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By Patrick (2007-01-10) Q: For the benefit of those of us new to your work, without giving too much away, can you give us a taste of the tale that is THE BLADE ITSELF?
The occasionally mysterious, often bloody, and always entertaining misadventures of Logen Ninefingers, infamous barbarian, Inquisitor Glokta, crippled torturer, and Jezal dan Luthar, sneering young nobleman.
Q: What can readers expect from the subsequent two volumes of the series?
Put simply, a continuation of the story. An epic sweep of love and war, and all that. More hard-edged characters and pithy dialogue. More mystery and magic, more torture and intrigue and a few big surprises along the way. A widening of the scale with some grand set pieces and gruelling action as the characters are caught up in momentous events, all building to a thrilling climax. You get the picture. You'll laugh, you'll cry. If you're a rival fantasy author, you'll cry a LOT.
Q: Since THE BLADE ITSELF is your fantasy debut, could you tell us a little of the road that saw this one go from manuscript to published novel?
It's been an epic quest, Pat, no doubt about that. I started writing it in 2001, really just for my own amusement. I was a big fantasy fan when I was a kid, played a lot of role-playing games and so on, and had a few ideas hanging about from that time. I’m a freelance film editor, so I end up with quite a lot of time off in between jobs and I thought I’d give writing a try. To my great amazement, I was pleased with the results right from the start. The characters took on a real life of their own and I started to really enjoy writing it. I showed a few chapters to my family, who were astonished to find it didn’t completely suck. That was all the encouragement I needed.
Two years later my first draught was finished and I decided that, since I’d written the bloody thing, I might as well try and find a publisher, and I began to send sample chapters off to literary agents. A year of photocopied rejection letters followed and I became rather depressed. Then a friend of mine who works for an educational publisher happened to be on a desk editing course with Gillian Redfearn, editor extraordinaire at Gollancz. He mentioned, with great reluctance, that a friend of his had written this fantasy book and would she mind terribly if he sent her some (yawn). She read some, liked it, read some more, liked it more. Ten days later I got a call from Simon Spanton making me an offer. I nearly wet myself.
Q: What do you feel is your strength as a writer/storyteller?
Characters, dialogue, humour, action. And the unfolding of the whole series will hopefully demonstrate that I can put a plot together in a tight spot as well (fingers crossed). The area for which I’ve garnered the most praise, however, is the nice feeling paper in which my books are bound. If you like nice feeling books, you can't go wrong with The Blade Itself.
Q: Do you have any plans to create a website or a blog where potential readers will have the opportunity to read sample chapters and learn more about you?
I have enormous amounts of plans for all kinds of things, but not all of them get realised. Not many at all, in fact. One might almost say there is a considerable gap between my planning and reality. Blogging scares me. I mean, what if no-one turns up? It's like you sent out the invites, and filled out the name-tags, and warmed up the fondue, and nobody came to the party. I'd love to have a website. There just always seems to be something else to do. Especially since I now have a six week old baby. Never enough time . . .
Q: What was the spark that generated the idea which drove you to write THE BLADE ITSELF and THE FIRST LAW series in the first place?
No one thing, really. It’s a reaction to some of the things I didn’t like in a lot of the epic fantasy I read as a kid – cardboard characters, clearly defined heroes and villains with no shades of grey between, a fixation with worldbuilding over storytelling. Not that there isn’t some great fantasy out there. I just thought there was room for some more . . .
Q: Were there any perceived conventions of the fantasy genre which you wanted to twist or break when you set out to write THE BLADE ITSELF and its sequel?
Absolutely. Taking a slant-wise look at some of the clichés of epic fantasy was always one of my main aims. Of course, the risk you take when you put a lot of tired old tropes in a book is that readers won't realise that you're trying to do something different with them. They'll just see a book full of clichés. But hopefully, as the series progresses and the tone darkens, it'll become clearer what I'm up to. That or everyone will have stopped reading.