An Interview With Tad Williams

Legendary Fantasy and Science Fiction author Tad Williams talks about Empire of Grass and several additional Osten Ard novels

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e at Treacherous Paths are proud to bring readers another exclusive interview with storyteller Tad Williams, bestselling author of the “Memory, Sorrow, and Thorn” and “The Last King of Osten Ard” series of books. Tad’s publisher, DAW Books, has recently released Empire of Grass, volume two of “The Last King” series.empire of grass by tad williams

In this interview, we asked Williams about details of Empire of Grass, how his work on The Navigator’s Children is going, and asked for details about The Lady of the Woods, The Shadow of Things to Come, Brothers of the Sky, and The Veils of Heaven. The answers we received were often quite surprising!

Questions that have no spoilers for EoG:

Treacherous Paths: Tad, you’ve cited several authors (Tolkien, Zelazny, Peake, Moorcock, Baum, and many others) as well as world mythology and history as being influences on your writing. What other sources, such as film, television, or radio, have influenced the writing of your Osten Ard books?

Tad Williams: Hard to say, because so many of my written influences began early, and I only remember them all because I still have the books.

The Addams Family, New Yorker cartoons and then the television show, definitely had an effect on my lifestyle if not my writing. Get Smart as a reflection of the spy genre probably activated some of my absurdist tendencies, as did Monty Python and other English comedy later. I admired the early Universal monster movies, and I was scared to death by Godzilla when I was super-young.

IMG_3021 (1)Treacherous Paths: In 2017, The Witchwood Crown was nominated for a Goodreads Choice Award in the category Best Fantasy Novel, and in 2018 it was nominated for a Gemmell Award. This year, you’ll be the Writer Guest of Honor at the World Fantasy Convention in Los Angeles. Were you surprised to receive so much recognition in the States for The Witchwood Crown and your return to Osten Ard?

Tad Williams: Always surprised by ANY recognition, but it’s true that I was a bit startled to see all the kind words people showered on the original trilogy when I announced the new books. As I’ve said elsewhere, it also made me nervous about the project for the first time, because I realized if I screwed up I wouldn’t just be writing a bad book, I’d be souring people’s memory of a series they had enjoyed. Fortunately, that doesn’t seem to be the case and I finally stopped worrying about it after the second volume, Empire of Grass.

Treacherous Paths: You drop by the Tad Williams Message Board, which you founded in 2001 as part of your “Shadowmarch” project, from time to time to discuss your work with avid readers. What do you like (or dislike) about that interaction with your readers?

Tad Williams: I love any interaction with readers, but it’s sometimes difficult to discuss ongoing work because 1) the readers are usually a year or two behind what I’m actually doing, which makes me want to spill all the beans, and 2) whenever someone says anything even mildly critical, I begin weeping and cursing the heavens. So it’s best for me only to discuss things I’ve already written, because it’s too late (because they’re already published) for me to quit writing them in a huff because someone says a series I’m working on is “not as riveting” as the previous books, or that they “like his fantasy more than his science fiction” or whatever.

Treacherous Paths: You’re now writing The Navigator’s Children, the conclusion to “The Last King of Osten Ard”. How is the writing going? Do you still believe this series will be a trilogy? Long-time Tad readers are skeptical because it has never actually happened.

Tad Williams: Long-time readers better not get too snippy, because I’ve actually managed to hit my mark on all my books except Shadowmarch. Yes, the original Osten And volume three is…well, long. And Shadowmarch needed an extra book. But on the others, I’ve actually done what I said. Otherland was always a tetralogy, and the Bobby Dollar books were cites as three and finished in three. So there. Nyah, nyah, and I repeat, nyah.

Anyway, The Navigator’s Children will certainly be shorter than To Green Angel Tower, and I frankly don’t expect it to be too much longer than The Witchwood Crown. But talk is cheap, so we’ll have to check in again when it gets published.

Treacherous Paths: You’ve mentioned in several interviews a number of additional Osten Ard book projects, including The Shadow of Things to Come, and, in a Reddit interview, The Lady of the Wood. Can you tell us a little more about these two projects?

Tad Williams: I wrote The Lady of the Wood for an anthology that was to be edited by the late and very much missed Gardner Dozois, but his death meant that the story had no home. I haven’t published it yet because between the (already sold) other short novel to go with the current trilogy, I intend to write at least one other Osten-Ard-related short novel, and so I’m going to wait and discuss with my American publishers how they’d like to handle such a bundle of Osten-Ardia.

Treacherous Paths: Recently, your wife, fellow author Deborah Beale, shared with us a recording where you talk about another previously-unmentioned Osten Ard novel, called The Veils of Heaven. Can you tell us more about this project? (And will we finally discover why Initri has a beard?)

