I started blogging way back in August 2007, would you believe. That’s nearly 6 years. There have been times when I’ve blogged more, times when I’ve blogged less, but by and large I’ve stuck to 1-3 posts a week, every week. That’s a lot of posts. Early in your blogging career you’ve a lot to talk about. You find all sorts of things to be outraged by, to excuse yourself for, to shoot your mouth off over. But time wears down those rough edges, and wears away the topics to discuss. There are work-related announcements, of course, and this TV show I’ve watched or that video game I’ve played, and Whisky Deathmatch of course, but I must admit that, on occasion, I find myself racking my brains for something to talk about.
This morning I got an email from someone asking me a question. It was quite an interesting question that I immediately started spinning a long and involved answer to, but I thought to myself, is it really worth all this effort to reply to one person’s email? Then I thought, wait a moment, I’ll write a blog post answering the question, email her the link, and then all you lucky folks can benefit from the answer, and I won’t have to think of something to write a blog post about! Genius! And then it hit me, as if – in the words of my personal role model Colonel Kurtz – I was shot with a diamond … a diamond bullet right through my forehead – Instead of endlessly racking my brains to think of things people might want to read about, I could simply ask them what they’d like to know.
So ask. It can be about anything. What I’ve written and why. How I wrote it and why. The publishing industry more generally. Or video games, or TV, or swearing, or whisky, or Danish furniture, or whatever you like, practical or abstract. Pick my brains, such as they are. Provoke, stimulate and challenge me. The floor is yours.
Now and again, I might pick out a question to answer. My response may be elaborate, self-indulgent and rambling. It may be simple, self-indulgent and pithy. We’ll see how it goes…
156 comments so far
Hello, I was wondering if your gaming adventures influence your writing and how?
Joe – what happened to Logan’s family.
Which character is your favorite to write? Which did you find most difficult to write? When will we see Glokta again? (He happens to be my favorite character from your books so far.)
Hello ! I’m a recent fan from France. I devoured all of your books (except Red Country, yet to read this one) and was curious as to why you chose the ultra-cynical angle to write your books. Is it because you think it makes for better stories, is it because it is coherent with your worldview, is it just because you enjoy writing characters in such a merciless world, or another reason altogether ?
The most unoriginal questions of all 🙂
Since you became an international “Superstar” (with the capital S – actually I think you became one after your first book, right?) do still have some free time for yourself? And if yes what do you do with it? (gaming, reading, fishing, reading blogs, etc)
Will there be a new book with Logan, Glokta and the others?
Read through Red Country, fantastic novel, and couldn’t help but wonder why you chose to not include Logen Ninefingers’ point of view?
I’ve been missing the sections where the Bloody Nine comes to fruition and reading the thoughts of the Great Leveler where always my favourite parts of the original trilogy.
I was curious how you filled in all the misc craft/career information you end up needing in your books (for blacksmiths, sailors, soldiers, carpenters, etc…) that your characters would know/use but you wouldn’t. Is it just reference books or do you ask around for a consultant or does your publisher have a list of consultants you can contact about misc things?
What’s your favourite sandwich filling?
Joe I need a new game for my pc, what would you recommend? I’ve come to terms with your next book not coming out for awhile. I should of been more patient with Red Country.
At the end of The Heroes, Beck asks his Mother “How’s Wenden?”
Who is Wenden? Thanks for the great reads!!
There are a lot of suggestions tossed around by friends who tried NaNoWriMo (www.nanowrimo.org) on how to go from your head to paper.
What is your “writing process” from day to day?
I mean, do you sit down with good whisky and go until the ideas or the whisky is gone, whichever comes first?
Love this idea!
Do you have any plans to come to states for a book signing, cons, reading anything so your fans here can be faced with your Almighty presence?
Is there a certain soundtrack which you write your books to? A favorite record lazily spinning on the background while you diligently drain your inkwell? Or perhaps a song you hear after a (piece of) story is done of which you think to yourself “this would be perfect while trudging through the northern snow, or frollicking in the park in Adua”?
Where the hell is Thond?
I am a big fan of your work. Normally I am a sucker for a happy ending, but your work compels me to keep turning the pages happily.
Before my question, I just wanted to say how much I love Logan as a character. The way you had him ride off into the sunset was brilliant. The only thing missing was an ugly bloke screaming Hey Blondie.. you know what you are??!?
Question: Any chance Logan might have fathered a child with Ferro? That would be a frightening combo!
How much does your emotional state impact your writing? For example, does someone cutting you off on the A46 lead to an especially vicious torture scene? A great evening out lead to a romantic chapter?
My mother-in-law is a whiskey connoisseur. What whiskey should I pick up for the next time she visits?
Did you think of own appearance when imagining the Dogman character?
Why waste time blogging instead of writing a new story, you lazy ass?
When are you writing the prequel novel for Whirrun of Bligh?
Seriously: do you think prequels work in the medium of novels, and would you ever be tempted to write one yourself?
Have you ever entertained the thought of writing something in a different genre. Does this even appeal to you?
Will we see more of Whirrun of Bligh?
He was so great, a prequel novel would be awesome.
You do a great job of worldbuilding (I’m buttering you up so that you notice my post, sly right?). Your descriptions and details for everything down to the furniture makes the books really come alive for your readers. My question is are any of those furniture pieces patterned after mid century Danish furniture designer John Mortensen’s pieces?
Joe, what can change the nature of a man?
