Fantasy Book Club Series discussion

Riftwar Saga > Q & A with Raymond E. Feist

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message 1: by Sandra (new)

Sandra  (sleo) | 1059 comments Since Mr. Feist will be looking in on us from time to time, you can post your questions for him here. I'm thrilled that he has agreed to do this.

message 2: by Felina (new)

Felina I would like to ask him if he is planning on writing any more short stories.

message 3: by Dawn (new)

Dawn (breakofdawn) My question is pretty simple, although he's probably been asked it a lot already..

I love Midkemia and all the stories that revolve around it, but I'm wondering if you have any intention to leave it behind at some point, do a final novel in it, and maybe move on to create a whole new world?

message 4: by Julie (new)

Julie It sounds like the Tsurani are based on Japanese history and I was wondering if this is the case and how he chose this cultural influence to mimic?

message 5: by Christopher (new)

Christopher Bunn | 5 comments Amazingly cool that he's going to answer questions. Could you ask him what his opinion is for the future of epic fantasy in the context of the rise of the ebook and the subsequent shifting in the traditional publishing industry? Thanks.

message 6: by Sandra (new)

Sandra  (sleo) | 1059 comments Christopher wrote: "Amazingly cool that he's going to answer questions. Could you ask him what his opinion is for the future of epic fantasy in the context of the rise of the ebook and the subsequent shifting in the t..."

Well, you're asking him yourself. He's now a group member and will be popping in now and then. I do hope you'll make him feel welcome.

message 7: by Christopher (new)

Christopher Bunn | 5 comments Oh, okay. I misunderstood. I thought this was purely an appearance for the Q&A. How very cool.

Mr. Feist, thanks for adding some great tales to the canon of fantasy!

message 8: by Kami (new)

Kami Who is his favorite character to write? Feist has SO many great characters, and I'd like to know if he has a favorite.

message 9: by Sandra (new)

Sandra  (sleo) | 1059 comments I'm reading my first book by Mr. Feist - Magician: Apprentice - and am enjoying it a great deal. I see it was published back in 1982. I think this was before there was much written in the fantasy genre, or at least it was a relatively new genre. Before I joined Goodreads, I hadn't read much fantasy, but am really, really glad that I've found it and have gobbled it up since. I'm wondering what drew you to fantasy and if it was a struggle to get published?


message 10: by [deleted user] (new)

Ah, here you are. As I said in another thread, I've been blindsided by bronchitis and having no desire to tango with pneumonia so I've been abed.

As for answers. Top down:

Short fiction: I don't do it easily. Long form is natural to me, but short stories are a different critter. I may do a couple more to round out a single author collection someday, but the only one I have plans to do is a tribute story for a Poul Andersen collection coming out late this year.

The final Midkemian novel? I'll probably do them here and there until I did, but the last of the ChaosWar cycle is the book after next. A thirty book series is plenty long enough.

The Tsurani are Asian influenced, but Korean and Chinese as much as Japanese. And I tossed in a little Aztec and Zulu as well. I wanted a non-Wester, feudal, roughly middle ages culture to drop Pug in and wanted the reader to feel the same culture shock he did. There are very few original social tropes in SF/F, mostly we borrow stuff from "alien cultures" in Africa, the South Seas, South America, ancient history, etc. and then tart it up a bit.

The future of all generes in the age of iPads, Kindles, etc. is pretty simple: I write content, be it on a printed page or an ebook. As long as there is a demand for content, it will be written.

Characters? They all serve a dramatic purpose and if I'm feeling it, I enjoy working with the quirks and personalities of them all. Some are a little more fun to write, mostly because they get the better lines, so folks like Amos, Jimmy, Nakor, etc. are a little bit more fun. More challenging are the characters who are "dull" because you need to find a way to not bore the readers with them. My "best" character maybe was Admiral Vykor, because he only got five pages or so and when he died, people sent me angry notes telling me he was a great character, so I guess I hit a home run with that guy.

Last question, Sandra, is a doozie. Very complex answers for both points you raise. There was a lot of fantasy around before 1982. Scads of it. One thing I tell my kids, "don't assume the world evolved in the order in which you discovered it." I came up with that when some 8th grader asked me if I was upset this Tolkein guy was writing stuff that was a lot like mine. As for the books out there before I was published, obviously Tolkein, and Eddison, and Ridder Haggard, H.P. Lovecraft, A. Merit, and the classics, Shelly, Stoker, Poe, Doyle, and others. The contemporaries were Lieber, Saberhagen, Zelazney, and many others. Ya, there was a lot of really good stuff around.

