Star Guest Interview
Raymond E Feist
Yes, you read that right!
To continue the momentum of what has been a fantastic Release Day for Guardian Angels, and to start September off with a "bang", I am absolutely delighted to welcome none other than - Raymond E Feist - to my first ever blog interview.
To say I feel awestruck - would be an understatement...
(Copyright by Raymond E Feist. Used with kind permission)
Today, I have the great privilege of introducing someone very special to you. Someone I personally have enjoyed reading for over 20 years now. It’s none other than the master of magical stories himself, Raymond E Feist.
Raymond, thank you so much for taking the time out from your busy schedule to be with us.
Tell us a bit about yourself, perhaps something that isn’t already included within your bio. Just who is Raymond E Feist?
Self defining is always tricky, for you can be accused of anything from being overly modest to self aggrandizing. I'm a guy who does many things, including writing for a living. I've spent most of my life in Southern California, though I have resided for periods of time in coastal Massachusetts, south-east Pennsylvania, and western New York State. I've done the requisite number of odd career things before becoming a writer, have done the many stupid things in the name of love bit, married, divorced, fathered two amazing kids, and live a life of self-indulgence as much as possible. I'm currently flaying away on the last book of my Chaoswar series, and have plans to do lots of other fun stuff before I'm stopped by age or circumstances.
Who or what inspired you to begin writing?
It started just as a giggle, just to see if I could, and people who read my stuff said, "This is good. Try to get something published." So I stopped the silly stuff and wrote Magician.
Raymond, you are best known for a number of internationally acclaimed works. “Magician” the first book in what became the Riftwar Saga started it all off some 25 years ago! Since then, we’ve been able to enjoy: The Empire Trilogy, Krondors Sons, The Serpentwar Saga, The Riftwar Legacy, Legends of the Riftwar, Conclave of the Shadows Series, The Darkwar Saga, the Demonwar Saga, and finally – we’re on to the Chaoswar Saga. That’s a massive accomplishment of almost 30 books from one concept alone. Tell us, do you have a particular favorite, from this or another series or one story that stands out from the rest that you really enjoyed working on?
They're all fun and pains in the ass at the same time. Writing can be hilarious, both for getting what you want and not getting what you want and starting over. It's the best job I've ever had. But it can also be seriously brain draining work. It takes a lot of concentration and discipline and a willingness to stay at home and not go do fun stuff other people want you to do. But books are like kids; you love them for different reasons. Faerie Tale is special because it's on-off, nothing to do with anything else. Darkness was special, because it allowed me to set the stage for the really big stuff that has been happening through the next twenty-seven books. Magician's End, the one I'm working on now, is great because I'm at last pulling everything together.
Your fans are eagerly expecting what they feel might be the final chapter to a huge story, “Magicians End”. Can you share anything about it yet?
Just some generalities, as I don't want to spoil anything. When I began A Darkness at Sethanon, I realized this might turn into some sort of on-going project, which meant eventually there would be a last book. So while writing the twenty-six books in between I began building in a "backstory," predicated on things that I knew about Midekemia and how it worked. I was always faced with one profound question: why this place? Why is all this seriously, nasty, over the top, cosmic crap hitting this one little world? Magician's End allows me to explain exactly why that is, as well as why certain characters are long lived, others are not, why the smallest acts of heroism may have massive unexpected consequences, and why it all (I vehemently hope) makes sense.
What made you choose that title? And, where did the idea for this specific story come from? (Did you know the end from the beginning? Or has it developed as the story evolved?)
In general I knew how it was going to end. That was never the problem. As for why that particular title, that I'll save for those who read the book. When they finish, it'll make sense.
Please share a particular detail about one of characters.
Occasionally you have a situation where a major character isn't needed or is even the wrong person for the job. I have one in Magician's End, by name Knight-Marshall Geoffrey du Gale. He's a bit like Admiral Vykor in Rage of a Demon King, a character asked to carry a portion of narrative not seen by a major point-of-view character. The difficulty with this type of character is you can't pause the action and say, "But first, let me tell you a little about this guy, he was a pleasant child who . . . . " You have to hit the ground running in the middle of an action sequence and try to blend in what bits you can along the way that make him seem dimensional. For example: I had the need for a metaphor, but one that would be jarring, when I likened a column of soldiers being drawn into a killing zone as being like feeding a tree branch into a wood chipper. So I improvised that this guy had grown up the son of a tree harvester and they had a horse powered wood chipper/pulper for making pulp for paper and etc. That serves two points, it gets the reader a non-jarring metaphor and gives a tiny slice of background to the character. This is the sort of things that delights writers and should, we hope, make a minor character jump off the page as a real person.
What was the most difficult to thing/scene to write in this story?
No one thing stands out, save that in deeply emotional scenes, especially either love or loss, it's easy to become mawkish if you're not careful. There's a line between true emotional consequences of dramatic choices and manipulating the reader through melodrama. But I've been doing this for thirty three years, so I have some practice with it.
Do you have anything new in the works and can you tell us a bit about it?
Nothing definitive, save we're looking at a new series, three or four books, set in a different universe with different issues. Someone asked me at Comicon what it would be like, and being the smartass I am I said, "It's like Game of Thrones with show tunes!" Which actually is sort of a Neil Gainman type answer, isn't it?
