Mon
Sep 27 2010 2:44pm
Questions for Steven Erikson on Gardens of the Moon? Start asking!

Next week we will be wrapping up Gardens of the Moon in our Malzan reread with a look at the last chapter and epilogue and then a broad reaction to the book as a whole. The following week Steven Erikson will be here answering selected questions.

Selected from where, you ask? Why, from here, of course! From you few, you happy few, you band of rereaders... So think of what you’d like to ask Steven (just Steven on this one, Cam will do the same at the end of our Night of Knives discussion) and put the question in the comments here or in this Wednesday’s coming reread discussion thread.

We’ll compile them all, weed out any repetitions, then send them along to Steven for his answers (or non-answers as may be the case—you know these author types). So start the questions coming; the sooner the better.

114 comments
Germy Blake
1. Germy Blake
I have a question: in how far were you influenced by Suter's TWO JOURNEYS?
M D
2. Abalieno
I'd have to ask what kind of questions are encouraged/legit. I always had the impression that Steve doesn't usually love to "explain" plot points or details of story/mythology, and more instead interested about the discussion on genesis if ideas, influences, thematic development, writerly approach and such.

I also guess that this is specifically a GotM wrap-up, so questions are supposed to be about what's in the book and not about what happens later?

I'll give a shout on Malazan forums as well, maybe someone is interested. If not, I have this nice list of mine with three hundred thousands questions ready ... ;)
Robin Lemley
3. Robin55077
I am assuming that most often, the chapter was written then Steven went back and constructed the poem to fit to the chapter. Were there any chapters where the poem came first, and the chapter was written to match the poem? I mean, I know that the "story" line was already in mind before you actually wrote each chapter, but was there ever a chapter where the Poem came first so items in a particular chapter were added based on that poem?
Germy Blake
4. billcap
As far as type of questions, we're putting no restrictions. My personal advice would be to stick to either GoTM questions, as we'll have this as a regular wrap-up so future and series-entire issues can be dealt with later, or "opening" questions dealing with the origin of the story, etc. Both Steven and Cam have done many interviews, so you might also want to try and ask something that hasn't been asked/answered before (those may be two different things of course). And finally, in the past Steven has certainly shown himself more interested in discussing craft rather than plot, so I'd guess you take a good chance of not being selected if it's a simple plot explanation question--but that's pure speculation based on what I've seen out there; I'm not working on any "inside" info as to what he'll be looking for when he chooses what to answer. And with the end in sight, perhaps he'll be more amenable to discussing plot point. Who knows--maybe you'll get him to spoil The Crippled God :)
Steven Halter
5. stevenhalter
Steve, you've mentioned Glen Cook as an influence in a number of places and its fairly easy to point to aspects of The Black Company--the laconic soldiers, card games, etc as influences. Did The Dread Empire series provide influence as well (or have read it)?
josh BERNHARDT
6. larkask
Question: what - if any- were your historical or current real-lif influences when creating the daru culture?
can you expand a bit on the diffrences between the daru and gadrobi?
Rob Munnelly
7. RobMRobM
Enjoying the books and now up to the midle of Reaper's Gate.

I'd appreciate clarification on the powers of an Adjunct. We know they carry ottaral swords that dampen magic but are they invested by the Empress with positive magic that makes them more effective? Or are they just well-trained and skilled? Lorn in GoTM seems to have virtual superpowers with the sword - is that just her or does that apply to other Adjuncts too? (Without spoiling post-GoTM books, I couldn't tell from the text the answer to that question.) Also, can an Adjunct be a male?

Thanks. Rob
Germy Blake
8. Alt146
Bill or Amanda, would you mind linking this in with the chapter links on the reread main page? Maybe I haven't gotten the hang of the site yet but I wouldn't have found this article if Fiddler hadn't mentioned it was up in one of the chapter threads.

My question:

Do you feel that if you had gotten a publishing deal immediately after writing Gardens of the Moon that the series would have turned out differently? It's obvious that the major events of the series were already mapped out in your head before the first book, so I'm asking more in terms of the tone and message of your work. In my opinion the series takes a much darker turn in Toll the Hounds and Dust of Dreams, and the criticism of humanities various foibles seems to have gotten a bit harsher - some might say a little jaded. Mind you, I'm not complaining; but I do wonder if you would have handled the end of the series differently if you had approached it ten years ago rather than now.

And if that's a bit too much of a generalised 'what if' type question, then let me rather ask - are there any specific scenes, characters or narrative thoughts (especially in DG and MoI) that came about because of something you experienced between finishing Gardens and starting Deadhouse?
Thomas Jeffries
9. thomstel
My question:

Can you provide some insight/examples as to how the roleplaying aspect of the Malazan world worked way back when you and ICE (and others I suppose) were playing those games? Today's there's an established history and world events that are known values for both author's writing to draw from, but how much of that original story was part of an actual campaign and how much was created by the gamemaster as history?

Also, in that same vein, what system did you use when playing and is there any chance that a future Malazan Campaing Setting (for any current systems) could ever see the light of day? I love the tales being told, I'd love even more to be able to dig into the details further with a "here's how it works" guide that RPG setting material often provides.

And as always, many many thanks for the hours of enjoyment in the Malazan world.
Germy Blake
10. Pnr060
I seem to recall reading somewhere that you had a singular, unusual idea of how GOTM should be ported to a video format, if such a thing ever happened. Will you go into any more detail on that?
Tai Tastigon
11. Taitastigon
Hello Steven,
One that comes to mind:
Your style has always been described as cinematographic and GotM was conceived as a script at some point, if I am not wrong. From reading up to DoD, I would guess some strong, central cinematographic influence from Quentin Tarantino (GotM being the equivalent of Reservoir Dogs), with some very strong channeling of 1970´s Coppola (Bridgeburners and Bonehunters are Vito and Michael in terms of significance to the cycle) and the overall oeuvre of Scorsese in terms of epic scope – all of this laced with some heavy doses of Marx Brothers, Monty Python and turn-of-last-century vaudeville. Am I too far off on this or have some of these influences been reflected in your work ? Are there other cinematographic influences ?
Tai Tastigon
12. Taitastigon
OK, gotta hist you with another one - Glen Cook as an influence has been cited. Lots of your influences, like Moorcock and Zelazny, seem to be firmly entrenched in non-Tolkien 60s and 70s fantasy - you seem to draw from and hommage a vast range of top-notch fantasy of earlier days that unfortunately got buried under the tolkienite D&D avalanche that monochromized the genre from the 80s onward. OK, there is a question in there: I absolutely love the way you created cities like Darujhistan (and Letheras) and wondered whether British writress PC Hodgell´s creation of Tai-tastigon in Godstalk (mid-80s) was any influence ?
Tai Tastigon
13. Taitastigon
OK, a final one, for this time. Maybe not quite appropriate for the occasion, but anyway:

Who would you consider more immoral: Bauchelain & Korbal Broach...or Hans Landa ?

Suckerpunch question, I know...
Germy Blake
14. Annomandarispurake
From the very first book you have refused to follow many authors and hand out all the history of each new charator, in doing so you may of lost some potential fans, but myself and probaly lots of others will agree this adds so much potential and mystery to the story- it is one of the many reasons I keept Reading. Was this a joint decicion by you and cam or was it a byproduct of your writing style.

In the malazan books there are alot of charactors that accomplish great feats of heroism even tho they seem to be nobody special (prior to the heroism). Is this a chance to break the monotemony of the genre were the Hero's are prothersised decendents of so and so that you find in a lot of book ie the wheel
of time ( not having a go at Robert Jordan, I love the series)
Steven Halter
15. stevenhalter
Steve: The Malazan world has a great deal of depth. While reading, there is a sense of history--of a complete world out there.
How much of the world background currently exists in a tangible form (non mental-only)? For example, do you have fairly extensive notes on history, or just kind of a mental sketch shared between Cam and yourself?
Germy Blake
16. ganoesail
Hi Steve,
Who is your favourite character and why? I hope this isn't a bad question I am just interested to know. I loved Tattersail as a character but when she died I latched onto Ganoes Paran and he still remains after the whole series so far.
Thanks in advance
Chris
Hugh Arai
17. HArai
Hi Steven,

Is there anything you planted in GotM that you expected readers (especially first time readers) to pick up on but that they tend to miss, and conversely is there anything you thought readers might miss that they tend to pick up? Did reader response to plot seeds in GotM affect how you wove them into the rest of the series?
Tricia Irish
18. Tektonica
Hi Steven and thank you for this world. I am a newbie, having just gotten through DG and MoI, and half way through NoK....and lovin' it!

I love the mystery of your plot construction, having to suss things out as I go. As this is decidedly different from most Fantasy, your readership is probably self-selecting. Thank you for upending the tropes.

You write great battle and action, but it is your characterization that intrigues me the most. From the smallest walk-on to the main protagonists, the realistic human interaction, sometimes obscure motivations, and the character's thought processes are so engrossing and so throughly human, fallible, real! Bravo.

Question: Other than your well known background in Anthropology,
What other disciplines and what philosophical influences are most important for you? What has given you such keen insight into human behavior?
ezzkmo .
19. ezzkmo
Within the Malazan world seems to lie just as much history, culture, and questions as Earth's past...leaving us readers feeling like archaeologists as we dig deeper page by page. Did your background in archaeology and anthropology help to spark your creativity in wanting to create a brand new world and history of your own?

Thanks Steven!

-Todd
Catherine Parker
20. cathp
Hi Steven

How on earth do you keep track of such a phenomenal amount of character development/plot strands/detail across so many books?

I have a few theories:
- really good notes (updating long running characters must be a pain)

- you are the king of re-reading

(- and/or a copy editor who twitches every time your name is mentioned...)

Cheers
Cath
Germy Blake
21. Stormy70
Hello Steven.

When you wrote Garden's of the Moon, did you already have the rough outline of your entire series plotted out? It just seems amazing, all the things mentioned in GOM that don't make sense, until several books later.

Now for a fan-woman moment, forgive the gushing, I can't stop it! I ordered your book from my library, then the second and the third. Then I couldn't take the wait, and bought the whole series! I devoured them, and I have to walk around my house when I read the endings. I have that much adreline pumping through my veins.
Thank you for writing on of the best fantasy series I have ever read.

Stormy
Germy Blake
22. jgtheok
Hello,

Hmm. Influence of Glen Cook appears to be covered, so I'll ask another...

I've often wondered about the treatment of gods/religions within MBotF. Was there any particular plan or model for this?

(Mutualism between gods and worshippers is a common thread in fantasy. But this relationship seems quite negative in MBotF. From the Imass religious experience, to intimations of divine mortality, to conversations between characters called Adjunct and Tool... sometimes the cosmology/theology seems like nothing but chains, all the way down.)
Germy Blake
23. lord barger
You have mentioned about writing a Encylopedia Malaz. What is the tentative time table for this?
M D
24. Abalieno
On the matter of the "belief system" I had a quirky question to ask:

An evident theme contained in GotM and then developed through the series is how gods can become obsolete and outlive their own time. For example in the end of the book we have Kruppe and Krul telling Raest something along these lines.

The belief system in the series seems built of disparate "systems" that are hard to put in the context of an unitarian interpretation. My approach to all this was about finding this unitarian interpretation in the "language". The language seen as the construction of meaning, and so of disparate structures and systems. So language that not only is "used" but that "creates" and generates the powers that in the Malazan world become very real and concrete. Magic.

From this perspective I recognized various evident analogies between Malazan outlandish "magic" system and this description taken from the wikipedia about the work on Niklas Luhmann, a German sociologist:

Furthermore, each system has a distinctive identity that is constantly reproduced in its communication and depends on what is considered meaningful and what is not. If a system fails to maintain that identity, it ceases to exist as a system and dissolves back into the environment it emerged from. Luhmann called this process of reproduction from elements previously filtered from an over-complex environment autopoiesis (pronounced "auto-poy-E-sis"; literally: self-creation), using a term coined in cognitive biology by Chilean thinkers Humberto Maturana and Francisco Varela.

By just replacing a few words it could easily being mistaken for a description of Malazan magic system.

The question is at the same time simple and complex: how much of this was deliberate and what was your perspective while dealing with this and shaping a "magic" system that was at the same time fancy and yet somewhat grounded into something "true"? What is the genesis of this process?

I forgot the other relevant quote, this from HoC, I think:

Among a people where solitude was as close to a crime as
possible. Where to separate was to weaken. Where the very
breaking of vision into its components — from seeing to
observing, from resurrecting memory and reshaping it
beyond the eye's reach, onto walls of stone — demanded a
fine-edged, potentially deadly propensity.


Again I interpret this as "language". The breaking of vision into its components. Reminding closely the Laws of Form by Spencer-Brown.

Whose quote in the wikipedia is also so pertinent again to this series:

"...to teach pride in knowledge is to put up an effective barrier against any advance upon what is already known, since it makes one ashamed to look beyond the bounds imposed by one's own ignorance."
john massey
25. subwoofer
Dang it- sorry, wrong post.

Woof™.
Tai Tastigon
26. Taitastigon
Hi,

let me reformulate the question at 13.

*Tai@ 13
Who would you consider more immoral: Bauchelain & Korbal Broach...or Hans Landa ?*

Starting in GotM and throughout the cycle, you have a very interesting take on the concept of evil (and automatically good also, of course), and as far as I can interprete it, it is a combination of *evil depends on the eye of the beholder* and *there is no such thing as good and evil, there are only interests*...

In a world that is drawn grey in grey and evil might come in many flavors, what flavor of immorality do you personally find more repulsive ? Hans Landa, Bauchelain/Broach, Kallor or Turban Orr (and all he represents) ?
Germy Blake
27. Karsa_Orlong_Is_Bad_Ass
Hello,

1) I'd like to get your view on how time works in MBofF...does everyplace operate on some giant clock (e.g. at the same fequency), so does it vary from place to place? (in particular variances inside of the same warren/world)

2) is Quick Ben a d'ivers or soletaken? ... (:p)

3) what warren did K'rul make? the Imperial warren, or a new one that he moved all the people into?

(and yeah, I know Karsa's last name is misspelled. it's my son's Xbox gamer tag, and yes, he is Bad Ass! (tm))
Germy Blake
28. Ajsan1
Erikson,
Just wanted to know, what do you usually think about when you type your novels. You know to keep yourself in the beat of writing.
Sydo Zandstra
29. Fiddler
Steven,

I have a couple of questions on themes. Your view on shores for example, but I will save those for other post-book sessions.

My question here does involve future happenings though, so I will not put a name here. But it's related to how you and ICE started, possibly.

A certain character has his own way of doing a Deck reading/playing cards, making up the rules as they go. And yet the readings always are powerful/truth. Is that a reference to ICE and you doing your RPG'ing when you started to fill in the Malazan World?
M D
30. Abalieno
Moving here the other questions before I post some new ones. These are general and not exactly GotM related:

we hear The Crippled God has been delayed one month for editing (or so they told us). Can I ask how the thing is proceeding and whether or not you are discussing the possibility of having a "world map" in the book? There was a discussion on Malazan forums about the relative position of Lether according to an old map of yours given to us by Malaclypse, with it "moved" south of the landmass Seven Cities is attached to. Which produced various discussions about the possible contradictions, or why it wasn't discovered sooner by the Malazan empire, since it looks closer than how it was initially projected.

Also, we read you're co-writing a book or novella with Cam about Mott Irregulars. And there are those two trilogies planned you spoke about. I'd just like to hear more about your projects and whether or not there have been any changes in your future endeavours :)
M D
31. Abalieno
One structural question (slight spoliers for DG):

- In GotM it's never mentioned or hinted that the outlawing of Dujek's army may have been a ruse. I've read somewhere readers thinking that this is another element corresponding to a restructuring of the plot between the first book and the rest of the series. We know almost 10 years passed in the actual writing and so it's reasonable that, once the series was actually confirmed to go all the way, it required a much more detailed plan and plotting once the writing of the following books started (I also remember you mentioned that an almost complete draft of MoI was lost and you went writing DG, and afterwards MoI again from scratch). This also seems to correspond to and justify other quirky elements and set-ups characteristic of GotM, like the blatant hostilty of Tayschrenn, or even ST & Cotillion's behavior.

