An Interview with Tad Williams, part 4

Like Tad Williams, we tried to keep it to three parts, but it ended up being four. Below is Part Four of OstenArd.com’s interview with internationally bestselling speculative fiction writer Tad Williams, author of the “Memory, Sorrow and Thorn”, “Otherland”, “Shadowmarch” and “Bobby Dollar” books, and who recently announced the completion of the first draft of The Witchwood Crown, the first volume of a series of sequel novels to his classic “Memory, Sorrow and Thorn” trilogy, called “The Last King of Osten Ard“. The Witchwood Crown is tentatively slated for a Spring 2016 release.

Part OnePart TwoPart Three

The below questions were asked by readers on the Tad Williams Message Board and by OstenArd.com contributors. In this part of the interview, we asked Williams about publication plans for print and audiobooks, plans for re-releases of the classic “Memory, Sorrow and Thorn” books, and what, if anything, he has found challenging about writing a much-older Simon, Miriamele, Binabik, and the rest of the crew.

Tad Williams' novels have long been available as audiobooks in Germany. Now "The Last King of Osten Ard" will get an English-language audiobook.

Tad Williams’ novels have long been available as audiobooks in Germany. Now “The Last King of Osten Ard” will get an English-language audiobook, Williams reveals.

OstenArd.com: Tad, the new series will certainly be a major publishing event, and deals have been announced for the US and the UK. Are there any other deals in place that you can talk about? Have plans been put in place on how the new books are going to be published and/or marketed? Will there be audiobooks?

Tad Williams: I’m sure there will be audiobooks in English and German, although I don’t know any details yet. All other stuff, I really don’t know. Deb [Tad’s wife and business partner Deborah Beale] probably knows more than I do, because I’m doing my best just to get the books written.

OA.com: Will there be re-issues of the original trilogy? Hardcover reprint? Audiobooks? Any news on that front?

Tad: Same answer. But, yes, we’re pushing for a re-release.

OA.com: In the “Memory, Sorrow and Thorn” reread on the Tad Williams Message Board, we had a lot of fun tracking down references to mythology/history/other books – can we expect more of that in “The Last King of Osten Ard”? Is there a reference you particularly liked in “Memory, Sorrow and Thorn” and that no one mentioned to you yet? Any still hidden Easter-egg?

Tad: I honestly have no idea if there are any Easter eggs that have escaped the laser-focus-bunnies of the message board. I’ll keep an eye open when I do another re-read (which I think I’ll have to do before I commit to the first volume as finalized), and if I see something, I’ll let you know. Besides, it’s better when you guys find these things on your own, because then even if I never intended it, I can look wise and nod my head: “Ah, yes, that. Very clever, wasn’t I?”

Simon and Miriamele gained a throne thirty years ago... How have their experiences changed them over the decades?

Simon and Miriamele gained a throne thirty years ago… How have their experiences changed them over the decades?

OA.com: Were there any aspects of writing a 30-years-older Simon or Miriamele (or any other character from “Memory, Sorrow and Thorn” who reappears in “The Last King of Osten Ard” for that matter) that you found surprising or challenging or surprisingly challenging?

Tad: Too early to say, really, because a lot of this will be not just who the characters are at the beginning, but how they change during these books, as they did during MS&T. But it’s all challenging, because we know these characters as young people. The difference between a teenager and a middle-aged adult is almost like two different people. But I think I’ll be able to tell you more when I’m actually done — rewrites and all — with this first volume, because it’s in rereading Witchwood Crown AS A NOVEL that will tell me a lot about whether Simon and Miriamele’s older selves feel real and appropriate.

 

[Ed.: This concludes our multi-part interview with Tad Williams. We’d like to take a moment to thank Tad Williams and Deborah Beale for their time, and all the friendly folks on the Tad Williams message board, who asked a lot of great questions.]

New characters and old familiar friends

Tad Williams recently posted a partial character list for his new novel, The Witchwood Crown, Book One of “The Last King of Osten Ard”. There hasn’t yet been much analysis of this list in the blogosphere, so we at OstenArd.com are going to do some analysis.

Also returning are the Sa'onserei siblings, Jiriki and Aditu.

Also returning are the Sa’onserei siblings, Jiriki and Aditu.

