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Thursday, June 10, 2010

Interview with Tad Williams

Visit Tad Williams Official Website Here

Fantasy Book Critic's Mihir Wanchoo was able to take a few moments and interview Tad Williams.

Tad Williams is the author of over a dozen novels and short stories. His latest novel is Shadowrise which is Volumn 3 of Shadowmarch.

A big thank you goes out to Tad Williams and Deborah Beale, who were able to make this interview possible.


Thank you very much for taking the time to talk with us, now with the publication of Shadowrise this year, you’ll be close to completing 25 years since when you first got published in 1985. How do you view your journey since then?

It doesn't seem that long, but every now and then I notice that one of my books is in its 30th or 40th printing and I realize it really has been. Mostly, I've just been following my bliss, as the saying goes -- just trying to write stories that seem good to me and hoping that others will like them too. And the more I write the less I know, so I've always got something that challenges me.

Many people often equate the Memory Sorrow and Thorn trilogy as your debut books, even though you published Tail Chaser’s song first. What is it about the Memory Sorrow and Thorn books, in your opinion, that your fans love so much?

I tried to write a story that was ABOUT those kind of stories, but also stood up by itself. Also, I think people find my characters sympathetic. I can't tell you how many Binabiks and such I run into on the internet. Most of all, though, I think people can sense that I don't just read fantasy books -- that I bring a wealth of other kinds of material to my stories, which gives them a certain depth and resonance.

George R.R. Martin had once acknowledged the debt he owed to your Memory Sorrow and Thorn trilogy which got him started on arguably the biggest, strongest contender for the most intriguing fantasy series, the ASOIAF. How do you view your books being the genesis for George’s Magnum opus and also on this reference?

I love George's writing. I am nothing but honored to be associated with his work. I'd love to write something with him some day.

I had read in one of your interviews a few years ago wherein you had mentioned that your next book would be either "Arjuna Rising" or "And Ministers of grace". And Ministers of grace is now a short story in Warriors anthology and then it has been announced that you will be writing the Bobby Dollar books after the Shadowmarch series. So what did happen with those two titles?

"And Ministers of Grace" is actually an early title for the Bobby Dollar books, but it became a short story instead (although, confusingly enough, a short story set in the same universe that will someday be the basis for the Arjuna Rising books. So I'm writing one book (set of books, actually) and I still intend to write the other book. Clear as mud, right?

Many readers would assume that you are out to stamp the fantasy genre by making Tetralogies a common occurrence, even though your first series was a trilogy in Hardcover and got split in paperback publication. The Otherland series was planned to be of four books and now with the split in the last book of the Shadowmarch series. How would dispel or clarify these assumptions or are you indeed secretly trying to make four books a norm of the fantasy genre ;)

Intention is cheap -- I have true stupidity in my corner. I keep thinking things will be shorter than they wind up. I only got it right with the Otherland books by making it four volumes in the first place -- I'm lucky it didn't turn out to be five.

You also wrote Caliban’s hour as a sequel to Shakespeare’s Tempest. What was it about the original story that prompted you to undertake such a taking?

It's from my favorite Shakespeare play, for one thing. I've always thought the Tempest was Shakespeare's late move into an entirely new form. Also, the ideas are very strong, especially Caliban. Shakespeare, brilliant thinker that he was, was pointing out some problems of colonialism before anyone else realized that such a thing as colonialism even existed.

You have a good number of short stories appearing in anthologies this year, listed below. Could you tell us a bit about them, their origins and how they came to be a part of their respective anthologies? (feel free to add in others which might be getting published in the future)

And Ministers of Grace – Warriors

This, as mentioned, is set in the Arjuna universe where the struggle is not between Christianity and Islam but between "belief" and "rationality".

A dark and wormy knight – The Dragon book

Here's an example of why I love short fiction -- it lets me play with things in ways I couldn't pull off at greater lengths.

Ants - Twilight Zone: 19 Original Stories on the 50th Anniversary Edited by Carol Serling

Just a fun, creepy story. It's actually more of a Roald Dahl story than a Rod Serling, but I think it still works.

The Tenth Muse - New Space Opera 2

Playing with the concept of space opera. I think about stuff like this more than I should, probably.

The Storm Door - THE NEW DEAD

This is me playing with the concept of heroics.

