GRADUAL INTERVIEW (November 2005)
Jeff Periman: I just want to say the Thomas Covement Chronicles are such a graet read!!!! I just finished RUNES WOW!! Okay my question is the Ranhyns? Why horses?
Thanks for your time Jeff
Todd: I have a feeling that the following question may frustrate you, but I'm curious as to your answer.
You said that the "surquedry of the Elohim" as opposed to the "arrogance of the Elohim" was considerably more appropriate to what you were trying to communicate. Surquedry isn't in my leather bound Webster's or my nightstand dictionary, but is in the OED, as an alternate spelling of surquidry. It is defined there thus: "Arrogance, haughty pride, presumption". That certainly does fit the Elohim better than "arrogant". However, even the above average reader won't know the meaning of the word surquedry, and most won't have the OED as a resource in the next room, as I do. If the word you chose is so difficult for the average reader to find then isn't it your responsibility as an author to find a way to communicate "surquedry" to your reader without using the word?
steve cook: just read the latest installment of the G.I. and saw that Kent State University Libraries holds every version of your works...including re-writes!!!!! i knew there was something there but i didn't realise just how much.
having read everything you've ever published many times over, (i should get out more) i would love the chance to read the 'complete' works.
the problem, and hence my question, is....
As i'm VERY unlikely to ever visit your country, i will never be able to access the contents of K.S.U.L. Is there any way in which it could be accessed online, maybe even through this site?
once again thanks for everything.
Chris O'Connell: Mr. Donaldson,
I'm a big fan and happy if I can make some contribution. I have heard Isaac Newton (he of the famous laws, not figs) credited with the 'standing on the shoulders of giants' quote.
John Dunn: Mr. Donaldson,
Thanks for taking the time to answer these questions. It is certainly not necessary, but greatly appreciated!
When you first began to write the Man Who series, did you know there would be more than one book? You have stated throughout the G.I. that when you conceive a story you know exactly how many books/parts it will take. Was it the same for your mystery novels? Or was each Man Who book a conception/stroy by inself, even though the second builds directly on the first, and so on, till the upcoming and eventual confrontation with el Senior? And if this is true, why do you think you thought process works differently when you write these mystery novels (as you have stated you have no plans for more Mordant's Need or Gap novels, and only conceived of the Second and Last Chronicles after Lester Del Ray kept baggering you about it)?
What ever the answer, I very much enjoy the Man Who novels, and have made a place for them in my perament collection.
Thanks for your stories!
The First Chronicles
Layne Solheim: As an avid reader of the entire Covenant storyline, there are times that I'd cross a sentence and I'd find myself reading and rereading the same thing--taken in by the "raw" descriptive power you've managed to describe in mere print.
My favorite is the calling to The Land in the Second Chron's..." "Then the eyes of the fire blazed at her, and she was lost in a yellow triumph that roared like the furnace of the sun."
I know you've been asked about favorite characters. Do you have your own favorite sentences (paragraphs/moments/etc.) as an author? Lines or phrases that, to you, really stand out from the body of the work?
Brittany M Jones: Dearest Mr.Donaldson,
First I would like to say that you are absolutely my favorite author of all time. My mother started reading the Thomas Covenant Series when she was pregnant with my siblings and I. I began the journey of Thomas Covenant when I was in the fourth grade and have been in love with your books ever since. I am attending the University of New Mexico now and I guess my question is when you were writing the first Thomas Covenant series did you ever think that it would become the phenomenon of generations? Mostly I just wanted to thank you; your work has brought light into my life when I couldn’t find any of my own.
Brittany M Jones
Jim Latimer: Stephen, thank you so much for such a fantastic series. I started reading the 1st trilogy in high school/college (back in the late 70's-early 80's), and anxiously awaited each volume of the 2nd while in college. I've re-read the series numerous times since (I've only read LOTR more often), but imagine my surprise and delight last fall when the Last Chronicles appeared in my bookstore!!! I wait with bated breath (can you do that for years at a time???) for the next 3 volumes.