Tad Williams: The Veils of Heaven? I must have been half-asleep and dreaming when I told her, because I have no memory. The short story (Lady of the Wood) is a Camaris story. The original short-novel-that-goes-with-the-new-trilogy was going to be about the fall of Asu’a and Ineluki becoming the Storm King, but I think now I’m going to write that as a separate and slightly longer standalone book, leaving Brothers of the Sky —the tale of how Hakatri and Ineluki slew the dragon Hidohebhi and what happened because of it — as the other connected short novel.

Treacherous Paths: Any other Osten Ard books you’re considering writing? Why the change from not writing in the world for so many years, to suddenly writing, like, 20 new books? Not talking specifically about your conversation with Deborah about there not being any more story to tell, but how this evolved into you writing what seems to be three or four additional novels that aren’t part of the new series.

Tad Williams: The main thing that’s changed is that I found out I enjoy fleshing out Osten Ard. Before I was more worried about being seen to deliberately write long series, sequel after sequel. Also, I always had more ideas than time. But I realized while working on The Witchwood Crown that it felt just as exciting and engaging and genuine as writing a new story, so I thought, well, if more story ideas come, why not? And since I’ve been working in Osten Ard for like five years now, the ideas keep popping up for other tales.

Treacherous Paths: A number of fantasy authors have cited you as an influence on their works. Did you ever think, when you were writing “Memory, Sorrow, and Thorn” that you would influence the next generation of writers?

Tad Williams: I wanted to, yes. That was why there was a metafictional layer of criticism in it about the current state of epic fantasy, and a reflection on some differences between me (Tolkien lover but not, I hoped, Tolkien imitator) and a lot of other work going on at that time. But then nobody seemed to notice that part, treating it as just another (if better than some) “Tolkienesque big fantasy”. Apparently some did notice, they just didn’t write about it in reviews. So I’m pleased that in some ways it WAS influential, because I was a bit despairing at the time. To be frank, I wanted to write what Game of Thrones became — the next milestone in epic fantasy. Apparently it was closer to that than I knew, if still nowhere near as well-known as George’s epic.The-Dragonbone-Chair

Treacherous Paths: You’ve previously mentioned that when you were first writing The Dragonbone Chair, Sir Camaris was called Casimir, Simon was called Martin, Cadrach was a one-off character who you didn’t plan to continue, and the series was to be called “The Sons of Presbyter John”. What other changes or alterations did you make which avid readers might be interested to know?

Tad Williams: The problem with questions about the origins of Osten Ard is that it feels like it was another lifetime ago. I never take that many notes — you and another friend/reader have seen the only notebook I retain from back then — and so I have to rely on my memory. I remember Hernystir was originally called “Hernegyn”, that Binabik was “Bilabil”. “Elias” as a name goes back to the caption on a drawing I made when I was about fifteen — some dramatic fantasy-looking villain character called “Black Elias” — and the reason Prester John was Prester John was because the story was going to take place in “the real world” — our own world, but in some imaginary version of the past where magic worked.

Questions that have spoilers, or potential spoilers, for Empire of Grass:

Treacherous Paths: In Empire of Grass, some characters visit the ancient Sithi city of Da’ai Chikiza, allowing you as a writer to return to one of the most beloved lost cities in fiction. What surprised you the writer, if anything, about returning to this site specifically?

Tad Williams: The surprising thing is how little I actually described in the first books, and having to kind of start from scratch imagining its layout and its history. This means a great deal of freedom but also a great deal more work than if I had actually made it a bit more concrete. (In the adjectival rather than the nominative sense.)

Treacherous Paths: What was the most difficult element of writing Empire of Grass?

Tad Williams: The difficulty in any middle book of a trilogy or tetralogy is keeping it all relevant and exciting when the reader knows it’s not going to have a real beginning or a real ending. You sort of admit at the start that nothing’s going to change so much that the story will end soon, so you have to give the reader other things instead. The characters must begin changing, the mysteries deepen, and new but interesting factors must come into play. As far as EoG in particular, just having to make certain the new characters and situations are truly engaging and not merely new is probably the most difficult bit. Also giving the readers a sense of some of what will happen at the end of the whole story without spoiling it, since you want to build momentum.

Treacherous Paths: Which characters have been your favorites to write in these new books? Or does an author not allow himself favorites? Would it be like choosing a favorite child?

Tad Williams: Sometimes, yes. But in these books, my favorites really change depending on their situation. Sometimes it’s great fun writing Snenneq. Other times I’ve enjoyed the interactions between Jarnulf and Nezeru, or the backgrounding of the Norn civilization. But it’s also been fun to see my young characters from MS&T grown — middle-aged, in fact, like me — and still being the same people, only more so. Watching Miri kick ass, for instance, or Simon baffled by politics because common sense never seems to come into it. And it’s always fun to write villains, and I have a few good ones (I think) in these books.

