Tag Archives: Interview

Entrevista a Anna Starobinets: “nos estamos olvidando de cómo comunicarnos en persona”

Anna Starobinets y James Womack, su editor en España e interprete durante la entrevista.

Anna Starobinets y James Womack, su editor en España e interprete durante la entrevista.

Anna Starobinets (Moscú, 1978), es una de las pocas escritoras rusas contemporáneas de literatura fantástica valorada por la crítica de su país. A día de hoy sólo dos de sus libros han sido publicados en español, gracias a la interesante labor de la editorial Nevsky Prospects: la antología Una Edad Difícil, con relatos cercanos al terror y a la ciencia ficción, y la novela distópica El Vivo, una inquietante prospección del futuro de las redes sociales que no desmerecería en compañía de novelas como el Nosotros de Zamiatin, el Un Mundo Feliz de Huxley o el 1984 de Orwell. El pasado 13 de abril Anna Starobinets visitó Olot en el marco del Festival MOT y tuve el privilegio de poder entrevistarla para todos vosotros.

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Patrick Rothfuss en Barcelona: minirreseña y crónica

Esta semana ha visitado España Patrick Rothfuss, autor de la popular Crónica del Asesino de Reyes y del cuento no para niños Las Aventuras de la Princesa y el señor Fu. Random House Mondadori ha aprovechado la ocasión para organizar una presentación abierta al público en la que el autor leyó Las aventuras de la Princesa y el Señor Fu, contestó las preguntas de los asistentes y firmó ejemplares de sus libros. Todo el acto fue retransmitido por streaming a través de la página de facebook de la trilogía, pero si no tuvisteis la oportunidad de seguirlo os recomiendo que leáis la exhaustiva crónica que publicaron, casi inmediatamente, en El Rincón de Koreander. ¿Os he dicho ya cuanto me gusta El Rincón? Imprescindible para estar al día de la actualidad del género en nuestro país.

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Entrevista de lectura: Odo nos habla de Las Luminosas

Tal vez recordéis que hace unos meses publiqué en La Biblioteca de Ilium una entrevista a Elías Combarro, a quién podéis invocar en twitter con el nick @odo, preguntándole por su experiencia leyendo Las Furias de Alera, la primera entrega de la serie de fantasía del popular autor Jim Butcher. Él, a su vez, publicó en el imprescindible Sense of Wonder una entrevista similar en la que el entrevistado era yo. El caso es que nos sentimos tan cómodos en este formato que hemos decidido repetir la experiencia con un libro que nos ha gustado muchísimo a ambos y que saldrá publicado en español en setiembre en la colección Literatura Fantástica RBA: Las Luminosas (The Shining Girls), de Lauren Beukes. Aquí podréis leer las respuestas de Elías a mis preguntas y en este enlace las mías a las suyas. Siempre es un placer visitar los cómodos y aireados salones de Sense of Wonder y hablar de libros con un buen amigo.

Antes de cederle la palabra a Elías me gustaría mostraros la portada que acompañará a la edición española de Las Luminosas, ilustrada por el siempre magnífico Alejandro Colucci. Le agradezco a Literatura Fantástica RBA que nos haya permitido presentar la ilustración en primicia. No me digáis que no es una pasada.

Las luminosas (1)

Y sin más, os dejo con Elías:

1. Las Luminosas es una novela a caballo entre varios géneros, especialmente la ciencia ficción (hay quien dice que más bien sería fantasía urbana) y la novela negra. ¿Como valoras el componente fantástico de la novela?

El elemento fantástico, principalmente a través de los viajes en el tiempo, está muy bien dosificado. Por un lado, es un elemento central de la trama, porque todo el misterio que rodea al asesino está basado precisamente en su capacidad de desaparecer sin dejar rastro. Pero, al mismo tiempo, Lauren Beukes no se recrea en el “mecanismo” de esos desplazamientos temporales, sino que se centra en el desarrollo de los personajes y de su historia.

Me parece que es una decisión sumamente acertada, porque la potencia de la obra no proviene de un par de detalles llamativos, sino de su solidez en todos los aspectos: personajes, trama, descripciones… El elemento fantástico está al servicio de todos ellos y no al revés.

2. ¿A qué tipo de lector crees que le podría gustar esta novela?

