Your Questions for the Author Answered

November 8th Question

Have you thought about a Recluce novel where two characters that can use a glass for far-seeing, send each other messages over a long distance by painted signs seen through the glass?

Actually, I’ve thought about it several times over the years, but decided that the “resolution” issue would make it too difficult to be practical. By resolution, I’m talking about the ability to see characters or symbols in a glass clearly… and that doesn’t even take into account lighting problems or whether mages could focus on the signs or paper. In the later of the forthcoming books about Alyiakal, however, I’ve addressed the “glass” communication issue/problem in a different way.

November 5th Question

I greatly enjoy the Grand Illusion series; more so than the others in your extensive works. Not that I haven’t bought, read and enjoyed almost all the others. But, when can I expect the next in the GI series? I read that the next 4 in the Recluse series have been finished. But the publishing schedule that I saw has them in the next 2 or 3 years. It used to be that I worried would favorite authors like Heinlein and Pournelle finish story arcs before they left us. I’m getting to the point where I have to worry about will I last long enough to see them advanced. Thanks from the owner of just about everything in your inventory since The Hammer of Darkness

P.S. A new Ghost novel would be nice but I see difficulties in continuing it!

In response to the last point first, I actually suggested another ghost novel to my publisher, but the sales of the last ghost book — Ghost of the White Nights — were so poor that Tor felt it wouldn’t work.

As for another book in the Grand Illusion series, that’s a very good possibility, but I’m not to the point where I feel comfortable in saying more than that at the moment.

October 7th Question

I will certainly understand if you do not choose to answer this, but as someone who is deeply afraid of the direction the United States appears to be lurching in, I wanted to ask if you had any particular organizations, politicians, or other entities that you believe have a chance of bringing the country back to a society where (small “d” and “r”) democratic and republican values are under less of an assault. I frequently feel lost and bewildered trying to make sense of who is actually useful, and who is merely marketing themselves in a way designed to appeal to us.

I wish I had a useful answer to your question, but so far as I’ve been able to discover, a great many of the organizations (I say a “great many” because there’s no way I can look into all of them) fall into one of several groups: those who are idealistically trying to find a solution, but clearly don’t understand the current system; those who are merely trying to cash in (as you mentioned): those who endorse a single issue as “the solution,” worthy as that cause may be; those who are essentially hate groups, ranging from thinly disguised to avowedly hate-mongering. There are also groups which attempt realistic analyses and present alternatives and who do understand the political sphere, such as Resources for the Future, but avoid getting involved in the political process.

Your question also inspired my latest blog, for which I thank you.

October 6th Question

At the beginning of Fall of Angels the universe for the “Winterlance” is a Science Fiction setting. Have you ever written any Science Fiction novels based in this universe?

Over the years I’ve been asked about this, but I don’t have any plans to write a science fiction novel in that universe. I do reserve the right to change my mind, but that’s where matters stand now.

October 4th Question

As a queer man, I was overjoyed to see non-heterosexual characters in your recent works. I believe representation is vitally important, especially for younger folks who are just getting into science fiction and fantasy. One of the draws of your writing is the world building (commerce/politics/gender dynamics) feels reasoned out. What brought you to include these characters?

As with many, if not most authors, I write what I know. Over the years, both my wife and I have known, worked with, and socialized with a number of non-heterosexuals. Because I’m decidedly heterosexual, I’ve refrained from writing from a non-heterosexual viewpoint, but, based on what I’ve observed and experienced, I’ve included such characters in a number of books where they seemed to fit, both in terms of the culture I depicted and the situation.

I was wondering if you have, or if you know of anyone who has art based on your novels for sale/trade? I have been looking for something for a little while now and have not been able to find anything.

I don’t know of any cover art for my books that is currently available. In some cases, the art was done digitally, as in the case of the “ghost” books and the SF covers by Dave Seeley, so there isn’t “hard copy” available. Darrell Sweet painted the first fifteen Recluce covers in acrylic, but his work was at one time very desired — and expensive. The painting that was used for the cover of The Magic of Recluce was offered for sale at $35,000 some fifteen years ago. Donato Giancola also painted all the covers for the Imager books and offered some for sale, but those were snapped up almost instantly. I have a few original covers, but they’ve not for sale.

