Your Questions for the Author Answered

February Question

Although I’ve felt like the Assassin’s Apologist in most of your books, I’d like to know when you will write a political novel/autobiography in Exton Land concepts and based on your experience — despite your disclaimer of “boring jobs” involving tedious details.

Unless I change my mind, which I reserve the right to do, the political events/issues in my fiction are likely to be the closest published documents to any sort of political autobiography. It’s also just as unlikely that I’ll write an actual novel around Exton Land, who much prefers to remain a quoted background source, rather than a beleaguered protagonist/antagonist. As I discovered with The Green Progression, fiction that’s truly close to reality doesn’t sell that well, at least for me, and most “political” fiction that sells well these days usually bears little resemblance to what has happened or is likely to — and that’s even more so now than a generation ago.

January Question

“Why don’t you have more signings on the East Coast?” That’s a question I’m asked often, and the answer is:

First, it’s very expensive for a publisher to send authors from the west to the east coast, and, second, for some reason, most bookstores and chains in large eastern cities aren’t terribly interested in having signings unless they can sell hundreds, if not thousands of copies. HOWEVER, Tor has arranged a signing at Singularity & Co in Brooklyn next week [January 10th at 7:00 P.M.], because I’ll be accompanying my wife to a National Opera Association convention. But that’s the only appearance, and the details are in the news section of the website.

December Question

Is there going to be a Modesitt Cookbook? There are so many interesting meals mentioned in so many novels, it would be fascinating to try out some of the recipes.

At this point, I have no plans for a “Modesitt Cookbook,” not with the effort it’s taking to keep up with my fiction commitments. I wish I did have more time, but… there are only so many hours.

November Question

Given the story about Quaeryt in the earlier years of Lydar and then about the Collegium in the first three books of The Imager Portfolio,  it seems that some of the imaging techniques developed by Quaeryt were lost, despite the establishment of the Collegium Imagio.  How did this happen, and will you be writing another book that explains this?

I am indeed writing another Imager Portfolio book set roughly midway between the close of Rex Regis and the beginning of Imager.  In addition to telling another story about a different character, the book will also shed some light on the questions you raise.  Beyond that, I’m not about to say more, since I have a great deal more work to do on the book.

September Question

Is there a recipe for burhka, for those of us who like really spicy food?

There isn’t a recipe for burhka, per se.  My personal sense of the dish is beef or lamb, in a brownish red sauce with the consistency and underlying taste of a thick curry, heated by the hottest jalapeno  peppers available along with a healthy dose of paprika, with slices of whatever root vegetables are available, served over noodles or rice.

 

August Question

Will any more of your science fiction books be published as audiobooks?

Right now, the only SF book of mine that appears in audiobook format is Haze, but Tantor will be releasing the forthcomng SF novel — The One-Eyed Man — as audiobook at roughly the same time as the hardcover appears in September.  If it sells well, there is always the possibility that they will consider publishing other SF books in addition to the fantasy titles.

July Question

Is the new Matt Damon movie Elysium based on your novel?

For better or worse, at least from the trailers and descriptions, the movie bears little or no resemblance to my novel, The Elysium Commission. While I wouldn’t mind the royalties and additional book sales resulting from a movie deal, I suspect it would be a very mixed blessing.

 

June Questions

Will you be publishing maps of the entire world of Terahnar?

There are currently maps of the city of L’Excelsis and Lydar/Solidar.  Unless I write another Imager Portfolio book dealing extensively with continents other than Lydar/Solidar, it’s highly unlikely that there will be any additional maps.

 

Why don’t publishers allow purchasers of print books to obtain an electronic copy that is included in the price of the print edition?

At present, I know of no movement among publishers toward such a possibility, and I seriously doubt that publishers will ever allow such a mechanism with regard to mass market paperbacks.  Given the economics of publishing, some publishers might theoretically consider providing an electronic copy with the purchase of a hardcover, if there were some way to ensure that the electronic copy remained with the purchasers, but the problem with that is that there’s no way to do it, and given the current tendencies of all too many readers, a sizable fraction of purchasers who obtained both might simply transfer the electronic copy — or the hardcover — to someone else, thus further cannibalizing already declining sales numbers… and that’s something that no publisher wants.

 

May Questions

This month I’m going to try to reply to dozens of questions at once.  The form of these questions is essentially as follows:  I really liked [name of book].  Won’t you please write more about [main character of book or more in the world of that book] ?

