Kategorie: Interviews mit Autoren

Tad Williams klein

Hallo Mr. Williams. Thank you for taking the time for this interview.

You have a colorful past: Studying was out of the question because you early wanted to stand on your own feet. You took on occasional jobs, played in a rock band and even moderated a talkshow. How did you find thereby your way to the writing of books?

I was always doing creative things "on the side," as we say in English - meaning I was working other jobs to afford rent, food, and so on, while doing my music and art and the other things I loved in my free time. But I got more interested in things I could do by myself, at odd hours, so I decided to try writing. That turned out to be a lucky decision, I guess.

What is it that excites you about writing: the writing process itself or the possibility to play god while creating your own worlds, characters, religions ...

Both. What I mostly like is the chance to make things that didn't exist before, and make them feel real enough that they have meaning for people - characters, places, ideas. And at heart I'm still a kid playing with plastic army men or drawing comic book heroes - I just like arranging a big, complicated scenario and making it all play out in (I hope) a satisfying way.

The first of your books that I read were the four volumes of "Memory, Sorrow and Thorn" - a fantastic story! With "Shadowmarch" you went in a similar direction while you took a whole other route with "Otherland". Did you want to return to your roots?

It was more complicated than that. I didn't set out to write Shadowmarch as a sort of return-to-epic-fantasy-novels, but as a quite different project, an attempt to write a serial novel on the internet. Circumstances conspired to make me change it into an on-paper book, but that wasn't the original idea. I was going to write separate novels (as I did with WAR OF THE FLOWERS) while I wrote Shadowmarch online.

One of the burning questions that I have is the following: Is there a chance that you might return one more time to "Osten Ard", for a reencounter with Binabik, Simon and all the other characters?

I do intend to do some kind of return to Osten Ard one day, and my publishers have been waiting patiently for years, but it probably won't be anything as straightforward as another epic fantasy trilogy or anything. I've talked about doing a collection of linked stories with a really interesting framing device, and that's how I'd probably go, at least the first time.

Your series include several thousands of pages and you’ve surely spend years with the characters and in the world you've created. Is it hard to take your leave – the last time with “Shadowheart” – after you’ve set the last word under the manuscript?

Not for me, because by the time I'm finishing one story I'm usually already planning the next, and whatever I'm working on in my head is always the thing I'm most interested in. I don't think I miss my characters in the same way readers do, because I'm already working with new characters. Also, if I feel I've "finished" their story - at least for the moment - then I'm pretty happy to leave them alone.

You mostly write fantasy and science fiction novels, but "The Secrets of Ordinary Farm" also targets a younger group of readers. Have you ever thought about trying a completely different genre, for example thriller?

Oh, of course, but the problem is you can only find new audiences so many times in a career - there are a lot of other good writers already creating good thrillers. But I think that my next set of books (which we're calling either the Bobby Dollar books or the Angel Doloriel books) have a strong thriller streak in them.

Is it tough for a fantasy writer to stand under the shadow of Tolkien who seems to be the father of fantasy?

Not for me, because I loved his work but have never thought I was trying to imitate him. For one thing, I write more kinds of fiction than Tolkien did, and have never spent as much time on one world as he did with Middle Earth. Also, we're philosophically very different, so I never doubted there was room for a small Tad Williams under all that wide Tolkien shade.

You also work as a comic author. What challenge lies for you in this kind of story development?

I love comics, I love playing with other people's toys (meaning other people's creations and characters) and I admire the brevity coupled with wild imagination that goes into the best comic writing. I also agree with Scott McCloud that words-with-pictures is its own kind of artform, and I'd love to have the time to really explore it and try to master it. Sadly, economic realities suggest it will almost certainly always remain a secondary -amour-.

When did you discover your love for comics?

Don't know, except I was young. I started out reading my cousin Gary's comics when I was probably six or seven, and very quickly became a full-fledged Marvel junkie (although I liked the DC stuff too). It had a big effect on me, and probably still influences my own writing.

All in all you seem to be a very busy person: writing novels, creating comics, writing novels with your wife, answering interview questions for literature portals ... Have you found a way to multiply the hours of your day?

I have the good luck to be a full-time writer, which gives me more time than most people, but mainly I have a bad habit of always wanting to say "yes" to new projects - there are so many things I'd like to try, and so many stories I want to tell. I also wish I had more time for music, art, and other things I love.

Now I have a few questions concerning the writing itself: Do you have particular rituals you follow while writing, for example a particular time of writing or a certain number of pages per day?

I generally do my thinking in the first part of the day, then write in the afternoon. Because I think first, my writing time is usually very concentrated. I just bang away at the keyboard pretty much the whole time I'm sitting down, then run away when I've done anywhere between five and ten pages.

Your novels are always very substantial, the worlds extremely detailed. Do you plan your novels down to the last detail before starting to write?

I can't plan everything because I discover so many new things and have so many new ideas during the course of writing a long story. But I do try to plan some things out in advance to even a multi-volume novel will have foreshadowing of key elements and symbolic resonance like a single book.

Recently you were in Germany on a book-signing tour and presented the final volume of "Shadowmarch", "Shadowheart". How important is the contact to your readers for you?

Incredibly important, not least because it's the most direct feedback I get, but also because I've always been a performer at heart and I love to get up in front of a room full of people and try to entertain them for a couple of hours. But it's also just humbling and wonderful to meet people who live far away from them and find out they're been not just reading my books but really thinking about them. That's the best thing about being a writer, I believe.

The last time you were in Germany on a book-signing tour you talked about your cats and the need of wearing a hat in the house. You also mentioned the Beagles your wife desperately wanted. Is there something new at the pet front?

We have more animals than North Korea has military parades. We have four dogs (Beagle, Poodle, two Chihuahuas) two cats, a lizard, a fish, and a turtle, and we live on a property inhabited by various birds, rabbits, squirrels, bobcats, deer, raccoons, snakes, lizards, and at least one wild turkey. I do not suffer from a lack of animal company.  Sometimes I wish I did ...

What’s your next project your readers can look forward to? On what are you working at the moment?

I'm actually working on the second of the Bobby Dollar books while I wait to meet with my editors about the first one, THE DIRTY STREETS OF HEAVEN. Bobby Dollar is the human name of an angel called Doloriel, assigned to Earth as a minor civil servant, who gets caught up in a weird plot in the long cold war between Heaven and Hell that is much more serious than anyone suspects. He also gets chased by ancient Sumerian demons, hangs out with ghosts and were-pigs, and has a passionate affair with a high-ranking she-devil. The second volume is called HAPPY HOUR IN HELL and the third will be SLEEPING LATE ON JUDGEMENT DAY.

A last question: What kind of books and which authors do you like to read?

Boy, that's hard to answer quickly - I like so many kinds of books. I'll give you an idea of what's on my bedside table at the moment:

A ton of graphic novels.
Great Expectations
A book on the translation of the King James Bible.
Simon Schauma's book about the French Revolution.
Nick Hornby's book about reading (THE POLYSYLLABIC SPREE)
An Ian Rankin "Inspector Rebus" novel
Keith Richard's autobiography

Usually I have a few Fantasy or SF books on there, too, but I just finished a couple (including a Scott Bakker novel) and haven't started any new ones.

Thank you very much for this interview. I wish you much fun and success!

You're welcome, and same to you! Bitte sehr!