Thursday, July 2, 2009

David Farland - Book Giveaway Reminder - Post Three


book eight of The Runelords to
be released October 13, 2009.

David Farland is a pseudonym for Dave Wolverton and is the author of several series including The Runelords epic fantasy saga, the Mummy Chronicles, The Golden Queen, Star Wars tie-in novels, and the Benjamin Raven children’s series. Dave has been nominated for both Hugo and Nebula Awards and is a judge for the L. Ron Hubbard Writers of the Future contest.

Me - Where do you think the future for the fantasy genre is headed?

DF - It will splinter into a million pieces, just like science fiction did. It used to be that forty years ago, as a kid I could read almost every science fiction book that came out, and I did! But as we began to publish more and more, the genre fractured. We began to see subgenres like “hard SF,” “Social SF,” “Time Travel,” “Military SF,” “Cyberpunk,” and so on. As genre-fication set in, as readers began to pick their specialty, they lost touch with science fiction overall. If you speak to a “sci-fi” fan today, he or she might only read Star Trek novels, or slipstream. The same thing is happening in fantasy. Right now, YA is dominating the field with vampire novels, zombie novels, werewolf tales and fairy stories, most in a contemporary setting. But there is still a strong contingent of readers for other types of tales. Yet I suspect that it will splinter into smaller and smaller groups.

But here is something that I think is interesting: you know how I mentioned that readers tend to love the fatter novels more? Well, we’re moving into a new age of writing, one where e-readers like the Kindle and the iPod will allow us to write paperless novels, and those novels will not have any real length restrictions. So if you want to write a 600,000-word “super-novel,” you’ll be able to publish it electronically without killing any trees. At that point, the bookstores and distributors won’t be standing over the writer’s shoulder saying, “You know, that won’t fit on our shelves nicely. You know that won’t fit in its binding properly.”

The end of the length restrictions will allow writers to reinvent the novel, to create works that are more massive, that have greater emotional depth and power, and which are more compelling.

Me - One of the things about your Runelords novels I like is, even though your characters are on a worldwide stage you don’t have them in a journey to show off that stage. You show your world in the telling of your story because it takes the whole world to tell it. How do you do your world building? Many writers get stuck in the minutia of world building and never get to the writing. When do you know you’ve done enough?

DF - I decided before I ever started the Runelords series that I wanted to create a world unlike any other—but I just didn’t want people to see it right away. In short, I wanted it to look like a typical medieval fantasy, but of course as the reader enters my world, they discover that there’s much more of it than first met the eye, and then they realize that they’ve never seen anything like it before.

So we started in Rofehavan in book one, and then we moved into Fleeds, Mystarria, and Indhopal in book 2. In books three and four we begin to see the Underworld, and in book five we begin to learn more about the One True World and the million million shadow worlds. Astute readers of course recognize that our world must be one of the shadow worlds that splintered off from the One True World during its annihilation.

In short, I recognized early that this book was going to take the reader places they’d never been, and that’s part of the great fun of fantasy. Books like Dune and Lord of the Rings have been so popular in part because the authors were able to guide readers into strange new worlds.

In any case, back to your question, when do you know that you’ve done enough? The answer might be different for each of us as writers. Some authors find that they naturally want to write fast-paced works with very little world-building. For me, though, it works this way: I have to imagine the setting until I can see it, smell it, and hear what is going on. Then all that I do is place my characters in that setting and let them act out their scenes—quickly enough so that the reader won’t lose interest.

But here’s the thing to remember: every reader has slightly different tastes when it comes to world creation. Robert Jordan, for example, spends huge amounts of time describing his world. I recently heard one writer say that Jordan had to over-write because he was trying to entertain an audience that was “unimaginative.” I don’t think that’s true at all. I think that he recognized that there is a huge audience for works of fiction that emphasize the element of transport. If you look at the best-selling novels of all time in any genre, you’ll find that they are almost always very fat books. They’re almost always novels of transport.