Creo que puede gustar a casi cualquier tipo de lector. Tanto los viajes en el tiempo como los “serial killers” son dos temas que están muy presentes en todo tipo de obras (novelas, películas, series de TV…) y con los que casi todo el mundo está familiarizado, por lo que no creo que supongan una “barrera” de entrada para nadie. Yo diría que puede ser una novela muy apropiada tanto para seguidores habituales de literatura de género (ya sea novela negra, de misterio, fantástica o de ciencia ficción), como para lectores de narrativa contemporánea o incluso personas que habitualmente no leen demasiado. Si la comparo, por ejemplo, con Los hombres que no amaban a las mujeres, creo que The Shining Girls tiene todas las virtudes que hicieron del libro Stieg Larsson un auténtico fenómeno editorial pero ninguno de sus (muchos) defectos. Y, además, infinidad de estupendas características propias. Me parece que va a ser uno de los grandes libros del año a todos los niveles.

3. Tú también has leído Zoo City, de la misma autora. ¿Qué es lo que más te gusta de su estilo y en qué crees que ha cambiado —para bien o para mal— desde su anterior novela?

He notado una clara evolución en muchos aspectos. Principalmente, el estilo es más maduro y el ritmo está mucho mejor controlado. Podría decir que Zoo City era una novela que mostraba un gran potencial y que ese potencial se ha desarrollado casi por completo en The Shining Girls, una novela casi perfecta.

shiningUK4. ¿Cuáles te parecen que son los puntos fuertes (y débiles) de Lauren Beukes como autora?

Con sólo tres novelas (de las que nada más he leído dos, aunque le tengo muchas ganas a Moxyland) y algunos relatos publicados, es difícil responder a esta pregunta. Pero voy a arriesgarme diciendo que Beukes tiene un talento especial para varias cosas: Por un lado, crear una ambientación muy llamativa con unas pocas pinceladas; esto es cierto en The Shining Girls (hablábamos antes de como el elemento fantástico es leve pero impregna toda la novela) y aún más en Zoo City, en mi opinión. Por otro lado, sabe mezclar géneros dispares de una manera asombrosa. Y, finalmente, es capaz de crear personajes femeninos fuertes y con mucho carácter pero que, a la vez, se alejan de los estereotipos. En The Shining Girls no lo hace sólo con la protagonista principal sino con TODOS los personajes secundarios (y en apenas unas pocas páginas).

En cuanto a sus puntos débiles, fijándome sólo en Zoo City quizá podría decir que descuida un poco la trama en favor de otros elementos, pero es que en The Shining Girls no pasa eso ¡ni mucho menos!

5. ¿Qué te parece la estructura de la novela? ¿Podrías describirla y valorar su contribución a la calidad de la novela?

La estructura de la novela es, al mismo tiempo, simple y compleja. Simple porque es muy, muy sencillo seguir todos los sucesos a pesar de que pasan muchas cosas en distintos momentos temporales. Compleja porque todos los hilos se van entretejiendo hasta llegar al espectacular desenlace final. En este sentido, la narración es engañosamente sencilla. No es fácil llevar al lector a través de tantos saltos temporales, tantos personajes, tantas escenas diferentes y que no sólo no se pierda sino que cada vez esté más enganchado al libro. Beukes lo consigue con un éxito total y esto contribuye decisivamente a la calidad de la novela.

6. ¿Cuales son tus personajes preferidos? ¿Hay alguno que te haya gustado menos?

Esa es una pregunta muy difícil. Todos los personajes de The Shining Girls están perfectamente construidos, aunque algunos de ellos aparecen en un solo capítulo (o incluso menos). Quizá el que me ha convencido un poco menos es el periodista (¡¡¡no me acuerdo cómo se llama!!!) que ayuda a Kirby, la protagonista principal, que me parece un poco estereotipado. Pero es que el resto son casi perfectos: Kirby, Las Luminosas… y, por supuesto, y por encima de todos, Harper Curtis, un personaje por el que se siente a la vez repulsión, rechazo y hasta compasión.

7. ¿Qué es lo que más te ha gustado y lo que menos te ha gustado de la novela?

Me ha gustado todo: la prosa de Beukes, que por momentos es bellísima; la caracterización de los personajes, que es magistral; el final, que es brillante… Es una novela a la que es muy difícil sacarle un pero. Quizá en algunos momentos el ritmo es ligeramente lento, pero es un detalle muy, muy menor ante las muchas cualidades de este libro. Lo he dicho y lo repito: va a ser uno de los libros del año.

