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Monday, December 14, 2020

2020 State Of Schaefer Interview with Craig Schaefer (interviewed by Mihir Wanchoo)

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Read Fantasy Book Critic's review of The Long Way Down 
Read Fantasy Book Critic's review of The White Gold Score 
Read Fantasy Book Critic's review of Redemption Song 
Read Fantasy Book Critic's review of The Living End 
Read Fantasy Book Critic's review of A Plain-Dealing Villain
Read Fantasy Book Critic's review of The Killing Floor Blues
Read Fantasy Book Critic's review of The Castle Doctrine
Read Fantasy Book Critic's review of Double Or Nothing
Read Fantasy Book Critic's review of The Neon Boneyard
Read Fantasy Book Critic's review of The Locust Job
Read Fantasy Book Critic's review of Sworn To The Night
Read Fantasy Book Critic's review of Detonation Boulevard
Read Fantasy Book Critic's review of Winter's Reach 
Read Fantasy Book Critic's review of The Instruments Of Control 
Read Fantasy Book Critic's review of Harmony Black
Read Fantasy Book Critic's review of Red Knight Falling
Read Fantasy Book Critic's review of Glass Predator
Read Fantasy Book Critic's review of Cold Spectrum
Read Fantasy Book Critic's review of Right To The Kill
Read Fantasy Book Critic's review of Black Tie Required
Read Fantasy Book Critic's review of Ghosts Of Gotham
Read Fantasy Book Critic' review of A Time For Witches
Read Fantasy Book Critic's review of The Loot
Read Fantasy Book Critic's review of The Insider

Q] Hi Craig, welcome back to Fantasy Book Critic. Thank you for time (as always). How are you faring (considering where we are in 2020)?

CS: I auditioned and then rejected a dozen glib/borderline-funny responses to this question, probably because I feel weird about talking about how not-okay I've been this year. Not because I fear showing vulnerability or weakness, but because everyone has had a shitty disastrous 2020 and who am I to whine about my problems when we're all clinging to the same lifeboat?

But this year, my lifelong issues with OCD and depression collided with, well, this year, and I suddenly hit a moment of massive burnout. The words didn't come. Nothing did. And I realized I couldn't power through on my own anymore; I needed outside help, sought therapy and medication, and now I'm on the mend. Coming back, patched up, hopefully stronger than before.

I share this openly because I know a lot of people are wrestling with their own demons, and there's still a bizarre level of stigma out there when it comes to mental health. I want readers to know that there's nothing wrong with reaching out and getting help with your problems. Whether you need talk therapy, medication to supplement your brain-made chemicals, whatever it is -- there's nothing wrong with that, and fuck anyone who tells you otherwise.

Q] Your most recent release A Time For Witches was a fun sequel that almost wasn’t supposed to exist. How did you decide to write it? What made that decision easy for you?

CS: When 47North Publishing bought Ghosts of Gotham, they specifically wanted a one-shot, stand-alone novel. Working in a new setting, unburdened from multiple series' worth of continuity, and the intent of telling a one-book open-and-shut story was a new and refreshing experience.

That said, readers had a lot of love for Lionel and Maddie, and so do I; I wanted to write a follow-up as soon as I found the right story to tell. Also, while in my mind, the somewhat downbeat ending of Ghosts of Gotham would always have a happy resolution sooner or later (being vague here to avoid spoilers), I wanted to write it down and make it official.

Q] This year funnily was a year of sequels from you. Two sequels were in brand new series and one in a series which you rebooted. How different was the writing for all three of them considering they all potentially fit in the urban fantasy sub-genre (while having different undertones)?

CS: I try very hard to give each of my series its own distinctive tone. Ideally, when you pick up any of my books, it should convey a particular feel and flavor, one appropriate for the characters and the setting. In practice, that makes for an interesting challenge when I write across multiple series in the space of one year.

It's a challenge that keeps me going, though. The last thing I'd ever want to do is write the same book over and over again. You can certainly be successful doing that, but I can't think of anything that would kill my love of writing faster.

Q] Will you be continuing the CMC and the Secret History series now that the sequels are out and there’s reader interest in those worlds?

CS: I'd like to. For the Charlie McCabe books, that's up to Thomas & Mercer Publishing, and we'll see what they say. For the latter, it's going to entirely depend on whether I'm led to the right story. Ghosts of Gotham and A Time for Witches are a pair of bookends, opening and closing one big epic story. I'd love to go back to that world (and am, with the novel currently being serialized on my Patreon page), but I absolutely do not want to write a string of "Lionel and Maddie hunt the monster of the week" novels. That's not what their story is about, and not what their books should feel like. They should have more to say than that.

So there will be more, once I figure out what "more" looks like.

Q] Previously you had mentioned that the Harmony Black reboot will be a trilogy. Is that still the plan? If so will the trilogy ending (7th book) be out in 2021? Can you reveal what the title might be? Also if this book is indeed the ending for the Harmony Black series. What does the ending herald for the characters?

