The awesome Robin Hobb AKA Megan Lindholm kindly agreed to answer a few questions for us.
Why do you think people love the Farseer and Tawny Man series so much?
I continue to be astonished by it. If I could quantify it exactly and tell you why people have been so receptive of that story, I’m sure I’d be a very wise person. As a writer, it has been an amazing and humbling experience to have readers enjoy the characters that I myself love so much.
Is it hard to switch from Robin Hobb to Megan Lindholm?
Not at all, strange to say. When I get a story idea, I immediately know which voice can best tell it. It’s not that all Hobb stories must be epic fantasy or medieval; I think it has to do with pacing and voice. There are some stories that demand a more contemporary sound and a vernacular vocabulary. Others want to be told in a leisurely and detailed way.
Can you explain a little the premise of the Rain Wild Chronicles, the third book in that series City of Dragons is due to be released in Australia in March.
That’s hard to do while avoiding spoilers, but I’ll try. In the writings of the Elderlings there were mentions of a city called Kelsingra. The dragons that hatched in Dragon Keeper have partial memories of such a city. But if it ever existed as a place where dragons and Elderlings dwelt side by side, does it still stand or is it, like the other Elderling cities, buried deep in the soggy soil of the Rain Wilds. The Chronicles tell the tale of the dragons that hatched and the outcast Rain Wild youngsters who became their keepers as they make a journey which may not even have a real destination. Along the way, both hatchlings and their keepers will find that their destinies are much different from what they imagined.
How different is your writing style when you write as Megan or Robin?
I believe the two styles are substantially different, definitely enough to justify having two different names! I think that Robin writes in a way that is more detailed and more emotional than Megan’s style. It’s a leisurely telling of a tale that has lots of incident and perhaps subplots. Megan tends to write shorter, in a more head-long style. That’s why there are a lot more Megan Lindholm short stories than Robin Hobb has. Give Robin a 10,000 word limit and she takes 40,000.
If you could have a cup of tea/coffee with someone from history who would it be and why?
That’s an easy one. Julius Caesar. Can I say I’d like to meet him at the time of the Gallic campaigns? When he was an ambitious soldier clawing his way up and keeping such a fascinating journal of his observations. I first encountered his writing when I was given passages to translate back in high school. That’s when my fascination with him began. In some ways, he is writing a military report, and other times it sounds like an anthropologist or sociologist. It’s interesting to wonder what direction the Roman Empire would have gone if he had not been assassinated.
Have you got a name for your computer?
Not one that is printable. Seriously, no. I have silly passwords for various places I go online, but I’m not sharing those here! I guess I don’t really name things. Cats, dogs, yes. All my kids and grandkids have odd nicknames. But I just don’t give objects names.
Is it harder to start out writing fantasy overseas being a woman? Is that why you choose the moniker Robin Hobb to write the Farseer books?
There were a lot of reasons to take a new name for the Farseer Trilogy and the books that followed. The main one was that I was writing in a very different voice, and in a different slice of the fantasy genre. That said, I did deliberately choose a name that could be either male or female. Assassin’s Apprentice was written in first person young male, so having a possibly male name as author lowered the threshold of disbelief for some readers. But I think that most fantasy readers don’t really care that much about the author’s name or age or gender or age; they just want a good story. Fantasy readers seem to be rather adventurous in what they’ll pick up and read.
What do you love most about writing?
Well, when you write a story, you can make the world in your story make sense! In this world, so often, things just don’t make any sort of sense. Fantasy especially gives me a very wide playing field for thinking of how things ‘ought to be’ or considering all those ‘what if’ questions that we all have.
By my nature, I love solitude, and writing allows me to seek a quiet place, to be alone with my characters and to tell my story. I really like to work alone through that first draft. I venture out there, exploring unknown territory, not knowing who I’ll meet or where they will carry the story. There is a lot of ‘writing’ that isn’t done at a keyboard, and I like to be able to work on the story while I’m working on the yard or hanging out laundry. I get to have all these lives at once. It’s a bit like making a movie, except I have an unlimited budget for special effects. I get to journey to the faraway places, imagine the soundtrack, select the wardrobe, and then I get to play every role. I am so blessed to be able to do what I love and to make a living at it.
What is your favourite book by Megan and your favourite book by Robin?
My favorite Megan Lindholm book has to be Wizard of the Pigeons, a contemporary fantasy set in Seattle. I had so much fun doing the research for that, and ended up with my own flock of pigeons as a result of it.
For Robin Hobb, I’ll say Assassin’s Apprentice. It’s where the tale of the Realm of the Elderlings begins, and it was also the start of my friendship with Fitz. I’ve known him quite a few years now. We’ve had some good times together.
If you were to give one piece of advice to wanna-be writers, what would it be?
Don’t try to be a writer. The people who say to me, “I want to be a writer!” generally don’t achieve that ambition. It’s the ones who say, “I want to write!” who get there. And they get there one keystroke at a time, by beginning right here and right now. Don’t wait until you are more experienced or older or educated, don’t even wait until you have more time. You will never have more time than you have right now. (In fact, the longer you wait, the fewer days you have to write! How’s that for a scary idea?) So start now and write what you know, which is who you are and where you are, with a bit of magic tossed in. Just get busy and hit those keys. Writing is what makes you a writer.
City of Dragons is the third book in the Rain Wild Chronicles and is due for release in March 2012. If you want any more information about Robin and her books, then go to her website here.
If you love fantasy and haven't read Robin yet, then do so!!