Earlier this week, author Tracy Townsend dropped by r/Fantasy to celebrate her book The Fall, book two in the Thieves of Time trilogy. The resulting AMA is stuffed with excellent writing advice, great book recs, Thieves of Time lore, some gentle Tolkien shade (don’t worry, you’ll get it later), and one very interesting-sounding unwritten Star Wars novel. Here are some highlights!
On the Star Wars novel she would write if she could, given no canon restrictions:
I think I’d want to write a buddy adventure story featuring Poe and Finn for the fun of it, but the “honestly, Tracy, do whatever you want” project I’d dive into with the mix of fear and eagerness that always tells me this is what I SHOULD be writing is story of Padme Amidala and Obi-Wan Kenobi’s super-forbidden, super-almost-happened-but-never quite romance. (See this: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FQypAxAYv3Y)
On The Fall’s first title, which the publisher rejected:
Half the Foe—a reference to the Milton epigraph that opens the book. A little too Joe Abercrombie for them, I think. But ultimately, they made the right call.
On how video game narratives could influence science fiction and fantasy stories:
I think that some of the games people talk about most now—Nioh, Sekiro, Red Dead, etc—grab us because of the richness of their storytelling and world building. Gamers are thoughtful consumers of narrative and if there’s anything the intersection of gaming ideology and storycraft might lead to, it’s a change in how we want to relate to the inner lives of and complexities of our or protagonists and their worlds.
On her inspiration for the lanyani:
The lanyani are basically the result of a lingering disappointment I’ve always felt surrounding Tolkien’s Ents, and some speculation about how these tree people—plants being some of the most nimble and determined adapters to less-than-perfect environments—would find a way to thrive in a highly industrialized world.
On what she’d like to see in an adaptation of her books:
First, I think we might look at liberal adaptations of novels a bit differently from one another. I don’t think that a liberal treatment of my novels would do anything to their integrity. The novels will still be what they are, waiting for people to read them and experience what I intended. The one format is not a threat to the other to my way of thinking.
Second, I’m actually really interested in the process of adaptation and often enjoy the creative ways directors or script writers have to work around things in a text that may not render well in film. That said, I think the most faithful adaptation in film for my writing would be a television serial, maybe six episodes or so. It is already highly episodic so that wouldn’t be a hard switch to flip.
But what I would REALLY love to see is a Thieves of Fate graphic novel series. That’d be AWESOME.
On her casting choices for a movie version of The Nine:
Erasmus would probably be Idris Elba, though he’s a little young for the job. Anselm is a harder casting, but I often think of Kieffer Sutherland when I think about him—unconventionally attractive and a bit dangerous, capable of being smooth and collected and also deeply savage.
On a “crash course” of books she’d give to students who can’t take her creative writing/SFF lit class (Townsend teaches at the Illinois Math and Science Academy):
I highly recommend Roger Zelazny’s Lord of Light, Brooke Bolander’s “Our Talons Can Crush Galaxies,” Max Gladstone’s Three Parts Dead, And Becky Chambers’ The Long Way To A Small, Angry Planet.
On the tea she’d choose to drink with a comic book character of her choice:
Tea with Death of the Endless. A jade oolong. :)
For more book recs (trust us, she had a lot of good ones we couldn’t fit here) and some extremely good writing advice (“Drafting is being Jackson Pollack. Revision is being a bonsai gardener.”), head on over to her AMA!