MurderWall

Lauren Beukes nos muestra como realizó el seguimiento de las diferentes líneas temporales de la novela en su famosa “murder wall”.

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Interviewing Karen Lord for Literatura Fantastica RBA

ProgramacionliteraturafantasticaRBARecently, I reviewed Karen Lord‘s highly enjoyable novel Redemption in Indigo, a rural fantasy that successfully mixing a modern sensibility and a tradition arising from oral narrative. Next week the spanish edition of her The Best of All Possible Worlds will be published, a very interesting science fiction novel that will soon be reviewed here at the Ilium’s Library. It’s a very different novel from Redemption in Indigo, a science fiction story exploring issues such as the formation of social networks and the interaction between cultures in a universe filled with life and mistery. I have been given the opportunity of interviewing Karen Lord for the Literatura Fantastica RBA imprint’s blog, and I have thoroughly enjoyed it, so I’m really happy to share the english version of the interview with all the international readers here at this internet thingy.

You can find the spanish version of the interview at the Literatura Fantastica RBA blog. There, you will also find the first chapter of the Spanish edition of the novel .

Ladies and gentlement, behold… Karen Lord!

Karen Lord, photo, 2012Your novel has been published in a moment in which science fiction is increasingly paying attention to the work of writers with origins other than the United States and England. What are your views on this apparent trend to make of science fiction (and fantastic literature as a whole) a more internationally inclusive genre?

It benefits everyone. Readers in the US and the UK are not monocultural. Global literature and art is built from sharing, borrowing and blending the experiences of many. Science fiction is supposed to take us to the farthest reaches of the universe, to the end (and sometimes the beginning) of time. How authentic can all that invented diversity be if we can’t even acknowledge the diversity on our own planet?

On a related note, how does your Caribbean origin influence your novel, both in terms of content and of narrative approach?

I may be too close to my own work to answer that accurately, but I believe the style of my writing, and possibly even the structure of my novels, has been influenced by an oral tradition and also by that peculiar kind of British English that you unconsciously absorb from theology, politics and comedy. The Caribbean region is a place of many nations and peoples, and that too has enriched the content of my stories.

Redemption in Indigo was very well received both by readers and critics, and it is a very different book than The Best of Possible Worlds. What did you learn writing it and what new grounds did you set to explore with The Best of Possible Worlds?

untitledThe best thing I learned from Redemption in Indigo is that a complex narrative can be organic, that you can grow a story rather than plan a story, that pruning (editing) and grafting (rewriting) are key skills that make the final result so much more than a wild thing or a lifeless construct.

I used The Best of All Possible Worlds to experiment with a voice that was informal and occasionally unreliable rather than the voice of a trained storyteller who knows everything and withholds intentionally. Because the narrator doesn’t know, the reader doesn’t know or is forced to guess from other clues. I played with non-linear plots, connected mini-arcs, and most of all pacing – finding that balance between the highly dramatic and the reassuringly domestic, and sometimes purposely mixing the two in order to unsettle the reader.

This novel has been compared with the Ekumen books by Ursula K. Le Guin and it certainly seems to share several themes with them. Where do you see your science fiction in relation with the work of Le Guin or other science fiction writers more interested in the anthropological sciences than in the physical ones?

I am still in the process of understanding my work in the context of the genre, and I think that a critic or academic would answer this better than I could. Some believe that because the physical sciences are called ‘hard science’ that means the ‘soft sciences’ – anthropology, sociology, psychology – cannot produce hard SF. But, in my opinion, anthropological knowledge is what makes a created world, fantasy or science-based, feel real. I suspect that writers who like worldbuilding tend to write SF based on anthropology, whether or not they also include a physical science component. It’s just another kind of thought experiment, but with people and societies as the key variables.

The Best of Possible Worlds is delivered almost through a series of vignettes. This gives a feeling of a “fragmented” world, almost a fantasy land (it even has fairies!) in which races exist with almost no knowledge of each other. It certainly is an intriguing setting and I have the feeling (though I might be wrong) that you have just begun to tap its potential. Could you describe this world to our readers?

untitledCygnus Beta is a a frontier planet populated by refugees and pioneers. There are big urban centres with the latest in galactic tech and small rural settlements that preserve the old ways. Its peoples create and maintain community with a balance of assimilation, adaptation, preservation and participation.

