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'It should have been Stars & Garters but I got
Broomsticks & Chicken Wings'

Welcome to Impulse Gamer Ray! We've been a huge fan of your Midkemia books and can't wait to sink our teeth (or eyes) into your latest and final book of the Rift War Saga, Magician's End.


Congratulations on Magician's End and over 30 years of writing... that's quite a legacy you've left behind? Now that you've had some time to digest the final book, what are your thoughts on it?

Being the guy who wrote the thing, I'm very subjective about the book with my own internals and processes. You kind of sit back for awhile and have this transition period. Initially you watch other peoples reactions to it and then later on you can reassess. And then you're like, I wrote this 5 years ago and that was me 5 five years ago but I wonder could I do that better today or what direction would it take?

So right now, I lack perspective on the book and really and haven't figured out whether I've done a good job or not but so far, people are very nice to me. I've gotten a couple of negatives from people who are kind of upset that the book isn't something else and I refuse to take criticism on a book not being that... you know, it should of been stars and garters but I got broomsticks and chicken wings. For the most part, people have responded in a meaningful way and are pleased with the end result. You know, I had a lot of stuff to wrap up!

So when you wrote the Magician, did you think the series would become such a world wide hit?

When I wrote the Magician, I didn't even know if anybody would buy the Magician or if I would be asked to do a second book. So no, the thing about being a young writer which I was 30 years ago, is that you're really in the here and now... you're in the flow. You're trying to get the deal. You're not even thinking of what's coming down the road until your career gets ramped up and you realise that's what I do, I am now a full-time professional writer. Then you start thinking for the longer term.

By the time I really got a handle on all this stuff which was when I basically changed publishers in the states is when I started thinking in terms of this is actually turning into something. When I finished at the previous publisher, the book was The King's Buccaneer and there was suppose to be a sequel to the Buccaneer that never got written because they did not want a sequel to another book.

So when I did the Serpent War that's when I thought this would be the whole thing and I would then get around to doing other things like another Faerie Tale or something else. But instead, every time I finished up a book such as Shards of a Broken Crown, it was like what's next? Or how about I do another dark fantasy and my editor would say no, what's next in the Midkemian story? You know what's the next Rift War?

And by the time I finished the Serpent War, I knew I was going to do all five [Rift Wars]. I wasn't quite sure on the length at that point and I didn't realise we were going to do the Krondor Legacy based on the gaming projects. I also didn't know I was going to do collaborations from The Legends of the Rift War Series. So there's book number six which I hadn't even anticipated working on at that time. So to answer your question, succinctly no, I had no clue.

With Pug, is it safe to say some part of Pug is based on you? Is there some psyche of you inside the character?

There's this myth that literally professors like to flog that says there's always a character in the book that is a representation of the writer. I think that's nonsense actually and you can write books with no links to you at all. There are things about Pug that I admire and I think that he's a little crazy in one regard. He's also very committed to do doing the right thing and he does some things that I wouldn't be willing to do in terms of sacrifice.

Now, if I was in Pug's shoes, that might mean the world is coming to end because Ray won't do what needs to be done but then again, it's not about Ray but Pug. So I say that there is two aspects to your question, which is... I wish I was clever as Arutha, I wish I was as charming as Lorie, I wish I was as fiendishly diabolical as Jimmy... I would pick and choose various things from the characters. The flip side is that lots of different characters at different times present my world view but I try not to editorialise by putting somebody on a soapbox and talk about the nature of managing man or something. I'm writing fiction, ripping yarns, page turners, but yeah there are things about the world such as how people treat each other that creeps back in there.

I wrote a scene where Pug is helping Nicholas overcome his club foot and to go chase after the people who were abducted and I address this in a very psychologically approach that you won't get healed because you are in love with your pain. You're in love with pain because it gives you an excuse and the excuse is you're not going to try because you might fail. Well that was a classic text book fear of success fear of failure syndrome. So yeah, I believe that's a major problem for many of us so that's why I threw that in there.  There are little bits in all my books and you can go and say ok... that's what Feist thinks and you'd probably be right. But I doubt you'd identify most of them.

With the Magician's End, you've included some great cameos like Kulgan and even Borric. Was there any other character you would have liked to revisit in the final book?

That's a tough call because I've been looking at different story vehicles to expand the characters. The stuff with Miranda and Piper for instance is that I didn't want to be overt about this. I didn't want to lecture the reader but if you look at these characters, the reality was that those characters were being taught lessons by people who were important to them and had an emotional impact on them. For Pug it was Kulgan and Macros, for Magnus it was the woman who broke his heart and with Nakor, it was the other woman that broke his heart.

