Oct 29 2010 3:52pm

A Conversation with Malazan series authors Steven Erikson and Ian C. Esslemont

Malazan reread of the Fallen on

Welcome to a conversation with Malazan series authors Steven Erikson and Ian Cameron Esslemont! The two will be chatting back and forth about various elements in the Malazan books, starting after the cut and continuing in the comments.

Steven Erikson: Hello to all readers, oh, and to Cam who is now sitting opposite me overlooking the hotel lobby. It’s horking cold out (that’s a Canadianism, by the way). We’ve been sitting around discussing what we’d talk about here; one thing I noticed, on the Malazan forum, was a thread on the the world map, to which one thing needs saying. Cam is left-handed and I am right-handed and this has led to confusion again and again on how we internally visualise things. As an aside, the opening line in Lees is wrong, and “west” should read “east.” (I think, I don’t have the map with me at the mo.) Anyway, Cam’s written something so I’ll pass it over to him now...

Ian Cameron Esslemont: Hello everyone from WorldFantCon.

Firstly, thank to everybody for opening up this re-read to the wider Malaz world beyond the Book of the Fallen. Steve and I are here side by side to chat and answer questions.

I understand Steve started talking about maps. We have a world map from way back that showed the continents and their relationships, etc. When life took us to separate cities and then countries I believe the world map got buried, and Steve ended up adding a new continent. That complicated things but I believe we worked out that one. Anyway, perhaps some inconsistencies can be blamed there. (On him! Ha.)

The conversation continues in the comments!

Ian Esslemont
1. Ian_Esslemont
Ezramon asked about how much we exchange information, touch base, and such. Actually not nearly as much as we would wish (or perhaps should). Remarkably, however, very little trouble has arisen in continuity and such as a result. The world is set in our minds, the arcs stand, and we are just realizing in prose what we'd played through (in general) years ago.
Steven Erikson
2. StevenErikson
Maps! I'm always to blame when it comes to maps, since I drew most of them, and no doubt added things here and there in the process. While Letheras was indeed squeezed in at a later date, the actual gaming of certain events that took place on that continent preceded the addendum by a few years (IIRC). I don't quite recall when I mocked up the final world map, but that was when I did the revision, inserting that continent.

If anyone is interested, we could talk a bit about climate and geography, but best wait to see if anyone is interested in that.
Spencer Pr
3. mycoltbug
Hi Mr. Erikson and Esslemont
Ok here's a question concerning maps in general. I have been struggling with knowing where to go with the mapping process as I have been writing my first book. So I'm hoping you can explain the process you went through when you started to write the Malazan series. D id you write the book then come up with the map or did you develop the map through your first draft?
Steven Erikson
4. StevenErikson
Following on to Cam's response: we tend to cram in conversations at these conventions, which is usually the only place we can link up face to face. In fact, and as a teaser, Cam's been telling me all about the Darujhistan novel, which follows my Toll the Hounds. What impressed me yet again was Cam's ability to plot -- I can't wait to see this manuscript.
Steven Halter
5. stevenhalter
Feel free to tell us all about the Darujhistan novel. ;-)
Ian Esslemont
6. Ian_Esslemont
Yes, Steve did most of the mapping in terms of geography, outlines, etc. I don't know how the labour broke down in terms of filling things out but a number of blank continents came my way which I then filled out with peoples, cities, civilizations, and such. Usually who was 'running' that game determined who would fill in the map. For example, Steve ran me in north Genabackis and so filled all that out. Then, later, I ran Steve in south Genabackis and filled out all the south.
7. Sloemode
This is a question I like to ask of any author when I have a chance. What is your average daily word count when you're writing, and what is the average word count of one of your books? Okay, so maybe it's two questions, but as an aspiring author myself, I like to gauge my productivity against those who have succeeded where I intend to tread. Thanks!
Steven Erikson
8. StevenErikson
There was a question asked whether we ever ran into a situation where one of us sais 'No! You can't do that!' and the quick answer is never. The thing with writing fiction is that it is inherently flexible; we always begin with agreeing on the general recollection of the 'events' to ensure our memories more or less match; but at the same time so much of what we do, is invention on the fly. In this sense, we can continually surprise each other, which is great. One of the disadvantages Cam has faced is that, since I was first off the mark with these novels, he has had to contintually readjust his storylines when I rail off on some inventive madness. For all you writers out there, imagine teh challnge you'd face when your stories can in a flash get knocked askew, forcing you to make changes, invent new stuff, and make it all work...
9. Marc Rikmenspoel
I asked this before, in other parts of this site, but do you two write in British English for your books, and why are GotM and DG in American English (Tor editions), but none of the others from both of you? Is that publisher and editor decisions, or how they were written? (and I realize that Tor editions from HoC onward use British typesetting imported to the colonies).
11. Abalieno
Since we got them together I'd like to ask them to talk about this hypothetic project they are supposedly writing together, one chapter each about Mott irregulars. Is this rumor or reality? Also how it would fit in the continuity and if it's planned to be as big as the usual novel or something more leisurely like a novella (or a series of novellas).