CS: I'm going to answer all of these questions together. It's presently looking like the series will continue beyond the next book. I'm still in the plotting stage, but it's increasingly clear that there's no way I can bring things to an appropriate stopping point and wrap up all the narrative threads with a single book. (Also, I've said I'd be open to continuing things if readers wanted more, and from the reaction to the last two books, that's definitely the case.)

The next book will bring some ongoing plot elements to a definite resolution, though I can't say more than that without spoiling the fun. It will (barring catastrophe or cosmic weirdness) be out in 2021, and the working title is Never Send Roses.

Q] With Down Among The Dead Men (Daniel Faust #10), you are starting the fourth arc in the Daniel Faust saga. How are you feeling about this new arc considering how things went down in the last book?

CS: I try to keep shaking things up in the Faust series, both because it's fun and because it's thematic; Daniel isn't the kind of guy who finds solid ground for very long. The end of The Locust Job was the biggest upheaval in the status quo so far, and it's going to have big, big consequences for everyone involved.

Q] Let’s talk about the fourth arc. What will be the focus of the stories within it? Once such speculation is that it will be about the Enemy-Paladin confrontation. What can you reveal about the books to come?

CS: Faust has come to the realization that he has two nemeses, the Enemy and Naavarasi, both of whom have their own plans, their own powers, and their own ways of striking at him and his family of choice. The next book will crystallize just how deadly both threats really are, and how his crew is facing a war on two fronts.

Of course, Daniel's not much for laying low. In the next arc, he'll be taking the fight straight to both of his foes' doorsteps, in his own special way.

Q] A long time ago you have mentioned that you envisioned the Daniel Faust saga to be roughly twenty books long. How are you feeling about that plan roughly half of the way in?

CS: Feeling good about it, though of course, changes have been made along the way. An entire once-upcoming subplot -- intended to occupy most of a trilogy -- has been jettisoned, because I realized it wouldn't really add much to the series or to the main characters' ongoing development. The intended climax to a major series-defining moment has been totally rewritten because changes I made to earlier books rendered it moot.

This is all good! Outlines are made to be bent, and tweaked, and outright broken in the service of the story; they're a roadmap, not a pair of handcuffs.

Q] You have always been a very prodigious talent when it comes to your ideas with six series so far. However with the exception of one epic fantasy and one thriller, the rest of your books have been in the urban fantasy genre to put it in a single subgenre. Are you planning to diverge in a new genre in the near future?

CS: I had outlined a book that I'd describe as a straight-up absolute nightmare of a horror novel, but that's been put on the indefinite back-burner. It would have been the darkest thing I've ever written, and I just don't want to write anything that dark right now. Not this year. I would love to take another crack at epic fantasy someday; I've got a couple of sketchy outlines in my notebook, and I hope they come to life at some point.

At the moment I'm working up setting notes for something new. I've always wanted to try my hand at a science-fiction novel, so I'm going to give it a shot. This is going to be a big, weird, mystical story with heavy fantasy elements. Out of my usual wheelhouse, but still recognizably a Schaefer novel.

Q] With 2020 being the horror that is has been. Many folks have taken to escape in imaginative landscapes. What have been your highlights in reading/television/movies/games/etc.?

CS: I've embarked on a re-watch of The Wire which, eighteen years since its debut, still holds up as a piece of phenomenal television storytelling -- and its tales of institutional corruption make it feel like it could have been shot last week.

I used to love painting gaming miniatures, and recently reacquired the hobby after picking up a copy of Shadows of Brimstone, a fun and inventive dungeon-crawl board game that starts in the Old West but, thanks to magical portals, can bring your characters anywhere from feudal Japan, to deep space, to toxic and hostile alien worlds. Now I have too many miniatures to paint. Way too many. My studio apartment is small. Please send help.

Q] Nowadays with so many streaming services launching and networks/studios looking for a new series to emulate Game Of Thrones’ popularity. Which SFF series would you recommend if it were up to you greenlight one such a TV show (besides your own work)?

CS: How about Roger Zelazny's Chronicles of Amber? Magic, sieges, multiple worlds, royal family intrigue -- it's a lovely brew of adventures.

Q] Amidst your own work, which series would you like to be adapted the first if it were up to you?

CS: I think Ghosts of Gotham could make a great movie or limited series. (And if that did well, I'd love to see some of the action scenes from A Time for Witches play out on the screen.)

Q] Thank you as always for your time Craig. I can’t wait to read whatever you publish next. Any parting thoughts for your fans?

CS: I wish I could come up with something brilliant and insightful in this shitshow of a year. I tried, believe me. The best I can do is this: take care of yourself. Take care of the people around you, once you've taken care of yourself. Better times will come. They always do, eventually.



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