“Unfettered,” the tune: it’s a fight song. It incorporates every story in the anthology of the same name. I wrote it to help a friend—to help anyone fighting cancer. And you can listen to it on Tor.com first.
The best answer to most questions is: Music. I’ll illustrate with a story. When asked by Shawn Speakman to contribute a video describing my involvement in the Unfettered anthology—to help get the word out—I replied: How about I write a song instead. Besides writing fiction, I’m also a musician. And music hath charms.
When Tor.com asked me to write an appreciation of Shawn Speakman’s “The Unfettered Knight”—Shawn’s own story in the anthology he’s editing and publishing—I said yes. Not for any of the obvious reasons. Not because this is one of the stories in the awesome, forthcoming fantasy anthology Unfettered. Not even because the book is Shawn’s effort to pay medical bills resulting from his recent bout with cancer. No, none of that. I said yes because I liked the story.
Chances are you’ve already heard about Unfettered, the fantasy anthology that Shawn Speakman is putting together. If you haven’t, you can read more about it here. Suffice it to say that the book will include the likes of Brooks, Sanderson, Rothfuss, Carey, Williams, Salvatore, Brett... you get the point. Twenty-two writers in all. And yours truly is among them. I was honored to be invited to participate. But writing a story wasn’t enough.
Early on, Shawn asked me to do a short video announcing my story, telling a little about it, about myself, and how I came to write for the anthology. Several of the contributors, including Brandon Sanderson, have done just such a video. You can find them on YouTube if you’re interested. But when Shawn asked me to record myself talking on camera, I countered with a different idea: What if I sing?
I’ll wager most Tor.com readers know of Steve Erikson, (from here, or perhaps here) although if you don’t I’ll wager that after this interview you’ll be compelled to pick up one his books.
I have to say that of all the interviews I’ve done, this is one of my favorites. For my part, I found Steve’s responses immensely insightful, much akin to the depth a reader can find in his fiction, which I suppose shouldn’t be any surprise.
Below you’ll find that I’ve asked him some of the questions I like asking all writers that I speak with, in part because I find it interesting to compare the variety of responses to topics that interest me. Of course, there are some questions and answers that are rather unique to Steve.
Not long ago, I went to a reading for Blake Charlton—cool guy, him (we’ve bonded over shared-editor-itis). Afterward, I wound up at a small pizza joint with Blake and a few others. Among the “others” was Megan Lindholm, aka Robin Hobb. I sat right across from her, kind of, y’know, freaking out.
Because here’s the deal: Megan is one of the giants of the fantasy field. And here’s what I learned: She’s also one of the kindest most unassuming women I’ve ever met. In a world of bluster, it was one of the coolest moments I’ve had in a long time to meet such a talented and meaningful writer who was so unpretentious.
Anyway, we connected afterward, and she graciously agreed to field a few questions. So, there you have it. Enjoy!
Lev Grossman is many things: a Harvard grad, Time Magazine book reviewer, and a New York Times bestselling writer. (You may have also enjoyed some of Grossman’s work here on Tor.com.)
He has, in my opinion, the quintessential “dry wit.” Plus, he’s a cool guy. That sounds kinda lame, but I’m leaving it in, because not everyone is cool. Lev is.
I met Lev at a lunch with Terry Brooks when Lev was on tour. As we chatted, he learned that in addition to being a writer myself, I work in the video games industry. He happened to be moderating a panel that evening at PAX Prime in Seattle on books and video gaming (or somesuch topic). He looked at me and said, “You should be on this panel.” And so it was. Thus, Lev is cool.
He also agreed to a leisurely email exchange on topics of my choosing. More coolness. The result of that back-and-forth you’ll find below. Hope you dig.
Didn’t I say Jacqueline Carey was awesome? Yes, I did. And the good news for y’all is that while this interview took place when her last book, Naamah’s Blessing, was just released, Jacqueline has a new book out tomorrow: Saint’s Astray. All of which proves my original assessment. What I mean is, this is a woman who writes well, writes broadly, and remains productive — all things that readers love.
So, relax for a few minutes and hear more from this gifted storyteller about theme, writing quirks, self-censorship, the evolution of fantasy, who she likes to read, advice for writers, music and concerts (of course), and what’s next for her. It was a pleasure to spend time with Jacqueline. And if you haven’t read her work, don’t spend any time in self-flagellation, just get to a bookstore and repent.
Jacqueline Carey is all kinds of awesome. She’s funny. Let’s get that out of the way right up front. A dry wit, to be sure. She’s also decent. Much as I’d like to do it, this can not be said of all writers. But even among the good ones, she’s got an extra measure of goodness. And most obviously, she can write her ass off. Let me tell you a story.
A week before I sat down with George to interview him, I had the privilege of sharing a panel and signing with him and several other fantasy writers at Comicon. The night before the event, a few of us were having a drink in the hotel lobby bar. As a new kid (so to speak), I shared with George a bit of my trepidation. He then leaned over and related a story from early in his career that made us both laugh and put me at ease.