Or, if that’s too easy to ask for a man of your infinite wisdom, let’s try this: If Glokta lived in our society, amongst us right now – what would his favorite beer be?
I would like to second the request for more Whirrun of Bligh.
I guess my question is kind of big picture? Do you plan on writing in the First Law world and continuing those stories? You seem to have indicated you did not want to get into a prequel as far as how Bayaz-Khalul become mortal enemies but would you write other prequel type stuff?
You said previously that the next trilogy will have the children of past characters, will Bayaz still be around… Also do you know when the release of the limited edition of the Heroes will be. Thanks for all your hard work love your books keep up the great work.
Now you done it. Opened up the insatiable abyss of fandom quriosity 😉
What does a normal day in your life look like? Do you work at set times, in the morning and for how long? How do you juggle family and working life?
When you continue the series as in the Heroes or Red Country, do you plan out what’s been happening elsewhere in the world and what the characters you don’t include in that book have been up to?
For example, what Ferro, Khalul, Monza etc have been doing?
Or, do you simply start with a blank slate when you next want to include them?
Oh, and what was the question in the email that started all this? 🙂
Hi Joe. With yourself, Mark Lawrence and now Luke Scull all living in the southwest of England in the Bristol/Bath area is there something about the region that inspires grim, gritty, cynical and humouress fantasy? Do the three of you know each other or is it just something in the ether? I’ve been living in Bristol for a year now and I can see how the weather may have an effect on writing styles 🙂
Hi Joe- do you read pretty much every new fantasy book that comes out and are their any current sf/f authors you regard as rivals of yours? Cheers, Matt
When writing, what made you decide to use third person? Because its easier? Would you recommend writing in third person, or do you think it’s more of a personalised choice? Also, when describing things, do you think it is better to write to much or too little?
Wow, that’s quite a response in under an hour.
Loads of questions.
And some are even worth answering…
Last year you stopped writting this blog for a month or so while you were playing Skyrim. From one huge Skyrim fan to another:
What kind of character did you play?
If I may I’d like to ask what your thoughts are regarding some of the enigmatic and strange sf/fantasy writers of the past and present, their work and them as people.
1.Phillip K Dick. Fascinated by this man and his work, he having been heavily into drugs and consumed by paranoia yet his work is filled with great ideas and imagination.
2 & 3. L. Ron Hubbard and Whitley Strieber. Both Science Fiction writers that convienantly claimed/claim to be in on the secrets of the universe. One with spirituality, one with aliens. How much do you think is legitimate and how much full of shit?
4 & 5. Edgar Allan Poe & H.P. Lovecraft. Just in general what do you think of these men?
i know you’ve said in past interviews that each character is a bit like you and at the same time not like you.
though, i wonder, is there a character that, as you’ve been writing, you feel physically looks most like you? facial features? not to say, “this character is most like you” personality wise. rather, might a young Glokta and you have been unable to tell apart just by looking at? Benna, perhaps? Whirrun of Bligh, even?
also…my cats Biscuts and Beans are a little pissed off you haven’t written of catnip or bowls of milk. The Blade of Grass Itself. Before They Are Spayed. Last Argument of Fleas. …just sayin…….books for cats. it’s an untapped market.
From all your character, who would you befriend and who would you avoid?
And if you had all the funds you’d need, and all the actors in the world were available, who would play who in the epic movie trilogy of The First Law?
Which character do you like better on just a gut level, Ninefingers or Shivers?
(The Red Country ending was just about perfect–I made some sort of weird dying pig shriek when I read it and clutched the book to my chest but that’s probably more than you needed to know…)
Will we ever hear about Murcatto’s kid? Or more from Styria in general? Or have we moved on from that area…?
What do you think video games will be like in 2023?
Where do migrating birds call home?
How far along in time do you think your books will come? It’s feeling like we are coming up on the industrial revolution as far as where the world is at technologically and you have yet to step backwards in time (Which I think is a good thing). Also have you ever considered doing books on the vein of Altered Carbon with a kind of detective element to them?
What do you really think of us damned Yankees?
I’m also wondering about if/how your experience with games influences your writing. Would having more recent games with more detailed graphics/content and more depth help or hinder your imagination?
Also have you ever thought about writing for video games? Ever played a game and thought “This writing/plot/character is terrible, they should have done X?”
Ever thought about turning your books into games? Even if just using the world you’ve created as the setting if not actually using your characters ad participants in a game?
How did Threetrees get his nickname?
I named one of my new twin boys Logen.
Am i sad or awesome? I have yet to remove a digit
What inspires you when writing the Bloody Nine? It seems to have a very distinct style and flow that’s far removed from Logen’s down-to-earth style. What are the influences upon it?
How does the Union finance all these King’s Own Regiments?
How do the Inquisition relate to the Nobility? Can they ‘interview’ any aristocrats without repercussion?
Are there no mineral-rich regions north of the Whiteflow? If so, how do the North acquire all their weaponry? It seems the Union might restrict SOME arms trade with the people who keep going to war with them.
Sorry about the quantity, but when ones finds a slippery wall, one throws a great deal of shit.
Do you have any novels planned outside of the current universe/world?
Who would win in a cage match: Shenkt or the Bloody Nine?
A pretty art-w*nk question here:
Do you consider yourself as part of a general movement within fantasy (Third Wave?) and do you find yourself consciously comparing your work to traditional fantasy, or even some other new strands of fantasy (e.g New Weird – Mieville springs to mind)? Or do you just write what you know and others have imposed these tags/descriptions on you?