I lived in Southern New Jersey in high school, went to college and worked in New York for 7 years, then came back to South Jersey as a physics teacher in the late 80's. I'm back to stay....and I was interested to see you based Haven Farm on a place in my neck of the woods. Could you be a bit more specific? Just out of interest, specifically where in South Jersey was Anchorage Farm? I realize it's gone now (as are many of my favorite places from my high school years...such is progress), but I'm just interested. Thanks again so much for such a great part of my youth, and now a rebirth in my middle age.
Mike (NOT from Sante Fe) G: For the life of me, I haven't been able to come up with a book related question for months that isn't too nitpicky or that you have answered many times... but I do have something to ask. As of today, you have indulged us all with nearly 900 answers- a lot of time and effort on your part, as everything you answer you obviously put sincere effort into. I can't help wondering if you realized what you were getting yourself into allowing us to ask questions <grin>
So is this good for you? Your answers seem to be less guarded than they were in the beginning, and it astounds me the insights you are willing to give to us; not just about your works, but yourself as well, since you are clearly a private person.
Anyway, I hope this is semething that you enjoy, and that you get something out of it.
And don't think we all don't notice that Michael from Santa Fe is clearly teacher's pet! <grin>
Alexa E. Hanson: Do you sign hats or just book templates? I've just realized how critically short life is so i've drawn up a list of things to do before it ends. You signing my hat is on that list. Don't be alarmed you're not alone.
John: Mr. Donaldson,
You have written in this gradual interview and elsewhere that your mind works slowly and you write slowly. I do not really think so. Consider: since 1977, though you began to write the First Chronicles in the early 70's, you have published 7 Covenant books, 2 Mordant Need books, 2 collection of short stories, 5 Gap books, and 4 The Man Who books. That is 20 books in about 35 or so years of writing. And lets not forget your poetry, albeit, seeming not in abundance (any published?). That is about a book every 1 3/4 year. What on earth makes you think that your mind works so slowly? It can't be based on how much you publish? Many authors have the same track record. Please explain why you think its so.
Another question. When you first wrote TMWKHB did you plan from the start Brew and Ginny would have to eventaully face him down in an as-of-yet unwritten book?
Thanks so much for you time and books! Both are greatly appreciated.
I bought a copy of Steven Erikson's Gardens Of The Moon a while back, at least in some part because of a quote from you printed prominantly on the front - "Erikson is an extraordinary writer... treat yourself". Now, in answer to a previous question, you refer to it as "...the most baffling book in the series...". I'm not sure I would have bought it if that had been printed instead. However, you are right on both counts (IMHO).
Which does lead to a question. Has there ever been an instance where you have been asked for your opinion of a book for promotional purposes, but you couldn't honestly say anything nice about it?
Michael from Santa Fe: OK, here is a question I know you have not been asked in the GI - what are your feelings on parentheses? I noticed that in your answers to the GI you use them quite often (or you seem to), and I don't recall much of their use in your written works (or am I just missing them).
Reimund L Krohn: Mr. Donaldson,
Like many of your ardent fans here, I have been an admirer of yours for many years. The First Chronicles of Thomas Covenant was the 2nd fantasy book I ever read (and I first read it back in 1984 when I was 13). Lord Foul's Bane was a difficult read after the rape of Lena, but I found after leaving the novel for some two months, I had to go back, I needed to know of Thomas Covenants fate.
You mentioned in a question dated back in March of this year that you always had your stories major events planned, prior to putting pen to paper. My question is this:
Having read The Second Chronicles several times, I was ALWAYS under the impression that your original intention in the Second Chronicles was to have Thomas Covenant successfully commit suicide in the Bane Fire, and thereby destroy it. I had thought that with Covenants death, Linden Avery would be faced with the responsibility of finishing what Covenant started, and dealing with his suicide and how it differed from her father's. Her father killed himself because of self-loathing (as she might assume Covenant himself had done), when in fact Covenant killed himself because he was too crippled by the Venom to face the Despiser (and therby risk the destruction of the Arch). I imagined that you might have intended for Linden to make for the Andelain to confront Covenants ghost... where I imagine Sunder and Hollian may NOT have perished.
