Last night I had the opportunity to meet with Steven Erikson, author of the Malazan Book of the Fallen and The Kharkanas Trilogy, at a book signing and then at dinner afterwards. I didn’t spend any time picking his brain afterwards, as the dinner was a more casual affair with a group of several friends and family members, though his story about climbing to the top of the Flatiron building in New York City, home of the Tor Books offices, was somewhat harrowing, but there was some interesting information that came out of the reading, some of which, I believe, is new.
- Regarding the oft-rumoured Encyclopaedia Malazica, Erikson suggested that there is, of course, interest from publisher (presumably Tor, though he didn’t indicate which publishers), but that work won’t begin on the project until Ian Cameron Esslemont has finished his currently planned contributions to the Malazan series. This includes one more novel after Blood & Bone.
- He didn’t say much about Esslemont’s fifth book, but mentioned that it will be set on the continent of Assail. He also discussed the process they use for writing an interweaving the stories, indicating that they focus discussions more on thematic elements rather than plot, allowing each other to explore those decided themes however they choose, including killing off characters and significant world-altering plot points, if necessary. It sounds like a very organic way of allowing two writers to work in one world.
- There’s a significant encounter in Toll the Hounds between one of Erikson’s characters and one of Esslemont’s characters (fans who have read TtH will know the encounter I speak of) that was decided, in true RPG-nerd fashion, by a good ol’ fashion roll of a twenty-sided die. Erikson suggested that the end of that novel would have been much different if the die had rolled differently.
- Erikson has several planned novellas, most of them falling into the Bauchelain and Korbal Broach cycle, but at least one (and potentially more) is centered around a character from “Crack’d Pot Trail” who he fell in love with.
- After the Kharkanas Trilogy he has another trilogy planned, featuring Karsa Orlong and set sometime after the end of The Crippled God. He suggested that this trilogy, if he writes it, will be written in a style closer to the original Malazan Book of the Fallen series, rather than his current trilogy.
- He mentioned an early draft of Gardens of the Moon that featured Anomander Rake as a point-of-view character, which would have been… mind-bending. He ditched the idea because he couldn’t properly understand how a character would act or think after having lived for so long.
- Of the Kharkana Trilogy, he said that his greatest intention is to explore language.
It was a fun evening and the crowd, though a bit reserved at first, had a lot of great questions for Erikson that extended beyond the usual ‘Is there going to be a movie? Will you write in it? Can I be in it?” questions. (Though, Gardens of the Moon did begin life as a satirical Fantasy screenplay covering what is now the final 300 pages of the novel.) Erikson is a nice fellow, incredibly sharp, and just a joy to speak to. It’s nice when one of Fantasy’s premier authors turns out to be such a cool dude. As for the future, it looks like there’s a lot to look forward to for Malazan.