Several of the names that Williams released are returning characters. Among these are Jiriki and Aditu, son and daughter, respectively, of the House Sa’onserei, the ruling house of the immortal Sithi. Conspicuously absent, however, are the names of any of the other Sithi who dwelled in Jao e-Tinukai’i during “Memory, Sorrow and Thorn”: there is no mention on the list of Likimeya, the queen of the Zida’ya; her brother, Khendhraja’aro; or Kira’athu, the healer. These three characters played important (albeit secondary) roles in “Memory, Sorrow and Thorn”. Their absence indicates the possibility that the Sithi city of Jao e-Tinukai’i will not appear in “The Witchwood Crown” (other important Sithi characters included Amerasu, Shima’onari, Ann’ai and Kuroyi of Anvijanya, but these characters had passed on by the end of To Green Angel Tower).

Hakatri, son of Amerasu and Iyu'unigato, may reappear in the new series.

Hakatri, son of Amerasu and Iyu’unigato, may reappear in the new series.

The only other “returning” Sithi character on the list is Hakatri i-Sa’onserei, son of Amerasu Ship-born and Iyu’unigato the Erl King, and brother to Ineluki the Storm King who played a major role in the destruction of the mortal world in “Memory, Sorrow and Thorn”. It is not certain that Hakatri will return in the new series, or if he is simply a character mentioned in passing. However, even the possibility of Hakatri’s return sets the stage for a possible major conflict between the humans and the Gardenborn once more. Hakatri’s doings were legendary even among the Sithi. But Hakatri was badly burned a thousand (or so) years earlier, and has apparently not set foot in Osten Ard for centuries. Attempts by the Sithi to reach Hakatri via the Master Witnesses have all failed, indicating that he was far away from Osten Ard, or possibly no longer even alive.

With Jao e-Tinukai’i likely sidelined, the focus of the Gardenborn part of the story seems to be Nakkiga, the frozen city of the Norns, in the far north above Black Rimmersgard. In fact, Williams has stated that the immortal Norns will have an important role to play in the new series. Two of the names on the published character list are Utuk’ku the Norn Queen and Akhenabi, both of whom were antagonists in “Memory, Sorrow and Thorn”. Utuk’ku is expected to be a major antagonist in the new series, as one of the few major villains left at the end of the original series. The part that Akhenabi will play is as yet unknown; the embittered Norns were defeated and seemingly broken at the end of “Memory, Sorrow and Thorn”, leaving interesting possibilities in the new novels, set thirty years after the end of To Green Angel Tower.

No other previously-seen Gardenborn names appeared on Williams’ new character list. Because the name of the third novel in the new series was announced as The Navigator’s Children, it seems likely that the Dwarrows and Niskies will have some part to play in “The Last King of Osten Ard”, but the names Yis-fidri, Yis-hadra, Sho-vennae, Imai-an and Nin Reisu, all Dwarrow or Niskie characters from “Memory, Sorrow and Thorn”, do not appear on the new character list.

Many new names on the list, however, do appear to be Gardenborn names. Among these are Nezeru, Takeru, Tsoja/Tsoji, Saojemi, Viyeki, Rinan, Khibi-Ya, and possibly Kulva, Jhesa, Ommu, and Makho. The names Rinan and Khibi-Ya follow formats similar to Niskie and Dwarrow names, respectively. Names ending with a -u and -a are likely to be female Norns. Names ending in -i and -o are likely Norn males. Alternately, the character names ending in vowels may be new Sithi characters. Some, including Kulva, Jhesa, Ommu and Makho, may be non-Gardenborn names.

Simon and Miriamele return in "The Witchwood Crown".

Simon and Miriamele return in “The Witchwood Crown”.

Among the returning mortal characters will be King Simon and Queen Miriamele, who have apparently ruled Osten Ard for the last thirty years. Count Eolair of Hernystir, Duke Isgrimnur of Rimmersgard, Jeremias, Binabik, Sisqinanamook, Tiamak, Prince Josua and Lady Vorzheva also appear on the character list, indicating that they will return in the new series as well. Hyara (Vorzheva’s sister) and Pasevalles (the young boy in Nabban) also appear on the list.

Notably absent are Rachel, Father Strangyeard, Sludig, and Josua’s twin children Derra and Deornoth. However, the original press release has indicated that Derra and Deornoth will have a role to play in the new series. Also not mentioned are Count Streawe, Duke Varellan, Lector Velligis, Queen Inahwen, and March-thane Fikolmij, who were the rulers, respectively, of Perdruin, Nabban, Mother Church, Hernystir, and High Thrithing thirty years earlier. It remains to be seen who now rule these lands.