I know this is about lifting a considerable veil on the creative process, but I'd love to know if it's true that the plot had to go through a restructuring, forcing some more or less contextualized "retcons" (including the truth on the siege of Pale, as revealed in MoI), or if things stayed more or less close to an original plan. How things developed in those years between GotM and DG? How much preparatory work you had to do or redo? If it's true that originally Dujek was not meant to be "falsely" outlawed then we'd see a radical different position of the Malazan empire (like the possibility to really put Whiskeyjack on the throne). So if all this is confirmed I'd like to know what was the general outline you originally had :)
M D
32. Abalieno
Another personal question I have here. SERIOUS!

- From interview and book dedications I noticed you mentioned that you moved from caffeinated to decaffeinated coffee. How the lack of caffeine has affected your writing/creative process? There are some readers who had a sourer reaction to the latest few books, can it all be blamed on an alteration of the chemistry? Can I suggest green tea? Any variations in other aspects of the routineand habit of writing, such as time of the day, place, keyboard or pen etc...
M D
33. Abalieno
Some plot-related questions that have been with me for a long time and that will probably have to stay...

- Laseen before the scene of the Prologue. A lot of what happens in Malaz in those few days is the consequence of Laseen outlawing magic. It seems a detail but triggers lots of important consequences. Like the Prologue scene that we later find out involved directly (and left a mark) Tattersail and Lorn, but also, in NoK, the assault of the Stormriders who take advantage from a lapse in the "natural" protection of the city.

The question is about the reason why Laseen made that choice. It seems to stack with a long list of terrible decisions she made. The most obvious answer for her motivations is about trying to weaken the Shadow cult, and so Shadowthrone, knowing of the convergence, but as we see she gets little to no advantage from that decision, and instead produces a cascade of negative effects far more dangerous and pervasive. So, were there more complex matters and hidden motivations that lead her to her choice or it was just again simply bad judgement on her part?

- The possession of Sorry, in particular the reason for the slaughter that involved the Hounds. It seems done as a "diversion". Shadowthrone in particular seems rather confident: "She is ideal. The Empress could never track her down, could never even so much as guess." But then when the Adjunct arrives on the scene of the slaughter she already knows to look for a "father and his daughter" and that the slaughter was just a diversion. As a diversion not only it "failed", but it was actually quite excessive.

Later Paran goes to Gerrom to investigate. It's unclear whether this is the village where Sorry was recruited, but that's beside the point. What happened? Was it ST or Cotillion who killed everyone in Gerrom, or was it a Claw (Topper)? A conjuring of birds to keep mocking vigil. Dark humor's not my liking anymore, I think. I could never figure out the meaning of this line or what was this humor about. Why birds? What they'd suggest? Is this Laseen trying to hide to the world the return of Kellanved (since no one knows beside her), or it's just ST's diversion same as the massacre? If so, why not use Hounds again? Was the massacre instead ST telling Laseen "We're back, and we aren't yet done with you"?

- The hate against the nobility. We know that Kellanved was against the nobility mostly because of the corruption in the positions of power, we also see Laseen routinely going against nobility and starting purges. But the first time Paran meets Lorn in GotM, he tells her the situation is different from the one we have later: "Since the first days of the Empire. The Emperor held no love for us. Whereas Empress Laseen's concerns seem to lie elsewhere." It seems that initially Laseen wasn't hostile toward the nobility and cared more about the dangers of the "Old Guard", in fact it seems the nobility was rising again since the situation was now for them much more favorable.

Was, huh, Paran the actual responsible for all the woes of his family? That encounter with Lorn ends with her asking Paran: "I would like to hear a soldier's opinion of the nobility's present inroads on the Imperial command structure." Is Paran's sincerity and attempt to impress her the reason that causes Laseen's change of attitude toward the nobility and mimicing what Kellanved was already doing? Is Paran the true and only villain and bringer of despair in GotM? ;)

- Tool, the Adjunct and the tyrant. Even in the re-read we couldn't figure out an ultimate reason why Tool would accept of letting a Jaghut tyrant free. It seems to go against all the principles of T'lan Imass. So what are his motivations? Were they convinced it was the very last Jaghut still alive and so leading to the long awaited Gathering (seems unlikely, since many are left in a form or another)?

- Last question plot-related must be about Sorry. Too many speculations about the true intentions of ST and Cotillion with Sorry. Initially it's all about Cotillion wanting revenge, ST merely letting his partner carry on with the plan. Following books turn ST and Cotillion's intentions (and motivations, and bahaviors) on their head. Cotillion in HoC says it was all a feint, but it seems highly unlikely and no hint about this in GotM (nor they had reason to lie in those scenes in GotM where they speak, mostly to each other). Trying to lead some kind of rebellion against Laseen also seems unlikely because Sorry *alienates* the Bridgeburners instead of trying to gain their sympathy and this seems quite counterproductive if the plan was about contacting the Old Guard in the hope they were still faithful to Kellanved. The whole thing, with Sorry being defined "true evil" by Kalam (no less), also seems to contrast with Cotillion, who is later presented as a somewhat positive character.

The most plausible interpretation seems to be about ST and Cotillion's intentions also adapting to the course of events, but there are always some aspects that don't perfectly fit. Can we have a little more direction on this initial part of the journey?

- Quick Ben's plan in the Epilogue is never mentioned again. Some readers speculate that the plan involved putting Whiskeyjack on the throne, and it's never mentioned again because that line of events "fails" in DG. So what was this plan about? Having being placed right in the Epilogue makes it a nice "teaser" for the following books, but I wonder if this is also the consequence of the possible restructuring of the plot between GotM and following books (as I asked above). So Quick Ben's plan went "missing" in the rewrite/replan, or it fizzled as speculated (but also went umentioned as well, which could have helped to clear the confusion), or was it something else entirely?
Chuck Holt
34. conspiracytheorywackadoodle
Steven,

In one part of the introduction to Night of Knives, you said "This is a huge imaginary world, too big for a single writer to manage in a lifetime. But two writers ... that's different."

But what suggestions would you have for a lone writer tackling a huge story universe by themselves?
Germy Blake
35. darkul
Dear Steven,

you and your writing comrade created this world by using some kind of RPG. How should I imagine your chamber of inventions, imagination, playing?
Was your first step a huge map (many
superimposed maps for warrens eventually if you had more in mind)?
Then you placed little tiny figures on those maps (gods, Malazans, CG, Kundhryl, important characters, Azath houses, ...)?
What then? Was there chaos you fought?
Or was your intention at first not a book but just a cool new RPG?

I know a German author called Tobias Meissner who wrote a novel about 16 totally different champions (or losers) going for a tournament - "last man standing". Who fights who was exclusively based on the author dicing, also the outcome of the fights. All based on dices. He created his story by using this lucky element, round by round and after each round: dice. That means he did not know when his characters will be wiped out before using the dice. The readera could pick their favourites, but one really couldn't predict who would win that tournament. There are almost no hints, just a few very cool characters, some more some less characterized, with more background, with less background. I can only recommend "Paradies der Schwerter" to you.
Did you also play with your elements, maybe a few hundred times, before creating the tales of tMBotF? Were there elements in GotM you found just by playing along? I know there is Oponn, meddling, but I doubt that you made that up with pure luck and dice given that you had a plan. So was there any "lucky" element?

Oh, how I admire your epic piece of work, (your lifetime achievement - I hope there is more to come if you have the strength?) !
Am I a worshipper then or just a fan? But that makes no difference. In your created world you would be my god or at least a great ascendant. Think on all the taverners who will profit by guests who tell Malazan stories to each other. All fans, all worshippers, all yours. You got us.
Even I told others a few stories because they have, so they said, no time to read books. Oh ... those reactions alone to Coltaine's CoD was just .. wow. They gaped. I had them into your world in the time of just a big beer. They almost never heard anything similar.
Knowing your books made me a richer person in some way. Thx.

Sorry for my bad language. I read your books in English but using this language on my own is not my best property.
M D
36. Abalieno
Btw, Erikson put up an article on his blog where he explains the RPG influence on the Malazan series. It answers already a number of questions on its own:

http://www.stevenerikson.com/index.php/the-world-of-the-malazan-empire-and-role-playing-games/

Enjoy :)
M D
37. Abalieno
Actually I'd ask specifically the way he sees the "level up" aspect and how he dealt with it in the series. It's a theme that created some controversial discussions.
Germy Blake
38. darkul
Ah ok, thx for the link, but still some questions remain.
Germy Blake
39. Toster
good link abalieno. this line got a hook good and deep into me:

"The squad finale of The Crippled God, the tenth and final novel of the series, was gamed."

Squad finale? let the speculation engines run wild :)
Germy Blake
40. alt146
I hope this isn't too late, but apparently the questions haven't gone out yet.

In relation to darkul's comment and the article published on your own site regarding the rpg origins of the series: how big of an influence were chance and the rules of your universe on the resulting narrative? You stated that you diced through some of the key events of the series; could the story have turned out significantly different if one or two rolls had gone a different way.

At what point during the gaming did the idea to create a screenplay/novel occur? And after that idea had come forth, were you ever tempted to 'cheat' a little in order for events to unfold in a more narratively pleasing manner?
Germy Blake
41. StevenErikson
Hello all,
Over the past two days I have been working through the manuscript of The Crippled God with my editor, who came down to Falmouth from London with a sense of history, since with Gardens of the Moon he did the same -- down to where I was living at the time, and we went through things page by page, line by line. Needless to say, when it was done, yesterday afternoon, there was a moment of deepfelt emotion. Now I await the proofs, to arrive sometime in the beginning of November, for a final work-through.

It's still hard to believe this series is done, this chapter concluded.

Listening on headphones to Crissie Hynde and Sinatra dueting on 'Luck be a Lady' and while this might make you younger readers cringe, what can I say? Best version I've ever heard of that old swing tune. Crissie's voice is to die for.

There have been questions on my writing process, so let me cover that with a general description of how I go about writing on a daily basis. First of all, and this is an undercurrent I keep alive for many reasons, I begin with being thankful. To do this for a living is such a privilege, I damn near feel guilty about it. Disbelief still stirs every now and then, even after all these years. So, thank you all for making this possible.

Not sure if I'm jumping the gun responding here. I know Cam will be coming on board at some point, so I will make a point of returning to you when that happens, so that Cam and I can possibly get into one of our usual dialogues, where you can all listen in, as it were. But at the moment the number of questions seems manageable, though it may still take me a couple sessions to go through them all.

I prefer to sit in a cafe where I can look out the window, watch people passing by. The Falmouth High Street is ideal, as it stays busy and one gets to recognise various locals. It's the far focus and near focus exercise that's become habit by now: no point in making my vision any worse than it already is, after all.

I order my decaf: as for any possible change in my creativity due to this alteration, well, the decaf is somewhat misleading. I think what was bugging my insides was as much the oil in coffee as the caffeine. I do fine with instant coffee and I still drink cola. But too much caffeine keeps me up at night. That said, I'm usually up till two a.m. most nights, winding down with a couple hours playing Star Trek Online (didn't know I was a Trekker? How could I not be? Though I'm more original series than the others).

Laptop fired up, music on, I re-read what I wrote the day before; or in the case of this last novel, I re-read what I wrote over the previous two days (accordingly, this novel went to the publisher as the most polished since Deadhouse Gates -- the copy-editor had all of two typescript pages of queries, and that on a 350 000 word novel). In this re-reading process, I do an intense edit, word by word; at the same time, I mentally work back into the narrative stream. I ground myself back into the world.

This done, I then begin writing new stuff. Sometimes it arrives smoothly, almost effortlessly. Other times, it's an hour to get through the first few paragraphs. Either way, I'm not bothered. The pressure I feel has nothing to do with that. Instead (and what made the last three months writing The Crippled God a daily descent into a butterflies-in-the-gut ordeal) the pressure I feel is to accurately and truthfully translate what's in my head (and heart) onto the page. The most basic challenge of communication -- I don't mean to make it sound profound or anything. Thing is, I want to get it right. I am well aware of reader expectations, of the promises I have in effect made to all of you, and I want to deliver on those promises.

Abalieno has gone on at length on these chapter posts on matters of timing, consistency, and authorial intentions; sometimes to the frustration of others. I understand the root of his (?) argument. The reader arrives with faith: the author arrives with a pitch, a series of arguments seeking to persuade the reader to give up a little of that faith.

Things get problematic when what the author wants to talk about is 'this,' while what the reader is looking for is 'that.' At that point, the notion of faith becomes currency: it becomes ... well ... a spinning coin. If faith is currency, which of has the most to lose? Reader, or author?

To me, the answer seems obvious. Reject the author and the author needs a real job, and quickly. So, in other words, I take this seriously. The fictional dream is all about the reader trusting the author (and a bit of the other way round, but that is a separate topic). But it's always a slippery slope for the author. You plant the seeds, and imagine a future where those blossoms blaze with fire and life; but once a reader is made aware of the fact that things are going on beneath the surface, they in turn awaken their accuity: they start looking under every rock.

If I was to honestly describe here the extent to which I gave thought to how I was going to write these novels, you'd probably lock me up in a padded room. So much of writing doesn't involve putting words to the page. I had come out of two exceptional writing schools. The notion of structure was a coruscating force running through me. I was well aware that before too long they'd all start looking under every rock (assuming anyone ever came to the story in the first place); and I well knew the risks involved in that happening.

My first structural solution was to anchor every moment of narration to a particular character point-of-view: thus limiting the details to what that character could experience. Underlying that surface would be the character's own sense of place in that world, in life experiences, in attitude, in world-view. .

This structural approach proved immensely liberating. The very idea that characters could get it all wrong was so ... cool. At the same time, what choice does the reader have, but to follow along or toss it in? To keep them on board, I'd clearly need other incentives, but more of that later -- and it should be clear here that I am speaking of writing process, not the world Cam and I co-created; our approaches to that are quite similar. Our approaches to the writing process may well be very different). So let's just say they're with me (you're with me, that is). What does this do to that old handshake agreement on faith?

Hence the slippery slope. Because, with this reassuring smile, I then lie. I mislead, I play shell games. I flat out contradict, setting characters against one another over interpretations of events, history, etc.

Layer over that a mindfuck of traditional fantasy tropes (relying on the belief that the readers knew those tropes), and things start getting complicated. Looking back, I think that is why so few fantasy writers really break out from those tropes. Their first engagement on the bargain-table is to offer familiar trappings, only to then slide in original, inventive elements to differentiate their work from all that went before ... when they deem it safe to do so. And if they don't, if it ends up being all old hat, then the novel fails and will likely vanish, or never get published in the first place.

Gardens of the Moon kinda wrecked all that, arriving like a drunk bull in a china shop. But was it really drunk? Or was it all an act? Maybe it's just running an insurance scam with the shop owner?

The core of this series centres on Shadowthrone and Cotillion. They are not reliable. On another level, the core of the series is about language, and the very dialogue that is the exchange between story-teller and audience. On a third level, the core of the series is an invitation to humanity, in the value-laden sense of the word, and so is about compassion, grief, love, and courage (and of course about their opposite forces in the human condition).

Would this series have turned out fundamentally different if Gardens of the Moon had immediately found a publisher? Would it have been lighter, happier, more positive, more affirming of the best that is within us?

Questions like that one arrive like a perfectly cooked ribeye steak (and I do like my steak, medium rare if you please). I have one answer, here in the still swirling wake of reviewing The Crippled God with my editor, and bearing in mind a comment he made to me about this last book, but to say anything at all would be a kind of spoiler. Remind me of this question once the book's out: but then, you might well have your answer. It's there in The Crippled God.

