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Wednesday, May 30, 2007

"Kushiel's Justice" by Jacqueline Carey

Read CHAPTER 1 + CHAPTER 2 from “Kushiel’s Justice
Preorder “Kushiel’s Justice” (Release Date: June 14, 2007) via Amazon HERE (US) + HERE (CA)
Read Fantasy Book Critic's interview with Ms. Carey HERE

Every book offers a different experience. There are those that are page-turners, uncomplicated and impossible to put down. Others require patience or attentiveness to complete or fully appreciate, while some you just want to throw into the trash. Then, there are those books that you want to savor like a fine wine, drawing out the experience as long as possible, luxuriating in every moment. For me, a Jacqueline Carey novel, specifically the Kushiel books, are like that – a richly detailed world that is at once believable and fantastic; a colorful cast of characters that you can’t help but fall in love with; stories that manage to be grand, intimate and erotic all at the same time; exquisite writing that stimulates the palate with intoxicating flavor and aroma… I could probably go on and on, but suffice it to say that Ms. Carey is a favorite author of mine and the Kushiel books a favorite series, so it’s no surprise that I’ve been highly anticipating her latest novel “Kushiel’s Justice”.

If you haven’t read any of the Kushiel novels, then I recommend at least “Kushiel’s Scion” if you want to know what’s going on in “Kushiel’s Justice”, and all of the previous Kushiel books for the most rewarding experience. If you’ve followed the series since its inception, then you know that “Kushiel’s Scion” commences the ‘Imriel Trilogy’, which in itself is a direct sequel to the Kushiel’s Legacy trilogy that introduced readers to Phèdre nó Delaunay, Joscelin Verreuil, Hyacinthe, Ysandre de la Courcel, Drustan mab Necthana, Terre d'Ange, etc.

Taking place a few years after the events of “Kushiel’s Avatar”, “Kushiel’s Scion” establishes the first-person perspective of Imriel nó Montrève; son of Benedicte de la Courcel & Melisande Shahrizai; a Prince of the Blood, third in line for the D’Angeline throne; and foster-son of Phèdre & Joscelin. Throughout this coming of age tale, readers get to see Imriel’s life at the Montrève estate, his integration into the D’Angeline royal court, his introduction to the Night Court, making friends (Eamon mac Grainne) and enemies (Barquiel L’Envers, Maslin de Lombelon), embracing his Shahrizai kin, studying abroad at the University of Tiberium, partaking in clandestine affairs of both love & covertcy, and many other adventures, tragic & heroic. By the time Imriel returns to Terre d'Ange, he’s a very different person, and not only does he agree to wed Dorelei mab Breidaia out of duty, but he’s also ready to face the letters written to him by his mother, the traitor Melisande Shahrizai who vanished from the Temple of the Asherat of the Sea in La Serenissima and is still unaccounted for.

Which is where “Kushiel’s Justice” picks up. Like its predecessor, the first part of the book takes place in Terre d'Ange where we learn some of what Melisande wrote her son, issues are resolved with the Trevalions and a dash of intrigue & Night Court exploits are encountered, although the story focuses mainly on Imriel’s torrid affair with cousin & heir Sidonie de la Courcel. From there, the second part of the book deals with Imriel’s marriage to Dorelei, adjusting to life in Alba, and facing a new, yet ancient force in the Maghuin Dhonn. Finally, following a heart-wrenching tragedy, the last third deals with Imriel’s quest for justice, and along the way he will learn more about himself, love, and the gods than he ever thought possible… (Also be prepared for another somewhat unresolved ending).

In short, “Kushiel’s Justice” is another fantastic novel by Ms. Carey, and yet another gratifying reading experience for me. There are a few things I’d like to point out though. For one, if you’re an advocate of the original Kushiel trilogy, and hoping that Imriel’s adventures will read the same, then you’ll probably be disappointed with “Kushiel’s Scion/Kushiel’s Justice”. While there are obviously similarities between the two, Imriel is a much different protagonist from Phèdre, the most significant being that Phèdre is a much more heroic character, and her books read that way. Thankfully, Ms. Carey understands this point, so rather than trying to recreate the grandness of Phèdre’s journeys, she has made Imriel’s much more intimate, with “Kushiel’s Justice” being the most personal one yet in my opinion. I also felt it was the most poignant book in the bunch. I won’t get into specifics, but some of the events that transpire can be pretty tear-jerking, so for you ladies out there (and gentlemen), you might want to have some tissues at hand.

Going back to my earlier point, another difference between the two trilogies is the secondary characters. While the original sported such memorable characters as Joscelin Verreuil, Hyacinthe and Melisande Shahrizai among many others, the new one lacks any real standout faces, though I think Sidonie will emerge as one, and I do like Eamon & Maslin even if we don’t see enough of them. And while Phèdre & Joscelin are present in the series, and others like Hyacinthe and Micah ben Ximon make an appearance, they’re really only peripheral players. This doesn’t really detract from the enjoyment of the Imriel books, just something I wanted to point out.

A third distinction between the two trilogies is the eroticism, a trademark of the Kushiel books. While sex is still prominent in Imriel’s novels, very much so in “Kushiel’s Justice” in fact, it lacks the mystique & wickedness that Phèdre brought to the series. It’s not unexpected given that Phèdre is an anguissette trained as a courtesan who used her Kushiel lineage as a tool/weapon, while Imriel is a member of the D’Angeline royal family who mainly follows his passions, but I’m sure some readers might be disappointed by the lack of erotica. To be honest, even I was somewhat disappointed by this absence and certain other elements that I had come to love & expect from the Kushiel series, but truthfully, did we really want to see Ms. Carey rehashing the same old ideas? Of course not, and I think that Jacqueline has done a tremendous job of revisiting this familiar world, while establishing a distinctive new voice in Imriel whose stories may be different from Phèdre’s, but no less compelling.

As much as I love Ms. Carey’s work, and all of the Kushiel novels to date including “Kushiel’s Justice”, I did have a few issues with the book, though straight up I’ll admit that I’m probably nitpicking. First off, much like the opening installment in the ‘Imriel’ Trilogy’, I felt that too much of “Kushiel’s Justice” paid homage to the previous Kushiel’s Legacy trilogy. I’ll admit, it’s nice to reminiscence about those books and to revisit familiar places and peoples, and I’m sure readers who haven’t completed the Kushiel’s Legacy series appreciate the background information. Personally though, I felt the best moments in “Kushiel’s Scion” and “Kushiel’s Justice” were when Imriel ventured out from under the shadow of Phèdre, Joscelin & Terre d'Ange, and experienced his own adventures such as attending the University of Tiberium, starting his new life in Alba, or traveling through distant lands in search of justice. Apart from that, the only other concern I had was the book’s lack of a prominent nemesis. Obviously Melisande is still out there lurking in the shadows, but disappointingly she is virtually nonexistent in “Kushiel’s Justice”. Then there’s Barquiel L’Envers and Maslin de Lombelon who possess the potential as notable rivals, yet they too are strangely absent…for the most part. The simple truth is that so far in the ‘Imriel Trilogy’ no one has really come close to the level of villainy that such memorable protagonists as Waldemar Selig, the Mahrkagir, and of course Melisande brought to the original trilogy, though I’m sure that we haven’t seen the last of the Shahrizai villainess. On a related note, I was also somewhat disappointed by the lack of intrigue in “Kushiel’s Justice”, particularly the Unseen Guild, which was introduced in “Kushiel’s Scion”, yet sadly is only referenced a few times in the new book.