And then updates. We got mention that Cam is now writing the "Darujhistan novel" after Stonewielder instead of the "Assail novel". Whatever you can say about futur plans, reasons for plans' change, intended authorial approach & intention, whatever you could say about this that isn't a spoiler or plot point ;) What's your overall up to date plan?

Also, have to do this for Wert, what about the world map? ;)
Ian Esslemont
13. Ian_Esslemont
Steve and I so far have never had to curse and kick walls at the fates of any character. Speaking for myself, I often just ask myself what would make Steve laugh here, or 'he'll love it when he sees this.' Any really big question, such a thematic resolution for example, we make sure we clear with the other, as right now, for example, we've been talking through the various fates as realized in Steve's tenth.
14. Abalieno
If anyone is interested, we could talk a bit about climate and geography, but best wait to see if anyone is interested in that.

Dunno here, but there was a number of people interested on Malazan forums. I think the debate here was about the positioning of continents and how some climate zones would "mismatch". Then there's the whole issue of Jaghut powers and whatnot.

Specifically since it was mentioned, in the last map that we got (unofficially) there was Letheras "south" of the Seven Cities continent (the whole thing on the west), when instead it was usually placed in the far east, past Genabackis. People asked how it's possible the Malazan empire was oblivious about it when it was geographically relatively close (by its new position).
Ian Esslemont
15. Ian_Esslemont
Abalieno: Steve just said "I don't know where that came from" in response to this question of book sequence. The order of the books is long standing. A short-hand or speculation might have started the 'Assail next' thing. But no, that's my last, always was.
What I can say more generally regarding the big picture ordering is that it has been remarkably stable. Like our writing processes also, I think. Neither of us cuts and pastes when we write the novels. We write in sequence. Each scene that follows each is written where you see them.
16. Marc Rikmenspoel
Was "Kiska" taken from the Aleutian island? Or is that coincidence? Will we meet Attu at some point? ;-)
Steven Halter
18. stevenhalter
The Three Musketeers comes to mind. I'd never thought of it, but it is cool (if its the right one.)
19. Abalieno
A short-hand or speculation might have started the 'Assail next' thing. But no, that's my last, always was.

I remember an old interview where you (Cam) mentioned there may be an epilogue to Erikson's series written by you and that it would be one or two volumes. Is this the one about Assail? So does it mean that it comes "after" the events of The Crippled God?

(and yes, you're right. I've checked my blog and the sequence is right. It was Pat of Fantasy Hotlist to speculate you may move to Assail after Stonewielder because of some plots)
Ian Esslemont
20. Ian_Esslemont

Points for Marc. Yes, I'm starting to slip in 'arcticisms' (that's a new word, eh!) since I'm in alaska now.
Ian Esslemont
21. Ian_Esslemont
An earlier question posted asked 'why' we'd started the Malaz series. I'll tackle this since Steve wants to go out for a smoke.

One reason we gave the Malaz world, the series, the character that it has (overturning fantasy warhorses (ha) of noble kings, etc) was that we decided to try to infuse the genre with some elements of literary sensibility. One of these is a kind of 'social realism' and any social realist examining human history cannot help but see that the traditional images, tropes, romanticisms, projected into the past have been laughably distorting. I mean, happy peasants? Generous Kings? Give me a break. We decided to stick a sword in all that.
22. Marc Rikmenspoel
Thank you for the answers, and for your writings overall. As an aside, I don't suppose Glen Cook has given you any hints as to when that new last Dread Empire novel will finally be ready, has he? I've been waiting over 20 years, just like you!
Steven Erikson
23. StevenErikson
stick the sword in and twist it, in fact. Shalter, that's bloody impressive! Now I will be sending you a book! We'll have to work out mailing addresses, etc, at some later point. What I loved so much with that revelation was the fact that I never clicked on it at all, but as soon as Cam brought it up, I did the old palm to the forehead thing. Anyway, well done on that one! Of course, Kruppe throws a spanner into the works, but then, he always does.

Speaking of Kruppe, Cam has expressed worry about his taking on that character, specifically in dialogue, but we've worked something out on that (I myself am not worried at all): the key for you readers to hold onto is the fact we are distinct and separate writers, and our takes on characters will be different, but no one is more 'accurate' than the other. View it as if two historians were recounting events...
Dave-Brendon de Burgh
24. EvadBelBurgh
Hey Steve, hey Ian, Dave here from South Africa. :-) (Hope you see this and I'm not typing into the ether...) Just wanted to let you guys know that you both have a legion of fans here - I'm a bookseller and constantly have to make sure that all the books are in stock all the time (thanks, Transworld!). I don't have a question for either of you, but I do want to say thanks - you've given us a legendary series (and I'm so glad we'll get more after The Crippled God!), and literature is richer for it; you guys rock!
Steven Erikson
25. StevenErikson
Marc, I heard talking to someone here last night that Glen's working hard on delivering two manuscripts. Fingers crossed one of them is the last Dread Empire novel...
26. Abalieno
To Cam: can I put my crown of mischief on then? ;)