The series is also the track of a life. Mine. Twenty years' worth of it, anyway. I am reminded of jgtheok's question on religion, and his/her beautifully written line: 'sometimes the cosmology/theology seems like nothing but chains, all the way down.' Yikes, wish I'd written that one. It's one thing to bargain with the currency of faith, it's another to question its very value. I've noted that Toll the Hounds is the cipher for the series (and that statement can be tracked down a number of paths), but in this instance the meaning I intend is simply this: that novel took me into despair's depths, and then made me climb back out.

Read here and take your spoiler regards The Crippled God. I climbed back out, friends.

Abalieno, you will sit at my table for four novels, but so many of your questions are the stuff of conjecture -- and conjecture, particularly in regard to character motivations, is the very thing I want to keep forever alive. How can I answer? And for the sake of those still at the table, seeing the game through to its very end, why should I? I do understand the fence you're balanced on at the moment; and I understand that you are asking me for a helping hand to presuambly help you decide whether to rejoin the game or not. And for all that I also know that I have invited you, as I have all these other readers, to look under every rock. Yet, still I find myself resisting the notion of replying directly to your questions.

But maybe I can go this far: the notion of retcon or restructuring between Gardens of the Moon and the rest of the series, amuses me, but not in a cruel way. Invention on the fly is part of the joy of writing, while on the other side there is the deliberate, planned, ferocious intent; and I have plenty of both. The challenge is as you say: making certain the two are not entirely at odds. There's plenty of false trails in GotM, just as there are in the rest of the novels in the series. Are they deliberate on my part? Yes and no. Hence, my amusement -- I can answer you no other way, and that answer is no answer at all, is it?

Oh, here, then. The Jaghut are damnably hard to kill. They know that. They plan for it. Quick Ben is always scheming. Even his schemes consist of schemes. As he'll tell you given the chance, he's a genius who knows more than he ever thought he knew. not shapeshifted? Go back to the meaning of those two invented words: Soletaken, to change from one shape to another; D'ivers, to change from one to many. Making sense yet? QB shape-changes with every time you meet him, and at least one of him utters corny lines -- thankfully the others killed that one off soon thereafter). Laseen is human and screws up with the best of them; and sometimes Shadowthrone says things even he doesn't believe. Blame Cam, I'm only the stenographer.

Well, like I said, this could take a few sessions. Some goof is on the piano here in Mango Tango; he might even be good but try writing with that stampeding through your skull. Time to sign off for now. Abalieno, don't get pissed, I'm not done with responding to your questions; and as for everyone else, I have notes on all your queries, so bear with me.

cheers for now
SE
a a-p
42. lostinshadow
Mr. Erikson,
first I have to say, as a long time WoT fan, I am profoundly grateful to hear (uhhmm read) that you have turned in the manuscript for The Crippled God.

For what it's worth and I'm sure you already know this but many of your fans are having immense fun losing themselves in this amazing world you have created.

And I recently finished Toll the Hounds and would like to tell you that it is one of the most moving pieces of literature I have ever read, in any genre. thank you
Tricia Irish
43. Tektonica
My goodness, Mr. Erikson, reading anything you write is a pleasure and a mind-tease! Thank you for that response and I look forward to more!

As a former U of I graduate, (one year in the undergrad poetry workshop, segue to the Art dept.), I have this fantasy of having met you some crazy night at the Mill, but I'm sure it's just that, a fantasy!
Chris Hawks
44. SaltManZ
Fantastic stuff, as always. I have only one question, really, and that is about the story "Goats of Glory": specifically, whether it should be considered to be set in the same world as the Malazan books. The editor is on record as saying it's not a "Malazan" story, yet there are (so I've heard; I have not been fortunate enough to read it yet) references to "Aren steel" and the like. At the forums, when the question was asked what other stuff we'd like to see you write about in the Malazan universe, my response was that I'd love to see a story or series set in the same world, but only tangentally related to anything we've already seen, if that. So I'm just wondering if "Goats" is, indeed, that story I was asking for, even if you never knew I had asked. :)
Sydo Zandstra
45. Fiddler
@Abalieno:

Steven Erikson himself asked you in a very polite way to read past 'House of Chains'. I, however, am not polite here.

I suggest you do read on.

And please shut up with your overall theories until after you have read MT, tBH, RG, TtH and DoD. Those are 5 books on top of the 4 you have read.

I don't want to sound mean, but with your ridiculous statement of being proud you only read 4 books you are positioning yourself into a position where nobody is going to take you seriously...

I know I am not.

I'm also annoyed with you spamming the SE question thread. You have no idea where this story is going to, and yet you spam questions, possibly killing the whole opportunity.
M D
46. Abalieno
Well, I guess I'll reply to that part:

Abalieno, you will sit at my table for four novels, but so many of your questions are the stuff of conjecture -- and conjecture, particularly in regard to character motivations, is the very thing I want to keep forever alive. How can I answer? And for the sake of those still at the table, seeing the game through to its very end, why should I? I do understand the fence you're balanced on at the moment; and I understand that you are asking me for a helping hand to presuambly help you decide whether to rejoin the game or not. And for all that I also know that I have invited you, as I have all these other readers, to look under every rock. Yet, still I find myself resisting the notion of replying directly to your questions.

Nope, there is no form of "ultimatum" in my stance. You actually have no possibility of persuading me to NOT rejoin the game. If I'm stuck at the fourth book is because I (re)started reading the genre three years ago, I read slowly as an habit, and always jump all over the place instead of sticking to an author or a series. So in a couple of years I've read the first, or first few, book in many series, those that were considered the very best available and relatively recent. Martin, Bakker, Abercrombie, Cook, Donaldson (the Gap, though), Wolfe, Morgan, Parker, Jordan, Stephenson, Harrison. All of them have "series" and in most cases I'm stuck at the first book, with the intention to move on regularly, according to my pace. Same for Malazan.

The reason of my questions is actually the exact opposite of demanding a confirmation to reestablish faith: as I read more books in the Malazan series BIGGER questions swallow and replace old ones. Lots of questions are answered, but a few of them are simply forgotten. So mine was the attempt to cling to those old ones before moving on resolutely. I still need to make peace with them. I struggle to not get too distracted by the sleight of hand that wants my attention somewhere else ;)

Basically, mine is an attempt to "embrace" the story. Try to reach out, and so find a line of cause/effect where it was still problematic. Find the right place for that piece of the puzzle.

My point was that I didn't expect the specifics of some questions to be brought up again later in the series. I usually ask in the forums, as a precondition, whether or not something is brought up and clarified later. So, for example, my questions about Sorry's possession NEED, from my point of view, to be asked NOW that the memory is fresh, and not later on since I doubt that this aspect of the story is brought up again in later books. I know in two occasions in HoC (scene with Cutter, scene with Lostara) that Cotillion says something about the GotM's events, but that's it. I think other readers confirmed that the series does not provide further elements about Sorry's possession in volumes past the fourth (we'll probably read more about Shasowthrone's true intentions surely, but not specifically about his temporary stance during the events of GotM).

So, if I want that piece of story to make sense, I need to figure it now that I have all the elements and my memory fresh. That's my line of thoughts. I try to clarify those details of the early plot that produce consequences but that are also likely left behind.

There's plenty of false trails in GotM, just as there are in the rest of the novels in the series. Are they deliberate on my part? Yes and no. Hence, my amusement -- I can answer you no other way, and that answer is no answer at all, is it?

Heh, from a side you say you won't discuss the specifics and from the other you say "yes and no" is the answer on the general level. I see what you're doing ;)

The point is about the specifics. I explained myself at length in the latest Epilogue reread to GotM discussion, you probably read it. My "stance" is about clearing that part of misdirection that was a "mistake".

Abalieno, you will sit at my table for four novels, but so many of your questions are the stuff of conjecture -- and conjecture, particularly in regard to character motivations, is the very thing I want to keep forever alive.

That I truly appreciate. The ambivalence and everything. But I do think that the small amount of conjecture that is fueled by mistakes should be cleared aggressively, because I can only see conjecture as a positive element only when it is fully coherent with the text and motivated.

It demands perfection, and you know that even your series isn't immune to imperfection. Or so it appears to be when people bring up timeline issues, that are only different from consistency/plot issues because they can't be obfuscated and denied.

You'd be surprised, but I'm actually a really patient reader. I do not seem so because my worry is about turning the last page and still having my questions unanswered. And if you ever read Foster Wallace's The Broom of the System you'd know why I feel so ;)

So if you don't want to lift the veil and explain how things are, I think that you should still say how things are not. So to clean the speculation from those aspects that were, indeed, mistakes.

QB shape-changes with every time you meet him, and at least one of him utters corny lines

That was brilliant ;)

I was also caught on the wordplay and now I'm thinking that shapes-shifting is shifting shapes, and so moving pieces, as in a game, and so scheming, and so what QB usually does. That, and the more obvious "we are Legion" trait of QB.

Though I never got the idea that QB had some kind of
multiple personality disorder. He seemed more "normal" that some other characters.

I order my decaf: as for any possible change in my creativity due to this alteration, well, the decaf is somewhat misleading. I think what was bugging my insides was as much the oil in coffee as the caffeine. I do fine with instant coffee and I still drink cola. But too much caffeine keeps me up at night.

Interesting. Cafes and coffee shops seem doing wonders to the writing productivity. Bakker wrote this recently on his blog:

Since I had no faith in my willpower whatsoever, I decided to relieve my will of command, and replace it with habit. So I started leaving the house every morning and going to coffeeshops – someplace where work was all there was to do. And that has been the cornerstone of every book I’ve written since The Warrior-Prophet (which I finished as a smoker and recovering graduate workaholic).

This is one of the reasons I’m so reluctant to do cons, even though I have a total blast whenever I do go. Any interruption in my routine, it seems, sends me crashing from the rails altogether. If I take even a single day off, I’m three days recovering. If I miss a weekend, then I’m at least a week recovering.

Instead of coffee I'd suggest to try some 1st grade Zhu Cha gunpowder green tea (actually cheap). Works wonders for me. A big cup is mandatory every time I sit down to read something: improves the mood, improves the focus, enlivens the mind, like a drug.

Coffee also doesn't let me sleep and makes me too nervous. Tea instead works just great without any side-effects.


I know Cam will be coming on board at some point, so I will make a point of returning to you when that happens, so that Cam and I can possibly get into one of our usual dialogues, where you can all listen in, as it were.


That would be quite great since I don't think it ever happened in public.

Abalieno, don't get pissed, I'm not done with responding to your questions; and as for everyone else, I have notes on all your queries, so bear with me.

I'm not pissed, I'm amused ;)
Tai Tastigon
47. Taitastigon
Aba @46

A little bit more bemused than Fiddler: Time spent reading more and writing less would be helpful, especially re this cycle. Kinda funny how *speculation* seems to make you feel so extremely uncomfortable - why do you read this genre at all ?

And THANKS, Steven, for declining to answer those questions - I was holding my thumbs for you assuming exactly THAT position. Actually - ashes on my head, I should never have doubted you ! Keep it as ambiguous, polivalent and uncertain as possible - let US try to figure it out...! THAT is what makes this the most rewarding genre reading in long, long years...!
Germy Blake
48. alt146
Thanks for the replies so far Steve, looking forward to hearing more of your thoughts.

The wait for the Crippled God is going to be a long one, but I will be sure to raise my question again once I've read it.

The core of this series centres on Shadowthrone and Cotillion.

I've always had a feeling this was the case ;)
M D
49. Abalieno
After that article I linked I had the impression that Shadowthrone and Cotillion were the alter-egos of Erikson and Esslemont. Entering the (fantasy genre) game only to turn the tables.

Mozart on that billboard looks positively like Shadowthrone. And knowing that Shadowthrone is a Esslemont's creature confirms the suspect that Cotillion is Erikson ;)

But then I always thought the best alter-ego for Erikson was Bauchelain ;)
Tai Tastigon
50. Taitastigon
Aba @49

But REALLY, dear Abalieno. Bauchelain (BAUCHELAIN !!) as SE´s alter-ego ???? Or ST ???

Don´t you know that SE´s alter-ego is Tehol Beddict ?
You don´t know Tehol Beddict ?
Really ?
Why am I not surprised ^^...
Germy Blake
51. champooon
Tait @ 47

Exactly, this is why this series is so damn good, the fact that your not spoon fed information and left to work it out for yourself, the fact that you can still catch one sentance info dumps that you missed 1st/2nd/3rd time around...

quote from a later book...

The bard leaned back, retrieving his tankard. "It begins with you," he said. "And it ends with you. Your eyes to witness,
your thoughts alone. Tell me of no one's mind, presume nothing of their workings. You and I, we tell nothing, we but show"

cheekily put in by SE to describe his writing style? got to be... or that's how i like to think of it...
Tai Tastigon
52. Taitastigon
champ @51

TtH, you little bugger ? ;0)

Gods, the more I reread this, the more I love it...and I am talking specifically BH onwards...the wealth of quotes is simply staggering...
Germy Blake
53. StevenErikson
Hello all, round two here. I promised to get to some specific questions posted above, which I will, though I may drift here and there into other subjects if the mood takes me. Waiting for lunch here at the Mango Tango; listened to Dylan's 'Can't Wait' followed now by Nick Cave's 'O Children' (the live version). Before Dylan it was Bruce Cockburn's 'When You Give It Away,' which marks the start of this compilation of faves.

Calamari's arrived. Give me a few minutes ... twenty miles outside of town, in cold irons bounds. The best utterance of the word 'die' in any song I have ever heard.

Germy Blake: I am not familiar with Suter's Two Journeys; can you enlighten me? (sure, I could google it, but I'd rather your take on it and how it might relate to my stuff)

Robin 55077: The poems always precede the chapters. If they shape the content of the following chapter, it's not conscious on my part, though I have faith that thematic threads slip into the weave. I write in a very linear fashion: no cut and paste at all. It's written how you see it: I don't recall ever moving anything in the text. Thinking on it, that's probably unusual. But bear in mind that I am always mindful of storytelling as a tradition and so I hold to it, as if the technology permitting me to do otherwise did not exist. Feels more organic, I suppose. I sometimes suspect that those writers who do the massive cut and paste are in fact disengaging their own storytelling talents, and maybe even 'cheating' in some respects. The challenge (in my opinion) comes with not simply trying out pieces to make up the puzzle, but in making every move, with every peice, a singular event. Not sure if I'm explaining this very well. Picture assembling a puzzle, but not testing a single piece; rather, every piece you pick up turns out to be the right one for the space. Making all the preliminary work internal, in your own head. To sit back and watch someone actually doing that would be bizarre, possibly even frightening. But the analogy actually breaks down a bit, given more thought, since fiction allows for some flexibility in making those pieces fit.

It may well be that, as one poster here notes again and again, some pieces don't quite fit. But I keep looking at the big picture, and I guess a part of me doesn't really care if I needed a hammer every now and then.

Shalter: I adored the Dread Empire series (I even wrote an introduction for one of the compiled volumes Night Shade Books did), and if I understand it, Glen has agreed to write the final chapter of that tale (he had one, but lost it).

Larkask: real-life influences on the Daru culture ... no, not really, apart from a desire to create a complex, longlived city and culture. Succession of populations in a single city are well-known phenomenon in our own world, where an indigenous population is partially supplanted by another. The history of India and its extraordinary genetic layering is a good example (with lines going back to the first successful exodus from Africa).

RobMRobM: We left open the effects of longterm exposure to Otataral; as for Adjunct Lorn and her abilities as a fighter, I am reminded of my experiences years ago when fencing competitively. There was a young fencer in the club, son of the coach (this was in Victoria), who likely had little choice in his choice of sport. I remember how he was not committed for years: though one could see and admire his technical prowess, he was just wasn't into it. And then one day he caught fire; started having fun, and all those years of desultory training suddenly fell into place. To this day I can watch him fence and feel nothing but admiration (Ollie, you reading this?) at his skill and his grace.