Can you give more info on the nature of the ‘fire spirit’ from The Blade Itself. Why does Logen never utilize this ability again, like against Fenris? Does this imply that there are other ‘elemental’ spirits?
Does the agreement you have with Tantor Audio to provide the audiobooks for BSC and The Heroes in the U.S. ever expire?
In other words will the audiobooks BSC & The Heroes narrated by Steven Pacey ever be available to your fans in the U.S.?
In a post a while back you cited role-playing games as a big influence on your writing. I’ve noticed this as well when reading your books since they often revolve around a small group of disparate characters striving for a shared goal.
Yet you often review video games but never role-playing games. Do you still play? If not, why not?
Are we going to see Ferro again?
I am a true fan.
I am keeping my questions till we can do the whole “Minion, show our guest the instruments, please” thing. Mwuhahaha.
I see you know your audience, and choose the title aptly.
Dear Mr. Abercrombie,
First, Darque Shadeaux, when will we see more of this fabulous creation? I hope I haven’t missed this in your archives somewhere.
Second, Jezal’s jawline (and his musings on it before the Contest), based on your own?
Who’d win in a fight, Druss or the Bloody Nine?
Would Lock Lamora get away with robbing a branch of Valint and Balk?
Who’s the more foolish, the fool or the fool who follows it?
In Australia, pricing for your e-books is ridiculously exorbitant (i.e. ebooks more than paper books!), and some people (certainly not me, I’m a fine, upstanding, socialised citizen) feel morally obliged to not be gauged by places like amazon when it is so easy to acquire your books through other means.
But even such people who live outside of societies norms feel gratitude for your outstanding efforts and would be more than happy to contribute to them if you were to do something like including a PayPal donations link on your page.
To give you an example, despite the Aussie dollar being stronger than the US, we pay over double our US cousins. There are a number of reasons for this – ridiculous protectionist legislation, and the fact that Aussies will (generally) pay, being amongst them.
So how about it?
Also, how do you feel about including a character called “Big Sweet” in an upcoming book? (Yes, the similarities to “Dab Sweet” are a tad worrying)
What are your views on Mixed Martial Arts?
(First off, you’re the sort of author I’ve bought extra copies of so as to distribute among friends so thanks for writing the way you do)
If I may, I’d like to second spot’s question up above. When I read your books I can see all the goings on so vividly in my head… it makes me wonder who could play all these wonderfully bastardy characters.
We’ve seen The Legend of the Seeker fail and Game of Thrones succeed… do you think your work could ever see the light of day in an episodic television format?
Did you ever play Planescape: Torment, one of the greatest games ever made? If not then you really should, even though the engine didn’t age well, and it can be a bit of a pain to get to run on modern machines. I think it’s better than any Baldur’s Gate personally.
If the First Law was ever made into a movie, (Trilogy of course), who do you see playing the lead roles?
Hello Joe, I have two questions for you.
As you have multiple published books now people can distinguish your writing style easily and they know what they are getting when they are buying a book by Joe Abercrombie.
The thing, that I at least, enjoyed the most in your books were the fact that they were a fresh, new wind to the fantasy genre. The realism and all that really made a huge impression on me. But now here comes the trouble, which is similar to the one your having with this blog. How to keep writing new stuff thats still interesting, new and unique while keeping faithful to the path you have chosen? I noticed that you tried to fight this problem already in the Red Country. You even had some dialogue hinting at it. I don’t know if its just me, but I must confess that you managed to suprise me with a plot twist only once in the Red Country. I was a bit disappointed by it, but then again it might just be that I’m a too big fan of yours and know your style too well. Anyway my question is: Are you concerned about this and how will you try to counter it?
The other question I had in mind was something that I actualy posted already earlier in your latest post about special edition cover art. But since I posted it clearly after the monitoring of those comments were over I don’t think that you never noticed it. So here it is posted anew:
Have you ever considered about selling poster based on your books? I think that there might be a market for them among your fans. I at least already own all your books in English and some translated to Finnish, I really don’t see the point of buying a new copy of something that I already have. But all those special editions of your books have really awesome cover art, if I were to buy them for the art I would rather like to see them hagging on my wall instead of hidden in a bookshelf. So would it be possible to get something like this or is this something never heard of?
ps. wallpapers would be really nice as well
Which one you like best? Eiffel Tower, Reverse Cowgirl, Portugese Breakfast, Hot Buttered Popcorn (Trademark Grover, All Rights Reserved), Romanian Salt Shaker (Trademark Grover, All Rights Reserved), Ricky-Ticky-Turn-Table, Agitated U-Boat Commander Wit Twist of Lime (Trademark Grover, All Rights Reserve), or Peruvian Teeter-Totter?
Are we ever gonna see the war between bayaz and khalul finally come to term and what of ferro ?
Have you already watched that TV Show called “The Vikings”?
And, do you think I am about to vomit?
Love to hear more about your character development process! Do you rough-out a plot outline first and then create characters that serve the purpose, or do you dream up the characters first and then develop a story around them?
Joe, you stated before that you don’t read a lot of fantasy, though it’s the only genre you’ve published. Is this because you think your writing is so much better that there’s really no use reading the other stuff?
OK, that was a bit facetious. Here’s my real question. As a fellow father in my 30’s, how do I get my toddler to stop abusing the dog?