I've only read Night of Knives (because late to the party and moving slowly) and my critics to that book is that it seems to sit too much into genre conventions. So if the reason behind the Malazan world was to turn tables, some joyful subversion and deviousness, why didn't this seem to seep into NoK? I'm less interested to prove a point than hearing what was your approach to that book and what you tried to do with it.
27. WJD
Steve- "The Forge of Darkness", that is the first time I've heard the title for a book in your Kharkanas trilogy, I'm not gonna ask about the characters, major plot points, or release...but can you tell us if it will be set chronologically following the events of your main series, or if it is set way back before the Tiste Invasisons.
Steven Erikson
28. StevenErikson
Hi Evad, great news and thanks for posting. Now all we have to do is arrange a signing tour down your end of the world. Would love to see South Africa (and maybe visit the coastal caves where all those hominids have been uncovered).
29. mce102
Congratulations to Steve on completing the MBOF main sequence books, it has been a massive undertaking and for me a thrilling investment of my time....thanks. For Cam, your first two novels have been very enjoyable and I looking forward to reading the third.

How do you both remember all the detail of such a vast world with so many characters, each with their own back story. What if one of you kills a character that the other liked?
Ian Esslemont
30. Ian_Esslemont
Gah, Kruppe! Quite the challenge. Anyway, yes, Steve and I have picked up a number of each other's characters. And, like any point of view change, things always look different .... One uncontrollable element of all this is reader's expectations. Sometimes the reader is 'let down' because the character hasn't met his or her expectations. But that's not under the writer's control, that's brought to the text by the reader. We'd be guilty of dropping the ball if the individual ever acted 'out of character' with some sort of awful sentimental change of heart or something ghastly like that.
31. Abalieno
Speaking of Kruppe, Cam has expressed worry about his taking on that character, specifically in dialogue

Heh, not surprised. But it will be really interesting to see where Cam goes with that. It's a risk but it could lead to an interesting outcome.
Steven Erikson
32. StevenErikson
WJD, yeah, up till now only my TW editor knew the title. This trilogy takes us back to before the Tiste diaspora, and involves the eponymous peoples, along with a few others you know well, or think you know well, not as well as you think, as I think you'll see.
33. The Gunslinger
How much planning/mapping out do you guys do before writing a novel? I'm an aspiring writer, and I've always had trouble with this sort of thing - plan too little and things drag on, plan too much and I lose all inspiration to write (if I have everything completely played out in my head, I lose a lot of my motivation to write it...part of that, I think, is that scenes always play out better in my head than on paper, unless they're spontaneous).

Anyway, I'd just like to thank both of you. I've never had more fun reading. Steve, you always blow me away with your endings. I always find myself staying up until 3 or 4 in the morning to finish the last few hundred pages because it's nonstop awesome. The Malazan universe is what gives me my inspiration to write. You guys are the kings of fantasy, no matter what the bestseller lists claim.
Steven Halter
34. stevenhalter
Steve: Thanks. I had pretty much exactly the reaction you just described when you mentioned the literary tale, with Coll, Murrilio and Rallick, with Crokus thrown i--hand to forward, of course! I never thought of it either. Milady de Winter would be played by
Lady Simtal. Excellent Cam!
Dave-Brendon de Burgh
35. EvadBelBurgh
The caves are beautiful, and I'm pretty sure you would happily spend hours or days in them. :-) I've always imagined Mappo and Icarium sojourning there for a bit, myself... :-)
Dave-Brendon de Burgh
37. EvadBelBurgh
I'll keep on driving sales to make the trip worthwhile! Count on it! :-)
38. WJD
I don't really have a question, but since the publishing order of Cam's books was talked about earlier, I just want to let you know that you are absolutely killing me doing the Assail novel last. Stonewielder sounds like it'll be great, and of course I'm looking forward to what is going to happen in Darujhistan...but I've been waiting to find out what the F*@$ is going on Assail since the end of MoI.

Sorry, /rant.
Ian Esslemont
39. Ian_Esslemont
Abalieno: In Knives I'd hoped to provide two contrasting POVs, each of which stands on either side of the fence on this genre convention issue. On the one hand, we have a representative of the traditional 'romanticizing' of the genre with Kiska. Wide-eyed expectations of glory, rosy-hued romancism, and dreams of crowds applauding while laurels are pinned.
On the other hand we have Temper. He is the counter-weight with his 'tempered' realization that the best thing to do is not cooperate in other's flesh-rending plans of aggrandizement, and that justice and reward do not necessarily follow effort (unlike the genre trope that it does).
Steven Erikson
40. StevenErikson
Gunslinger, there's no greater challenge than in getting what's in your head to play out the way it should on the page; and it is a fine balance between too much note-taking and mapping a novel, and too little. Trial and effort and looking at writers whose work pleases you. I know for myself, when I get to big scenes, I get butterflies and start feeling the pressure big-time: as I was feeling with most of The Crippled God. You've got to slow down at the the very edge of those scenes, and feel your way through. Awaken the emotional taps within you and don't be afraid to feel deeply, whatever the feeling may be. If you are not feeling wrung out and half-destroyed (or utterly destroyed) by the end of that scene, go back and rework it, until you do.
People joke about resurrections of characters in the Malazan world, but that reflects my own personal resurrections: I die and am reborn a hundred times each novel. After The Crippled God, that rebirth has taken over a month, the longest ever for me...
Dave-Brendon de Burgh
41. EvadBelBurgh
By the way, Ian - Kellanved's entrace in Night of Knives was insanely cool; I got the shivers, imagining this short old man and this massive presence he had... Loved the book! Still busy with Stonewielder... :P
42. Bookworm Blues
Hello Steve & Ian,

I actually feel really stupid asking this question as I'm sure both of you have answered it ad nauseam in interviews but I simply cannot help myself. If someone else already asked this, I apologize for being redundant and not sifting through all the comments.