Anyone who has fenced will know just how fast it can be: in all the fight sequences I write, I keep in mind that most of these fighters had a weapon in their hand from a very early age. If gifted with other talents and fitness, they will be lightning fast.

Alt146: I touched on your question in the first post. You also ask if there were any scenes or narrative thoughts that came about through something experienced between the writing of Gardens and Deadhouse Gates. I don't doubt that there were. Gardens, don't forget, was partially gamed and then made into a feature film script. I felt a loyalty to recounting events, with considerable elaboration here and there. But, for example, I probably had fresh in my mind the blast we had playing out the Fete at Simtal's Estate, right down to me (as Kruppe, replete with pastry-smeared cherub mask) marching straight up to Rake (whom Cam had taken over as an npc for that session) for an outrageous encounter. And I remember rolling the dice as Rallick when facing Turban Orr (and if I would have then messed up, we would have played it through honestly, and that scene in Gardens would probably be quite different). So there was reminiscence and joy in the writing of Gardens of the Moon.

Between the two novels ... well, with Deadhouse Gates I was creating a fresh story, not gamed, while making use of a setting made familiar by other campaigns played out there (Kellanved and Dancer's conquest of Seven Cities, etc). But the plot and most of the characters came pretty much from my own head.

In another sense, I was now able to create with great deliberation, shaping events precisely how I wanted them shaped. I've mentioned elsewhere that I 'rolled up my sleeves' when it came to Deadhouse Gates. Gardens had set the stage, in terms of the world and its atmosphere, and did much of the groundwork on the kind of characters this world produced. So the foundations were set: now I wanted to see just what I could build on them.

I wrote Deadhouse on a Psion MX5, which was about the size of a contemporary mobile phone at the time; but it had a monochrome six-inch screen and a full keyboard, worked on two double A batteries that gave me thirty (!) hours of work-time. Conversion to PC was via a Flash Disk and a rather clunky program. I still have the damned thing. Something about that Psion, with its small screen giving me maybe five lines of tiny text at any one time, seemed to crunch things down. Though my eyes suffered, I loved writing on that thing (the company was subsequently bought by Ericsson, presumably to elminate the technology as competition; and now cell phones are filling the niche, but not well enough in my opinion -- I want a phone I can write a damned novel on. No, really).

Thomstel: check out my essay on rpg's. But for a sense of the kind of campaign I ran, Book One of House of Chains was one such campaign, start to finish; but I played that one out with a friend named Mark Paxton-MaCrae (HoC was dedicated to him) who rolled up Karsa as a character). Later on , Rhulad's tragic story line was played out as well, with Cam playing that character. You think I'm cruel in these novels? See me running a game.

Pnr060: still sitting on my ideas about a film version of all this: besides, it's too outlandish to actually relate here, anyway.

Taitastigon: I am sure there were flim influences: I have always written visually, as if filming inside my head, even making use of slow motion when necessary (fight sequences). But to actually list all the films that most affected me, would take pages and pages.

If I read Hodgell and it influenced me, it's so far down in my subconsciousness I could never hope to find it. I've forgotten so much of what I once read, back in my teens.

I've seen Glorious Basterds, but admittedly it garnered little more than a shrug from me. Wish-fulfilment stuff only goes so far, and for me not far enough, as it implies a certain beginning stance of moral rightenousness (granted, not hard when it comes to Hitler and the Nazi's, so that was safe enough, I mean, who wouldn't want to fill the shits full of lead ...). Anyway, I actually had to google Hans Landa to get your reference. Banal evil is probably the most chilling kind of all: is Bauchelain worse? Korbal Broach? But isn't that whole point of these two characters of mine? They have good reasons for every evil act they commit. But then, most people do. Don't they?

The B&KB novellas allow me to run wild, but at the same time I have no answers on evil, nor do I have any sense of a sliding scale at work here. The stories contrast obvious evil with forms of evil not so obvious. Bauchelain provides the dialogue between the two. Emancipor Reese is appalled no matter which way he turns (and that's probably me, right there, in his wide-eyed, aghast regard). At the same time, it's good for a laff, innit?

Anomandarispurake: I'm not sure if it's possible to 'plan' characters between two people ... well, I suppose it is, come to think of it, since co-writing scripts demands just that. The gaming allowed each of us to talk out characters, and then provided events that in turn further shaped them. But at the end, it's down to the writer taking that character on board and representing him or her.

Cam and I will discuss characters we both use, and when we take up a character we know was played out by the other, we tread carefully indeed, and often with some trepidation. Yet, interestingly, I for example think that Cam's take on Rallick or Manask is actually better than my game-played versions. Go figure. I suppose, here, it comes down to mutual trust, and we have plenty of that.

Shalter: how much world background exists in tangible form? Plenty, but probably both more and less than I think. Loads of maps, a few character sheets kept for posterity, name lists, and rough outlines of campaigned games. On the novel-writing side, I admit I pity the poor person who ever attempts to tackle that. I am not an organized creature, alas. Boxes and boxes, papers and dead insects from three continents....

Ganoesail: oddly enough, I can give you an answer on my favourite character. Tavore. And just the thought of her brings water to my eyes -- you'll know why, I hope, come the release of The Crippled God.

Tektonica: if you hung out at The Bush '89 and '90 then we might well have shared one of those long tables. What I remember of the poets in the program was that they whupped our ass playing baseball. You ask about non-anthropological/ archaeological influences; as in philosophy, etc. Sure, plenty; I've always been interested in epistemology, metaphysics, etc. I even went through a Rand phase in my early twenties, before discovering just what a mess she made of her personal life, which led me to question her, uh, contradictory assumptions. Everybody should read The Fountainhead (though We the Living is a better novel), play with the notions a bit, and then dump them as inhuman and inhumane.

Ezzkmo: (uh, would rather you not use that name, even in that form, as it is derogatory) the influence of arch and anth in my stuff (and Cam's, and in the shaping of the world of the novels) is something I've touched on and discussed many times. Someone here should be able to point you to one of those old links...

Cathp: how do I keep track? Do I take notes? Sure, though then I often lose them or end up going through page after page trying to find the detail I want. But we can go back to the puzzle analogy: I start with the completed puzzle; then I take out a piece, study it, describe it, and then move on to the next one.

Stormy7: was the whole series plotted out? Yes, in broad strokes with specific elements noted. This should be really apparent with The Crippled God. Look for echoes, folks, of much earlier scenes. Lots of them.

jgtheok: again, thanks for the great line in your question. Mutualism ... sure, that is central to this envisioning. I remember I lecture I sat through once from some Classics prof, talking about the relationship between the ancient Greeks and their gods, not just the pantheon on Olympus but also the chthonic deities or hearth and home; how the latter involved a more humanist compassion, while the former -- through all the tales -- seemed to impose a fiercer, more fickle kind of justice, yet rife with all the frailties and flaws of mortal humans. As you can see, that lecture has clearly stayed with me. I recall launching in to every book I could find touching on that subject, over the years, ranging from The Golden Bough to Iron John (and for all you men and young men out there, boy do I recommend reading Iron John -- I am actually revisiting it right now to prepare for the next series).

Now, obviously, I didn't just transplant the Greek pagan religion over to the Malazan world; and I don't recall Cam and I actually sitting down to hammer things out at that level; but things emerge organically if at all, and the notion of mutualism wound its way in there, perhaps more from a Christian source than any other, only extended further; and, I'm sure, some Eastern religions edged in, too, along with the more psychotic pre-columbian cults of the Aztecs, Mayans and Incans (will I take a hit on calling them psychotic? Probably, from the relativists, but in this instance I am firmly not in the camp of Jospeh Campbell). There's an argument presented, I think it's in deadhouse gates, that starts a chapter, that probably best describes the 'argument' I am presenting, when it comes to mutualism and its relationship to responsibility; and if there is a point in that, it's that it often seems as if we humans expect favour even when we've done nothing to warrant it. We raise up high our triumphs while turning our back on our most egregious failures.

Anyway, I'm not a scholar of these matters: I only feed on ideas and regurgitate them, mangled and often unrecognisable, in my storytelling.

lord barger: there is an encyclopedia planned, can't say when, though.

Abelieno: regarding autopoiesis, it's curious, isn't it, how subparticle physics seem to be heading to the same post(?) quantum conclusions (or, at least, observations, which it turns out not only precedes conclusions but defines them as well). You can see the semantic mess we can get into here.

Clearly, there are limits to self-creation ( I once tried telling myself I wasn't losing my hair -- see where that got me). The other angle to take, probably a simpler one, is with the idea of sympathetic magic, and while even there we could go back to physics, let's not. The quote of mine you used regarding the disassembling of a scene into its components, referencing Spencer-Brown, applies as much to the act of writing as it does to language itself. If you stay with the latter, the subject becomes stale for its pointless objectivity; bring it into writing as communication, and things start getting interesting, because the imagination is fired and speculation is invited. And that's where I prefer to leave it, on its own but forever fertile.

Karsa_Orlong: 'time' in warrens. Yes, its flexible, though as I once pointed out to an old friend, when discussing (cringe) timelines, if one removes the dates certain problems go away (barely passed maths, you know); and if one resists compressing events then many other problems also go away. It all worked in my head, more or less, and when I related that sense to him he amazed me by nodding and say 'you know, that kind of works...' But that was a coupld years ago now. Did I mess up since? Undoubtedly.

The warren the empire claims for itself is indeed the ruined world created by Kallor; but even there, nothing stays static. Places evolve, and sometimes one warren settles on another.

Ajsan: I hope I've answered your question about getting into the 'beat' of writing, with my descriptions of sitting down here to write these posts.

Fiddler: if I understand your question, you are wondering if your namesake's seat-of-the-pants approach to his readings of the Deck is in some way representative of the creative approach Cam and me employed in our gaming and creating this world. If so, the answer is yes. It wouldn't have been half the fun it was if we didn't leave things wide open to spontaneous creation. A GM needs to be flexible, and ready to run with the unexpected.

Abelieno: most of this list has been touched on elsewhere. As for the gunpowder tea, thanks for the recommendation, but this is Cornwall, mate. The only gunpowder in use here is for muskets during the badger cull (and let's face it, it's not the badgers need culling, it's the cows needing the room to breathe).

conspiracy theory: advice on creating a fictional world on your own ... don't overwork it. Leave blanks spaces on every map. Leave room for mystery and later invention; and pay attention to the relationships between peoples, cultures, civilizations, in a way that makes geographical sense. For what it's worth, I always start with a map. Always. And use as much geophysical and geographical knowledge as you can accrue: the history of a river's drainage pattern can give you the history of a whole city's life and death right there, and even that of a civilization. So, leave room for the world to breathe and grow -- you don't need it all in place before you start, and I'd advise that you shouldn't, because if you can't grow in that world (and into it), then neither can your story, or your characters.... best of luck, btw, and have fun with it above all else.

alt146: think I touched on your question earlier on. Did we ever fudge events in the game to suit the story? All the time. But not always. Believe it or not, the clash of two major characters in TtH was decided on a single roll of the die. If it had gone the other ... well, I shudder to think.

Champoon: glad you caught the bard quote in TtH: now refer back to my saying that novel was the series cipher.

Cheers for now!
SE

edited a couple typos here but they are not showing up on the preview. Hope the corrections survive the posting....
Sydo Zandstra
54. Fiddler
Steven Erikson:

Fiddler: if I understand your question, you are wondering if your namesake's seat-of-the-pants approach to his readings of the Deck is in some way representative of the creative approach Cam and me employed in our gaming and creating this world. If so, the answer is yes. It wouldn't have been half the fun it was if we didn't leave things wide open to spontaneous creation. A GM needs to be flexible, and ready to run with the unexpected.

Steven,

That is exactly what I was wondering about. I had reread the Deck session in the Bonehunters around the time I asked it.

Loved the whole drinking element in that scene. GM's should do that more... ;)

Thanks for taking the time to reply to all of our questions!
Rob Munnelly
55. RobMRobM
RobMRobM: We left open the effects of longterm exposure to Otataral; as for Adjunct Lorn and her abilities as a fighter, I am reminded of my experiences years ago when fencing competitively. There was a young fencer in the club, son of the coach (this was in Victoria), who likely had little choice in his choice of sport. I remember how he was not committed for years: though one could see and admire his technical prowess, he was just wasn't into it. And then one day he caught fire; started having fun, and all those years of desultory training suddenly fell into place. To this day I can watch him fence and feel nothing but admiration (Ollie, you reading this?) at his skill and his grace.

Anyone who has fenced will know just how fast it can be: in all the fight sequences I write, I keep in mind that most of these fighters had a weapon in their hand from a very early age. If gifted with other talents and fitness, they will be lightning fast.

Thanks, Steven. Doesn't sound like they have "super" powers beyond whatever comes from Otataral. I guess this leads to a follow up question or three - at what age are potential Adjuncts identified by the Emperor/ess? Are they picked early and then trained up or, alternatively, are truly talented ones selected via some short of application/identification process when one is needed. It looks like Adjunct T may have fallen into latter category based on text but hard to tell.

Note - I am 200-plus pages into Dust of Dreams, in case that matters for purpose of your answer and avoiding excessive spoilers.

Rob
Germy Blake
56. champooon
Champoon: glad you caught the bard quote in TtH: now refer back to my saying that novel was the series cipher.

:)

it's the little things like that that make you a step above the rest sir SE!

it's ridiculous the sheer amount of anticipation i have for tCG, a kid at christmas has nothing on this, at least we have SW from Cam to pass some of the time, a week taken off work for SW... you bet! for tCG... probably longer!

thank you for taking the time out of your day for the responses...
ezzkmo .
57. ezzkmo
I realize this is a place for questions to the author but there seems to be some discussion going on here so I wanted to post a quick follow-up. I hope Steven reads this, but I'm not expecting a response.

Thanks for answering our questions, and directing an answer to mine. It was more of an observation than a question anyways, comparing archaeological digging with reading about the world of Malazan. We realize it's a busy time with finishing book 10 and being sick before that (I'm fighting some congestion junk now...not fun!) My inner fanboy just thinks it's awesome you are taking the time to respond to everyone individually, addressing us by name, sharing some 'behind-the-scenes' and giving back to your fans.

In regards to my fictional Tor username...I'm from the U.S. where 'eskimo' used in a broad sense is by far not derogatory. It may be laziness or lack of knowledge on American society's part (our country is good at that), but the word appears in a breed of dog, in the title of an academy award winning Disney film, and a number of other seemingly harmless places. After doing even more research (I'm no history scholar), I completely understand how it can be offensive, especially in your neck of the woods. Innocent gestures and phrases in one region are offensive elsewhere. I've honestly never had a complaint using it. It doesn't change the meaning of the word. And for that I'm truly sorry.

Tor doesn't seem to allow username changes without creating a new account. But I remain innocent (ignorant?) in my use of the word. In the end, I signed my post "Todd" and will continue to do so, as I would rather be addressed by my real name in an interview such as this, rather than any mindless, misspelled, made up name I use for the internet.

As stupid as my name is or as dumb as my question was, I honestly just wanted to take part in the interview with an author I really admire and enjoy reading. I apologize again. And thank you for the amazing story so far! You have no idea how excited I am to continue it!

-Todd
Robin Lemley
58. Robin55077
@ 53. StevenErickson
"The poems always precede the chapters. If they shape the content of the following chapter, it's not conscious on my part, though I have faith that thematic threads slip into the weave. I write in a very linear fashion: no cut and paste at all. It's written how you see it: I don't recall ever moving anything in the text. Thinking on it, that's probably unusual. "

Steven, first of all, thank you very much for taking time from your busy schedule to answer some questions from your fans. You probably have no idea how enjoyable this is and how much it means to us that you do this.

I am certainly not a writer. The skill it takes to write Fantasy and make it believable is most definitely way beyond my capabilities. However, I am an avid reader. As such, I can recognize the talent in others and, every now and then, I come across someone who absolutely WOW's me. You sir, have certainly WOW'ed me with the Malazan world. Your ability to allow me to step into the world and walk among your characters is truly amazing and I must thank you for that.