Do you have a dog?
Bad boy. What’s all this “I thought to myself, is it really worth all this effort to reply to one person’s email?”
Is that Jupiter or is it just Joe’s head?
Which brings me to:
(1) How it’s going with minor celebrity? In fairness, I understand that, given your measure of success, you can’t respond in depth to every email or attend every appearance you might like to. Can you tell us about how it’s been for you juggling the demands of celebrity, family, sanity, and writing?
(2) For fun if nothing else, could you suggest a new term for the sort of “fantasy” you write. Personally, I hate fantasy when it contains too much, er, fantasy – i.e., fantasy in the sense of wish fulfilment, moral certainty, magic and superstition. Since your work aims (thank goodness) for an element of grit and realism, perhaps it’s counter-fantasy or … something.
Have you ever thought about putting your great literary skill towards writing video games you’d love to play, and think others might as well?
Somewhere around you mentioned you like the Total War series video games, specially Rome: Total War. Besides the obvious roman factions you can choose when starting, any other faction you ever played with? Which was your favorite?
How long did you work on The Blade Itself, how hard was it get it published and was it the first major thing you had written? (Do you have old unpublished stuff lurking in a cupboard?)
• What talent or superpower would you like to have (not including flight or invisibility)?
• What are you obsessed with now?
• What’s your most memorable author moment?
• What’s your most prized/treasured possession?
• What’s your favorite method of procrastination? Temptation? Vice?
• What do you collect?
Are you regretting this idea? lol
This is like another AMA 🙂
When walking in streets, or using public transport, do you get recognized by people, and get mobbed ?
Every time I go back and reread The First Law Trilogy I am always struck by Shivers and the fact that even then there is mention of one of his eyes being covered by shadow or light glinting off one of his eyes. Did you know then that he would be a point of view character in the future and that you would end up taking out one of his eyes, was this foreshadowing or just a happy accident?
Thanks for six of the best books I have ever read and many more in the future.
If you could choose any actor(alive or dead) to play Glotka in a live action movie, who would it be?
Will we ever find out who Shenkt was? Or did I miss something in the trilogy that would answer that for me?
I’ve asked my wife and my son, and they don’t know. So I’ll ask here. Where in the HELL are my keys?
i am a new fan of your loved the 1st trilogy and now i finished best served cold heroes and red country as well…i guess like the majority here my favorite of your characters is logen..So my question is this…After red country should we consider the arc of logen/bloody-nine closed?are we going to get answer on what exactly the bloody nine is or why logen can talk to the spirits in the future? Finally and sorry it took me so long are you considering on writing something outside the current universe? Thank you in advance
Since you seem to injoy your gaming have you ever thought about getting involved in writing a game?
Tease us a little bit about your next books. What is your long term plan for the Ninefingers character? Will we read again about Ferro? I’m not saying “write another book right now!”. I’m just looking for confirmation that you will not abandon this wonderfull world you created.
He! Is there any chance to get a signed exemplar from “Blood Country” in a foreigng language too? The german one is named “Blutklingen” which means “Blood Blade”, like every other book of you has something with Blade in it 😉 Maybe in your next book you could kill one or two translators? 😉
Would you rather fight a horse-sized duck, or 100 duck-sized horses?
When was it that The Winds of Winter was coming out?
I would be interested in blog post that will have numbers from foreign markers. How many translations are there, how well they are selling, how originals do abroad, what percentage of total sales are the translations vs English ones, curious foreign book covers, funny titles translations, stuff like this. I’m interested mainly because I’m living in the Czech Republic (but I must confess that I do not contribute to the local sales as I have brought your books from US amazon).
Also what is your opinion on e-books and rising trend of digitization (this was probably somewhere in your previous posts).
Do you like football (soccer), if so, who do you support? If not, what sports do you enjoy?
What was THE question from the email?
What is you least favourite country?
Which author would you say is the biggest tit?
What is your favourite Disney film?
Have you ever considered writing scripts? Or making a film?
What is your thoughts on Disney buying LucasArts and making a new trilogy?
Stout or ale?
Do you have a man crush on Joss Whedon?
This list of questions is probably a poor reflection of how my mind works. And yet… I’m intrigued to see how yours does.
What can we do about the French?
Well, I certainly didn’t expect some sort of Abercrombie Inquisition!
*cue scary music*
Yeah, that’s it. I got nothing.
What was the brilliant question that set you down this route and when are you posting the answer?
As a busy writer, husband and father how do you find time to play games, drink whiskey and watch questionable American television?
I only ask, because as a father of two with a full time job, I have roughly six minutes a week for these things.
What does a typical day entail for you.
What a perfect opportunity to catch a glimpse into what Mr Abercrombie has in mind!I have a million personal questions and another million about the books but I’ll just leave them aside and ask you something that relates both to the Cirle of the World and D&D.
In your stories I can definately see the aligments of each people as they are defined in D&D rules.We get to see Chaotic Goods,Neutrals etc.
I think that we haven’t seen thus far a Paladin-type of character,a lawfull good.Is there a chance we get to see something like this but of course with a touch of razor-sharp wit?
Whats your opinion about the movie “Walhalla Rising” (i hope you know it) and how do you think about the way they are represent the norse there?
What are your thoughts on Kickstarter/crowdfunding?
