An Interview with Tad Williams, Part 1

Speculative fiction writer Tad Williams has sold over 30 million copies of his books, which have been translated into more than 25 languages. His first epic fantasy trilogy, “Memory, Sorrow, and Thorn”, became an international bestselling series beloved by millions. And now Tad Williams returns to the world of “Memory, Sorrow and Thorn” with a new sequel series called “The Last King of Osten Ard”, a series which seems likely to catapult him back once more onto the bestseller lists.

We talked with Williams shortly after he and his wife and business partner Deborah Beale announced that he had just completed the rough draft of the first book in the new series, The Witchwood Crown. In this exclusive interview, we asked Williams some questions about his world-building, plans for book tours, what it’s like to return to a world he hasn’t been to in ages, and his plans to continue to write “Bobby Dollar” books in between Osten Ard novels. Below is Part One of the interview. Further portions of the interview will be published later this week.

OstenArd.com: Thanks, Tad, for agreeing to do this interview! You have stated that you are writing the new Osten Ard novels at the same time as Bobby Dollar stories. Even though they are very different stories, do you ever find yourself confusing the characters’ voices? Or are they just too different for that to happen?

Tad Williams: One of the nicest things about Bobby Dollar is that I tell it in the first person. Once I start writing that voice, it comes pretty naturally (in part because he talks more than a bit like me.) Most of TLK is third-person past tense (there are some epistolary sections in first-person present) so it’s actually quite different. Not to mention that BD is modern in style of speech, so it’s like turning off the tape-delay. When I’m writing fantasy, especially pre-industrial fantasy, I have to find a proper tone and vocabulary to go with the story. But with TLK, I just have to come up with something that feels appropriate to what I used in the first books.

Cover of part 1 of the Japanese edition of The Dragonbone Chair, one of more than 25 language editions of the book.

Cover of part 1 of the Japanese edition of The Dragonbone Chair, one of more than 25 translations of the book.

OA.com: You have a devoted fan base who would love to meet you. Does your publisher plan a major book tour before/during/after the launch of The Witchwood Crown, and if so, where might you go? Are there markets that you absolutely know you’ll have to visit?

Tad: I hope so, and I would love to do it. Publishers haven’t been touring writers as much because of a) the loss of profitability in brick-and-mortar publishing and the 2006-present economic ructions. But I hope this is enough of an event to warrant my American publishers touring me again. As far as other countries, that’s always catch as catch can, although I’m pretty sure my German publishers will tour me.

OA.com: Both Christopher Paolini and George R. R. Martin have acknowledged that you inspired them to write their own series. Are there plans afoot to ask them to provide a blurb for The Witchwood Crown?

Tad: Christopher would probably do it, no problem. It’s always hard to get George to do stuff like that just because there’s so many demands on his time. He’s like me times a thousand, probably, in terms of how many things he can pay attention to out of however many are seeking his attention.

Map of Osten Ard, showing the more than a dozen nations which make up the continent.

Map of Osten Ard, showing the more than a dozen nations which make up the continent.

OA.com: In The Dragonbone Chair, you built a massive world with more than 100 cities, towns and villages spread out over a continent. Then you created languages, cultures, and peoples to fill those places. As you added more books, Osten Ard grew further. Are you planning to do any exploring of areas outside the old maps? The “blank areas at the edges of the maps”? If so, how will that mesh with the existing infrastructure and the old maps?

Tad: There will definitely be some expansion of what we know about O. Ard., but I’ve got plenty of stuff from the originals to elucidate and expand upon without going beyond the Nascadu desert or the northern Trollfells or Nornfells. However, we will learn a bit more about the -conceptual- map of the world, and also see some places we never saw in the first books, that’s for sure.

OA.com: During the events of MS&T, readers got to explore the realm, visiting everything from steaming jungles to frozen tundra (LOTS of frozen tundra!). Any plans to revisit areas of Osten Ard which didn’t get much attention in the classic series? Nascadu? The Hyrkalands? The Westerling Islands? Harcha and Naraxi? Ijsgard? The Lost Garden?

Tad: We’re going to see a LOT of the Nornfells and Nakkiga. We’re also going to see a lot of Aldheorte and the Thrithings and Nabban. As far as other, previously unvisited places, I’m not sure — that will depend on where the second volume and the beginning of the third takes some characters whose steps I haven’t completely mapped yet. (By the way, the amusingly stupid spellchecker on this email keeps trying to change “the Thrithings” to “the Thrashings”.) And we will learn and hear more about the Lost Garden as well — a LOT about the early history of the Norns and Sithi, both in Osten Ard and before. So while I can’t say we’re going to visit the Lost Garden — it is lost, after all — we’re definitely going to learn and hear more about it.

To be continued…

Part Two

Tad Williams does radio interview, discusses The Witchwood Crown

kscoOn January 17th, Tad Williams appeared on KSCO-AM, a talk radio station in Santa Cruz, California, where he discussed his writing. Among the topics he talked about were his “Bobby Dollar” series and his highly-anticipated return to Osten Ard in his upcoming sequel trilogy to the classic epic “Memory, Sorrow and Thorn” called “The Last King of Osten Ard”.

Williams discussed with interviewer Ruth Copland how fun it has been to write the “Bobby Dollar” series. Ever the eclecticist, Williams also discussed mondegreens, Jimi Hendrix, and the newly-coined word “firstable”.