Like I said, I’m really only nitpicking though honestly I did enjoy “Kushiel’s Scion” a bit more than I did “Kushiel’s Justice”. That’s not to say that “Kushiel’s Justice” is a lesser quality book. On the contrary, Ms. Carey’s writing is as superb as ever – in fact, I think she continues to improve with each release and the realism in which she brings Imriel to life while providing credible world-building is impressive to say the least. And, as I mentioned earlier, “Kushiel’s Justice” could be the most emotional novel of the series. No, my reasons for liking “Kushiel’s Scion” a bit more are merely based on personal tastes, namely my love for coming of age tales and specifically stories about characters attending a school (Harry Potter, The Name of the Wind, etc.), so when you combine Imriel’s transition into majority age with his time at the University of Tiberium, what can I say, I loved it.

In the end, “Kushiel’s Justice” is another wonderful entry in the series, and if you liked “Kushiel’s Scion” or any of the other Kushiel novels, then you should definitely enjoy this one. For some, it may even become your favorite. Personally, I think the tentatively titled “Kushiel’s Mercy” is primed to be the best one in the trilogy. What with the potential political firestorm in Terre d'Ange; the unresolved plotlines involving Melisande Shahrizai, the Unseen Guild & Barquiel L’Envers; the impact that the new-found empire of the Yeshuites will have on Terre d'Ange, etc.; the potential dissent in Alba; the situation regarding Hyacinthe, finding a successor as the Master of the Straits & the Book of Raziel; and so much more, “Kushiel’s Mercy” could be spectacular. I’m getting ahead of myself though. “Kushiel’s Justice” comes out June 14, 2007. Mark the date, buy the book, read it and savor the experience…
Tuesday, May 29, 2007

John Jarrold client Mark Newton sells novel to Pendragon Press


John Jarrold (Ian Cameron Esslemont, Stephen Hunt) has sold limited-edition rights in THE REEF, a debut novel by Mark Charan Newton, to Chris Teague at Welsh publisher Pendragon Press. Mark has worked in bookselling, and is now an editor with Games Workshop's imprints Black Library and Solaris.

The novel, a fantastical story set mostly among the islands of an imagined world, has echoes of both Joseph Conrad and China Miéville, but is very much Mark's own invention. Mark's writing has already received this accolade from critically-acclaimed author Jeff VanderMeer: "Mark Newton is a promising new writer whose prose is dynamic and whose imagination is often startling."

"Mark was one of the first authors I took on after setting up the agency in 2004," said John Jarrold. "I'm really delighted to have done this deal, and I have no doubt his reputation will grow very quickly, within and without the genre."

"The Society of S" by Susan Hubbard

Official Susan Hubbard Website
Buy “The Society of S” via Simon & Schuster
HERE
Read An Excerpt from “The Society of SHERE

A current Professor of English at the University of Central Florida who has received teaching awards from Syracuse University, Cornell University, UCF, and the South Atlantic Administrators of Departments of English, not to mention many other educational accolades & achievements, Susan Hubbard is also an author of two critically acclaimed short story collections (“Walking On Ice”, “Blue Money”) and two chick-lit novels (“Lisa Marie’s Guide for the Perplexed”, "Lisa Marie Takes Off"). So, besides an impressive scholarly background, what was it that drew me to Ms. Hubbard's latest novel "The Society of S"? In a nutshell…vampires. Of course, if you ask the author, “The Society of S” isn’t a vampire novel. It‘s a ‘coming of age’ tale that just happens to have vampires in it. And that’s a pretty accurate assessment. So, while the inclusion of vampires is what hooked me initially to "The Society of S", it was the wonderful storytelling that kept me glued to the pages.

Essentially a memoir, “The Society of S” is told in the first-person point of view by Ariella “Ari” Montero, chronicling her earlier years, mainly as a 12 and 13-year old. To be brief, Ari is living a sheltered life in NYC with her father Raphael Montero, the housekeeper Mrs. McGarritt, and her dad’s work associates Dennis & Mary Ellis Root. As Ari grows older, not only is she finally getting to experience all of the things that she’s been deprived of – friends, TV, riding a bicycle, etc. – but she’s also learning more about her family’s past, including the mother (Sara Stephenson) that abandoned her, and the heritage that may have been passed on to Ari. As the book progresses, be prepared for acts of self-discovery, convergences of the past & present, murder, mysteries – solved and unanswered – treachery, and yes, vampires.

So how does a book that employs two of media’s most overused clichés – coming of age stories and vampires – set itself apart from the mundane? I’ll give you two words…Susan Hubbard. It’s obvious from her teaching background that Ms. Hubbard possesses a certain pedigree and refinement in her writing that immediately separates her from other authors, and is clearly evident in “The Society of S”. In other words, the prose is excellent, managing to be graceful, intellectual and concise all at the same time. Characterization is superb, particularly Ari who is realistically convincing as a youth evolving into adulthood, but secondary players are also believable and interact well with one another. On top of that, Ms. Hubbard does a good job staying up to speed with current popular culture – Myspace, Wikipedia, well-known literature such as Jack Kerouac’sOn the Road” and Edgar Allan Poe, music (NiN, Johnny Cash, Joy Division, etc.) and role-playing all play a role in "The Society of S". And finally, the pacing and command of the story is well done, so even though there’s really no pulse-pounding action, edge-of-your-seat thrills or heart-stopping frights, “The Society of S” is a real page-turner that is hard to put down.

As far as the vampires, I’ve seen a lot of different variations of vampirism in many diverse formats (TV, film, comics, videogames, etc.), but nothing quite like what is depicted in “The Society of S”. I won’t explain everything, but Ms. Hubbard’s vampires are realistically portrayed, grounded in nearly plausible scientific applications and governed by most of the same rules as humans are. So, while the vampires may possess such fantastic powers as hypnosis, reading another person’s thoughts and emutation (invisibility), their use of these abilities is regulated by ethics (or lack of) and dividing hierarchies (Colonists, Reformers, Nebulists, Society of Sanguinists, Environmentalists, etc.) that mirror our own. Personally, I found Ms. Hubbard’s version of vampirism to be quite refreshing, and I would love it if a whole series was dedicated to them. Alas, vampires aren’t what “The Society of S” is about, so even though the book ends on an unresolved note, and I could see a sequel or two, they probably wouldn’t be the kind of story that I, as a fantasy/horror lover, would envision ;)

At the end of the day, despite being a bit different from the novels that I usually cover, Susan Hubbard’sThe Society of S” is a pretty compelling story that is hard not to like, no matter your age or usual preference. After all, while the book may be wrapped up in supernatural packaging, at its heart “The Society of S” deals with real, everyday issues, and if you give it a chance, I think you’ll find yourself finishing the novel long before you want to…
Monday, May 28, 2007

Memorial Day News & Tidbits


First off, to those that it may apply, Have a Nice & Safe Memorial Day…

Now, on to the news. In books, a couple of novels will be released on Tuesday, May 29th, including the following:

The Good Guy” by Dean Koontz. As a Koontz fan, I always look forward to his new releases, though to be honest, they’ve been kind of hit and miss recently. The premise for “The Good Guy” sounds somewhat familiar, but I’m hoping for the best. You can order it HERE from Random House and you can check out the first two chapters HERE. I’ll be reviewing it soon, so look for that later.

In related news, Del Rey Manga, an imprint of Ballantine Books at Random House recently announced that they’ll be putting out an original graphic novel starring Dean Koontz’s character Odd Thomas who appears in the books “Odd Thomas”, “Forever Odd” and “Brother Odd”. You can check out the full press release HERE, which also includes some sketches from artist Queenie Chan (The Dreaming) who will be drawing & scripting the graphic novel. This actually sounds pretty interesting, so I’ll have to keep my eye out for it.

