July 31, 2014

Party Time!

RPGs have always been a favourite type of game of mine - though it really depends on the plot, developer etc. One of my all time favourite RPGs was Knights of the Old Republic, as well as Morrowind (Elder Scrolls III). I won't list a bunch of games here that I've played and enjoyed, but it looks like there are some good ones coming up.
 

July 29, 2014

Blowing off Steam

First, I'm not in a foul mood. I usually post about things I like and look forward to. Today, this is a bit of a pessimistic post in the sense that it's about things I don't like.
 

July 27, 2014

Beautiful Versions of Classics Books



As you may well know by following this blog, I adore reading and books. Yup, the actual printed, physical book. I love my ereader and have even purchased ebooks on it, but the vast majority of my personal library is printed books. 

Not only that, I've opted to get specific editions of books in my library. Most ordinary or average reader will most likely get a book to just have it - "Oh I feel like getting Narnia by CS Lewis...ah, there it is!" in the book store. 

Now, I only own a few books as 'collector's items' (not to be read but to 'kept', and I do read the books I own, but I still like to take care of them as best as I can. When it comes to getting a series of books (Harry Potter, A Song of Ice and Fire, etc..) to me, they all have to 'match'. I can't switch between hardback and paperback within a series - it just odd on the shelf to me. Also, preferably to have matching cover art.

There are a number of factors that go into why I get certain editions and formats of particular books. For starters, I'm not a really a big fan of the $10 mass market paperbacks. To me, that's the publisher saying 'Here is the cheapest possible ways of you owning this title....in both definitions of 'cheap'". What I like to take into account is price, size, quality of the printing (size of font, how good the paper is, etc..) and last but not least, the cover art. 

It was a combination of when I got into Tolkien and Harry Potter that triggered this. This is one of the reasons why I enjoy bookstores - you get to see all the various editions of The Hobbit, and select the one that appeals to you the most.

Recently, I've taken an interest in reading and collecting 'the classics'. 

I started with Penguin Classics, as they are the type of book I like - a nice trade paperback, good quality, pretty good font, some pretty good cover art etc... as I was looking for other books, I noticed that 'Modern Library' has some pretty good editions also. Since I got some titles in Penguin's classics format, I decided to stay with those for the most part. 

Then, I noticed that Chapters was selling some slightly younger classic stories (same content) as the Sterling Classics. These are hardbacks with pretty attractive dust jackets, and a ribbon bookmark. One of the stories that I saw that existed in that format was The Story of King Arthur and His Knights by Howard Pyle. Penguin, and I'm sure Modern Library have other King Arthur titles but I hadn't seen that one in particular by them. 

Finally, was Thunder Bay Press' 'Canterbury Classcis' and 'Word Cloud'. The 'Canterbury Classics' are among the most beautiful books I've ever seen. They are leatherbound, with a ribbon bookmarks, and gold edged pages. I'm not a fan of all the titles that exist in this format, but I've picked up a couple. Then there's the Word Cloud, which is leatherbound also, but more 'felixbound' like a leather jorunal that's flexible. Those are quite nice also. and I noticed, no offence meant to the publisher, but a 'watered down' version of the more 'prestine' Canterbury Classics. Say, The Divine Comedy exists as a Canterbury Classic. Well, in the Word Cloud, you get Dante's Inferno. Or, Canterbury will give you almost every Sherlock Holmes story there is in a huge book, but Word Cloud puts out The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes

To conclude, if you want really nice editions of the classics, due check out "Penguin Classics", Modern Library's Classics, Canterbury Classics (as both leatherbound and Word Cloud flexibound) by Thunder Bay Press, and Sterling Classics.    

July 23, 2014

"Windhaven" Returns



Good news for those wanting a re-issue of Windhaven by George R.R. Martin & Lisa Tuttle. Before I progress further I want to add that, by residing in Canada, we get either the American editions of books, or the UK. It depends really. Anyway, back in October of 2012, Martin's American publisher, Bantam, released a trade paperback re-issue of Windhaven, blending the cover art with the most recent artwork of his Ice and Fire books, as well as other re-issues from his back catalogue.
 
On February 19, 2015, Gollancz (who I'm guessing is a UK publisher of fantasy. I know of them thanks to Joe Abercrombie, as well as searching for books by Patrick Rothfuss and Brandon Sanderson.
 
This ISBN for this new edition is 9781473208940
 
The islands of Windhaven, a forgotten planetary outpost, are held together by the flyers who travel between the various communities. Birth dictates who looks on in envy and who actually flies. Maris defies this law, borrows wings and takes to the air with an ability previously unheard of ¿ her struggle to hold onto her wings will change Windhaven for ever . . .

New Kissmeyer: B-Side Brewing Label Single



Looks there's a new beer coming out from Beau's B-Side Brewing Label - Kissmeyer Nordic Saison. It will be begin availability this Thursday, and here are the details:

5.2% alc/vol
Kissmeyer Nordic Saison
is brewed with a bouquet of organic sea buckthorn berries and rosehips, as well an infusion of fresh local rhubarb, for a fruity and distinctively Nordic character. Pale and slightly opaque, this Nordic Saison is medium-bodied, lively and effervescent, and deliciously dry. It offers medium bitterness along with spicy, floral and fruity aromas, and finishes slightly fruity, tart and crisp. Enjoy this first-ever single-release from the B-Side Brewing Label!
 

July 21, 2014

George R.R. Martin Appearnces

OK, so not long ago I did a blog post about the Game of of Thrones panel at Comic-Con. Today, George R.R. Martin postedn entry about him being there. see his post: http://grrm.livejournal.com/378521.html

Here are the important parts in regards to George and Comic-Con, that is Ice and Fire / Game of Thrones related:

Thursday, 2:30 to 3:30, I will be appearing in the main autograph area (the Sails) at Table 3, with DONATO GIANCOLA.  The two of us will be signing copies of the 2015 Ice & Fire calendar, which will be making its debut at the convention.
 
Friday, we have the GAME OF THRONES panel in Hall H.  I'll be there, with showrunners David Benioff and Dan Weiss and various members of our cast.  This year CRAIG FERGUSON will be moderating.  Hall H seats 7,000 people... but of course 150,000 people attend comicon, so if you want to see the panel, best get in line... ah... now.  Afterward I will join the cast for interviews and a poster signing and more interviews.
 
Saturday, 11:00 am to 12 noon, I return to the Sails for a Random House autograph session.  This time I will be at Table 7.  This is the time and place to get your books signed.  Copies will be on sale in the autograph area, if you don't want to drag your old ones to San Diego.
 
Saturday, 4:15 pm to 5:15 pm, I'll be in Room 6A for a panel on epic fantasy, part of an all-star lineup of panelists with Patrick Rothfuss, Joe Abercrombie, and others.

