Highlights from Peter V. Brett’s AMA!

Peter V. Brett took to reddit fantasy to talk about the Demon Cycle, and answer questions about what fans can expect from the upcoming installment in the series.

He ended the previous book The Daylight War on a cliffhanger, which he worried might be a “dick move.” After some discussions with his editor he decided to release an excerpt from The Skull Throne to “ease (or at least redirect) tension for my readers.” He’s hard at work on The Skull Throne, saying “I am going as fast as I can while still making sure it doesn’t suck.” He even provided a progress report for his readers!

The AMA was funny and informative, and we’ve rounded up some of our favorite moments!

Author Shawn Speakman asked whether he jumped around a lot through his point-of-view characters, as George R.R. Martin does, or if he was more linear:

“Both, I guess. I jump around in the plotting stage, where I basically just make a bulleted list of EVERY DAMN THING that happens in the entire book. At this stage, I am cutting and pasting shit all over the place. Once that list solidifies into a solid stepsheet, however, I write the prose in a very linear fashion.”

Author Brian McClellan asked about Brett’s biggest struggle as a writer, to which Brett replied: “The writing part.”

Elquesogrande asked, “How did you come up with the design behind your ward symbols? I see a lot of your fans posting tattoos based on them—what has your reaction been to that process so far?” To which Brett responded:

“The ward designs were co-created by myself and Lauren K. Cannon. She read how they were described in The Warded Man, and we had long discussions about what sources to draw from for the symbols, drawing inspiration from Arabic, Japanese, Chinese and Sanskrit. Lauren drew pages of wards, and we drilled down to the ones I felt represented the various demons and effects.

It’s an ongoing process. I commission a few new ones every year. Part of the agreement is that I own the copyrights personally, so I can give them free to all my international publishers. This has allowed me to control the key part of the series brand and create a unified warding system regardless of what country the readers are in.

Perhaps this is why they resonate, and why the tattoos have been so popular. Or maybe people just want to be ready to kick a demon’s ass. Either way, it’s an amazing feeling (and a great honor) to see people permanently marking themselves with something that originated in my imagination.”

Pyroteknik (perhaps suspecting foul play) demanded: “What happened to Peter I Brett through Peter IV Brett?” and Brett (perhaps confirming foul play) replied, “They were imperfect and needed replacement.”

When asked about his gaming preference, Brett said he’ll “play Carcassonne if peer pressured, but it will never be as fun as Munchkin or Cards Against Humanity.”

Author Michael Underwood asked, “In The Warded/Painted Man, I took Fear and how people react to it to be a major theme. How do you work with theme in The Demon Cycle, and do you think your thematic focus has changed/evolved over the course of the series?”

Brett’s reply was thoughtful, without betraying any of the thematic elements we might see in the future:

“I think each book sort of finds its own theme as it goes on. Warded Man was fear. Desert Spear was exploration of the other. Daylight War was relationships. Some of this is intentional, and some of it evolves naturally. The series as a whole is obviously something I have given a lot of thought to, but each book is its own animal as well.”

Several people had questions about the dialect that some of the characters use, and Brett discussed how it added to his worldbuilding plan:

“The people of Tibbet’s Brook aren’t dumb. Dumb people can’t ward, and the Brook has survived for centuries when other communities have fallen to the night. They just don’t waste a lot of time jawin’ when there’s work to be done, cutting out unnecessary pronouns and trimming sentences down to the bare minimum. Ent has one less syllable than “isn’t”, and that second is another second before sundown. It’s precious and not to be wasted.”

Asked about his influences, he said:

“I was heavily influenced by JRR Tolkien, George RR Martin, CS Friedman, Terry Brooks, Robert Jordan, RA Salvatore, and James Clavell, to name a few, but of course every book I’ve ever read, whether I liked it or not, has had an influence… I think I am constantly evolving as a writer, but not to mimic anyone else, or mainstream trends. I want to be the Peter V. Brettest writer I can be.”

Finally, Zdus asked: “Where did you get the idea for the series?” Brett’s enigmatic response:

“From a secret well of ideas only I know the location of. I sneak out there once or twice a year in the dead of night to draw a bucketful. Once someone followed me and I had to eliminate them, lest they too have ideas. Don’t tell anyone.”

Don’t worry, Brettest of writers! Your secret is safe with us. Check out the whole AMA here!

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