Author Interview: Peter V Brett
With the successful start of The Warded Man, Peter V Brett followed up with the recently released next installment in his Demon War saga with The Desert Spear. He was kind enough to take some time out of his very busy schedule to have a little chat with us.
Here is a brief synopsis from his first book to give you a base for what he created, then the interview!:
Mankind has ceded the night to the corelings, demons that rise up out of the ground each day at dusk, killing and destroying at will until dawn, when the sun banishes them back to the Core. As darkness falls, the world’s few surviving humans hide behind magical wards, praying the magic can see them through another night. As years pass, the distances between each tiny village seem longer and longer. It seems nothing can harm the corelings, or bring humanity back together.
Born into these isolated hamlets are three children. A Messenger teaches young Arlen that fear, more than the demons, has crippled humanity. Leesha finds her perfect life destroyed by a simple lie, and is reduced to gathering herbs for an old woman more fearsome than the demons at night. And Rojer’s life is changed forever when a traveling minstrel comes to his town and plays his fiddle.
But these three children all have something in common. They are all stubborn, and know that there is more to the world than what they’ve been told, if only they can risk leaving their safe wards to find it.
MWN: Thanks for taking the time to chat! How has the release of The Desert Spear been for you?
PVB: Thanks for having me. After the success if The Warded Man, I felt a lot of pressure to deliver a sequel worthy of all the faith my readers were showing in me. I didn’t cut any corners and really put my all into The Desert Spear. It was an enormous labor of love, and so of course meant I’ve been a huge bundle of nerves over the last few months, waiting for it to finally come out so I could hear what people think.
But this month saw the book publish both in the UK and the US, and the reader response has been amazing. I’m really floored by the number of e-mails from readers and reviews online saying how much people have enjoyed the book, not to mention hitting the London and New York Times Bestseller Lists. It’s an incredible honor.
MWN: Where did your inspiration come from to craft a world in which demons rise out of the earth during the night to terrorize its inhabitants?
PVB: I could give you a whole BS answer about how the demons symbolize the demons within us or whatever, but the truth is, I read a lot of fantasy as a kid. In The Elfstones of Shannara by Terry Brooks, there is a scene where the demons, which had been banished from our world for thousands of years, finally broke through the dimensional barrier of their prison and returned.
It scared the crap out of me.
MWN: Do any of your characters reflect people you know? They say imitation is the best form of flattery.
PVB: No. In my earlier unpublished writing I did a lot of that, using real people in my life as the basis of character personalities, but it was a crutch I grew out of before I began submitting manuscripts for professional review.
MWN: It seems that the world Arlen lives has such a rich and vibrant history with very distinct cultures, how hard is it to not ‘information dump’ on the reader?
PVB: One of the hardest things for writers in general, and SF writers in particular, is how to avoid the infodump. You want to describe all the fantastic parts of your world to the reader, but if you do, you run the risk of your story reading like a textbook. Worldbuilding must be worked into a compelling narrative for a story to work, and writers are always looking for new ways to do it.
The approach I’ve taken with the series is to show my protagonists initially as children so the reader can learn about their culture and lives directly by sharing their most formative life lessons and experiences. I think it’s worked quite well so far, but every book is a new mountain to scale.
MWN: Are we going to see some new demon types that were hinted at in The Warded Man beyond those that are ‘Elemental’ in nature in The Desert Spear?
PVB: Absolutely. Starting on page 1, readers will be introduced to two new demon breeds, including the coreling princes, who will have their own ongoing POV sections throughout the remainder of the series. The demons have a culture and history all their own, which will slowly be revealed to the reader as the overall story progresses over the course of about five books.
MWN: I loved the climax of The Warded Man, and how the characters overcame their fears in order to face the demons. Did writing these books have you take a look at your own fears and how to conquer them?
PVB: In some ways. Fear was always the theme I wanted the first book to have. I wanted to tell the story of people so used to feeling scared and taking ridiculous precautions that it was ingrained in their culture. There was a lot of that feeling in New York while I was writing the book, and I think writing about it really helped me better understand what I and other people were going through. Seeing fear for what it is takes away much of its power over you.
MWN: I probably growled when Arlen was betrayed by Ahmann Jardir and the Krasians, does Arlen get a little revenge served up with some warded fists?
PVB: No comment on the revenge. I don’t want to give any spoilers. But I will say that there’s another side to that story, and maybe you shouldn’t pick a team until you hear both. The Desert Spear gives readers a good hard look at Jardir, and shows why he just might be the real Deliverer after all.
MWN: A lot of people think the new Battlestar Galactica set a standard for strong women characters, which The Warded Man has some of also. Do you think we will see this as more of a growing trend with writers to shed old gender stereotypes?
PVB: I guess. I try not to think about it too much. Readers respond to strong characters in general, so I just try to make every character, even the minor ones, compelling regardless of gender. Strength shows itself in many ways, not just physical prowess or ruthlessness, and I think some of my strongest characters have neither of those traits.
MWN: Which of your characters do you think is most like yourself?
PVB: They are all made out of little pieces of me, I guess, but none of them are really like me.
MWN: Since The Desert Spear just out, how much have you been procrastinating on the next installment of the series?
PVB: I’ve already done a LOT of work on book 3, The Daylight War, but I gave myself a month’s vacation from writing it to focus on the book release and promotion, as well as a couple of other side projects I’ve been meaning to get to. I think it’s important to have a recharge period between books, so I’m also using the time to catch up on my own reading. Back to work in May, though.
MWN: Anything you want the readers to know that we didn’t touch on?
PVB: Check out my website, www.petervbrett.com
Again we want to thank Peter for taking the time to talk with us, we’ll be posting our review of The Desert Spear soon, as anything else we can get our hands on that he puts out! Keep your eyes peeled to our website!