Sunday, 12:30 to 1:30, back to the floor for another signing.  This time I will be signing copies of the HEDGE KNIGHT and SWORN SWORD graphic novels at the ComiXology booth, on behalf of Jet City Comics.
 
As you can see, lots of opportunity to meet George, although most likely very briefly. PLUS, lots of chance for him to announce The Winds of Winter. That is just hopeful thinking on my part, but what better place to announce your new book?
Maybe this:




World exclusive: Next month, HarperVoyager will be hosting an event with George RR Martin and Robin Hobb. The event will take place in a central London venue on 19th August 2014. Subscribers to our newsletter will be the first to hear when tickets go on sale later on this week. Sign up here: http://bit.ly/GeorgeAndRobin
 
Should George NOT announce Winds at comic Con or the Hobb event, keep patient until the end of the year...something tells me we will have word this year. 
 
I will do my best to keep up with the Con coverage...especially if anything Game of Thrones / Ice and Fire news pops up. 

So to those going - have fun! Those not going enjoy watching the coverage!



July 19, 2014

"Hell on Wheels" Ssn3 Uploaded


Today, Netflix has uploaded season 3 of Hell on Wheels. I'll be watching it, but not right away. After I finish the mini-series The Bible, it's on to season 2 of House of Cards, then I'll return to Hell.

July 18, 2014

A Question for My Readers

This quick post is something I typically like to ask those who read.

How do you like to read? What is your preferred format to get and read books in?

- ebooks
- hardbacks
- 'trade' paperbacks
- 'mass market' paperbacks.

My least favourite is mass market. It's one of the reasons why I got an ereader. 

So comment below, I'm curious what you all think.

July 17, 2014

Great Article About Bookstores



http://metronews.ca/news/canada/1028145/are-we-witnessing-the-death-of-the-canadian-bookstore/

Worth a read. I certainly hope not. I myself do not like how books are disappearing in favour of the bookstores carrying 'other' items. Still keep your book stock and supply as per before, but perhaps add a section (physically) to the store? The bookstores should not get rid of books to make room for pillows.

July 16, 2014

Name The Lady



Want to name the Lady of the Green Kirtle, Queen of Underland, and Queen of the Deep Realm in the fourth Narnia film, The Silver Chair? Well, you can!

Should you have a great name for the female antagonist for The Silver Chair, it shall be used in the film. To enter and submit your name, head to https://www.narnia.com/us/sweepstakes


"Game of Thrones" (Fourth Boxed Set) Date and News





GAME OF THRONES®: THE COMPLETE FOURTH SEASON Nominated for 19 Emmy Awards® Including Outstanding Drama Series
Available February 17, 2015 on Blu-rayTM with Digital Copy, DVD & Digital HD
Loaded with Exclusive Bonus Content Including Comprehensive Guides & Illustrated Histories

“The most epic, ambitious show on television” (Chicago Sun-Times) is back and bigger than ever when Game of Thrones: The Complete Fourth Season hits stores this winter. Season 4 of the hit HBO series, which broke ratings records and topped The Sopranos® to become the most popular show in the network’s history, was nominated for 19 Emmy® awards including Outstanding Drama Series, Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Drama Series (Peter Dinklage) and Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Drama Series (Lena Headey). One of the best-selling TV on BD/DVD titles in each of its years of release, Game of Thrones follows the noble families of Westeros as they battle for control of the Seven Kingdoms. Available February 17, 2015 on Blu-ray with Digital Copy ($79.98), DVD ($59.99) and Digital HD, Game of Thrones: The Complete Fourth Season is packed with exclusive new bonus content including roundtable discussions, on-set interviews, audio commentaries, and brand new animated histories giving fans hours of extensive, never-before-seen material.
Blu-ray with Digital Copy – includes all DVD features plus:
  • In-Episode Guide – In-feature resource that provides background information about on-screen characters, locations and relevant histories.
  • Histories & Lore – Learn about the mythology of Westeros as told from the varying perspectives of the characters themselves.
DVD:
  • Behind the Battle for the Wall – Follow the cast and crew as they create the most ambitious battle to date. This 30-minute documentary explores the challenges of putting together one of the series’ most intense episodes, with never-before-seen material.
  • The Fallen: A Roundtable – Writer Bryan Cogman sits down with a few of the many cast members who meet their demise in Season 4. From first learning of their deaths to shooting their final scenes, this 30-minute feature will shed light on what it’s like to live-and die-in the Game of Thrones world.
  • The Politics of Power: A Look Back at Season 3 – Revisit the brutal events of Season 3 to see power shifts that define Westeros at the start of Season 4.
  • Bastards of Westeros – Hear showrunners David Benioff & D.B. Weiss and author George R.R. Martin discuss the role bastards play in the Seven Kingdoms.
  • Deleted/Extended Scenes – Two deleted scenes.
  • Audio Commentaries – Commentaries with cast and crew including showrunners David Benioff and D.B. Weiss, A Song of Ice and Fire author George R.R. Martin, Sophie Turner, Maisie Williams, Pedro Pascal, Aiden Gillen and more!

July 15, 2014

Amazing Author Interviws: Patrick Rothfuss + Brandon Sanderson

Rothfuss: Heya Brandon. 

Sanderson: Hey there, Pat. Nice talking with you again. 

Rothfuss: Thanks for being willing to do this. I know you're insanely busy these days.
Okay. Let me just jump right in here with a question. How long was Way of Kings? I heard a rumor that the ARC I read was 400,000 words long. It didn't really feel like it… 

Sanderson: Let me see. I will open it right now and word count it, so you have an exact number. It’s 386,470 words, though the version you read was an advance manuscript, before I did my final 10% tightening draft, which was 423,557 words.
I didn’t really want it to be that long. At that length we’re running into problems with foreign publishers having to split it and all sorts of issues with making the paperback have enough space. I didn’t set out to write a thousand-page, 400,000-word book. It’s just what the novel demanded. 

Rothfuss:Wise Man's Fear ended up being 395,000 words. And that's despite the fact that I've been pruning it back at every opportunity for more than a year. I'd spend weeks trimming superfluous words and phrases, extra lines of dialogue, slightly redundant description until the book was 12,000 words shorter. 
Then a month later I'd realize I needed to add a scene to bring better resolution to a plot line. Then I'd add a couple paragraphs to clarify some some character interaction. Then I'd expand an action scene to improve tension. Suddenly the book's 8,000 words longer again.