To date, I’ve published 61 novels,with four more scheduled over the next two years. Of those books, over the years, I’ve received at least one letter or email or blog comment asking that I write another book about the main character, or that “world,” in all but five of those books.   Given that I’ve written more than one book about a number of characters, as well as I can figure it out, that amounts to almost 30 theoretically “doable” books.  Although I do write fairly quickly, even if I can keep up writing more than two books a year, it would take me almost fifteen years just to answer all those requests… and that would be without writing about any truly new characters or worlds.  Does that I mean I won’t write any more Recluce books, for example?  Obviously not, since I’m doing that right now.  But it does mean that I won’t be able to write all the books that everyone has requested because I don’t intend to give up writing books in new settings or, occasionally, books with new characters in familiar settings.  It’s not that I don’t appreciate your interest and your love of particular characters;  it’s just a matter of my physical limitations.

How can we save the bookstores that are going out of business? I’ve been trying to frequent bookstores so they can stay in business, and I refuse to buy electronic gadgets that have books on them because I love to hold a book in my hands.

I understand the feel of holding a book, and I also like to look at them, but, frankly, I don’t know of any other way to keep bookstores in business except by patronizing them and encouraging friends and family to do so. The problem we face with bookstore closures is that each store location that closes makes patronizing bookstores harder because, for more and more people, getting to a bookstore gets more and more difficult and using an online bookstore becomes easier than searching out and traveling to a more distant bookstore — if there even is one in any convenient location.  I know.  The closest full-service new bookstore is over fifty miles from me, and the next closest after that one store is over 170 miles away.  So… for more and more people, the only feasible options are either e-books or on-line bookstores that mail books to them… and this makes it harder and harder for existing bookstores.

I wish I had a better answer, but I can’t think of one.

April Question

You don’t seem to be traveling or making as many appearances these days.  Why not?

The simple answer is money.  Because of the closures of so many bookstores [which limits the locations for signings] and the precarious state of the publishing industry, publishers are sending fewer authors on tour, and those tours –except for the very biggest bestsellers — tend to be shorter.  My publisher is no exception.  In addition, I’ve been invited to fewer conventions this year, and unless a convention is “local,” i.e., less than 280 miles away, or unless it’s World Fantasy Convention in the U.S., I generally don’t go unless someone else pays for it because the investment in travel, room, and food, not to mention time, gets very expensive very quickly.

 

March Question

Why do almost all of your characters in the Recluce books have red hair?

It only seems that way, but because of the comments over the years I decided to actually count. While it is true that I have more redheads in my books than do many other authors, those insist that all my characters are redheads are somewhat overestimating the numbers and the percentages.  According to my count, of the protagonists and their significant others in the Recluce books,  nine (9) are brown-haired;  six (6) red-haired (6);  three (3) blond; three (3) silver; and two (2) are black-haired.  That means redheads comprise 26% of the total, but brown-haired characters are 40%.

 

February Question

When will the next Imager Portfolio book be released?

Antiagon Fire has a  scheduled release date of May 28, 2013.

 

 

January Questions

Some of the Recluce books are out of print.  Will the publisher reprint them?

Currently, there are two Recluce books out of print — Scion of Cyador and The Order War. All the other Recluce books are in print. That doesn’t mean every bookstore will have them at any one time, unfortunately. I’ve brought the matter of the two out of print books up to Tor, and Tor will decide in the next few weeks whether to reprint them, although I’m hopeful that they will.
 

Will the Recluce books ever be available in audiobook format?

I’ve been asked this question more than a few times, but I wanted to update people on the situation. Although my current audiobook publisher, Tantor Media, is committed to releasing The Imager Portfolio in audiobook format, to date, Tantor has not shown any interest in publishing the Recluce books in audio format. Nor has any other audiobook publisher… and I don’t have the equipment, the time, or the talent [or speaking voice] to do a decent job on my own.

December Question

Which of your “Ghost Books” do you regard your best?  I was fascinated with The Empress of Eternity and enjoyed The Eternity Artifact. I am not much into the ghosts and occult, but would like to try whichever book you regard as the best of this series.

I can’t pick out one book of these three as the “best,” because the “ghost” books are essentially what was once called a novel in two volumes and a sequel. The three books are not what I’d call occult in any sense of the word. They’re an alternate history with a thriller/detective plot in which ghosts are real electromagnetic occurrences, the results of which change the history of the our world. I’d recommend beginning with the first book, Of Tangible Ghosts, but if you want a slightly better overall “deal,” you might want to pick up Ghosts of Columbia, which contains the first two novels, plus the “historical” afterword that I wrote to explain some of the ways in which the existence of ghosts has changed history.

 

November Question

Why do you blog so much about politics?  Don’t you worry about angering readers with different views from yours?

