December 15, 2019, 04:42:33 AM

Author Topic: Q&A with Jen Williams (sennydreadful)  (Read 12534 times)

Offline Lanko

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Re: Q&A with Jen Williams (sennydreadful)
« Reply #30 on: July 27, 2016, 03:00:29 PM »
Having said that, I am a big fan of video games, and, somewhat infamously at this point, I developed a huge obsession with the Bioware game Dragon Age, and it was certainly Dragon Age that encouraged me to write this sort of 'taverns, mead and mayhem' sort of fantasy. I was also hugely into Skyrim at the time of writing the first draft, and certainly my favourite parts of that game involved exploring spooky underground caves (that and making stew, crafting jewellery and shouting people off of cliffs, of course). So I'm sure those two games have their fingerprints over at least the first section. Mostly though, the series is rooted in old-school sword and sorcery; which of course shares a lot of DNA with D&D, anyway.

I knew I felt some Skyrim in Part 1!

Meanwhile, preparing my own questionnaire for a while.

Because it really needs to have 33 questions  ::)
Slow and steady wins the race.

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Offline sennydreadful

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Re: Q&A with Jen Williams (sennydreadful)
« Reply #31 on: July 27, 2016, 03:06:49 PM »
Having said that, I am a big fan of video games, and, somewhat infamously at this point, I developed a huge obsession with the Bioware game Dragon Age, and it was certainly Dragon Age that encouraged me to write this sort of 'taverns, mead and mayhem' sort of fantasy. I was also hugely into Skyrim at the time of writing the first draft, and certainly my favourite parts of that game involved exploring spooky underground caves (that and making stew, crafting jewellery and shouting people off of cliffs, of course). So I'm sure those two games have their fingerprints over at least the first section. Mostly though, the series is rooted in old-school sword and sorcery; which of course shares a lot of DNA with D&D, anyway.

Awesome! I actually work with a few of the writers that wrote for Dragon Age (people in the game industry tend to move around) so it's been fun picking their brains about the game. With the exception of some combat issues (like mage players pwning everything) it was a really well done, especially story-wise. Both Alastair and Anders (from DA: Awakening) remains some of my favorite characters, since I have a weakness for snark. And naturally, my Gray Warden sacrificed himself for the greater good at the end, because that's the type of character I play.

Also, I can totally see some similarities between the rampaging snake sisters and the darkspawn. :)

Oh how cool! Alastair was absolutely my favourite (although to be fair I loved everyone in Origins). I married him and became Queen of Ferelden, so it was the dark ritual with Morrigan every time for me ;) I still want a t-shirt that says 'I'm the Queen of Ferelden...'

The bit where:

Spoiler for Hiden:
You and Alastair go to light the beacon at Ostagar and Logain totally shafts everyone... still one of my favourite shock moments in anything ever. God, I love that game so much.

Offline sennydreadful

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Re: Q&A with Jen Williams (sennydreadful)
« Reply #32 on: July 27, 2016, 03:08:02 PM »
Having said that, I am a big fan of video games, and, somewhat infamously at this point, I developed a huge obsession with the Bioware game Dragon Age, and it was certainly Dragon Age that encouraged me to write this sort of 'taverns, mead and mayhem' sort of fantasy. I was also hugely into Skyrim at the time of writing the first draft, and certainly my favourite parts of that game involved exploring spooky underground caves (that and making stew, crafting jewellery and shouting people off of cliffs, of course). So I'm sure those two games have their fingerprints over at least the first section. Mostly though, the series is rooted in old-school sword and sorcery; which of course shares a lot of DNA with D&D, anyway.

I knew I felt some Skyrim in Part 1!

Meanwhile, preparing my own questionnaire for a while.

Because it really needs to have 33 questions  ::)

I would live in Skyrim if I could. :D Looking forward to your 33 questions ;)
The Copper Promise

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Offline tebakutis

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Re: Q&A with Jen Williams (sennydreadful)
« Reply #33 on: July 27, 2016, 04:29:03 PM »
I would live in Skyrim if I could. :D Looking forward to your 33 questions ;)

Oh God no! Daedric Princes constantly trying to steal your soul or screw you over, constant cataclysms and end of the world scenarios, chances of getting slaughtered by a draugr, troll, or walking skeleton way too high, and lawless murderers slaughtering entire towns and/or placing buckets on people's heads. Buckets!

Some "hero" would walk into town, Fus Ro Dah me off a cliff, and steal my cabbages. No thank you.