At the risk of sounding "stupid" I must admit that it never entered my thoughts that you were writing the poems prior to writing each chapter. I had just assumed that you wrote the chapters and then went back and came up with a poem to go with it at a later date. Your explanation of your "linear fashion" of writing impresses me even more than I was before reading that, and I truly did not think that possible! Thanks!

:-)
Elena Vaccaro
59. EarthandIce
Thank you Steven, for answering these questions, many of which I have thought of but others posted before me. I just started the series when Tor started the re-read and am enjoying the experience. I am almost finished with Bone Hunters. I have ‘lived’ in another long running series for about 15 years and wish I had discovered this one sooner.

As a person who reads about anthropology for fun, this story has spoiled me as far as world building and the complexity of the characters. From the introduction to Gardens, I sensed the ease of interaction between the characters, that they did not just appear on the page but had lived and worked together for some time before they appeared ‘on screen’.

50. Taitastigon : Tehol and Bugg have to be my favorite characters in the books so far. They were my favorite even before I realized who Bugg was!
Tricia Irish
60. Tektonica
Thank you Steven for more insightful comments. I can't believe you just write...linearly... no rearranging. Wow. Practice practice practice. Knowing that, makes this incredibly complex juggling act of hundreds of characters and threads even more amazing.

I think the Fountainhead was one of the several books I just couldn't hack, and never finished. Perhaps I should revisit it. Thank you for that reference. And I missed you by a decade at Iowa...I knew it was a fantasy! And I didn't play baseball....the undergrads were nobodys.

Thanks for taking time to talk to us. This is such a treat!
Rob Munnelly
61. RobMRobM
@50/59 - I still love the Kruppe-meister but agree Tehol and Bugg are tons of fun. I just got through the meeting scene in early part of Dust of Dreams (Chancellor? Agree. Ceda? Agree. Treasurer? Agree. Good, we are all in agreement...) which is laugh out loud funny, especially when considering the not exactly uproarious personnages in the room at the time. (There's also the "What do you think of 's analysis?" where the target of the question is described as "starting and wincing" and then saying "'s knowledge is most impressive...Uncannily so" bit which is brilliant when you understand what exactly was referenced in the analysis and what's going on with the characters.)

@Steve - Tavore as his favorite character? Fascinating but not shocking response.

Rob
M D
62. Abalieno
@Himself

It may well be that, as one poster here notes again and again, some pieces don't quite fit. But I keep looking at the big picture, and I guess a part of me doesn't really care if I needed a hammer every now and then.

Mmmh...

Your description of your process of writing corresponds with the idea I had (about being "linear" and making every move a singular event). Somewhere else I described your style of writing, the way I perceive it, as "freeclimbing". You know where you want to go, plan an ideal course before you start, but then the process of getting there is part of what one sees on the page, the journey is the journey of the reader. Move after move. Sometimes you can't go straight up as you wish and have to move sideways, a few times maybe you have to move backwards, but every move you make is essential and part of what you're creating there and the final destination.

I guess it's part of the authenticity. The way you try to be more in someone else's shoes than aiming straight at the reader and the intended emotional response you want to trigger.

But THEN, it's the point of why I get crazy about details. The fact is that those details are very deliberate. It means that in THAT precise moment you had a very precise idea of why you wrote something. So, as a reader, I can only elucubrate indefinitely about that fleeting idea right that moment.

Thanks for a lot of juicy details about the writing of GotM and DG. That's some hugely interesting insight. Want more :)

Interesting to hear that DG is completely yours and that HoC was instead gamed. I can't find any hint about this difference, while it was more "visible" the difference between GotM and DG.

What about the rest of the series? More of your own stuff built directly in "novel" form or gamed (or discussed)?

Bauchelain is just too brilliant to not be loved. I don't buy that you recognize yourself more as Mancy. There's some virtuous perversion in Bauchelain that must be just way too fun to not love and worship. The commentary in The Healthy Dead isn't another face of evil, it's another face of truth that disguises itself as evil. Some kind of satirical prank (reminds me of Scott Bakker's irreverence there, like in his latest blog he said he'd rather give the prudish a rash than warn them beforehand about the book's content). But then the pure genius is in the interaction between Bauchelain and Mancy. The combination of characters there is just so awesome. No idea from where you fished them, I still believe it's the best stuff I read from you. Word by word.

Btw, more questions: you and Cam, how the literary relationship developed along the years? Because you got both way too busy to actually collaborate recently, I read. You mentioned somewhere you've met around November or so of the last year and planned what you were going to do. Wert usually says that the timeline going fucked (I'm writing this while smirking, I'm playing here don't get me wrong) is probably due to Cam not reading and fixing your books past The Bonehunters. I've read that book was delayed for a while to fix stuff and that Cam helped. Then he was also busy writing his own stuff. How have you proceeded and coordinated? Have you already read Stonewielder?

This world map in The Crippled God, confirm? Deny?

How are you preparing for the next trilogy. Surely I'm not one who can speak since I've a long way to go with the books already out, but from the comments of other readers and reactions to Toll the Hounds I'm perplexed about a prequel trilogy about Tiste Andii. From a side prequels do not garner this big attention (while sequels at least spark that kind of interest to know what's next) and feel like the import and ambition of the story is deflated. From the other my skepticism is about the Tiste Andii risking to be too mono-tone. Feeling a bit too alien and without the redeeming qualities of the sense of humor that stayed with the series. The variety of tones. So I'm curious about your approach and intent about what you're going to do next.

and if there is a point in that, it's that it often seems as if we humans expect favour even when we've done nothing to warrant it. We raise up high our triumphs while turning our back on our most egregious failures.

Heh, this is also very Bakker-like. Judging ourselves by our intentions and judging others by their actions. And forgetting whenever it's convenient.

Finished reading "Disciple of the Dog" two days ago and it's a masterpiece of a book. Recommended to everyone here and to Erikson. I have a review on my blog that seemed to be well received if you're curious.

If I was you I'd feel very jealous (because he wrote such a wonderful book).

It all worked in my head, more or less, and when I related that sense to him he amazed me by nodding and say 'you know, that kind of works...

I remember reading that on the forums. Can I overhear the actual discussion? ;)

Abelieno: most of this list has been touched on elsewhere.

Uhm. Where?
Tai Tastigon
63. Taitastigon
Aba @62

"How are you preparing for the next trilogy. Surely I'm not one who can speak since I've a long way to go with the books already out, but from the comments of other readers and reactions to Toll the Hounds I'm perplexed about a prequel trilogy about Tiste Andii. "

**********

Dear Aba.

As ever, I am *impressed* with you.
The mythology surrounding the Tiste Andii starts getting worked on for the first time, as a starter, in...guess what...the prologue of Midnight Tides...ironic, isn´t it ?

It gets fleshed out in the same tome, then RG, especially TtH (!) and DoD. If names like Scabandari Bloodeye (not an Andii, but...!), Silchas Ruin, Andarist, the Bluerose Andii, the Twilight, the Watch, and specifically Kharkanas - in this context - don´t ring a bell to you, then...well, why should I be surprised...?!!

It does justify its own trilogy...and I guess you have some reading to do. That is always better than basing your argumentation on the opinions of thirds. Not the first time we are discussing this.

I´ll give you this, though - I´d rather prefer to have the Toblakai trilogy first. It might be Karsa trying to finish off civilization...WAY more fun to read...but to understand this, you might have to make it at least to BH...hmm, I see a pattern here... ;0)
Germy Blake
64. darkul
@Aba
Really, please read on to cover most of the questions you have.

It's really interesting that you insist on "details". But listen: we all do. We all speculate. We all fantasize/combine where all will lead in the end, why this happened, why the dice decided this way. We all want to know this or that from Mr. Erikson but most of those question are answered right there, in his books. So go ahead, find links to those details in later lines - try/test your speculations by reading not by asking the author directly. Why should he tell you what is written in later volumes?
IMHO it is a redundant discussion as long as you don't go for the whole opus. I wondered that Mr. Erikson answered some of your questions with so much passion and ideas given for free (as always in such a brilliant way - man, I want other authors, especially one, to give us such input and insights. Some could really use private coaching how to deal with fans, appreciating their trust in the author. I guess it is more private "couch"ing - you all know which author is meant).
Your Tiste Andii faux-pas was really too obvious now ... sorry ... just read on, ok?

Admittedly, there are other aspects (writing style, gaming relation, motivations, origins) you tickled out of Mr. Erikson. Those are the questions related to the COMPLETE work and also to GotM which is the matter here.
You've read the first 4 volumes as I remember? You stopped because you felt that some details have to be answered before you continue? I always read on, exactly for this reason. I want answers and I guess I will get them if I continue. I want to find out how the big picture looks like and I want to search for the major/minor details/hints/answers. I knew exactly that his journey would be a long one. Rewarding and challenging, amusing and bemusing, maybe frustrating some times but always big time paying pack.

Continue reading.
Your list of unfilled holes gets longer and longer but maybe some questions will be unnecessary then. Isn't this so with most books? Who is the murderer?

If I'm through TCG and I'll have re-read all those great books and I still have some questions left - which I will have, no doubt, proven by this re-read - I decide whether I will try to ask Mr. Erikson directly.
If Mr. Erikson decides to give a guiding hand from time to time? Really more than cool.
Steven Halter
65. stevenhalter
steven@41: re Quick Ben -- Thanks for that insight I hadn't quite thought through that angle!
Steven Halter
66. stevenhalter
Steven@53: Thanks, I had a feeling you would have liked the Dread Empire. I also really like the books and am really glad Glen is thinking of completing it. (In talking with him, he mentioned that it was more a case of someone walking off with the draft rather than him losing it.)
Elena Vaccaro
67. EarthandIce
Actually, I do have a question that has not been answered in my read so far. If Mappo Runt and Icarium had touched the blood of the dragon they found in the wrecked K’Chain Che’Malle ship, would they have taken on aspects of Soletaken? This is going to sound macabre, or does the blood have to be fresh and in what quantity? I do not recall just where the reference was but someone “drank more deeply” than someone else.

And does the blood have to be from the Eleint or could
Anomander Rake’s blood do the same?

Or should I just Read And Find Out?
Chuck Holt
68. conspiracytheorywackadoodle
Steven@53:
Thanks -- your comments make a lot of sense, especially the ones about the rivers. In my scribblings, I currently have one group of characters linked closely with a river basin, and another group with a massive swamp (a few rivers draining into it). I also have maps of the settings in my head, but it occurs to me that maybe I should make some attempt to draw them out (I'm not an artist, so I won't worry too much over the details).
Chris Hawks
69. SaltManZ
@67: Definitely read and find out. It's a little more complicated (or simple) than what you seem to be implying.
Germy Blake
70. McFlury
Honourable mister Erikson,

First off I'd like to tell you how much I adore reading your work. Your works are truly the best I've ever read and I think they'll be the best I'll read in a long time as well.

Since you're answering questions here, I thought I'd ask my very own question as well, in the (perhaps vain) hope that you would read it and even answer it. Now, the thing is that I try to do some writing now and then myself as well and am hoping to one day publish a novel. The main problem I find myself in, however, is that often I find myself troubled to write a full plot.

By this I mean that sometimes I basically decide up front what the major plot lines will be in my story, and then start writing and fill up the details in between. This however almost always makes me feel bored with my own story, since there are no real surprises. Their are no real side-plots and the story is too straight-forward.

Other times I just begin with an opening sentence I like, and start writing from there, having no idea where I'll go at all. The problem I encounter at that point however is that usually my story actually isn't going anywhere. At that point I'm lacking a major plot and the only thing you see are side plots and the occasional banter of characters about some important thing, that could be a major plot, but they don't really act on it.

So basically I was hoping you could give me some hints as to how to build up a story. Which is the better approach? First come up with a plot-line and lose some (if not all) of the spontaneity or just let my fingers race over the keyboard and hope it all makes sense and is actually worth reading at day's end?

I hope you read my question and understand it, and feel like giving me some advice.
Thanks in advance, if not for answering my question, then most certainly for writing your delicious goody-books :)

Also, just a side note: why is it that I have barely any problems understanding subjects such as quantumchemistry and chemistry in general, but I just can't figure out anything in your books without it being spelled out for me for 80%? ;)
Brian Daniels
71. HoosierDaddy
@67:

Spoilers from books at the least 4 into the series:

Only by drinking the blood of Tiam can one become a soletaken eleint, like Rake.

As to how others became soletaken or d'ivers... the Second Empire had a ritual that went wonky and created them en masse, besides that they are simply born that way.

Read on to find out more.
Steven Halter
72. stevenhalter
@Steven:

I want a phone I can write a damned novel on. No, really

While its not a phone, per se, Charles Stross has been experimenting with using an iPad for writing. He's had decent results:http://www.antipope.org/charlie/blog-static/2010/06/gadget-patrol-ipad-a-month-on.html#more
I haven't used one for that purpose myself--I'm more of the "desires massive screen space" mode.
Germy Blake
73. Dendar
Can't we just call Abalieno an incredibly verbose troll, and consequently ignore anything it has to say? There are better things to talk about than someone who refuses, for whatever reason, to take a hint.
Sydo Zandstra
74. Fiddler
@Dendar: I'm with you. Troll.

Still, I am amazed how somebody can be so thickheaded, telling an author how he is wrong in who his POV is, and telling him what is wrong with the story.

Which he hasn't read, because the real story starts at book 5-6.

And then starts telling the other author how bad his book is.

And gloats at posting quotes from authors on his blog.

Abalieno is probably a literary critic-wannabe. So I guess he is our resident Gumble...

I would like to think he would leave after we are done with book 4, but I'm afraid even after that he will pester us with posts about how the story should have been going, and how many bad choices SE made in writing.

Basically, if Abalieno were in the Malazan world, he'd be a Tiste Liosan: a righteous guy being on a huge ego-trip.

Spoiler
(those are the bad guys, btw, as of the end of book 9)
Sydo Zandstra
75. Fiddler
To get back on what this stuff is all about, I have another question for Steven, but Ian can answer it as well. In fact, I'm curious to hear about both sides here. :)

You guys started the Malazan world in RPG sessions. When did you decide to start writing about it? And where did you start coordinating stuff and deciding on who writes about what and who? Did you talk about transfering characters into your own Story field?
M D
76. Abalieno
@74

I'm starting to get seriously annoyed. I usually ignore everyone who addresses me personally because I'm here to discuss a specific argument: the Malazan series. And not myself or some other reader's feud.

But if I have to be accused at least be specific instead of just tossing shit because it makes you feel good.

Still, I am amazed how somebody can be so thickheaded, telling an author how he is wrong in who his POV is, and telling him what is wrong with the story.

You completely misunderstood that part where I was praising the novellas as some kind of arrogant attack. You accuse me of being dumb?

I said that Bauchelain is a too great character to not recognize some of Erikson in there (because the same glint of sweet subversiveness I see in everything he writes), and you see this as something that should reawaken the Saint Inquisition? I'm an heretic that should be burnt because I praised a writer from a too buddy-buddy slant that may be a risk for the holiness of the Saint?

Which he hasn't read, because the real story starts at book 5-6.

OK. So why the hell the topic up there says: "Questions for Steven Erikson on GARDENS OF THE MOON?"

You decided that whoever hasn't read all the books can't ask questions about the first? And who gave you the authority to decide who can ask questions and who can't, which questions can be asked and which can't?

And then starts telling the other author how bad his book is.

In a discussion topic I wrote down, motivating them, the reaction I had reading that book. There's nothing pretentious or arrogant in there beside the honesty. I'm glad if Esslemont reads it, not because I enjoy to shit on his work and see him ridiculed, but because I'd like to hear his perspective on that.

I enjoyed the book, but I thought it was weakened because of certain important aspects. I'm there because I'm interested in that discussion.