Maledicte” by Lane Robins. This is a debut novel, which I reviewed HERE. There’s shades of Jacqueline Carey’s Kushiel novels, “The Count of Monte Cristo” and "Romeo & Juliet", so if you enjoy character-driven books rife with court intrigues, sex, tragedy and lots of dramatic storytelling, then this might just be up your alley. You can order it HERE from Del Rey and chapter one is available HERE.

Over at Pat’s Fantasy Hotlist, there’s a giveaway for Richard K. Morgan’s upcoming novel “Thirteen”, which comes out in the US on June 26, 2007. (The UK version, titled “Black Man” is already available via Gollanzc). You can get more information on the giveaway HERE. I’ll probably be starting this one soon, and I’m very excited for it. From what I’ve seen, the response so far has been very positive. In the meantime, you can check out the interview that I did with Mr. Morgan HERE.

In other media news, a number of video games are reportedly coming to the big screen including Capcom’sOnimusha”, Revolution Software’sBroken Sword”, Eidos’ (Tomb Raider) “Kane & Lynch”, and, heaven help us, Electronic Arts’The Sims”. Of these, I think Onimusha has the best chance of being adapted properly. Christopher Gans (Silent Hill, Brotherhood of the Wolf) is set to direct with Leslie Kruger and John Collee (Happy Feet, Master and Commander) scripting. “Kane & Lynch” could also be done justice with Lionsgate (Hostel Part II) and producers Adrian Askarieh (Spy Hunter, Hitman, Hack/Slash) and Daniel Alter (Hitman, Hack/Slash) behind it, but considering we haven’t really seen anything from these producers yet, I’m admittedly wary. Personally, I think “The Sims” has the best chance of being fast-tracked and 20th Century Fox will do everything they can to turn it into a franchise. I think “Broken Sword” has the best story & mythology of the bunch, but considering that an unproven production company in CastleBright Studios is taking the reins, I’m not holding out much hope. Of course, we’ll just have to wait and see. You never can tell how these things will turn out. It’s the film industry after all…

Moving on, it looks like Warner Bros. and producer Joel Silver (The Matrix Trilogy, V For Vendetta) are planning on bringing He-Man and the Masters of the Universe back to the big screen. How cool is that? I admit, I grew up on the 80’s cartoons and had my share of toys. Heck, I think I even liked the movie starring Dolph Lundgren when it first came out, though looking back it was a pretty terrible film. The report is that the franchise will be reimagined in the vein of 300, so that’s promising. Let’s just hope that Mr. Silver doesn’t let the film turn out like those awful Batman movies he produced. By the way, who thinks that Skeletor is one of the coolest villains out there…

Another day, another children’s fantasy series optioned for film. This time it’s “Skulduggery Pleasant”, a potential nine-book series written by Irish author Derek Landy who will also write the screenplay. The book actually sounds pretty interesting. Here’s a synopsis:

Meet Skulduggery Pleasant. Sure, he may lose his head now and again (in fact, he won his current skull in a poker match), but he is much more than he appears to be—which is good, considering that he is, basically, a skeleton. Skulduggery may be long dead, but he is also a mage who dodged the grave so that he could save the world from an ancient evil. But to defeat it, he'll need the help of a new partner: a not so innocent twelve-year-old girl named Stephanie. That's right, they're the heroes.

Stephanie and Skulduggery are quickly caught up in a battle to stop evil forces from acquiring her recently deceased uncle's most prized possession—the Sceptre of the Ancients. The Ancients were the good guys, an extinct race of uber-magicians from the early days of the earth, and the scepter is their most dangerous weapon, one capable of killing anyone and destroying anything. Back in the day, they used it to banish the bad guys, the evil Faceless Ones. Unfortunately, in the way of bad guys everywhere, the Faceless Ones are staging a comeback and no one besides our two heroes believes in the Faceless Ones, or even that the Sceptre is real.

So Stephanie and Skulduggery set off to find the Sceptre, fend off the minions of the bad guys, beat down vampires and the undead, prove the existence of the Ancients and the Faceless Ones, all while trading snappy, snippy banter worthy of the best screwball comedies.


Skulduggery Pleasant” was released April 3, 2007. North American residents can buy it HERE, and UK readers can order it HERE from Amazon. You can also read an excerpt from the book HERE, and check out the Skulduggery Video.

Finally, staying on the subject of kid’s fantasy movies, Jodie Foster (The Silence of the Lambs, Maverick, Panic Room) and Gerard Butler (300, The Phantom of the Opera) are starring in the Fox Walden (The Chronicles of Narnia, Bridge To Terabithia, The Dark Is Rising) film adaptation of “Nim’s Island”, which is based on the 1999-released book written by Wendy Orr and is due for theatrical release April 2008.
Friday, May 25, 2007

Interview with Patrick Rothfuss

Official Patrick Rothfuss Website
Patrick Rothfuss Blog
Buy “The Name of the WindHERE
Read an Excerpt HERE
Listen to a Patrick Rothfuss Podcast via Penguin HERE

If you follow any type of SF/Fantasy related blog, messageboard or zine, then I’m sure you’ve seen reviews (SFF World, Pat’s Fantasy Hotlist, Neth Space, The Wertzone, Sandstorm Reviews, etc.) of “The Name of the Wind” or interviews (SFF World, Fantasybookspot, Pat’s Fantasy Hotlist) with author Patrick Rothfuss. For those not in the know, “The Name of the Wind” is the impressive start to The Kingkiller Chronicles, an ambitious fantasy epic several years in the making. Not only is the book a contender for Best Fantasy Debut in 2007, but it could also be one of the year’s best fantasies period. Personally, I greatly enjoyedThe Name of the Wind” and was hoping for the opportunity to interview Mr. Rothfuss. Fortunately, despite being extremely busy with promoting his novel and his job as a lecturer at the University of Wisconsin, Pat was more than happy to answer some questions for me. In short, Patrick Rothfuss is a pretty down-to-earth, likeable fellow with a great humor & attitude and the following interview reflects that. So, my utmost thanks to Mr. Rothfuss for his time and patience, and despite the Q&As already out there, I hope readers will learn something new about the voice behind “The Name of the Wind”…

Q: Your debut novel “The Name of the Wind” hit bookshelves on March 27, 2007. How does it feel to finally be a published author and all that it entails?

Patrick: It's undeniably cool, and utterly surreal.

While a lot of people have read the book over the last decade, they're usually people I know, at least in a friend-of-a-friend way. Now when people send me e-mails saying "I read your book and loved it," I think, just for a second, "Did Dale give them a copy? How do I know this person?"

Then I realize that they aren't reading one of my homemade copies that I printed up to get feedback, they actually went out and bought it. It's odd after all these years.

Q: The original uncorrected proofs weighed in over 900 pages, while the final version of the book is a shade under 700. Are you happy with the way the novel was edited or was there anything you wish would have stayed in the book? Can you shed any details on what was edited out?

Patrick: I have to clear up a misconception. I think the 900 page number was an estimate for the paperback, not the hardcover. Unfortunately that number got spread around, and we've been trying to clear up the mistake ever since.

So yeah. The book wasn't edited down 200 pages from the proof. That would have been intolerable. But that's not to say that things haven't been edited out over the years. I've cut whole scenes and sub-plots in order to speed up the story and streamline things.

I actually cut out the entire first chapter of the book, too. That was hard. It was a great chapter, did a lot of great world-building, introduced a lot of interesting concepts. But it was just too slow to start the book with. It's a shame, really. It had good stuff in it, but now it's lost because I can't just move it later in the book.