Sanderson: Yeah, that’s exactly how it goes.
It’s very rare that I’m able to cut entire scenes. If I can cut entire scenes that means there’s something fundamentally not working with the sequence and I usually end up tossing the whole thing and rewriting it. But trimming, or pruning as you described it, works very well with my fiction.
I can usually cut fifteen percent off just by nurturing the text, pruning it, looking for the extraneous words and phrases. But I wonder if in doing that there’s a tendency to compensate. There’s a concept in dieting that if someone starts working out really hard, they start to say, “Well, that means I can now eat more,” and you’ll find people compensating for the extra calorie loss by eating more because they feel they can. I wonder if we do that with our fiction. I mean, I will get done with this big long trim and I’ll say, “Great, now I have the space to do this extra thing that I really think the story needs,” and then the story ends up going back to just as long.
Though at least in my case I can blame my editor too. He’s very good with helping me with line edits, but where we perhaps fuel each other in the wrong way is that he’ll say, “Ooh, it’d be awesome if you add this,” or “This scene needs this,” or “Can you explain this?” And I say, “Yes! I can explain that. I’d love to!” And then of course the book gets longer and then we both have to go to Tom Doherty with our eyes downward saying, “Um, the book is really long again, Tom. Sorry.”
I have a question for you, then. Did you always intend the Kingkiller Chronicle to be three days split across three books? Or did you start writing it as one book and then split it? What’s the real story behind that? 

Rothfuss: Assuming I had any sort of plan at the beginning is a big mistake. I just started writing. I didn't have a plan. I didn't know what I was doing.
For years and years I just thought of it as The Book in my head. I've always thought of it as one big story. Then, eventually I realized it would need to be broken up into volumes.
I can't say why I picked three books except that three is a good number. It's sort of the classic number. And while the story is working well in this format, part of me wishes I'd broken it into smaller chunks. This second book has so many plotlines. If I'd written this trilogy as say, 10 books, each one would be much shorter and self contained. More like the Dresden Files.
That's pointless musing though. I'm sure if I'd written smaller volumes right now I'd be thinking, "Oh! if only I'd written these as longer books I could play more with interwoven plot lines…" 

Sanderson: Yeah, it’s interesting you should mention this, because what I keep getting told from a publishing side is that no one ever wants me to cut the story. I never get that. People ask that of me all the time, “Does your publisher want you to make the book shorter?” Well, the publisher would really like the books to be shorter, but they don’t want any of the story to be cut. I do sometimes wonder what we’re doing, what we’re setting ourselves up for by writing books of this length. Jim Butcher is able to reliably release a book every year or so in his series, in part because he’s able to split the story into manageable chunks. And you and I are not splitting our stories into very manageable chunks. This happens a lot in series.
I look back at the Wheel of Time; Robert Jordan was able to release books one a year for a period of time until the books were long enough and he got through the backlog of writing he’d already done, and suddenly he was not able to release a book every year because the books were long and involved and took a lot of work. Well, when he stopped releasing them every year all his fans complained, “What’s going on? Suddenly you’re not releasing your books every year?” So he started releasing them faster and shorter and they all started complaining that the books were too short.
And so, starting our series with such long books does kind of put us in this strange conundrum. And there are a lot of considerations people don’t understand, like printing costs and the like. Has there been, on your side, any sort of attempt on the publisher’s end to nudge you—saying, “They don’t have to be this long. You can tell the story in shorter chunks; don’t cut any story! But do it in shorter chunks”? Because I’ve gotten a bit of that. Granted they’re always willing to let me do what I want to do, but it’s kind of along the lines of, “We wouldn’t mind, Brandon, if you did it in smaller chunks.”

Rothfuss: No, I don't get any of that. My publisher, DAW, is really long-book friendly. Perhaps the most long-book friendly of all the publishers out there. They published Tad Williams back before Big Fat Fantasy was cool. They didn't bat an eye at The Name of the Wind being 250,000 words. That's a freedom that's rarely given to new authors for their very first book.
That said, I was a little worried about the length of book two. The thing kept getting bigger and bigger. Finally I called Betsy and asked if the length was going to be a problem.
At first she just laughed it off. But when I told her it was getting REALLY long, she said, "Let me do some research." Two days later she calls me back and tells me the longest paperback ever was about 420,000 words. So as long as I was under that, I would be fine.
All I could think was, "Shorter than the longest book ever? Sure, I think I can manage that."
My turn. Did you do the illustrations for Way of Kings

Sanderson: Fortunately I haven’t done any of the illustrations in my books since the Aons in Elantris, and those were all redone in-house. I have very little talent with visual art, though for The Way of Kings I did get to have a lot more influence on the art than many authors might have been able to have. Irene at Tor was very good to work with; she gave me some leeway that she really didn’t have to.
I worked very closely with the artists to get what I wanted. Some of the pieces went through a half dozen or a dozen drafts as we explored and tried to feel out what was in my head, and have the artist add to that until we came to pieces that we were satisfied with. So it was a very interesting process. It wasn’t simply “submit a description, get a piece back.” It was “submit a vague description, talk to the artist on the phone, get across what I’m trying to do, send lots of examples of other art that’s like it, get some early drafts, nudge one direction or another, keep working on it.” Some of these pieces took months to do. 

Rothfuss: Do you mind if I ask a question you've probably been asked a bunch of times before? 

Sanderson: I’ll happily respond, but as I’m responding I’m going to try to think of the most boring question I can ask you. Something you’ve answered a billion times, to get payback. 

Rothfuss: Heh. Fair enough.
When I first heard that someone was continuing Jordan's Wheel of Time, my first thought was, "Wow, that's a cool gig." Then my second thought was, "I would not want that responsibility for all the money in the world."
How did you come to grips with that? Those are big shoes to fill…. 

Sanderson: My thoughts were all over the place. I do legitimately love the Wheel of Time and have been reading it since I was a young man. If you look at my early unpublished books, you’ll find they were deeply influenced by the Wheel of Time. Amusingly so; looking back on it now, I see things I didn’t even notice that I had done. So that love of the series was part of what was bouncing around in my head.
I didn’t become a writer because I wanted to write in other people’s worlds. I wanted to tell my own stories, and I was making a comfortable living at my writing before this. For a lot of projects I would have said no regardless of what they offered, so it had to be about more than the money. Beyond that, there was this sense, as you expressed, of “Wow, if I screw this up, I’m in serious trouble. People will find me and burn my house down. Wheel of Time fans are hardcore.” I struggled with this, and it almost caused me to say no. One writer I know mentioned regarding this, or posted it somewhere, “This is a thankless job. Anything that Sanderson gets right will be attributed to Robert Jordan, and anything he gets wrong will condemn him.” I took all those things into consideration.
But in the end, I felt I could do a good job on this, and that it could be a sendoff I could give one of my favorite authors, someone who deeply influenced me as a writer. And I felt that if I passed on it, someone else would be found and would get to do it. The question that it came down to for me was, “Knowing that someone who is not Robert Jordan is going to do this, can you really pass and let anyone other than you do it?” And the answer was that I couldn’t let someone else do it. I had to do it. So I said yes. 