As for getting published, that is a very long story I'll save for next time if you really want to hear it. It has little to do with today's industry, as things have changed a lot in 28 years.

message 11: by Dawn (new)

Dawn (breakofdawn) Thanks for all of the answers! Very interesting tidbits there.

I have one more question.. Do you have any plans yet on what you will do after your final Midkemian novel? Anything in mind yet, or is it still up in the air?

message 12: by Sandra (new)

Sandra  (sleo) | 1059 comments Well clearly I wasn't thinking too clearly when I made my comment about there not being much fantasy before this. If you haven't read the thread about goblins, elves, etc you should because Kernos is very knowledgable and is educating me at least. In 1982 I was in my forties and just was completely unaware of the world of fantasy. I have always read a lot but not fantasy. I read The Mists of Avalon in 1987 but nothing after that other than some Margaret Atwood.

But I'm still interested in what drew you to fantasy.

message 13: by Sandra (new)

Sandra  (sleo) | 1059 comments PS - I'm assuming the first two Magician books were originally one book. It's too bad that publishers make you break them up, isn't it? I've finished the first one, and am reading something else for a little bit, but am longing to find out what else happens in this great story!

message 14: by [deleted user] (new)

After the final Midkemia? I don't know if there is such a critter. When I'm done with the entire Riftwars Cycle, I'm going to take a bash at a couple of other things, but there's no rule that says I can't go back to Midkemia should the mood strike.

Sandra, one thing I tell my kids: don't assume the universe evolved in the order you discovered it. I was amazed as a kid to discover that the Kingston Trio didn't invent folk music. I actually had to explain to a buddy of mine that some of the groups he dismissed were actually in the business longer and had better "folk street cred" though I didn't use that term, than three white guys from Menlo Park School of Business.

Magician is one book. It was split into two volumes for the US paperback market. The British kept it as one. Both US and UK had it as one book in hardcover.

message 15: by Bill (new)

Bill (kernos) | 59 comments I think of authors as rather independent souls. Thinking of the Empire trilogy, an all time favorite of mine, I wonder how a collaboration works.

message 16: by [deleted user] (new)

The collaboration was my idea. At first Janny wanted nothing to do with it. At that point in my career I had this idea for a book about the "other side of the RIftwar" and I wanted to do something with a strong female protagonist. Having never been a teen age girl, I felt I lacked a certain perspective (I should add that at this point in my career, after having worked with Janny on the series and after having raised a teen age girl, I feel better equipped to the task than I did 26 years ago). I met Janny at the World Fantasy Convention in Chicago, introduced to her by her close friend (now her husband) Don Maitz. I'll skip to the part where I got her to agree.

Once we agreed to do ONE book, Servant of the Empire, we started in. At first I was going to do first draft and Janny was going to rewrite and fix all the "not like a girl" stuff. Then early on she said, "Hey, I want to do Mara's wedding; I have all these great ideas." From that point on, we started leapfrogging one another. There are scenes which are 90% Janny, like almost all the visit to free cho-ja and the Thruill in Mistress, and I did 90% on Arakasi's assassination of the leader of the Hamoi tong and I remember her going, "Who the hell is Kevin?" but there is more stuff in there I can't tell you who wrote what than otherwise. At times I can't even begin to remember who dreamed up what. It was one of the most challenging and rewarding collaborative things I've done. I've worked with four authors and to be honest, working with Bill Forschend was the easiest time I had. But I probably learned more about my own craft from Janny than the other three combined. We'd have arguments but in the end the compromises were usually better than what either one of us wanted. When the book got to three hundred pages and we were only 1/3rd through the outline, we called our editor and said, "Ooops." That's when the 1st half of Servant became Daughter of the Empire. It was about half way through Servant I said, "I know what the third book is!" Janny, I believe, threw a pencil at me shouting, "What third book?" and I said, "Mara versus the Assembly!" She sat a moment, then said, "Ah, damn. Ya,"

With my other three collaborators we did it this way: we agreed on story, they did first draft, and I did final rewrite. With Billi it was like rewriting my own stuff. With Joel Rosenberg, it was like rewriting Joel's stuff. And with Steve Sterling it was getting back a story that was totally unrelated to what we had agreed on.

