1. How did you come up with the ideas for the Nightrunner novels and the Tamir Trilogy?
The main character of the Nightrunner books, Seregil, just sort of showed up and said, "Here's who I am. I need a world to play in." Everything really took shape around him. As I wrote the Nightrunner books, I had to invent bits of history for him to draw from. Tamír was an historical footnote, but she took root in my back brain and was soon demanding her own series. It really has been fun, fleshing out things like the foundation of the Orëska House, and playing with actual events vs. the later historical "truth" we get from later characters.
2. Do you have a special routine when you're writing, or can you just sit down at a computer and start typing?
I keep trying to establish routines, but I'm allergic to them.
3. Who are your literary influences?
I have many, but I suppose Tolkien, Mark Twain, Conan Doyle, and Stephen King are closest to the surface. Not sure it shows, but there you are.
4. Generally how long does it take you to write an average novel? How many different revisions do you usually go through?
The first two books took me over ten years. Subsequent books--about two, counting procrastination. I revise as I go, so the draft I send my editor has been pretty well chewed over. Then we go through a couple of formal cycles, tinkering and smoothing.
5. How do you deal with writers-block?
I've come to think of it as writer's pause. I do go through periods where the words just won't come, but have learned that it's just because my subconscious is still working on things. When it's ready, it sends up a flare and I go back to work. The less I worry about it, the better things go.
6. Out of everything you've written, which would you say is your favorite; which gives you the most satisfaction of a job-well-done?
They all do, in their own ways. Luck and Stalking were probably the most fun to write. Traitor let me explore Seregil's past in a way I'd been wanting to. The Tamír books are far more serious and draw from a darker personal well, but I think I've created something with a more significant resonance.
7. Do you have a favorite character that you've created?
I love all my main characters, but some are more fun to play with than others. I loved working with Mardus, and Seregil is great fun. I love Ki, and particularly enjoy developing his family. If they lived today, they'd have junk cars in the front yard and a three legged dog sleeping in a refrigerator box under the sagging front porch. They'd probably end up on the Jerry Springer show sooner or later-- "I Married My Sister's Ex-Husband Who Also Happens To Be Our Uncle".
8. What do you think makes a good fantasy author?
I think the best fantasy is written by people who reach outside the genre for their material. The Early Greats--Tolkien, Lewis-- and writers like LeGuin are highly educated, scholarly folk who draw from real human life and history to create very real fantasy worlds that project themes and ideas. I always cringe when someone tells me my work is "a great escape". With the Tamír books in particular, but even in the Nightrunner series, I'm trying to give people something to think about, as well as a good time.
9. Can you tell us what you're currently working on and when you expect it will be available in bookstores?
I'm currently working on the third Tamír book. It doesn't have an official title yet. I'd like to see it in stores in late '04 or early '05.
10. Random quote or piece of advice you'd like to share to end this with?
"Be excellent to each other." Bill and Ted