Did you ever contemplate such a scenario, or is it just my imagination? It just always seemed like a logical step in the story - although (please don't get me wrong!!) I loved what you actually wrote!
Peter Purcell: I apologize if this question is over the line or if it scratches any emotional wounds.
But ... I've wondered since reading Runes. If I were divorced, and an author, I think I would find it cathartic to have a characters ex-wife repeatedly pound herself in the head! <GRIN>
Come on, tell us ... doesn't it make you smile even a little? ;)
Steve SanPietro: Hello Mr. Donaldson.
This is my second question in this forum. This time it's about the process of editing a novel (or any literature, for that matter).
When you submit a first draft to a pulisher--or editor, I'm not sure to where you submit your work at first--to what extent is your work edited. By this I mean, are parts of your original work actually re-written by the editor? Are parts of it taken out? Or is the editing process simply a series of suggestions which are sent back to the author, leaving him/her to dot he actual editing?
You mentioned on an earlier GI response (5/20/04) that you were in a hurry to proof-read the finished manuscript of ROTE, which is why you hadn't started working on FR by then. So, then does the editing process operate in this way: does an editor revise an author'swork, for the author to then check over and approve or not of the changes? And if so, how significant are the revisions that are made to a piece of literature, which aren't necessarily made by the pen of the author?
I ask this because I hope to one day become a writer (provided I don't turn out to be a bad writer, of course :} ).
On a side-note, I think that most of the words I know, I've learned from the Covenant books. However, I'm trying still to work up to the lexicon of SRD. :}
Charles Adams: It seems frequent that some fans come to believe the "relationship" between the fan and the celebrity is of higher level (greater intimacy) than actually exists.
Have you ever worried that the Gradual Interview would cause a false sense of intimacy to be created between some of your fans (especially those who participate in this Interview) and yourself? Has any fan ever tried to "impose" such a relationship upon you?
Mitchell Oldman: Hello, hope you're doing well these days Mr. Donaldson. I like your Covenant books very much but am disheartened by the many years it will apparently take to complete the Last Chronicles. But I wanted to say that I think your female characters are and always have been very alluring, most recently in the character of Manethrall Hami to whom I have quite a crush...This is one area where you have a distinct advantage over Tolkien, Lord of the Rings is a great novel but it must be one of the most asexual books ever written. I would be interested in your thoughts on the sensuality implicit in the Covenant books.
Have you read the His Dark Materials Trilogy, by Phillip Pullman? What is your estimation of these books?
In many ways The Chronicles of Narnia are superior to Lord of the Rings. Although C.S. Lewis was inspired by J.R.R.Tolkien to write The Chronicles of Narnia there is a lightness and vivaciousness that contrasts strongly with the gloom and thunder of LOTR. The whole transition theme from our world to Narnia possesses a revelatory visionary power that Tolkien by beginning at the outset in Middle-earth doesn't have. Lewis perfected the concept of Tolkien's "sub-creation" and surpassed the master on not a few occasions. What is your opinion of the contrasting merits of these two seminal works? Being an admirer of both, as I am.
Allen: This is a question (or two) pertaining to the Mordant's Need duology. One of the characters in that work is named Artagel. I'm wondering if you took the name from Edmund Spenser's "Faerie Queene" which also features a character bearing that name (though Spenser's character is little more than a monstrous executioner - yours is a fine, good-hearted fellow!)
Considering that the "Faerie Queene" is Arthurian in some of its inspirations I'm also curious if the Arthurian mythos ever mattered to you.
Take care, Allen
Siobhan: Hello Mr. Donaldson -
First off, I'd like to thank you for so many wonderful books. I am a committed bibliophile, and I don't think any fantasy/sci-fi library is complete without the Chronicles, Mordant's Need and the GAP books.