I’m in Thailand and rely on Amazon’s Kindle store for your books. Unfortunately the only titles available for me to buy are the three First Law Trilogy books (which I have read and enjoyed very much). Is there anything you can do to make all your published e-books available for readers buying from Thailand? Thanks!
As has been said above, I like to hear about the whole “behind the scenes” process to writing. Where does your inspiration come from, how do you create your characters, do you base them on anyone?
Can we have more Jezal and Ardee… And can Glokta and Bayaz be destroyed somehow? And I just want more Jezal. Please. Him and Ardee have a kid!!! He loved her he just didn’t know it!!! And she loved him!!! Make it happen. Please. That kids gonna be king and destroy Bayaz or something right?
Joe, do you immediately regret this decision?
Obligatory big fan – as a history major it’s difficult for me to find ‘fantasy’ or alt history books that aren’t terrible. Your novels are right up there with ‘the long ships’, the first few AGoT books and Robert Low’s stuff that I think are really exceptional (always open to your recommendations). Thanks.
I’d love to see you talk a little bit about how you come up with what different characters want and how you fit those desires into the novels, maybe using the books of The First Law as an example.
What’s the rest of the story behind the black blades forged by The Maker? Are there a fixed number of them? Or was it a secret he passed on to other acolytes/magi-in-training? Will Whirrun’s greatsword ever resurface?
, who was the original motivation for creating Nicomo Cosca, I love his parts and there were some brilliant speaches made in Red Country that I swear Zapp Brannigan said before in Futurama, or should have said! Just throwing it out there, was Zapp the inspiration for Cosca? You might have never heard of Futurama before, my wife probably wished i have not, so she is spared of running away from the room everytime its on, but if you have seen the show then you should probably draw some comparison in the way each characters carry themselves and communicate. Thanks.
Do spiders sleep alone?
Would you ever consider writing something different….like a mystery? Also does this look infected?
I’m in a class on Fantastic literature. Probably going to write my final essay on how your use of fantasy feels like it deals with real world issues in a more honest and tangible sense than just about anything else. Does writing in a world of your own construction liberate you to do that? I mean I’m sure it’s a calling-it-like-you-see-it, incapable of doing anything else sort of thing. But anything you could say on the subject of how your world view and your worlds intermingle would be very helpful (and it would be cool if I ended up getting to quote things you’ve said directly in response to me, of course).
Will there ever be back stories written to fill in some of the years between Best Served Cold and The Heroes?
Do you think that having a acutely developed understanding of a medium potentially kills your ability to be inspired by it?
I ask, because I one day looked up from song writing (a decade into playing an instrument) and found that the magic was simply gone. I subsequently found that I was able to uncannily anticipate a pending guitar riff seconds into a tune I was hearing for the very first time, whereas years earlier I had been always met new music with a sense of sublime mystery and humble appreciation.
Don’t get me wrong, I could still form emotional connections to the efforts of my peers and genre heroes, but I was no longer a passive participant in something that generated a sense of awe and wonderment, and was so very flustered to be looking at the parts of the sum with no way to get back to that “big picture”.
I wonder, do you find yourself dissecting and dissembling the works of your peers, or can you turn that side off and enjoy it for the entertainment its meant to be? And finally, if you can, what’s your secret?
Joe, and I hope I don’t get beat to death for saying this around here, I’d like to see you write something “new.” Meaning something outside of the “circle of the world” stuff. And although you might not be able to admit it, bad for business and all, by your recent statements of burnout, i’m guessing you would like it as well. Any thoughts on where you’d like to take us next? Western? Sci-fi (yes please!)? More “Grim-dark?” Do tell…
Who is your favourite homo-erotic sword wielding man champion? Lion-O or He-Man?
I love the way you write about the same world, it’s especially rewarding to your more devoted fans (like myself) who have read all your novels. It’s great to see past characters pop up in unexpected places. I just finished Red Country and it was AWESOME!! Lamb/Logen is my favorite character out of any book I’ve ever read (and I read a lot). I would love to see more of him, maybe even a prequel to the trilogy. Stories about the younger Logen when he was Bethod’s champion, fighting Threetrees and others or when the Shanka killed his family. Did he avenge their deaths? His transformation into the Bloody-Nine is so awesome and original. I also miss my man Glotka. I hope one day the First Law trilogy becomes 3 major motion pictures! What great movies those books would make. Any chance of that happening? Keep up the fantastic work, I can’t wait to see what you have in store for us next.
The sex scenes you write are quite funny and are cringeworthy for the characters involved. Do you write like this because you know your mum will read it?
Are you an obsessive detail orientated planner of everything or are you more a fly by the seat of your pants writer? And do you have a preferred munchie food whilst you work?
I am interested in the process of planning out a novel before a writer actually begins to write it. What do you do to plan out your novels? Do you write a full outline? Do you map out the full and complete world? What is your process in creating your characters?
Thank you Joe!
Over the past few months I have been trying to roughly knead into shape a First Law World tabletop RPG hack, and in trying to create a fairly accurate to depiction in advice and mechanics, it has made me curious about one big thing.
What do you think is the quintessential Thing(s)-themes, tones, people etc.- that make a story a First Law story, and not another gritty fantasy novel?
Joe, when you’ve had a long hard day and your brain is shot to hell to such an extent that you can barely think let alone write down hundreds of words, what kind of things do you do for inspiration? You know, clear the mind, get some creative juices flowing and so forth..
Was Bremer Dan Gorst based on Mike Tyson?
