Steven Erikson, photo by Fazal Majid   Thanks to Shawn Speakman (a good friend of mine, a terrific author and the man behind The Signed Page) I had the chance to meet one of Fantasy’s biggest authors, Steven Erikson. In fact, I didn’t only meet him, I spent an afternoon with him and Shawn and we had a good chance to talk about everything from Fantasy, to windy islands, to K.J. Parker’s latest trilogy (The Engineer Trilogy, it’s really good apparently!), to my own writing career, and even Pat from Pat’s Fantasy Hotlist (Nothing but good things, Pat. I promise!).

   It’s obviously a pretty rare chance to sit down with a published author and be able to shoot the shit for a couple of hours. It’s an even rarer chance to do so with an author who many will argue is the finest in the genre at the moment.

   What struck me most about Erikson was his willingness to speak to me as an equal. From the moment we shook hands I could tell that it didn’t cross his mind that I was a young, unpublished fellow with a fledgling blog; instead he listened openly to everything I had to say, was more than willing to speak about the craft of writing and give tips and suggestions when needed.

Midnight Tides by Steven Erikson   I’ve met several prolific authors in my time, but I’ve never had the chance to sit down so casually with one and converse so freely. I can already feel the affect that my encounter with Erikson has affected my vision of writing, my approach to writing my own material and my perception of the dedication an author should show towards their craft. It’s clear that Erikson takes his writing seriously. He is confident about his work, but never cocky. He has a vision for his story, but is willing to let his characters show him the true path. He is willing to share the wealth of information he has accrued in his years and author.

   He stressed to me how important it is for a writer to not only write, but also to read. To read not only within the genre they are writing, but also everything else. It is from these works that a writer will pull their inspiration, their knowledge and on top of everything else it can help remind you why you fell in love with the written word in the first place. And it’s obvious from seeing his bookshelves that he is very well read; his library of books is enough to make anyone jealous! He enjoys reading and is more than willing to extol the virtues of some of his favourite authors (he really likes Stephen R. Donaldson!)

   We also talked at length about the importance of work-shopping you writing. Get people to read it! Get them to tell you what works, what doesn’t and how they think it would work better. Listen to them, but always remember that you are the author, you are the one in control of your story. If 20 people read your novel and 2 of them actually give good advice then it is time well spent and can help you immensely.

The Healthy Dead by Steven Erikson   Alas, Malazan fans, we did not speak too heavily about specifics of his own novels, so I have no spoilers about Toll the Hounds, his next novel; I can however tell you that he’s happy with the novel; it is almost finished; and he’s pretty confident that he’s crafted an ending that will knock his fan’s socks off. I also saw the notebook he works out of; it was a thrill to see where all the secrets of the Malazan universe are held and I’m sure there are many fans out there that would love to get their hands on it! I got a glimpse at a map he had hand drawn himself, which was interesting considering I’m abysmal when it comes to drawing my own maps. Oh yeah, we also spoke a little about the… erm, disappointing US cover of The Bonehunters.

   Steven was kind enough to give me copies of his two novellas, Blood Follows and The Healthy Dead, so be on the lookout for reviews of those shortly. I’m always a fan of a lean novel and am eager to see how Erikson, one of the predominant writers of doorstopper Fantasy, handles a story told in only 100 or so pages.

   In the past I would have considered myself a casual fan of Steven Erikson. I enjoyed his novels, but didn’t rush to the bookstore to buy the latest one. I thought his stories just weren’t for me. Since meeting the man, however, and learning more about his approach to writing, his ideas of how a story should be told, and his dedication to the craft, I finally get him and his novels. I understand now what he is trying to do and it is truly a magnificent and ambitious undertaking. My opinion of his work was shattered and replaced by nothing but the highest respect, understanding and eagerness. I now count myself firmly among his fans and his work and you can expect to see much more regarding the man and his novels here at A Dribble of Ink. I was ignorant before; I couldn’t see the forest for the trees.

Deadhouse Gates by Steven Erikson   I’ve fixed that mistake now and only wish I could have come to the conclusion sooner!

   So, I’ve gushed about my experiences with the man, but what’s in this for you? Well, a couple of things. First off, Steve and I are in talks about putting together an interview with not only himself but also Ian Cameron Esslemont (the co-creator of the Malazan Universe and author in his own right, check out Night of Knives) and I want to get you guys involved. Steve has a huge fan base and I know you’re all dying to ask him some questions.

   I’ll go through them all and pick out some of the best to be included in the interview. Just a couple of tips, though:

  • Stay away from “Read-and-find-out” type of questions. Steven and I aren’t interested in spoiling his next novel for you.
  • Any questions related to trying to send him your manuscript or anything like that will be ignored.
  • Be creative! Check out other interviews with him and try to think of questions that haven’t been posed before!

   On top of this, Erikson fans can expect a nice surprise being announced here in the next couple of days, so be sure to keep an eye our for that!

   As you can probably tell, my time with Steven Erikson was a big moment for me as a writer, as a fan and as a person. If I took nothing but the advice away from the meeting I would be in a better place as a writer. But I gained much more than just advice; I gained confidence, I gained knowledge and most importantly I gained friendship. Many thanks go out to Steve and his wife for being such generous and kindhearted people and for taking the the time out of their day to entertain two aspiring writers.