The GAP books are my personal favourite, with so many tremendous characters and such a rip-roaring narrative. The scene where Punisher and Calm Horizons duke it out outside the swarm gives me shivers every time.
I don't really have a question that I *need* answered - in fact I prefer not to know what's coming, but I do wonder if you've ever read the Mars Trilogy by Kim Stanley Robinson. I read that series and the GAP books at about the same time and noticed a confluence of ideas - chiefly dealing with the role of corrupt multi-national (or trans-national) corporations and how they, even above governments, foster some of the worst aspects of society.
Just a niggling curiosity of mine, is all.
I look forward to Fatal Revenant, and actually quite enjoy the anticipation of three more books! Three!
Vincent Culp: Greetings good sir. First and foremost please allow me to express my gratitude for the many hours of enjoyment your books have brought me through the years, and hopefully will contiue to in the future. I've finished reading Runes of the earth and am acualy in the middle of reading it again. I am busily chewing my nails in anticipation of the next book in the Last Chronicles. Since I first happened upon Lord Foul's Bane in my English Class in High School I have been a devoted fan of your fantasy work, and the Second Chronicles is my favorite series of all time.
I have a few questions I'd like to ask: #1 How soon can I expect to have the next book in my grubby little paws?!?! lol....I'd hate to rush you but I've waited so long since the second chronicles. #2 Is it really all just a dream in Thomas Covenant's leperousy infected mind? He thinks this in the begining but is later convinced otherwise, but that may have just been him losing the little grasp he had left on sanity. Yes Linden has gone too, but perhaps she is just an image of someone he met, or may have at one time known? Joan even? Foul may just be that part of him who hates himself, that blames himself for the disease and the loss of his family. The fact that every time he enters the land he returns in the same physical condition that he left in points to this conclusion, as does the fact that he is always unconscious when he is called. #3 Will this particular possibility be resolved by the end of the series in one form or another, or will that be left open for the reader to decide? And lastly #4. I am an aspiring writer myself, do you have any words of wisdom for me?
It's an honor merely to have a talented writer such as yourself read my words. Thank you.
Jay Swartzfeger: Mr. Donaldson, I'd like to thank you for taking the time to answer fans questions in the gradual interview. You recently spent some time answering a few questions I had after your guest of honor appearance at Bubonicon 37; it's a real treat to have such access to my all time favorite writer! Before I'm labeled as an obsequious bootlick, I better get on with my question. ;)
As a writer, I find that reading works by strong stylists tend to have an influence on what I'm writing, almost like a 'bleed over' effect. Non-fiction doesn't affect me this way, but writers like Nabokov invariably *do*.
Do you intentionally change your reading habits -- or not read at all -- while working on your own projects? Or have you mastered your craft to the point where you can read work by other authors and not let literary 'cross-pollenization' occur?
STEVE M: This may seem like a dumb question but at the end of The Power That Preserves, Covenant defeats Foul by using the wild magic yet at the beginning of the Wounded Land Lord Foul informs Covenant that the wild magic was no longer potent against him. Reference is also made in the earlier books that Berek knew of the wild magic and that Kevin had also longed for it. Accordingly, there must have been some fundamental change in the nature of Lord Foul that would bring about this immunity to wild magic. Moreover, The Land, Kevin, Berek and even Lord Foul exist within the confines of the arch of time (albeit Foul is imprisoned) yet the wild magic is the keystone of the arch and and exists outside of the arch. Logically the wild magic should have worked against Foul at the end of White Gold Wielder. Indeed, in many ways Covenant and the Land went through substantial changes between the first and second trilogies but at least the character of Lord Foul seemed to be substantially the same. Could you elaborate on the change that Foul must have gone through betwen the first and second chronicles that gave him the immunity to the wild magic.
Simeon Rabbani: I have really enjoyed reading the gradual interview over the last few months and have found that just about any question I could have asked has already been asked (and answered). I do have one simple one, though.
After the 'Runes' paperback edition is released, will a list of the differences between it and the hardback edition be made available on this site? (I live in South America, and it will take a lot longer for any version of the book to make its way here.)