Including your short stories, and other titles like, “Faerie Tale”, how many books have you written now?
Magician's End will be my 31st novel. I have no single author anthologies, but my stories have appeared in, let me think, six or seven other anthologies.
You are a prolific writer. What do you think it is that makes your books stand out from others in today’s competitive market? How do you keep them fresh?
I just keep telling stories that amuse the hell out of me. If I tried to do anything else I think my readers would desert in droves. If I'm not entertained, how can they be? So, keeping fresh? Just keep surprising myself.
What advice would you give to an unpublished writer?
Just keep writing. There's no magic here. Writing is the only art form lots of people have some familiarity with. If you've never painted, or sculpted, or danced, or sang, or played an instrument, you've written an essay in school or a letter to mum, or scrawled in a journal, so you think you can just sit down and write that novel. Wrong. Writing is like playing the piano. If you want to play well, you practice. If you want to play Chopin, you practice a lot. If you want to play Chopin in Carnegie Hall and be paid for it, you practice hard for years.
Let’s get personal.
What’s your favorite thing to do?
Don't have one thing. Lots of things I like to do depending on circumstances and company.
What topics do you enjoy reading about?
History, biography, politics, and sports.
Do you have a special writing method?
Lots of coffee, then write.
Is writing your only talent?
The only one I get paid for. I play guitar badly. Sing ever worse. Used to be able to dance a bit. Can still tell a joke most of the time.
Where do you hail from and what do you love most about your hometown?
Born in L.A. What I love most about it is not living in it any more. It's 4x the size it was when I left. Too crowded!
As a child, what did you want to be when you grew up?
Never could answer that, which is probably why I ended up being a writer.
Is there anything you find particularly challenging about writing?
Not anymore. 33 years of practice and all that.
One writing vice that continually haunts you?/And the cure!
Finding excuses not to write./ The need to pay bills.
Do you ever suffer from writer's block? If so, what do you do about it?
I don't believe in writer's block. It's self-inflicted drama. If you can't write I believe your sub-conscience is telling you there's something else you need to do first, and sitting in front of the keyboard will not make it go away. It may be clean out the garage, fix a bad marriage, quit a horrible job, reach out to an estranged family member, go see a doctor about a health issue, whatever it is, but once you identify and deal with that high need, then the writing will come.
Who is your favorite author and why?
Shakespeare. Because we're still paying money to read him and watch his plays 400 years after his death. Talk about a long lived back list. He did it all. Given the circumstances of his environment and education, his insight into the human mind and heart is staggering. The best ever.
How did you deal with rejection letters?
Throw them away and send it somewhere else. And, honestly, I've only gotten two in my life. The third publisher to see Magician bought it, and from that point on, I don't get rejection letters. One of the advantages of being on every bestseller list there is.
What's the weirdest thing you've ever done in the name of research?
It's a tie: gone to the San Diego Police Department Forensic Science Laboratory Division (their CSI) and watched them work a murder scene. Gone to several strip clubs to interview dancers on their personal histories and how they got into the business. Both were for projects that never sold, but the research was fascinating.
Do you have any must-haves while you are writing?
Every morning, a pot of coffee, which I usually nurse into the early afternoon. Some afternoons, a double scotch on the rocks if I'm plowing into the evening.
What is one novel/book that you would recommend?
Right now? Will In The World: How Shakespeare Became Shakespeare by Stephen Greenblatt.
Can you tell us something quirky about yourself that readers might not know already?
I love football. All kinds. My first passion is the San Diego Chargers, and I've been a season ticket holder for more than 15 years. But I love watching soccer (Wolverhampton and Everton), rugby (Ospreys, All Black, and St. George-Illiwara), US7s, AFL (Sydney, West Coast), and anything else where a bunch of drunks are screaming at the top of their lungs as a group of hooligans are battling it out over a ball on the field.
What do you think makes a good story?
No one size fits all. Every story must do well what it set out to do.
Is there a genre that you’d like to write that you haven’t tackled yet?
Western and Science Fiction.
What place to travel is on your Bucket List?
Tahitti and the Bahamas.
It’s 5 o’clock somewhere and we’re having a drink! What’s in your glass?
If it's 5 o'clock somewhere, I'll have a double Glennfiddich on the rocks.
Favorite Sci-Fi/Fantasy Series on TV?
Stargate because they kept it going longer than I ever thought they could.
If you could chose to be one of the characters…who & why?
Jackson, because he freakin' knows everything.
4th of July. Love the beach, BBQ, and fireworks.
Wine or beer?
Yes. (Only the good stuff)
Cake or fruit?
Cake on cereal? Fruit with a candle on it? I don't think so.
Bourne or Bond?
I'll take the Bond royalties, please.
Alien or Predator?
Predators--they've got more weapons.
When writing…silence or music?
Ten Best American Movies Ever?
North by Northwest
Singing in the Rain
Some Like It Hot
Lawrence of Arabia
Wizard of Oz
Raymond, thank you so much for sparing the time to be with us today. It has not only been a great privilege for me as a new author, but great fun too, and I’m sure the readers will love the way your sense of humor has come across. Is there anything you would specifically like me to mention/highlight?
News of whatever it is I'm up to:
Good luck, Andy
For more details on Raymond E Feist, his books and/or latest works - go to:
@refeist on twitter