Offline Lanko

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Re: Q&A with Jen Williams (sennydreadful)
« Reply #34 on: August 02, 2016, 11:34:36 PM »
Didn't get to 33 questions yet, but I guess I should divide it in three batches so it doesn't get too long! So here's the first:

1 - When did you first had the idea for the story?

2 - Do you know the word count of all the books?

3 - How long it took to write and finish the book?

4 - During dialogues I noticed that you rarely use “he said/she said” and variants. It made the text flow really well, and I think it’s pretty hard to do. Any special reason for this decision?

5 - Why Thirty-Third didn’t have a single chapter in Parts III and IV? *cries*

6 - Speaking of her, any particular inspiration for her chapters? I kinda like the theme “I just wanted to create a weapon, but now I realized I actually created a person”. Hm, that’s actually a nice page 1 sentence I might use!

7 - I’m almost sure Ynnsmouth is a reference to Lovecraft. If it is, are there others in the book? Was the Citadel some cyclopean inspired ruin?

8 - Sebastian. Very good arc. One of his themes was the prejudice of his order because he is gay. What I found interesting is that you didn’t paint the situation in extreme black and white. Sebastian doesn’t let his expulsion overwhelm him and doesn’t hold a grudge against his order, not to mention he also makes mistakes (working for the devil, pretty much) and isn’t perfect.
And then when he returns to it, there is even an officer who sympathizes and recognizes his ability but can’t do anything due to hierarchy. And not to mention his own squad that supported him in the backstory, which made the organization a bit more nuanced and balanced, because while it did  something wrong, there were quite a bunch of people on it that disagreed, instead of turning the knights into some faceless organization with a mind hive.
Also later when Isu kinda of calls to him again to rid him of Bezcavar’s influence, meaning despite everything, Sebastian didn’t drop his religion. It was like the god/goddess saying “Hey, we are all people. I never said anything to this organization about X or Y, you humans made that up and stickied it on me.” I think the theme was subtly well explored, with both sides balanced.
Not sure how to make a question on this… so just talk about it!

9 - Wydrin. I liked how she was portrayed. Could fight and drink, but also never had any qualms about her feelings and love (I’m so grateful there wasn’t a love triangle). And while fighting she could deliver the pain, but also suffer it, threaten and feel threatened, instead of being an untouchable killing machine isolated with anger as emotion. Also, your thoughts on this!

10 - Frith. It was actually pretty funny when I first saw him idealizing a hot young redhead probably in bikini armor in the beginning, then seeing Wydrin the first time and slowly both approaching each other through conviviality. I’m wondering if Frith’s attitude was inspired by someone real. I guess you wouldn’t tell me if it was, though!

11 - O’rin was the god who wasn’t imprisoned. At one point he mentions the family. Res'ni, Res'na and Y’gia. He had assistants called Muggin, Luggin and Dobs. I’m wondering if the resemblance in the twins names was because he actually felt lonely and missed them, and kinda of recreated the family with those assistants. Y’Ruen, who he didn’t like and feared, didn’t get a “clone”.
I’m wondering if my thoughts are correct or if it was just coincidence.
Slow and steady wins the race.

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Offline sennydreadful

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Re: Q&A with Jen Williams (sennydreadful)
« Reply #35 on: August 03, 2016, 11:09:52 AM »
Didn't get to 33 questions yet, but I guess I should divide it in three batches so it doesn't get too long! So here's the first:

1 - When did you first had the idea for the story?

2 - Do you know the word count of all the books?

3 - How long it took to write and finish the book?

4 - During dialogues I noticed that you rarely use “he said/she said” and variants. It made the text flow really well, and I think it’s pretty hard to do. Any special reason for this decision?

5 - Why Thirty-Third didn’t have a single chapter in Parts III and IV? *cries*

6 - Speaking of her, any particular inspiration for her chapters? I kinda like the theme “I just wanted to create a weapon, but now I realized I actually created a person”. Hm, that’s actually a nice page 1 sentence I might use!

7 - I’m almost sure Ynnsmouth is a reference to Lovecraft. If it is, are there others in the book? Was the Citadel some cyclopean inspired ruin?