I have to say that it’s pretty clear that happens.  It’s hard to say how many people feel that strongly, but some obviously do.  At the same time, what I find amazing is that I’m anything but an extremist.  I don’t like either excessive government taxation and spending or the use of government to push religious views, but I do see the need for a government role in regulating the excesses of personal and business behavior — but not everything under the sun. I’m trying to point out the strengths and weaknesses of both sides, and some pertinent facts, but none of us like it [and I don’t either] when someone brings up something that calls our deeply held beliefs into question. But isn’t that one of the things writers should do?

What I also find interesting is that people who enjoyed my books all of a sudden say that they can’t now that they “know” my views.  The books didn’t  change.

October Questions

Why don’t you or your publisher set up an email list to notify people when a new book of yours comes out? I have missed the release on a few and happen to run across them months later.

While such a listing would certainly be beneficial, the simple answer is that my publisher isn’t about to take on the scope of such a project, since Tor would then have to do it for all authors or anger all those for whom Tor didn’t do that. I simply do not have the time and resources for that, not if I’m to continue writing books. I do post the release of new books here on my website, and I maintain a listing of all my books available in print there, but attempting to run mass emails is not in the cards, I fear.
 
Why am I always hungry when I read your books.  There are meals in each story.  Are you a chef?
Although I am not a chef, I’m a fairly good cook, and I’m married to a woman who is an excellent cook [when she’s not being an excellent lyric soprano and opera director].  This situation has necessitated our having to undertake far more exercise than either one of us envisioned when we were married many years ago.  I won’t claim to have fixed every single meal that has appeared in my books, but the vast majority of them, or something similar, have appeared on our table, except for those few requiring ingredients unavailable in our world.  The other reason for all the meals in the books is that, in most cultures, meals are one of the few places where people have time to talk and discuss matters.
September Question

Will you write more Imager Portfolio books about Rhennthyl”

I can understand the wishes of a number of readers who have posed this question, but it’s highly unlikely that I will do so.  That’s because the challenges that face Rhenn in the years after the events in Imager’s Intrigue will be of the subtle, tedious, and wearying kind that will drive men — and readers — to tear out their hair, without that much in the way of true excitement.  Any book that provided gripping excitement and increasing tension that could be relieved by heroic action would be false to Rhenn and the world in which he lives, and any book true to him and the world wouldn’t be that much fun or hold that much interest for most readers… and I’m not interested in writing either of those books.

 

August Question

Are you thinking about creating another totally new fantasy series?

I’m not to that point yet.  I’m still working on finishing the last Imager Portfolio book about Quaeryt [not necessarily the last Imager book, just the last one about him], and I’m committed to another Recluce book after that.  When that’s done… well, we’ll see.

 

July Question

Have you ever considered setting a novel — or a trilogy — in one of your fantasy worlds in a more technologically advanced time period, when the technology either approaches present-day levels… or even higher levels, with computers, nanotechnology and/or space travel?

I have to admit that I haven’t considered writing a fantasy in a high-tech setting, although I can see that such a setting would have serious adverse repercussions or limitations on every magic system I’ve thus far created. Imaging in space would be almost impossible, for example, as would handling order and chaos or attempting to find any lifeforce on which to draw.  Still… it’s an interesting idea, but I’m not about to promise anything… at least not yet.

 

June Questions

Could you give a run- down on the approximate equivalents for your time references in the Imager series?

The week is seven days, based on the French equivalents:  Lundi, Mardi, Meredi, Jeudi, Vendrei, Samedi, Solayi.  A “glass” is roughly equivalent to 100 minutes of our time, and a quint is a fifth of a glass.  There are five two-month seasons [Winter, Spring, Summer, Harvest, and Fall].  The ten months are Ianus, Fevier, Maris, Avryl, Mayas, Juyn, Agostas, Erntyn, Feuillyt, and Finitas.  Each month is thirty-five days long.

Can anything be done to fix SyFy (formerly the Sci-Fi Channel)?  Anything good gets cancelled, and only “reality” shows stay on the air.

I have my doubts.  The problem is that, in general,  reality-style shows cost less to produce than what I’d call more solid shows. These days, everything in the entertainment field is based on attracting the widest possible audience with the lowest possible cost — unless the network/channel has a huge guaranteed audience for a specific show or the show is the very occasional blockbuster designed to drag in a wider audience to justify sky-high advertising rates (directly or indirectly). Even in niche markets, the suits want the widest chunk of the niche with the lowest cost.  This pretty much guarantees lots of low-cost, lower quality program with an occasional “show-stopper.”  Until these economics fail, I don’t see anything changing, at least not in the near future.