Q: What initially influenced you in starting this project?

Patrick: Well... in a general way I was influenced by all the books I'd read up until that point in my life, but I'm guessing you're looking for something more specific. Let me think....

I was heavily influenced by my first attempt at a novel. I started a fantasy novel back in high school, and.... well... it really sucked. It was a plotless, clichéd mess. When I sat down to write this book, I wanted to make something much, much better. I wanted to write something that was pretty much the opposite of that first novel.

Also, I read Cyrano De Bergerac, right before I started writing the book. Cyrano's character reminded me of some important things, namely, what it really means to be a tragic hero. You don't need a lot of the cliché fantasy trappings to have that cool character.

I also read Giacomo Casanova's memoirs soon after starting this project. That opened my eyes to how interesting an autobiography could be, provided the person telling it has a way with words and has lived a sufficiently adventurous life....

Q: You spent over seven years writing Kvothe’s story. What kept you motivated in writing the book?

Patrick: Actually, that seven years was just the first draft. I finished that in 1999. There was a lot of revision after that.

I don't know if I was ever particularly 'motivated' though. 'Motivated' implies that there was some compulsive force driving me to finish the story. That's not the case. If I'd been compulsive about it I would have finished a lot sooner. There were times when I didn't look at the book for months.

Q: So, if not motivation, then what factors helped you in seeing the project to its end?

Patrick: For one, I just really like to write. There's a feeling of satisfaction and accomplishment I get from working on my book that I don't get from anything else. (In my brain I don't think of this as a series of books. I still think of it as "The Book.") If I get a page or two written before I go to bed, I spend the next day walking around in a good mood.

Another thing that kept me going was that I really liked the story. I liked building the world. I liked meeting the new characters and having them interact. It was fun. It still is.

It's work too, of course. A lot of work. But I wouldn't have stuck to it if I didn't enjoy that work.

Q: In what ways do you think you’ve improved as a writer since you first started your project?

Patrick: I can spell "necessary" the right way now. And I've stopped typing "loose" when I mean "lose."

It's hard to track the intangible stuff though. It's hard to say something like, "I'm 13.75 percent more lyrical and my verisimilitude is up eight points."

I can say that I seem to require less revision than I did back in the day. My writing comes out cleaner than it did years ago. Also, I get more writing done in an hour's time than I used to. That's nice.

Plus I understand plot much better than I did five years ago. A lot of the revisions I've been making in the last year have to do with plotting and pacing. I'm getting better at those parts of the craft.

Q: How did you feel when you finally completed the books?

Patrick: It's completed? When did that happen? Did I miss it?

Seriously though. It doesn't really feel any different to me. The story is still there, in my head. The characters are up there, moving around, living their lives.

Honestly, I don't know if it feels completed at all. It feels published, and that's pretty good. But complete....?

You know when you were a kid and you had your birthday and someone came up to you and said, "So, how does it feel to be eight years old?" Then you took a quick mental inventory and realized that you felt exactly the same as yesterday?

That's the process I've been going through for the last seven years or so. I wrote the story all the way through to the end in 1999 and thought to myself, "Well, it's finally done." Then two years later I revised it for the 50th time and sent it to my prospective agent and thought, "There, now it's REALLY done." Then I revise it more and send it to the editor. She buys it and I think, "Now it's done." Then I revise it again with her advice. Then I get ready for the galley copies. Then the copy editing. Then the proofs. It's a lot like birthdays. Eventually you just start to shrug them off, thinking to yourself. "Meh. The book is just one revision older."

Maybe I'll feel differently when all three books are in print. We'll see.

Q: Throughout “The Name of the Wind” you poke fun at a number of clichés that seem to populate a lot of fantasy novels. Yet, at the same time, it could be argued that your book possesses plenty of its own clichés. What are your thoughts on fantasy tropes in general and how did you balance what stereotypes you wanted to avoid with your novel and those that you included?

Patrick: Wow. This is a great question, and it really strikes to what I feel is the heart of the book.

About half a year ago, I had the chance to hear Peter S. Beagle speak on a panel at Worldcon. I've loved his book “The Last Unicorn” since approximately forever. I read it about once a year, and I used to despair at the fact that I'd never be able to write a book like it. I knew it was hopeless to even try.

Anyway, I was listening to Beagle answer a question on the panel, he said something along the lines of, "I'd never want to write the Last Unicorn again. It was excruciatingly hard, because I was writing a faerie tale while at the same time writing a spoof of a faerie tale."

I just sat there thunderstruck. I realized that's exactly what I had been doing for over a decade with my story. I was writing heroic fantasy, while at the same time I was satirizing heroic fantasy.

While telling his story, Kvothe makes it clear that he's not the storybook hero legends make him out to be. But at the same time, the reader sees that he's a hero nonetheless. He's just a hero of a different sort.

I twist and mock a lot of the tired fantasy cliches, but I'm using them too. (Kind of like Buffy the Vampire Slayer does with the tired old horror cliches.)

It was like someone had turned a light on in my head. I wish I would have heard Beagle say that years ago, it would have saved me years of revision.

And I also realized that without meaning too, I had accidentally written a book that was kind of like “The Last Unicorn”, though probably not in a way that anyone would ever recognize. That gave me a big warm fuzzy.

Q: So, the magic system in “The Name of the Wind” is pretty interesting, particularly Sympathy. Where did you get the idea for that?

Patrick: Part of it is based off old-fashioned science. Some of the laws of sympathy are pretty much the same as the laws of thermodynamics. I used to be a big science geek.

Another part of sympathy is based off the historical beliefs people had several hundred years ago. Back then there weren't magicians and scientists. There were just different sorts of people trying to understand the order of the world and through that understanding, manipulate it.

There were a lot of very interesting theories back then: things like the doctrine of signatures, the great chain of being, the Kabbalah. These weren't just crackpot theories either. These were brilliant minds constructing cohesive systems of belief. Hell, Isaac Newton was an alchemist. You've got to respect that a little.

Q: I also felt that there were a lot of different moral issues explored in the book that deals with everyday life (love, friendship, loss, coming-of-age, with power comes responsibility, etc.). Was there a particular message that you hoped readers would come away with after finishing “The Name of the Wind?”

Patrick: Good lord. Do I have a "With power comes responsibility theme in there?"

Q: LOL. Well, it's implied here and there. So, can you tell us more about that or any other themes that you might have been trying to explore with the book?

Patrick: Honestly. I wasn't trying to explore any themes. Seriously.

Over the years I've had hundreds of people read the book. (That's how I revise. I get feedback from people and then tinker with the story.) But years ago, maybe as many as six or seven, someone wrote a little note in the margin of their copy that said, "I think this is one of the major themes of the book."I remember thinking, "Huh. That's cool. Apparently I have themes."

My point is that I really don't think in those terms when I write. I'm not saying that there aren't themes. It's just that I don't sit down and say, "Okay, this book is going to be about man's inhumanity to man, and racism, and the tragedies of turtle pornography."

It's my opinion that if you're trying to tell a realistic story that centers around realistic characters, you can't help but touch on important issues. Those issues are what make us human.

But to go back to your original question. No I'm not really trying to push any of those issues on the reader. I don't want them to come away with a message or a moral. That's heavyhanded storytelling of the sort that I don't enjoy, so I don't indulge in it myself.

That said, if my story makes people think about those issues, then I'd be pretty happy.

Q: The Kingkiller Chronicles was written as one story, which has been broken up into a trilogy with the remaining two volumes to be released in the next two years. I’ve read that where the Kingkiller Chronicles focuses on Kvothe’s past, there will be a follow-up series that centers on current events. Can you give us any information about this?