8 - Sebastian. Very good arc. One of his themes was the prejudice of his order because he is gay. What I found interesting is that you didn’t paint the situation in extreme black and white. Sebastian doesn’t let his expulsion overwhelm him and doesn’t hold a grudge against his order, not to mention he also makes mistakes (working for the devil, pretty much) and isn’t perfect.
And then when he returns to it, there is even an officer who sympathizes and recognizes his ability but can’t do anything due to hierarchy. And not to mention his own squad that supported him in the backstory, which made the organization a bit more nuanced and balanced, because while it did  something wrong, there were quite a bunch of people on it that disagreed, instead of turning the knights into some faceless organization with a mind hive.
Also later when Isu kinda of calls to him again to rid him of Bezcavar’s influence, meaning despite everything, Sebastian didn’t drop his religion. It was like the god/goddess saying “Hey, we are all people. I never said anything to this organization about X or Y, you humans made that up and stickied it on me.” I think the theme was subtly well explored, with both sides balanced.
Not sure how to make a question on this… so just talk about it!

9 - Wydrin. I liked how she was portrayed. Could fight and drink, but also never had any qualms about her feelings and love (I’m so grateful there wasn’t a love triangle). And while fighting she could deliver the pain, but also suffer it, threaten and feel threatened, instead of being an untouchable killing machine isolated with anger as emotion. Also, your thoughts on this!

10 - Frith. It was actually pretty funny when I first saw him idealizing a hot young redhead probably in bikini armor in the beginning, then seeing Wydrin the first time and slowly both approaching each other through conviviality. I’m wondering if Frith’s attitude was inspired by someone real. I guess you wouldn’t tell me if it was, though!

11 - O’rin was the god who wasn’t imprisoned. At one point he mentions the family. Res'ni, Res'na and Y’gia. He had assistants called Muggin, Luggin and Dobs. I’m wondering if the resemblance in the twins names was because he actually felt lonely and missed them, and kinda of recreated the family with those assistants. Y’Ruen, who he didn’t like and feared, didn’t get a “clone”.
I’m wondering if my thoughts are correct or if it was just coincidence.

Crikey, you weren't kidding ;) Apologies now for the waffle.

1 - I believe I would have had the first inkling of the story back towards the end of 2011. I had just finished writing one quite long, reasonably serious book, which I had put to one side to brew before editing, and I decided I wanted to write something fast and fun - a sort of palate cleanser. This project, I thought, would be a short and sweet little novella, possibly with other novellas following it, as a sort of serial. I could whack them up on Amazon as a diversion from writing the long books I hoped to get published one day. Because I was playing a lot of Dragon Age at the time, I fancied trying my hand at some old school sword and sorcery, and it occurred to me that writing a female rogue with a male companion (who was not a love interest) could be hugely enjoyable. The whole thing grew from that central idea, really.

2 - Oooo. Um. The Copper Promise is, roughly, 149K words. The Iron Ghost was about 180K, I believe, and The Silver Tide was 200K. I couldn't avoid the old cliche of fantasy books getting bigger as they went along ;) Both the Copper Promise and the Silver Tide had roughly 20K cut out of them in my first big edit, whereas the Iron Ghost was always about that length.

3 - You know, honestly, I can't really remember. Particularly with The Copper Promise, which ended up having such an odd genesis. I wrote part one (Ghosts of the Citadel) in a couple of months, and then belatedly wrote the rest of it when an editor asked to read the whole manuscript - that took maybe another 7 or 8 months? Then when I was picked up by my agent, I edited it again, and when it was bought by Headline, that was another edit... I suppose that all together it might have been about a year's worth of work, with various gaps and breaks.

4 - If I'm honest, it's not something I think about an awful lot – that's just how I naturally write dialogue. I'm not a fan of pages full of endless back and forth, so I do like to break it up with the characters actually doing things. They might be making tea, or fiddling with their sword belt, or just looking away because they can't quite meet the eyes of the person they're talking too. Body language is a great way of conveying more than what's being said, and these little moments can give you small insights into character too. They also happen to be a handy way of avoiding the use of endless 'he said/she said'.

5 - Hahahaa! Well, the 33rd and the rest of her sisters were originally only meant to be a light* break from the rest of the action, but rather to my surprise they grew to become very significant to the story. I liked them very much, but the truth is the 33rd's story arc had a very natural, organic turn to it, and having more chapters from her POV in parts 3 and 4 would likely have been overkill. Plus, there was an awful lot going on in the later half of the book, and it's always been my intention that the Copper Cat books be fast-paced, speedy reads. More from the brood sisters would have slowed it down, so I left them to appear again at the very end. I would argue that having them arrive at the end, so clearly changed and fractured from when they first appeared, is a pleasing turn of events... But in my defence, Ephemeral and her sisters do appear in books 2 and 3 (at least partly because almost all my readers LOVED them).

