovian roots? Yes. My father's from Uppsala and my mother was from Stockholm, which was where my older brother was born. Erikson is my mother's maiden name. My father's family is still in or around Uppsala. Lovely city.

 

Shadowlord: I'm still working on the SF novella. At present suffering a crisis of confidence on it, in fact. But I will muddle through anyway, I suppose. It's what Atwood would insist is Speculative Fiction, based on her jaw-dropping definition that SF is made up while Spec is extrapolated. I still haven't recovered from that one. Set in central North America, a few decades from now, with as many projections and trends taken to their logical conclusion as I could find. It will be long novella, by the way, and grim as hell.

 

Calot: the narrator opening the Book of the Fallen.... interesting thought. I expect that narrator will close the series in a like manner. Who is it? Well, me, probably.

 

Dujek: the otataral dragon thread will be followed through on.

 

 

Okay, time for another break, hopefully not as long as the last one.

Warmest regards,

SE

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