But let me give a little background. I live on a small island, and I once thought that people who lived on continents with boundaries beyond the horizon were naturally immune to both the joys and sorrows of insularity. After I’d travelled around for a bit, I realised that whatever the size of the city, the country or the continent, there are some people who will create a village for themselves defined by boundaries of class, religion, ethnicity or any combination of factors, and they will stay in that village of a few thousand people. Some villages overlap geographically but the human networks rarely connect.

The Sadiri are like that. They travel throughout the galaxy, but they carry their village with them. They never really mix because they’re convinced of their superiority and self-sufficiency. It was interesting to take that kind of society and put it through a series of ‘what ifs’ by looking at the encounter between present-day Sadiri and the descendants of previous Sadiri migrants to Cygnus Beta. Few things challenge the identity as much as people who you expect to be like you, but aren’t. They meet people who look like pure Sadiri but prove to be genetically varied and lack telepathic abilities. They find others who have the mental abilities but frame it in a different morality. They find a group who share the same the genetic heritage but have completely discarded the cultural heritage. This kind of drift and variation is common in Cygnus Beta, but for the Sadiri it is a new experience.

Speaking of untapped potential: Is there any chance of you writing about Naraldi previous adventures? That would really be something to behold. Or more broadly: are you planning to revisit this universe?

I have thought about writing short stories based on Naraldi’s travels, but that might be a bit too much like Doctor Who meets Quantum Leap. Don’t worry, though – I’m working on the sequel to Best right now and we will definitely be exploring the galaxy.

I can’t help to think that the approach to love and the search for life partners depicted in the novel is somewhat cold. Granted, the Sadiri have an enormous “esprit de corps” and they are under extreme circumstances, but even for other Cygnian societies the search for partners seem to be… too checklist-based. Would you like to comment on that?

That’s a very good observation about the Sadiri. My reasoning is that the two elder species of humanity, Sadiri and Ntshune, use their superior brain power in two quite different areas. The Sadiri excel at law, mathematics, physics and philosophy, which can be solitary and theoretical pursuits. Even their work as judges and diplomats puts them in social situations where they are expected to stand a little apart from the rest of the crowd. Their social skills are rather basic, and that is why their family networks are so structured and planned, including the simplification of mate selection.

The Ntshune, on the other hand, are highly social. They understand complex, organic systems. They have complicated family networks and several variants of marriage and adoption. They can remember and recognise more names, faces and histories than any of the other human species. They are known for their expertise in sociology, anthropology and network AI. Their modes of mate selection would be quite different from the Sadiri approach.

El mejor de los mundos posiblesOne of the more intriguing issues in the setting of the novel is the relation between the four main races depicted, particularly regarding the standing of Earth (Terra) among the other races. Some hints are given that the Sadiri have visited Earth in the past and that some Earthlings may have abandoned Earth. In fact, even though references to art from Terra are plentiful, I’m not sure that the story is set in so far a future. I would very much like to know more of this, if it’s something you are willing to disclose.

 

I’d rather not reveal the time in which the book is set, at least not yet, but I will say that the evidence is contradictory because some Cygnians come from different times and parallel Earths. However, with respect to the rest of the galaxy, Terra is very much the junior sibling.

Recently, several writers have suggested that science fiction may be “exhausted”, that it has ceased to be socially relevant. Do you thing this is the case?

That’s a very broad statement. I might be able to make that criticism of some science fiction, but I have also seen works that are very relevant. Part of the problem is lack of agreement on the definition of science fiction. Some might argue that the works I find relevant are literary rather than SF.

Where do you see science fiction literature going in the coming years?

I don’t know, and that’s as it should be. You would have to be a dual-prophet, predicting not only how the literature will evolve, but also how science will develop.

Can you tell us what are your next literary projects?

I’ve already mentioned the sequel for The Best of All Possible Worlds. There is also a sequel to Redemption in Indigo and a handful of short stories, some related to Cygnus Beta.

Are there any words that you would like to address to your Spanish readers?