But for Miranda, there wasn't really anybody but Piper. And the reason that happened was because the people who really mattered to Miranda were still around like Pug or Magnus and in the lesson of perspective, it was taught by Piper. The only character that she would have wanted to show up was Caleb but he wasn't the right voice for this perspective so I left him out. I did what I did for meaning and there was no one else I really want to bring back. I didn't want to turn this into the last day of Survivor where they walk around and see all the people who have been voted off the island. <laugh> I wasn't going to do that.

What was your biggest challenge in writing Magician's End?

Keeping track of a lot of stuff for one thing and finding the right resonance and emotional balance. It's about when you get to the end, it should make sense to you. It should also make sense to you on two levels. A cognitive sense, so you should be able to look at it and say logically all that stuff that happened had to have happened. This guy had to do that thing in order to achieve this other thing over here and yeah it was messy but that's what had to be done. This guy done the right thing over here and that paid off, yeah that's good.

But also, it needs to make sense emotionally. There has to be this continuation and I care about these characters, they are important to me and when they left the stage, they left the stage at the appropriate moment and appropriate time. If they didn't leave the stage, then sticking around makes sense and that's a little harder to achieve.

You know, it's a bit of a manipulation when you're writing a novel, your trying to deal with feelings and you want certain kinds of evocations but it's a very fine line between deftly setting things up for people to feel emotional satisfied or trying to manipulate the reader. And secondly, I really don't like writers who try to beat you over the head with something to get an emotional response. Because of the subject matter in Magician's End, this was the hardest book to write in that regard, finding the right emotional balance.

So what that said, will you revisit this universe again or the wonderful shores of Midkemia? Or will you move onto other things?

Okay... there's one Midkemia project left and that's the Chronicles of Pug which was originally going to be an Atlas but I turned it around and morphed it a bit. Now it's going to be a beautiful book with some amazing art by Steve Stone and his crew in London. It will have some lovely maps, charts and things  by a European art house who are doing a wonderful job and some guy Feist who wrote a bunch of words. You know, I think it's going to be a fun project that will be out in the Fall, perhaps October or maybe early November.

I'm also working on the first book in a new series called The War of Five Crowns and the first book is called King of Ashes. It's going to be Feist, it's my brand of writing and it's what I do. It's going to be the kind of writing I've been doing for 30 years, but it's also going to be a different subject matter such as revenge.

It's about betrayal and looking for payback. There's the old Asian proverb that when you plan revenge, first dig two graves. One for the person you're going after and one for yourself because you have to pay a price and that's what this whole story is about in this new series. It's about someone who embarks on a revenge and faces all of the consequences of it. I'm having a lot of fun plotting and writing this new book which is going to be an interesting series.

When will King of Ashes be available?

Assuming I get home in timely fashion and survive Supanova in Perth Australia <laugh>, I should give myself a day or two to get back into the Westcoast, lots of coffee and then time in front of the word processor. I really like to get this book handed in to make the publication deadline for sometime next year.

Fairie Tale is easily one of the best horrors around. Have you ever been approached to make that into a movie or any of your other novels?

Well actually we talk to people all the time about it but they haven't ended up in movies. It's all Hollywood speak, studio politics and turnarounds. There's a bunch of a stuff I could tell you how Hollywood works  but the short version is that a lot of books get optioned and deals get made but they still never make movies or TV shows. I've had several deals along the way. Trust me if we ever get one, it won't be kept a secret. We'll definitely make sure you know. <laugh>

How do you keep track of all your characters? Do you have some amazing Midkemia CODEX or something?

I actually don't. What I found out, at least with the Midkemian stuff is that its been written over a 30 year period so I was able to remember the people I needed to remember. This was because it was a transition from one to the next. If you read all 30 back to back than I imagine you would need a score card. I didn't write them all in 2 weeks but once in a while I would have to think about a secondary character and where they appeared in the story. For the new project,  because it's a new world and 3 books, I am definitely keeping track of all my characters and place names for the new project because I don't want to get lost.

Who's your favourite character and why?

I don't have one because I love all my characters. People love my characters and it's funny how Pug is one guys most favourite character and somebody else loves Jimmy the Hand and the third person loves Nakor, so its not always the same character. But I'm their dad, their all like my brats to me. Sometimes they are a pain in the neck and give me trouble, some are a little more fun to write than others, but I don't have a favourite perse. You know, they're all really good aspects of the writers tool set, they get the story told and the jobs done. But as I said, I'll concede that Jimmy, Amos and Nakor, were always fun to write because they had all the fun dialogue.

Lastly, any last words to your Australian fans?

Just this, I have been overwhelmed by the reception in Australia on this tour, so thankyou. It's been way too long since I've been here and its a wonderful country and I adore the people here. I'm already planning to sneak back here and not tell you so I can have a holiday.

Thankyou Ray and all the best for your new series!



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