Back to the Inquisition, and there are going to be some serious spoilers on this one right from the question, so if you haven’t read all my books, I would STRONGLY suggest you look away, right about NOW, and buy them all.
Still here? OK, then. Tolmie Wright asks:
“Read through Red Country, fantastic novel,”
Well, DUH, but thanks for saying so…
“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 think the simple answer is – cause I did that already. I like working in the same world, coming back to characters some years on. It gives me some instant well-developed characters to reach for, and I think it gives readers a deeper resonance, a sense of a broad and developing world, some feeling of continuity. Generally, if I’ve got a need for a certain type of character somewhere in a book and I’ve a suitable candidate we’ve met before, I’ll use them again. But for those that have been primary points of view, I’ll probably put them more in the background, and won’t use their point of view again. Partly it’s because I think there’s a value in seeing these characters now from the outside, what the reader knows about them perhaps standing at odds with what the new points of view may think about them. Partly it’s because I want to do something a little bit new and different with each book I write, because if you’re not challenging yourself at least to some degree you’re probably stagnating, and that means new and varied points of view, if possible. Partly it’s because you use up ideas and treading the same ground often leads to diminishing returns, and offering more of the same can dilute and diminish what you’ve done already.
People generally want more of something right up until the point they don’t want it any more. And the art is in never reaching that point. And just as important, if not more important, as keeping the audience fresh and excited, is keeping ME fresh and excited. Yes, it is possible. A reader might get through the First Law in a month or two, and be desperate for more of those characters. I spent several years with them, and was good and ready to move on. And if you’re bored of something, feel like you’ve exhausted it, said all you need to say on a subject, but continue to flog the dead horse because you somehow feel you have to, it’s going to show. You can’t somehow expect that readers will be fascinated by things you yourself are finding laborious.
That said, the general principle must always bow to the specific case. In Red Country, Lamb was always going to be a very important character. A much more central re-use of a major character than I’d tried before. Logen just fit the role too well not to use, but I thought Lamb would be most effective if seen through Shy’s eyes, if people did not know his thoughts and therefore exactly what his past might have been or what he was capable of. If, for those who did recognise and know him, there was an element of not being sure what he was thinking now or how he might have changed. I was also interested to see how he might come across shorn of the softening effect of his internal monologue. I wanted him to be quite terrifying, potentially, and this seemed the best approach. I wanted to maintain some mystery around him. I toyed with using the Bloody-Nine’s voice for a couple of short sections, but on reflection I wasn’t sure I could add much to it, and thought it was better not to dilute and re-use what I’d done with that in the First Law.
So there you go. Maybe the time comes when I’ll look back at a Point of View I’ve used before and think, ‘you know what, I think there’s something new I can do with this now.’ But that’ll depend on the individual case. It may well never happen…