Your Questions for the Author Answered

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.

April 19th Question

How do you pronounce your name? Is it Mo-dee-sit or is it Mode-sit or something else?

The “family” pronunciation of my surmname is MODD [rhymes with “odd”] ess-it. That, of course, breaks every rule of English pronunciation, but it’s what I inherited.

March 2023 Question

In various fantasy works, you often have “lancers” as one of the primary types of troops. I’m not aware of any time in history when lancers were that prominent, although I am certainly not familiar with every era of history. Is there a reason, possibly related to how you picture the various magic systems impacting war, for the use of lancers so commonly?

The magic system was certainly the reason for the use of Mirror Lancers in the Recluce books, because in the time of Cyador, firelances were a stand-off weapon. Another factor is that the population density, especially in Candar, is comparatively low and the distances between communities, except along the Great Canal, mitigate against infantry… and there’s a lot of grassland.

In the Corean Chronicles, rifles and magic were both stand-off weapons, but magic definitely precludes large massed armies. In the Imager Portfolio, the fighting forces in the early years were more like mounted infantry.

Historically, there have definitely been notable eras where the predominant military force was mounted, but such forces work better in areas of lower population density, and where forage is abundant, similar to the lands I’ve created.

But I suppose part of the reason is that, as a former Naval officer and pilot, I prefer not to deal with the grinding brutality of soldiers on foot making mincemeat out of each other, and I’ve created worlds where it’s not quite as necessary or workable.

March Question

Tor just revealed a new set of covers for the first three Recluce books. Was this really necessary?

Necessary? Perhaps not, but covers are one of the reasons why readers buy some books and don’t pick up others. The artwork on the early Recluce books was painted, and it was indeed painted by Darrell Sweet, more than twenty-five years ago. The marketing people tell me that it doesn’t have the same appeal to present-day younger readers as it once did. In addition, I personally believe that the new covers show more of the sweep of the Recluce books as well as provide a bit more accurate “feel.” In the end, the readers will determine whether marketing people and I are right.

January Question

Stylistically, are there things you did that you’ve changed over time? Or things you wished you could change?

All writers change over time, sometimes in significant ways, sometimes in very small ways. There are stylistic “innovations” that I tried and largely abandoned. In the early Recluce books, I included more “sound effects.” Readers HATED them. So I seldom use that technique any more. I also used “majer” as an alternative spelling of the rank “major,” but a number of readers simply thought it was an error or a typo. For consistency’s sake, I still use that spelling in the Recluce books, but if I had it to do over, I probably wouldn’t do it. Thanks to readers and friends, I now write more knowledgeably [or less ignorantly] about horses, and, of course, my knowledge of music has continued to increase, thanks to my wife, the music professor.

December Question

Will you ever write more books in the Spellsong Cycle?

I don’t have any immediate plans to write more Spellsong books, but I haven’t foreclosed that possibility. What I can say is that, if I do, it won’t be soon, since I’m committed to finishing the book I’m now working on and one other before I can consider what I’ll write then.

September Question

Will you continue to write Recluce novels and fill in the gaps in “history”?

The forthcoming Recluce Tales will fill in some gaps in the history of the world of Recluce, as will The Mongrel Mage, scheduled for release a year from this November, and its sequel, which I’m currently writing. After that, we’ll just have to see.

July Question

Am I correct in assuming that you are as dissatisfied as I am that the editing and proofing process failed to change “effect” to “affect” on page 27, line 35 of Madness in Solidar?

While I would prefer all of my books to be error free, or at least typo-free, as would any author, that’s an unrealistic expectation for several reasons. First, as an author, I do occasionally make typographical errors, and since I submit my books in electronic format, the initial typographical error is mine, not someone else’s. Second, although that book was read before publication by two editors, a copy-editor, and a proof-reader, errors still occasionally occur. Third, as upsetting as such errors may be, they tend to represent a very small fraction of the words in a book. Madness in Solidar is 180,000 words long, roughly, and an error in one word still represents a typographical accuracy of 99.99945% on the word level.

I know that such typos can be upsetting, but all I can say is that a great number of people do their best, and I doubt very seriously that there are many books published totally free of typographical errors.

June Question

Are you a Mormon?

No. I’ve actually mentioned my semi-religious affiliation in several past blog posts, but I’ll give a more complete explanation. I grew up in a household that was nominally Methodist, decided when I was about thirteen that I wanted to be an Episcopalian, and spent about ten years as a relatively devout Episcopalian — youth group president and acolyte/altar boy — until I went to college. The subsequent events of my life made me increasingly wary of organized religion, and at present, I describe myself as an agnostic Anglican, because I can neither deny nor affirm the existence of a deity and because I love the language and liturgy of the original King James Bible and the original Book of Common Prayer. Because my wife and I have lived in Utah for well over twenty years, have an above average number of children, and because I’ve occasionally written about the LDS faith, both in the future and in alternate worlds, as in The Ghost of the Revelator or The Parafaith War, and because I eschew strong profanity, graphic sex, and excessive and gratuitous violence in my writing,there has been occasional speculation that I might be LDS. I’m not.

May Question

Have you thought about writing a sequel to the first three Imager Portfolio books? Possibly one about Rhenn’s daughter?

Actually, I have thought about writing some sort of follow-on to the first three Imager books, but, if I do, it will have to be a little while, since there are two more Imager books coming — Treachery’s Tools in October andAssassin’s Price in July of 2017, and since I’m committed to finishing another Recluce novel next. After the current writing projects we’ll see.