6 - as I've hinted at in the previous answer, Ephemeral kind of just... happened. I needed the dragon to have some ground troops for our heroes to engage with, but the idea of just having mindless monster people didn't sit well with me. I thought to myself: what if they only started out as mindless? What would happen if they started to question who they were, and what they were doing? And that's how they happened. :)

7 - Ynnsmouth is a tiny nod, but it was mainly because I liked how the name sounded. I don't think there are any other Lovecraft references.

8 - Thank you, I'm really glad all that came across. Sebastian was the hardest character to write, and his arc the most complicated. I can't say much for fear of spoiling you of course, but his struggles continue into books 2 and 3. Dealing with his connection to the brood sisters and the consequences of his decisions mean that he has a tough time, but ultimately I feel like Seb is the emotional heart of the books, however hard he was to write.

9 - Female characters in fantasy books have often received, shall we say, less than kindly treatment. When they do exist (and I have read books where I have genuinely wondered if the author had forgotten about women entirely) they are often fulfilling one of a few fairly restrictive roles: love interest or 'reward' for the main character completing a quest, mother or sister (usually murdered to provide a catalyst for the male character), a damaged woman with a chip on her shoulder who ultimately softens under the charms of the male character, or whore (often dispensing magically healing sex, for some reason). Wydrin came very much from a desire to write a character who is entirely independent, who has her own drives and history, flaws and wants. My approach with all characters is that they should think they are starring in their own story, that they should be as real and fully formed as possible. No one is just a 'love interest' or a victim.

10 - Ha! Not as far as I'm aware. I very much enjoyed the slow burn of their relationship, going from a mutual antagonism to a grudging respect, to something more than that. And of course Wydrin enjoys winding him up.

11 - Hehe, I think you're the only person to have ever picked up on that. Truthfully, the relationship between the 'family' of gods is... complicated. I'm not sure O'rin missed them - I think his naming his assistants that way was a small expression of contempt for his lost brothers and sisters... while even he isn't quite brave enough to insult Y'Ruen directly. The Silver Tide reveals a bit more about how they all related to each other. :)


*light as in, um, actually quite bleak and scary

Offline Lanko

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Re: Q&A with Jen Williams (sennydreadful)
« Reply #36 on: August 31, 2016, 01:53:08 PM »
Round 2 (let's assume Jen Williams is still around even after more than 1 month passed  ::))

12 - Was there any symbolism or meaning behind the numbers of the Brood Army that were shown? 33, 12, 2, 97, 842, etc. I actually thought of using those numbers in the lottery just for the heck of it. Of course I would share the prize with you  ;)

13 - What was/were your favorite part(s) of the first book?

14 - Looking back now, would there be any part you would have done differently (like adding more of this, reducing a little of that, changing a certain part)?
Hm, I'm gonna start asking around those two questions more often!

Book 2 questions

Spoiler for Hiden:
15 - At the end of the first book it's mentioned Sebastian moved to the mountains with 200 of the Brood Army, but when the second one starts, it says he only has 48 with him, that later even splits 23/17 (and 8 deaths). What happened to the other 150?

16 - Well, Joah. He and Frith passed a long time together, and later it was kinda of scary that he somehow was a distorted reflection of what Frith himself could become, and that almost became in the first book when striving for knowledge for revenge, (they both could be arrogant and insufferable) and later Frith makes that trap. It's actually curious that Bezcavar approached Sebastian and Wydrin, but (luckily?) left alone the only party member who probably would have reveled in power and killing, at least in the first book. Also, Joah's desire to have at least one human companion. Hm, talk about him.

17 - Noticed that you put references to events of the past book, but instead of two or three chapters full of summary disguises as dialogue banter , you just spread them out throughout the book. Good choice! Uh, that was not exactly a question, was it? Ah, there we go!

18 - Bezcavar's host doesn't gain any kind of power? Damn, Ip totally fooled me in book one. And Joah even killed half the city in his name. It was actually hilarious to see the big bad demon at certain situations, but a bit strange Ip could just walk through entire countries by herself like that without any kind of attention, or hunger, or shelter, or cold. He knows a lot of spells (Joah's tomb, that army in the first book, etc) but apparently can't use any of them in human form?

19 - What was your favorite part(s) of the second book?

20 - Again, anything you later though you should have added, cut or changed?

Slow and steady wins the race.

Lanko's Year in Books 2019