Janny brings an artist's eye to the process I lack. I think in cinematic terms and my plots are like storyboards. Janny has an eye for detail that comes naturally, and I have to work at. I think my books are paced faster and between the two of us we realized a third style I really like a lot, the Feist-Wurst style.

message 17: by Sandra (new)

Sandra  (sleo) | 1059 comments That's a fascinating story, Raymond. Thanks for sharing it with us. I can just see Janny throwing that pencil, LOL!

message 18: by Janny (new)

Janny (jannywurts) | 414 comments Funny how memories shade things - grin. Ray, I do not recall you saying you'd do the draft, and I'd add the girly bits...bigger grin. If you'd said that, I'd have let ya (grin.) ME, stick my neck out for a wedding scene??? maybe...we were leapfrogging it through the draft after the first chapter, done together.

We had our colorfully interesting moments. On the third volume, I recall us both doing our spin the plot thing (which always ran like wildfire) and there came this pregnant pause, then we both sorta looked at each other and said, "Mara could not DO that (become that powerful) without upsetting the Assembly of Magicians - and the pencil dropped.

We both said YA!!!!!

Or maybe you did say that. And perhaps a pencil did get thrown...pencils flew alot over the good stuff - artists do get demonstrative - which was the best part about working with Ray, the story just took fire. The third volume HAD to get written, it followed so logically, even though I wanted more than anything to get back to writing my other stuff, which got shelved for this project.

message 19: by [deleted user] (new)

Ah, the memory . . . it fades. Seriously, you don't remember almost knocking me over at the kitchen table you wanted that wedding scene? You'd been to Korea and you said you had all these amazing visuals about costume and setting you wanted to use? And I never would have put it that way (girly bits) but ya, you were going to rewrite until we hit that wedding and from that point on you just took over, Wurts!

And the pencil didn't drop, you threw it at me!

If you remember, you picked up a load of work with Mistress, because I was busy getting married at the time. Which all worked out, well in the end, I thought, because there was a sensibility to the Thruill I had never anticipated, a really nice sort of "druid/Celtic" flavor that tied in nicely with my vision of them as sort of whack job highland warriors.

In the end I think we both are happy with how things turned out. It was a heck of a ride and I still get notes from people who like the Empire series best.

message 20: by Janny (new)

Janny (jannywurts) | 414 comments Raymond wrote: "Ah, the memory . . . it fades. Seriously, you don't remember almost knocking me over at the kitchen table you wanted that wedding scene? You'd been to Korea and you said you had all these amazing ..."

Oh, definitely it was a heck of a ride, and yes, it worked out perfectly.

I didn't notice you had pencil holes in ya...;)

And I STILL feel like a fool for that line, 'who the hell is Kevin?' :)

message 21: by Sandra (new)

Sandra  (sleo) | 1059 comments You two are a riot! And who the hell IS Kevin? :D

message 22: by Janny (new)

Janny (jannywurts) | 414 comments Sandra aka Sleo wrote: "You two are a riot! And who the hell IS Kevin? :D"

You'll get there in due time, and catch me eating shoe, bigtime. (as in, Ray sprung one on me, and it was blasted BRILLIANT/but it was - hah - NOT in the outline. You see, this *character* just showed up in this scene he sent/turned out to become pivotal....)

message 23: by Sandra (new)

Sandra  (sleo) | 1059 comments Janny wrote: "Sandra aka Sleo wrote: "You two are a riot! And who the hell IS Kevin? :D"

You'll get there in due time, and catch me eating shoe, bigtime. (as in, Ray sprung one on me, and it was blasted BRILL..."

Ooooh. Ok.

message 24: by Jim (new)

Jim (jimmaclachlan) That's neat, hearing both sides of the collaboration. It will be fun to read the trilogy again with that in mind. We're not scheduled to start until April, but I've never been good about schedules...

message 25: by Dawn (new)

Dawn (breakofdawn) Actually, we're not scheduled to start the Empire trilogy until June :)

message 26: by Jim (new)

Jim (jimmaclachlan) Mr. Feist, do you have a recommended reading order for the Empire trilogy? I recall wanting to read them after the Magician books. What fits best chronologically &/or into how you would prefer them to be read?

message 27: by [deleted user] (new)

The Empire series overlaps with the Riftwar. If I were to get totally type A about it, it would be the first half of Magician (Apprentice), Daughter of the Empire, 2nd half of Magician and Servant at the same time, then Mistress. That being said, Riftwar first, then Empire.

message 28: by Jim (new)

Jim (jimmaclachlan) Thanks. I will read the Empire books next & then read Silverthorn, as I planned. Close enough for fantasy.

message 29: by Kara (last edited Feb 23, 2011 07:27AM) (new)

Kara (sterlink) | 60 comments Raymond wrote: "Magician is one book. It was split into two volumes for the US paperback market. The British kept it as one. Both US and UK had it as one book in hardcover. ..."