It was the exact thing I needed to hear. George then transitioned to involve a girlfriend of one of the writers who hadn’t been following the conversation much, as she neither reads or writes fantasy. It was clear he didn’t want her feeling left out.
Epic fantasy has many stars; none shine brighter than George R. R. Martin. A Dance with Dragons, the latest volume in Martin’s genre-leading A Song of Ice and Fire series immediately hit #1 on the New York Times Bestseller list. It has pretty much remained at or near the top ever since. The work is just that good.
Kate Elliott is a helluva fantasy writer. If you’re not familiar with her work, I want to say up front that you should familiarize yourself. Kate is an excellent worldbuilder, and writes crisp, compelling prose. Her work has been nominated for both the World Fantasy and Nebula awards. Whether it’s her Crossroads, Crown of Stars, or current Spiritwalker series, Kate is top drawer.
I’ve had the pleasure in the past of meeting and corresponding with Kate and I finally asked if I could interview her, since I like to get writers talking about things. I find interviews with fantasy greats to informative and typically entertaining reading. Kate hits both qualities in spades.
Two books into his Kingkiller Chronicles series, Patrick Rothfuss has established himself in the upper echelon of epic fantasists. The second book of the trilogy, The Wise Man’s Fear, was released in March and Pat did an extensive book tour to catch up with his many fans. His first stop was Seattle, where I was able to catch up with him and spend some time chatting over a variety of topics.
Below is the final part of the three-part interview series. You can find parts one and two here on Tor.com.
Two books into his Kingkiller Chronicle series, Patrick Rothfuss has established himself in the upper echelon of epic fantasists. The second book of the trilogy, The Wise Man’s Fear, was released last month and Pat did an extensive book tour last month to catch up with his many fans. His first stop was Seattle, where I was able to catch up with him and spend some time chatting over a variety of topics.
Part two is above. Watch part one of the interview here and check out the rest on my website.
The sun shone bright upon the teeming roads of the city. A thick smell rose from the mixture of mud and wet straw. Small shops lined the byway, men and women hawking all manner of roots and elixirs. Others called to passersby to survey their fine coats or breeches, most fashioned of wool. A few carts displayed garish hats and scarves and belts. Most infrequent were the stores selling any kind of weapon. Rather, men selling dangerous wares stood in the recessed doorways of buildings that appeared otherwise abandoned. Knives or knuckle spikes lay on brown cloth near their feet, the proprietor standing back in a recess smoking from a pipe or a rolled bit of sweetleaf and watching the street cautiously.
“Which way?” Sutter asked.
“All gumption and no sense, Nails,” Tahn said, and slapped his back. “Where else? The palace.”
An Introduction to “The Battle of the Round”
and the Vault of Heaven series by Jim Frenkel
In his novel The Unremembered, Peter Orullian writes about Aeshau Vaal, a world with a long history marked by a series of protracted wars of aggression pursued by the benighted creatures of the Bourne, an isolated region in which they were confined by the gods who made the world. For as long as anyone now alive can recall, these creatures have waged war against the forces of many nations across the land inhabited by mankind.
Over a period of many centuries these conflicts took a great toll on the nations. But in the course of Aeshau Vaal’s history there also were times when dire circumstances produced defining moments that changed the fate of the world.
“The Battle of the Round” is the story of one such moment.
Two books into his Kingkiller Chronicle series, Patrick Rothfuss has established himself in the upper echelon of epic fantasists. The second book of the trilogy, The Wise Man’s Fear, just released; and Pat did an extensive book tour last month to catch up with his many fans. His first stop was Seattle, where I was able to catch up with him and spend some time chatting over a variety of topics.
Let me just say that Pat’s a bit sage, himself. Indeed, in the course of the evening—after the interview—he gave me some advice in relation to my own forthcoming novel, The Unremembered, that has proven both true and immensely valuable. For that, I owe him, and want to say thanks. With that said, check out the first of a three-part interview with the man himself:
This Patrick Rothfuss piece is the latest in a series of interviews with great fantasy authors, including Brandon Sanderson,Terry Brooks, Kevin J. Anderson, Daniel Abraham, Brent Weeks, and more!
Terry Brooks is a fantasy institution. Few authors have been doing it as long or as successfully. There’s much to learn from this elder statesman of fantasy, who continues to look for new challenges, which he talks about in the last installment of this three-part interview. (Part one, part two.) Have a look:
This Terry Brooks piece is the latest in a series of interviews I’ve done with some of fantasy’s greatest authors, including Brandon Sanderson, Patrick Rothfuss, Kevin J. Anderson, Daniel Abraham, Brent Weeks, and more!
If you haven’t read a Terry Brooks novel, you’ve no doubt heard of the novelist. His Shannara world is one of the defining second-worlds of modern day fantasy fiction. He’s one of our elder statesman of the genre, and a better ambassador we couldn’t hope to find. So, here’s part two of my interview with Terry Brooks. I hope you dig. Part one can be found here.
This Terry Brooks piece is the latest in a series of interviews with fantasy’s greatest authors, including Brandon Sanderson, Patrick Rothfuss, Kevin J. Anderson, Daniel Abraham, Brent Weeks, and more!