September 29th Question

Are there any plans to get some older works published as Audiobooks? Forever Hero series would be one I am very interested in. Huge fan of that and all the Recluce and Spellsong books.

Actually, ALL of my backlist is available either from Amazon, Audible, or Tantor. I posted on this some time back, but it likely slipped by people.

September 28th Question

I just finished Contrarian: very enjoyable. Will there be more books in the Grand Illusion series?

There likely will be more books in The Grand Illusion, but it’s a bit early for me to say much. Any additional Grand Illusion book will likely have to follow the four Recluce books already in the production process.

September 27th Question

Do you have a say in how your books appear in print? Yesterday’s BBC news had an article about shrinkflation (diminishing chocolate bars for the same retail price). My nice new copy of Contrarian is nearly 100 pages longer in content, but nearly half an inch thinner. The paper is practically transparent! Given that we all like to reread your books, I’m worried about the number of times I will be able to enjoy it.

Unfortunately, I don’t have any say in how my books appear in print. At this point, I’m just grateful that Tor is still publishing me in hardcover. The costs of paper and printing continue to rise, and I’m told that there’s only one high-speed press in the U.S. capable of printing my books in hardcover. Because of these and other factors, publishers are printing books that are shorter, or, in my case, using thinner paper. They’re also downsizing the number of editors, and, at times, rejecting books that are too long to publish in physical print. I wouldn’t be surprised if more and more books become available only in ebook or downloadable audiobook format.

September 6th Question

Do you have any large print books?

No, none of my books are available in large-print format. All of my books, however, are now available in audiobook form.

From what I can tell from a brief survey and search, there are virtually no F&SF books in large print format. Large print fiction books appear to be available only for romances, women’s fiction, mysteries, and westerns. Why, I have no idea, except those are categories that generally sell in higher numbers than most F&SF.

August 28th Question

I saw that you were considering a roleplaying game on Recluse in 2004… did anything come of that?

Over the years, I’ve granted three separate outfits the option to develop a Recluce game of some sort. Nothing ever came of any of the options.

August 16th Question

When is your 4th book of the Grand Illusion series coming out?

After I finished writing Contrarian, I returned to writing in the Saga of Recluce. The story was a bit larger than I anticipated and encompasses four volumes. Since I just turned in the fourth book, it’s going to be a while before there are any more Grand Illusion books, and it’s too early to even guess at a date.

What do you think about this issue raised in a recent Salon article:

The article makes some good points, and there’s no doubt that, for the average person, our so-called health system is an expensive nightmare, partly because it’s run by accountants for the benefit of health care executives and the profit maximization of medical supply companies and the pharmaceutical industry.

But the article misses the one critical point. What improves longevity statistics the most is improving the health and health care of the poorest segments of society. Our system improves the health of the wealthiest in society while making healthcare increasingly expensive and hard to get for the poorest segments of society, as well as for the working families. Add to that the fact that the right-wing anti-abortionists have enacted in a great number of states measures that effectively limit care for poor women who are pregnant (willingly or not) by making medical practitioners criminally liable for providing care that could save women with problematical pregnancies. Then add to that the unwanted children who seldom get adequate food and medical care, which increases the death rate and shortens their life spans, not to mention the years they can work productively.

By making healthcare a government responsibility, the European and other countries have lifted a huge financial burden off companies and individuals, and also removed the “need” for healthcare to be “profitable.” The result is that a greater percentage of the population gets “basic” health care, and wide-spread basic healthcare improves overall longevity more than does high-tech healthcare limited by cost to the upper-middle-class and upper class.