Treacherous Paths: During the writing of The Witchwood Crown, you mentioned all the research you were doing for the novel. What topics of research have you been doing for The Navigator’s Children?

Tad Williams: These books, dating back to Dragonbone Chair, have always been research-intensive. I like to write pseudo-medieval worlds that actually feel like they existed before the story and will exist after it as well, places where most people are NOT part of the story but going about their lives, where the economies actually work and the things that are different from the “real world” fit in and make sense. So as usual I’m up to my bra-straps (okay, not really — I’m a go-natural dude) in medieval life and history, in the folklore of dozens of other cultures, in books about geology and botany and ecology, and a dozen other things. Actually, that’s the fun part. Making it into a story is work, but learning things is fun.

Treacherous Paths: In Empire of Grass, you have a Sitha character, Tanahaya, try to warn other Sithi of imminent danger, using a Witness. The communication breaks down, and the masked face of the gloating, evil Norn Akhenabi appears, mocking Tanahaya. The city is then attacked by Norns. This scene is quite reminiscent of a similar scene in Stone of Farewell, where the Sitha woman Amerasu uses the Mist Lamp, a Master Witness, to warn other Sithi of the danger of the Norns. The communication is intercepted by the evil Norn Queen Utuk’ku, who mocks Amerasu and then has her assassinated. I guess this was an intentional shout-out to the scene written 30 years earlier?

Tad Williams: Never assume with me that something is just a shout-out. Sometimes it’s a trick. Of course, in order to trick people effectively, I have to sometimes do things that are exactly what they look like. I guess you have to make your own suppositions on this. Or wait until the last volume.

Treacherous Paths: Book Three of the new series is called The Navigator’s Children. Based on that title, we’ll learn more about Ruyan Ve’s people, the Tinukeda’ya or Vao. In the previous four volumes, the Tinukeda’ya were quite literally tertiary figures: the third group of non-mortals that nobody ever talked about. What made you decide the story of the Vao was central to the story of “The Last King of Osten Ard”?

Tad Williams: A number of things, but primarily that I had hinted at the painful history between them and the Sithi and Norns in the first books, and so it was a fertile area to explore. I knew, for instance, that many of the “monsters” and other strange creatures of Osten Ard had Tinukeda’ya blood — to use the ancient word: we’d probably call it DNA — since way back in MS&T, but never discussed it. (I may have hinted in a few places, but I’d have to go back and look for specific instances.) Also, the debt owed to exploited peoples is kind of a current topic, so it seemed like useful subject matter. And it all fitted in with various things about the history of Osten Ard and the Garden that I wanted to expand.

ReeRee a Chikri of Osten Ard

Ree Ree, a Chikri; one of the new creatures seen in Osten Ard. Drawing by Tad Williams.

Treacherous Paths: In this volume, we see a faction of Sithi called The Pure, and a group of Vao, or part-Vao creatures, called The Hidden. We also see creatures called Pengi, Qallipuk, Chikri, etc. When you were writing “MS&T”, did you have an inkling that these groups existed, or was this something that took many years to develop in your writerly brain?

Tad Williams: As mentioned above, I knew from early on in the MS&T days that many of these creatures were related by connection to the Vao and the Garden, and that there were probably others not mentioned in the first series. The Qallipuk are new to this series, but I’ve been thinking of a river-equivalent of kilpa for a while, and when I saw some programs about Welsh catfish and the Indian goonch, I knew what I wanted to use as the basis for the new critter. But, yes, I always knew that there were creatures in Osten Ard that were more human — or at least humanoid — than they first appeared, and that the reason was a crossover of the Garden into various Osten Ard biomes (to use a science-word as a shortcut). Almost all my monsters and non-human creatures in my fiction, from the Sithi to the dragons and unicorns in Ordinary Farm, start out as me trying to figure out how such a monster or unusual animal would survive and how it would actually function in a “real” world.

The trick, of course, is to make it fit into a fantasy setting and feel like a fantasy trope, not science-fiction.

If the trick fails, then the next trick is to leave town before the readers can get online to denounce you.

[End of interview. We’d like to thank Tad and Deborah, as always, for their time.]

Tad Williams holds Reddit AMA interview, answers readers’ questions

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egendary Science Fiction and Fantasy author Tad Williams held an “Ask Me Anything” (AMA) interview today on forum website Reddit.Williams revealed several details about his upcoming sequel to “Memory, Sorrow and Thorn”, The Witchwood Crown.

