As promised, here is the Q&A!
Many thanks to Time Warner Books. Without their help, this interview would never have been possible.
I would have liked for Mr. Eddings to be a little more loquacious. But I knew from reading past interviews of his that he wasn't the type of author to offer "in-depth" answers. Still, he offers interesting answers nonetheless.
Dear Mr. and Mrs. Eddings, let me begin by thanking you for graciously accepting to do this interview. You are undoubtedly very busy putting the finishing touches to THE YOUNGER GODS, so we appreciate the fact that you are willing to take the time to answer these questions.
1- After what can only be called an illustrious and prolific career, what motivates you to keep on writing?
I keep writing because it’s a habit. After fifty years or so I just can’t set it aside.
2- Following a tenure of about two decades with Del Rey, you elected to put an end to that relationship and sign with Time Warner Books. Was there a reason behind that move? After so long, was the decision to part ways with Del Rey a difficult one to make?
After the German Company Berstelsmann bought Random House, they decided to cut back the amount of money they were willing to pay authors for new books (so the publisher would make more profit.) My agent put “The Dreamers” up for offers. Bertelsmann didn’t offer much, but Warner Books did.
3- With the release of THE YOUNGER GODS, the series THE DREAMERS will reach its end. Any future projects on the horizon?
Nothing very specific. I’m looking into several possibilities.
4- How strong is the temptation to return to the worlds of your previous series? Do you have any plans to do so?
No. Those books are finished, so I won’t tinker with them.
5- What advice would you give a younger David Eddings concerning his writing career? Looking back, would you have done anything differently?
I think a passage from “THE RIVAN CODEX” (a non-fiction book) should give you an answer:
This is what I was talking about earlier when I suggested most aspiring fantasists will lose heart fairly early on. I was in my mid-teens when I discovered that I was a writer. Notice that I didn’t say “wanted to be a writer.” “Want” has almost nothing to do with it. It’s either there or it isn’t. If you happen to be one, you’re stuck with it. You’ll write whether you get paid for it or not. You won’t be able to help yourself. When it’s going well, it’s like reaching up into heaven and pulling down fire. It’s better than any dope you can buy. When it’s not going well, it’s much like giving birth to a baby elephant. You’ll probably notice the time lapse. I was forty before I wrote a publishable book. A twenty-five year long apprenticeship doesn’t appeal to very many people.
6- In light of the current market, are you tempted to write one of those enormous fantasy epics which continue to be the most successful series at the moment?
I’ll turn 75 in July this year, so I won’t attempt any multi-book stories. “One book” is the rule now. When I was writing “The Redemption of Althalus” I had a large note pinned to the wall above my desk that said “ONE BOOK!!” Althalus proved to me that I can tell a story in a single book.
7- What do you feel is your strength as a writer/storyteller?
Characters. My people are as real as I can make them.
8- After producing all those bestsellers and selling millions of copies worldwide, is there added pressure when it comes to writing new series/novels, knowing that the expectations will always be high?
I’m not an egomaniac. I’ll write what I want to write. If the readers don’t like it, tough noodgies.
9- What was the spark that generated the idea which drove you to write THE BELGARIAD, THE MALLOREON, THE ELENIUM, THE TAMULI, and THE DREAMERS?
I think it’s time to go back to “THE RIVAN CODEX:”
I was convinced that I was a “serious novelist,” and I labored long and hard over several unpublished (and unpublishable) novels that moped around the edges of mawkish contemporary tragedy. In the mid 1970s I was grinding out “Hunsecker’s Ascent” a story about mountain-climbing which was a piece of tripe so bad that it even bored me. (No, you can’t see it. I burned it.) Then one morning before I went off to my day-job, I was so bored that I started doodling. My doodles produced a map of a place that never was (and is probably a geological impossibility). Then feeling the call of duty, I put it away and went back to the tripe table.
