Tad Williams Interview

As promised, here is an excerpt from the Tad Williams interview I did for the summer issue of Gryphonwood Press. The questions were selected from those that were submitted to me by readers. So here is a little sample of what the interview looks like.

Enjoy!;-) And stay tuned for more!!!


Tad Williams Interview

What would you say was the hardest part of the entire process involved in the writing of both Memory, Sorrow and Thorn and Otherland? Where did you get the initial idea that drove you to create both series in the first place?

The hardest part of any long-story process is staying as excited as you were when you began. This often means new characters, plot-twists, all kinds of things that keep you interested and creative as a writer and (one hopes) have the same sort of effect on the readers.

OTHERLAND came from me actually working with VR, and getting interested not just in the thing itself, but where it might go in time. That coupled with my love of story-telling made for an immediate creative buzz, and the story evolved from there. MS&T had a more complicated derivation, but sprung up in part because I had read so much BAD post-Tolkienian epic fantasy, yet still had a fondness for the genre, and said, "Okay, so put your money where your mouth is. Write one yourself."

What authors have had the biggest influence on you?

Tolkien, Ray Bradbury, Thomas Pynchon, John Updike, Theodore Sturgeon, Fritz Leiber, Barbara Tuchman, Ursula LeGuin, Charles Dickens, Michael Moorcock, Kurt Vonnegut, Phillip K. Dick, to name a few. Oh, T. H. White, of course. P. G. Wodehouse. Anthony Burgess and Harlan Ellisoni. Evelyn Waugh. Terry Southern. Hunter S. Thompson.

What lesser known fantasy/science fiction authors would you like to recommend to our readers?

Many of the older ones who are dangerously unread now, I think. All those mentioned above -- especially Leiber, whose work seems to be falling out of common knowledge. I hope not. And Dunsany, and Mervyn Peake.

You've spent your entire career with Daw Books. You have undoubtedly received offers from bigger publishers over the years. What made you remain with the publisher that gave you your first chance?

Loyalty and, of course, satisfaction with the job they've done. Plus, I like to work with people that I know and care about, and being with a company like DAW has the added benefit that since my publishers ARE the company, the chances are that as long as we're all alive, we'll work together. I don't have to worry about my favorite editor suddenly disappearing to another company. Also, we're good friends now, and I'd rather work with friends any old day.

You have been acknowledge as one of the best writers in the genre? Where do you think you stand in the fantasy field?

That's tough to say. Based strictly on my own judgement and what I read in the field, I think I'm pretty good, and more than that, I'm pretty serious about what I do. Where do I stand? Who knows? But I think at least some of my work will be read after I've popped my clogs (as my British in-laws say, meaning "died") and that's about all you can ask for. Well, that and incredible riches to enjoy during your lifetime, but I don't want to be greedy.

Is a World Fantasy Award something you covet?

I'd take one, yeah, with pleasure, but I don't covet anything in this world except a monkey I could train to ride in a little saddle on the back of our over-excitable poodle. I've always been a little disappointed I haven't been nominated for a WFA, but not shocked: I didn't make my way into the field through the normal small-universe route, through the magazines and so on, and I write for an American publisher which doesn't get the respect it deserves. Also, I am predominantly (although not entirely fairly) known for writing what's considered to be the most commercial (and I suppose least artistic) part of the genre, epic fantasy. So, like I said, disappointed but not shocked.

Initially, Shadowmarch was to be an ongoing series available on the web. What made you change your mind and decide to actually write it as a hard copy? Were the difficulties inherent to an internet-based project responsible for your change of mind?

I wrote and published what amounted to the first volume online, but realized that I couldn't afford to keep doing that after the first year -- we didn't make enough money, and I had to write another book (WAR OF THE FLOWERS) at the same time. That said, I still wanted to finish the story, so moving it to regular book form made sense. I loved doing the online serial version, though, and would like to do something like that again someday.

What's the progress report pertaining to the second volume? Tentative title, release date, etc?

I don't have anything like a release date -- I would hope a year from now at the very latest. I'm well into the second volume, but I lost several working months this fall to travel and other things, so I'm not as far along as I'd like to be.

Are you working on A Chronicle in Stone (short stories set in Osten Ard) while writing Shadowmarch, or has this project been postponed?

That project has been postponed for a while, but definitely not forgotten. I hadn't intended to do SHADOWMARCH until the events above -- the needing to finish the SHADOWMARCH story -- changed my plans for what I'd be doing the next couple of years.

This is probably the most asked question of all. Are there any definite plans to write a sequel to Memory, Sorrow and Thorn following Shadowmarch?

Other than the Osten Ard short stories, no. But I have learned never to say "never." (Or "spendiferous", for that matter, because it doesn't sound, y'know, manly.)

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