Over at (the always excellent) Stomping on Yeti, Patrick has a nice interview with Daniel Abraham, author of The Long Price Quartet, and gets Abraham to spill a few beans about his upcoming series, The Dagger and the Coin:
Ah! The Dagger and the Coin. That’s an interesting project.
When I started writing the Long Price Quartet, my personal mandate apart from the exact plots and characters and all was to figure out how to write a novel. I’d written a bunch of short stories, and i felt like I had a handle on that length. Novels, though? Before A Shadow in Summer, I’d written three trunk novels. Each one was better than the one before, but I didn’t have it down yet. So four books later — or five, if you count Hunter’s Run, or seven if you add in the Black Sun’s Daughter books to date — I understand book-length fiction a better. I’m comfortable. I win, right?
When it came time to build the new project, one of the things that was clear to me is that if you know where you’re going from the first word, you win. I have this whole rant comparing X Files to Babylon 5 that makes the point. Anyway, I started this by something I called the Symposium. I got a bunch of really great minds together for a Sunday, and we talked about what epic fantasy *is*. What’s the relationship of the genre to landscape? How is it about nostalgia for a mythical past and how is it more than that? What are the expectations, and how can you fulfill them without painting by numbers? It was a *long* talk.
Then with that as a focus, I went through all the things I think are the most interesting things that I could fit into an overtly epic fantasy universe. I love the Medici bank, and especially Tim Park’s book-length essay on it, Medici Money. I love The Queen’s Gambit by Walter Tevis. I love Whedon’s Firefly (not so much Serenity, but that’s another rant). I love The Diary of a Man in Despair by Friedrich Reck-Malleczewen. I love Dumas and Dickens. I love Dorothy Dunnett’s House of Niccolo books. I think Walter Jon Williams’ Dread Empire’s Fall series is critically under-appreciated. And on and on.
And so I stole everything I liked the best, and now I’m making gumbo.
The books — I’m under contract for three, but I’m thinking that the first full arc will take about five — follow five main characters. It’s a little weird, since instead of having a farm boy chosen by prophecy, I’ve got an orphan girl who was raised by my version of the Medici bank, but hey. The point was never to paint by numbers, right?
The first book covers the introductions and setup with a bunch of swashbuckling and dark magic and intrigue and sentiment. The second book is the start of the Great War. The third will take us up to the critical moment, and then change the game again.
They’re longer books than the Long Price — about 160,000 words at the minimum where the Long Price was more in the 120-140 range — but so far, it reads like a short story. With as much as there is to cover, things move fast. And it’s a different tone. The glib way I’ve been describing it is that I wrote my tragedy first, now I’m writing my adventure, and if someday I’m good enough, I might try my comedy. But not yet.
Despite having not read Abraham (I’ve been saving The Long Price Quartet for a rainy day, which will likely come this winter), I’m damn excited for this series. Everything he’s saying hits my buttons in just the right way. I have a feeling that Tor, who published The Long Price Quartet will regret passing on this series, and Orbit, who’s publishing this, will be grinning ear to ear.
You can read the rest of the interview HERE.