Some Years later I was in a bookstore going in the general direction of the "serious fiction." I passed the science-fiction rack and spotted one of the volumes of The Lord of the Rings. I muttered, “Is this old turkey still floating around?” Then I picked it up and noticed that is was in the seventy-eighth printing!!! That got my immediate attention, and I went back home and dug out the aforementioned doodle. It seemed to have some possibilities.
10- Were you asked to participate to the LEGENDS anthology?
No. They wanted short fiction, and I write long fiction.
11- Is there a reason why there is no "official" website dedicated to your work? With so many authors with their own websites, many fans find it odd that there is nothing out there about you and your books.
I don’t own (or want) a computer. I don’t even use a typewriter. (Maybe that made her sulky and she shut down to get even with me.) You’re looking at the form of copy I send to my typist. She has no trouble with it. I’ve been using this form for years. (I can’t even read my script writing.)
Note from interviewer: Interview was received handwritten, via fax)
12- PAWN OF THE PROPHECY was first published in 1983. How does it feel to see it still in print and on bookstores' shelves after more than 20 years?
Lester del Rey told me, “You’ve written a classic.” It will probably still be in bookstores long after I’m gone.
13- THE SEERESS OF KELL hit number 1 on the NYT list. A select few fantasy authors have achieved this feat since then. Describe how you felt when the book topped the charts.
After the success of “The Belgariad” I wasn’t at all surprised when “Seeress” hit the top. The popularity of the previous books made “The Seeress” almost inevitable for number one.
14- Do you read a lot of fantasy? If so, what authors/series rank among your favorites?
I do not read other fantasy books. I have a sub-conscious burglar lurking in my mind. If I read a good fantasy, six months later it’s mine, and it’s likely to show up in my next book.
15- How would you like to be remembered as an author? What is the legacy you'll leave behind?
My books will be around for a while, but the opinion of the readers is up to them, not me.
16- THE DREAMERS was not welcome with the same sort of enthusiasm habitually associated with your books by both the fans and the critics. Was there ever a time when you considered making certain changes to the series based on readers' feedback, or was such a thought never even an alternative?
I don’t take orders from readers. The multi point of view in “The Dreamers” was derived from “The Alexandria Quartet” by Lawrence Durell. It does get a bit repetitious (as my editors have all advised me). Durell’s quartet involved politics, but mine involved war. It’s been cleaned up, but it was very tedious in the original form.
17- Readers from the 80s hold you and a number of other authors in high esteem. But the "new" generation of fantasy readers doesn’t always consider your novels with the same regard. Admittedly, the fantasy market has changed dramatically since the emergence of writers such as Robert Jordan, Tad Williams, George R. R. Martin, Terry Goodkind, and many others. But do you feel that this "new" generation gives your books and those of Raymond E. Feist, Terry Brooks, etc, the respect they deserve? Because without such authors to pave the way, there is no Jordan, Martin, Erikson, etc.
As I said in #14, I do not read fantasy books by other authors, I’m not equipped to answer this point.
18- There's always a sense of camaraderie pervading your books, with people you genuinely care about because they genuinely care about each other. How do you go about infusing your works with this bantering energy? What part of your own life do you draw from to create this atmosphere?
I listen carefully when people talk to each other, so I recognize various attitudes. “I like you” is a good approach to conversation. (But so is “I hate you.”) Conversations in books must be realistic, or the book will collapse. The characters must have their own peculiarities.
19- After creating a number of fantasy universes, what part of world building do you enjoy the most?
I create people and places that I find very interesting (almost always derived from real places). I like some people and places and I hate some of the others. For some reason the ones I like always win. Isn’t that odd?
20- What do you think draws people to fantasy? Is there something people can get from this genre that they can't get otherwise? That is, does fantasy offer something no other genre can?
Fantasy takes people away from the real world and almost everybody dislikes the real world.
Once again, many thanks for accepting to do this. We wish you continued success and best of luck with the release of THE YOUNGER GODS. In addition, when posts were made inviting fans to submit their questions for this interview, a multitude wished to simply thank you for all the wonderful stories you have shared with us in the last two decades or so. May you continue to capture our imagination for years to come!