(… A continuation of my interview with fantasy novelist Gregory S. Close, author of In Siege of Daylight.)
TW: Are there underrepresented groups or ideas featured if your book? If yes, what are they?
GSC: I like to think that there’s a subtext of pride and liberation for the plight of the poor, giant lizard herbivore healer type. They never get their due.
Other than that, I guess I’d say maybe. There are a lot of white “Western” males in the book. But also, I have a black person in a fantasy novel that is not a savage from some misty, distant Wild Land (gasp!) or a brooding dark elf (what?). He’s a Master Bard, a bit of a meddler with magic and lore and perhaps the most civilized person in the book. Is it important that he’s black? I don’t know. Is he a token black character? No. His character just evolved that way, so I don’t think his blackness in and of itself is the most important thing for the narrative. It’s just a part of who he is. If the fact that he’s black makes a positive connection with a reader, then all the better.
Also there are women characters in the book who I hope I have drawn true to their character, with gender only being a component of that character rather than the defining adjective. The ladies aren’t there as love interests. They aren’t there to wear tight leather or prance around seductively and they definitely are not furniture to be rescued by the virile, noble males. They have a story, and that story serves the larger story, and that’s that. Again, if someone reading the book can draw a positive connection with a female character because the reader is female, that’s awesome. I don’t want the book to appeal only to one creed, preference, gender, color etc.
TW: Are there misconceptions that you think people may have about your book? If yes, what are they?
GSC: I think the biggest worry I have is that people may think it’s the start of another 12 book never-ending series or that it’s just another Tolkien-clone fantasy. It’s definitely not the former, and I hope it’s not the latter!
TW: What is the biggest thing that people think they know about your genre, that isn’t true?
GSC: There’s still some lingering feeling that fantasy or science fiction is juvenile, or that it’s not “serious” literature. Certainly, the genre contains a lot of juvenile stuff. But it’s not the majority. I would put the writing of Tad Williams or Donaldson or Le Guin against any mainstream author in terms of quality. And in terms of story, of course I would not, because that’s just not fair. They’d mop the floor with most non-genre writers.
TW: What is the most important thing that people don’t know about your genre, that they need to know?
GSC: That I wrote this book called In Siege of Daylight… and that they should definitely buy that book! Publicity is the hardest thing to come by, and right now the thing people don’t know about the genre is how much good stuff is out there under the radar that no one ever hears of.
TW: What did you find most useful in learning to write?
GSC: Editing other people’s writing, as part of class or a writing group, really taught me a lot about how to write. That was very useful.
TW: What do you think is the future of reading/writing? (This is not about digital vs. print, or traditional vs. indie publishing.)
GSC: I wonder at what stage we will cease to read, but simply absorb a narrative through some direct input device. It scares me a little, because it seems so different, but also it intrigues me.
TW: Do you write more by logic or intuition, or some combination of the two? What is your writing process, or do you even have a particular “writing process” that you’re aware of?
GSC: I write in some sort of combination of the two. The logic is important to establish structure. The intuition, or writing by “feel,” brings the realism of the unexpected. Sometimes logic will plot the narrative so precisely that it sucks the fun from it, and you need that moment of “hey, what if this happens” to spice it back up and make it just a bit unpredictable. I think mulling is my primary writing process. I come up with characters and setting and that logical plot structure/narrative progression and then I just mull it over again and again. Lots and lots of mulling. Sometimes steeping, if necessary.
Also, I don’t believe in engineering surprises or secrets too heavily. If there is a secret in a book, and there are a few in In Siege of Daylight, I prefer just to present the facts as fully as I can from the POV character’s perspective and let the clues fall where they may. If someone figures out one of the little mysteries early, great! If it’s a revelation, also cool! As long as the story is being enjoyed along the way that’s the important part. Trying to Shayalaman your reader ends up feeling like a cheap trick.
TW: What question do you wish that someone would ask about your book, but nobody has?
GSC: Question: Hey, can I publish your book for a cool million dollars?