Your Questions for the Author Answered

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.

June Question

Do you think you will ever write a Recluce book that takes place after The Death of Chaos?

As I’ve said before, it’s highly unlikely that I’ll ever write a Recluce book that takes place after The Death of Chaos, but I am working on a story collection entitled Recluce Tales, and there are two stories which take place several years after The Death of Chaos. It will likely be at least a year or two before this is finished, since, outside of the three stories already published [which will be included], all the other stories are original and unpublished.

May Question

Is Recluce your favorite “universe”?  If not, which one is?

Although I’ve obviously written more books about characters in the world of Recluce than in any other setting, I honestly can’t say that any one setting is my favorite.  In a very real sense, my “favorite” universe is the one in which I’m writing, and at present, that’s our universe a hundred years from now. 

April Question

Do you see any other books following in the Haze or  Archform:Beauty story-lines?

Flash is effectively set in the same “future” as Archform:Beauty, but not with the same characters.  At present, I don’t have any plans to re-visit the time/locale of either Haze or Archform:Beauty, but, as I say so often that it must frustrate some readers, I do reserve the right to do so, if I get an idea/plot that fits that I’m personally excited about. 


March Question

How long will you continue to write books in the Recluce Saga?  Will you ever write a book about the arrival of colonists from the Rational Stars?

Obviously, with two Recluce books forthcoming, I haven’t yet decided against writing more Recluce books.  I have at least one more in mind, but that’s a longer term project, for reasons I won’t get into yet.  The rest of the answer is simply that so long as I can come up with good stories and so long as readers buy them and Tor is willing to publish them I’ll likely write Recluce books, but there are likely to be intervals between them because I’ll also be writing other books.

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.