Your Questions for the Author Answered

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.


May Question

Will you ever start another fantasy series with another different magic system?

That all depends on too many factors to consider.  Right now, I’m committed for almost a year in advance, in finishing the last book about Quaeryt in The Imager Portfolio and then to another Recluce book.  After that… I just haven’t thought that far ahead.  I wouldn’t be opposed to it, but I’d have to develop a very different magical concept… and that’s far from easy.

April Question

Why are your blogs often so depressing?

I think the paradoxical answer to that is because I’m an optimist.  I really think that if I discuss difficult issues and problems people will consider them, and I hope that such discussions and thoughts will help lead to solutions.  One thing that I do know is that you can’t solve a problem that you refuse to acknowledge even exists… or one that you accept as a “fact of life,” rather than as a problem.

March Question

What is your opinion of fanfiction? Do you see it as theft of intellectual property or copyright infringement or is it simply a flattering way of saying “I really love your work”

Technically speaking, fanfiction is an infringement of copyright, and if someone gets paid for that, without the permission of the author, that’s definitely a violation of copyright.  At the same time, I don’t have a problem with fanfiction that’s restricted to a comparatively limited number of fans and not used in any commercial fashion. Fanfiction in that sense is a gesture of appreciation, but I would hope that it might be the first step for many of those fan writers toward creating their own worlds and characters, because we can always use more good writers.


February Question

In reading the “Ghost” novels several times, I’ve wondered if Vanderbraak Centre is near Colchester, Connecticut, in our universe.  If not, where would it be located?

Actually, the location of Vanderbraak Centre in our world is that of Plymouth, New Hampshire, the site of Plymouth State University, where I taught for several years in the early 1990s.  I obviously changed the arrangement of the town to a certain degree, but not that of the river or the bridge, or where the main streets are located, simply because in towns such as Plymouth/Vanderbraak Centre there’s usually a geographic and practical reason for their placement.  The university in the “Ghost” books is also located in the same place as Plymouth State is in our world.



January Question
I’ve enjoyed your Imager series as audio books. Will the Recluce books ever become available as audio?

Unfortunately, whether the Recluce books appear in audio format is not up to me, but up to the producers of the audio books, since I have neither the expertise, the equipment, nor the time to produce them in audio format myself.  While I’ve offered them to various audio producers, so far none has expressed any interest. 

December Question

When will The Green Progression be reprinted?

At this point, I have doubts whether it will ever be reprinted, given that it was, charitably stated, far less than a commercial success despite favorable reviews — and, for what it’s worth, was my father’s favorite of all the books I had written.

November Question

Now that Scholar will be released in the next week, can you tell us when the  next Imager Portfolio book will be available?


Princeps is currently scheduled for a May 2012 release date, but I don’t know yet whether that will be early or late in the month.


October Question

How many editors have you had?

That’s a question to which the almost any short answer would be misleadingIn the strictest sense, I have no idea how many editors I’ve had, for several reasons.  First, I have no way to determine how many editors looked at my early stories that were published by various magazines, only that they had to number more than four.  Second, while all but one of my novels have been edited by David Hartwell,virtually all of them were also edited by whoever his assistant editor was at the time.  The only book for which David was not the head editor was edited by John Douglas, who had been David’s assistant editor at Timescape and who bought my second novel for Avon at a time when David was between editing positions. Since David has been my editor for over thirty years I can’t even remember, let alone count all of the editors who have worked with him and me… except I can say that the vast majority turned out to be good editors in their own right [while I may not recall all the faces or names, any writer recalls a bad editor or copy-editor, and I don’t recall any bad editors, but I still recall the one terrible copy-editor].


September Question

In “What I’m Writing,” you seem to imply that there will be other Imager books beyond the second subseries? Is this so?

No… I did not mean to imply that I would be writing a third “subseries” in The Imager Portfolio.  What I meant was that the second subseries will have four books, rather than my typical two or three about a given character or set of characters. That doesn’t mean I won’t write another Imager subseries at some point in the future, but it won’t be in the immediate future after I finish the fourth book in the current subseries.


August Questions

I’ve read somewhere that Tor furnishes and supports your website.  Is this true?

Tor/Macmillan did design and set up the website initially and provided technical support for somewhat less than two years, but that arrangement turned out to be unsatisfactory to both parties for a number of reasons, and Tor agreed to turn over the website to me and generously paid for the transition to a new server and for the registration of the domain to me for a number of years.  For the past several years I’ve been totally responsible, but the more technical aspects are handled by the Nebula-winning writer Eric James Stone — who’s also a great web designer and maintainer.


Will you ever have a brewer as a main character in the Saga of Recluce?

Alas… probably not, not because I have anything against brewers, but because I couldn’t possibly do justice to such a character.  It’s not beyond the realm of possibility, however, that I might work in a strong minor character who’s a brewer, but that will have to be several years from now, at the least.


July Question

Are there going to be any more Recluce books? Say one about Southwind? Or Suthya?

As I’ve noted earlier, but will repeat since I’ve received so many questions about this recently, there will be at least one more book in the Saga of Recluce.  It will be, however, several years before I finish it, for a number of reasons, but especially because I’m committed to finishing the current subseries of The Imager Portfolio first.