October Question

In seeing that Solar Express is about to be published, I realized that I only see SF books by you every few years. Why don’t you write more science fiction?

Unfortunately, the answer is simple and boils down to two words — time and money. A good science fiction novel takes me more time and pays me considerably less than a good fantasy novel. Now, some people have said that, well, if I wrote more S.F., more people would buy it. What they have forgotten or never knew is that for the first twenty years of my publishing career, I wrote ONLY science fiction. I couldn’t afford to become a full-time writer until I started writing and publishing fantasy. Don’t get me wrong, I still love science fiction, which is why I continue to write it, but I can’t afford to write much more than I do, because I don’t want to take a drastic cut in income, especially not with the way the U.S. economy is teetering today.

May Question

Where do you get all your ideas?

Pretty much from everywhere, but a high percentage of ideas are derived from what I read. My wife jokes that the postman heaves a sigh of relief after leaving our house, because we subscribe to so many periodicals. And yes, I read hard copy because I’d rather not waste computer time on reading, when there are times I can read when I’m not near the computer, and I hate reading anything off a cell-phone screen. Often, I’ll get a delayed reaction, as for example, I had read about the fascinating behavior of active galactic nuclei in an astronomy publication… and that fit right in with something in my forthcoming SF novel — Solar Express, except I didn’t realize it immediately, but later when I was taking my early morning walk with the energetic Aussie-Saluki.

April Question

I’ve had trouble reading some of the sections on your website with my smartphone. Have you thought about making the site more mobile friendly?

This is actually one of several questions I’ve had along this line, and I’m happy to announce, thanks to my webmaster/designer and general trouble-shooter, Eric James Stone, who is also a noted F&SF short story writer when he’s not at his day job, the site is now much more mobile friendly.

March Question

In your fantasy series, you always write about people who have magical talents. Have you ever thought about writing a book in any of those worlds with a protagonist who has no magical abilities?

That is something I’ve considered, and I certainly haven’t ruled it out, and in saying that, I’m not just paying lip-service to the idea. I have several ideas along those lines, but they’re not yet developed enough for me to say any more… or, frankly, even to determine whether they would be workable. But it is something I’m been mulling over for several years.

February Question

Will you be touring or doing any signings on the east coast any time soon?

At present, outside of appearances at LTUE, Worldcon in Spokane, and World Fantasy Convention in Saratoga Springs, N.Y., I have no tours or signings set up for the year. Part of this is a reflection on the state of the publishing world, where revenues and profits took a severe hit at most publishers, since most of my tours have been paid for or at least partly supported by my publisher. Another reason is that I’m frankly still trying to catch up from the delays created by a conglomeration of events in my life [none of them relating to my health or ability to write] which greatly reduced the time available for me to write during 2014. In another six months, well, then we’ll see.

January Question

When will we see another Recluce book? Will you consider writing one about druids of Naclos?

At present, I’m working on another Imager Portfolio book, and since I’m only about halfway through it, I frankly haven’t given much thought to what I’m going to write next. At least some readers will be pleased to know that my esteemed editor would very much like me to continue writing Recluce books… and, if possible, I try to avoid displeasing my editor too often, but exactly what any forthcoming Recluce book might be remains to be seen. At least for now.

October Question

Tantor Media has only announced the publication of the first two books of the Corean Chronicles in audiobook format. When are the others scheduled for release?

As a matter of fact, Tantor has only bought the rights to those two. Whether the remaining six books of the Corean Chronicles appear in audiobook format depends on how well the firast two books — Legacies and Darknesses — sell in audiobook format. So if you want all the Corean Chronicles in audio format, go out and buy the first two.

September Question

Do you ever draw characters from real life and just give them different names?

There’s only one character — and a very minor one at that — that was taken pretty much whole from “real life” (and no, I’m not about to say which character). I do take patterns of behavior, mannerisms, speech patterns, and physical features from individuals, but they’re recombined in different ways. And I’m more than certain that I’ve borrowed and/or stolen more than I realize from life and people I’ve met without even consciously being aware of doing so.

August Question

Why isn’t Scion of Cyador available in ebook form in Great Britain?

Scion of Cyador isn’t available there because of the complexity of subsidiary/foreign book rights. Orbit, a division of Little Brown, purchased the British print rights to the book more than a decade ago,but did not purchase electronic rights. Although the book does not appear to be in active print in Britain, as I understand it, the print rights preclude “other editions” being published. Because Scion of Cyador is not in active print, Tor/Macmillan is in the process of reverting the rights, at which time an ebook edition will be available in Britain.

July Question

Do you have any idea how long you will continue writing books in the Recluce Saga?

The short answer is, “No, I don’t.”  The longer and likely more accurate answer is that I’ll continue writing so long as I have stories to tell that I feel also add something new and different to the world of Recluce and/or to readers’ perceptions of that world.  “New  and different” has a range of meaning to readers, since some feel that every book should have a radically different plot, while I prefer to write stories about the struggle to succeed and to achieve meaning in life, and for the protagonist to achieve that meaning and success in a way that is realistic within the structure of the world I’ve created.  There are always high costs and obstacles to such success, but the degree of those costs and the difficulty of surmounting those obstacles isn’t always apparent to all readers, although I do try to give hints along those lines.