  • Patrick September 27, 2007 at 8:48 pm

    Well, given how much I’ve fallen in love with the Malazan series, as well as the fact that I’ve attempted to give both Steven and Cameron as much exposure as humanly possible, one would hope that he would have a few nice things to say about me!;-)

    Aidan, you have to read this series, my friend! Personally, I can’t wait for TOLL THE HOUNDS. Ah, the return of Anomander Rake and the rest of the Genabackis posse. . . Bring it on!


  • aidan September 27, 2007 at 8:52 pm


    Glad to see you drop by. I was hoping you’d see this! The first thing I did when I got back into town was to head to the bookstore to pick up Memories of Ice, so you can be sure that I will catch up as quickly as I can. I thought Deadhouse Gates was a big step up from Gardens of the Moon and I hear Memories of Ice is just as good, so I’m very eager to check it out.

    Steve was interested to hear about your own success with your novel, so you should drop him a line sometime and fill him in on the details, I’m sure he’d be interested to find out more than what Shawn and I were able to tell him!

  • Lawrence September 27, 2007 at 10:41 pm

    You lucky bastard, getting the chance to spend an afternoon with one of my favourite writers! But I have to say, great post, too bad you have no spoilers for Toll of Hounds. ;) I hope he inspired you to write some Erikson-like stuff, would be great to have some more of that badass stuff in the genre. It has to feel great to talk about writing with such a succesful writer.

  • Graeme September 28, 2007 at 12:26 am

    Genabackis is my favourite Erikson setting so I’m glad to see the story heading back there. I’m going to put my jealousy to one side (you spent an afternoon with one of my favourite authors!) and say that you’ve posted another great article, a must read for any Erikson fan. And you’re doing an interview as well, how lucky can one blogger get?
    I need to come up with some questions…

  • Stee September 28, 2007 at 4:24 am

    Oh how I envy you. You just did something that I have wanted to do for going on 8 years now. I am very glad that your experience with him was so valuable and meaningful. I truely believe due to the massive scope of his books that the man is just completely underrated and largely due to people just not giving him TIME. The time to hook them and draw them in and never let them go. His books are the pride of my collection. I have every edtion signed so far other then BoneHunters. I will brain storm some good questions my friend and send them on your way:). Get reading Memories it is the best book I have ever read.


  • Robert September 28, 2007 at 7:02 am

    Lucky dog you ;) Where was my hookup Shawn if you’re reading this!!!

    Anyways, very cool about the experience and the upcoming interview with Mr. Erikson & Mr. Esslemont :D I might just have a question or two for you…

  • Grimlock September 28, 2007 at 11:23 am

    I am envious beyond comprehension! Now, time to figure out some good questions…

  • Rob B September 28, 2007 at 4:57 pm

    Damn Canadians and their luck.

  • […] I promised you a surprise with regards to Steven Erikson and, well… here it […]

  • aidan September 30, 2007 at 7:54 pm


    Glad to see you guys writhing in your seats!

    RE: Lawrence – He’s definitely inspired me to write. In fact, progress on my own novel has progressed a good bit since I saw him! It’s not a very Erikson-esque novel though…

    RE: Graeme – How lucky can I get? How about getting a bunch of copies of his latest (US) novel to give away to fans? If you really think its worth the time for Erikson fans to read, please feel encouraged to spread the word about it!

    RE: Stee – Glad to see you stop by! You’re right that the one thing I didn’t give Erikson at first was time. Now he can have all the time in the world as far as I’m concerned. Looking forward to your questions, Stee. And hey, as it happens I’m giving away copies of The Bonehunters so cross your fingers!

    RE: Robert – Send away with the questions!

    RE: Grimlock – Hey, at least I was thoughtful enough to share the encounter with you guys, that should do a bit to ease the jealousy!

    RE: Rob B – Just another reason to love my country!

    You all will probably be even more jealous when you find out that I’m going to be seeing him again tomorrow…

  • sean October 1, 2007 at 8:12 am

    Hey Adian, heard you make numerous references to your own writing in that little blurb, any sample excerpts I can read? Synopsis, chapters, etc…?
    Thanks, and keep up the great work on the website…and by the way, think we could get a Patrick Rothfuss update, lol.

  • aidan October 2, 2007 at 9:29 pm


    Thanks for the curiousity where my own writing is concerned! I don’t like to talk about it too much here on my blog, mainly because I want to bring my readers more interesting news and content!

    I’m currently working on a standalone novel, Urban Fantasy I suppose you could call it, but it’s more along the lines of a modernized Faerie Tale. It’s still in the early stages, but it’s coming along faster than anything else I’ve ever written, which is usually a good sign! Unfortunately I don’t have any excerpts for anyone to read yet, but when they’re ready perhaps I’ll make a post letting people know.

    That being said, I do have three short stories that I’ve published on my main web site. They are each standalone stories and are not Fantasy at all. I like ’em all for different reasons and am very proud to have written them. That being said, there’s always room for improvement! You can find them at []. I hope you find some enjoyment with them!

    As for some Patrick Rothfuss news…. Well, erm, it doesn’t look like I have any at the moment! What is the world coming to?!

  • […] out my two articles about the time I spent with Steven Erikson a few weeks ago! You can find them HERE and […]

  • […] I had the chance to hang out with Steve for a couple of afternoons and recounted my experiences HERE and HERE. There’s also a few tidbits about Toll the Hounds scattered throughout the two […]

  • […] Blackwells talk at the Bloomsbury theatre. (51min 9s).” Also, read about Aidan’s afternoon with Steven Erikson, its very worth your […]