I was watching the documentary “Tyson” and there was a scene of him entering the ring, and his voice and feelings sounded similar Gorst’s inner monologue, or how I imagined his voice would sound.
Here’s the clip:
In the ‘land of the free and the home of the brave’, why are there so many people who are not brave enough to be free?
Is Nicomo Cosca your Jake Sparrow?
What comes first, the character or the story?
Your books are very quotable, especially Logen of the characters. Is that something that comes easily to you, or is it planned “character X needs catchphrase” ?
Nicomo Cosca is a great secondary character.
In Best Served Cold, he was self-serving bastard … sure … but I still felt that he had humanity somewhere buried deep down.
In Red Country, I tried to like Nicomo. I found him pithy and clever and infuriating, but I shifted to officially not liking him because he seemed to be old, desperate, and just greedy. Almost like wealth was now more important to him than the principle of being unexpected.
Was this intended? Did you want Nicomo to end his run in Red Country as somehow diminished? Or, did he end his run on his own terms?
Any thoughts about a television adaptation of The First Law? I see Ray Stevenson as Logen. I think it would be amazing on an HBO-type network. Just dreaming but curious if you would sooner welcome or cringe at such an idea.
Some of your female leads end up pregnant at the end of your books. Ardee, Ferro and Monza to be specific. The conflict you’re building towards (which also seems to be turning into Bank vs Religion in a way (is that deliberate? (does this classify as bracket overkill ?(I think I know the answer to that one))))has obviously spanned generations. So do we get to see some of these kids grow up to inherit the substantial weight of their parents’ reputations/traits? I mean these are Jezal’s, Logens’ and Shivers’ kids . And they’re being raised be Glokta and Ardee, Ferro and Monza (with Shenkt’s help). Add to that Ro and Pit who are still kids. Shenkt and Vitari have kids of their own. That’s an insane mix of influences to have on your characters and clearly there’s a lot of bloodlines continuing from your previous books. Do they lend a hand to the resolution of the ultimate conflict in the second trilogy? Oh also, Calder has a kid on the way too right?
Sure I have a question.
Are vampires and elves white people’s way of saying, “Yeah, we’d pretty much like it better if all you darkies would go away and we could live forever.” Because, aside from Blacula, I’m kinda feelin’ like vampires and elves are the geek Jim Crow.
I wouldn’t call this a question…but, I would love to know what your reaction is.
My mate at uni lives with these 2 guys. One has asbergers, the other is a massive stoner who is the most creative dude I know. We just call him J Train. So J Train loves to write and create stories and characters, but best of all he makes the best drinking games. He made a drinking game based on your books called “The Circle” and part of that game is to create your own ending or continuation, basically keep the story going on a character or event. The character or event is chosen by another player and the amount of drinks are decided by the opponents roll of the dice. You can allocate the drinks if other players like your story and you can re allocate the drinks… Dammit I’m starting to waffle. Friday just gone i gave J Train the task of telling the ending of the final battle between Bayaz and Kalul…
J Train finished your story with both of their views of the past as true. He said that Juvens did the original Bloody Nine, meaning that he just vanished and became someone else to get away from all the fighting. Before running away Juvens tells Bayaz of his plans and asks Bayaz to say he died. Bayaz had been placed with The Maker on the orders of Juvens as a double agent. Kalul believes that Bayaz killed Juvens and wants to honor his fallen master with the blood of Bayaz. Bayaz and Kalul are about to face off and Juvens appears and tells them they are both in the right and should put aside their differences and act like brothers the way Juvens has always wanted. Whilst they are bickering amongst themselves Kalul is hit with a severed head with its eyes bulging with the shock of his death; One green, one blue. A flash and sizzle and all three Magi are dead all, cut clean in half. The smoke settles to reveal Shenkt standing with the hidious “double sided” weapon and twin boys who look remarkably like Shivers with a touch of Monza. Shenkt grabs Juvens and gives the twins their “first meal”.
Apparently J Train has made heaps of these little stories. Would love to know what you think of it all.
ps. let me know if you want a copy of the rules to “the circle”
Hi Joe, I’m new to your work and roughly half way through The Blade Itself, very much enjoying it so far.
I’m very much a gamer at heart and enjoy the Mass Effect series, so my question is this… If you had an epic series such as A Song Of Fire And Ice or even your own The First Law trilogy, how would you feel/react if your fan base reacted in the way that the Mass Effect community did to the ending of that series?
I realise this is a very specific question and therefore isnt exactly blogging gold, but had you read Hawkwood: A Diabolical Englishman by Frances Stonor Saunders as research before writing The First Law Trilogy?
I doubt you’ll get this far in the comments Joe, but I’ll say my two-cents.
Have you considered making Best Served Cold a mini-series BEFORE any version of the First Law is produced? I think it’s far more sellable than TFL, which would require a considerable investment to adapt into a movie. TFL is a ‘gritty’ tale that may not appeal to the mainstream audience which investment would need to appeal to . . . fuck them if they try to tone it down Joe, fuck them in the armpit
I think it’s best to start with a mini-series adaptation of BSC. Firstly, (and most obviously) the structure lends itself to episodic TV very well. You could get at least 7 episodes from the book (one for each murder, including various flashbacks). Secondly, TV is less of a financial and creative risk (especaily if produced by the BBC or HBO) who do not need to keep advertisers happy. Thirdly, if the series is a hit, it’ll grow a ‘mainstream’ fan base for your other works, making a First Law series (or film) more likely.
