So as some of you know, Jo Walton has been doing an in-depth reading of my first two books over at Tor.com for more than a year now.
That’s a bit of a boggling thought by itself right there. That there’s a whole community of folks over there that have been going over my books with a fine tooth comb for over a year. The fact that the discussion is being headed up my a World Fantasy Award winning novelist is the cherry on top of my surrealism sundae.
While it’s flattering knowing that the discussion is out there, I’ve been keeping myself away from the posts because I don’t really want to know *too* much about what speculation is going on. That sort of thing can be bad for a writer.
But when Jo contacted me to let me know that they were wrapping up book two, and folks were dying to ask me some questions, I couldn’t say no.
I only had two stipulations:
1. I wouldn’t give any spoilers.
2. I could be cryptic and evasive, if not downright opaque in my answers.
3. I reserved the right to make puns, flippant jokes, and obscure quotes without fear of reprisal.
Jo agreed and sent me the questions.
There were roughly a billion of them. So many that even after I weeded some out, the finished interview ended up being over a dozen pages long.
Because of this, we decided to split it in half. The first part is here on my blog. The second half is over on Tor.com. (I’ll give you the link later.)
What really impressed me was the nature of the questions. The quality of the questions. A lot of these made me stop and think. A lot more made me pull copies of my book down off the shelf to double check things before I gave an answer.
The truth is, I’ve never been asked questions like these before. Or at least I’ve never had to deal with so many of them packed into one short period of time. It felt a little bit like I was being tested on my own book. But in a good way.
Anyway, without further ado, here’s the first half of the interview.
Why did you choose to give us the kind of map you did? Is there any hope of a really detailed map that contains locations of vital interest like Caluptena and Newarre?
This is a question that many, many people have asked. And I’ve been meaning to post a blog about it for years and years.
How here’s the deal: I’ll pass over this question lightly so I can spend more time on the rest of the interview. But I promise to post up a detailed answer here on my blog in just a month or so. Lhin?
As far as future maps go, where there is life, there is hope. (And need of vittles.) I’ll probably include some more detailed regional maps if/when I ever do the role playing game based off my book.
What is the physical shape of the world of the Four Corners? (Spherical, flat, hyperbolic, …)
I try to avoid hyperbole in my writing. I find it distasteful.
In a related question, what’s up with the moon being always full before the War of Naming?
I can only refer you to Chapter 102. At this time, all I have to say on the subject is right there.
Also, it’s not called the war of naming. It’s called the Creation War.
Were there any particularly cool scenes/ideas/random facts about the 4C world you had to leave out, and could you please tell us about them if so?
Generally speaking, I leave the cool parts in the book. When I take something out, it’s because it’s not cool enough, so it drags down the overall awesome of the book.
If I do cut something cool, it’s usually because there’s a better place for it somewhere else. There are two whole chapters that used to be in book one, that are now going to show up in book three. They work much better there.
Can you tell us about any locations we haven’t seen yet which we’ll be visiting on D3?
Hmmmm…. You see, the thing is, even a relatively innocuous question like this could be considered a spoiler to some people.
Let me give you an example. I’m going to assume you’re all solid geeks, and that you’ve already gone to see The Avengers.
(I’m going to talk about the movie, so consider this your spoiler alert.)
You know in the trailer for The Avengers where they show the hulk catching Iron Man out of the air?
That’s a spoiler.
Why? Here’s why.
There I am, watching in the theatre, watching Tony Stark flying off into space to jam a nuke up the ass of some aliens. Good times. High stakes. Big adventure. Then his HUD starts to get all crackly.
Now they’ve already established Tony as being the selfish guy who’s ripe for a transformational moment, ready to become the self-sacrificing hero. He’s just called his girlfriend to say goodbye.
And I think, “Oh shit. This is Joss Whedon directing this. He’s at the helm. He wouldn’t…. Fuck. No. Of course he would. Joss would totally kill off Tony Stark….”
Except that moment of honest dread only lasts a microsecond because I’ve seen in the trailer that the Hulk grabs Iron Man out of the air and slides down the building.
So I know he’s not going to snuff it. I’m robbed of my dramatic tension.
