You have no one but yourselves to blame...for this hilarious Q&A session with Sam Sykes. We asked you what questions you would like to put to the Aeons’ Gate series author and you gave us some real fun material! His answers did not disappoint.
Go behind the cut for writing practices and epic author battles....
Pip Hunn asked: What time of day do you write?
Sam Sykes: Whenever. I’m far too cool to keep a schedule. Right now I’m up at 8:00 AM, writing. It’s certainly not because I stayed up too late playing Dragon Age 2 and realized I actually had a job. Certainly not. I’m just a free spirit.
Pip Hunn also asked: If you had to fight one other SFF author to the death, who would it be?
Sam Sykes: Sir, if you’re suggesting that I stay up late at night formulating Kingdom Come-style scenarios in which I fantasize about inflating my own prowess by defeating various authors, you are entirely wrong. There is nothing fantastic about this list. It is based purely on scientific fact and several hours spent stalking them. As you will see below:
- Joe “Glass Jaw” Abercrombie: Would desperately protect his own face at the cost of his body. I win.
- Jim “High School” Butcher: Strong charge, but poor eyesight, like the rhinoceros he based his public persona off of. Getting in his blindside is key. I win.
- Peter V. “for Vengeance” Brett: Quick to flee conflict without taking time to cover his tracks. Can easily be followed back to his lair, where he can be caught after feeding on hipsters. I win.
- Saladin “Good Night” Ahmed: Possesses very soft, delicate skin. A firm, open-handed slap will shock him, leaving him open for further Stooges-style shenanigans. I win.
- Mark Charan “Chocolates” Newton: Crumbles easily, like a porcelain doll. I win.
- N.K. “A.K.” Jemisin: Stalks prey extensively before attacking with a series of lightning quick attacks, mostly aimed for the jugular. Impossible to fend off without forewarning. I lose.
- Patrick “Moth Pus” Rothfuss: Big, bushy beard and bright eyes combine most charming traits of Santa Claus and lovable hobo, resulting a lowering of defensive guard, followed up by the shiv he is never seen without. I lose.
- Meta Crombie: The Ultimate Evolution of Joe Abercrombie, accessible only after you have defeated Lavos’s outer shell and convinced Magus to join your party in the Kingdom of Zeal. HP: 10,000. Weaknesses: None. Strong Against: Lightning, Ice, Fire, Water. Difficulty: Unknown.
...where am I?
Felicity Burns asked: Do you think the characters in your books are reflections of your own thoughts and feelings?
Sam Sykes: I’d say that it’s kind of inevitable, isn’t it? That’s not to say I uphold the racist views of a lot of my characters or that I think their actions are necessarily the right ones, but the fact that I’m writing them implies that they’re part of me, in some way. It might be more accurate to say they don’t reflect the thoughts and feelings so much as they’re vessels to explore those thoughts and feelings, to figure out my own personal philosophies and psychologies.
Even writers who proclaim to have a truth that they pass down in their writing are presenting just that: one truth of many. I admire them for having figured out that which they want to. Me, personally, I don’t think the outcome is worth a tremendous lot without learning about how we came to it.
Erik Lars Anderson asked: What do you do when you’re stuck?
Sam Sykes: When I’m stuck, I go do something else. I play video games, go for a walk, go throw rocks at my neighbors (if you know what we’d been through, you’d understand), or (ideally) have a secondary project to work on. Sometimes, though, none of that works and I’m still stuck.
There’s no real timetable for being stuck, so in those instances, I power through it with something I’ll fix later.
Whatever muse is out there, it’s great when it comes by. But editors don’t typically wait for that. In those other times, though, writing can be a lot like being constipated: you sit still for a long time, eventually push something out and hope everything turns out okay.
Erik Lars Anderson also asked: Do you have a favorite type of character to write about?
Sam Sykes: I guess it’s kind of cliche to say “all of them,” but that’s one of the reason I write with so many different characters. Writing about Gariath’s suicidal/homicidal tendencies is way removed from writing about Asper’s crises of faith which is way removed from Kataria struggling with racial identity, that sort of thing. Keeps me from getting bored.
Robert Junker asked: What is it about your work that you would recommend to someone who had never read you before?
Sam Sykes: Vigor. Imagination. Energy.
The nicest thing anyone ever said about my writing was Scott Lynch suggesting I swing for the fences every time I write a sentence. I take this to be high praise of my skills with a baseball bat (shortly after saying this, he asked me to go hit people with said instrument) and also interpret it like this:
I don’t see a big reason not to do whatever the hell I want in writing. This entire genre was born on that idea and I have absolutely no qualms throwing everything I have into what I’m writing about, from the weirdest things with the deepest emotions to the mundane things twisted by their own philosophy.
To summarize it: I wrote a section in which a dragonman, driven to suicidal impulse by the sudden extinction of his species, takes a man’s failure to kill him as a personal insult and promptly stomps the poor fool’s crotch in.
You know you want it.