Friday, 15 August 2008

Author Interview! Steven Brust

Having read 'Jhegaala' I thought it would be a cool thing to run some questions past Steven and see what he had to say. Without further ado, here's my questions and Steven's replies...

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

I’ve never read of the Vlad Taltos series (I know, sorry…) but found it really easy to get into what was going on, with Vlad, without the background information you normally need eleven books into a series. Is this intentional? Is there a particular book in the series that you would recommend people start with?

Yes, it was intentional; thanks for noticing. It wasn't always successful, but I hate books that have to be read in a certain order, so I did my best to make each one stand on its own. I usually suggest people start with Jhereg, because it was my first novel, and if you don't like it, I can say, “Well, hey, it was only a first novel.”

I can’t be the only person who hasn’t picked up a Vlad Taltos book (although I have a sneaking suspicion that I am…) How would you describe the series to someone who hasn’t picked it up yet?

If I were trying to sell it to Hollywood, the elevator pitch would be, “Lord of the Rings meets The Sopranos.”

How did writing ‘Jhegaala’ compare to writing previous books in the series? Was it fun to write or a pain?

It was fun, and a pain, and scary (in the sense of, “can I make this work?”), and exhilarating, and frustrating. In other words, pretty much business as usual.

When you’re not writing, what are you reading? Should we be reading it too?

I've been reading a lot of non-fiction lately, mostly anthropology, as well as continuing to read on the American Civil War. As for favourite writers, the list includes Tim Powers, Megan Lindholm (aka Robin Hobb), Emma Bull, Will Shetterly, Pamela Dean, Glen Cook, Jacqueline Carey. Writers I always enjoy re-reading include Roger Zelazny and Patrick O'Brian, Twain, Dumas.

Is Vlad the kind of guy you could see yourself having a few beers with?

Yes, but he wouldn't feel the same way about having a beer with me.

‘Jhegaala’ has a real ‘hard boiled detective novel’ feel to it, is this genre an inspiration for your writing? Are there any other books (or music) that serve as a similar inspiration?

Oh, hell yeah. The Vlad books combine Raymond Chandler, Roger Zelazny, Fritz Leiber, and Michael Moorcock.

The opening of ‘Jhegaala’ sees Vlad on the run from the Jhereg organisation, is Vlad the kind of guy who will always bounce back or are we more likely to see things get worse before they get better?

That would be telling…

‘Jhegaala’ seemed (to me) to concentrate more on the characters rather than the world they live in. Do you prefer writing stuff that is more character based or have I come in at the wrong end of the series and everyone knows about the setting already?

It all depends on the story, and on how I feel that story is best told.

I enjoyed the ongoing, and slightly sarcastic, dialogue between Vlad and his familiar Loiosh. Was this relationship inspired by anything or did it just develop naturally? How do you see the introduction of Rocza affecting the dynamic?

It came about pretty naturally. The character of Loiosh sort of created itself as a foil for Vlad. I'm completely blind at this point to how Rocza has changed it, because she's been there since the second book I wrote. I can only say that when I went back and did some books without her, it seemed weird.

Finally… I’ve got some serious catching up to do, with previous books in the series, but do you have anything that you can tell fans about your next book? Is there anything on paper yet or are the ideas still coming to fruition?
The next book jumps forward from events in Dzur...

Thanks for your time with this, I really appreciate it.

Click Here for my review of 'Jhegaala'.


Jeff C said...

Nice interview, Graeme. And welcome to the world of Vlad Taltos. I read the first 5 books many, many years ago. I need to start again from the beginning and read the entire series and get caught up on the books I missed. They are a lot of fun, from what I remember.

Joe Sherry said...

Good interview. I've never read any of the Vlad Taltos novels. Actually, the only Brust I've read is his Firefly fanfiction novel, but from that novel and from seeing him at a convention, I think I really need to read these books.

Book Author Fanatic said...

Great set of questions. I would agree, I too hate it when I have to read a series of books in a particular order, especially when I stumble across book two or three and have to hunt down book one. I like Vlad's style...