Patrick: Hmmm.... No. I don't think so.

I specifically built my world to be big enough for many stories. So rest assured there will be other books after this trilogy is done.

But what those stories will be about? No. Telling that would give too much away. I'll keep my secrets for now...

Q: What about other future projects that you might be working on or are planning on working on soon?

Patrick: I've never done short stories, but lately I've had a few ideas for smaller stories set in the Kingkiller world. One of them in particular I think would make a great graphic novel, but I don't know anyone in the comic industry to collaborate with on it.

I have a not-for-children children's story that I'm working on with an illustrator friend. Sort of like Gaiman's Coraline but in a picture book format. We've been fiddling with that for a year or two, I'd love to see someone express an interest in publishing it.

Novel wise, I have an idea for an urban faerie tale set in the real world. That one's about three quarters finished in my head. About a month ago I also had someone suggest that I should write an humorous urban fantasy centering around college life. Ever since it was suggested, I'll admit the idea's been growing on me....

Q: For now, your debut is only available in North America. Can you give us any information regarding the overseas release?

Patrick: I'm pretty sure the UK version will be available around September. Same thing with the Dutch version, I know that version is pretty much done, because I've been working with the translator. Plus I got to see the cover of the Dutch version of the book. It looks super cool. I'll probably be posting up a picture of it on my website as soon as I can find my digital camera... We've also sold the foreign rights in Germany, France, Russia, Sweden and Israel. We’re up to nine right now. I really don't know when they will be coming out though.

Q: Nowadays it’s not uncommon to see books adapted into movies, comic books, television or other formats. Regarding your series, has there been interest or anything optioned for adaptation and if so, can you give us some details?

Patrick: I'd love to do a graphic novel version of it, but as I mentioned before, I don't have any connections in the comic book world. If anyone out there is interested....

And there is talk of movies. Fairly serious talk. But I don't know if I'm allowed to discuss that. I might screw things up if I start mentioning names.

Q: Let’s fantasize for a bit. How would you like to see the Kingkiller Chronicles adapted?

Patrick: Oh, that I can totally do.

Movie:

Screenplay by Joss Whedon. I'd help of course. Mostly by bringing him coffee and stuff.

Denna would have to be Natalie Portman. She has the look, but more importantly, she has the acting chops to pull off what would probably be the most difficult character in the entire book.

I don't know who would play Kvothe..... That's a hard one.

Comics:

I'd like to be the writer. But I'd need someone to help me out a bit with the technique of writing for the graphic novel format. How about... Grant Morrison. Hell, since I'm fantasizing, why don't I bring in Alan Moore too?

Artist. Perhaps J. H. Williams? I dunno. I'd have to think about that....

Video game: I'd like Bioware or Black Isle to develop it. It would be an RPG, of course.

Q: Are you interested in trying your hand at writing in a different medium?

Patrick: I'd love to take a stab at writing videogames. There are a lot of storytelling opportunities that really aren't being taken advantage of in that field. I'd like to experiment with telling a truly non-linear story. Most games follow a real railroad plot, no matter what you want, you're following their storyline to its unavoidable conclusion. I'd like to write a game where your character can follow any number of possible story arcs and sub-plots. Then, depending on their choices, the story could end in any number of ways.

Storytelling aside, I'd like to work with some of the videogame companies for the simple fact that they obviously need some sort of writer's help. I play videogames, and lately it's hard for me to enjoy them because I'm spending all my time cringing at the corny dialogue, thin characters, and glaring plot holes. Seriously, story is important folks…that means that you need to bring in a storyteller. Get on the stick.

Q: What are you currently reading?

Patrick: "The Doomsday Brunette" by John Zakour and Lawrence Ganem. Humorous film-noir sci-fi. Fun stuff.

Q: Are there any up-and-coming novelists you would recommend checking out?

Patrick: I really enjoyed David Keck's "In the Eye of Heaven". It's a unique, gritty, dark age fantasy.

"Goblin Quest" by Jim C. Hines was good too. That one's more of a humorous fantasy.

And if you're into Y.A, you should check out Neddi Okorafor's "Zahrah the Windseeker". It's a mixture of sci-fi and fantasy with a strong young female protagonist, that's a real rarity these days. All the kids I know who have read it really loved it.

That includes me. I'm still a kid.

Q: Any last thoughts or comments for your readers?

Patrick: I'd like to thank the people who took a risk a new author and picked up the book. It's hard for a newbie author to get noticed. Double thanks for people who liked the book well enough to tell their friends about it. I really appreciate that.
Thursday, May 24, 2007

Changes for the Science Fiction Book Club?!?!


So, I just read about this over at SF Signal, which originally comes from Jonathan Strahan, which is based on an announcement made by Publishers Weekly on Monday. Here’s the basic gist:

Approximately six weeks after it acquired complete ownership of Bookspan, Bertelsmann has initiated a major overhaul of the book club business, a process that will eliminate 280 positions, or about 15% of its workforce of 1,900. As part of integrating Bookspan into BMG Columbia House, an unspecified number of smaller clubs will be closed as will Madison Park Press, the publishing program launched about 18 months ago.”

Speculations are already rampant about what this means for the future of the Science Fiction Book Club, but one rumor is that both Editor-in-Chief Ellen Asher and Senior Editor Andrew Wheeler have lost their positions. If this is true, then I’m terribly saddened for many reasons. First of course, is for any of the families who must suffer due to this awful circumstance. Secondly, being such an advocate of the SFBC, I’m worried about its future, which has had a profound impact on the SF/Fantasy community. Lastly, Andrew was doing great things over at the SFBC Blog, among other things, and if he is unable to continue, he will be sorely missed. At the end of the day, I understand that this is a business, but sometimes life can be immeasurably cruel…
Wednesday, May 23, 2007

"Night of Knives" by Ian Cameron Esslemont

Official Malazan Website
Buy “Night of Knives” via Transworld HERE
Night of Knives” Release Date: June 4, 2007

Any die-hard fan of the Malazan novels by Steven Erikson should know of Ian Cameron Esslemont. For the uninitiated, Mr. Esslemont & Steven Erikson are the co-creators of the Malazan world, which was originally conceived as a role-playing game. While Mr. Erikson has just seen the seventh novel – “Reaper’s Gale” – of his projected 10-volume epic (Malazan Book of the Fallen) released, Mr. Esslemont is on his debut, “Night of Knives”, which was originally published as a limited hardcover in 2004 (PS Publishing), then as a trade paperback in 2006 (PS), and now as a brand new hardcover via Bantam Press (June 4, 2007).

Since I’m somewhat new to the blogging world, it may not be apparent how much of a fan I am of the Malazan novels. It was in 2004 that I first heard about the series thanks to the Science Fiction Book Club, which was featuring “Gardens of the Moon” since it was making its U.S. debut. When learning that the first five books were already available in the UK, I purchased them and immediately devoured all five novels, establishing the series as my personal favorite over the likes of GRRM’sA Song of Ice & Fire” and Robert Jordan’sThe Wheel of Time”. From then on, I’ve eagerly anticipated the series’ two sequels (“The Bonehunters”, “Reaper’s Gale”), read the novellas (“Blood Follows”, “The Healthy Dead”), and have had Ian C. Esslemont’sNight of Knives” on my reading list for a while, which, thanks to Transworld is now a reality.