Williams began his AMA interview in inimitable fashion:

I have returned to the world of Osten Ard, first introduced in the now impossibly ancient days of the late 1980s, in THE DRAGONBONE CHAIR, first book of the “Memory, Sorrow, and Thorn” series (also known as, “Those really, really, REALLY long books by that Williams guy.”) Just published is a short introductory novel — really a bridge between the end of the first series and some of the characters who will appear in the new books — the slender volume, THE HEART OF WHAT WAS LOST ( which will be followed by THE WITCHWOOD CROWN (a more typical Tad shelf-buster) in June. The entire series will be called “The Last King Of Osten Ard”, because that’s what fantasy fiction needs — MORE LONG TITLES.

(I also thought about calling the first books “Osten Ard Classic” and the current series “New Osten Ard” or even “Osten Ard Zero”, until various soft drink company lawsuits got in the way. Killjoys.)

I will be answering questions about the original series AND the new books live on Friday, January 27th, 2017 at 2:30 PM ET / 11:30 AM PT. Feel free to leave a question or subpoena for me ahead of time, or to join me online.

Heart_of_what_was_lost_Tad_WilliamsAmong the gems asked during the Reddit interview were questions regarding the new upcoming “The Last King of Osten Ard” novels, as well as questions regarding characters in The Heart of What Was Lost, the new bridge novel which was just published this month.

One question asked was (minor spoilers): “Will we eventually find out what Ayaminu’s agenda was?”Ayaminu is one of the Gardenborn characters who appears in The Heart of What Was Lost.

Williams’ response:

Yes. Yes, we will.

That really frustrated a few of my early readers, by the way, wanting to know WHAT SHE WAS DOING and why the answer wasn’t in the book.

I can’t help it. I work in long form. My days are everyone else’s months, especially when I’m writing really long stories.

Williams was also asked how far apart each new Osten Ard novel would be. Williams is known as a relatively fast writer, and has not had the extended delays between books which have plagued other bestselling speculative fiction authors. While Martin and Rothfuss have struggled to finish their novels, Williams has managed to mostly keep to his publishing deadlines.Williams replied:

Can’t say for certain, but I’m aiming for a year to a year and a half max between books. I’m pretty good at that these days, and I’ve actually started and finished several multi-volume series, so it shouldn’t take too long altogether.

I’m already working on the second large volume, Empire of Grass, and Witchwood Crown (first of trilogy) has been done for quite a while.

Williams was also asked about how “open-ended” his books are, and if he plans to revisit his other worlds, which would include the virtual world in “Otherland”, Eion/Xand (“Shadowmarch”) , and San Judas, the alternate reality city in his “Bobby Dollar” novels. Williams stated:

I have never written anything except the Bobby Dollar books with the idea of the story being open-ended. I’d be in trouble if I did, since I’m only now returning to Osten Ard, thirty years later. Half my original readers are probably dead and the rest are drooling. Like me.

As I said elsewhere on the AMA, I never start something by where it takes place (like a previous world of mine) only with a story I want to tell. I may come up with ideas for stories set in some of my other worlds, and if I do, I’ll probably write them. I’ve had a couple of tentative ideas over the years, and now that I’ve found I can live with going back to Osten Ard, I’ll probably be more open to revisiting some of the other creations as well.

Most intriguingly, Williams was asked if he has any plans to link Osten Ard, the world of the “Memory, Sorrow and Thorn” books, to the Xand/Eion world in “Shadowmarch”, with a reader asking “Are there any Easter eggs/connections between the worlds or Osten Ard and Shadowmarch?”











Although the worlds of Xand/Eion and Osten Ard have been considered separate, and there has been nothing to link them together besides some small similarities (strange properties of mirrors, for example), Williams, interestingly enough, did not rule this out:

Funny, I was just thinking about this the other day — connections between the two worlds. I think it’s possible that there may be a Michael-Moorcock-style multiverse underlying all my books, but I’ve never consciously tried to link them all together.

Maybe someday…

Curious readers asked quite a lot about the Norns, the embittered fair folk in the Osten Ard novels. The most clever term “Nornithology” has been coined by one reader. Of the Norns and their undying queen Utuk’ku, Williams writes:

I took the comparatively few things I knew about the Norns when I wrote the first books and have added/expanded quite a bit during the writing of these new ones. And you’ll see a LOT of the Norns and Nakkiga in the new books. I’m glad it seems to belong with the early stuff. I certainly mean it to feel as though it’s a seamless whole.

Reader Alaron asked:

Hi Tad. Huge fan here from Germany. I finished Heart of what was Lost a few days ago. It was great. I have a question about the timeline of Sithi/Norn history in Osten Ard. In Heart it was mentioned that the Norns came to Nakkiga more than 3000 years ago. Those Norns/ Sithi as Yaarike that were born before the Parting are considered to be old even by Keida’ya standard. I estimated that the Keida’ya must have arrived in Osten Ard at least 6000 years ago, as Utuk’ku is the last of the original Keida’ya that left the Garden. Is that timeline roughly correct?