Rothfuss: Okay. Your turn. Ask your payback question. 

Sanderson: So, when’s book three going to be out? And don’t you already have it written? Because I’ve heard you say before that you already have it written. So what’s the holdup? 

Rothfuss: Yeah. I've heard that one before. That's actually a pretty reasonable question.
Here's the deal:
In some ways, I do already have the trilogy written. I wrote all of Kvothe's story all the way to the end back in 2000.
So yeah. In some ways, the whole trilogy is finished.
But really it depends on what you mean by "Finished."
Back in 2000, I thought the story was pretty much done. I thought it was awesome. I thought it was ready to be published.
Since then, I've learned a lot about writing. A lot. When I recently re-read the third book, I could see huge glaring mistakes that weren't obvious to me before. That's a good thing.
The other problem is that the first two books of the series have changed considerably since 2000. I've added characters and plotlines. I've probably added, 250,000 words worth of new material since then. Back in 2000, Devi wasn't in the book. Neither was Auri. Neither was the Draccus.
That's part of what took me so long with book two. I didn't just have to write a sequel. That's would have been hard enough. I had to take a book I'd already written, and re-write it so that it matched up with all the changes I'd made to book one.
I think doing that is harder than starting from scratch. Re-writing the beginning section of The Wise Man's Fear was really, really hard. But adding a 60,000 word subplot later in the book was really easy, because I wasn't revising it, I was creating it all fresh.
Book three is going to take a couple years because now I have to integrate all the changes from TWO books when I'm re-writing. Luckily, now I have a better idea how to do that. I'm a much better writer than I was two years ago, and I'm actually looking forward to digging in and starting on the project. 

Sanderson: Some of these questions I’m pitching at you at because I’m pretty sure I know the answer, but I want to have somewhere I can point people when they complain to me, “Rothfuss already has the book done and it’s not getting released! What’s up?” And I’m sure you’ve answered these questions before, but they’re probably buried in your blog or something like that.
I’ve heard that the frame story was added after the fact. Is that true? 

Rothfuss: Yeah. The story originally started with the Sentence. "My Name is Kvothe." There was no Waystone Inn. No Bast. No Chronicler. Just him telling his story.
Admittedly, that was a very early draft. The book has obviously changed a lot since then.
I think part of the problem is that when I talk about revision, most people assume I'm fixing comma splices and running spellcheck. No. That's copyediting. That's proofreading.
When I'm doing revision, it's REVISION. I treat the book like it's a car engine. I strip it down into all its component parts and make sure each of them is doing exactly what it should. If it isn't, I fix it.
The problem, of course, is that if a part isn't working right, I can't just order a new one out of a catalogue. I have to invent it myself and then try to reassemble the rest of the engine around it. If it doesn't work, I have to take it apart and start again.

Sanderson: It’s interesting to me, I find, in both books—I’m now reading Wise Man’s Fear—that the frame story writing has a different feel of maturity about it. So that’s why I was curious to know if the frame story stuff is new. I actually think that some of the very strongest writing in the entire series has been in the frame story.
It’s interesting that you should mention rewriting and changing as an author. In some ways, these books that have been with us for so long are much harder to work on than books that just occur to us or that we start off brand new. 

Rothfuss: I think you're absolutely right about that. Writing that 60,000 word subplot was easy. It was integrating it into the rest of the book that was hard.

Sanderson: In my history as a writer, The Way of Kingsis a project I’ve been working on for years and years and years. But the Mistborn trilogy was an idea I had, executed, and finished. These two projects have been very different from one another to work on. With one, I had a great idea, I built the world, I built the story, and I wrote the three books straight through and released them. And with the other story, I have all the “killing your darlings” sort of things that are tough to deal with when you’ve been playing with a character since you’re fifteen years old and now you’re finally sitting down to write their story. It’s hard to manage the baggage of that many years and weave out and cut out things that aren’t needed for the story despite the fact that they’re integral to the character’s soul, to you having spent all this time on them.
That’s one of the reasons why I recommend to new writers not to initially work on those stories that have been so close to you for so long. I feel now that I’m practiced and established an author, I know how to tell the best story out of all of this stuff I’ve been working on since I was a kid. When I was a new author I don’t think I could have done it. I think it would have turned into a fanboy session for my own world that nobody else knows, which would have been a disaster.

Rothfuss: Yeah. It's relatively easy to take a pile of lumber and turn it into a house. But a lot of what I've been doing (And a lot of what it sounds like you had to do with Way of Kings) is like building a house out of a different house. A house that you built back before you knew what the hell you were really doing.

Sanderson: So my other question for you is kind of related to that. How has it been killing your darlings? 

Rothfuss: It's been hard. Sometimes painfully hard. But I haven't had to abandon any parts of the story that I loved. So in that case it hasn't been an issue of killing my darlings, it's been more like performing extensive reconstructive surgery. The book is stronger, healthier, and prettier as a result. It will have a better life, and I hope it lives longer because of it.

Sanderson: Would you recommend to people to start with a project like this or should they try something smaller in scope? What do you tell your students when you teach?

Rothfuss: I would absolutely recommend that people start with something simpler. Don't follow in my footsteps. I'm not a role model.
Plus, I think a lot of people underestimate how difficult it is to tell a simple story well. You can learn a lot doing that. There's nothing wrong with writing a good, honest, 300 page novel.
When I started my book, I didn't know what I was getting into. I didn't even know the word "metafiction" meant. As I result I bit off WAY more than I could chew. Hell, it took me 12 years to chew it. That's not really the best way to learn your craft. It's certinaly not the best way to get published.
That said, I do recommend that people write the book that they really want to write. The book that rides close to their heart. The book they can't stop thinking about. If that book tends to be a little more complicated than boy-meets-girl? A little longer than 300 pages? A little genre bending? Well… go for it. If you fail you'll learn a lot. And if you succeed, you'll hopefully have a story that's different and kinda cool. 

Sanderson: Some writers say that our books are like our children. But now both of us actually do have children. It’s pretty weird, isn’t it? Being a daddy. 

Rothfuss: Oh man, is it ever. How old are yours? 

Sanderson: Three years old and one year old. 

Rothfuss: Got any cute kid stories? 

