One-on-One With Lawrence Watt-Evans

Recently, writer Lawrence Watt-Evans took time out of his busy schedule working on the coming-in-2005 series Wizard Lords Archives to answer some questions from Geek World!

1. How do you come up with the ideas for your stories? In other words, how do the muses work for you?

It varies. Ideas are everywhere, and come in hundreds of ways. THE UNWILLING WARLORD began with a sentence about William the Marshal in Thomas Costain's history of the Plantagenet kings of England, for example -- the idea of a hereditary military commander just suddenly struck me as _such_ a stupid idea that I felt I had to write a story about it.

2. Do you have a special routine when you're writing, or can you just sit down at a computer and start typing?

Both. Sometimes I can just start typing. Other times the muse isn't quite so cooperative, and I have a routine to get her attention -- put on music, check my e-mail, then play a game for a few minutes, then open up WordPerfect and find my place and go from there.

3. Who are your literary influences?

Fritz Leiber, L. Sprague de Camp, Robert E. Howard, Robert W. Chambers, C.S. Forester, Rex Stout, Lin Carter, Robert A. Heinlein, J.R.R. Tolkien... that's very roughly in order of importance. Michael Moorcock should probably be in there somewhere, and C.L. Hales, and Terry Pratchett, and dozens of others.

4. Generally how long does it take you to write an average novel? How many different revisions do you usually go through?

A novel takes me anywhere from eight weeks to a couple of years, once I actually start work -- I'll often have ideas simmering for five or ten or fifteen years before I get serious about them, but I'm not counting that. For several years I was pretty steadily able to write a novel in seven or eight months -- from about 1981 to 1994, that was -- but in the '90s I had some health problems, I changed publishers and had some unhappy experiences with editors, and publishers started asking for longer books, and I slowed down. A lot. Since then there hasn't really been a standard, but I'm trying to get my production back up to what it was.

As for how many revisions -- it varies. I wrote the opening chapter of THE SEVEN ALTARS OF DUSARRA eleven times, then threw it out completely, and then had to put it back, in a twelfth draft, when the editor thought I started the novel too abruptly.

Usually, though, I do about three drafts.

5. How do you deal with writers-block?

I ignore it until it goes away. My preferred method of ignoring it is to take some old paperbacks, a bottle of Coke, a bag of potato chips, and a big Hershey bar and plant myself in front of the TV for several hours, watching junk TV, stuffing my face, and re-reading favorite old books. That usually seems to work.

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?

Probably my best novel so far is DRAGON WEATHER. I'm also still very pleased with NIGHTSIDE CITY.

7. Do you have a favorite character that you've created?

Chalkara of Kholis. I doubt anyone else even remembers her, but I liked her immensely. She appeared in the third and fourth volumes of the Lords of Dus series.

8. What do you think makes a good fantasy author?

The more you know about the real world, the better you can do writing fantasy. Good writing comes from the author's own experience, in the author's own voice, and you need to understand your own world before you can create a believable new one. You need to know real people to create good characters.

9. Can you tell us what you're currently working on and when you expect it will be available in bookstores?

I'm just getting started on a new series, the Wizard Lords Archives. The first three volumes are under contract, but I'm afraid it'll still be quite awhile before anything reaches the bookstores -- I'd estimate mid-2005.

But the third and final book in the Obsidian Chronicles, DRAGON VENOM, will be in the stores in October.

10. Random quote or piece of advice you'd like to share to end this with?

"Don't take life so serious -- it ain't nohow permanent." -- Walt Kelly.

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