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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 WINTERBIRTH?
Itís at the gritty, heroic end of the fantasy spectrum, I guess. The basic plot revolves around an old, unresolved conflict (between two factions called The Black Road and the True Bloods) starting up again, and how various characters get swept up in it. The main emphasis is really on how this cast of characters survive - or donít - when their world starts coming apart all around them. And in the middle of everything, thereís this one character who eventually turns out to be much more dangerous than anyone really appreciated Ö
Q: What can readers expect from the subsequent two volumes of The Godless World trilogy?
Well, pretty much everyone involved finds themselves getting deeper into trouble. Bk 2 picks up more or less right after the end of WINTERBIRTH. There are some fairly drastic plot developments in it that set up Bk 3, so that by the end of that last book, a lot of the characters who thought they had a firm grip on events have found out they donít. We see (Iím using the word Ďseeí loosely here) a little bit more of one of the other non-human races, and thereís plenty more fighting, death, victory, defeat, all that kind of stuff. And more snow. And shellfish. There are two buckets of shellfish in Bk 2.
Q: What's the progress report pertaining to the second and third volume of the series?
The progress report is that there has been progress: Bk 2 is nearing completion. Bk 3 exists as notes and thoughts filed away in the back of my head.
Q: Since WINTERBIRTH is your fantasy debut, could you tell us a little of the road that saw this one go from manuscript to published novel?
Itís been a painless but quite long process. One of the things I really didnít appreciate when I was daydreaming about being a writer back in the 1990s was just how long the time lags can be. I think from me having what I thought at the time might be a final, complete manuscript, through finding an agent, then finding a publisher, then the book actually being in bookshops has been something like four years. Four years! I think my key pieces of good fortune were in getting an agent quite quickly since that takes some of the pressure off (they get to worry about finding a publisher instead of you) and then getting a publisher who had some good and constructive suggestions to make regarding the text, but kept them general and left it up to me to work out how best to implement them.
Q: What's been the overall response you've received from readers concerning WINTERBIRTH?
Pretty good - itís been interesting the extent to which different people pick up on different elements of the story: some people are interested in the Black Road, some in the Kyrinin, some in the characterisation, some in the world-building etc. Thatís kind of obvious, I guess, but Iím still the wide-eyed newbie staring around and finding all sorts of things about the process interesting and surprising. The kind of feedback Iíve been most relieved to hear is when people say the pacingís OK, and the plot keeps them interested. I figure the one thing you absolutely have to do as a writer is get people to want to turn the page and find out what happens next. So long as I get at least a reasonable proportion of the audience involved like that, Iím pleased.
Q: How does it feel to see that WINTERBIRTH will be one of the first novels published by Orbit's American imprint?
Like I got pretty lucky, really. At the time I signed the contract with Orbit in the UK, there was no such thing as Orbit USA. In between me submitting the final manuscript and it getting published in Britain, suddenly it was: ĎBy the way, weíve decided to set up in the US, and weíd like to take WINTERBIRTH with us.í Itís all mildly nerve-inducing too, mind you - thereís something simultaneously cool and vaguely intimidating about being part of a Ďlaunchí line-up.