Sanderson: I’ve got tons of cute kid stories. One happened today at lunch—I’m sure he’ll be embarrassed in ten years if I share this, so that’s a good reason to share it.
We were sitting at lunch and just talking about whether policemen are nice or mean. Because he’s suddenly got it in his head that policemen pull you over—they’ll get you if you do certain things—and we’re trying to explain to him, no, policemen are nice but their job is to keep us safe and to keep us from doing things that they don’t want us to do.
Meanwhile, while we’re getting into this conversation, he does his favorite three-year-old thing which is to start digging for gold in his nose, to use a euphemism. He’s picking his nose quite voraciously, and he freezes and pauses. I just said policemen stop us from doing things we’re not supposed to do, and his mom is very constantly telling him don’t pick your nose.
So he says, “Policeman will get me if I pick my boogers?” And we say, “Um, well, no that’s not technically against the law, but you shouldn’t do it.” And he says, “Policeman wants my boogers? He’ll take them?” Because we’ve been talking about how they’ll take your car away, so he’s suddenly afraid that since he’s not supposed to pick his nose that the policemen will arrest him if he picks his nose and take his boogers away.
So there you go. There’s a wonderful cute kid story for you, or at least a disgusting one, somewhere in there
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Rothfuss: Wow. I can't top that. Oot is still just on the cusp of talking.
Just tonight Oot brought me my winter boots and made it clear he wanted to wear them. So I helped him put them on. He just stood there. They were way too big for him to move his feet. But he stood there looking really proud, like he was king of the world.

Sanderson: Pat, your life situation is really different now than when you wrote Name of the Wind. Has your changing life status made a difference in how you write?

Rothfuss: The most recent change for me has been coming to grips with the whole working dad thing. And I've been having trouble with it. With all the deadlines these last four months, there have been some days where I only see Oot and Sarah for a half an hour.
Needless to say, when that happens three times in a week, it makes me feel like a total ass. Like that stereotypical neglectful work-obsessed absentee father. But the truth of the matter is, I'd already missed too many deadlines. I couldn't miss this one. So for about two and a half months I had to pick being a writer over being a dad. I'm trying to make up for that now, but I still regret it. 

Rothfuss: For me though, the biggest change between writing book one and writing book two, is that I got a workspace that's outside the house I live in. That really helped to improve my writing output. I work best with quiet, distraction-free writing space. Making sure there was no internet in the office was pivotal, too. 

Sanderson: Even when I’m on a tight deadline, I make sure I have an hour after I get up and an hour in the evening to play with my son. And I take Sundays off from writing. It’s important for me to have some time to recharge, to keep some perspective. I love writing and my idea of a vacation from writing is to write something else, but any one book will come and go. I can’t afford to miss being there for my family. 

Rothfuss: I think I need to institute some sort of policy like that too.
What's your writing space like? Do you write at home, or do you have an office? 

Sanderson: I don’t do the office thing. How shall I say this? I became a writer so that I didn’t have to deal with the whole office thing. I know some authors need an office and a writing space; that’s great. But I just need my laptop and some music and I’m good pretty much anywhere.
I tend to be a roving writer, meaning I pick a place and I stay there for a few months, and then I get tired of it and I pick another place. So I write all over the house. My favorite locations tend to be in front of a fireplace with my feet up. I’ve actually stolen my wife’s easy chair and moved it over in front of the fireplace in my bedroom—it’s a gas fireplace, so I just turn it on. I’ve set up a light and a little stand next to me, and I’ve been working here for a few months. But I move around. It’s just basically laptop plus music. I don’t work at a desk; I cannot do the desk thing. I’ll work lying on my bed, on a couch, in an easy chair, in a beanbag chair, but not at a desk. 

Rothfuss: You've been doing a ton of touring lately, and I'm about to start my first big tour. Any advice for me? 

Sanderson: Oh boy. Number one: Even though you may want to get work done while on tour, don’t plan on getting anything done. It is exhausting. I’m constantly surprised at how exhausting touring can be. And I’m not an introvert or an extrovert. I’m one of those hybrids in between where I like spending time with people and being around people, but once I do that, I need to go recharge. And it’s hard to find time to recharge when on tour. For me that was the most exhausting part. On my first big tour I did the thing where I met with fans beforehand and did dinners with them, which was great—I love meeting the big Wheel of Time fans and talking over dinner—but it just added on another hour and a half on to me being around people and being exhausted all the time.
Eat healthily, even though it’s going to be hard because they will take you out to eat every night. You know, they’re going to want to feed you steak and pasta every night. Pack yourself with vegetables and fruit because otherwise you will start feeling sick after a week of it.
Try and make sure you have time for you, for recharging, whatever it is that you do to recharge. Don’t let them schedule an interview or a dinner every minute of the day—which, on my tour, they did.
And one of the things I’ve learned is try to keep it to two weeks. They put me on a four-week tour once, and that just laid me flat. I was literally sick many of the days the last two weeks, just physically ill and I can’t even explain why. I’m a hearty person! I don’t usually get that sick. I can usually just keep on going, keep plugging away. I’m known for being slow and steady in my writing and always working, always having stuff done. But the tour was unlike anything else I’d ever experienced. Try to keep it to two weeks and if they want more, do two weeks and take a few weeks’ break and then do two more weeks. And eat right. 

Rothfuss: Thanks much. I'll try to conserve my energy. I do tend to go overboard when I'm at conventions. I'll do 14 hours of panels and readings and signings. I'll have to rein that impulse in and pace myself a bit. 

Sanderson: We are both in an odd situation—for different reasons and in different ways, but it’s somewhat similar in that five years ago we were both unknowns, and right now our names tend to come up very frequently when people are talking about fantasy. Looking at Pat Rothfuss, you’re as much of a fantasy superstar to most people as George R. R. Martin is. How does that feel? 

Rothfuss: Heh. I think there's probably only a handful of people that think of me as being on the same level as Martin. But I know what you're talking about.
Mostly it feels weird to me. Good but weird. Mostly weird. 

Sanderson: For me, when I go to a forum where people are talking about fantasy, and they’re talking about me, that’s been a surreal experience because just a few years ago I could participate in forum discussions and no one knew who I was, but now the conversations are partially about me. Reconciling that has been an interesting experience for me, and I can only imagine it’s been even more so for you because your career has skyrocketed faster than mine. The Wise Man’s Fear is probably the second most highly anticipated fantasy novel of the near future, right after A Dance with Dragons. How does it make you feel? 

Rothfuss: That's easy to answer: Terrified.
That's another big piece of the reason that book two took so long. I was paralized with fear.
It's like this, if people read your first book and don't like it very much. That's heartbreaking, but it provides some real motivation. You think to yourself, "I'll show them! My next book will be even better!" Then you knuckle down and work your ass off to produce something that will really dazzle them.
But when someone e-mails you and says your book was the best they ever read. Or that they read it with their kid who was sick with leukemia and it brought them closer together. Or they tell you they're more excited about your upcoming book than their own birthday….
I mean really. How the fuck and I supposed to deal with that? How am I supposed to write anything ever again when the bar gets set so high? 