And gloats at posting quotes from authors on his blog.

I have a blog where I write about books. All blogs about books out there post quotes from writers. Yes, I enjoy posting quotes of writers and post them on the blog whenever I think they are relevant and worth being underlined and remembered.

I wasn't aware this being, too, a crime.

Abalieno is probably a literary critic-wannabe. So I guess he is our resident Gumble...

There's no "wannabe" in there. Nor I'm a critic, beside the broader definition that every reader becomes a critic. My blog doesn't show one banner or link to make me even $0.0001 so there's nothing but passion behind it, I also pay for it because it's not hosted for free. I greatly enjoy in discussions ad sharing opinions, which is why I write also on forums.One thing is writing on a blog to yourself, another is to confront with others. I like most the latter.

The only remote "wannabe" aspect that there has been about all this is that I tried to offer myself to work on translations of these books in my country. Because translations here (Italy) are ATROCIOUS, including Erikson, and I hoped I could give my contribute. Which should also tell you that I'm not a native speaker.

ESPECIALLY, I don't waste time and space on a Q&A topic by arguing about the legitimacy of questions asked by others. Ask your own questions, if you have some, and don't bother me.

You have the rare opportunity of asking questions to your favorite writer and are wasting it by bothering me. Excuse me if I'm smarter than you and take advantage of the situation to ASK MY QUESTIONS.
Tai Tastigon
77. Taitastigon
Aba @76

Dear Abalieno,

ye know, I shouldn´t really bother, but then again, why not ? I sure am elated that you deign to answer some puny non-blogging, non-aspiring co-poster in this reread...the honour of this, the honour !

But to the point: Is this what this is about - a translation gig ???? Well, hey - why ask ? Simply do it ! Knock yourself out ! We all have our hobbies...
Unless, of course, there IS a commercial interest behind your request...- you want to get paid to do it...because, according to you, English-Italian translations are cripes and you are the only one that can solve that problem...

*cough, cough*...just to deviate for a second to a neighbouring Mediterranean country: Have you ever stumbled over an expression called *hubris* ? You might wanna look it up...could be important on your road to self-enlightenment...

As for the rest of your griping: I personally don´t care whether you punch out your pages and pages and pages of concentrated, self-indulgent Abalienism on this site, or over at ME, or wherever...the SCROLL-function can take care of that...

...but you continuously judge a cycle and hassle its author on its entirety, not just the 40% of the volume that you have actually read, and show no indication whatsoever to adjust this behavior, and THAT is, in my opinion, extremely disrespectful to the author...and the readers that have put themselves through the work of actually reading the available material before evaluating and commenting it. Again - even though you explicitly try to convey a different impression - you do NOT limit yourself to GotM in your questions, you systematically tackle the entire cycle. We may be puny in your view, but we sure ain´t as stupid as you explicitly think we are...

BTW...when you solicit service from somebody, you should not p*ss on his feet at the same time. As I said, look up the word *hubris*. Could be helpful...
M D
78. Abalieno
So, are you done now?

Because the only effect you'll obtain is to drag here a moderator who will delete posts and ban users without much consideration about who is actually responsible of this silly polemics.

Since I have no interest to be clumped in that group I won't continue to feed this whirpool of idiocy. My answer above is already more than enough.
Germy Blake
79. darkul
Hey Abalieno, again,

this discussion here is the opportunity to get some answers from Mr. Erikson. And no doubt this part of the page is titled "Questions for Steven Erikson on Gardens of the Moon? Start asking!"

You can ask each and every question regarding Gardens of the Moon. But there are really at least 4 aspects why some question marks are not necessary or you are wrong with the argument that this discussion is just about GotM. In the Malazan world this is almost not possible.

1a. This Q&A is based on a greater subject called "RE-READ of the Gardens of the Moon". So there should be newcomers and readers who know a little bit more than just this one book just as you do. And you mention those other books. So you contradict yourself. But those others have the dignity not to spoil too much even if it was allowed by the authors and notified in advance.

1b. As you got your answer directly from Mr. Erikson. He sees the bigger plan, the great scheme/s, just like Quick Ben and maybe Tayschrenn or 20 more "players". So we RE-readers see also a bigger plan and ask sometimes about traces/indications of latter events (in much later books) we found in GotM.
BUT: we read. We ask maybe because we missed something. It is hard for some readers to see every detail or hint and combine them with future events.
Conclusion: Continue reading and read slow and precise.

2. Some questions cannot or should not be answered because he has written something about that or some answers directly in later books. You know what that means and how that can annoy us and maybe also Mr. Erikson.
Here in Germany we have a saying, I translate it roughly: "Never praise the day before the evening".
Conclusion: Continue reading.

3. I began reading the Malazan series in German. The translator does a very good job, really very very good. But as always not everything can be covered/transported as it was intended. Such are poems (but here also he does a really imposing job). Now I was more or less forced to read on in English because RG was not translated at the time I wanted to read on, so it is/was even harder for me to see and find those little details. But I started to like it. To read slower, to see more and more. And finally I started the re-read completely in English. It's fun. Pure entertainment. I don't think, any other series has gripped me more than Mr. Erikson's work ans I've really read much. There is so much more in the original version. I cannot blame Mr. Erikson for translation problems. That's not his job. Ok, in some way it could have been (not to translate the names of the characters would have been better in German). F.e. Tolkien sat down with German translators and has set some rules how specific things should be translated. In Germany we have "elves" (Elfen), these are little flying fairies, not the ones we know from LotR, so Tolkien made the translators to say "Elben" in German, to make a clear distinction.
But what I wanna say: read in English, don't trust translators.

4. I saw your blog, I saw also some more comments on other blogs or forums you made under this name, assuming that you seem to have a relatively unique nickname. And all I got in association with GotM was like this here. Your first posts were stimulated by dislike, something you wanted to say about not liking Erikson's writing style and of course a reader had the feeling that you wanted to say YOU could've done it better. Then you got deeper into it and you still pronounce the weaknesses you find in Mr. Erikson's work more than its values. I could ramble on regarding your overall Malazan posts but I think that is unnecessary.
Conclusion: Calm a bit down, read on, continue asking and show that you like this series, because you do. Else there wouldn't be some really fine questions. But do it as a reader, not a man who could have written the Malazan series also.


So, now all stop this because the discussion has gone awry.
Let's go back and wait if Mr. Erikson still has some hints for us regarding the series or GotM.
Sydo Zandstra
80. Fiddler
@Abalieno:

I am far from calling you dumb. And, like other people here you have every right to ask questions.

Yet, you have a blind spot where this reread is concerned and it's called Midnight Tides, The Bonehunters, Reaper's Gale, Toll the Hounds, Dust of Dreams and soon The Crippled God. First time readers have that blind spot too, but they are working on that. You, however, stubbornly refuse to do that and you come up with the most idiotic theories while you COULD have known better.

Even where Esslemont is concerned, your blind spot is called Return of the Crimson Guard and soon Stonewielder.

If you decide those books are not worth reading, that is your choice and you are welcome to make it. But in that same case you have no right to question authors about their story.

Personally, I am amazed on your attitude in this reread and refusal to read any more Malazan books. Why is that?

That's it from me for now. I will now return to rereading, and discussing Malazan stuff with people who do enjoy this story.
Tai Tastigon
81. Taitastigon
Well, since author quotes are an item:

"Why is it that people with the least useful things to say do most of the talking ?"

SE
Dust of Dreams

That man is truly a visionary.

...but *whirlpool of idiocy* is definitely a gem ! Looove that expression !
Amanda Rutter
82. ALRutter
Please guys. It pains me to step in, because I hoped that you would sort it out between yourselves.

Everyone is welcome in this re-read. What is not welcome are personal attacks and taking a thread off course.

Tor - and Steven Erikson himself - have given you a chance to ask questions directly of the author. Steve has come into this thread, read through your long comments and taken the time to type up responses (and thank you to the majority of you for insightful questions and gleeful responses to having Steve answer them for you).

Please respect this fact and let's get back to talking about the series we all love.
Steven Halter
83. stevenhalter
Steve:
Are there any questions that you would really like us to have asked that we haven't yet? Or, are there questions you would like to ask us?
I ask the first part as I can recall sitting at an author table at a Java conference and being asked various questions. Many were fine questions, but there were some topics I would have loved to get into, but didn't get an opportunity as no one asked.
Germy Blake
84. StevenErikson
Hello everyone. There's only a handful of new questions, so I can touch on them all. I'll begin with a detail probably no-one knows, as I can't recall me or Cam ever mentioning it in interviews and whatnot. The first draft of Gardens of the Moon and the first draft of Return of the Crimson Guard were written at the same time. We started our respective novels when we were both living on Saltspring Island, and Cam continued on when he went to Alaska, while I did the same back on Saltspring. I think we even sent chapters or sections to each other as we went along.

The idea was to publish simulataneously. Alas, this was not to be. Anyway, as this might suggest, we mapped out our respective territories from the very beginning. And while writing up the world as novels might have seethed under the surface of our thinking quite early on, we did begin with thinking about devising a gaming world and rpg system to suit it; from there we went on to writing up a couple feature film scripts, Gardens of the Moon and a prequel called Blackdog Blues (which I have only in floppy disk format (Wordstar, Cam?), and not the 3.5 floppies either: the bigger ones; so if anyone out there can still convert said floppy, do let me know!). In a sense, the novelization was the third option, and the one we settled on.

I like to think that if we'd managed to get both our novels out back then, there would be perfect balance here, and from the start readers would have seen the back-and-forth dialogue we were engaged in. Instead, Cam has had to come late to the proceedings, presenting a whole new range of challenges.

It's already been noted on the Night of Knives side of this re-read that Cam is very much defining his own direction, his own arc spanning the full range of his intended novels. His works are not to be seen as addenda to mine: we're still talking to each other, still entertaining each other: granted, I've been doing most of the talking; now, it's his turn to catch up. The real fun will be, years from now, when readers can tackle the whole thing.

One other note before I get to McFlurry's question on the writing process ... to Ezzkmo. The sensitivity issue was mine, stemming from years working with native groups as an archaeologist. Even the fact that certain sports teams, in both Canada and the US, employ insenstive club names and fan-based rituals, still gets to me. It's down to our legacy of genocide and cultural denigration of indigenous peoples in the New World. Being a writer, language carries for me so much ... weight. So, I was raising the spectre for your attention, but this was not the place or the time for any of that, and so I do apologise if I upset you.

McFlurry: when in workshops or when asked for advice by beginning writers, my first response is always the same: finish what you start. You will learn more by doing that than you will with a thousand openings, or ten thousand pages of notes on world-building. Each writer has a different approach to plotting: for me, I find closing scenes -- sometimes ten books away, but I don't recommend that, as the sheer torture of holding back for years and years is exhausting. Closing scenes, then, and the telling of the tale is simply the steps taken to reach those scenes. But those scenes need emotional impact. They need to resonate right back through the reader's experience of all that has gone before. How is that achieved? For me, it's indulging in the exercise of dragging characters through hell, mostly, and thereby dragging the readers through hell with them. It's this ordeal that can give the smallest gestures vast impact at the story's end.

At a Q&A in Poland last summer, in answer to a question, I noted that I never liked the old 'red shirt' thing: disposable characters, brought into being only to then die, nameless and insignificant. So what I wanted to do (and did) is to give those red-shirts names, lives, histories, goals, aspirations ... and then I killed them.

Everything has a purpose: but don't let that freeze you in your tracks. You do need room to wander, and feel no fear in the wandering. When arriving at that place in a narrative where the sentences slow down, where it seems moments from grinding to a halt, the instinct is to end the scene and shift to another, or in the extreme, to dump that start and invent a new one. My advice is, don't. Push through. You've tunneled to the foundations of the wall, and everything that went before means nothing if you give up now (off to start a new tunnel). The victory is won only in taking the barriers down, in crashing ruin, with you crawling free into the light, bloodied but not beaten.

Now, sometimes, other writers look at me blankly when I talk like this. So it could be that I'm just nuts, a masochistic aberation. Probably. What's a little spiritual trauma among friends?

Shalter: questions I want asked? Yikes. There's a thread on the Malazan site entitled something like 'When re-reads make you feel...' I check that one regularly. Why? Because I know when I'm ticking boxes through the course of the novels in this series; when I'm echoing or riffing on something that came before. And of course I know what's foreshadowing stuff to come, too. For obvious reasons, I like to hear when a reader catches something, is brought up short by making an obscure connection. What value resonance if no-one ever hears or feels it? Well, I suppose there is value if the resonance stays at a subconscious level: in fact, that's probably for the best. But it's like a watchmaker who wants to see someone actually look at the workings, so he can say, 'yeah, I did that.' Juvenile, I suppose, but hey, everyone wants to feel appreciated every now and then. The problem is, what pleases a writer is not always the same as what pleases most people; and the same for our interests. That is not to say I'm not interested in answering questions not related to my own private interests; but often I feel as if we're talking past each other. Many other writers I've discussed this with share the feeling to some extent. I'm not explaining this well, I think. In a sense, the questions I want asked of me are the questions it's almost impossible to ask. Here, let me turn it around, with this question to you:

What do you like about these stories?

When I read comments and reviews and I note, again and again, phrases like 'world of vast depth' and 'characters you care about.' So far so good. Let's assume you answer in kind to my question; now I will follow it with these:

But why? Why are these things important to you? From where in your life did their value arise? Is it simply the technical ability of mine to convey empathy and detail? Or is it evidence of the nature of a human being in seeking out reasons for compassion?

I try to make a point of responding to all your questions aiming towards that last question, because that's the level that I really want to engage with all of you on. And so I suppose I would like to hear that my novels have made you feel. And then I would like to hear, in as brutally honest a fashion possible, all of your thoughts on why we need to feel. I've always been on Aristotle's side when it comes to Tragedy and its cathartic value, and for me this series is very much my stab at carving through to the heart of tragedy, to see what's there, to see if it still lives, still has value. Because, ultimately, I don't know if it does.

Does anyone else find the stigmatization of 'Fantasy' rather odd? There isn't a film coming out these days that isn't a fantasy. The good guys win; the bad guys die. Evil has an ugly face and a British accent. Betrayers are caught and punished, liars are hunted down and made to pay for their lies. When these themes are overturned or undermined, in film or television series, they are called 'daring' by the critics, even 'controversial'.

If I view this with an expression of irony it's exclusively in the mirror. Since I wrote a fantasy series where the good guys don't always win, the bad guys don't always die, love doesn't always come out roses, and evil can be pretty while the good can be ugly or indeed, stupid.

No wonder they call my stuff fantasy. Only to in the next breath add words like 'daring' or 'subversive'. Talk about convolutions! To me, the inversion seems complete. Fantasy writers out there are writing stuff that feels real; while the mainstream producers of Hollywood entertainment are producing contemporary stuff that is pure fantasy, and not just Hollywood anymore either, with the games the news media play on a daily basis.

Shalter, what kind of questions would I like to be asked? I don't really know. But everyone, keep asking, and I'll keep trying to answer. There's the private side of me and then the public side, with the latter represented by my novels, but who am I kidding? Most of the private in me has ended up on the pages of this series. I should be feeling more vulnerable than I do, I suppose. But something's happened, as if the series was me back then, and not me now.

Oh, one more thing: McFlurry, I talk more about the writing process on Life As A Human, a blog-site, including some exercises you might want to mess with.

Towards the end of next week, me and Cam will be in Columbus: we should be able to get online together then. Will update you once details are confirmed.

Cheers for now
SE
Steven Halter
85. stevenhalter
SE@84:

That is not to say I'm not interested in answering questions not related to my own private interests; but often I feel as if we're talking past each other. Many other writers I've discussed this with share the feeling to some extent. I'm not explaining this well...