My apologies for naming my main character Delarua and not de la Rúa! Her heritage does include Spanish ancestry but that was generations ago and names change. Her family’s homestead is in Montserrat, which was inspired by Monserrate (Bogotá, Colombia) and Montserrat (the island in the West Indies).

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Interviewing Christopher Priest for Literatura Fantastica RBA

Recently, Francisco García Lorenzana, director of the Literatura Fantastica RBA imprint, interviewed Christopher Priest as a sort of appetizer before the publication, next week, of the spanish translation of his novel The Space Machine in the imprint, with the title La Máquina Espacial and a wonderful cover by Alejandro Colucci. It was a really interesting interview and García Lorenzana has been so kind as to allow me share with all of you the english version of the interview. I am really happy and I hope that all of you enjoy the interview as much as I did.

 You can find the spanish version of the interview at the Literatura Fantastica RBA blog. I also encourage you to read the introduction to the Spanish edition of the novel written by one of our main fantasists, Javier Negrete.

 I’m very happy to introduce… Cristopher Priest!

 

Cover-La-maquina-espacial

 

In 1976, Christopher Priest was a young author who had published three novels very well received by audiences and critics, and had just won the BSFA in 1974 with The Inverted World and suddenly dares with two of the most important works of the British literature, The Time Machine and The War of the Worlds, posing an unauthorized sequel linking both storylines, in a clear tribute to HG Wells. Viewed from 2013, was it a stroke of genius, a daring or a youthful folly?

I think it was more youthful folly than genius. I just had the idea that maybe the Martians had a point of view that Wells had not described, and that the only existing description of the invasion was Mr Wells’s book, which I treated as a journalistic account. But as I wrote the drafts I gained a real respect for Wells, and his skilful writing, so my book quickly became what I hoped would be recognized as homage to a great writer.

Which role plays The Space Machine in your literary career?

The three books that had preceded it were all in different ways serious novels, and I wanted to show that I could also write in a more light-hearted vein. For a long time, The Space Machine was my personal favourite amongst my novels, but as time went on and I wrote more books that did change. But I am still fond of it.

Why Wells and not another British author of his generation, or from the Golden Age of American science fiction, or Verne, to give some examples?

There is no one else to match Wells, in my opinion. He is not only an “early” writer of science fiction, he is still one of the best. The War of the Worlds and The Time Machine, in particular, do not look like period pieces. But as well as his SF, Wells was a major writer – social novels, political journalism, campaigning journalism, comedies, satires, etc. Anyway, from my point of view when I wrote The Space Machine, no one else had written those two classic novels, so it had to be Wells.

priestIn Literatura Fantastica we have just published an omnibus edition of four major novels by Wells, The Time Machine, The War of the Worlds, The Invisible Man and The Island of Doctor Moreau, do you think that his work is still relevant today? And if the answer is yes, do you think The Space Machine is still interesting and can bring something to the modern reader?

Yes, I would say those are the four “best” SF novels by Wells, although you could add First Men in the Moon and perhaps In the Days of the Comet, plus many of his short stories. All of Wells’s early work is still of great interest to modern readers. With his later books you have to be a bit more selective, because he wrote a huge number of novels and some of those are a bit, well, out of date. But Kipps, Tono-Bungay, Ann Veronica, Christina Alberta’s Father and The Croquet Player are still excellent books by any standard.

As for The Space Machine – I don’t know. I hope readers will enjoy the plot, the relationship between the two main characters, the amusing events, and the various small insights into what Wells was writing about. One of the main motives for writing it was that there have been many dramatic adaptations of The War of the Worlds (from Orson Welles’s radio play in 1939 onwards), some good, some not so good, but they all have one thing in common: they have invariably “up-dated” the story. But this has always seemed to me to miss the unique pleasure of the novel: the vastly superior military technology of the Martians was fought by ordinary soldiers using rifles, artillery hauled by horses, communications using heliography, and all the general materiel of the 19th Century. There was real charm in that … so in one sense The Space Machine was a sort of dramatic adaptation set in the correct period.

Besides borrowing from the two storylines, The Space Machine is a conscious exercise to reproduce the literary style of the Victorian era, was it hard to imbibe the Victorian spirit?

I tried to write The Space Machine as a modern novel, not as an imitation of a past form, but within that modern ethos I wanted to try to re-create the mood, the environment, the comparative innocence of a past time. It was largely a question of choosing the characters and how they would behave, and the locations they would move about in, and the technology they would use … the vocabulary and style of the novel followed quite naturally from that.