And Williams’ response:

I’d have to check, and my notes are a mess right now. My tentative timeline actually has the Norns arriving, yes, at least 6000 years ago, but I suspect actually it’s a bit longer. (Along with some of my hardest-working friends and readers, I’m still trying to stabilize the timeline.)

But yes, at least 6000 years previous to the stories.

Williams was also asked about how many pages he has completed in Empire of Grass, the middle novel of the new series. Williams responded:

Not sure. About a hundred pages, I’d say (I’m writing in separate chapter-files at first, so I don’t have a running overall page count). The last couple of months, with the holidays and various kid-related things, have been grueling. I’m expecting to have a nice long stretch in the next few months to get the first draft substantially done.

Over 200 comments were made in the thread.

Tad Williams discusses New! Osten Ard! Novels! (Part 1)

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his week, we have a new video interview; the questions were submitted by readers from and forums.

In this interview, legendary fantasy and science fiction author Tad Williams discusses his new Osten Ard novel project, including his thoughts on Tolkien and George R. R. Martin, and news about his new Osten Ard novels. The first new Osten Ard novel in 23 years, The Heart of What Was Lost is being released this week; reviews have been positive. The Daily Mail called this novel a “thrilling, pitch perfect mini epic” and added:

There are bloody battles, back stories and, most interestingly, sympathetic characters on both sides to give insight into the conflict and add fascinating layers of complexity to the story.

Fans of Tad Williams will delight in this new addition to his work — new readers could not have a better introduction.

The Heart of What Was Lost will shortly be followed by The Witchwood Crown this summer.


Tad Williams interviews Peter S Beagle

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n October 16, Tad Williams, author of the classic “Memory, Sorrow and Thorn” books, interviewed legendary author Peter S. Beagle, best known as the author of The Last Unicorn. The interview took place at Kepler’s Books in Menlo Park, California.

These videos are courtesy of Shivam Bhatt.

Part One:

Part Two:

New Tad Williams Interview: details about The Witchwood Crown

Tad Williams, author of the classic Memory, Sorrow and Thorn fantasy series as well as the upcoming Heart of Regret and The Witchwood Crown sequels, all set in the world of Osten Ard, was interviewed by British publisher Hodder Books this week. The full podcast interview runs just under 12 minutes, below. The Osten Ard part of the interview begins at 2:58. (The interview contains some minor spoilers for The Witchwood Crown, including some basic plot details, as well as major spoilers for Memory, Sorrow and Thorn).

The character of Simon Snowlock is based at least partially on Tad Williams' younger brothers, according to Williams' latest interview.

The character of Simon Snowlock is based at least partially on Tad Williams’ younger brothers, according to Williams’ latest interview.

Williams reveals several tidbits during this interview. The first is that his character Simon Snowlock, the main protagonist of Memory, Sorrow and Thorn, was modeled on his younger brothers. He also states that some fact-checking has been done on The Witchwood Crown, to make sure there are no conflicts with the original text.

The tentative dates for publication of the upcoming Osten Ard books are late 2016 for Heart of Regret and early 2017 for The Witchwood Crown. Subsequent volumes set in the same universe, titled Empire of Grass, The Navigator’s Children, and a fifth, as yet unnamed volume, will be published  sometime thereafter.

Williams also reveals some details about his Bobby Dollar books (at 0:20 in the interview), and also discusses Tailchaser’s Song, his first novel (at 9:40).

Ein Interview mit Tad Williams, Teil 3

Here is part 3 of “An Interview with Tad Williams”, translated into German by contributor Ylvs.

Dies ist der dritte Teil des Interviews, das mit Tad Williams geführt hat, dem Verfasser der ‚Großen Schwerter‘-, ‚Otherland‘-, ‚Shadowmarch‘- und ‚Bobby Dollar‘-Reihen. Williams hat kürzlich die Fertigstellung der Rohfassung des Manuskripts von ‚The Witchwood Crown‘ (‚die Hexenholzkrone’) bekanntgegeben, des ersten Bandes der Fortsetzungstrilogie von ‚die großen Schwerter‘, welche ‚der Letzte König von Osten Ard‘ heißen wird. Die Veröffentlichung wird für das Frühjahr 2016 erwartet.
Teil 1 des Interviews findet sich hier, Teil 2 ist hier.

