Monday, 1 March 2010

Author Interview! Col Buchanan

I had a great time reading 'Farlander' and it seemed like the only way forward was to run some questions past Col for the blog. The man himself was very obliging! Here's what Col Buchanan had to say for himself...

Hi Col, thanks for agreeing to answer a few questions!

If you were approached by a shadowy assassin and offered a chance to be his apprentice, would you take his offer?

If I was Nico, in his situation, yes absolutely. If it was simply me, in my situation, Christ no.

Assassins aren’t a new addition to fantasy fiction, they’ve been around for a while in fact. What do your Roshun bring to the table that other assassin cults don’t?

Sure. The last thing I wanted to do was rehash old clich├ęs. Like many of the tropes found in the book, I use them to create the appearance of familiarity, and then subvert them in surprising, realistic ways.

With the Roshun, it was the idea of the Seals that came to me first, and their use in terms of vendetta. The Roshun order grew out of that. People who exact revenge on behalf of those who have been murdered. So I don’t see them as ‘assassins’ in any traditional sense. They operate more like a force of nature, and consider themselves neither good nor bad, but morally neutral.

Which came first for you when writing ‘Farlander’, the world or the plot?

The earliest conceptions of the world arose out of the necessities of the plot. But then the Mideres, the Heart of the World, very much began to take on a life on its own.

As a writer, do you find yourself basing your characters on people that you know or are they completely made up in the confines of your mind? I’m assuming that you don’t actually know any assassins or adherents to a psychotic religion…

I’m laughing at that. I grew up during the Troubles. That was a time when assassins and adherents to psychotic religions could be living next door to you. Or in your own house for that matter. They were usually called Billy or something and sported paramilitary prison tattoos. Or Trevor, the reformed wife-beater now practicing the medieval beliefs of Dr. Ian Paisley.

I’m probably admitting to the common narcissism of the writer here, but if I was to be honest, I’d have to say the characters of Ash and Nico are each based to some degree on myself. I’m very much a sensitive boy and a grouchy old man rolled into one.

I should have read your author bio a little more carefully... Magic is conspicuous by its almost total absence in ‘Farlander’, any particular reason or is that just the way the dice fell?

I guess this had to do with flavour. I wanted a fantasy world that was both realistic and different. Whilst there’s no ‘magic’ in the story, there are moments of otherness, of meaningful dreams and strange intuitions that appear to be right, but it’s usually left open as to whether they’re real or not. There’s also the mysterious Isles of Sky, which supplies the nations of the Mideres with their subtle forms of organic ‘technology’. These allow me to be playful in the same way I could be with magic, but without having to resort to spell systems and the like. They also allow me to use rifles and cannon alongside swords and shields in a way that remains logical.

You’re recommending ‘Farlander’ to that proverbial guy in the bookshop who’s wondering whether to pick it up. What does ‘Farlander’ have that no other book on the shelves does?

I’d find that a hell of a double-bind. You really need to read the book to get what’s different about it. So I’d suggest he opens it up, reads the first page, and sees if its bites him.

Sample chapters (and reviews) can be found on my author site:

Some writers write fantasy fiction but never read it, are you a fan?

Very much so, though I read it much more when I was younger. Even though my reading time is limited, I usually have two or three books on the go at any given time, mostly SF, historical or non-genre. I’m an extremely picky reader because I’m so easily bored. The story and characters have to grab me pretty quickly or I’m out of there.

What are you reading right now and why do you think we should read it too?

I’m currently re-reading ‘The Road’ by Cormac McCarthy. One of the most powerful stories I’ve ever read. I’m also reading Jon Ronson’s ‘Out of the Ordinary’, great laugh-out-loud observational writing (I also highly recommend his previous ‘Them’ – an exploration of the world of fanatics and conspiracy theorists). And I’m reading some old Allan Watts material that I found online. But I wouldn’t recommend that to anybody - they’d only think I was a hippy.

Tor are giving your book a mighty big push, are you feeling the pressure to deliver here or are you cool?

In all truth I usually like a deadline, even when I’m sweating over it - it gets my juices going. I would love to have all the time in the world to write book 2 (as I had with book 1), but I don’t, and that will be a part of the second book in as much as having a leisurely pace was a part of the first book. The world is there, the story is naturally unfolding … I just have to run with it.

It helps too when you have few expectations for these things – expectations tend to get in the way of the process, I’ve found. I’m simply continuing to enjoy the story and the characters and trying to have as much fun with them as I can.

Is there anything that you can tell us about the sequel to ‘Farlander’? It sounds like Ash has a job on his hands...

Yes, I can say that it’s a story about revenge. And that it has another surprising twist in its tail.

Finally, having read ‘Farlander’ I have to ask this... Do you have any plans to patent a hotel where even the act of opening the window has to be paid for?

LOL. In this day and age I’d be amazed if someone out there wasn’t designing a Budget hotel with just those features installed.

Thanks again, I really appreciate it.

Pleasure Graeme. All the best to you.



Celine said...

I enjoyed that! Great fun! Thanks Graeme and Col.

ediFanoB said...

Great interview! Thanks Col and Graeme. I expect to start reading FARLANDER on upcoming Wednesday. Therefore I liked to read the interview before.

Yagiz [Between Two Books] said...

Thanks for the interview, it was great. I enjoyed Farlander very much and I find that some of the concepts discussed during the interview (use of seeds, use of coins in the hotel etc) give the story a distinct character and they enrich the setting very well. I'm definitely looking forward to reading the second book.

Anup said...

nice interview and daym...the cover is certainly interesting!!!

where do i get my hands on this???