Guy Gavriel Kay


I’ve kept quiet about some of this until I knew it would happen. Several months ago I discovered a favorite author of mine, Guy Gavriel Kay, has his next novel, “Under Heaven” coming out and it’s set in Alternative World Tang Dynasty China. Once I recovered from shock (he’s always stayed in Europe before) I contacted his press agent and was given the go ahead to receive a galley for review purposes. The reviews will go up in China History Forum Online’s newsletter, The Historical Novel Review site (where I currently have “Ransom” by David Malouf reviewed), The Ron Empire, my facebook account, She Writes, GoodReads and anywhere else I can think of to put it. It hasn’t arrived yet, but I feel like a bird of prey hovering over my mailbox.

It did not come this morning. I hope it arrives by Friday as I will have two hours of mine-all-mine reading time that morning. Can we say excited? I thought we could. 🙂

Interview Me: Ask Five Questions

I think this is a great way to get to know folks online and I want to thank Sandy Shin for suggesting it.

Leave a comment saying “Interview me,” and I’ll respond by asking you five questions. Post your answers to the questions and the questions themselves in your blog/journal, with the offer to interview someone else in the same post.

1. How did you come to be interested in writing stories with Asian settings?
When I graduated from college, (we won’t go into how long ago that was)I missed my previous reading schedule and thought I’d like to read something unusual about someone or in a setting I’d never done. My first read was both: the biography of Mahatma Ghandi, from which I got a great idea for a Deep Space Nine three part episode. Alas, the show ended before I had a chance to pitch it. After the biography, I decided to read more stuff set in Asia as none of it was ever broached as a topic at school. I had one prof with a love for “other” settings and he suggested – God Bless him, he LOANED ME HIS COPY – of “Romance of the Three Kingdoms. He has long since had his copy returned and I currently own abridged and unabridged copies, one comic book episode and the soap opera version of the story. I hope to get the full Asian version of “Red Cliffs” someday.
After all of the research I’ve done for “Mourn Their Courage,” I can’t see leaving my world behind. I want to stay put for awhile yet. I’ve got ideas for one or two more stories and from there, I might well continue to India or the Middle East. We’ll see.

2. Who’s your favorite character, from any book/movie/etc.? What makes him or her your favorite character?
My favorite character(s) of all time, as a group, are in Guy Gavriel Kay’s “Tigana.” The book might have some flaws, but the characters stay with me. After so many readings I’ve had to replace my copy of the paperback more than once, I still return to their lives and wonder what they’re doing now. They’re intelligent, courageous individuals with deep passions. I find all of this attractive. My favorite among the lot is Alessan and I think he’s my favorite because he’s also the idyllic leader: someone I could look up to and respect.

3. What is one book you never get tired of rereading? Oooh, this one’s tough. Up through my last re-read of “Tigana,” that would have been it. However, the last time I read it, I edited it. There are things I loved initially and I now feel are over used or don’t work. I think as writers, we don’t have the luxury of indulging in re-reading a “perfect” book because we’re always improving. If we’re not, we’re either not writing well anymore or we’re dead. There ARE books I still enjoy re-reading and “Tigana” is among them. Mercedes Lackey’s “Last Herald Mage of Valdemar” trilogy is something I still enjoy for the passion and heart of the characters. I enjoy re-reading the Harry Potter series, and Pride and Prejudice, but I edit all of these as I go. I can’t help it. Don’t think me a religious nut or a holier-than-thou sort of Christian, but I DO enjoy re-reading my Bible. There are always new things I find even though I’ve read it front to back. Maybe that’s because I continue to grow and it’s the only book I’ve read that always stretches my horizons. Fortunately, I rarely try to edit it.

4. If there’s one place in the world you could live in, where would that be? So many places, so little time. I could live anywhere I could set a story. Seriously. I’d love to return to England someday, I’d love to live in Tuscany and I dearly hope to return to China. I’m positive I will return to Japan. But do I want to live in any of these places indefinately? No. Home is with my family in plain old midwest U.S.A. I’m reminded of something my husband once commented on in my writing. When I asked him what overall theme he saw in my best works, he said, “A yearning for a place that doesn’t exist.” That’s where I want to live, folks. Come visit me sometime.