Sanderson: I wondered if that was the case. It is strange for me because you know, we had a similar quick rise to success—I mean, you’ve been around for what? Three or four years? And I’ve been around for five and when I was reading fantasy, when I getting into this genre, it felt to me that most of the writers I’ve been reading have been around forever. Now that’s not true because I was a young kid and what being around forever meant to me then is different from what it really means. But I was reading Anne McCaffrey, and in my perception Anne McCaffrey had been around forever. She’d been writing for twenty years. I’d been reading David Eddings and Terry Brooks and these are people who had been writing for twelve years before I picked up their books. And now my books are doing really well and I’ve only been around for a few years and it feels to me like I don’t have the credibility that I think I should have before I reach this level of recognition, if that makes any sense.
I’m more impressed with people’s longevity in a field and having a long-lasting impact. Aomeone like George R. R. Martin is hugely impressive to me because he’s been around for forty years in the business. He has slogged away hard and released book after book and edited anthologies and worked in TV, and finally after all of this work he gets this big best-selling series and it’s like, yes! You finally get the recognition you deserve. You are a major inspiration and success story, and you just stuck in there and stuck in there forever. Then you get someone dopey like me and it’s like, whoop-dee-do, you know, my third book hit the New York Times Bestseller List and suddenly I’m hitting number one on the list, and it’s a weird experience because in a way I don’t believe that I deserve it. Though I’m very proud of my writing, I don’t feel I’ve put in the time to deserve the success. I don’t know if that makes any sense or resonates at all. 

Rothfuss: Yeah. You're singing my song again. I hit the NYT Bestseller list with my first book. Everyone says, YAY! You're brilliant! And I have to remind them, No, I just wrote one book. You can't plot a graph with one point of data. I'm the flavor of the day. If I write two good books, then you can call me a professional writer. Until then, I'm a fluke.
So yeah. I completely know where you're coming from when you say you feel like you haven't earned it the same way folks like Martin did. My first book was a success. But it was a success because I got very, very lucky. I got the right agent, then the right publisher. The audience was ready for my sort of book. I was in the right place at the right time.
But that's not something you can repeat. You can't rely on luck. That's where a lot of my stress came from after the first book came out. 

Sanderson: How do you deal with it? 

Rothfuss: That's easy to answer too: Badly.
For about a year I struggled to get any productive writing done.
Then, slowly, I started to get used to it. It was kinda like the emotional and social equivolent of getting into a really hot bath. At first it felt scalding hot, but now I've aclimated to it, and it feels kinda nice. It's kinda relaxing, in fact.
I also engage in a daily regimen of not taking myself too seriously. My friends help with this, of course.
How about you? How do you deal with the stress of the sudden fame?

Sanderson: The writing group is very helpful. It’s nice to have a writing group, who have been reading my book since the beginning and to whom I’m nothing special so to speak. It is very good keeping one down to earth.
Honestly, having a three-year-old and a one-year-old, being a daddy and having a real life—a normal life—is also really helpful. It keeps you down-to-earth. I mean, it’s hard to think of yourself as Number One New York Times Bestseller when you’re elbow-deep in stinky diaper. Beyond that I do also try to keep a perspective on this. Some people like to pretend that authors are celebrities, but in my mind we’re not really celebrities because if you walk up to the average person on the street and say “Who is Brandon Sanderson?” or “Who is Pat Rothfuss?” or even “Who is George R. R. Martin?” most of them are going to have no idea at all. Such a small percentage of the population actually reads. And beyond that, there’s so many books out there that if they are a reader the chance of them having read your book is small. Everyone knows who Tom Cruise is, but nobody’s going to know who I am. And that’s good for keeping perspective.
The other thing I do to keep perspective is to keep in mind that science fiction and fantasy in particular as a fandom is very much a community. In a lot of ways writers generally grow out of the fan community. Even if they aren’t active in the fan community, they were fans first. Something about that changes the way this all works. A lot of fans rightly seem to act more like colleagues, which is a good way to see it. It’s like the writers are the ones the rest of community supports to produce material for the community. It’s less an idolization of superstars and more of a, “Yeah, we’ll support you, and you create this fiction for the good of the community.” It’s a patron-and-artist sort of relationship. At least that's how I view it.

Rothfuss: I think that's healthy. From some of your answers, I think you knew a lot about the community before you were published. That probably helped ease your transition a bit. I never knew much about that stuff until I was in the middle of it. 

Sanderson: We’ve been talking a lot about our big projects, Wise Man’s Fear and Way of Kings, and do you have any other side projects? Because I loved your children’s book—in fact, for a fun story for those reading this: We got in a big argument in my writing group about the meaning of Pat’s children’s book and what was really happening behind the scenes. So I used a little bit of colleague privilege and called him on the phone to ask him his interpretation. And he was very much an author in that he said, well, it could mean this, it could mean that—he gave a very good answer where he gave us some of what the writer was thinking but left it open to personal interpretation.
Do you have any other projects like the children’s book? Are we going to be seeing anything small between Wise Man’s Fear and the third book?

Rothfuss: Yeah. I'm absolutely going to doing some other smaller projects while I'm working on the third book. I loved writing The Adventures of the Princess and Mr. Whiffle. It was fun. It didn't steal time away from working on my novel, it reminded me why I write in the first place.
I already have plans for the sequel to that book. I've got plans for a few short stories, too. 

Sanderson: I also take time off after I finish a huge book to work on experimental side projects and recharge my creative energy. Sometimes these projects go somewhere, and sometimes they don’t. Last year after finishing Towers of Midnight I took some time to work on an urban fantasy, and though I got over halfway through it there was just something that wasn’t working, so I set it aside.
Then I started what was going to be a Mistborn short story, and once I was a few scenes in, it was really clicking. It ended up turning into a short (for me) novel that I’m very happy with. Tor was also pleased to hear about it since they weren’t going to have a book to release from me in 2011, but now Mistborn: The Alloy of Law will come out in November. And now my writing battery is all charged up to start working on the Wheel of Time again.
It’s been great talking to you again, Pat. Will I see you at Worldcon in Reno this August? We’re going to record some episodes of the Writing Excuses podcast there, and we’d love to have you on as a guest again.

Rothfuss: I'll be there. And I'd love to do another Writing Excuses. I had a ton of fun with the first one. 

Sanderson: Thanks, Pat. It’s been fun. I’m looking forward to posting my review of Wise Man’s Fear when the book comes out.

Amazing Author Interviews: George R.R. Martin + Bernard Cornwell

GEORGE: — It has long been my contention that the historical novel and the epic fantasy are sisters under the skin, that the two genres have much in common. My series owes a lot to the work of J.R.R. Tolkien, Robert E Howard, Jack Vance, Fritz Leiber, and the other great fantasists who came before me, but I’ve also read and enjoyed the work of historical novelists like Thomas B. Costain, Mika Waltari, Alfred Duggan, Nigel Tranter, and Maurice Druon. Who were your own influences? What writers did you read growing up? Was historical fiction always your great passion? Did you ever read fantasy?

