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This Interview has been provided by Orbit, and is printed with their permission.
In August, Orbit published The Nations of the Night, the second book in Oliver Johnsonís epic Lightbringer Trilogy which began with The Forging of the Shadows. We asked Oliver to tell us about the world heís created for the Lightbringer Trilogy, one of the most exciting new fantasy series of recent years . . .
What inspired you to begin writing your own books, and what made you choose fantasy as a genre?
From childhood, I always loved history and adventure stories. I really discovered fantasy quite late, through Tolkien and then through fantasy role-playing games at Oxford. There was an active gaming circle there and through it I met a long-time friend and later co-author, Dave Morris - we both ran extensive campaigns, wild games that went on all night, week in, week out, for years and years, many of them set in M. A. R. Barkerís Empire of the Petal Throne. We both then went on to write for the RPG magazine White Dwarf, and also wrote role-playing games books for several publishers. They were quite functional multiple-choice game books, but they were very instructive on how to build plots! But the idea of writing something purely narrative and epic had been in my mind and was my ambition. After the game books, I started my first adult novel, The Forging of the Shadows.
Tell us a bit about the world and the mythology youíve created for the Lightbringer Trilogy - were you inspired by any existing mythologies?
Out of the role-paying games I began to fixate on some recurring themes: the battle of light and dark and the world of the dying sun (inspired by Vanceís The Dying Earth and others). I was also intrigued by vampirism. What is it like to know youíre going to live forever? Not very pleasant, probably - wouldnít the spirit be sapped knowing that there was no pressure of time, no finite end? I remember a Borges story, ĎThe Immortalsí, which had this as its theme. The gods ended up wallowing in mud pools all day, barely bothering to move, so tired had they become of their eternal Ďlifeí. Iím not a great fan of the svelte, charming vamps we find in a lot of contemporary vamp fiction: I wanted to explore beings for whom the pursuit of blood was a physiological necessity, like a drug addictís craving for a drug. Apart from the dying sun and the Ďrealisticí vamps, my world is a hybrid of various interests, Egyptology and alchemy among them, with a good salting of the medieval...
As well as being an author, you work full time as an editor in a London publishing house. Do you find that writing and editing compliment each other?
It means the written word totally absorbs me for most of the day. This has advantages and disadvantages. Advantage: if youíre reading and editing enlivening, thought-provoking work, it must have a beneficial effect on your own work. I remember someone saying that the best tip he could ever give to a new writer was to read a good new book every day. Well, I donít know if I read one every day, but when one comes along, itís an inspiration! Another benefit is that Iím immersed in book production every day, from raw manuscript through editing, cover design, marketing, sales... you name it - there is nothing thatís a mystery. I have none of that feeling of isolation from the processes of publishing that I know some authors experience. Disadvantages? Well, I guess there being no mystery could be a problem! An editor is ideally a human bridge between author and the hard business side of things. Seeing both the reality and the romance of publishing simultaneously can make you feel rather double-visioned at times! I find itís best to compartmentalise the two as much as possible.
Copyright© 2002 Orbit
. All rights reserved. No part of this may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher. The interview has been provided by Orbit
and is printed with their permission.