So, is “Night of Knives” worth checking out? Well, if you love any of the Malazan books by Steven Erikson, then I think you’re going to love Ian C. Esslemont. Obviously, both writers are well-versed in Malazan lore, so that’s not a problem. Prose-wise, Mr. Esslemont is pretty similar to Steven, though there are differences such as Ian’s writing, which is a bit more erudite and the characterization feels more intimate. Pacing is a bit uneven, especially in the beginning following the prologue when Mr. Esslemont is trying to establish the book’s two main characters Temper & Kiska. Of course, once events get rolling, the pace really picks up and I thought that Ian did a good job of directing the converging storylines to their compelling apex, which is somewhat a trademark of the Malazan books (convergences and so forth). Personally, while “Night of Knives” may lack the grandiose scope of “Gardens of the Moon” (“Night of Knives” comes in at a succinct 304 pages), I thought it was a more cohesive and better constructed debut. (NOTE: I’ve heard of the editing problems with the original publication, but I don’t know how much was cleaned up or changed between the two versions. I had no issues with the new edition, but it would be interesting to explore.)

Chronologically, “Night of Knives” occurs after “Gardens of the Moon”, but draws on events mentioned in that book’s (“Gardens of the Moon”) prologue. More specifically, “Night of Knives” takes place in the 1154th Year of Burn’s Sleep, the 96th Year of the Malazan Empire and the Last Year of Emperor Kellanved’s Reign. When you should read “Night of Knives” is a topic for debate. Since the book is basically a standalone story – chronicling the night of a Shadow Moon; All Soul’s Fest; the Night of Shadows when Kellanved (Ammanas Shadowthrone) & Dancer (Cotillion, the Rope) ascend to High House Shadow, Surly (Laseen) becomes the Empress of Malaz, and other pivotal events transpire – I think anybody can enjoy “Night of Knives”, veterans and newcomers alike, as both a complementary piece and a worthy introduction to the Malaz world. For myself, I had read the first six novels in the series before taking on “Night of Knives”, so it was pretty cool getting to revisit familiar places like the Deadhouse, Y’Ghatan, Malaz Island, etc.; learning more about Kellanved & Dancer’s ascendance, Dassem Ultor’s assassination and Tayschrenn’s allegiances/motives; not to mention getting introduced to the Stormriders, and recognizing all of the other Malazan references like Claws/Talons, Bridgeburners, the Hounds of Shadow, Warrens, etc. It was especially rewarding to see such characters as Edgewalker, Temper, Kiska, Agayla & Obo in the “Night of Knives”, after reading them, however briefly, in “The Bonehunters”. For those who’ve already started the series, I recommend that you at least read the first four Malazan novels by Steven Erikson, before checking out “Night of Knives”, which, in my opinion would make “The Bonehunters” a more satisfying read because of the connections. For those who haven’t, I think it’s up to the reader’s preference whether to start with “Night of Knives” or wait until later. As I said before, I think either way will work, but since “Night of Knives” is a much shorter read, it’s a pretty good barometer by which potential fans can decide whether or not they’re going to like the series.

In the end, maybe I’m prejudiced since I love the Malazan books so much, but I had a blast reading “Night of Knives” and I highly recommend it to anyone who has enjoyed the Steven Erikson novels so far. While I don’t think Ian C. Esslemont is on the same level as Mr. Eriksonif Steven’s books are the main course then Esslemont’s the appetizer – I understand that we haven’t really seen much from Mr. Esslemont yet, so as eager as I am for the remaining Malazan novels from Steven Erikson, I’m just as excited for the remaining four Esslemont books, the first of which, “Return of the Crimson Guard” is tentatively due out in Spring 2008…
Tuesday, May 22, 2007

"Westeros Wednesday" brought to you by the Dabel Brothers


"Imagine this, opening up one of our comics and seeing yourself standing in the world of Westeros, or Midkemia, or being a vampire within the world of Anita Blake... Yep, I think you’ve guessed it. All summer long we’ll be hosting a contest where, if you win, instead of winning just a sword, you’ll get to appear in a future Dabel Brothers fantasy title as a character!

We’ve all done it, dressed up as our favorite comic book character. But how many of us can tell our friends that we’ve appeared in a comic book, especially when it’s a book from a company like
Dabel Brothers Productions?

We’ll have all the details up for you on Westeros Wednesday (June 20th, 2007) on our
website or at participating comic book retailers. And please, DO stop by your local comic shop and tell them to sign up so they’ll have the cool things we’ll be providing for launch day!"

Sounds pretty interesting. If you're fan of GRRM or comic books, I'd definitely check it out... If you're neither, I would still check it out ;)
Monday, May 21, 2007

"Maledicte" by Lane Robins

Pre-order “Maledicte” via Del Rey HERE
Read an Excerpt from “MaledicteHERE
Maledicte” Release Date: May 29, 2007 (US/UK)

There’s not much I can say about Lane Robins, author of “Maledicte”. As far as I can tell, she doesn’t have a website or blog yet, and about all that the jacket cover reveals is that she earned a B.A. in Creative Writing from Beloit College (Wisconsin) and that she lives in Lawrence, KS. So, I think the best thing to do is just let her book speak for her…

Set in a Victorian-like backdrop, complete with aristocracies, a budding industrial revolution, and such debaucheries as prostitution & drug addiction, “Maledicte” reminds me somewhat of Jacqueline Carey’s Kushiel series, mainly because of the similarities between the books’ use of court intrigues, meddling gods and sinful eroticism. Even more so, I’m reminded of “The Count of Monte Cristo” due to such shared themes of transformation, love and vengeance. And with certain plot developments I even saw shades of Romeo & Juliet as well as other Shakespearean dramatics, while the legends surrounding Black-Winged Ani, “god of love & vengeance”, actually brought to mind The Crow comic books & adaptations. Despite all of these resemblances and the familiar subject matter, “Maledicte” possesses its own voice and offers some fresh perspectives to what might otherwise be considered stale material, though I think readers will either love or hate the manner in which the book is told.

Basically, “Maledicte” is a character-driven melodrama that revolves around the title character, a girl and street urchin who’s trying to pass off as a male aristocrat in her quest to recover her lover Janus and avenge his kidnapping. More or less an antihero, Maledicte is interesting to follow, partly because of his/her clashes between his/her male/female personas, the compact with Black-Winged Ani – the benefits/downsides of such an alliance, the price owed when terms are fulfilled, and how much of Maledicte’s single-minded vengeance is of his own doing or the god’s – and of course Maledicte’s machinations within the Antyrrian court, which provide some of the book’s finest moments. Of the supporting players, there is Baron Vornatti and his servant Gilly who prepare Maledicte for the court and aid him in his subterfuge, Michel Ixion earl of Last and subject of Maledicte’s wrath, the aforementioned Janus, Lady Mirabile, King Aris and his three counselors, Kritos and various others who all play a part in the drama that unfolds.

For a book that is driven primarily by its characters and their interactions with one another, there were some issues that I had with the characterizaton. Stylistically, “Maledicte” is told from a third-person point of view, mainly following Miranda/Maledicte while Gilly, King Aris and Kritos also provide narratives. Truthfully, it's difficult to discern who all of the major players are at first, since the viewpoints jump around so haphazardly in the beginning, and this could be a problem for readers starting the book, though thankfully it gets better as the novel progresses.
Secondly, was Miranda’s powerful thirst for revenge and her feelings towards Janus, which are never really clarified until later in the book, and then done so in a manner lacking any emotional impact. Personally, I felt that some backstory or opening scenes explaining Janus & Miranda’s affections for one another, and further details of their pasts, would have greatly benefited the novel since Miranda’s quest for finding Janus is obviously pivotal to the book. This would also help readers better visualize Miranda & Janus' evolution from street urchins to courtiers, which are only hinted at throughout the novel. Specifically, I felt that the scenes involving Baron Vornatti, Gilly and Miranda’s training should have been expanded on, giving readers the chance to see Maledicte becoming an aristocrat, rather than the truncated versions that we get. I also felt that certain motives and actions of other characters could have been better explained, providing greater effect to the emotionalism that the story is trying to convey.