Let's say a character ends up dying in a book (I'm being deliberately vague in case any people read this who haven't read your books). Do you, as the author(s) have a hard time parting with the character(s) when they die? Are some harder than others to let go of?

As a side question, if you are feeling rambunctious enough to answer it: Do you ever find it hard to live up to fan expectations when you are writing?

Thanks, in advance.
Steven Halter
43. stevenhalter
Steve: I just did a private Shoutbox to your profile Shoutbox with my address.
Steven Erikson
44. StevenErikson
drew... no, did the fiction side of things. Had Conroy to start, followed by Clark Blaise and then James McPherson. Who was my favourite? Jack Hodgins and Bill Valgaardson back in Uvic. Not wanting to sound sour but the best thing for me about Iowa was becoming friends with Chris Offutt, and my thesis finding a publisher in Canada (A Ruin of Feathers).
45. The Gunslinger
Thanks for the insight, very helpful.

Concerning the resurrections of characters, it's definitely that turns some people off, but I think the key here is that death in the Malazan world is different than in our world. "Regular" life and the afterlife interact, rather than being separated by an impenetrable veil.

Just realized that, since the Kharkanas triology is first, we won't get to witness the completion of Karsa's tale for quite a few years. But hell, why am I even complaining. Rake, Ruin, Andarist, Draconus, perhaps the forging of Dragnipur, confrontations with Osseric (possibly...depending on how far the trilogy goes; I'd love to see the two giants butting heads, though, as we've often heard about).

Hate to ask plot-related questions, but is there a chance we'll ever find out more about the one true Jaghut war?
Todd Tyrna
46. Ezramoon
To continue with the poetry questions, as it was discussed very heavily in the GotM either of you have any comments or insight as to why Steven puts it in every chapter or why Cam does not use it (at least in NoK I don't see any)? Do you find it fun to write the passages and do you feel they add real depth to your story for those of us bold enough to pick it apart and decipher all of it?
Steven Halter
47. stevenhalter
I really enjoy the magic in the Malaz world--big and small, its a part of the world.
The whole warren concept seems fairly unique to me. What influences do you recall leading to it? (Or did it come to mind out of the "whole cloth").
Sydo Zandstra
48. Fiddler
Steve, Ian,

First, I'd like to express that what you are doing in the rereads here on ToR is awesome. And probably unique. Thank you.

Since you are both here, I'd like to ask about shores.

In Steven's books I've noted the theme come up a few times: with the Shake mainly, in their homeland but also when they arrive in Kharkanas. Even with Paran being on the shore of the Raraku Sea and calling who he does there.

In Ian's books I noted the theme of defending the coastline against the Stormriders, and the same with defending against those at the Stormwall in Korelri.

Is this theme something you discussed/planned or is it just a coincidence those themes are there?
49. Abalieno
On the one hand, we have a representative of the traditional 'romanticizing' of the genre with Kiska.

Yeah, my problem with the character was not in the premise, but that when she actually faces reality, it's the reality that "elevates" itself to Kiska's fancy level. Dream and reality, they blend in that night.

This worked wonderfully and was a great premise. My delusion was that I was expecting Kiska to face the ugly side at some point (dream Vs nightmare) and be changed deeply and have her going a different way, or the same way with a different attitude. Instead she stays the same through the end.

So I felt that at the end the book "consolidated" the convention instead of going against it or see it turned on its head. That's my perspective.
Steven Erikson
50. StevenErikson
Bookworm, it can be very hard to say goodbye to characters, whether they die in the story or die because, well, it's time to move on. In some ways, the latter is harder, because I leave with a sense that somewhere, somehow, their lives continue, not just in, say, one of Cam's next novels, but also beyond the written page. It's sounding airy-fairy, but these characters are all facets of myself, as they must be, and I'm reminded of the crushing end to Milne's Pooh tales, when Christopher Robin tells Pooh he won't be seeing him again, that they must go their separate ways. I sometimes wonder, as an aside, how much of our creative forces emerge from those deep-felt experiences far into our pasts. I remember re-reading that tale to my son when he was young, and it damn-near broke me. Well, echoes of that return with my own characters, and with their lives. Those, however, that die in the story, well, those scenes have to fit, to arrive as the inevitable conclusion. They are punctuation marks, and they need to arrive at the perfect moment (ie the end of the sentence). Should someone then return in some fashion, it's because they're not quite done with me yet.
Ian Esslemont
51. Ian_Esslemont
Bookworm Blues: For a long time Steve and I have been in agreement on the fates of each of the major characters. If one of us was in doubt on this, we'd clear it up post-haste. As to letting go, no, not a problem in that the fates of each character is generally determined by the over-arching thematic logics. They go the way they have to go for things to make sense.


