For today’s post, I am starting a new series that I’m calling Thoughts From the Authors. These posts are going to be some fun interviews with Fantasy and Science Fiction authors. I’ll do my best to introduce you to some writers you might enjoy, and together we can peer into the thoughts of an author.
To kick things off, I have an interview with the incredibly talented Brian Staveley. Brian is the author of the series Chronicle of the Unhewn Throne which begins with THE EMPEROR’S BLADES and then continues in THE PROVIDENCE OF FIRE. I’ve done Books Off The Shelf posts for both of these. Excellent, excellent reading. I’ll post links below, but you definitely don’t want to miss out on reading the story that Staveley is weaving.
And now, onto the interview.
Hi Brian, how long have you been writing and what got you started?
According to my parents, I’ve been writing since I was four, when I wrote a four-page epic titled Anty’s Avinchir, in which a small ant embarks on a series of adventures, then returns home because he misses his mom and dad. I read voraciously as a kid, so it only made sense to try telling stories. During college and graduate school, however, I took a decade-long detour from fiction to write poetry. I didn’t start writing fantasy until my late twenties…
Do you have a favorite author, and what authors / artists / works have influenced you?
It’s difficult to talk about influences without sounding like an asshole (“I think you can really see Faulkner’s prose style in my early books…”) so I try to stick to talking about writers I admire. Even that is a long and ever-changing list. Martin McDonagh is a playwright whose work I could read and re-read every week. Ursula Le Guin set the bar for me early in the realm of epic fantasy – I’ve still not read anything that seems better than her Earthsea books. George Herbert only wrote one book of poetry, but, for my money at least, it’s the best one. Kay Ryan is the poet writing now that I most admire…
What book are you reading now?
N. K. Jemisin, The Fifth Season
Hampton Sides, In the Kingdom of Ice
David Mamet, Three Uses of the Knife
Are there any new authors that have grasped your interest?
I guess it depends how new is new. Max Gladstone’s Craft books seem like some of the most ambitious and original fantasy that anyone is writing today. N. K. Jemisin (mentioned above) just seems to get better with every book; I’m only halfway through The Fifth Season, but so far it’s both brutal and brilliant.
Who is your favorite fantasy villain?
It’s pretty tough to beat Milton’s Satan. I love the scene in which he first sees Eve and stands “stupidly good, abstracted from his own evil”. At least, I think that’s the quote. Sin and Death, also from Paradise Lost, are great, gruesome monsters. Those passages are as terrifying as anything I’ve encountered anywhere.
So, The Last Mortal Bond, the third and final book of Chronicle of the Unhewn Throne comes out in March, correct? How much work do you still have to finish out this series?
The middle of March! I have just about 150 pages left in the copyedit review right now, so it should be out of my hands by the end of the week. This book is a long one – about 150 pages longer than The Providence of Fire. I can’t wait to hear what people make of it.
What is your work schedule like when you're writing, and what kind of writer are you, more of an architect or is your writing more organic?
I write five or six days a week, more or less nine to five. When I have a killer morning (maybe 4000 words), I take the afternoon off to be with my son. When I have a shitty morning, I might be at the coffee shop until it closes trying to redeem myself.
I plan out my stories meticulously, but evidently my planning sucks, because I never stick to the plan. The Last Mortal Bond, in many ways, is not the book I expected to write. I’m glad I wrote it, but I anticipated a very different direction for at least two of the characters.
Do you have plans for your next book/writing project yet?
I ‘m thrilled to have just signed another deal with Tor – for four books this time. These will be stand-alone novels in the same world as the Unhewn Throne series. You can expect to see some familiar faces and a whole bunch of new places and people…
Thanks so much for your time, Brian. I can honestly say that I can’t wait for The Last Mortal Bond to come out in March, and getting to return to the same world in your future books sounds like a good time to me.
As promised, I’m posting the links to the Books Off the Shelf posts for THE EMPEROR’S BLADES and THE PROVIDENCE OF FIRE.
This series won’t disappoint. Check it out.
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Ryan J. Doughan