With so much focus on the characters, what about the rest of the book? Well, if you’re a fan of worldbuilding, then I’m afraid you’ll have to look elsewhere, since the kingdom of Antyre is sparsely described with little information provided on its history or current events. Of the larger world, only the foreign kingdom of Itarus and the uncivilized Explorations are touched upon, and these just slightly, while even the gods – Baxit, Ani, Naga, Espit, Haith – have little mythos revealed about them despite their relevance to the story. Even minor details like the description inside a house or palace, or the layout of the city is practically nonexistent, which can be detrimental to the story at certain moments. As far as the prose, Ms. Robins' writing is uneven, at times elegant & beautiful, at others, clumsy & confusing...not unexpected for a first-time author.

Despite all of these issues, I have to say I enjoyed reading “Maledicte”. If you can overlook the lack of worldbuilding & exposition, the inconsistencies of the writing, and the occasional soap opera-like moment, there's a lot to like in "Maledicte", including Machiavellian characters, erotic tension, sharp & witty dialogue, an up-tempo pace, sinister supernatural forces and a melodramatic plot that twists & turns until its touching conclusion, which basically wraps up the story, while leaving enough threads to be explored later on. Sure, it's no Kushiel novel or "The Count of Monte Cristo", but for a debut, "Maledicte" is respectable and showcases potential, especially in the case of the talented, up-and-coming author Ms. Robins who I think will have a lot more to say in future releases…
Friday, May 18, 2007

Official Press Release from Henry Holt Books: In Memory of Lloyd Alexander

"Henry Holt Books For Young Readers is saddened to announce the passing of one of the greats of literature and the father of modern children’s fantasy, Lloyd Alexander. Mr. Alexander passed away at home this morning at the age of 83 after a battle with cancer, two weeks after the death of his wife of sixty-two years.

Mr. Alexander was born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, in 1924. He decided he wanted to be a writer at age 15 while at Upper Darby High School. Mr. Alexander joined the US Army at the start of World War II, looking for authentic adventure, and eventually rose to be a staff sergeant in intelligence and counterintelligence. Much of Mr. Alexander’s military training happened in Wales, a country’s whose mythic traditions and bold landscape would inspire many of his books. Mr. Alexander then attended the University of Paris, where he met Janine Denni. They were married in 1946.

In 1964, Lloyd Alexander began his most famous work, The Chronicles of Prydain with the publication of the first book in the series, The Book of Three. More than 40 years later, the series remains one of the most widely read in the history of fantasy. Mr. Alexander’s books have captivated the imaginations of people as well as garnered numerous accolades including two Newbery medals for The Black Cauldron and The High King and an animated feature adaptation from Disney. Mr. Alexander also won the National Book Award for The Marvelous Misadventures of Sebastian and Westmark. He also wrote many novels for adults. His final novel, The Golden Dream of Carlo Chuchio, an adventure in the tradition of Aladdin and other Middle Eastern folk-tales, will be published by Holt in August of 2007. His tremendous written legacy will inspire readers and writers for years to come."

Interview with Jacqueline Carey

Official Jacqueline Carey Website
Read CHAPTER 1 + CHAPTER 2 from “Kushiel’s Justice
Preorder “Kushiel’s Justice” (Release Date: June 14, 2007) via Amazon HERE (US) + HERE (CA)
Read Pat (Pat’s Fantasy Hotlist) & Jake’s interview with Jacqueline Carey HERE

Sometime in 2003, I was hungering for a new fantasy series to sink my teeth into and since this was before I had started using blogs to help me in finding new authors, my number one resource was the SFBC. One set of books that kept grabbing my eye were the Kushiel novels by Jacqueline Carey, mainly because of the stunning cover artwork. So, I decided to take a chance and bought all three books: “Kushiel’s Dart”, “Kushiel’s Chosen” & “Kushiel’s Avatar”. Admittedly, it took me a little while to get into “Kushiel’s Dart”, but as the book progressed, the prose became richer, the story more interesting, and before long I was fully immersed in the world of Phèdre nó Delaunay & Terre d'Ange, and was saddened when I reached the conclusion to “Kushiel’s Avatar”. Since then, Ms. Carey has become one of my personal favorite authors and has graced her fans with the misunderstood duology “The Sundering” and a return to the world of Terre d'Ange with a new trilogy narrated this time by Imriel de la Courcel, with book two, “Kushiel’s Justice” due out this June. With the following interview that Ms. Carey was so gracious to agree to (thank you very much Jacqueline!) we get to learn more about Kushiel, it’s past, present & future, as well a new project that the author is working on and various other interesting tidbits. So, once again, thank you Jacqueline Carey and readers enjoy!

Q: For someone who has never read one of your novels, how would you describe your writing style?

Jacqueline: The Kushiel series, for which I’m best known, is alternate historical fantasy with lots of intrigue, adventure and sex. The writing style is fairly baroque and the books have a streak of dark eroticism, which I think is important to mention because a lot of people associate fantasy with younger readers. These are definitely R-rated. I’d recommend starting with “Kushiel’s Dart,” since the books all build on one another sequentially.

Q: “Kushiel’s Justice”, the second volume in your current trilogy featuring Imriel de la Courcel is due for release this June. Can you tell us what we can expect from the new novel?

Jacqueline: Imriel embarks on a sizzling secret affair with his royal cousin Sidonie; and much to their chagrin, they find themselves falling in love. Realizing that a liaison between the heir to the throne and the son of the realm’s greatest traitor would tear Terre d’Ange apart, they choose duty over passion, and Imriel marries the Alban princess to whom he’s betrothed. But in Alba, Imriel becomes the target of mysterious forces that seek to use his love for Sidonie to bind him against his will.

It’s still a more personal journey than the books in the original trilogy, but this one is more epic in scope than “Kushiel’s Scion,” which was very much a coming-of-age novel.

Q: Was it always your intention to return to the world of Terre d’Ange following the conclusion of the original trilogy “Kushiel’s Legacy”, and if so, why? Will we continue to see further adventures in this world after the current series is completed?

Jacqueline: From the moment I conceived of the ending of the original trilogy, I knew I wanted to continue Imriel’s story. He’s a damaged character with an incredible amount of baggage, and I felt there was tremendous dramatic potential inherent in his journey. I do plan to continue in this milieu, but I don’t have any definitive details at this point.

Q: Regarding the Imriel trilogy, how far along are you with the third novel and can you share any info?

Jacqueline: The first draft is finished and on my editor’s desk. We’re both very excited about this one. The working title is “Kushiel’s Mercy,” and I’m assuming it will be released in the summer of 2008.

Q: What about other future projects? Anything you can reveal?

Jacqueline: After nearly 3000 pages in Terre d’Ange, I needed a break! I’m working on a novel that’s completely unlike anything else I’ve done. If all goes according to plan, it will likely be published under a pseudonym that will be an open secret.

Q: Can you tell us anything more about this departure novel that you're working on?

Jacqueline: The working title is "Santa Olivia," and I'm calling it a post-punk desert bordertown fable, with boxing and cute girls in love. It's hard to categorize! Warner will publish it, and hopefully, there will be at least one sequel.

Q: Sounds good! Personally, I feel that you’ve really matured as an author, especially if you compare “Kushiel’s Scion” (2006) to your debut “Kushiel’s Dart” (2001). What are your thoughts on the improvements that you’ve made as a writer and is there anything else you want to improve upon?

