Jeff Vandermeer has run an interview in two parts (Part 1, Part 2 and some additional material including a truly mighty cover of the US Blade Itself) with some of the new wave of heroic fantasy authors: Karen Miller, Brandon Sanderson, Brian Ruckley, oh, and that Abercrombie bloke as well.
It’s what you call a round-table interview. No, not an interview in which we wear shiny armour and quest for a grail, but one in which we are all responding to the same questions. What’s kind of amusing (at least to my tiny mind) is how some of their responses are very similar to the sort of thing that I might say (except better written, of course). So, from Karen Miller:
“My work is predominantly character-driven. Most of the action derives from the internal landscape, desires and psychologies of the characters, rather than huge external set pieces and sweeping vistas, as it were. Those tend to form the backdrop of my novels–what really interests me is the impact of events on a cast of individuals. How the big picture looks through the eyes of the people involved.”
Yes, yes! Me too! The whole character-driven thing with the backdrop and the impact of events, and the big picture through the little eyes and that! And from Brian Ruckley:
“I tried to make my imagined world pretty realistic, in everything from its landscapes to its politics, its characters to its battles. This is fantasy in which no character is safe once the world starts to slip towards chaos, and where even the bad guys think they have good reasons for most of what they do.”
And me! And me! I’m like that as well! All gritty and realistic and bad guys with reasons and what have you! Talking about influences, Brandon Sanderson writes:
“During the 80s and 90s, quest epic was the big seller. A lot of the new writers like myself grew up reading Eddings and Jordan and Brooks. Some of us, when we sit down to write, then try to emulate their formula. A lot of us, though, react against those stories we love. Not because they were bad, but because they’ve been done–and done well … I write mainstream fantasy epics – my primary goal is to produce books that people will enjoy. I’m a big believer in the sheer power of a well told story, and don’t focus on intricate prose or ponderous messages. Story first, everything else second. However, I think that puts me in a harder position than if I were trying to write something completely revolutionary. I want to write books that all of the people who loved the old epics will love – books that have the same feel. However, I also want to write books which innovate and expand the genre.”
That’s what I’m trying to do as well! With the reading of the Eddings, and the reacting against stuff, fusing the new into the traditional framework, and the reinterpretation of the mainstream epic and whatever. It’s a bit like what I was saying a few posts back about the need to combine the innovative with the familiar, except said in a mature manner by an adult.