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Friday, July 6, 2012

A Mini-Interview with KJ Parker (Questions asked by Liviu Suciu and Mihir Wanchoo)



Recently Fantasy Book Critic has been honored to participate in a round of interviews with K.J. Parker. We submitted a few questions and the author graciously answered three of them which I am presenting below. The first comes from Mihir and the other two from myself.

I would also note that the author's latest novel Sharps is already out at least from Amazon and I plan to publish FBC's review of it next Tuesday, July 10 (hint: it's my number 1 novel of the year to date), hopefully with a contribution from Mihir too, while KJ Parker latest story, Let Maps to Others, is also out, this time available for free courtesy of the wonderful Subterranean Press as are two earlier stories linked above and a fascinating article on the history of sword making.

Enjoy!

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1. You seem to buck the fantasy trend of long, fat book series as you mostly have written trilogies and standalone books, Could you expound on the reasoning or wish to write in such a manner?

Do please be careful what you say. It was reviewers complimenting me on writing magic-free fantasy that started me writing a whole slew of short stories about wizards. If I now decide to write a series so long, rambling and interminable that it makes the Wheel of Time look like a haiku, it’ll be entirely your fault.

Ideas come in different sizes. The aspect of writing I most enjoy is playing funny games with structure and form. The fantasy genre lends itself particularly well to a wide variety of forms, from three-minute songs to sonatas to symphonies to Ring cycles. It all depends on what you want to say next.


2. When reading Sharps, I thought the main characters resembled to some extent a few of your most interesting characters from earlier books - Suidas was not unlike the heroes of The Company, Addo not unlike Gignomai (The Hammer), Iseutz not unlike the heroine with the same name in the Fencer trilogy though with less baggage, while Giraut and Phrantzes were the seemingly expendable nobodies that appear in various places in your work, only to take over in crucial moments. Was that intentional or are you fascinated with several archetype characters so they tend to reoccur in your novels?

Although my books are primarily about characters rather than situations, ideas &c, I audition for characters to play parts that further a theme. The themes that interest me tend to call for particular types of character. I like to hire specialists. Incidentally, I’m interested that Addo reminds you of Gig; I’d have thought he was more like Miel Ducas, only with a vestigial backbone. He can’t be simply a rehash of earlier characters, since he’s based on my daughter’s latest boyfriend, who hadn’t appeared on the scene until long after Gignomai and Miel Ducas were safely in the can.


3. What is about fencing that fascinates you, as the subject is central to a trilogy, a standalone and appears frequently in all your other work?

The cornerstone of prose fiction is interaction between characters; interaction leads to conflict, conflict leads to drama (the dark side are they). Fencing is aggression, the urge to hurt and kill, formalized into a cross between chess and ballet; one famous definition of fencing is ‘a conversation in steel’. The late Arthur Wise, a leading authority on the history of combat, said that violence is above all a means of communication. Fencing is how my characters communicate with each other.

2 comments:

J.Curtis Mace said...

I've never been so intrigued by fencing. "A conversation in steel," I like that.
Good stuff.

Don Madlung said...

Whoever this man or woman is, they are a very refreshing breath into the genre, indeed books as a whole.

High praise for this 'KJ', and i've only read the Engineer trilogy and the first book of the Scavenger trilogy.

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