Jacqueline: I think I’ve developed increasing fluidity within the medium, the ability to manipulate language and make it do what I want. What I’m working on now is very minimalist, which is a whole different challenge. I just want to continue to stretch and grow as a writer.

Q: A trademark of your novels is the characterization. How much do you draw from your own experiences when creating your characters? What about a favorite character?

Jacqueline: I don’t draw directly on my own experiences, though I’m sure it takes place on a subconscious level to some extent. Favorites are tough! I love Phèdre because she’s such a unique heroine and a true gift of the Muses and Imriel for his wry, brooding self-awareness, but I love my secondary characters, too. Joscelin and Melisande in particular are a lot of fun to write, and commencing in “Kushiel’s Justice,” Sidonie. In The Sundering, I loved writing the Fjeltroll and Calandor, the dragon.

Q: The world of Kushiel can be described as ‘historical fantasy’ as it’s loosely based on Renaissance-era Europe (France, Greece, Ireland, Italy, Germany, Spain, etc.). What kind of process was involved in the creation of this world? How different was it from creating the world of The Sundering?

Jacqueline: One of my readers dubbed my worldbuilding in the Kushiel milieu ‘cafeteria-style historical fantasy,’ which I think is apt. I pick and choose freely among cultures, locations and time periods and then weave them together as I see fit. Research is a constant, ongoing process; but I’m going for plausibility, not accuracy. The process for creating the world of The Sundering was very different, as that was invented out of whole cloth. I read a lot of creation myths and revisited Tolkien’sThe Silmarillion.”

Q: Speaking of The Sundering, there seemed to be a lot of negativity towards the duology dealing with the Tolkien references, the fantasy clichés and how different it was from the Kushiel series. What are your thoughts toward this and how do you feel The Sundering turned out as a finished project compared to your initial goals for it?

Jacqueline: I wanted to rewrite epic fantasy as tragedy from the perspective of the losing side, which wasn’t obvious to a number of readers and reviewers. Perhaps that goal didn’t come across as clearly in the writing as I intended, but I also don’t think the duology was packaged and marketed in a way that reflected its true nature, which led to false expectations. Those who got it really got it; those who didn’t really didn’t. So it goes.

Q: With Phedre (Kushiel’s Legacy), and now Imriel, you wrote from a first-person point of view, while The Sundering was told through multiple characters? How different a process is it in writing in these two different formats? What about the differences between writing Phedre and writing Imriel?

Jacqueline: There’s a unique intimacy to writing in the first person, and I find the process more streamlined than writing multiple third person points of view. However, it does limit one’s ability to weave multiple story lines together. Phèdre’s voice is much more formal and ornate than Imriel’s. He’s more simple and direct, and doesn’t observe things in as much detail. And of course, I had to get in touch with my inner guy to give voice to him.

Q: The cover artwork on “Kushiel’s Justice” is provided by the team of Cheryl Griesbach & Stanley Martucci, which is a departure from John Jude Palencar who did all the previous Kushiel novels. Why the change?

Jacqueline: Warner's trying to reach new audiences, and thought it was time to try a fresh approach.

Q: Why do we not see Imriel de la Courcel depicted in the artwork on the last two books, how much input do you have with the artist/artwork, and lastly, is there a personal favorite Kushiel cover?

Jacqueline: Believe me, I’ve lobbied for Imriel, but there’s a perception in the industry that male figures on the cover don’t sell as many books as female figures. And I think they’re trying to walk a fine line. The Kushiel books have a diverse, eclectic readership – fantasy aficionados, romance lovers, mainstream readers. They want to appeal to a broad spectrum without alienating any potential readership.

That said, once my editor has a concept in mind, she does solicit a lot of input in refining it. My personal favorite – for once, I have one! – is the cover of “Kushiel’s Chosen,” which I find the most sophisticated of the lot.

Q: The three-part “Kushiel’s Legacy” series and The Sundering duology were released through publisher Tor, while the new Imriel trilogy is coming out via Warner Books? Why the publisher change? What do you feel are the differences between the two publishers?

Jacqueline: Tor launched my career and I’m greatly indebted to them. However, when I proposed the Imriel trilogy, my editor felt strongly that I should feature another female protagonist instead, so it was a matter of creative difference. I wanted to work with an editor who was as excited about the project as I was, and we found that at Warner, where I signed a deal for the trilogy. All in all, my experience with both publishers has been very good.

Q: In today’s climate there’s a lot of cross-pollination between different mediums: literature and movies, comic books and videogames, TV and animation, etc. Regarding your works, has there been interest or anything optioned for adaptation?

Jacqueline: Every so often, I’m approached by an auteur with a grand vision to adapt one of my books; movies, comic books, role-playing games, even a ballet. But thus far, nothing’s ever gotten to the stage of being optioned. Some day, maybe!

Q: Staying on this subject, let’s fantasize for a bit. What would be your dream adaptation?

Jacqueline: I’m not familiar enough with comic books and videogames to speculate, and I’m lousy at playing the casting game. But for the director, I’d have to go with Peter Jackson. Obviously, he’s shown a mastery of epic fantasy with “The Lord of the Rings,” but I absolutely loved his movie “Heavenly Creatures,” which showed a marvelous ability to handle sensitive material.

Q: What about writing in a different medium?

Jacqueline: I actually dabbled in movie scripts many years ago. I learned a lot about plot structure, and if I ever branched out, that would likely be the medium I’d revisit.

Q: You won the “2001 Locus Award” for Best First Novel with “Kushiel’s Dart.” How did you feel about winning this award?

Jacqueline: It felt great. I took a big creative risk writing an epic fantasy with a masochistic heroine, and it was a wonderful affirmation to know readers realized it wasn’t done for sensational or exploitative purposes.

Q: It’s alluded that there’s a certain lack of respect from writers (non-fantasy/sci-fi) towards authors of speculative fiction, especially female writers. Have you had any problems with this and what are your thoughts on the subject?

Jacqueline: Oh, sure. It’s there and I’ve experienced it, though seldom from anyone who’s actually read my work. Every genre is handicapped by certain stereotypes. I think attitudes are slowly shifting and will continue to do so.

Q: Are there any preconceived notions that you’d like to dispel about being an author?

Jacqueline: There’s nothing glamorous about being on a book tour.

Q: What was the best advice that someone gave you as an aspiring writer?

Jacqueline: I’m largely self-taught, and to be honest, nothing comes to mind. But when asked ourselves, most of us say the same thing because it’s true: Write, write, write.

Q: What are some of your personal favorite authors and books?

Jacqueline: A lot of my favorites in the genre are books I read when I was younger; Patricia McKillip’sRiddle-Master” trilogy, John Crowley’sLittle, Big,” Richard Adams’Watership Down” and “Shardik,” Frank Herbert’sDune.”

Q: Are there any up-and-coming writers that we should check out?

Jacqueline: I very much enjoyed Daniel Abraham’s debut, “A Shadow in Summer,” and the forthcoming “A Betrayal in Winter.” And I’m not just saying that because you interviewed him earlier – I wrote blurbs for both books. Alan Campbell’sScar Night” is another recent debut I liked.

Q: It’s no secret you love to travel. Any recommendations for your readers of places to visit?

Jacqueline: Everywhere! Anywhere! But for readers who love the milieu of Terre d’Ange, I’d definitely recommend a visit to the south of France. I fell in love with the ambience, the landscapes, the quality of the light.

Q: Any last thoughts or comments for your readers?

Jacqueline: My fans rock! Thanks for being awesome.

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