We all have our own literary pantheons and authors who somehow attain godhood in our minds for their writing or whatever else you use to measure these things. Steven Erikson & Ian Esslemont happen to be at the top of my pantheon, having firmly unseated George R. R. Martin (sorry, George). Perhaps I’m irrationally excited, but I’m allowing it. After dealing with the cancer news a little excitement like this goes a long, long way.
Today on Twitter it was made known to me that Steven Erikson & Ian Esslemont were doing a “live blog” thing on TOR’s website. I usually don’t participate in events like that but… come on… it’s Steve and Ian!
I thought of a stupid question and asked it and they answered. A pretty good surmise of how exiting this is to me would be my facebook status: Steven Erikson just talked to me. For those of you who might not understand how cool this is to me, it would be like God walking into a bar and saying “Hey, buy you a drink?”
Anyway, I asked if I could post it and I was assured I could as long as I referred back to the original article it all came from. I know I have some fellow fan boys/girls who frequent my blog, so I thought it might be interesting to you (while allowing me to bask in my nerd glory).
If you are wondering what inspired my question and you are a reader of the Malazan Book of the Fallen series, hearken ye unto Memories of Ice. If you aren’t a reader of the series and don’t have a clue what I’m talking about, I apologize. Please, go to the nearest library. It’s your civic duty.
You can find the whole thing (and it is very, very interesting) Here.
My question (s):
Let’s say a character ends up dying in a book (I’m being deliberately vague in case any people read this who haven’t read your books). Do you, as the author(s) have a hard time parting with the character(s) when they die? Are some harder than others to let go of?
Steven Erikson’s answer:
Bookworm, it can be very hard to say goodbye to characters, whether they die in the story or die because, well, it’s time to move on. In some ways, the latter is harder, because I leave with a sense that somewhere, somehow, their lives continue, not just in, say, one of Cam’s next novels, but also beyond the written page. It’s sounding airy-fairy, but these characters are all facets of myself, as they must be, and I’m reminded of the crushing end to Milne’s Pooh tales, when Christopher Robin tells Pooh he won’t be seeing him again, that they must go their separate ways. I sometimes wonder, as an aside, how much of our creative forces emerge from those deep-felt experiences far into our pasts. I remember re-reading that tale to my son when he was young, and it damn-near broke me. Well, echoes of that return with my own characters, and with their lives. Those, however, that die in the story, well, those scenes have to fit, to arrive as the inevitable conclusion. They are punctuation marks, and they need to arrive at the perfect moment (ie the end of the sentence). Should someone then return in some fashion, it’s because they’re not quite done with me yet.
Ian Esslemont’s answer:
Bookworm Blues: For a long time Steve and I have been in agreement on the fates of each of the major characters. If one of us was in doubt on this, we’d clear it up post-haste. As to letting go, no, not a problem in that the fates of each character is generally determined by the over-arching thematic logics. They go the way they have to go for things to make sense.
(SPOILER ALERT FOR RETURN OF THE CRIMSON GUARD)
For example, I’ve taken some heat for Laseen’s end in Return. Perhaps I could have taken more time there and prettied it up but that would have undermined the shock of it. And speaking of genre conventions, conventions dictate for weeping all around at the death of the empress, a long funeral scene with hands to chest, and the traditional sending off to Avalon with Wagner swelling in the background.
I say ,no, forget that cliched obligation. In the end she was alone in life and so she was alone in death. Cruel, but the thematic truth of it.
If anyone important happens to read this, please understand that I will gladly giftwrap and ship out my right arm for an interview with one, or both of these aforementioned authors. Thank you.