In the interview, Williams promised “hundreds of characters” and many plots and subplots in “The Last King of Osten Ard”. He also stated that he is almost finished writing the first volume, The Witchwood Crown, and announced that he anticipates wrapping up the writing on this first volume around Spring 2015. The first volume is anticipated to be published in Spring 2016.

Williams will return to Osten Ard in "The Last King of Osten Ard".

Simon and Miriamele’s marriage will be explored in “The Last King of Osten Ard”.

Williams also stated that part of the inspiration for the new Osten Ard books is the appeal of seeing how the world and the characters have changed over the last thirty years as the characters have grown and aged. He mentioned that “some of the characters” in “Memory, Sorrow and Thorn” married thirty years earlier, and how it would be interesting to see their relationship today, as someone who has been married himself for a number of years. Williams pointed out that the characters who were once teenagers will now be middle-aged, while those who were middle-aged during the events of “Memory, Sorrow and Thorn” will now be very old.

An audio podcast, including the full interview with Tad Williams, can be found here (skip to 55:00 for the interview with Williams).

Tad Williams interviews Steven Erikson at Kepler’s Bookstore

Last month Tad Williams interviewed Steven Erikson (“Malazan Book of the Fallen”) at Kepler’s Bookstore in Menlo Park, California. Williams asked Erikson what led him to writing fantasy, what authors inspired him, and why Fantasy readers like big, thick books. They also talked about Stephen R. Donaldson’s early works, including Lord Foul’s Bane.

Below is the first part of the recorded interview:

More parts of the interview, along with musings about the Dothraki language constructed for Game of Thones, can be found at IvyNettle’s “Letters and Leaves” blog.

Tad Williams Does AMA Interview on Reddit

International bestselling speculative fiction author Tad Williams conducted an Ask Me Anything (AMA) interview with fans on entertainment site Reddit.com on Thursday September 18th. Fans were invited to ask questions, which Williams would later answer.

Many of the questions regarded Williams’ upcoming Fantasy series “The Last King of Osten Ard”, a sequel to his bestselling classic trilogy “Memory, Sorrow and Thorn”. The first volume of the new series, The Witchwood Crown, is expected to be published sometime late in 2015.

Here are some of the answers Williams provided for fans during the AMA interview:

Drojan: On reread I noticed how young the protagonists were, especially Simon and Miriamele. Will the new series focus on young protagonists, or focus more on the (now) older cast?
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Tad_Williams: Both. We will see many of the old characters, who will be middle-aged, but there will be a ton of new protagonists (and antagonists) as well.

Jay239: Tad, after the Lord Of The Rings films became huge did Hollywood approach you about making Memory, Sorrow, and Thorn into a film series?

Tad_Williams: Nobody’s actually come to me with a solid idea of making a film about MS&T. I’ve had an option and lots of nibbles for various projects, but no real progress except for the Tailchaser animated film, which is still under construction but I feel sure will happen.

I’m ready to sell out, damn it! Why won’t anyone tempt me?

Tgho: When’s the MS&T film coming out, and who should be in it? Also, how many books will be in the sequel? And is it set immediately after?

Tad_Williams: I never know enough young actors to suggest Simon and Miri, but Tobias Menzies (Outlander) would make either an excellent Elias or a wonderful Josua. I’d also be happy to have Hiddleston. Beyond that, I’m not sure. Probably Mark Strong would be an easy bet for one of the brothers, or else as Pryrates.

There will be three books (don’t laugh). The titles will be:

The Witchwood Crown Sea of Grass The Navigator’s Children

[Editor’s note: in previous discussions, the title of the second book has been called Empire of Grass; it’s unclear if the title has changed, or Williams misspoke during the AMA.]

Gathrin: Is there any specific line or scene in the series, Memory, Sorrow, and Thorn, that you are especially proud of. A line or paragraph that made you step back and shake your head in wonder and pride? I was always on the edge of my seat during Dragonbone Chair, always wondering if things would turn out well for the characters!

Tad_Williams: I think I’ve said it before, but my own favorite parts are ephemeral things, Simon’s journey through the underground and his discovery of the monk’s bible in St. Hoderund’s. That’s the stuff I work hardest to capture, things that can’t quite be put into words, but we try to do it anyway.

Ylvs: Hi Tad, here are some related questions from the TLK-thread on your board: do Sithi have baby teeth and if yes when do they lose them? Do Sithi women have periods or more broadly: how do they reproduce?

Tad_Williams: I haven’t thought too much about Sithi baby teeth, to be absolutely honest. However, Sithi reproduce very much like humans, albeit they conceive much less frequently, and the gestation is probably a bit longer. Now you’ve got me worried about baby teeth…

The full interview is available on Reddit.

Tad Williams to do Reddit AMA interview

Aidan Moher of A Dribble of Ink reports that Tad Williams will be doing a Reddit AMA (Ask Me Anything) interview with fans on Reddit’s fantasy board on September 18th:

So, if you have anything you want to pick his brain about, mysteries of Memory, Sorrow, and Thorn, if he realizes that The War of the Flowers is his secret best work, or what it’s like to have been a direct influence on the biggest fantasy series of the decade (Martin’s A Song of Ice and Fire), now’s your chance!

The Witchwood Crown is still on track for a 2015 release from DAW Books. If you’re looking to join in the fun, now would be a perfect time to discover Tad Williams’ seminal Memory, Sorrow and Thorn trilogy, beginning with The Dragonbone Chair.

More details, such as exact times for the interview, are forthcoming.
Update: Deborah Beale, Williams’ wife, states the AMA interview will be ‘mid-day’, but she’s not sure what time zone ‘mid-day’ represents.