So I’ll answer this question, and give away a little piece of advance knowledge to the folks that hunger for such things.
But here’s what we’re going to do. Let’s move this question WAAAAAY down to the end of the interview. Way at the end of the second piece over on tor.com. We’ll have the tiny potential spoilers tucked away safely down there. Because I know some of you are like me, and you like your stories pure.
Does that sound fair?
Where do they get all of the chocolate from?
The same place we do. From coco beans.
Does time have a name that could be learned?
Boy. That’s a really good question. Any question I can’t answer off the top of my head is a good one.
Elodin would probably have a really great reply to this….
My gut response, given about a minute’s thought is that no, it doesn’t. No more than, say, height has a name.
That’s not cannon though. I might be wrong.
Does the difficulty of learning names vary from name to name, or namer to namer?
Oh god yes. That should be really obvious from the books.
What is the difference between shaping and naming?
That is a very good question. A very, very good question. You have no idea how good a question that is.
Whoever asked this, you’re going to really enjoy parts of book three….
Is there a Collective Sleeping Mind, akin to Jungian ideas of the collective unconscious?
While I’ll admit I find the concept of the collective unconscious appealing, I don’t really know if it exists in this world…. Let alone if it has an analog in the Four Corners….
And if so, did Iax take a big chunk of it, weave it into whole-cloth and Shape Faen, thus separating essential energy from the mortal world?
Boy. Wow. There are a bunch of assumptions in that question. I can count three distinct underlying implied concepts without even trying. It’s the onion-layered cosmological version of, “Have you stopped beating your wife yet?”
So I’ll have to pass on answering it. But it’s a good question. It reveals that you’ve put a flattering amount of thought into figuring out how the world works.
You say sympathy was invented at the University. Are magics truly invented or just discovered and developed, like radio? If invented, are there other magics to be created? Does Kvothe create one? Is the Fae realm different from the 4C in the kind of magics that can be created there?
Merciful Buddah. A four question, question. You don’t write high-school essays by any chance, do you?
Questions like these are a huge mess to answer all at once, so I’m going to separate them out. One answer for each sentence.
1. I’m pretty sure I didn’t say that.
2. I’m pretty sure that a radio counts as an invention.
3. That’s a good question.
4. No spoilers. But nice try.
5. No. (But faen magic is notably different than the sort of magic normally practiced in the four corners.)
In Austin, you said there were six kinds of magic of which we’d seen five. What are they? If the sixth is a spoiler, what are the five we’ve seen?
Depending on how you look at things, there are a lot of different ways you could group, and therefore count, the different magics in the books.
For example. Sympathy and Sygaldry are both very similar, as they both deal almost exclusively with the manipulation of tangible force in all its varied forms.
Which means, of course, depending on how you count them, (or on how I was counting them that particular day in Austin) there could be more that six types of magic.
Still, here are the names of the five I’ve exposed you to in the book so far.
You’ve seen glimpses of one other, but you don’t have a name for it yet.
Are all the different types of magic (e.g., naming/shaping, sympathy/sygaldry, alchemy, glamourie, gramerie, etc.) fundamentally different, or are they actually different sides of the same six-sided die?
Whoops. Did I mention grammarie in the book by name.
[Pat goes to look.]
Huh. I guess I did, twice. That was probably later in the revision process.
So yeah, I guess that’s six magics I’ve shown in the books.
(Whoops. Seven. I just remembered one more that gets a whisper of a mention. And there’s an eighth you haven’t seen yet.)
To answer your question though, some types of magic are very much the same (as I mentioned above.) While others are very, very different.
Whether all types of magic somehow follow the same underlying principles is a matter of some discussion at the University. But nobody has discovered the Grand Unified Theory of magic, if that’s what you’re asking.
People have tried, of course. But mostly that’s the sort of thing that students talk about late at night when they get drunk. It’s also the sort of thing that rhetoricians and philosophers discuss. But those aren’t the sort of people Kvothe hangs out with.
* * *
For the second, larger chunk of the interview, you can head over here.
For bonus points, see if you can spot and identify all four of my quotes references in the interview. Without using google, lameass.