Few things make me happier than music. And while I listen to everything from jazz to Gregorian chant, there’s no denying my love for metal. For me, it might be first among equals, as they say. So, when I was asked to put something together about five fantasy writers, I imagined what the metal sounds of their worlds might be…
Fiction and Excerpts 
Series: Five Books About…
Some heroes don’t carry blades or go to war. Some heroes are fathers desperately trying not to fail their sons.
Like some other stories published on Tor.com, “The Hell of It” contains scenes and situations some readers will find upsetting and/or repellent. [—The Editors]
This novelette was acquired and edited for Tor.com by senior editor Claire Eddy.
In a culture where ritualized torture is used to teach its people strength through long-suffering, a foreign sufferer unintentionally teaches them something stronger . . . something gentler.
This novelette was acquired and edited for Tor.com by senior editor Claire Eddy.
“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.
A special five story preview of Shawn Speakman’s epic fantasy anthology Unfettered will be released at Phoenix Comicon this Memorial Day weekend. This week, we’re taking a look at all five stories, many featuring new glimpses of our favorite fantasy worlds.
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 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.
Your Rock Lord
Peter Orullian is the author of the recently released epic fantasy novel The Unremembered, the first in the Vault of Heaven series. You can find his interview series with popular fantasy authors of the day both here on Tor.com and at his site.
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.
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