5. What’s one thing about you that people don’t usually know? It does, of course, depend on how you know me. If you met me in college, you know I enjoy singing and are probably unaware I write better than I sing. (At least I do now.) If you know me through my day job, you know nothing whatsoever about me except that I’m a private individual. I suppose you might be aware that I have a daughter and work out of my home so I can also be a stay-at-home mom. Lots of people probably don’t know I’ve got some skill as an artist. I can sketch an Arabian, Mustang, Quarterhorse, Thoroughbred, Morgan or (with references) draft horses in very little time. I can also do pencils of people, but not from memory and I don’t work well from imagination as far as people are concerned.

Thanks for taking the time to do this, Sandy! It was a fun exercise and really did make me think. If anyone out there would like to take a stab at their own interview, leave me a comment with the words “Interview Me.”

A Disturbing Article and Its Comments

I just read a post on Book Blogs and I’ve included the link in my title if you’re interested. While the article itself is interesting and merits reading, I’m horrified by the resulting comments.

The article is by Guy Gavriel Kay who is obviously a hero of mine, so I’m biased. What he states is a no-brainer to me as a writer:

“What is at work today is linked to a general erosion of the ethical value of privacy and a parallel emergence of a widespread sense of entitlement to look at – or to make use of – the lives of others….

Do we value privacy in any real way? Thinking about blogs, Twitter, Facebook, MySpace … all these suggest we value exposure rather more. And instead of challenging this transformation, as they are supposed to – certainly at the more thoughtful edges of the art – novelists are buying into it wholesale….

Here’s the New York Times on Oates’s, Blonde: ‘If a novel can’t deliver Monroe’s beauty … it can give us her interior world.’ What has happened when a reviewer suggests that a novel gives us the true inner world of a real person? This is nonsense, and it is pervasive. Novelists are both caught up in this trend and even making of it something of a cause. Listen to Bruce Duffy, author of The World As I Found It, a novel about Wittgenstein. This is from the Afterword: ‘I was disgusted – no, outraged is the word – that to some, Wittgenstein’s life was clearly considered off-limits …’
Disgust? Outrage? Surely this is the language of entitlement. Admitting of no possible alternative, no intrusion, no … loss. Do we want to forbid such writing? Of course not, but shouldn’t we at least consider, be aware of, what we might be losing when these fictions and the worldview that underlies them become widespread?
What I’m suggesting is this: what we see in these fine works – and they are fine works – along with countless inferior ones, is a dramatically expanded perception of entitlement, and of eroded privacy, of a piece with other aspects of our time.”

(I hope he doesn’t mind me quoting him.)

Anyway, to me, his point seems a no-brainer, right? Yet the majority of the commenters believe his premise is wrong and that they do have the right and even the duty as writers to fictionalize (and therefore marginalize) the life of a real individual. They seem to feel the only problem with doing this is the potential for a libel suit.

What ever happened to the writer’s responsibility to write truth? (Yes, even in fiction, maybe especially in fiction, one must write about truth.) I do not believe that in order to find universal truths in fiction, one must state that our works of fiction ARE reality. That’s absurd. To say that Braveheart is really the story of William Wallace is the untruth and I’m happy that the writers of that movie did not state such a thing. Unfortunately, writers no longer feel as much compunction and now border on telling lies about reality and calling that real.

I’m rambling now. I’ve been awake for over an hour and have nothing but this blog and my disturbed state of mind to show for it. I guess even rambling about ethics and entitlement is better than not discussing it at all.

New Novel

Anyone who has read my blogs will know I’m a huge fan of Guy Gavriel Kay. Well, he has a new novel due out in April, 2010. You can check out his site (the link is in this post’s title), but here’s a brief snippet:

UNDER HEAVEN will be published in April 2010, and takes place in a world inspired by the glory and power of Tang Dynasty China in the 8th century, a world in which history and the fantastic meld into something both memorable and emotionally compelling.

As with all of Kay’s books, I look forward to this one!