Thursday, November 22

More from Peter:

On Nov 20, 2007, at 3:46 PM, Peter wrote:

Yeah, you definitely answered the question I was trying to ask, whether you felt there was an implied moral imperative in publishing your writing. Good to know there's someone out there not trying to force me to be like their characters.

The pre-moral stance bit is interesting. I find that I have a liking for science fiction (and truth that approaches it) for a reason which is beyond approval for the perspectives embodied in the work. I just like reading what happens when people draw lines into the future of science, or philosophy, or morality through fantasy.

I'm curious, did you choose your genre, or did it choose you?

I've had discussions with my friends over whether your writing is sci-fi, fantasy, or philosophy, and we figured it's sort of a gray area in the middle of genre. Did you set out to create a world where that was possible, or just tell what you wanted to and place it where it fit?


I don't think of my work as philosophy at all . . . unless you take the word philosophy to its etymologic roots, in which case any form of narrative can be considered to fall under that rubric; all narrative reflects the internal metaphysic of its creator(s) willy-nilly, even something as grossly pandering as a night-time soap or Robyn Williams film. The philosophy, it seems to me, arises of the act of interpretation; what I'm putting into the work is less philosophy than it is perspective. I write the world as I see the world--even when I'm writing about someone else's world, like Mr Lucas's, for example.

As far as "my genre" goes, what I really wanted to write was comic books -- specifically superhero books; I've always loved the stew of unrestrained imagineering that goes into the best comics. Which are always a mix of fantasy, SF, and psychological honesty. My favorite comics often deal directly with many of the themes that I seem to keep coming back to: the role of performance in the nature of identity, the responsibilities of power, the consequences of imposing one's will upon one's world, and the consequences of refusing to do so . . . all that stuff, and more.

I specifically chose to work in heroic fantasy because when I was starting out, HF was considered the lowest kind of trash-reading, with only very few exceptions (Donaldson, late Moorcock, Vonnegut, a few others) -- but from my reading, grounded in Greek and Roman myth, it could (and should) be the HIGHEST form of literature. It's the one where Everything's on the Table. Nothing's off-limits. But sadly, very very few writers can make a decent living at it, and I don't seem to be one of the few. I started strong, but (due to issues with my health) my average income from writing has been been static over the course of my career. Money that looks pretty good when you're thirty-three isn't so swell when you're forty-five . . . especially when it's not even keeping up with inflation.

The "tell what you want to tell" thing is great in theory, but when your work doesn't fall squarely into a pre-defined publishing category, a publisher has no idea how to market it, and such works tend to fell through the cracks. Kind of like HEROES DIE and BLADE did. I suspect that Del Rey has a better idea how to handle CBK, though. We'll see.

Matthew Woodring Stover
numquam desisto


Andrew Timson said...

Another advantage CBK will have is the Star Wars novels you've written in the interim. I hadn't heard of you or your work before Traitor, but it got me to pick up both of the Caine books (and I would have bought the Barra books too, but they were both out of print).

I'm just hoping that you're able to continue telling tales of Caine and Overworld as long as you want to. It's… an interesting place, for all the reasons Peter talks about and more.

Mike said...

With so many authors moonlighting in comics these days, why don't you just make the jump to Marvel or DC? I feel you'd lose some of the style of your work with the loss or prose, but I'd love to see you do something with a good artist.