No, I know exactly what you're talking about here and also having some problem clearly expressing it. This was to some extent the root of the question. I've written a couple of technical books on Java, and you would think there would be less ambiguity in questions, but I've felt the same thing at times.
On your question as to why I like TMBotF and how it makes me feel, I'll turn to the first scene that really made me sit up (so to speak) and announced the arrival of something different with a mighty YAWP:
In GotM, where Rake appears and has the magical "duel" with Tay, I recall very distinctly thinking "Wow--this is how I like magic portrayed. Not behind the scenes and not wishy-washy -- right out there and in your face with full blown effects (and consequences)." It felt satisfying in a visceral fashion.
Through the rest of the series, to date, this initial reaction has been reconfirmed a number of times--including to the ending of Dust of Dreams. So that's one aspect. There are more aspects, but I think I'll do another post and think about them a little more.
Steven Halter
86. stevenhalter
@Steve:
The info that GotM and RotCG were started at the same time is very interesting. Since RotCG takes place roughly around the Bonehunters timframe, does this imply that the basic outline of events between GotM and RotCG were roughly in place at this time also?
Steven Halter
87. stevenhalter
@Steve: By the larger format than 3.5" disk, if you mean
5¼", then I can find one of those (up in my attic). Do you recall which version of Wordstar? I see that WS 3.5 is a little harder to convert than 4.0. If the "prize" is an unpublished prequel, then it sounds like a quest to me.
Anyone happen to have the tech to read this in a hooked up fashion? Since sending the floppy around by mail is a little problematic, it seems like a starting point would be to get a disk image and then find a converter. Volunteers?
Germy Blake
88. Alt146
The main step would just be to get the document off of the floppy and onto a disk. Once it is at least safely backed up someone somewhere should be able to convert it. Anyone in the UK have an old computer with a 5" floppy drive? I work with some pretty old PCs on occasion (33MHz Pentium M died on us the other day) and even I haven't seen one in years.
Todd Tyrna
89. Ezramoon
Steven,

(this is previously 'ezzkmo')

I am using another username now just FYI. I figured it's the least I can do with the company I'm in. :)

I am GREATLY appreciative of your response, clarification, apologies, etc. It really is no problem and I'm sorry to steer the Q&A off course at all. It really did bring more to my attention. I have nothing but respect for these native groups and their history and culture, the little bit I know, especially compared to your background/history.

Anyways, thank you again for taking time to clear things up, and to answer our questions. It really made my day!

-Todd
Germy Blake
90. Dendar
Mr Erikson,

I'm thinking about this in terms of the theme of compassion that runs through the book, but it's kind of a generally personal question at the same time: I've been reading a bit of criticism of literature in terms of evolutionary psychology, and I was wondering if that has any impact on your work, or whether you think it's load of bollocks (As many people do). Since survival is (obviously) such a major concern in Malazan books, I'd be interested to know your stance, if you have one, that is.

I also really enjoy how sexuality comes across as a fact, rather than an issue in MBotF. Having just finished a reread through to book 8, I started idly rereading some fantasy books I hadn't read much in the last 5 years or so, and I was really stuck how everyone ends up in monogamous, happily-ever-after nuclear families. EVERYONE. As someone who studies humanities and has a half decent grasp on reality, it gets my goat. In any case that's certainly one of the (many) things I appreciate about your books. I guess that ties in with what you said about writing what's real compared to fantasy. /end grovel
M D
91. Abalieno
But why? Why are these things important to you? From where in your life did their value arise? Is it simply the technical ability of mine to convey empathy and detail? Or is it evidence of the nature of a human being in seeking out reasons for compassion?

Well, I'll give my perspective.

I always seek something unique in what I read. One can see epic fantasy as ambitious, but there are staggering literary works that more or less fall in the same category. For how different (or opposite) they are, I have the Malazan series and Infinite Jest as my favorite books for similar reasons. You can dig, the text is rich, there is a staggering number of interconnected layers (structured as a Sierpinski Gasket fractal in IJ case) and things you discover at the core. They teach to think.

There's a great interview with DFW where he talks about the layering in IJ and how he was still pained to *reach* the reader with something true and not let the fancier stuff get distracting or feeling pretentious or elitarian. Which would also lead to the discussion about elitarian and generous writers.

http://web.archive.org/web/20040606041906/www.andbutso.com/~mark/bookworm96/

(also: DFW was obsessed about details and the timeline in Infinite Jest, yet there are mistakes there as well)

There's something I have low tolerancy to and it's the hypocrisy, so one basic requirement for me to like a writing style is what I perceive as honesty. Vague words that for me have a very specific and tangible meaning. I look for "truth" in a book and it may well sound silly if applied to "fantasy". How is that possible? It all lies in the difference between escapism and the rest. "Infinite Jest" is set some years in the future, it is filled with absurd events and characters and the book makes you laugh aloud almost every page, yet the absurdity feels even more authentic than the real world. This because every small detail is rooted into something true.

The same works for "fantasy". One can have gods clashing, dragons, fireballs, but all this matters for me when it's there to symbolize something deeper and try to dig out some truth. The "epic" is a way for embracing the full range, from the small detail to the human condition and more. You seek for answers. Go against the flow.

How can I define Erikson "truthful"? Because he says it himself. He writes for himself and he considers the writing a personal journey. I find confirmation and recognize what he says in what I read, at a visceral level. Other writers when they write focus completely on the specific effect they want to trigger in who's reading, and I find this style exploitative and insincere. Erikson here said as much when he commented his "linear" writing process and not wanting to move things in order to stay "true" to his own journey reflected in the writing. Erikson put himself in a context that KEEPS him truthful and have an honest approach to what he does.

Looking for "truth" is not a deceiving idea. It also includes the possibility of questioning what's "true", or if a definite answer exists. It's a process, not a destination. A state of the mind to stay open to everything without prejudices or walls. That's another reason why I read Malazan. Questions are not rhetorical or redundant, or clung to this or that belief. They doubt of the foundation itself, can be subversive, radical, defying. They do not play safe, they dare and challenge.

On a very simplified and generalized level, some years ago I started to think that humanity was fighting a war *against* nature. I had this idea that people weren't part of nature, but facing it, opposite to it. "Langauge" defines the difference between a human and all other life we know. So that's what we have and what we are: culture. In this war against nature, we had the culture. Striving to be something else, defy death and injustice is like the ultimate goal of culture and something that opposes nature. Everything negative I tend to associate with nature: a lack of choice. All the crimes that humanity commits are part of culture as the idea of journey and mistakes made along the way. So a rather optimistic, if remote, idea of progress. Not safe, though, because this war is a true one, that can be lost too.

These themes are a significant part of the Malazan series (the last few lines of House of Chain almost echo with those initial thoughts of mine years ago, even if culture there is not the opponent of nature, but its balance). In "Infinite Jest" it all comes down to the theme of "choice", and in the middle of the book, where this theme is explicitly faced, another "keyword" appears: chains.

This is the thing, specifically, I look in literature and outside it: things that resonate not just within a particular work, but also between the most disparate writers. Completely different perspectives that ultimately come to an unitarian conclusion. Something shared. Something true.

I didn't love the Malazan series because it reflected Infinite Jest, I found all these links afterwards. The shared ground is universal, it happens whether or not the writer is aware of it. So there I was finding the theme of "chains" in Infinite Jest, the nature of choice, and have it perfectly reflected, metaphorized, in the Crippled God and his House of Chains. The link is not fancy, it's as concrete as possible. The theme of choice. A theme that in the Malazan series does not sit there, but permeates everything: T'lan Imass, Jaghut, Icarium.

That's why I wrote this particular piece on my site:
cesspit.net/drupal/node/1967

All this is just one level of many. Another reason is that Erikson's style invests words of meaning. I perceive this in what I read and for the 1-2 months I read a book I even absorb some of it. Words acquire particular meanings and weight. In general I appreciate a writer who doesn't just write well, but also tries something new with the language, tries to do something with the medium instead of just mastering and executing it well. I always found Erikson's work experimental on all levels. Characters, plot and writing style. So I'm satisfied not just by the "message", but also by the use of the medium and a creative appraoch to it. I'm not just invested in this or that character, and turn the page to know how the plot develops, but it's the reading experience to be rich and challenging on many levels.

I also commented along the re-read the way I perceive some of the themes like compassion or how I don't think the Malazan series is consolatory (it will be interesting to reach The Crippled God and see which way Erikson went), so I won't repeat those considerations here...

Those are just some aspects, there are lots more and I already wrote too much. On catharsis and tragedy I'd say I see it at the whole thing from the "learning" perspective. Some values need to be understood, and there must be a way to truly learn.
M D
92. Abalieno
Also read this quote and tell me if it doesn't also apply perfectly to the Malazan series:

Well, the pleasure about the book, Infinite Jest, is that it does feel like a book that invites the beginning of a conversation, that the book is long enough, involved enough, rich enough, deep enough, and moving enough to begin to feel like a dialogue. That you could go back and talk to the book in the form of reading it again, because I did -- I'm halfway through it a second time. And, of course, the second time 'round, you know things that you couldn't have known the first time through, and so the book is like getting to know someone well.
Germy Blake
93. darkul
Dear SE,
4 questions below:

I also followed the thread you mentioned on Malazan Empire ("when re-reading ..."). Reading your books makes me sometimes feel blind, just as I always bore sunglasses and detail-filters while reading, both wearing them involuntarily because I don't know better and I'm compelled to do so because YOU intended us readers to do more work if we are willing to discover and understand almost all.
Not able to follow every assumption the posters here and on that thread there make I'm relatively impressed about their knowledge of your books.
This thread was the second impulse that made me re-read the whole series incuding now CAM's input which I read for the first time right now.
The third impulse was Gene Wolfe with his Sun cycles.
I don't know if you mentioned him somewhere. But his characters lie or do not know better (or pretend to know everything but fail to remember). The reader has to find out what's really going on under the surface.
Is Gene Wolfe also a writer that influenced your work?

You wanted to know what makes us feel when reading?
The passionate scenes, be they sad, funny, intelligent, brutal, tragic, filled with pathos. and of course your endings. I always read with open mouth the last third. "Is there really written what I just read? Is that possible? How could SE write such big stuff. Unbelievable".
Usually most people of our modern society are not liking or admitting that they like pathos. The feedback of movies/books using our lachrymal glands or touching our feelings too much especially when it comes to "heroes" is not so well. My brother disliked the ending of Jackson's RotK for it was holding one ceremony after the other for 30 minutes even if there was much stuff for fans to see/like). Maybe a man still should not cry or even care for fictional characters to show "I'm a man". Or is it just that today's life has no room for feelings, for showing weaknesses? Embarrassing?
But that is your strength. You can make me discuss with others your greatest scenes or simplest (are they?) dialogues without feeling weak. I'm strong, totally convinced.
I said, a "man". Where are the female readers? 1 out of 20?
To me it seems that women only read teen vampire stories nowadays.

I cannot tell you how often there were tears streaming down my cheeks while reading your books. But I remember on the funny part Kruppe's scenes, Tehol/Bugg for sure, makes me really laugh out loud and wet. On the sad/pathos side there was the burial of Itkovian and him embracing the T'lan Imass, there was Coltaine, there were the sisters Tavore and Felisin/Sha'ik, Rhulad the tragic "immortal" ruler and so on. I cannot see another author bringing up so many exclusively well written great scenes. In every book you bring up at least two scenes where I cannot hold back my tears or my feelings play weird things with me. I even dreamed of some scenes. Coltaine's end repeatedly found it's way into my subconsciousness.

On the other hand you mentioned that everyone gets his history, his life in your book. That is, as you "killed" the one soldier ... was it in BH? .. I don't want to spoil too much. But he enters the city, walks in some kind of ambush, just catched a plain and clean shot through his helmet and ... dead. Period.
Being angry, surprised, I was compelled to calm down, not to throw the book to the wall or out the window. That is usually my first feeling if someone "loved" is lost (even if I know better, that "dead" does no necessarily mean that a character is wiped out completely). This just shows how you make your readers feel for you characters, even the lesser ones.
I can't understand why many reviews of your books tell us that characterizations are not your strength. They don't care for your characters, react indifferent or not at all if someone dies ... ridiculous as an unfueled rocket in their ass ... I guess they just don't go deep enough into your books or don't read them at all or are just trolls. And what happens then? I start to defend you. Just as a natural reflex. And so every fan would. As every intelligent reader would, at least in his own mind, because sometimes it's just pointless trying to change someone's opinion. They never get it. I assume the only disadvantage of your books is that you demand brains. Without, you're really lost.
I don't know how many characters you mention in the Dramatis Personae but you really are able to fill everyone with life (even the dead ones) and at least I care for them all.
Have you ever forgotten a person in you straight forward writing style?

And the last question. I mentioned translators. In which way do you work together with them? Or do you give them some rules? Do they know the whole story? Because I think a translator can only be really good if he knows what the author knows.

Thx, SE.
darkul
Germy Blake
94. McFlury
Mister SE,

I would like to thank you a lot for your answer to my question. Perhaps other writers stare at you blank when they hear you talking like that, but to me it makes perfect sense :) I (also?) picture most parts of life as some sort of crazy battlefield, and you just have to fight yourself to the other side. And I guess it's very naïve to think one can cross a battlefield, filled with crazy idiots wielding sharp and pointy objects and other tricky treats (to stay in the Halloween atmosphere for a second), without getting bloodied from time to time. I also love that term by the way... bloodied. Has a nice ring to it :)

Also thanks for the hint of the "Life as a human" blog, but I'm already on it ;) I saw your exercises, I just didn't really find the time/motivation to actually write your exercises down. I felt more like 'solving' them inside my head. But there, too, I found some interesting information (and in a way it was flattering for myself as well, since now and then you mention something you try to do in your writing and I think "hey! I try that too!" :) )

And another conclusive reply, just to show you (as if there was a need) I did read and appreciate your comment: I will try and force myself to finish my stories in the future, you are absolutely right that I usually did stop in the middle :)

Thanks again Sir (since if you're not a knight in the purest sense of the word, I don't know who is)
McFlury
Germy Blake
95. Philberg
Steve,
I'd like to echo all previous comments and thank you for taking the time to join us on this re-read and enlighten some of our queries.

This is my first post as I've just really enjoyed reading everyone else's comments, ideas, conflicting approaches etc.. However it's just occurred to me what a great opportunity this is to (possibly) have some thoughts I have answered by the main man himself.

I'm aware that you now live in the UK and have written much of the MBoF series over here, however the genesis of the concept with Cam, happened over in Canada (or at least I think so). Has this change in landscape, culture, etc had any effect on the MBoF either in direction, characters, lands, creatures...? I know you are a well travelled fella and much learned in word cultures but has living in a different country influenced MBoF?
Stefan Sczuka
96. moeb1us
Thank you for the mutual agreement on a cease-fire between Aba and his accusants (I hope there is one, certainly feels so), the skirmish was somehow wrong in this place.

I don't want to warm it up again (by no means) but I read through all comments of all posts of the reread (noticed it too late) and I really appreciate Abalienos thoughts/insights, even if he takes them too far sometimes.

Imho just leave him be, I think it is only fair to grant readers different approaches to the material. I hope from now on we can all float next to each other, maybe in seperate lanes.
Last but not least I think SE could defend himself if he was so inclined and needs no one that jumps in to respond to some felt 'heresy'.
Theresa Gray
97. Terez27
sorry, I posted spoilers :(
Tai Tastigon
99. Taitastigon
moeb1us @96

Well, sorry, but you DID *warm* this *dreary* topic up - why not let it rest ? Was that necessary ? I will only mention this ONE last time, for ONE reason and ONE reason only (sorry, Amanda): The criticism re Abalieno is not re his insights per se, but entirely and exclusively about his judgements and speculations about the entire cycle when admittedly only having read 35% of it.

No more, no less.

I kindly request you to specifically take that into consideration and get informed when talking about *accusants*.

And now, PLEASE - when the sponsors of this reread (Amanda and Bill) request that a certain point of contention be buried, PLEASE keep it buried ! Don´t dig it out under the premise that you *would like to keep it buried, but... (you actually would like to rediscuss it)*, OK...?