Me - Today, when the publishers aren't as willing to put out the huge 600 page novel, is it possible to do a shorter epic book?

DF - I think that you lose a lot when you try. I’d like to have more-complex plots than I can fit in a 400-page book, for example. You also have a difficult time writing a novel of transport that takes the reader to many new places.

So, yes, I think that it is possible to do, but it’s much harder than it should be.

Me - (This one is for me.) Do you ever work on more than one book at a time? If you do, how do you keep them apart in your mind?

DF - I’ve had to edit or do revisions on five novels in the past three weeks—all while working on my next big Runelords book. Last night I had a dream that will become a short story for an anthology. In spare moments, I’ve been plotting out the next book in my Ravenspell series. Then I have several big projects waiting in the wings. I have a thriller about a young movie producer who is making a movie using money supplied by terrorists about halfway finished. I have another series that’s called “Young Merlin” that I’m working on. I wrote a novel several years ago called The Young Olympians, which deals with the children of the Greek Gods. I’ve decided to rewrite it, putting more emphasis on a female anti-hero, and so on.

So, yes, I do work on more than one book at a time, but not by choice. I find that I like to focus on one book at a time, so when I’m writing the first draft, it is nice to get away for awhile, go down to Mexico and write on the beach, or take a trip to the Rockies.

Rewrites and alterations of course can be worked in between larger projects.

Of course, I’m always thinking, so I get ideas for upcoming novels at random. In fact, I find that it’s nice, once you get an idea for a story, to give it time to ripen. You see, any story has lots of holes in it at first. You might get a great idea for a major conflict, but you don’t know who your villain is. Or maybe you have a cool idea for your world, but you don’t know if there is a love interest in your story. So you have to take time to brainstorm, to fill up each of the holes in your basic plot.

Many times when I find myself thinking about a novel for a few hours in the middle of the night, and I’ll have to stop and take notes—especially if some cool idea just won’t leave me alone.
In fact, when I’m on writing retreats, I find that I have to take time away from writing so that I can do my brainstorming. So a typical day goes like this: 1) get up at 6:00 a.m. and write until 2:00 pm. 2) Go out and take a nap on the beach, work on tan, listen to music, or go swimming in the pool. 3) Exercise and eat dinner. Around 5:00 pm I relax and brainstorm some more. Then I write from 6:00 p.m. until 10:00 p.m.. I find that this is my perfect schedule. But did you notice that I give myself a four-hour break in the afternoon? The reason is that the right-half of the brain, the creative part, typically goes to sleep in the afternoon. I’m absolutely no good. So I have to relax, rejuvenate, and then come at it again.

This is it. The final installment. Yes, it is possible to get the free stuff! In particular, a copy of one of Dave Farland's books. And all you have to do is comment on all three installments of this interview. Easy! On July 9th I will randomly pick a name from a hat for the the free book. You have until then to comment on all three. Just make sure I have a way to contact you... Email address with AT and DOT in it for Spam protection, or I can leave a comment on your blog.

Guest Blogger - David Farland - Part One
Book Giveaway - Reminder - Guest Post - David Farland - Part Two


Graham Chops said...

Amen on the splintering aspect of the fantasy genre--it goes so many ways. I was trying to explain that to a friend of mine this week and I realized how complicated it's gotten. The contemporary stuff is cool, but I'm digging in with the historical fantasy writers on my next series, however I'm taking a different tack with it...

Jaime Theler said...

These insights are so cool!

*Comment #3!! I'm in the running for the free book.

P.S. I ran 3 miles yesterday and hiked 3 miles today.

L.T. Elliot said...

Another great installment in the series! I loved it!

Hannah said...

These have been some interesting posts--I really need to read this, instead of just skim. I like the idea of books getting longer and more in-depth! ^_^

lachish said...

I enjoyed this series -- and can't image how anybody could possibly write a 600,000 word novel. I don't think I have that many words in my head.