Hello Mr. Feist!

This is my first time reading your work. I've been really enjoying it, and am glad this awesome group is going to continue on with the series. So first off, "Nice work, and Thanks!" =)

Clearly, Magician SHOULD be one book. When the US publisher decided to split Magician into two volumes, was your input taken into account at all? (I'm guessing that author's don't get much say in matters such as these - but I really haven't a clue).

Were you very upset by the decision? Is there any hope of ever getting it "revoked," so that the US can have a single printed paperback edition?

I'm curious, did you ever get an inkling for a cultural reason that the US chose to shorten it and not the UK? ...or was it just different publishing practices?? ...completely random???

I guess I was also wondering if this is currently or has ever been marketed towards YAs? (Now, I haven't read very far yet, so if this becomes obviously not YA later I apologize). If so, I could better understand the separation into two volumes.

message 30: by [deleted user] (new)

Splitting Magician was 100% a business issue. Publishing is a very fluid business and different markets have different variables. In the US a single volume the size of Magician in paperback had to be a bestseller, which Magician wasn't. It is now, insofar as it's been in print continuously for 29 years next November, but the economics of publishing at the time prevented a single volume.

As for being upset, not in the least. The object of the exercise is to have the book in print. I will never get those rights back from Bantam as long as they keep selling the book, which they've done consistently for nearly three decades.

Magician was never marketed as YA. It was always adult fiction. It wasn't even part of the Doubleday SF line, but rather Doubleday Trade in the US.

message 31: by Kara (new)

Kara (sterlink) | 60 comments Raymond wrote: "Splitting Magician was 100% a business issue. ...As for being upset, not in the least.The object of the exercise is to have the book in print. "


Thanks. I just wondered.

message 32: by Leighann (new)

Leighann | 5 comments I won't lie I have read - re-read and will read again all the books in this series. The characters are so vibrant and amazing. I have a great friend to blame - she got me interested in a little video game called Betrayal at Krondor - from then I wanted more. I have read nearly every book you have published. Including Faire Tale.

But the truth is I have never been able to put down the Empire Series. In fact it was on my next to read list - for the fifth time.

So learning that Kevin just sort of popped up just blew my mind.

What made you add him? At the time that you did, were you thinking he was going to be such a pivotal character?

message 33: by [deleted user] (new)

There are times characters just show up and I believe it's my subconscious telling me this is what comes next. Jimmy was such a character. Originally he was only in one scene, when he helped smuggle Kasumi and Laurie out of Krondor. When the editor asked me to expand the Krondor scenes, where Arutha goes to Krondor, I started putting more of Jimmy in.

I suspect Kevin jumped into my head for two reasons: I must have needed a more western point-of-view character and someone who would challenge Mara, moreover someone who would give her a reason to listen. Her world was so tradition bound that having any other Tsurani character in that role would have rang false.

I must add this is after-the-fact analysis. At the time it was just this guy. BTW, another interesting bit in the Janny & Ray relationship. When I introduced him, and she started going, "What?" I said, 'Think of Errol Flynn in Captain Blood,": and she went, "OK."

message 34: by Jon (new)

Jon (FTSJ) | 6 comments *POSSIBLE SPOILER*
Mr. Feist, I was just curious why you chose to give Pug so much power instead of someone else?

message 35: by [deleted user] (new)

Tom, I'm not exactly sure what you mean by that question. You mean as opposed to another character I created, or do you mean why did I fashion Pug the way I did? Could you clarify?

message 36: by Jon (new)

Jon (FTSJ) | 6 comments Why did you fashion him that way, did you do it for some specific reason?

message 37: by Jon (new)

Jon (FTSJ) | 6 comments Oh and also, I just want to thank you for giving me something good to reread for the past couple years. After I finished Riftwar for the 4th time last night, I realized how brilliant you are (view spoiler)

message 38: by Sandra (new)

Sandra  (sleo) | 1059 comments Mr. Feist, I see you have a new book being released this month. Congratulations! What can you tell us about it?

message 39: by [deleted user] (new)

Again,sorry for vanishing, but the bronchitis turned nasty and I've been basically on my backside for the last three weeks.

As for questions I've missed since the end of Feb. . .