BERNARD: You’re right – fantasy and historical novels are twins – and I’ve never been fond of the label ‘fantasy’ which is too broad a brush and has a fey quality. It seems to me you write historical novels in an invented world which is grounded in historical reality (if the books are set in the future then ‘fantasy’ magically becomes sci-fi). So I’ve been influenced by all three: fantasy, sci-fi and historical novels, though the largest influence has to be C.S. Forester’s Hornblower books. I read them as a teenager, was consumed by them, ran out of reading material after the last one of the series and so began to read the non-fiction histories of the Napoleonic period. That led to an obsession with Wellington and his army, which led directly to Sharpe. Maybe if I had read Tolkien before Forester then I’d have taken that route (and it tempts me!), but we all write what we want to read and I was always an avid consumer of historical novels . . and, of course, of STORIES! I devoured all the classic SciFi writers, Asimov, Heinlein etc, and they taught me how important story is, but the big debt is still to C.S. Forester (another master-storyteller)

GEORGE: — Fantasists enjoy certain freedoms that historical novelists do not. I can surprise my readers by killing kings and other major characters, but the fate of the kings and conquerors in the real world is right there in the history texts, we know who lives and who dies before we ever crack the novel open. When battle is joined at Helm’s Deep and the Pelennor Fields in Tolkien, or on the Blackwater Rush and in the Whispering Wood in my own fantasies, the outcome of the fight is unknown until the author reveals it on the page, but the historical novelist is bound to trod the road laid down by history. How do you deal with the challenge of making Waterloo or Bull Run or Agincourt suspenseful and exciting when most of your readers know the outcome beforehand?

BERNARD: ‘I can surprise my readers by killing kings and other major characters’. Oh yes, you can and do! I still haven’t forgiven you for Ned Stark’s execution, but I’m learning to live with it! I never think it matters if the reader knows the outcome of the story before they reach the end – we all, as children, wanted the same stories told to us over and over even though we knew the wolf didn’t get to gnaw on Little Red Riding Hood. I always think of an historical novel as having two stories – the big one and the little one – and the writer flips them. The big story in Gone With the Wind is whether the South can survive the Civil War and we all know how that went, but the little story is whether Scarlet can save Tara, and that little story is put in the foreground while the big story goes into the background. I suppose the suspense is the little story – will Sharpe survive Badajoz (well, the reader knows he will, I suppose!). And I think readers find a fascination with the unfolding of a story. Most English folk know the Battle of Agincourt – it’s deep in the nation’s consciousness – but hardly any know what really happened there. History rapidly turns into myth (the myth of Agincourt being that the arrows won the day, which they decidedly did not, though God knows Henry would have lost without them) and perhaps one of the pleasures of reading an historical novel is to discover the truth behind the myth.

GEORGE: — Historical fiction is not history. You’re blending real events and actual historical personages with characters of your own creation, like Uhtred and Richard Sharpe. How much “poetic license” should a novelist have when dealing with the events of history? How accurate is he obliged to be? Where do you draw the line?

BERNARD: I can’t change history (if only), but I can play with it. The answer slightly depends on what I’m writing. I did a trilogy on ‘King’ Arthur and there’s almost no real history to rely on, so I could do more or less what I wanted. With the Saxon books I have a skeleton history thanks to the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle and few other sources, but there’s not much meat on those bones so I have a lot of freedom. If I’m writing about the American Revolution then I have almost no freedom because I’m trespassing on the high ground of American legend and I must stick to the real history if the book is going to persuade the reader of the story’s viability – so in Redcoat I changed only one event by bringing it forward 24 hours. And then I confess my sins in an historical note at the book’s end. Occasionally I change more drastically; Sharpe’s Company tells the story of the dreadful attack on Badajoz and, in brief, a feint attack that was only intended to draw French defenders away from the breaches succeeded in capturing the city while the main attacks, on the breaches, failed disastrously. It seemed to me that the drama of that night was in the breaches, so Sharpe had to attack one of them, and if Richard Sharpe attacks, he wins (he’s a hero!). So in the novel I allow the attackers to get through a breach (which didn’t happen) because otherwise the story wouldn’t work. But again, I confessed the sin at the book’s end.

GEORGE: — I’ve written as much science fiction as I have fantasy over the years. An increasingly popular subgenre in SF is the alternate world novel — sometimes called “counterfactuals” by historians, and “what if” stories by fans. For want of a nail, the kingdom was lost… but what if the nail wasn’t lost? What if Napoleon won at Waterloo? What if the South won the Civil War? What if the Roman Empire never fell? What do you think of such stories? Have you ever been tempted to write one yourself?

BERNARD: Never! Maybe it’s just me, but alternative history has no appeal. I remember a crazy movie from way back in which F-16′s of the USAF suddenly appeared over Pearl Harbor. Yeah right. We began by agreeing that ‘fantasy’ novels and historical novels are twins and it seems to me that mixing the two is incestuous and, unlike Jaime and Cersei Lannister, I’m not a fan.

GEORGE: — Speaking of battles… I do believe you do the best battle scenes of any writer I’ve ever read, past or present. And from where I sit, battles are hard. I’ve written my share. Sometimes I employ the private’s viewpoint, very up close and personal, dropping the reader right into the middle of the carnage. That’s vivid and visceral, but of necessity chaotic, and it is easy to lose all sense of the battle as a whole. Sometimes I go with the general’s point of view instead, looking down from on high, seeing lines and flanks and reserves. That gives a great sense of the tactics, of how the battle is won or lost, but can easily slide into abstraction. But you seem to be able to do both, simultaneously. The arrows at Agincourt, Uhtred grunting and shoving in a Saxon shield wall, Sharpe leading a forlorn hope… you give us all the sounds and smells and blood, and yet the battle tactics always remain comprehensible as well. How do you do it? What are the building blocks of a great battle scene? Of all the battles that you have written, do you have a favorite?

BERNARD: I do have one huge advantage over you which is that my battles were all fought and the survivors left accounts, and some have been comprehensively described by military historians, so I’m given a framework that you have to invent. I also hate reading a military history and getting confused, usually by Roman numerals (‘XV Corps moved to the west while the XIV Brigade was redeployed southwards’ and so on) which means you’re constantly having to refer to a map, or maps, and try to remember who XV Corps are . . . so I try to give the reader a framework before the battle begins – where are they fighting? What are the salient landmarks? Which units are important? I don’t want the reader to stop and refer to a map . . though I’m sure I fail. That done I do try and switch the point of view, just as you do, between the close-up and nasty and the more distant overview of the fighting. John Keegan’s The Face of Battle is a marvellous book to read and discover just how men experience battle, and that was a great influence. I have invented battles from scratch – and the one I’m proudest of is Mount Badon in the Arthur books. The battle did happen, but we know nothing of what happened (or even where it happened), so I used Wellington’s tactics from the battle of Salamanca and they worked perfectly! And of all the battles? Probably Salamanca in Sharpe’s Sword.