For example, I've taken some heat for Laseen's end in Return. Perhaps I could have taken more time there and prettied it up but that would have undermined the shock of it. And speaking of genre conventions, conventions dictate for weeping all around at the death of the empress, a long funeral scene with hands to chest, and the traditional sending off to Avalon with Wagner swelling in the background.
I say ,no, forget that cliched obligation. In the end she was alone in life and so she was alone in death. Cruel, but the thematic truth of it.
Leland von Kugelgen
52. lelandvk
Steve, Ian, again, thanks for doing this.

You have mentioned on many occasions that you've literally gamed out large tracts of the stories, and being a bit of a GURPS fan myself, I wonder if, when all is said and done, you might publish a Malazan Manual of sorts?

I know at least a dozen people who would absolutely love to construct their own adventures in the masterpiece that you guys have created.
53. Bookworm Blues
I have about a million other questions I want to ask but I won't, to be fair to everyone else. I'll just thank you SO much for you both taking the time to answer me. I'm a huge fan and having you guys answer my questions just about made my year.

Steven Erikson
54. StevenErikson
Gunslinger ... Jaghut? Oh, I'm sure they're around here somewhere.... Ezramoon: I enjoy writing poetry, plain and simple. I use them to open the door in my head. Fiddler, ah yes, shorelines. As a motif -- and take this pun as intended -- it is ... endless. But we can look at it as concsciousness/unconsciousness, life/death, fate/freewill ... the edges of the world are fascinating places, where there will always be two choices awaiting one. That's the place of invention, of freedom, and beginning and ending. How can one not love that kind of motif? Have we discussed themes on this level? All the time. We obsess on the submerged levels. We should be locked up. Abalieno ... no doubt Cam will give you a more precise response, but from me, a character with a beginning point of view who is then shaken from it into some new perspective, as is pat as any other of those conventions you disparage.
Steven Halter
55. stevenhalter
Steve:Any luck on finding a 5.25" floppy drive and PC for
Blackdog Blues?
56. Abalieno
Fiddler, ah yes, shorelines. As a motif -- and take this pun as intended -- it is ... endless. But we can look at it as concsciousness/unconsciousness, life/death, fate/freewill ... the edges of the world are fascinating places, where there will always be two choices awaiting one.

Somewhat reminds me of Takeshi Kitano ;)

Have you seen "Kikujiro"? If not, you have to :)
Steven Erikson
57. StevenErikson
Cam's PC battery just folded its hand. We're tracking down a powercord so it's just me at the moment...
Dave-Brendon de Burgh
58. EvadBelBurgh
Steve, Ian: I agree with BookwormBlues, time to give other fans some time. :-) Thanks for this opportunity, guys!
Steven Erikson
59. StevenErikson
Shalter, no, not yet. Everything is still (!) in boxes back at home. I know the disc is in there somewhere but have not had the time to find it. But you know, the UK might be a perfect place to find one. On occassion, the anachromisms of that country are jaw-dropping (part of its charm).
60. Abalieno
Abalieno ... no doubt Cam will give you a more precise response, but from me, a character with a beginning point of view who is then shaken from it into some new perspective, as is pat as any other of those conventions you disparage.

Well indeed. Contradicting the convention may as well become a common cliche itself.

Yet, I was still left wanting from that PoV and that story didn't "feel" completely convincing in the end. If you look at it less from the structure perspective and more cause/effect, I still expected Kiska to be more shaken, or at least open to a whole new level she didn't expect.

She's that bit of the novel that stays fancy even after the fancy night is over. Like an Alice in Wonderland who stays as Alice.

Just my personal reaction as reader.
61. The Gunslinger
Ever since MoI dialogue has had single quotations ('dialogue' rather than "dialogue"). Keyboard convenience, or because the entire series is one giant quote/something similar (possibly someone reading/telling the Malazan Book of the Fallen).

Thanks for your time!
Drew Riley
62. drewoftherushes
I think I've seen you talk about this somewhere else, but are audiobooks a possibility?
Steven Erikson
63. StevenErikson
There was an earlier question about maps and starting things up: the answer is yes, we started with maps. but remember, we were archaeologists -- every site we ever worked on started out with us poring over ordinance survey maps back in the lab; or on surveys carrying maps with us as we wandered the wilderness. So it was logical to begin there, for us at least. That may not be the same for everyone. But even in the making of the maps, we have a fair idea of what we wanted. I recall the early Blackdog game I ran for Cam, where I wanted to set the story in a northern boreal forest, the kind you rarely ever see in films or television. Snarly brush, mud and cold, etc. So the map I drew up reflected that.

Regarding GURPS and doing something for that system, well, they ain't never contacted us. If they did ... we'd listen.

Cam is logging back on, may have already for all I know... he's having to sit near an electrical outlet, about fifteen feet off to my right...
Drew Riley
64. drewoftherushes
@Abalieno - I think you've forgotten how flexible a child's mind is! They can get used to anything fast (and then take it for granted)
65. Marc Rikmenspoel
Single quotations is part of the British English aspect I asked about earlier, see SE's response near the top of this page.
Sydo Zandstra
66. Fiddler
Thank you, Steven. I know I do love that kind of motif.

