Here on Daily (w)rite, as part of the guest post series, it is my pleasure today to welcome award-winning fantasy author Mark Lawrence, author of the acclaimed trilogies, The Broken Empire, The Liar’s Keyand and The Wheel of Osheim, among others. He’s here to talk about the writing life and his latest, The Girl and the Stars, recently published by Harper Collins.
1. For those who would like to write fantasy, what would be your advice as a veteran writer on engaging readers in the world of the story?
I’d forget about the readers and write something that entertains you.
2. What makes a character real and interesting?
I write characters that interest me. The questions that surround them might relate directly to their internal struggles or those of the world around them or both. I don’t think there’s any formula to follow. The ‘reality’ of a character is a very big question without easy answers. It’s not even the same as whether they’re relatable or not. It’s more to do with achieving a level of internal consistency without making them too predictable.
3. What writing advice would you give to someone outlining their novel?
Only do it if you want to. I don’t outline my books.
4. When writing a series, in what ways do you ensure that the reader is satisfied at the end of end of one book and looks forward to the next?
I ensure that I’m satisfied and that I look forward to the next. That entails a mix of closure and of open questions.
5. What is the world and setting of your new series Book of the Ice like?
What is says on the tin: it’s all ice, miles thick. It’s a world with a dying sun. The ice has covered over various layers of older civilisations and humanity have been reduced to a very basic existence on the edge of extinction.
6. What is that one thing you’d like readers to know about The Girl and the Stars and the Book of the Ice series?
The story is set on Abeth, the same world that The Book of the Ancestor trilogy, starting with Red Sister, is set on. You don’t need to read that trilogy before The Girl and the Stars but if you like TGATS then you might well want to give Red Sister a try while waiting for the next book.
Also, as has been the case with my four other trilogies, all the books have been written before the first one comes out, so you’ll get them a year apart, no delays.
7. Tell us about your current project.
I don’t really have a current project. I have two or three days left going through the publisher’s edit on book 2 of my current trilogy. Then I’ll wait for their edit on book 3 and look at that. While I’m waiting I’ll decide what to do next and that will be my current project. But I have zero clue what it will be. I’ll just stare at a wall and hope a good idea pops up. There may be a few false starts before I settle on something – or I may even go back to an earlier “false start” and poke it a bit.
8. Where did the idea come from for the Book of the Ice series?
Well, the idea for the setting was already given in the previous trilogy The Book of the Ancestor. Abeth is a world almost entirely covered in ice. And the ice has covered over at least two main periods of civilisation. So setting a story out on the ice wasn’t a great leap of imagination.
The real idea, the question addressed rather than the setting or plot, is about how society treats those it considers its weakest members, its burdens. And what makes that a difficult question rather than a no-brainer that should be answered ‘be kind’ and often isn’t because … well … people, is that the ice provides such extreme hardship that there’s almost no room for compassion.
Mark Lawrence was born in Champaign-Urbana, Illinois, but moved to the UK at the age of one. He went back to the US after taking a PhD in mathematics at Imperial College to work on a variety of research projects including the ‘Star Wars’ missile defence programme. Returning to the UK, he has worked mainly on image processing and decision/reasoning theory. His first trilogy, The Broken Empire, has been universally acclaimed as a ground-breaking work of fantasy, and both The Liar’s Keyand The Wheel of Osheim have won the Gemmell Legend award for best fantasy novel. Mark is married, with four children, and lives in Bristol
Have your read fantasy author Mark Lawrence? Do you have questions about his latest series? What are your favourite fantasy reads?
Go to the site to see the other participants. In this group we writers share tips, self-doubt, insecurities, and of course, discuss the act of writing. If you’re a writer and a blogger, go join rightaway! The awesome co-hosts for the May 6 posting of the IWSG are Feather Stone, Beverly Stowe McClure, Mary Aalgaard, Kim Lajevardi, and Chemist Ken!
IWSG question: Do you have any rituals that you use when you need help getting into the ZONE? Care to share?
Personally, I have no rituals. I write when I have to, and I write better when I have deadlines. The only real trick for me if I can’t get into a world is to write a page or two by hand, and then type it up. Something about the organic nature of writing by hand seems to loosen things up.
My debut literary crime novel,”You Beneath Your Skin,” published by the fab team at Simon and Schuster IN is making its way into the world.
It is available in India here.
Reviews are appreciated–please get in touch if you’d like a review copy.