July 29th Question

I came across this article and wondered if there was a connection to your THE SPELLSONG CYCLE Series. If not then you may find this take on Archaeoacoustics interesting. Megaliths, Music & the Mind – The Latest in Archaeoacoustics Linda Eneix, The OTS Foundation for Neolithic Studies Academia Letters, December 2021 Also free at:

No, there’s no direct connection to that finding. My speculations come from a more direct source — being married to an opera singer and director and seeing the effect that music can have on people. Also, from various other archaeological observations on structures, not to mention how societies and rulers have employed music as a tool for affecting their people.

July 10th Question

Have your works been localized outside of English, and do you know of any good resources for finding such editions?

Various books of mine have been printed in other languages — German, French, Polish, Dutch, Czech, Russian, Bulgarian, Spanish, Italian, and Swedish, but how many books were printed in what language varies. In general, however, the Recluce books are those most translated, but unevenly. For example, the first eleven books of the Recluce Saga were printed in German before the publisher went bankrupt, while only The Magic of Recluce was printed in Spanish. The first three books of The Corean Chronicles were printed in Italian, but no Recluce books. Several SF books were printed in Russian, but no fantasy. Three Recluce books were published in French, as was The Elysium Commission. There were also three Recluce books in Swedish.

As for sources of foreign versions, I’m afraid I can’t help with that.

First July Question

Have you considered a novel connecting the founding of Fairhaven and how it became “the city of white”? As I reread the Cerryl books I wonder how the city Beltur created became the city Cerryl lived in.

I’ve certainly considered writing such a novel, or even more than one, but for the immediate present, I’m working on something that’s not in the world of Recluce. After that, we’ll see.

June 24th Question

I am wondering if you have noticed how much you use “slip” or “ease” when describing motion. People slip in or out of places; they ease things in or out or off.

My editor has pointed out that I do have a tendency to overuse particular words, and I try to avoid doing so. Part of the problem is that there aren’t that many convenient synonyms for either “slip” or “ease.” “Steal away” carries implications not suited for some characters. So do “sneak”, “sidle,” and “slink.” Some repetitions don’t bother readers, such as “says” or “said,” but others, even if only used a few times in an entire book, stick in readers’ minds.

June13th Question

I am really enjoying The Grand Illusion series, and re-reading the first two whilst waiting for the third. I just wondered if there was a map to go with the books?

There isn’t a map for The Grand Illusion books, except for the rough one I drew for myself, largely because the majority of events take place in Machtarn. I realize that many readers like the maps, but they’re expensive from a production point of view, and publishers are reluctant to pay for something not considered vital.

June Question

I have read and re-read your books “Saga of Recluce” several times, and it seems to be that Hamor is ruled by 1 Lord but there used to be 4 separate rulers, what am I missing?

Over the course of history, Hamor has changed. There was one ruler who claimed to be an emperor of Hamor in the time of Lorn [Magi’i of Cyador and Scion of Cyador] but he didn’t rule the entire continent, just Afrit, while Atla was a loose confederation of tribes, and Merowey was independent. After the fall of Cyador [The Chaos Balance], the survivors of the emperor’s family fled to Hamor and began to carve out a land for themselves on the border between Merowey and Afrit [“Heritage” from Recluce Tales]. That land became the fourth country in Hamor. In Cyador’s Heirs and Heritage of Cyador, Lerial begins the process that will result in all of Hamor being unified, which occurs just before the beginning of NaturaL Ordermage.

May 5th Question

I have been reading your Recluse series since they started coming out moving on to the Imager Portfolio and Corean Chronicles I have now started with your Grand Illusion series. Throughout the other books I am able figure out the monetary system, distance, and a bit of at least the hours of the day, for that I just tie it to a 24 hour system. But what I would like to know is at least the age of the main characters. I feel when politics are involved age is a big factor. Also even thought all your books are fiction they have opened my eyes in how I look at our world and even try to see how our timeline fits in with the others.

Steffan Dekkard is roughly 27 at the beginning of Isolate, and Avraal Ysella is roughly three years older than Dekkard. The age of majority is 20 in Guldor.