Thank you for the many, many hours of enjoyment and reflective thought while reading your books and pondering their themes.
Jim Melvin: Dear Steve:
I recently joined (temporarily, for research purposes) a newsgroup made up of so-called medieval experts and was amazed to see how much they trash writers of epic fantasy. Your name wasn't brought up specifically, but several other big names were savaged by these people, including Tolkien. I realize that your characters and setting aren't medieval, but have you ever received criticism from these "experts"?
Joseph McSheffrey: Stephen,
I've got a question that has nothing (I think?) to do with your writing. I hope it isn't too personal and that you don't mind answering it. I just read a question and answer here recently regarding your opinion on the various styles of the Martial Arts. What are your thoughts on Bruce Lee's philosophy which emphasizes no style at all, but to pull from whatever you connect with; be it Gung Fu, karate, Cha-Cha dancing, boxing or anything you experience?
I agree that there are no good or bad Martial Arts. One attending their own body and/or mind can never be a negative thing but what, in your humble opinion, is an example of a bad martial artist?
I would like to point out that I'm not a Martial artist in any form, so my "book only" knowledge (heh, no pun intended) may not measure for much.
Keep writing, you bastard! How dare you end RotE that way at your age!? ;)
William Calderini: It would take a far better writer than I to communicate the profound impact that your books have had on me through the years. For the last 26 odd years or so, your Covenant series has been required reading for me on a semi-annual basis, and your words on what I consider to be the "virtue" of stubborness have helped carry me through some rather stormy seasons in my own life. So being so indebted already, I would like to offer up 2 questions to further extend the bill.
Number one. This is one that has intrigued me more and more on every subsequent reading of the Covenant Series. This concerns the end of White Gold Wielder when Linden Avery heals the land with the new Staff of Law. It seems that Linden pours every ounce of her passion, her belief, her very essence into the effort it takes to set things right. Linden, being a very complex character and my personal favorite, has many areas of darkness and light within her. The fact that she is almost consumed by this darkness is a testament to it's power within her. What I took from this ending was that Linden was able to "re-make" the land in "her own image" in a sense. I have always wondered what the Land re-made by Linden would be like. Would/will there be consequnces that would derive from the conflicts within her to be dealt with? So far, having finished Runes of The Earth, it seems that this issue has not been addressed. Are there/were there any plans to explore this line of thinking in books 2, 3, and 4?
Question 2. Although I have always considered you to be one of my literary "fathers", I have always considered Ayn Rand to be one of my literary "mothers". (And yes, what a strange and confused bastard child I was, LOL)
So the the question is, was naming one of the Hurachai characters 'Galt" an intentional nod to the "John Galt" charcter in Ayn Rands "Atlas Shrugged"? You must admit that the unrelenting devotion to strict ideaology, without compromise. a trait shared by both.
William R Calderini
Newlyn Erratt: Hi. I just firstly wanted to let you know that I definately consider you my favorite auther of all time. I read the "Thomas Covenant" books when I was around thirteen. When, I was around fifteen I read The Gap series and it quickly became my favorite series. On to my questions.
Firstly, I noticed in a post you mentioned that you cringed when your son discovered the Xanth series. Why is that?
Secondly, what would you say is the reason that your books are so enveloping? Is it the character development? Does it come naturally or is it something planned?
When I first bought the Gap series as well as the first time I discovered the TC chronicles I literally couldn't put them down depriving myself of sleep just so I could find out what happened next. Thank you for your wonderful books
Eystein: Dear Mr. Donaldson
I have read all the Chronicles of Thomas Covenant the Unbeliever, and even dream about the world when I go to bed.
I would really want to know if you have given any thoughts about how much information the inhabitants of the land and the other creatures have about Thomas and Lindens world. Are they curious about "our" world?
Mark Morgon-Shaw: Hi
I've recently finished Runes of The Earth, and really enjoyed going back to the land but thought it was a very cruel place to end the book for the reader. I guess it guarantees we all rush out to buy the next one when it's finished.