June Question

Why isn’t The Death of Chaos available on Kindle, when all your other fantasy novels are?

I asked the good folks at Tor about this, and they report that the electronic format was sent to Amazon six  months ago.  They’ve also contacted Amazon about this, over a week ago, but so far it’s still unavailable.  While I’d be the first to admit that often publishers have not been as speedy or responsive as they should be, not all glitches are on the part of the publisher.  A number of times Amazon has been slow to change prices [downward] on my ebooks, even though Amazon was notified well in advance, and many readers have immediately jumped on Macmillan for price-gouging and the like.  Just remember, both the publishers and Amazon have agendas… not just the publishers.


May Question

For your next Recluce book, will you follow your pattern of two books per main character and write again about Saryn?

While I have usually written two books about a given character in the Saga of Recluce, this has not always been the case.  There is only one book about Creslin and Megaera, only one about Dorrin, and only one about Justen.  Although I have learned as a writer not to declare firmly that I will or won’t write some particular book, it is highly unlikely that I will write a second book about Saryn, simply because, as I see it, she has surmounted the greatest challenges she could face, and any sequel would either be unrealistic or anti-climactic.  That is not to say that there won’t be more Recluce books, only that there will not be one immediately forthcoming, as I’m committed to finishing two more books in The Imager Portfolio before writing anything else.
April Question

Is there a chronology for the Corean Chronicles?

There is not an “official” published chronology for the Corean Chronicles, but the three “choice” books occur first in “real” time, beginning with Alector’s Choice, Cadmian’s Choice, and Soarer’s Choice, followed roughly two hundred years later by the duology of The Lord-Protector’s Daughter and Lady-Protector.  Some 1500 years passes after the duology before the beginning of Legacies, Darknesses, and Scepters.

March Questions

Why was there no February Question?

Let’s just say that the distractions in my life temporarily overwhelmed my organizational abilities.

The advance review for Lady-Protector from Library Journal is quite favorable, but the one from Kirkus isn’t.  Did they read the same book?

I would think so, but when in doubt, I tend to rely more on either Library Journal or Booklist because their reviews are written by librarians, and I tend to trust librarians more than critics or reviewers.  But then, since I’m trying to be honest, the librarians have generally liked my books, and what author doesn’t prefer reviewers who are positive about his or her books?

January Question

I am re-reading the entire Recluce saga, this time chronologically, and I have always wondered why the city of Fairhaven was renamed Fairven and finally Frven as time passed? It seems to be the only city whose name changed throughout the series.

Actually, the name of the city never changed, not while it was a city filled with living, breathing people.  What changed was what people called it after its ruination. The name was shortened to Fairven and then Frven because it was passed on largely by oral tradition.  Justen, in The Magic of Recluce, refers to it as Fairhaven because he knows its name, which might just be another tip-off about Justen, but most people just know it as an old and bad place to avoid.

December Question

The current availability of your books in eBook format is very limited. Is this from your wishes, or those of your publisher? Will you please explain?

It’s certainly not from my wishes, or even from my publisher, nor is the assertion that availability is very limited totally accurate, unless one is talking about a particular ebook format.  I’ve just done a quick count.  To date, I’ve published 57 novels, in something like 64 editions.  From what I can tell, Amazon has 51 of those novels available in Kindle format, including every book I’ve published in the last 12 years.  I’m not about to track down how many books are available in each particular e-book format.  Admittedly, there are a few books that “should” be available that are not, such as The Soprano Sorceress, The Death of Chaos, The Parafaith War, Towers of the Sunset, and Gravity Dreams, but several of these will be available shortly, and it seems to me that 51 out 57 isn’t too bad for a publication history that spans 30 years.

November Question

I recently did some Gaelic research of my own (Irish, Scottish, Welsh, and Manx) and came across some root words for \”first\” — ciad, kied, chead — and \”earth\” or \”land\” — tir, duir, dowan — and it occurred to me that some of these words, put together and adjusted for pronunciation and creativity, might sound like Cyador. Is it supposed to be similar to \”first land\” or \”first earth\”, or is this a coincidence? Would you be willing to share some thoughts on how you go about naming your characters and places.

I have to admit that while a preponderant percentage of my ancestry is Celtic, with some Welsh, alas, I know neither language, and if the names I used reflect that source, it’s either channeled from unknown ancestors, subconscious, or happy circumstance… or possibly all three.  I do make a great effort to have names used in a given book, particularly in a given location in a book, have a certain internal consistency and some interrelations… but I’d be the first to admit that I probably don’t always succeed.  When it’s a question of Germanic, or Romance language derived names, then… yes, the naming tends to be more formally structured because I do know a bit in those areas.

October Question

What series of books that you wrote are you the most proud of, and why are they your choice?

Asking that question of an author is much like asking a parent which child is his or her favorite.  Unless you have only one, there’s no good or accurate answer.  Because I’ve done different things, often radically different things, critics and Monday morning quarterbacks to the contrary, in each series I’ve written, I’m proud of each series for differing reasons.  Each of the fantasy series has a totally different magic system, for example, and I’ve written from the viewpoint of characters of differing ages and backgrounds, notwithstanding the belief by some that I only write “coming-of-age stories.”