Die folgenden Fragen stammen von Lesern des Tad Williams Message Board und von Mitwirkenden bei In diesem Teil des Interviews fragen wir Williams nach einem Vergleich der Charaktere aus den ‚Großen Schwertern’ mit Bobby Dollar; ob er Pläne hat in eine seiner anderen  Welten zurückzukehren und ob er es jemals bereut hat, ins Dickicht der Welt von Osten Ard zurückzukehren. Tad, Dein jüngster Protagonist, Bobby Dollar scheint manchmal ziemlich zynisch zu sein, aber seine Handlungsweise ist eindeutig die eines Optimisten. ‚Natürlich gehe ich in die Hölle, um meine neue Freundin zu retten (die nicht mal wirklich meine neue Freundin ist)‘. Simon hingegen ist von jugendlichem Idealismus (oder wie manche sagen: Ahnungslosigkeit) geprägt und verdient sich auf seinem Weg erwachsen zu werden, eine gehörige Portion Weisheit.
Wie verändert sich Simons Weltsicht über die Zeit? Würdest Du ihn als Idealisten oder Optimisten bezeichnen? Hat er irgendetwas mit Bobby Dollar und seinem Zynismus gemeinsam, nachdem er nun ein paar Runden mehr um die Sonne gedreht hat?

Tad Williams: Simon ist nach wie vor ein größerer Optimist als Bobby, was zum Teil daran liegt, dass er sich entschieden weigert, ausführlich über die schlimmsten Dinge im Leben nachzugrübeln. Das heißt nicht, dass er sie ignoriert, aber er ist entschlossener, sich nicht von ihnen sein Leben diktieren zu lassen als … sagen wir Miriamele. Ich glaube, ich selber bin von Natur aus ein verwundeter Romantiker, ein Optimist mit einem zynischen Sinn für Humor, kein Zyniker per se. Simon ist – hoffe ich – eine ältere Version seines jüngeren Selbst, also pragmatischer, weniger überrascht wenn die Dinge schlecht laufen. Und er ist sich bewusster, wie anstrengend es ist, die Welt zu verändern. In mancher Hinsicht ist er wahrscheinlich weniger ein Romantiker als Bobby.

Tad Williams erklärt, dass Simon Schneelocke weniger zynisch ist als seine Frau Miriamele – ein Hinweis auf die Handlung? Als Du zur Vorbereitung ‚die großen Schwerter’ gelesen hast – gab es irgendwas im Hinblick auf die Handlung oder die Weltkonstruktion, das Dich hat denken lassen: „Ich wünschte, ich könnte das überarbeiten“? Oder gab es etwas, was Du total vergessen hattest und das Dich positiv überrascht hat?

Tad: Ich dachte: „Ich wünschte, ich hätte es nicht so verdammt lang gemacht.“
Ehrlich gesagt, reagiere ich immer ziemlich ambivalent auf meine eigene Arbeit. Am meisten zucke ich bei Prosaproblemen, wie ich sie nenne, zusammen: zu viele Kommas, zu blumig an unnötigen Stellen etc., nicht so sehr wegen  Entscheidungen, die die Handlung betreffen. Ich denke, ich hatte schon immer ein Händchen für Geschichte und Figuren, daher sind die meisten Sachen, die ich ändern würde technischer Natur, betreffen das Schreiben an sich.
Andererseits bin ich immer angenehm überrascht, wenn sich meine älteren Werke als weniger langweilig erweisen, als ich das machmal befürchte.

Einband von Fluss aus blauem Feuer, der 2. Band von Otherland.

Einband von Fluss aus blauem Feuer, der 2. Band von Otherland.

OAcom: Du hast gesagt, dass Du gerne mehr Orlandogeschichten (Otherland) schreiben möchtest. Meinst Du aus diesem Wunsch könnte ein neues Buch werden oder gar eine Serie? Gibt es eine bestimmte Otherlandsim, die Du gern wiedersehen und ausbauen würdest?

Tad: Nicht so sehr eine bestimmte Simulation, vielmehr würde ich gern 1) mehr Simulationen erschaffen, 2) erforschen wie sich das Otherlandnetzwerk verändert, während es „lebendiger“ wird und sich seiner selbst bewusst oder zumindest sich selbst regulierend, und 3) denke ich, dass Orlandos Lebensumstände an sich und aus sich selbst heraus spannend sind (siehe „Der glücklichste tote Junge der Welt“). Außerdem interessiert mich die Idee, dass einige der künstlichen Lebensformen (oder Halblebensformen) im Netzwerk  aus ganz eigenen, merkwürdig-pseudoreligösen Gründen versuchen könnten, Dread wieder zum Leben zu erwecken.