Tom, Every character serves a dramatic function. If I had given the power to another character,that's the one I'd be writing about. Pug's role was multi-layered, from the more obvious plot issues, i.e. bringing the Greater Magic to Midkemia and his larger role int he Riftwars, to less obvious ones, being a sympathetic lynch pin for the reader to care about to being a foil for other characters, etc.

The new book is A Kingdom Besieged, the second to the last book in the entire Riftwar Cycle, and is really the start of the 2nd half of the story arc I began with Rides a Dread Legion. The division of books is somewhat arbitrary in marketing terms, but they had to draw the line somewhere. It's the same situation I had with Conclave and Darkwar, they somewhat blend in without a really obvious dividing line.

message 40: by Sandra (new)

Sandra  (sleo) | 1059 comments Raymond wrote: "Again,sorry for vanishing, but the bronchitis turned nasty and I've been basically on my backside for the last three weeks.

As for questions I've missed since the end of Feb. . .

Tom, Every cha..."

Ah! So sorry you were sick, but glad you're feeling better! And thanks for your participation!

message 41: by [deleted user] (new)

More than willing to answer questions.

message 42: by Kerrie (new)

Kerrie (mrskerriej) Thank you so much for the worlds and characters you brought to life in your books. Magician was the very first fantasy book I read, after being an avid reader for as long as I remember and credit it with my obsession of the genre. Thank you very, very much for making something I love even better!

I also thank you for the return of my favourite literary character of all time in the epilogue of A Kingdom Besieged.

Can you tell us if your "bash at a couple of other things" will be fantasy or something completely new?

message 43: by [deleted user] (new)

It will almost certainly be fantasy. That's what my publishers consider "money in the bank." There are two SF ideas I want to do, but my London publisher is concerned because "SF doesn't sell over here." If I ever get my kids through college and am out of debt, I might do one on spec.

Currently we are discussing several ideas for a new fantasy series. Right now I'm leaning to a supernatural, way out there, examination of life after death, and a series of "Alternate Histories" where magic works.

message 44: by Bill (new)

Bill (kernos) | 59 comments Oh! Please do the SF too (pleading). ...too much fantasy, too little SF, too little time...

Do not true artists create what compels them and not just what sells?

message 45: by [deleted user] (new)

"True artist?" If you can find everything I've written, transcripts of my talks, interviews, and the rest, you will discover in 30 years I've never used the term "artist" in talking about myself or any other writer. That's a decision for posterity to make, and one I care nothing about. Parenthetically, every wannabe writer I've seen in any workshop who uses the term "art" to describe what he/she is doing, tends to write self-conscious nonsense.

I speak of craft, and discipline, and the fact this is a job. I write what I like to write, but there isn't a pro anywhere who doesn't have one eye on the market. Some of us are more driven to write this or that project than others, but in the end, there are almost none of us who'd do this for free.

It's my job. It's the best one I've ever had, but it's too much work to do for grins and giggles. If I couldn't make a living writing, I'd put this much work into something else and go drinking on the beach with my girlfriend watching lovely sunsets in my down time; I wouldn't be writing novels no one would read.

So, if my publisher offers me a million bucks for another fantasy and fifty bucks for a SF novel, what do you think I should write?

Now, if I win the lotto, or strike gold, or get so much money in the bank I can do what I want without concern, then I might write the SF for grins and giggles, but not until then.

message 46: by Jea0126 (new)

Jea0126 | 2 comments As a huge fan of the Servant of the Empire series, are there any more plans for novels similar to Servant to occur? (As in those set specifically in Kelewan).

Also Tear of the Gods was released several years ago. Is it the last in that particular branch or others still scheduled to be written?

Thank you for your time.

message 47: by [deleted user] (new)

The Krondor Legacy series was not finished due to a contract issue between Sierra Online and myself. That has been resolved, but in the intrim I used a lot of material as "back story" in other works, so if I do go and finish it, it'll be in a very different form. There's one unfinished story line from that series, i.e. who is the Crawler?

As for Kelewan, that story line is over.

message 48: by Helen (new)

Helen Raymond, I've loved your books so much, thank you.

message 49: by [deleted user] (new)

You're welcome.

message 50: by Thomas (new)

Thomas Farquhar | 2 comments Dawn wrote: "My question is pretty simple, although he's probably been asked it a lot already..

I love Midkemia and all the stories that revolve around it, but I'm wondering if you have any intention to leave ..."

I was reading elsewhere (I forget where) that the Tsurani are indeed based on Japanese history/culture, with a spot of Aztec/Mayan elements added.

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