Let´s simply enjoy the cycle and the fact that SE is more than available and willing to share his thoughts on MBotF with us...!

And how about that cover of tCG ? Deliciously ambivalent, isn´t it... ;0)
Germy Blake
100. Marc Rikmenspoel
What do I like about The Malazan Book of the Fallen? I like the military history. I love military history in general, especially the Second World War. Just as SE has read extensively about the Vietnam War, especially memoirs and oral history, so I have read the same type of work with a focus on the Eastern Front of 1941-45.

The real story of just about any war is usually barely known. It took until just a few years ago to get a really good history of the French & Indian War (the last one, aka The Seven Years War in America). That was Fred Anderson's Crucible of War, in which the first really believable rendering was given of George Washington's behavior at Jumonville's Glen, in 1754. No one previously had integrated accounts from survivors on both sides along with a thorough understanding of Iroquois and inter-tribal politics.

It might also take 250 years for really meaningful studies to be produced about the Second World War. In the meantime, I contribute what I can through my own books, and via online discussions. Piece by piece, a fuller picture emerges.

SE understands this process, which I'm sure has parallels in his academic fields. But he understands how history works, how different viewpoints can all be valid, and how the participants all feel justified in their own actions. A historian should not be seeing "good" and "evil," those are contrivances concocted by politicians. Unfortunately, too many readers have been conditioned to look for black and white behavior in their reading, whether or not it purports to be fiction. It can be disconcerting to them to read something like the Malazan books, where it is all shades of grey, even though encountering such characterization in Glen Cook's work many years ago was liberating, for me, and inspirational for SE (from what he has mentioned here and there).

So as indicated by SE himself, and posters here, it is the truth that makes MBotF appealing, to me. The historical truth of this fictional work. Of course there are other aspects I enjoy, but this is what grabs me the most. It probably actually is happening like this in some other dimension, somewhere.
Tricia Irish
101. Tektonica
Can we please get this thread bookmarked somewhere so we can get to it?

Either on the Malazan reread page in the right hand column, or in the left hand column where many of the same threads are posted as recents, over and over. There is no discernible way to find this thread on the Main page.

Pretty please!
Steven Halter
102. stevenhalter
@Steve:
Continuing my thoughts on things I like about TMBotF--as Marc@100 mentioned, the sense of history is important. There is the scope of the history--100's of thousands of years and there is the feeling of observing history at the participant level.
Then, there are the characters. Small roles and large roles--they are all faithful to the story. This relates back to the historical sense of the piece. Characters die at times we don't particularly like them dying, but this is just as happens here. Bad things happen to people both good and bad. As you mentioned, its a tragedy and tragedy is painful but can by cathartic.
Tai Tastigon
103. Taitastigon
Marc @ 100

Hello Marc,

I couldn´t agree any more with you re style in MBotF. SE does not write like a fantasy author, he writes fiction like a historian with a strong background in anthropology and archaeology, spiced up with a chock´full´a social commentary.

I am currently reading two non-fiction books about the history of spices in occidental culture ( do not even ask me WHY...;0)) - Michael Krondl´s *The Taste of Conquest - The Rise and Fall of the Three Great Cities of Spice* and Jack Turner´s * Spice - the History of a Temptation* - and I am amazed about how many *Erikson*-moments these books are giving me...actually, to be cynically honest, I think SE holds back when compared to actual history of the brutality/depravityof humanity in RL, from what I have read in these two books so far...- I think Steven is trying to go easy on us...;0)
Germy Blake
104. McFlury
Another question jumped in my mind, this one related to the books, be it not GotM but DoD. As a result, to avoid spoilers, I can't really go in detail in asking this question. Luckily, there is no need to do so right now :)

My question is: The process of hobbling you (read: Mister Erikson) described, did you invent that yourself, or is it actually something humans (used to) do to eachother? The reason I'm asking this is because it completely horrified me (I felt completely sick upon reading, and alas, imagining it) and I wondered if it was an offspring of your brilliant (but at some times horrible it would seem) mind, or if it was some ghastly process humans used to perform and you wanted to share it with is.

Also, don't get me wrong... that part of the book touched me more than any other part before, and it was beautifully written. So I'm most certainly not judging you on writing down such horrible scenes. I was just wondering if this happened in real life as well, or if it is just a figment of your imagination.
Chris Hawks
105. SaltManZ
@McFlurry: I am reminded of the Author's Note that Richard Adams put in his book (my favorite book), Shardik:

"Lest any should suppose that I set my wits to work to invent the cruelties of Genshed, I say here that all lie within my knowledge and some—would they did not—within my experience."
Germy Blake
106. Marc Rikmenspoel
Here's an actual question for Steve, as opposed to the commentary I offered previously.

Why are Gardens of the Moon and Deadhouse Gates written in American English, while Memories of Ice and onward are in British English? Or rather, why are they published that way, and in which version of English were they written?

I know Canadians often mix and match American and British points of writing style (see music critc Martin Popoff in particular, he freely admits to it!). I'm sure others have noticed that the first two Malazan books have " for quotations, and words such as "color," while the rest by SE use ' for quotations, and words spelled such as 'colour.'

Esslemont uses the British style for Night of Knives, and I don't yet own Return of the Crimson Guard. I expect it also uses British style. What gives with SE's first two?
M D
107. Abalieno
Why are Gardens of the Moon and Deadhouse Gates written in American English, while Memories of Ice and onward are in British English? Or rather, why are they published that way, and in which version of English were they written?

I could answer that. You probably have Tor editions. UK Bantam editions are always the same.

Tor's GotM had a few small changes in the text and spelling corrected to American. With House of Chains they started using the content of the UK version directly (same font, same pagination).

So I guess it's not something related to Erikson, but the publisher. Either the books didn't initially sell enough to do all the added work, or time constraints, or different politics and choices made.

The UK edition is the one that comes out first and Tor buys rights directly from Bantam, so I guess the British style is the one that Erikson uses.
Germy Blake
108. Marc Rikmenspoel
That sounds reasonable, thanks. It seems more likely it was a publisher decision, than an author one. I hope SE can verify the details for us.
Germy Blake
109. StevenErikson
Hello everyone

Just a quick note. Cam and I will be in Columbus later this week and we're hoping to get online to take questions etc Thursday or Friday: will let you know once we hammer out a time (probably Thursday and/or Friday afternoon).

Cheers for now
SE
Thomas Jeffries
110. thomstel
Re: What do I like about these stories?

- The Challenge -
When I sat down to read Malazan initially, it was at the suggestion of the long-gone r.a.sf.w.r-j group members, particularly those who were not interested in getting involved with Martin's aSoIaF series. These were fairly critical, experienced fantasy lit readers, and I took them at their word that the series was Good.

I could NOT NOT NOT get my head around the beginning of Gardens; I was just flat out lost. In media res and all that, but still. I was really disgruntled by the confusion, but sat the book aside and went with one of my time-honored traditions to such misfortune...wait a few weeks and try it again. It worked for Wheel of Time, Death Gate cycle, a fair bit of Vonnegut's stuff, and it worked for Malazan as well. Gardens gained momentum, started getting consistent within the tale as was written, and by the end I was cheering like an idiot fanboy.

Then I moved onto Deadhouse Gates, and had my feet knocked out from under me. Again. New continent, new characters, new plotlines. I didn't want to read about Duiker, or figure out how to pronounce his name, or watch the pathetic bickering of Felisin and her roadies. Everybody split up, everybody met new people, everyone headed down their own path, spawning mini-adventures and plot points EVERYWHERE.

By the end of the book, I was in tears, and white hot with fury. I have never hated a character in a story as much as I hated...well, you know who(s) from the Chain of Dogs. How could mere words on a page, even with Erikson gift for authorial telepathy as honed as it is, make me FEEL like this, and so strongly?

And then the epilogue came, and a story that could have ended with abject tragedy in almost every sense, instead ended with a line that turned my experience with the novel from despair towards this one hopeful spark.

That level of personal commitment to a story that I found that day has stuck with me throughout this series, and flavored my opinion of other authors and tales. With many other authors, I just crash, flip the book open, and get started. With Erikson, I sit down and have to ready myself for the tale; I have to prepare mentally to take on the material. Not only does my awareness need to be there to connect the dots and detect the resonance between the scenes/dialogue/plotlines, but I have to anticipate the emotions that will flow as the tale is told. I've found that opening up my pores to see the story better will also attune the receptors for experiencing all that emotion as well, so it's a double-edged sword to be able to get into that frame of mind.

And at this point, I wouldn't have it any other way. As always, many thanks Mr. Erikson.
Tricia Irish
111. Tektonica
Thomstel@110:

Well said!

I find that I must steel myself for the emotional roller coaster, and commit to being in Malazan when I sit down to read. It's hard to carry these books around with me, and catch a few pages while waiting somewhere, which is a new experience for me. I need a couple of hours, uninterrupted, to disappear. And sometimes, I can't take more than that. I need to stop and breathe and digest and ponder and connect the dots. I can't read them late at night, because I incorporate the emotions into my dreams. Vivid. Visceral.

A challenge indeed. What a joy!
Germy Blake
112. SneakyVerin
SE--
You asked us:
When I read comments and reviews and I note, again and again, phrases like 'world of vast depth' and 'characters you care about.' So far so good. Let's assume you answer in kind to my question; now I will follow it with these:

But why? Why are these things important to you? From where in your life did their value arise? Is it simply the technical ability of mine to convey empathy and detail? Or is it evidence of the nature of a human being in seeking out reasons for compassion?


It's quite true that depth of the world and empathetic characters is exactly how I would answer you...but the why??? hmmm
I think to when I first cracked open GotM, the very first scene with Paran overlooking the Mouse, and his excitement in talking to a Bridgeburner commander, and that Commander's attempts to warn him off of his desire to be a soldier. It was 4 pages, a five minute conversation; yet we knew Paran's desire, Whiskeyjack's pain at seeing that desire, Fiddler already attempting to keep his commander in some form of humanity, the horror of the many lives lost that night, and the depth of Laseen's ambition. We the reader leave the scene already taking sides, already having heartache, already pulled in. This is the epitome of what an avid reader wants and needs! and here it is, delivered full force in the first 4 pages.
As a sometime novice writer, I can't express how rare that ability is.
I think we have the need as readers to FEEL in order to believe. and why is this??? I think that is what we look for in books, to be entertained in a way that strikes us right at our emotional core. It doesn't matter what emotion, as long as we can feel it. So I don't think it's a technical ability, I feel it is a human ability, which is something that even surpasses talent. To get this across, most writers would have needed 60 pages, yet here it was done in 4.
Those of us who write know how much of ourselves is pooured into a piece of writing, and the pain of editing. So to see this raw yet visceral emotion, to have that picture in our mind of Paran's world opening up before him, of Whiskeyjack's pain in wanting to spare him the reality, in such a short and tight scene, seems nothing short of genius...
So thank you for this.
a a-p
113. lostinshadow
Thomstel@110 and Tektonica@111 well said!

I usually plow through books and enjoy doing so to a various degree depending on the author's skill but the Malazan series is an experience in and of itself. As many have noted, it is certainly intellectually challenging because of the sheer volume of characters and plot points and how they interweave and intersect with each other.

But more importantly, SE's writing engages the reader's emotions in a way I have never experienced with any other writer - ever. I find myself emotionally invested in characters I dislike but somehow am haunted by or maybe hypnotized by. Or screaming at some plot twist or just crying. It might be a world of fantasy but it is the most emotionally engaging work I have ever come across and how can anyone not enjoy that kind of talent?
Germy Blake
114. creative_gestalt
Steve -

I love the mystery. I simply adore it. It wasnt always that way.

The first few books i hungered after answers. The malazan world was one of great enticement and frustration... And as the years have swung on it has become much more akin to my marriage. Im grateful for the mystery. I dont want it to stop. It's what keeps it alive, fresh... awake.

So, after years of questions coursing through my mind, I find that here and now I don't actually want you to tell me anything about the books. They speak for themselves. So please, no plot points, no secrets, no character history. None of that.

What I'd love to know, what I do want to ask about, is you and Cam. The genesis. What I want, and would feel quite lucky to have, is a fireside storytelling - to hear about the games you built this world out of. Not to hear what happened in those games - that will come out in the novels. Instead, I'd love to know more about who played who, whe this genesis tracked in our larger shared universe, this ball of mud we call home.

A bit of a social butterflyn in life, I'm a bit of a recluse online. I tend to read forums - not participate. Feel free to be flattered: this is the very first comment ive ever left on a thread. This chance to ask you & Cam something... it's not to be passed up.

Im a voracious reader. Always have been. And simply, I adore what you and cam have done. What youre doing. It is unique. It has the smack of true creativity to it... The world you've built a gateway to has an authenticity to it that is unparalleled. I believe this to be an extension of your creative gestalt as a team. Something which it seems gets far too little mention from others than yourselves. For what it's worth, though I respect you as authors individually, and appreciate your individual talents, I see that larger work as being very clearly a full collaboration. It reeks of pizza, soda, and late bull sessions... It's authenticity is tooted here; in dialogue. That backstory, your story (and his), is what calls to me. It brings back memories and it spurns me onwards in my own pursuits which are different than yours but also creative. And also collaborative.

As a designer i know the value of critique. Of shared creative spaces. With that said, the scale of what you two are building is breathtaking. Simply and truly. Across the years as I've been following your work it has taken on a palpable presence in my mind. As I see other authors explore contemproary themes of authorial genesis and the power of belief as it applies to human creativity (btw read pandemonium by Daryl Gregory if you have a chance. I find it as important as what you two are doing in its own way), with characters 'coming to life' I ALWAYS come back to your work.

I think there's a very good reason for that. These characters have been lived in. This world has been explored. And not by one mind voyaging out like Herbert did - but by two. Working in tandem. Critiquing. Challenging. Inspiring. Laughing. Delighting - etc etc.

Point being - tell me about Smiley's. Or Coop's. The real one. Or, if youre willing, tell me about both. Id love a fireside story about the place where men met and set out to take on the world. This one or that one - or both. I'd like to have a glimpse into your shared space where you created and lived the taking of one world and laid the groundwork for the taking of this one. Wheels within wheels and all that.

And, being ever so humble, I would simply love it if Cam chimed in as well. How's that for low expectations? Seriously though; I've read the rpg article, and I've noticed the facts here and there in interviews and so forth... If you can do so without compromising the larger story, which i agree is not to be disturbed, please - tell us a story. Tell us about the game that became a world that became a lifetimes work. Ive spent so many hours living in your created space, I know that the books will deliver. If im ever supposed to know what Kellvaned and Dancer discussed with Dasseem when they set out for Quan Tali, youll tell me. Or Cam will. In time. You enjoy the telling to much.

But I can't help but see echoes of that world in this one. Though it might be a personal space you'd rather not share, I'd like to ask after those echoes. Echoes that might otherwise never exist outside of your own personal stories; the stories we each tell ourselves of ourselves. What you two have done is utterly unique and frothing with creative energy. So please, take this as an open invitation to share a tale of those days, those nights, as you feel best fits what I've presented here.

Or, I suppose, I could just ask you who gamed which characters... Nah. It's more fun this way.

Cheers & thanks to you both.

D
Ken Segraves
115. KenSegraves
Mr. Erickson,
Thank you for the many hours of life outside this reality as this series has taken me through multiple wars and wives yet the stories have survived all the battles, both personal and professional.
I have some questions: How do you write soldiers so well? Were you ever in the military?
The themes and dialog are always consistent with how Soldiers actually interact, with each other and, at times, their equipment. I've been a Soldier for over 21 years now and I just wanted to say thank you for taking the time to provide a Soldier point-of-view in a better light than the news media. I’d work for Fiddler any time.
v/r,
Sergeant Major

Subscribe to this thread

Receive notification by email when a new comment is added. You must be a registered user to subscribe to threads.
Post a comment