I have another question for the both of you, and I'll try to put it as non-spoilerific as I can for first time readers. So I hope you will be able to pick out what I mean. If it's going to spoil plot, just say so. :)

You introduced members of parties that pose a huge threat to Life as Malazans Know It slowly, early on, starting with House of Chains. Personally I find a combination between striving for extreme Purity/Justice/Order a very believable threat to any world.

Since you and Ian are writing in the same story timeframe, will we see some of the the Liosan and Shorttails show up in Ian's stories too?
Steven Erikson
67. StevenErikson
Abalieno, well, it does seem you won't be shaken from your particular point of view, no matter how direct we get. Sort've like ... Kiska.
Leland von Kugelgen
68. lelandvk
Regarding GURPS and doing something for that system, well, they ain't never contacted us. If they did ... we'd listen.

The letter-writing campaign will begin promptly.

Thanks for the time!
Ian Esslemont
69. Ian_Esslemont
Abelieno: Yes, could aways do more. A first effort at tackling a few of the issues. But that wasn't the total focus of the novel anyway -- breaking every convention/expectation, I mean. (for experimental fiction try Cheever, for example). Kiska's growth remains (resilient wrongheadedness of youth and all that). As to one part of the end, well, Temper retires to obscurity and poverty just as the so lauded veterans of Wellington's Continental Army retired to begging for handouts on the streets of London. And that ain't the just rewards for loyalty of service you find in most of the rest of the genre.
Steven Erikson
70. StevenErikson
Fiddler, justice always rears its ugly head...
Steven Erikson
71. StevenErikson
Time's run out. Thanks to everyone who's visited and asked questions. We've had fun with this.

And thanks especially to Irene and all the folks at TOR for facilitating this session. We weren't sure how it would work, but it seems to have worked well (I hope others lurked behind the scenes, though!).

Cheers for now
Todd Tyrna
72. Ezramoon
Thank you both for your time, it was truly an honor!
Sydo Zandstra
74. Fiddler
Thanks to the both of you!

(I wanted to ask if I could get a signed copy of TCG somewhere. I wouldn't mind sending it to you and back. Since I doubt you will be touring the Netherlands. But Time's up)
75. AlaskaPo
One of the discussions that was embarked upon fairly recently over on the Something Awful forums had to do with the overall arc of the series, or rather, whose story it really was. After the obvious argument and conversation, some of us supposed that the story doesn't belong to any few characters, but it's more like a historian recounting a period of history, and telling us about all the pertinent players. What are your thoughts on this? The series is called "The MALAZAN Book of the Fallen," despite them not always being the center of attention, so I wonder...Is anyone/any group the main imptetus of the story in your minds? Are there any specific characters that really anchor the story for you, which everyone else sort of revolves around? My guess would be ST/Cotillion.

Also, Cam, as a fellow Alaskan, how do you feel about me ambushing you with books to sign? ;) Possibly in the supermarket.
Ian Esslemont
76. Ian_Esslemont

'You introduced members of parties that pose a huge threat to Life as Malazans Know It'

By the end of the first set of arcs, Steve's and mine, we hope that most of the main established lines of conflict will be resolved. Certainly a few loose threads will be dangling here and there as from a severely beaten rug, but for the most part the fatter threads will be answered -- sorry to be so conventional in actually resolving things! Anyway, you readers will be the judges of that.

I believe that's about all as Steve's signed off. Many thanks to all who kicked in posts! Great to finally be logged in. Steve says to tell Shelter that he has his address (hey cool -- how many fans can answer a pop question and get mailed a book from the author in under an hour?) Signing off, Cam.
77. AlaskaPo
Argh, time ran out as I was writing...I saw this on Facebook too late, it appears. :( Thanks for all the insight, guys! And thank you for the books!
Sydo Zandstra
78. Fiddler
Thanks, Cam. I'm looking forward to read Stonewielder :)
79. Abalieno
I'm left wondering at the discussion on geography that didn't happen ;)
Steven Halter
80. stevenhalter
Thanks for the info Cam! (And thanks for the literary info--way cool.)
Gerd K
81. Kah-thurak
Even though I didnt ask any questions, many thanks to Steve&Cam for sharing their thoughts and to the people at Tor who make things like this and the various Re-Reads possible. Keep up the good work!
Irene Gallo
82. Irene
A huge thanks to Steve and Ian and to everyone that chimed in! Steve and Ian are off to enjoy the convention but feel free to talk amongst yourselves. (Maybe curiosity will lull them back later.)

Sydo Zandstra
83. Fiddler
Thanks for being our hostess, Irene.

(now, whip them back... ;) )
84. Abalieno
If Esslemont returns I'd like to ask if writing Stonewielder was easier for him than the previous two novels.

We know that the draft of Return was done about the time of GotM and also NoK was written a long time ago and then rewritten again and again. Stonewielder should be the first work written in a relatively recent and short timespan, so I guess it's also more representative by what we may espect from him.