My son is four years old and becoming more interested story books. I'd like to ask if you had any favourite children's books either as a child or a parent. I've just read him several of Roald Dahl's short stories which we both loved, can you recommend any other authors ? Would you ever write a story aimed at a younger audience yourself ?
usivius: (I will not break tradition here, so:) Thank you very much for so many wonderful stories that touch the marrow of my soul. Don't die (I want another Axebrewder story after the next three TC books).
I am reading The Gap series for a second time since they came out slowly (I recall going through withdrawal waiting for the next book in a same manner as I am doing now for the Last Crons), and I am rediscovering such a fantastic story. My favourite will likely always be Mordant's Need, but The Gap has so much going for it that it is impossible to ignore. After book three of my re-read, I have really only one question which I wanted to ask you:
The names for the Amnion ships --- It struck me then and it is almost a personal distraction to me now in my second read, but they seem too human. I would almost expect them to be named by humans, not these cold, almost machine-like, logical aliens. I know it would not be as interesting to read a ship series number for the Amnion ships (W-54767), but it would seem to be a logical way to mark or name thier ships. I love the smirking humour behind the names (at least that is what I see from the author), but I find it a little distracting that the Amnion would think of naming their war ships "Calm Horizons".
Can you comment on your decision to give 'human-like' names to the ships of the cold alien species.
Mary Terrell (Arrogance): First off, Mr. Donaldson, I thank you incredibly for providing the only fantasy literature that has ever given me nightmares. <grin> I'm a 'second generation' fan of the Covenant books through help of my father (who in turn caused those nightmares by reading Lord Foul's Bane to me as a bed time story when I was around 4 or 5 years old.)
Now, onto the question. Despite my constant re-readings of the Covenant books, I never found a passage that states Covenant's eye color. I see him as having a type of worn, tired blue eye color; but what is the official color, if anything?
(Yes, its trivial, but I always had a fascination for eye colors.)
Tom Griffin: A few years ago I read a story by Robert Silverberg in which he stated in the introduction that he lifted the idea for the story from a part of another work that was mentioned once then never again. His story was nothing like the original, he just was inspired by the idea. My question for you is, is this an acceptable way to get ideas and what if the original idea was from one of your works? What would you expect in the way of compensation?
Joseph McSheffrey: Stephen,
Is there ever a time when you regret this much communication with your fan base? I refer to the GI. Do you think that the questions posed to you here have any effect on your future writings of the Last Chronicles? Do you find yourself tightening up on story plots because you know if you don't "Joey from Chicago" is going to point that sonofabitch out! Okay, that is an exaggeration, but it is human nature and you get my point. It is clear that you care quite a bit about your fans or you would never do this GI in the first place. I applaud you for that as much as for your heart wrenching books.
Obviously you (not *you*, but any artist creating something) draw upon experience, which this GI must be. I imagine you have a myriad of face-to-face conversations similar to ones in the GI. Okay, the GI isn't really a conversation, but it must evoke certain things within you? I wonder if this written form of thoughts has a more profound impact on your writing than a casual, verbal conversation with an actual friend or that annoying fellow that happened to recognize you at the bar.
Most artists don't open themselves up to the public in this way. As a huge fan I can't help but want to establish the connection, but at the same time I worry it adversely effects your creativity. Does that show a lack of faith in you? I certainly don't feel that way on the surface. I think it shows more a faith in the power of the public.
Just rambling... maybe I've had too much wine! Ignore this and get back to the sequel of your damn CLIFFHANGER! Sonofa...
Scott Marchus: I have to admit that I haven't read your new book yet- I bought it and met you a few months back when you were on your promotional tour, but I was in no great hurry to read it because.... well... I guess you are in no great hurry to finish the series. I'm trying to avoid the aches and pains of waiting for the next installment.... I've already done that with a couple of your series, and I just can't stand it anymore. If you died tomorrow, I may never get around to reading that book (!) ;p
What I have been reading (based on your reccomendation) is Steven Erikson's series. I am happy to say that I am very hooked, and I was curious: who is your favorite character in the Malazan series so far (and why)?
