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By Patrick (2006-05-16)
Dear Cameron, Let me begin by thanking you for taking some time off your busy schedule to answer our questions. With rumors pertaining to the publication of RETURN OF THE CRIMSON GUARD and the imminent release of NIGHT OF KNIVES in trade paperback, Malazan fans are eager to hear from you.
Q: Although surprising, there are many Malazan fans who are not aware that you are the co-creator of that universe. For readers not yet familiar with your work, without giving too much away, can you give us a taste of the story that is NIGHT OF KNIVES?
Dear Patrick and all those good enough to have contributed to this Q&A opportunity:
Great to see all these questions - to my mind this translates into a lot of interest out there. All very welcome! For question #1, I most certainly do not find it surprising that there are many Malaz fans out there who are not aware of my contribution - yet. Malaz first saw the light of day with the publication of Gardens under Steve’s name. Believe me, I would have loved to have my name appear on there somewhere at that time, but it just wasn’t in the cards for a lot of plain mundane reasons plus some very real publication considerations - think about it, what chance would yet another new fantasy novel introducing yet another new fantasy world have if it was burdened by a header such as:
In a World Created by Steven Erikson and Ian C. Esslemont,
from a screenplay written by Steven Erikson and Ian C. Esslemont,
comes a novel written by Steven Erikson …
Not likely to fly off the shelves, I imagine. Gardens set the precedent that the various books would simply have one name on the title pages; no sense tricking up an already risky undertaking.
For those who not yet familiar with Night of Knives, I would suggest reviews and discussions on the Malaz site, PS Publishing’s website, or other reviews such as the one at sfcrowsnest. However, for those don’t want to bother opening a new browser window I’ll give a little spiel (all those familiar with Knives can jump ahead).
The novel takes place all in one night, the night that the Imperial regent, Surly, assassinates the Emperor, Kellanved and his cohort bodyguard/enforcer, Dancer. It is also - coincidentally? - a "convergence" when realms overlap. In this case, the realm of Shadow. This convergence, together with other factors, draws an attack by a race that inhabits the waters in the straits between the island of Malaz and the southern continent of Korel, or Fist, as it is sometimes known. The story is told through two main characters: Kiska, a young girl who dreams of escaping what she sees as an empty life in an island backwater; and Temper, a grizzled veteran anxious to avoid all imperial attention, who has sought out the island of Malaz precisely because it is a backwater. However, as both discover, even an obscure imperial corner can hold its surprises.
Q: There seemed to be a few grammatical errors and such which made there way through the editing process in the previous version of NIGHT OF KNIVES which put some people off. Have these errors been fixed for the new trade paperback edition?
Not sure what I can say here - every book has its various proofing oversights and editing mistakes, etc. I might point out that some books have become famous (or infamous) precisely because of them. As to whether there have been any editing changes between editions - not to my knowledge. The new edition is a done deal, probably with the same exact text as far as I know.
Q: You have said that you and Steven keep the dialogue going on events, characters, sub-plots, etc, as he keep writing additional volumes of the Malazan series. How exactly do you guys work together? Do you read the different drafts of the story, and then send Steven feedback? Or do you play a more "active" role?
The very "active" role of side-by-side creation is in the past. We established the canvas back then: where and when everything fit together in the big picture. Now we’re filling in all the white space between. Currently we exchange letters and emails in which we discuss what we happen to be working on, field questions, ask for "okays" on doing certain things. What’s best is when we happen to be in the same place - then we can sit down all afternoon or evening to walk through entire narratives in which we clarify sequences, exchange opinions on the treatment of various moments, etc. Usually, as we found originally, our instincts are pretty much in alignment. For example, the last time I was in Winnipeg, we spent a lot of time talking about Bonehunters, especially the set piece of the siege of Y’Ghatan. Most recently, I sent him a few scenes-in-progress from Return of the Crimson Guard.