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Transworld Interview (2002)

Page history last edited by PBworks 15 years, 10 months ago




Steven Erikson


House of Chains (Malazan Book Of Fallen)



Bantam Press Fantasy


1. Can you tell us about your writing?


Well, I'm a little riled about that at the moment. One of Canada's most successful writers, Margaret Atwood, was in town the other day for a literary festival of some sort. Earlier, she'd been on national radio promoting her most recent novel - a post-apocalyptic story somewhere between Hoban's Riddley Walker and Miller's A Canticle for Liebowitz - a novel which she insisted was not Science Fiction but Speculative Fiction. Whereupon she defined Science Fiction as fiction set in 'invented' worlds having no relationship to our own. At the festival, she added a definition of Fantasy, as fiction where animals talk. Now, the first definition had me incensed, the second one leaves me speechless. The only thing I can conclude about this is that the perjorative taint attached to such genres as Science Fiction and Fantasy still exists. What's disappointing is when the authors themselves fall victim to the same insecurities about what constitutes serious, quality fiction. I'd better stop there!


2. Which book do you feel has most influenced you?


That's difficult to answer, since in some ways it changes all the time. But I was reminded the other day during some conversation or other of one book that still brings a smile to my face, likely a rather evil smile, but pleasurable nonetheless. And thinking on it, I'd have to say it has proved very influential in my writing, although in a most subversive way, which is only right since I'm talking about G. K. Chesterton's The Man Who Was Thursday. There's an element of delicious chaos to that novel, a vast sleight of hand that seems way ahead of its time but, historically speaking, wasn't at all. It's a perfect little book. Funny and deadly.


4. Can you tell us something about the characters in the series?


As anyone who has been reading my series knows, that's a tough one since I have so many peopling my books. I like the notion of people passing through my stories, incidental figures that might or might not reappear in later books. Just as in history, names pop up then vanish, often following the triggering of some traumatic event. Leaders, personalities, often quite mysterious. But if pressed, I'd have to list a handful of soldiers, assassins, gods and near immortals who are driving the central story in my series. Reluctant participants one and all.


5. Do you know if you have any famous/interesting fans?


Well, that's an odd one. I hold a strange fascination for all my readers, wondering what's grabbing them about my stories, so in that way they're all interesting. On the Malazan Empire fan site there're readers ranging from fourteen year olds to academics, scattered all over the world yet coming together to discuss the 'Malazan Book of the Fallen'. It's astonishing what the internet has achieved. I have been extremely lucky in finding fans among writers in the genre, people I have long admired and who were major influences on my writing. Stephen Donaldson for one, Glen Cook for another.

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