So yeah, that’s my two cents . . .
A 3rd cent . . have you ever thought of writing a different genre, or different ‘world’ perhaps?
Jasper Fforde is another writer I like to check in on now and again, and he seems to have a book come out every year -‘proper’ novels aswell, not light weight pulp. He has a number of different series running concurrently though, so it may be 2 or 3 years before the next “Thursday Next” book is released.
So I was thinking that perhaps the change of scenery helps get the creative juices flowing faster, hence the faster output?
Firstly, FUCK YOU ELISE!!
You made me sound like a 10 year old with your comments:(
If anyone will teach Joe my game, it should be me.
Joe truly love your books……. Yes I have made a game based on your world; What are copyright laws?
This thread is about questions. My question is:
IS FRIENDLY AUTISTIC?
“ps” Joe, I would love to teach you my drinking game. Achoo!! spoiler alert::::: A red 9 is much different to a black 9. If you would like to know about MY game, please email me.
Remember where ever you are in this world, YOU will always be there.
How do you define “Noir”? How does it inform your writing?
While patiently waiting for your next book, I picked up and started reading Patrick O’Brian’s lengthy Aubrey/Maturin series (the film Master and commander was based on bits of these books for those not familiar). These seafaring adventures are fast turning into one of the most wonderful series I have ever read, and the long interplay of storylines over multiple novels makes for a spectacular read as well as providing a wonderful depth/nuance with the portrayal of the 2 primary characters.
As such I have 2 questions:
1 – Have your thoughts on lengthy epic series remained the same since you started writing? Or do you find yourself tempted by the potential depth and detail a lengthy series allows?
2 – Is it at all possible that your next book will see Ninefingers as a captain in the British navy helping to fight Napoleon?
“I started to become fascinated by how I could structure and pace a scene or a paragraph, exploring my own instincts for what worked and what didn’t.”
Gods, but I’d love to hear you expound on this. I remember thinking your chapter structure in First Law was brilliant. Can you lift your hem and tease us with a bit more info in this vein – scene, paragraph, chapter, whatever? P.S. Love your work, just finished Red Country, loved it, blah blah blah…
How do you approach theme in your works? I’m curious to know if you sit down with Something To Say(TM) when you write, or if themes come out later during the revision process, or if theme is really just a set of universal truths you believe to be self evident and try to adhere to across all your novels, or hey maybe even something I haven’t considered then?
Why, in the four books Logan appeared in, did you only use his ability to ‘store’ fire spirits once? Did you decide that since you had set the stage for there being few if any spirits in other places, and with Bayaz proclaiming how the magic was leaking out of the world, that it was impractical to use after the incident on the way to the library in book 1?
Pain. If this is not too personal a question, I’m wondering how you managed to portrait Gloktas pain so convincingly. I should know as considerable pain is a constant companion of mine.
What I’d love to know more about is are the realities of publishing as a new author, and how long it took you to become established.
I seem to recall it mentioned somewhere that you are now the UK’s best selling fantasy author – I’m not sure whether that’s true or I misread it – however, I seem to recall you mentioning elsewhere that your writing did not earn enough to do it full time until after you had four books published.
I appreciate that you probably wouldn’t want to give any figures about exact sales and earnings, and frankly it would be rude to ask.
But what would be very interesting is to get some idea of “the other side” – because, frankly, most aspiring writers think all they need to do is write a book, it’ll be an international bestseller, and they will retire on millions.
So specifically, I’d be very interested to know how long it took a very successful writer like you to reach any kind of best seller lists, and how difficult it has been for the writing to pay for you to do it full-time, and generally how hard it has been for you to balance your professional commitments under increasing pressure.
You know, the reality stuff aspiring writers don’t normally get to hear while they are chasing a dream.
How do you know when to start and end a scene? How do you know when a scene is accomplishing something, or just spinning its wheels? I read a great article on Wordplayer.com called Situation Based Writing that seems to make a lot of sense, but maybe it only applies to screenplays and not prose. What do you think?
Who killed Marovia? Was it an eater?
Names….how, why…how again?? There’s the famous story of David Gemmell using variations on names of his colleagues for Waylander and getting sacked for it…so bearing in mind the consequences of admitting anything, how do you come up with your names and why do they get picked? I struggle all the time with names, and often is the biggest stumbling block to start a story.
Cheers man, keep writing.
Good evening Mr. Abercrombie,
Will we ever read about my personal favorite character, and one of your best creations, Sand Dan Glotka again?
Not a question – rather a … suggestion?
Yesterday night, i was re-reading one of your books (namely “Before they are hanged”), and i was at the part where Logen is under Aulcus, with Ferro. When i got to the part where the Bloody Nine takes over and starts his work on the Shanka, my phone started to ring (but not too loud). Here is the interesting part – i didn’t noticed that it was ringing because the ringtone was the song “Black Ice” (AC/DC) and it fitted so PERFECTLY with the action in the book! I only noticed when the music stopped!
If they ever do a movie after your books, i strongly suggest that song to be played in the background for the Bloody Nine fight scene with the Shanka. (or any other Bloody Nine scene).
Joe, your work stands with the very best of fantasy writing, past or present. I love every book. I also find it intriguing that the fantasy aspect of the genre is so understated in your books. You shied away from a demon-possessed Bloody Nine, making Logen’s other half more a form of human madness. In Red Country, you hung a giant golden dragon on the mantel and never let the critter fly. As a fan of good literature in general, this didn’t bother me. As a reader of fantasy, it kind of did. Why so stingy with the magic?
