The Emperor's Blades, was one of the most hotly anticipated fantasy debuts of last year. And fans of the series have not been disappointed with Staveley's action packed sequel, The Providence of Fire.(Click here for a FREE extract).
In fact, the only complaints we've heard have been from fans who simply can't bear the thought of waiting another year to find out what happens to Adare, Valyn and Kaden. So we caught up with Brian Staveley himself to see if he had a favourite sibling, and if he could reveal anything about the final instalment of the Chronicle of the Unhewn Throne trilogy!
1) In The Providence of Fire, you have expanded on the history, religion and politics of the Annurian Empire to suitably epic proportions. How do you keep track of such a vast world history?
I’ve developed a very reliable system. I keep character dossiers in separate word documents on my computer, except where I’ve jotted them down on index cards, which I keep either in the upstairs desk or under the couch, where my son hoards stuff of mine that he’s able to take off the upstairs desk. But that’s ok because I know where to find it. History and timeline materials I try to do on the large painting pad that I actually steal from my son, which works great, except one of his friends painted something on the back of a timeline of Annurian history and she cried when she couldn’t take it home, so it’s on her fridge, but I know where to look at it if I need it. Anything pertaining to setting or location in the series is all in a single manila folder, except for the stuff in actual books, like when I dog ear a page from a travel book about Norway because I want to use a particular fjord in my book. When I do that, I try to put in an explanatory post-it, but those fall out sometimes. I have a wonderful white board that keeps getting erased by mysterious forces, but I try not to cling to the things of this world, including my own ideas. If I wanted to keep them forever I’d carve them into the walls with a knife, not write them on a dry-erase board. I keep all the information about the Csestriim on the back of receipts, which my wife throws away. Honestly, I have no idea how the other fantasy writers keep up, those poor fools.
2) The relationship between the siblings Adare, Kaden and Valyn has been the topic of much discussion. Do you feel a fatherly responsibility towards them, or do you have a favourite?
I don’t have a favourite, but I will say this: Kaden is by far the hardest to write. All narrative tension comes from the emotions of the characters, so maybe it wasn’t the most brilliant idea to have a point-of-view character who is so adept at suppressing his emotion. I did, however, find a way to throw him off his game in the third book…
3) You have been known to kill off characters unexpectedly. Have you committed any fictional murders that you regret whilst writing books 1 and 2 in the trilogy? Or are there any you’re really not looking forward to committing in book 3?
So much work goes into building a character that I always feel the loss when one of them catches a foot of sharp steel in the wrong place. That said, the reader can feel it the moment a writer goes soft. They look into the eyes of your author photo on the book jacket and mutter, “He won’t kill her. This asshole doesn’t have what it takes.” The minute that happens, you’re sunk; all the tension just drains right out of the book. So no, I don’t regret it; it’s not personal, it’s business.
4) You have previously compared the experience of writing to wrestling a giant snake. Do you have any tips for aspiring authors?
Don’t let go. You’ll hit that moment when you think you just need to take a break, to get out of the swamp for a minute to rest. That’s when you’ve got to go for the eyes and to hell with the fangs pumping poison into your leg.
5) Finally, the question everyone wants answered: do you have a clear plan as to how it’s all going to end and can you reveal anything about book 3?
I can do you one better than a plan: I have a book. The first draft of book three has been finished for over a month, and I’m working on the revisions now. I can say, regarding the question above, that some characters you like are going to die by the end. You think I’m bluffing? Don’t test me.