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Q: Can you tell us a little bit about the GemQuest series?
Gary: Where do I begin? I have been living with the story and the characters for five years now, and it is hard to answer that question simply. A synopsis is certainly not what you want. You can read that on my website.
GemQuest is a character driven story. The people who inhabit the books are very very real to me. When I picture them in my mindís eye, each one has a unique expression and manner, a specific way about him or her. They have lives and families, and their pasts are complicated and marked by tragedy and triumph, loss and attainment. But ultimately, they live in the present, and the present for them is fraught with difficulties, both moral and physical. Their world is in turmoil, and all the decisions that they make impact upon the future of their world. Nothing is easy for any of them, yet they manage to maintain a sense of hope and purpose, sustained by their value systems, no matter how arduous their present circumstances seem to be.
Though it may seem as if I havenít really answered your question, essentially, that is what the series is about; people caught up in a world seemingly on the brink of disaster, struggling to find a means to make it a better and safer place.
Q: In many ways your series is a classic Epic Fantasy series, what new aspects do you feel you have brought to the genre?
Gary: Yes, it is classic Epic Fantasy. I wanted it to be exactly that. Nevertheless, my characters are deep feeling human beings, and I hope that the moral dilemmas that they face and the way that they come to understand the choices facing them are unique. They make mistakes, they change their minds, they do not understand everything that they face, and they learn more and more as the books progress. None of them know the right path to take, and with each decision that they face they grow. I spend as much time and effort as I can, without being pedantic, attempting to discuss the ethical issues that are most important to me, and as the series evolves, the characters become deeper, smarter and more astute. The process of coming to individual awareness is a dialectical one, and it parallels the plot. Each battle and each confrontation leads to a resolution, and then a higher understanding, a sublimation so to speak. I want my readers to think and to feel at the same time. I want them to be anxious and excited by the story, as well as to be moved by the weight of the many decisions that must be made and the consequences of those decisions. I want my readers to think about how the daily decisions they must make impact upon their own lives and the world in which they live.
Q: How do you go about keeping track of everything that has gone before when you write such a series?
Gary: To be honest, sometimes it is not so easy. I have written almost 2500 pages of text and the series is not over. For the most part, the same characters that appeared in the first book are still central by the end of the fourth book. It is the secondary characters who are more difficult to keep track of. But, this is a world that I could easily live in. I see it as clearly as I see the real world. Still, I refer to the glossary myself when I am utilizing characters who have not appeared in a while, just to make sure that I remember them accurately. In many respects, it is not so different from my memories of old friends whom I still infrequently correspond with, though I no longer see regularly, or places I have traveled to years ago. How does everyone keep track of everything in their real life? Just as reading an old letter or glancing at an old photograph can instantly bring them back to me, so can rereading a descriptive paragraph or some dialogue. As far as the story is concerned, I try to keep a running list of what I refer to as unfinished threads. If I introduce an object of power or I bring in an idea or a character whose efficacy might not be relevant to that particular moment in the action of the book, Iíll jot it down and save it on that list. I look at it once in a while and remind myself of those things I might want to complete at a later point. I am actually surprised myself when I look at the glossary and see how many characters and places I have created. In my mind, I think of them no differently than people I have encountered over the years or countries I have visited on my travels. They are a part of my memory now, and when I write, I look back and recall them as they were the last time I was with them or visited there.