Our edition of The Time Machine has a foreword by Javier Negrete which highlights the eroticism that distils the relationship between the two protagonists. Obviously this is a perfectly gentlemanly Victorian erotica, far from the current boom, but deep down, could we speak of this book as a “romance” and a “scientific novel”?

Oh yes! The subtitle of the English-language editions of The Space Machine was “a scientific romance”. This was Wells’s own description of his work at the time. I saw my novel as including a romance between two characters which a modern reader would enjoy, even though the characters would be properly restrained by the customs and social pressures of their time.

If now you had the idea for a similar tribute to HG Wells, would you write the same novel or it would be completely different?

I wouldn’t write The Space Machine again, or anything like it. I try to make all my books noticeably different from each other, and I wouldn’t want to “go back” to that sort of novel. However, my new novel, called in English The Adjacent, has a definite Wellsian theme, and explicit references to the great man: H. G. Wells himself. But what happens in the book is for the time being a secret!

Now a look at the immediate future, what are your next projects? Are you writing right now? Is there any prospect of your works adapted to film or television?

The Adjacent will be published in the UK in June 2013. I’m at present working on the next novel, which will probably be called The Mariners.

 My novel from 1984, The Glamour, is about to be filmed in the UK, directed by Gerald McMorrow, who a few years ago made a film called Franklyn. This film disappeared almost as soon as it came out, but it is easily one of the very best SF films made in Britain in the last 20 years. It is an amazing film, and starred Eva Green, Ryan Philippe, Susannah York, and others. Check it out on DVD if you can! After I saw Franklyn I made contact with Gerald, we became friends, and he decided he wanted to make The Glamour. We are hoping it will go into production this summer. I also have a stage play based on The Prestige, which is planned to open in the West End of London just before Christmas this year. (It is also being staged as a musical in Russia, but that is likely to be two years in the future.)

One last question: you have been very critical of the selection of the shortlist for the 2012 Arthur C. Clarke Award, which are your ideas about science fiction and literature in the last years?

The Arthur C. Clarke Award suffered from incompetent judging last year. I don’t know what the judging panel were thinking, but for some reason they ignored most of the genuinely interesting or ambitious novels published in 2011, and chose one decent novel (The Testament of Jessie Lamb by Jane Rogers, which in the end was the rightful winner), a mediocre novel from China Miéville (Embassytown), and four others of the most unimaginative and familiar kinds of traditional SF. There were many other novels that were better or more stimulating or just more adventurous in their subjects, but the judges seemed unaware of them. As I consider the Clarke Award to be one of the best and most reliable literary awards, one which has supported good or ambitious writing many times in the past, I felt the 2012 judges had failed horribly and embarrassingly. I said so in print, and got into trouble for doing so. But in the end I think it focused people’s minds on what modern SF should be doing, and how writers should be encouraged to try new or difficult material.

As for this year: some of the same judges are still there, so we can only HOPE for the best, but we should fear a return of their tame and conservative values. (There are a couple of new judges this year, so maybe they will improve things. Let’s hope so.) As for me – I have spent the last 12 months researching my next novel, so have not read any of this year’s SF books, and therefore have no plans to say anything about whatever happens …

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Interviewing Jim Butcher for Literatura Fantastica RBA

I have always enjoyed the Dresden Files novels written by Jim Butcher. They are a guilty pleasure of mine, particularly in their audiobook edition when read by James Marsters and I have reviewed several of them in Catalan in the previous incarnation of this blog. Thus, when his book The Furies of Calderon was published in Spanish as Las Furias de Alera under the Literatura Fantastica imprint by RBA and I had the chance to interview Butcher for the imprint’s blog I jumped at it. The translated version of the interview was published at Literatura Fantastica several weeks ago and RBA has been kind enough to let me publish the original interview in english, so that all of you can enjoy it.

I’m very happy to introduce… Jim Butcher!

 

Interviewing Jim Butcher

 

You have explained in several interviews the origin of the Codex Alera series, but most of our readers don’t know how you came with it. Could you explain what led you to write The Furies of Calderon?