Have you ever thought of writing a novel or short story in a genre other than fantasy? Richard Morgan has had a fairly bloody stab at sci-fi to fantasy and it translated well. I’d be interested to see what you would come up with going in the opposite direction, to a sci-fi or a hardboiled crime fiction. Not sure about anyone else, but it’d sure would give me a broner.
Great stuff. if you can get your hands on it blakmills (blackbush?) i just drink it the names tend to blur.
poor old nicomo. any more on shylo or ferro? i do like bremer.
anyway whiskey without the e is irish with the e scottish and scotch is not a drink, it is a nationality.
ps the mayor in red country – best guess?
I have a pretty simple question. What is the Bloody-nine? Is it just an aspect of Logan’s personality (like a blood rage), or is it actually some kind of spirit or demon that literally takes control of him? I ask because throughout The First Law trilogy Logan tries to keep the Bloody-nine from coming out but he seems unable to stop it. And the fact that Logan could talk to spirits made me wonder if he was more susceptible to a spirit taking control of him, like he was a link between two worlds.
When I goggled this question before someone made a relevant point. In “Last Argument of Kings” when Bayaz is using the seed it seems like the influx of power actually knocks the Bloody-nine out of Logan’s head which allowed him to regain control before he killed the Dogman and this is where the basis of my question came from because in the first two books I just assumed he was a mad bastard.
LOVED Red County, but a timeline question nagged at me the whole time.
Shy ran away from home when she was 17, because she hated her first stepfather. But Logen reflects on memories of her childhood, at one point referencing when she was 10. How could he remember her childhood if he wasn’t her stepfather until she was over 17? And based on Pit’s age, he couldn’t have been their stepfather for more than seven years.
I couldn’t work out any way these things could all be true, but I kept thinking maybe they’d be explained somehow. What am I missing here?
Read most books, quarter of a way through Red Country and enjoying old friends. One thing I really enjoy from all books are the phrases or advice passed on by characters. These have really stuck with me especially Logen’s “it’s better to do a thing than live in fear of a thing” and it may sound sad but I’ve been using this in my own life.
My question is where do these words of wisdom come from? Do you research them or are you just naturally full of sage advice and wisdom?
First, Kyle is right: do a TV series and have Ray Stevenson as Logen. I’m available for further casting advice if required, of course.
Second, I was wondering just how much of the real world is in your books – sometimes I feel like I’m reading an alt-history book, with pretty much the same cultures and nation-equivalents we have; other times, it feels completely alien.
Is it a random trickle due to what you’ve been reading and watching etc., or is it a deliberate choice (“Now I’ll mention this sovereign that sort of echoes that famous historical figure so that smart readers* will feel even smarter for noticing it”)?
* No, I do not count myself between smart readers and I wouldn’t recognize such a sovereign if s/he pointed a gun pointed to my head and placed a big cardboard sign before my eyes.
Do your daughters have Northern Named Men pseudonyms? And, before the cleaver removes your fingers, how do you come up with a Named Man’s name? Do you create a background for each of them even if they aren’t revealed in the book?
When Calder steals the Union banners to rally his men before the major battle for The Heroes I found myself wondering: is this specific activity a creative invention or did Herr Abercrombie borrowing from something he read as background material? So? If yes, do you remember where it came from?
Last question, I swear, unless you fail to answer one.
I don’t know if you’re still reading this post but since you haven’t said otherwise and I’m just taking a break in the final stretch of Last Argument of Kings, I thought I’d ask.
You’re books are some of the first I’ve read in a while that I simply can’t put down… Maybe it’s been a while because I’ve been trying my hand and the ever-so-trendy Young Adult category and found the majority to be about as riveting as watching rivets.
What I’d like to know is, as a fellow author, whose work inspired your style? And by that I guess I mean how did you learn to write a unique, intimate 3rd person, character driven, and still with a strong story, kind of story.
I’ve stopped writing my second novel to go write a 6th (7th?) draft of my first, simply based on things I’ve picked up reading First Law.
In other words, even if you don’t have time to answer, know that I appreciate your work and it’s been influential to me.
Are we ever going to find out what happened with Ferro?
How did you pick your agent?
This is probably coming in too late for an answer, but:
Why do you start all your books/sections of books with quotes from other people?
My question is about your ideas about ideas, or something to that effect. I guess I should get the question out of the way before the explanation, so here:
Based on some comments of yours that I’ve read here and there, why do you think ideas are more of a dime in a dozen thing and hard work is what matters when it comes to writing literature?
For the explanation then, I finished Bradbury’s Fahrenheit 451 a few days ago and went to Goodreads for some reviews to see what I was supposed to think about the book as one does nowadays … and one of the reviews ended with this, which made me think of your comments about writing:
“It is currently axiomatic of literature that what matters is technique. Maybe characters. That’s it. Ray Bradbury writes about ideas. Some time we will think they matter and are worthy of being considered as important as books written in tortured ways for people who think reading should be painful.”
Not to say that I’ve had to suffer immensely, other than for reasons to do with the characters and plot, while reading your books. 🙂
Is it just my misunderstanding or have none of these questions been replied to ? is there another page with responses ?
I replied to some of em, click on the category ‘the inquisition’ at the top of the post, the further posts will come up.