He has to deal with the writing career now, so try to stay within deadlines and everything. Has this helped or not? Stonewielder is getting good feedback at the moment so it seems Esslemont is getting more comfortable with the gig ;)
Todd Tyrna
85. Ezramoon
Wow, thanks for the pictures of the boys in action Irene!
Sydo Zandstra
86. Fiddler

Have you read RotCG? I've read it once, and am about to start the reread in order to finish it before Stonewielder arrives from Amazon.

However, I really liked the book in the first read.

This is no attempt to get back to the earlier discussions about read/not read. I've buried that.

Just curious.
87. Abalieno
Nope. I plan to resume with Midnight Tides when I'm done with The Way of Kings and Bakker's The Darkness that Comes Before. So I'll read in the proper reading order.

Got all the books already in multiple copies and will buy Stonewielder. In fact I plan to read MT in the new mass market Tor edition with the new (old UK) cover if I can get it.

Sometimes I read a page or two at random. Like yesterday I opened Dust of Dreams and read a wonderful and brilliant page about Ursto Hoobut and Pinosel (they seem to come out of one of B&KB novellas) :)

Actually, is that their first appearance?

Also read the first two pages of MT that are amazing.
88. Abalieno
Has anyone ever counted the overall number of named characters in the Malazan world?
Sydo Zandstra
89. Fiddler
It is their first appearance.

I'd suggest to skip DoD until you have the final book though, even in glancing. DoD and tCG are one book together, and DoD ends with a huge cliffhanger.

The Prologue of MT is awesome, with the whole Andii/Edur stuff going on. The rest of the book doesn't have much to do with what you read before (although you will find out where the Edur body found on the shore in MoI came from), but it's really necessary for the story, and it's written very well, as usual. It's about the CG putting up another power base, way before the stuff in the earlier books (It's Trull's tale to Onrack). The stuff about K'Chain Chemalle was put in there for a reason as well...

With The Bonehunters you will feel like coming home though, since it picks up with the 14th Army after Raraku, and you will visit Malaz City again. I know I felt like that...
Steven Halter
90. stevenhalter
Yes, thanks for setting this up Irene and further thanks for the photos!
91. FallenAscendant
Shame I found out about this a couple of hours ago and therefore missed it by about seven lovely hours. Still, I felt the need to add my thanks to the number. The Malazan series, as I am quick to state, made me see the enjoyment in reading and pushed me towards the career goal I danced around for years. So, Steven Erikson, Ian Esslemont, thank you for the gift.
Tricia Irish
92. Tektonica
I can't tell you how bummed out I am that I was stuck all afternoon and missed this!! You guys asked wonderful questions, and Ian and Steve were so open and insightful.

Wow. This was really an unique opportunity. Thank you Tor and Irene. I hope it happens again! Keep us posted.
93. Austin t Holland
Wow, I really geeked out when I saw what was going on here! Thanks to the Empire forum I found out about this, what a cool thing to be able to ask questions of these two amazing authors. I have a big grin from just reading their responses. The books have meant so much to me, and I always run to them for comfort in hard times. After the first few reads I got really good at just reading those huge scenes, you know the ones that I speak of, but now I find that the most fun is in the small moments. Having new love for characters is also a benefit of the love of the re-read. Like Laseen. I love that woman. No magic, not hot. Just, pure, awesome. So, thanks Cam, for breaking my heart just like Steve did. **Geeked out when Cam confirmed the Alaska-Kiska reference. I'm from Soldotna, Alaska.**
94. alt146
Awesome thread, sad that I missed it originally.

I'd like to echo Dave's thoughts that the Malazan series has definitely picked up in popularity here in South Africa. Two years ago I battled to find all but the most recent books - it took me the better part of a year to find a copy of Memories of Ice to call my own. Now most book stores have the whole series up and they seem to move quite a bit of stock.

@28 we would be honoured if you could make it all the way down here for a signing tour :)
hazel hunter
95. Hetan
@87 & 89 - these two characters first appear in MT ;)

Great conversation - thanks very much both of you.
Sydo Zandstra
96. Fiddler

Thanks. Been a while since I read MT. I usually start rereads for new book releases with TBH. :)
97. Abalieno
Oh, Hetan, could we have you for the reread too? ;)

Also, could I ask questions to the publisher (Tor)? I just got a mass market copy of The Bonehunters in the most recent Tor version with the standard UK cover. It's just lovely and I actually prefer this (smaller and more flexible) even to the UK mass market that I bought up to this point (especially now that they release them oversized).

Problem is that Tor now has switched a number of formats and the books in the series are all mismatched. It seems that the new format is only used by Midnight Tides and The Bonehunters, plus Dust of Dreams when it comes out next month. House of Chains, Reaper's Gale and Toll the Hounds instead use the consistent style for the interior (font, pagination) but the Tor covers that I prefer to avoid. Instead Gardens of the Moon, Deadhouse Gates and Memories of Ice have both mismatched interiors and the crappy covers.

Are there plans to re-release those in the mass market and have at last one consistent format?

I guess I'll have to bug Amanda on Twitter to ask if she can give me Irene Gallo's contact.

