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By Patrick (2008-03-31)
- I know you have a visceral fear of spoilers, but you didn't think we'd let you go easy and not ask anything about THE GREAT ORDEAL. We've all read the blurb, of course, but what can you tell us about your upcoming novel?
Where did you get that title? That was just something I cooked up because you need to name the books for the contract. I didnít like it then, and I donít like it now. The first book is called, The Judging Eye, that is, unless one of my editors succeeds in arguing me into a different one!
All Iím willing to say is that the story picks up twenty years after the end of The Thousandfold Thought.
- When we spoke at the end of 2005, you were really excited about the prospect of beginning working on The Aspect-Emperor? Has it been a smooth/challenging process thus far?
Writing a book is always challenging, particularly when youíre writing a story across multiple installments, and even more so when you seem constitutively incapable of writing in a straight line like I am. I end up bouncing all over the place rather than sticking to the book at hand. For instance, the last chapter I finished was chapter three - chapter three! WTF...
Also, the fact that this is my career now has really settled in. I had to get my motivational ducks in order for this book - start looking at it as a job, while at the same time preserving my artistic commitments. Easier said than done, at least for me.
- Will we see more of the world -- geographically speaking -- in this new series?
- In our last interview, you said that you were giddy at the thought of putting the Consult, the Inchoroi, the Nonmen and the Sranc into the narrative spotlight. Do you think fans will be pleased with the results?
I hope so! But itís literally impossible to tell from the inside of a story what people will think from the outside.
- Are there specific themes you wanted to explore in this second series?
Specifically, Iím interested in what it means to live in a world where value is objective - which is to say, to live in the kind of world our ancestors thought they lived in. Could you imagine, for instance, what it would mean to live in a world where, say, the social and spiritual inferiority of women was a fact like the atomic weight of uranium. Biblical Israel was such as world, as were many others.
We have a hardwired predisposition to "naturalize" our values, to think what we value things is the way things are - itís one of many liabilities we can chalk up to our stone-age brains. This is why fantasy worlds are our doubles, our psychology writ in geographical stone, and so worth exploring in their own right.
Other than that, thereís a number of carry-over themes dealing with belief and faith as the levers of action.
- Were there any perceived conventions of the fantasy genre which you wanted to twist or break when you set out to write The Prince of Nothing? How about The Aspect-Emperor?
Iím more keen on embracing the conventions than breaking them - the twisting seems to happen of its own accord. The biggie, the one that spans The Second Apocalypse in its entirety, is eschatology - no surprise there. What does it mean to live in a world with an objective narrative structure (which is to say, a world with a climax and an end)? And conversely, what does it mean to live in a world that doesnít? The others, I think, are pretty obvious.
As for The Aspect-Emperor, my particular interest is the quest, and the ways in which the world itself becomes the primary antagonist. Iím also keen on exploring the idea and role of alternate races, be they sub or super human, as well as - brace yourself! - the young dispossessed king.