The folks at Nerds of a feather just posted a very interesting interview with Steven Erikson. Here's a teaser:
Malazan Book of the Fallen is in many ways a tragic tale, but it is punctuated with some of the most outrageously funny comedy scenes we at ‘nerds of a feather’ have read in a long time. We particularly enjoyed the interplay between the destitute Tehol Beddict and his manservant, Bugg. What do you see as the function of comedy in your series? Is it simply the other face of tragedy, something to lighten the heavy, dark, and gritty load, so to speak? Or do you see comedy as a more poignant way of making a statement about the world in which we live?
I would think that comedy serves both the function of relieving pressure and providing another, perhaps more subversive, vehicle for social and political commentary. Tehol and Bugg are good examples of that, as they work to dismantle the rapacious economic structure of their native land. But also, it’s worth bearing in mind that humour often serves as a defense mechanism, both from the author’s point of view and also from that of characters who find themselves in extreme or traumatic situations, so it’s always worth it (when writing fiction) to keep that little pocket of irreverence near to hand for every character in a story. They need a break just like we need a break. They need to cut loose on occasion, same as we do. I would think that no matter how dark a story, or how repressive, humour remains a vital release-valve. And besides, sometimes it pays to impose a little perspective from a creative point of view.