Can I dream that one day we'll have the whole series redone with covers made by either Swanland or Komarck? :)

I ask also because in the re-read list Deadhouse Gates is shown with the new style, even if it's not available for sale at the moment...
Irene Gallo
98. Irene
97: We are trying to standardize the series as the older books run out of stock and we need to reprint. Unfortunately that doesn't always happen in series oder.
99. Abalieno
Ah, understood. So it will be a progressive thing. Is there a tentative timeframe? The "content" (pagecount, typeset) of the first three books will stay as in the previous mass market version or will it be unified with the UK format that the books use from House of Chains onward?

Anyway, thanks for replying:)
100. Marc Rikmenspoel
Abalieno, since I live in the USA, I see the Tor books all the time in brick and mortar stores. I can tell you that Toll the Hounds just received the British cover for its 2nd mmpb printing, this has only become available in stores over the past couple of weeks. Amazon might still have stock of the 1st printing with the tannish-shaded cover.

Gardens of the Moon has been out for about a year with the newer cover of a tower against a black background, it is by Steve Stone who has done the other British covers, and the covers to Cam's three books.

Deadhouse Gates had the British cover from the get-go, in the past 6 months the type on the cover has been revised to the newer format (Erikson is now established enough that his name is bigger than the book title).

Memories of Ice was changed in early 2010, the same old image was used, but it was darkened and modified. Whenever it needs another reprinting, it will probably get a new cover.

Reaper's Gale has had 2 printings with its American cover. It will probably also get the British one when the 3rd printing is needed. What this means is that the only two inconsistent books, right now, are MOI and RG, and give those another 6 months or so (as an educated guess, based on how I see the books sell in stores) to catch up. As to the inside, I'm just guessing, but I wouldn't expect the first three to ever be retypeset.
101. Marc Rikmenspoel
Oops, my bad, I left out House of Chains. But I expect that one to be changed soon too. Again, just my best guesses based on what I've observed, and a tiny bit of knowledge about the book industry (and a little knowledge is a dangerous thing, isn't it?).
102. Osyris
I'm usually one of those that "lurks behind the scenes", but would just like to add that this has been an amazing opportunity for us fans :) A huge thank you to the authors.

Having been a part time bookseller in South Africa myself not too long ago, I'd have to agree with alt146 that this series has grown massively in popularity over the past few years. Also... hi! Had no idea there were so many of us here :) It would be awesome if Mr Erikson would pay a visit to the tip of Africa some day in the future!
103. Abalieno

Thanks! Odd though... Even Tor official page shows mostly the old layouts for MM:

The copy you saw of GotM is mass market or the trade paperback? Because I knew the latter came out, but I didn't know they made a new MM version. Also, could you check if inside for GotM and DG they changed the font to the one used in most the books?

For MoI they should go with a different cover entirely since the US one is awful and UK one couldn't be more anonymous and plain.
104. Tarcanus
Am I the only one that finds the UK covers boring? I am so thoroughly disappointed that everything is being redone with the UK art and now my series collection is going to be all TOR covers with DoD and tCG being UK.

It's similar to the BS of turning mmpb into paperbacks and making them taller and the font larger - thus ruining the look of the series on your bookshelf.

Oh publishers, when will you stop screwing with books mid-series?
hazel hunter
105. Hetan
@96 - I'll probably join in when you start Deadhouse Gates, which I am looking forward to :)
Steven Halter
106. stevenhalter
One of the points that both Steve and Ian have brought up is that they write in a linear fashion. I was just writing a couple of little posts in other places and moved a few points around within the scope of a paragraph or two. So, I am wondering--When you guys say that you write linearly, do you mean with respect to the major storyline or the minor (at a sentence level) points or both?
Sydo Zandstra
107. Fiddler
Good to see you're joining in, Hetan!
108. Marc Rikmenspoel
Abalieno, I believe the inside text for Tor's GotM and DG is the same one they've used since the paperbacks were first released 5 years ago.

I've mentioned on my blog that I'm not a fan of the UK covers. I know that this is not a widely-shared opinion, but you are not alone, Tarcanus! With that said, I do give Tor props for listening to the majority of fans, who really, really wanted new covers.
Stuart Watson
109. stuman
Great and insightful interview, thank you!

As far as "covers" go, I enjoy all the US/NA? covers "except" for the first book Gardens of the Moon...was far too much harlequinesque for my tastes ;)

Much prefer the UK art for that one.

Regards 2 All

110. Cam Chapman
not bad at all. i agree with one of the other commenters, Malazan kicks the shit out of those best sellers (lotr, wot, got)
Alex P. W.
111. Alex_W
Interesting Interwiew.

I want to say here, even if probably no one reads that anymore so late, I had a lot of joy reading GotM. I wil go on reading this Books of the Malazan world, continuing with Night of Knives and am looking forward to it.

I'm going through right a hard time right now and reading in GotM has been a gread diversion for me indeed. Entering this world of Paran, Rake, Rallick etc. made me feel "home" and as stupid as it may sounds, "spending time with new friends, in a dangerous world sharing similar sorrows". Right now, I often feel myself a little lonesome these days. Reading this book, made me always forget that at least for a while. I don't think very many books could do that.
Thank you Mr. Erikson for sharing this world and it's tales.

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