Paul: Here's an interesting idea..if you feel like indulging me on..
In developing the story and characters for TC books, have you ever gone down a certain plot/character path and then decided that it was just too dumb? Better still, has anybody (editors, family, etc) managed to convince you that an idea was bad and to rework it.
If so, I was wondering if you would list a couple that spring to mind. I have a morbid fascination to know what could have been if it was not for some 'constructive' feedback :-)
Pete Warner: Sir,
Bravo sir. You have changed the landscape of my imagination forever. Tolkein first showed me a door to possibilities I hadn't previously considered existed. Thomas Covenant forcibly kicked it open (probably hurting his foot and muttering "hellfire"!)
A return to the Land in 2005 is like a return of a loved one from beyond the grave. The downside is that I must be reacquainted with the grief of loss when one day it all comes to an end once more. A fatal revanant indeed.
I hope I might get away with asking two questions:
1) No sooner is a new literary success upon us then we have to endure the parodies: Bored of the Rings, Barry Trotter et al. I have no problem with parody on fan sites but loathe the idea of honest shelf space being sacrificed to accomodate them. I wonder what your feeling would be if you were ever approached about the idea of a Thomas Covenant parody (I am assuming that you would actually *be* approached!)
2) Like LotR, I am delighted that you use chapter titles. Not that a numerically ordered bunch of chapters affect the quality of a story for me - it's just an inexplicable affection I have for titled chapters. Does your use of chapter titles reflect a similar affection on your part? Do you title your chapters before, during or after their completion? My favourite chapter title of yours is "Something Broken" - I still think about the concept several times a week. From LotR I have a soft spot for "Of Herbs and Stewed Rabbit".
Thanks for your time. May the flame of your genius never burn out.
Revan: "But consider the implications for humankind of the sort of effective "immortality" Holt envisions. (And never mind the mere detail that we would cease to be who we are.)"
Would it really be so bad were we to achieve an effective "immortality"? (not a egalitarian immortality of course, because that would be an obvious catastrophe) You say that we could cease to be who we are, what, in your opinion, would we become, in what way would we change that would be for the worst? Why was Holt so wrong in his vision?
Jeff: I don't really do this sort of fan thing. I love your work, but that's between me and the book, not you and I in any meaningful way. Still, I was inordinately pleased to find that the "Runes" copy I bought at Media Play was, for some reason, signed. Didn't even cost more.
Finally, my question (maybe answered elsewhere, haven't waded through all the interview yet): Do you do extensive research on the various systems of thought implied (sometimes stated outright) by your characters and in your novels? Rely on your native intelligence to fill in from basic knowledge? Because it seems that your characters act from what they believe, in a "natural" way, so I wondered if you know people very well, know belief systems very well, or some amalgamation of the two? In a way, the answer is irrelevant, because the characters and stories are great, which is all that matters in fiction. Still, I'm curious.
John Dunn: Mr. Donaldson,
Thank you for taking the time to read and answer some of these questions!
I have now read all of "The Man Who" books, and though I enjoyed them greatly, I must say that "The Man Who Fought Alone" was simply outstanding. I find it hard to explain in a tangible way, but I think because of that particular book, Brew is now one of my most cherished characters. I know some people have said that they identified the the villain from a particular scene relatively early, as I did, though I didn't figure out the why, but I thought it was of little importance. The journey of that story is the true treasure. But now I find myself with a problem.
Ok. So it will take you around 3 years to write each new Covenant book. So 9 more years till that series is finished. Not that I am not enjoying this new and last adventure into the Land; I am! But then, I think I can properly assume that it will be another 2 or 3 years after the publication of the last Covenant book till we find out what happens next in Brew's life. This simply won't do.
I have a few suggestions.
1. Less sleep; more writing.
2. Postpone a Covenant book or two.
3. Stop reading our silly questions and write more.
4. Ummm.... just write more quickly.
5. Again, I ask: Why are you reading this and now working. Back to work. Chop chop!!
Other than that I don't really have any questions. But most seriously, "The Man Who" book are outstanding; the "Fought Alone" simply great.