GEORGE: — A familiar theme in a lot of epic fantasy is the conflict between good and evil. The villains are often Dark Lords of various ilks, with demonic henchmen and hordes of twisted, malformed underlings clad in black. The heroes are noble, brave, chaste, and very fair to look upon. Yes, Tolkien made something grand and glorious from that, but in the hands of lesser writers, well… let’s just say that sort of fantasy has lost its interest for me. It is the grey characters who interest me the most. Those are the sort I prefer to write about… and read about. It seems to me that you share that affinity. Your protagonists have moments of heroism, but they have flaws as well. Much as I enjoy reading about Uhtred, there’s more than a little darkness to him, and Richard Sharpe was not a man to cross. You even went so far as to make the protagonist of your American Civil War novels a copperhead, a Northerner fighting for the South… not a group that usually engenders much sympathy. Your villains are just as human, not a cardboard monster among them And you are often less than reverent when depicting some of the established heroes of British and American history. Paul Revere and Alfred the Great come to mind. What is it about flawed characters that makes them more interesting than conventional heroes?

BERNARD: Maybe all our heroes are reflections of ourselves? I’m not claiming to be Richard Sharpe (God forbid), but I’m sure parts of my personality leaked into him (he’s very grumpy in the morning). I once wrote a series of forewards for the Hornblower books and had to deal with the perennial question of who was Hornblower based on? Some said Cochrane, others suggested Edward Pellew (both outstanding frigate captains of the Napoleonic Wars), but it was obvious that Hornblower was the person Forester himself wanted to be. Hornblower was Forester, without some of Forester’s less attractive traits. Most of my heroes are outsiders . . . maybe because I felt that way growing up (long story, let’s not tell it here), and which is why my favorite characters of yours sre Arya and Jon Snow. And perhaps flawed characters are more interesting because they are forced to make a choice . . . a conventionally good character will always do the moral, right ting. Boring. Sharpe often does the right thing, but usually for the wrong reasons, and that’s much more interesting!

GEORGE: — When Tolkien began writing The Lord of the Rings, it was intended as a sequel to The Hobbit. “The tale grew in the telling,” he said later, when LOTR had grown into the trilogy we know today. That’s a line I have often had occasion to quote over the years, as my own Song of Ice and Fire swelled from the three books I had originally sold to the seven books (five published, two more to write) I’m now producing. Much of your own work has taken the form of multi-part series. Are your tales too ‘growing in the telling,’ or do you know how long your journeys will take before you set out? When you wrote that first Sharpe book, did you ever imagine how long and how far you would march with him and Harper? Did you know how many books Uhtred’s story would require, when you first sat down to write about him?

BERNARD: No idea! I don’t even know what will happen In the next chapter, let alone the next book, and have no idea how many books there might be in a series. E.L. Doctorow said something I like which is that writing a novel is a bit like driving down an unfamiliar country road at night and you can only see as far ahead as your somewhat feeble headlamps show. I write into the darkness. I guess the joy of reading a book is to find out what happens, and for me that’s the joy of writing one too!

GEORGE: — I have met thousands of my readers face to face, not only on book tours, but at SF and fantasy conventions, where there tends to be considerably more interaction between writers and readers than is customary in other genres. I used to answer all my fan mail, in the days when readers still mailed letters care of my publishers. (It was easy; there wasn’t much). Email has increased the amount of letters I receive a thousand-fold, well beyond my capacity to keep up, but I still try to read all the mail that comes in, even when I cannot answer it. I don’t do facebook or twitter, but I do blog (on Live Journal), and my email address can be found easily enough. But there are perils to being so accessible, as I have discovered in recent years. The vast majority of my fans are amazing people, perceptive, intelligent, supportive… but there is a small but vocal minority who can be vexing. How have you related to your own readers over the years? Do you feel a writer owes anything to his readers, beyond the work itself? Do fans send you suggestions about how they want your series to end? Send you artwork, gifts? Name children and pets after your characters? Write “fan fiction” using your characters? Do you ever find yourself being influenced by the reactions of your readers to a book, or a character?

BERNARD: I’ve found my fans to be terrific. There’s a miniscule handful who want to nitpick over details (and yes, of course there are mistakes) and once, on my website, I begged one such reader to please find another author to read. But the vast majority are fun to meet and it’s vitally important to listen to them. I did a book tour once and three people separately told me it was time Sharpe had some high-class totty! I hadn’t realised he’d been consorting with rough trade for so many books, so I responded by giving him Lady Grace in Sharpe’s Trafalgar and she remains my favorite heroine. She’d never have existed without the fans!

GEORGE: — Both of us have had the privilege of seeing our characters brought to life on television. Sean Bean was Richard Sharpe long before he was Ned Stark. (And truth be told, he was Ned Stark in no small measure because David Benioff, Dan Weiss, and I had all seen how masterfully he played Sharpe). How did you feel about the BBC series? To what extent were you involved with it? Will we ever see any of your other characters on screen? If so, would you want to write the screenplays yourself? What do you think makes for a good adaptation? And will we ever see Sean Bean as Sharpe again?

BERNARD: I thought the Sharpe TV series was great! Of course they changed the books, they had no choice. You and I can wheel on 100,000 men and it costs us nothing, but every extra is a drain on a TV budget, but they dealt very well with that constraint and Sean, of course, was a marvellous Sharpe and a great Ned Stark (who should have lived, damn you). So far as I know there aren’t any plans for another series. There’s talk of making Agincourt into a film (I’m not holding my breath) and a TV series about Uhtred (which would be nice, but again I’m still breathing). I want nothing to do with any such production, other than being a cheerleader. I worked in television for eleven year and learned enough to know I know nothing about producing TV drama, so I’m happy to leave it to the experts. And I doubt I could write a script – I’ve never tried and would rather write a novel.

GEORGE: — Last question. What’s next for Bernard Cornwell? You’ve done the Napoleonic Wars, the American Civil War, the Hundred Years War, King Arthur, the Saxons and Danes. Will you be returning to any of those eras, revisiting any of your great series characters? Or are there other eras of history that you mean to explore?

BERNARD: There’s one period I’m desperate to write about (forgive me if I don’t say which because I don’t want someone else muscling in on it first!). But next is another novel about Thomas of Hookton in the Hundred Years War, then it’s back to Uhtred and the Saxons.