The series was born out of a bet I made with a fellow unpublished writer in an online workshop. He bet me that some ideas were so tired and so overused that they simply could not be written into a good story. I thought that even the worst ideas can be made into enjoyable stories with enough originality and work on behalf of the writer. So he bet me that I couldn’t do it if he gave me a bad enough idea. I told him to give me /two/ bad ideas, and I would use them BOTH.

The two themes he challenged me to write with? Lost Roman Legion and Pokemon.

Did it take a lot of research to create the world depicted in Furies of Calderon?

Yes and no. I’ve always had an interest in history, and in the history of empires in particular. I’d been learning things about the Roman Empire for years and years, in my primary schooling and in college and after university on my own, and I incorporated what I knew as part of the background for Alera.

Did you need to carry out any special research in order to invent the Furies-based magic in the novel?

Well. I /did/ play a lot of Pokemon in the 90s. It was something me and my son did together. 🙂

One of the many differences between Furies of Calderon and the Dresden Files novels is that you shed first person narrative in favor of third person and shift between several points of views. Could you explain how that influenced your approach to writing the story?

It is /so/ much easier, in many ways, than writing in the first person. As a creator, writing in the third person gives you so many more options of how you want to tell your story, which means you have a great deal more freedom in terms of setting pace, establishing dramatic tone, and keeping the reader’s attention. Of course, the pitfall of that kind of freedom is the same as in everything else–you’re free to make really stupid mistakes, too. But all in all, I really enjoy the change of pace from the first-person Dresden Files.

As a reader, and comparing again with the Dresden Files (of which I’m a great fan), in the Furies of Calderon novel I got a greater impression of freedom and of enjoyment, though I may be imagining it. Could you explain your experience regarding the process of writing the series?

Oh, I love my work. If you don’t love your work, as a writer, I believe the reader knows it, and that it reduces their enjoyment of the writing. By the time I’m done with a Dresden Files book, I am heartily sick of Harry Dresden, and I’m delighted to shift to other characters and do new and different stories. By the time I was done with an Alera book, I was delighted to be back in the saddle with Dresden again. The change of pace between the two series helps to keep things fresh and fun.

By the time this interview is published Spanish readers will be about to find the first novel in the series, Furies of Calderon, in their bookshops’ shelves, with further volumes to appear in the following months. What can they expect from this series?

Oh, everything you’d expect from storytelling set in, essentially, the Roman Empire–legions, plots, treachery, deception, courage, loyalty, gruesome death, barbarians, super-powerful elemental entities, nine-foot werewolves, hideous alien bug-creatures… wait, I’m pretty sure we departed from the Roman Empire canon somewhere…

The first novel is one of the most thrilling adventures I have read in a long time and it hints to a great number of intriguing subjects that will be covered in further books. Did you have the whole arc planned when you wrote this first novel?

I did indeed! The novels follow the life, mainly of Tavi of Calderon, the one young man in all of Alera who is born without magic, without the use of any elemental furies. The original title of the world was “Shepherdboy’s Fury” to keep in theme with all the rest of the books, but my editors didn’t like that title.

Codex Alera is a finished series consisting in 6 novels. Is there any chance of your revisiting this world again in the future?

I have no plans for it, specifically, but it remains a possibility. It would be great fun to go back in a few centuries after the events of the first series, to see the long-term results of the characters’ actions on their world.

It’s easy to frame the Codex Alera series in a tradition of high fantasy including writers like George R.R. Martin or Brandon Sanderson. Could you tell us something about the kind of books and authors you enjoy the most reading?

My favorite books to read tend to be military SF and military fantasy, including such authors as John Ringo and David Weber. I also love Brandon Sanderson’s work, as well as John Scalzi, Patrick Rothfuss, Robert B. Parker, and Benedict Jacka.

This one is hardly unexpected: do you plan to write something else outside of the Dresden Files universe?

Absolutely. I’m currently about a third of the way through my first steampunk novel, an adventure series which is currently titled The Cinder Spires.

Thanks a lot for your time, Mr. Butcher. Would you like to address some words to your readers in Spain?

Over time, I’ve learned that fans of science fiction and fantasy are the same the world over. We love so many of the same movies, television shows, games and books–in many ways, when I meet fans from overseas, it feels like meeting extended family I’ve never encountered before. I hope that readers in Spain will simply settle down and enjoy my work. Some writers try to write something deep and meaningful and profound. That really isn’t me. I just want to write something for the reader to enjoy.

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