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UK SF Book News Network Interview

Page history last edited by PBworks 12 years, 6 months ago

UK SF Book News Network Interview


Source: http://www.uksfbooknews.net/2006/12/31/more-malazan-stories-coming-in-2007/


Ian Cameron Esslemont has sold two fantasy books based in the World of the Malazan he created with friend and fellow author Steve Erikson. Bantam UK are already publishing Erikson's Malaz books and Esslemont will be augmenting those stories for them.


Esslemont's first short Malazan novel, Night of Knives Amazon, was published by UK small press PS Publishing in 2004. Now it and his next major novel, The Return of the Crimson Guard, will see mainstream publication from Bantam.


We tracked Esslemont down and grilled him gently about the new books…


UKSFBN: How did the world first develop between the two of you?


ICE: The world of Malaz came from (and I think Steve has hinted at this already and so I hope he will not mind me letting this out) a series of gaming sessions he and I ran together in the field (on digs), and in Winnipeg, and Victoria. However, the confession of the gaming connection is misleading in that it was merely the flimsiest excuse for us to dialogue our fantasy thoughts / tastes / ambitions and we soon left the mechanism and architecture of any "game" far behind.


We used the opportunity put into a milieu all the elements we both would wish to see in a good fantasy novel but which we weren't seeing out there. When we met we had both had been writing fantasy and science fiction already – Malaz then made the immediate jump to screenplays and (then unpublished) prose.


UKSFBN: How come Steve went on to do Gardens of the Moon Amazon on his own?


ICE: Well, life, you know. Years passed. The Gardens screenplay (and others) garnered a little attention in British Columbia and elsewhere, but nothing was getting off the ground. Steve went to Iowa, I went to Alaska. Steve wrote the novel version of the screenplay and shopped it around. Finally, in the UK, it got the attention it deserved. In an ideal world I suppose I would have preferred it if my name could have been there on the title page in some fashion, and I even asked about shared-world credits and such. But on the other hand I too very much wanted Gardens to succeed and wasn't about to do anything that might muddy or compromise its chances to see print. So, that's how that proceeded.


UKSFBN: How did the new books come about?


ICE: I finished Night of Knives and Return of the Crimson Guard very early on actually (in various incarnations). Steve, bless him, kept after me to finish one version to send out. We talked about which project might be the best one to pursue and Knives won out primarily because it struck me as the one I could most realistically tackle given my constraints (grad school, a new family etc). Steve then went above and beyond to flog the manuscript to everyone he knew.


Unfortunately, the very quality that allowed me to finish it (its compactness) now worked against it in the selection process. It was considered too slim. One of the people who saw the manuscript was Peter Crowther at PS Publishing. Thankfully, he was willing to take the chance and in this fashion Knives saw through.


UKSFBN: How easy was it to slot it accurately into the existing historical background and established characters?


ICE: Very easy because my pieces are already part of that narrative – whether they will all ever be seen is another matter. They had already helped build the historical background of the world. Beyond this, it was easy because Steve and I have already talked through – created – the deep history of the world as well. While specifics remain open to invention, the thematics, relationships, etc, are set out.


Continuity, however, does remain a problem. If things continue along for further publications, I can see little contradictions and such creeping in. However, any large tapestry has its knotted threads and broken weaves here and there. Part of the charm.


UKSFBN: Will we be seeing any characters from Steve's books or an entirely new cast?


ICE: Each of the works, Steve's and mine, was envisioned as stand-alone. The majority of the characters we've seen so far in Steve's works are of course his own. Coltaine, for example, was entirely new to me, while Duiker, however, (if I remember correctly) was one of mine – that's sort of how we proceed – mixing things together as we go. Thus, in Knives, I picked up Tayschrenn while introducing Temper and Kiska.


For Return, a good number of the characters will be familiar to Malaz readers (for the simple reason that it's set in the empire). Yet many new characters will be introduced as well. There has to be a lot of the new because for his part, Steve will have already seen most of everything (though not all) and have created a number of the characters. Thus, since my goal is to entertain him (he's my reader), a lot has to be new. I hope I'll succeed.


UKSFBN: Will you be doing any more of these back-story novels?


ICE: No, my further novels of the ones Steve and I sketched out are not set back in time. Future projects (if they are picked up) would continue the story of the empire (more or less) into the near the future. This does not mean that such a project is out of the cards however. With sufficient interest and demand, I would be very pleased to look into the possibilities of filling in the history of Malaz. How Kellanved and Dancer actually met and set up shop is a very funny story - at least Steve and I think so!

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