The names John and Pryrates also appear on the new list. These two characters are likely only mentioned in passing, since they died thirty years earlier.

One “new” name on this list, Morgan, was announced in the press release in April. Morgan is the prince of Erkynland, heir apparent to Osten Ard. He is likely either the son or grandson of Simon and Miriamele. It seems likely that he is their son, named in honor of Doctor Morgenes, Simon’s long-dead mentor.

Little can be deduced from the remaining new names, save that Jarnulf is likely a Rimmersman; Qina and Ommu may be Qanuc; Little Snenneq is definitely Qanuc, and is probably the son of Snenneq, who appeared in “Memory, Sorrow and Thorn”; Olveris, Drusis, and Saluceris are likely Nabbanai; Tylleth and Etan may be Hernystiri; and Grimbrand and Osric are probably Erkynlanders. Fremur may be a Rimmerman god. The remaining names — Astrian, Drojan, Goh Gam Gar, Hugh, Idela, Lillia, Narvi, Porto, Udrig, and Unver — are hard to classify. It has been revealed that Narvi is a baron, but where he lives has not yet been revealed.

Williams has stated that more may be revealed soon, sometime after he begins the second draft of The Witchwood Crown. At some point, he will conduct chapter readings for fans. The book is tentatively slated for a Spring 2016 release.

 

Tad Williams completes 800 pages of “The Witchwood Crown”, releases partial character list

On his official message board today, bestselling speculative fiction author Tad Williams (The Dragonbone Chair, Tailchaser’s Song) posted a progress update on his manuscript of The Witchwood Crown, volume one of his planned three-book return to Osten Ard, “The Last King of Osten Ard”, sequel to the classic “Memory, Sorrow and Thorn” series.

Williams revealed that he will have completed 800 pages of the manuscript this weekend. “I’ll crest 800 pages this weekend, I think, God willing and the river don’t rise,” he wrote, after much flooding in the Bay Area. The page count likely refers to manuscript pages rather than published book pages.

Williams, one of the most respected names in speculative fiction and whose fans include Christopher Paolini and George R. R. Martin, also released a partial character list for the new series, 34 of which are new characters, and the remaining 18 are characters who originally appeared in “Memory, Sorrow and Thorn”. Several of these 18 listed characters died in the original series, so they are likely only mentioned in passing in the new book, rather than zombie resurrections, although Williams has been known to resurrect characters who were long thought dead, as fans of his work well know.

Cover of The Dragonbone Chair, book 1 of Memory, Sorrow and Thorn

Simon, Binabik and Miriamele will be returning in “The Witchwood Crown”, Book One of “The Last King of Osten Ard”.

Returning characters include fan favorites Simon, Miriamele, Binabik, Aditu and Jiriki. Also apparently returning, at least as mentions in the book, are Duke Isgrimnur, Prince Josua, Tiamak, Lady Vorzheva, Pasevalles, Akhenabi, Jeremias, Count Eolair, Prince Hakatri, Sisqinanamook, and of course everyone’s favorite 10,000-year-old ice queen Utuk’ku Seyt-Hamakha, who is believed to be a major antagonist in the new series.

Unmentioned in this announcement are Derra and Deornoth, the twins whose respective prophesies caused over 20 years of fan speculation while Williams wrote other novels. Williams has confirmed in previous announcements that Derra and Deornoth will appear in the new series.

Williams also wrote of his plans for the new book, including his intention that The Witchwood Crown will move a little faster than the beginning of The Dragonbone Chair, stating, “[T]his one moves a little faster and jumps into multi-person [point-of-view] pretty much immediately.  The “moves faster” part may not be so obvious after I revise and put in some of the detail I skipped over in the heat of first-drafting, but I think it will probably still feel this way.  (Thus, for returning readers, I will have to make sure it still feels pretty similar in terms of depth of character and background).”

Also returning are the Sa'onserei siblings, Jiriki and Aditu.

Also returning are the Sa’onserei siblings, Jiriki and Aditu.

The Witchwood Crown, the highly-anticipated first book in the new Osten Ard sequel series, is tentatively scheduled for a Spring 2016 release by DAW Books, publisher in the United States, and Hodder and Stoughton, the publisher in the United Kingdom. This will give the publishers time to edit what promises to be a lengthy manuscript, promote the book in international markets, and commission appropriate cover art on both sides of the Atlantic. An official release date for the first volume has not yet been set.