The Lamentably Comical Tragedy (or The Laughably Tragic Comedy) of Lixal Laqavee - SONGS OF THE DYING EARTH

I love Jack Vance. It is more fun writing a Jack Vance pastiche than writing in any one else's voice I can think of. Plus I think it's a good story in the Vance-ian style, to boot.

The Stranger's Hands – Wizards

Another one of my little philosophical musings on themes of epic fantasy.

Amidst all your written works, with you being granted an infinite budget, which book / series would you like to adapt into what medium? Why?

I'd like to make an extended television show out of OTHERLAND. I'd love to see it take about two or three years to tell the whole story, and let the CGI folks go crazy.

Your background is varied to say the least. How did you manage all of it and what have you gleaned from your professional & personal experiences?

I didn't take any of those jobs because I wanted to -- I just had to support myself until writing or something else I liked paid off. Thank god -- I'm nobody's ideal worker. Too damn independent.

Who are your literary idols and which books are your favorites amongst the many genres that you read in?

Favorites include Pynchon, Vonnegut, Raymond Chandler, Barbara Tuchman, Hunter S. Thompson, Sturgeon, Tolkien, Bradbury, Zelazny, Dick, Ellison, Moorcock, Leiber, Le Guin. To name just a few. (I could literally go on for pages.)

What's the one book idea which you wanted to write but couldn't due to time or other constraints?

The only one I've really abandoned was my 18th Dynasty Egypt novel. Generally I never give up on any of them. Sometimes they show up somewhere else, as many older ideas did in OTHERLAND.

How About giving the fans a small teaser or a tidbit about forthcoming books especially the second book in the Ordinary Farm series and the Bobby Dollar series. How different are these books going to be in terms of your earlier ones in the same genre?

ORDINARY FARM 2 will be right in the same swing, fast-moving and full of twists and turns and (of course) character growth. The Bobby Dollar books, aka Angel Doloriel Books, will be a little shorter than my average, more thriller-length, and will be about a low-level angel caught up in the cold war between Heaven and Hell. The first book will probably be called "Sleeping Late on Judgement Day".

Many writers have a muse which directs their writing, and others do not seem to afflicted the same way. Which group do you fall into? What is your main motivation and source of inspiration?

I just love telling stories and I love playing with ideas. I'd pretty much be less effective working in any other genre, but I could tell my stories other ways -- as theater or films or puppet shows or you name it.

Your earlier novels are all set in various genres (MST & Shadowmarch being fantasy, Otherland being a fantastic mish-mash of SF, Fantasy, thriller & other what-nots, and War of the Flowers being an Urban Fantasy). How do you make these transitions to fantasy, SF and urban fantasy and back again? Could you also tell us a bit more about writing in each genre?

I've never read only one type of book, and as you can see from my list even my SF and F authors are a pretty varied lot. It's ALL SF and F as far as I'm concerned -- it's mostly marketing people who worry about the distinctions.

Last year you released your 2nd collaborated novel of your professional career and this collaboration was with your wife Deborah Beale, who has been a veteran editor in her own right. How did you and Deborah go about your writing process? Were there any changes in your writing style/habits because of this and how would you describe the experience? If Deborah could add in with her thoughts, it will be wonderful as well!

I have enjoyed it, but it's been tough at times for both of us, because we're both strong personalities and used to making our own decisions. (Occasionally true for our larger partnership as well!) That said, Deb has been very, very flexible and fun to work with and I think we'll just get better and better.

Any thoughts on your growth as a writer? What still challenges you? And lastly, what do you want to leave as your legacy in the future?

As I think I said before, EVERYTHING about writing challenges me. It's like Xeno's paradox -- you never get closer to what you really admire, because the more you learn the more problems with your own work you see. But that's not a sad thing, it's a happy one. I love knowing I can get do something my whole life and barely scratch the surface. As to any legacy, if people are just reading my books after I'm dead, I'll be happy. Well, no, I won't, because I'll be dead, but it will still be cool...


Aubrie said...

I grew up reading the Memory, Sorrow and Thorn series over and over again in high school! I also loved the Otherland Series-it would be great as a movie or a TV series. I'm currently enjoying Shadowmarch.

Thank you for doing this interview.
Tad Williams is one of the reasons why I became a writer.


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