OAcom: Du hast Dich lange Zeit geweigert, nach Osten Ard zurückzukehren; erwischst Du dich jetzt ,wo Du wieder dort bist bei dem Gedanken: „Was zur Hölle tue ich hier?“

Tad: Jeden verdammten Tag. Besonders wenn ich versuche, mich an Geschichte und Sachen aus den ersten Bänden zu erinnern (also dauernd), statt mir einfach was auszudenken zu können. Aber wie schon gesagt, ist es auch eine richtig spannende Herausforderung. Ich will nicht wie ein kompletter Trottel klingen, aber das ist ein wichtiger Teil dessen, was ich am Schreiben liebe. Ich weiß, dass ich nicht allen damit gefallen werde, aber es wird herrlich rauszufinden, ob ich nicht zumindest einigen eine Freude machen kann.‚Die großen Schwerter‘ wird gerade in Vorfreude auf die neuen Bücher wieder weit überall gelesen und neu entdeckt. Das Leserfeedback ist umfassend positiv. Glaubst du, dass „die alten Hasen“ die neuen Bücher genauso mögen werden? Warum oder warum nicht?

Tad: Wenn überhaupt muss ich mir eher große Mühe geben, diese Bücher für neue Leser spannend zu machen, weil es so viel alte Geschichte, so viele bekannte Charaktere und Handlungsstränge gibt. Ich denke die alten Hasen werden keine Probleme haben, weil es eine MENGE Kontinuität gibt trotz all der Zeit, die vergangen ist.

Anmerkung: das Interview wird mit Teil 4 enden.

Ein Interview mit Tad Williams, Teil 2

Part One of’s exclusive interview with Science Fiction/Fantasy author Tad Williams into German language by contributor Olaf K is here. Below is the translation of the second part of the interview, translated by contributor Ylvs, for German-speakers.

In diesem Teil des Interviews fragen wir Tad Williams, wie es sich anfühlt nach Osten Ard zurückzukehren, wie er auf Michael Whelans Ankündigung reagiert hat, erneut die Umschläge der Originalausgabe zu illustrieren und was er für ‚die Hexenholzkrone‘ so alles recherchiert hat.

Michael Whelan Originalcover von ‚das Geheimnis der Großen Schwerter‘

Michael Whelan Originalcover von ‚das Geheimnis der Großen Schwerter‘ Kürzlich wurde angekündigt, dass Michael Whelan, der schon die Originalcover von ‚das Geheimnis der Großen Schwerter‘ gestaltet hat, für ‚Der Letzte König‘ wieder zum Pinsel greifen wird. Als ich im November persönlich mit Michael sprach, war er begeistert und stolz wieder gefragt worden zu sein. Was sagst Du dazu, dass seine großartige Kunst wieder Deine Bücher zieren wird?

Tad Williams:  Ich finde es schlicht wunderbar. Es ist auch schwer vorstellbar, sie irgendjemand anderem zu überlassen, so sehr hat Michael ihnen seinen Stempel aufgedrückt. Ich habe Michaels Arbeit immer geliebt, lange bevor sich unsere Karrierewege kreuzten. Lange bevor ich überhaupt eine Karriere hatte. Ich bin total begeistert und neugierig, was er erschaffen wird und sehr stolz, dass er wieder dabei sein will. Auf dem message board hast Du eine Teilliste der Charaktere veröffentlicht. Gibt es Pläne eine detailliertere und umfänglichere Liste zu veröffentlichen? Oder würde das zuviel verraten?

Tad: Ich habe vor die Liste irgendwann – vermutlich nachdem die erste Überarbeitung des Manuskripts abgeschlossen ist – zu  korrigieren und zu aktualisieren. Ich werde vielleicht auch die Kapitelüberschriften verraten. Sie enthalten nichts, woraus man verlässliche Schlussfolgerungen ziehen könnte, aber werden sicher für prima Spekulationen sorgen. Bei der Erstveröffentlichung von ‚die Großen Schwerter‘ war die Reaktion von Kritikerseite enttäuschend, da diese das Werk als reine Genreliteratur lasen und seine Vielschichtigkeit übersahen. Nur einige wenige Kritiker (wie Roz Kavenay) haben über den Tellerrand hinaus geblickt und es als revisionistische Fantasy erkannt. Heute, 30 Jahre später, wird die Trilogie von einer neuen Generation Schriftsteller  (Brandon Sanderson, Christopher Paolini, sogar GRR Martin) als Vorbild genannt und weithin als Klassiker betrachtet.
Bist Du nach wie vor über die  mangelnde Anerkennung durch die Literaturkritik enttäuscht? Und glaubst Du, die neue Trilogie wird das ändern?

