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Friday, May 18, 2007

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.


dragonfly guava said...

OMG that was great! thanks for the interview =D

Lady Knight said...

great interview! great questions! ...... and her new book Santa Olivia sound cool and i think i'd love it coz it appeals to all the other stuff i love as well as fantasy! :) ..... and its funny i think i got hooked on the Kushiel series after trying it coz i kept seeing it at SFBC too! ........... also i didnt realize The Sundering duology was so misunderstood?!!?!? it was great to see a kind of typical fantasy epic from another side! i'm surprised it hasnt really been done before! and the series wasnt as involving as Kushiel (maybe coz you dont spend time only with one character) but was soooo good and so sad and ??? i'm missing words here! haha! ......... and i'm disappointed to hear publishers dont want to put male figures on the cover? argh!? this is like magazines... put women on the covers coz guys will buy it for sure and women wont mind but vice versa probly wouldnt be the case. argh. but yea all in all great interview! :D

Robert said...

I'm glad you both liked the interview, and I appreciate your thoughts Ida. I've finished "Kushiel's Justice", so you can expect a review of it soon...

Anonymous said...

you just have to love her :-)

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