Best wishes and all that.
Eric Spahr: Dr. Donaldson
I would first like to say thank you for having a forum that allows your fans to provide feedback.
Second, I have a question about Linden Avery from Runes.
Early in the story, while in her 'real world', she gives Joan her ring back to calm her. But then she also states that any attempt to restrain Joan from hurting herself fail.
I remember the passage roughly saying that restraints would just fall off in the night.
Is Joan really that stupid that she couldnot see Lord Foul at work?
Not an insult to you, but the observation that she KNEW that Foul could work in this world, she in fact remarks on memories of his influence of the weak willed in her world.
I would think the second or third time the restraints 'fell off' she would have taken the ring away. She know how much Lord Foul wants access to white gold.
So why did she not 'connect the dots'?
Jon Bernstein: Hi Stephen,
Have you ever given thought to turning one of your works like Mordant's Need or some unpublished short strory into a graphic novel
And if so what are the odds of someone like me taking a shot at drawing some panels up?
I know it's a long shot but it never hurts to ask.
Michael from Santa Fe: When Runes of the Earth started, we learned that Linden had adopted a son which she loved with all her heart and was taking a lot of her time and energy and that she still obviously missed and loved Covenant despereately. She has not remarried and the text makes no mention that she has had even a boyfriend in the intervening years since she was last in the Land. Now this may fall under the heading of "just because it's not in the text doesn't mean it didn't happen", but gosh, you mean she hasn't gotten laid in ten years?
H. Scarbrough: Hello. I had a question on the Land itself in particular. I searched the GI and it didnt seem like anyone has hit on this point yet but if they have forgive me asking again. It seems that the Land itself, was based in part on the human body. In Illearth war, Thomas and Elena pass through "Damelons Door" to find the earth blood. The description seemed very similar to the human ear. Damelons door being the eardrum and the earthblood being the pool of wax. the long descent down to the pool being the eustachin tube. And it seemed that, I believe, that Fouls Creche was alot like the human eye in in its description. If you can answer to the truthfulness or the idiocy of my observation it would be appreciated. It has been bugging me for over 15 years. Thanks
Dave Hollin, Wales: Stephen,
many thanks for all the years of pleasure your writing has given me. Along with Tolkien, Pratchett, Adams (Douglas that is), you really are up there at the top.
A couple of clumsy questions if I may?
Like Tolkien, one thing constantly intrigues me about The Land. There are never any "technological advances" in the Land even though many thousands of years pass by. Tolkien also leaves little room for such "natural" progression of development for races in Middle Earth. Is this a coincidence? Further to this I am very intrigued by the "civilisation" present at the time of Berek before the first lords are created. Pardon my groping ignorance, it almost seems as though there is another separate world in existence for that time period, almost "historical" with parallels to real history. I mean there are glimpses of battles, cities and tales innumerable (Doriendor Corishev, Doom's retreat, etc) from this proto-world you alude to in the first chronicles. One could almost say that if left to a natural progression this could have resulted in a world much more familiar to ourselves! Did you ever think about developing this strand of the the Land's tapestry further or was it just litarary teasing to draw the audience in? I must admit that I went on to read the Silmarillion before LOTR because of tantalising details Tolkien left lying about in the Hobbit.
Anyway I have rambled enough. Many thanks again for your books, your friendship through hard times (even though you didnt know it!) and your obvious humanity.
Sean Casey: Stephen, you say you admire the works of messrs Erikson and King - do you only like writers with the same name as you?
My sensible question is partly about the same thing - The Dark Tower series. You've said in reply to questions that you don't like an omniscient viewpoint that skips around the minds of various characters and that you're not keen on prequels. The Dark Tower contains both of those things (Wizard and Glass arguably being a prequel). Does the other Stephen carry off these techniques in a way that you particularly like or are they flaws in an otherwise excellent story? (Personally, I'd agree with the latter.)