Tad: Ich habe mich weitgehend damit abgefunden, dass ich – aus welchen Gründen auch immer – eine dieser seltsamen Geschmacksrichtungen bleiben werde, wie diese merkwürdigen Eiscremesorten, nach denen einige Leute ganz wild sind und andere nicht verstehen, was das ganze Gewese soll. Und um fair zu bleiben: ich schreibe einfach nur die Fantasy- und Science-Fictionbücher, die ich selbst gern lesen würde. Ich halte mich selber nur für halb so wichtig. Aber ja, es ist ermutigend, wenn Leser tatsächlich mitbekommen, dass ich jede Menge Hirnschmalz und Sorgfalt in diese Bücher stecke, dass ich nicht einfach nur extralange Rollenspielabenteuer schreibe, dass ich einiges mehr an Fähigkeiten und Interessen ins Spiel bringe. Meine Frau sagt immer: „Mach dir keine Sorgen, sie (Kritiker und Trendsetter) werden Dir den Hintern küssen, wenn Du erst mal tot bist“, worauf ich gemeinhin antworte: „Das klingt für uns alle nicht lustig.“ Hat sich die Gesellschaftsstruktur in Osten Ard in den vergangenen 30 Jahren verändert? Hatten Simons  Jugenderlebnisse nachhaltigen Einfluss auf sein Königsein und wenn ja: war er in der Lage Dinge zu verändern? Wollte er das überhaupt?

Tad: Das wird ein Teil der Geschichte sein, deshalb ist es schwierig zu beantworten ohne Sachen zu verraten. Aber ja: Simon und Miri und die Lektionen, die ihnen das Leben erteilt hat, haben eine Menge damit zu tun, wie sich Osten Ard entwickelt hat. Sie wollen beide „gute“ Herrscher sein und haben seit dem Ende von ‚der Engelsturm’ viel Zeit damit zugebracht herauszufinden, was das bedeutet und wie es erreicht werden kann – mit gemischten Ergebnissen (was für uns alle für alles gilt). Wie schwierig ist es „mit Dir selbst“ zu arbeiten, eine Fortsetzung von etwas zu schreiben, das Du vor über 20 Jahren abgeschlossen hattest? Versuchst Du Stimmung und Stil des Originals zu treffen oder vertraust Du einfach Dir selbst, dass es schon richtig werden wird? Erwischst Du Dich dabei, wie Du Dich an Gedanken oder Gefühle von damals erinnerst, als Du Das Geheimnis der Großen Schwerter geschrieben hast, an Dinge, die Du völlig vergessen hattest?

Tad: Das werde ich erst wissen, wenn ich fertig mit Schreiben bin, denn während ich schreibe besteht alles aus losen Enden und rauen Kanten, die zusammengeführt und geschliffen werden müssen. Da bin ich grade: lauter lose Enden.
Einiges ist einfacher als bei einem ersten Roman, weil ich zum Beispiel schon sehr grundlegend weiß, wer Simon und Miriamele sind und ich ein sicheres Gefühl dafür habe, was für ihr erwachsenes Selbst angemessen ist und was nicht. Aber selbstverständlich versuche ich nicht nur den Stil zu treffen oder die älteren Charaktere glaubhaft aus ihrem jüngeren Selbst zu entwickeln; ich versuche darüber hinaus Eindruck und Auswirkung zu rekreieren. Ich weiß natürlich, dass ich nie wieder eine Geschichte schreiben kann, die den älteren Lesern genauso viel bedeuten wird, doch ich wünsche mir, dass sie sich passend anfühlt, dass ich alten Lieblingsfiguren gerecht werde und gleichzeitig die Fortsetzung durch neues Material rechtfertigen kann. Und natürlich darf ich auch all die neuen Leserinnen und Leser nicht vergessen, die die alten Bücher gar nicht kennen. Die will ich nicht ausschließen, indem ich ein Nostalgiefest feiere. Es ist wirklich ein spannendes und  machmal auch beängstigendes Projekt. Du hast mal erwähnt, dass Du für die Shadowmarchreihe ausführlich recherchiert hast, beispielsweise Geologie, wenn ich mich recht erinnere. Was recherchierst Du für ‚der letzte König‘ ?

Tad: Ach herrjeh, was recherchiere ich nicht? Ich zähl mal ein paar zufällig ausgesuchte Lesezeichen auf:

Die Morrígan,
die Schlacht von Walcourt,
Liste Anglo-sächsischer Ortsnamen,
3D-Pläne von Skipton Castle,
Traditionelle gälische Namen,
Mönchtum in Westeuropa,
Männliche und weibliche Tierbezeichnungen,
Geschichte des Wollhandels,
Indoeuropäische Urspache,
Akasha (Name),
Entheogene in der Antike,
Zentralasiatische Steppen,
das mythische Thule,
Sámi Volk,

und so weiter und so weiter, so ungefähr fünfhundert Lesezeichen lang. Ganz abgesehen von den etwa vierzig Referenzfachbüchern, die ich allein für diese Geschichte benutze und den unzähligen Notizen zu den ersten Büchern und verschiedenem anderen Zeugs. Es steckt eine Menge Recherche in all meinem Kram, aber ich glaube dies hier wird – was die Menge an Material angeht, das ich benutzt habe – nur von ‚Otherland‘ übertroffen.
(wird fortgesetzt)