New C. S. Friedman interview

With Nightborn: Coldfire Rising about to hit the shelves, I had a little chat about the book with C. S. Friedman. If you haven't read it yet, you can find my review here.

You can pre-order it by following this Amazon Associate link.

Here's the blurb:

A prequel to the lauded Coldfire trilogy, Friedman's latest novel mixes the best of dark fantasy and chilling sci-fi.

A ship full of colonists arrive on a seemingly hospitable planet, only to discover that it harbors a terrifying secret. Soon the settlers find themselves caught up in a desperate battle for survival against the fae, a natural force with the power to prey upon the human mind itself, bringing a person’s greatest fears and darkest nightmares to life.

As Colony Commander Leon Case and Chief Medic Lise Perez struggle to find a way to control the fae before more people die, other settlers have ideas of their own…and they may prove more of a threat to colony than the fae itself.

Nightborn: Coldfire Rising is a tale that blends sci-fi, fantasy, and horror, suspenseful and emotionally intense, as a handful of humans struggle to survive on an alien world that seems determined to kill them. In the end they will have to draw upon both scientific knowledge and mystical traditions to save themselves.

Whether you're just discovering the Coldfire universe through this prequel or returning to it as a classic favorite, Nightborn: Coldfire Rising is the perfect entry point to this unique, genre-blending space fantasy epic.


What made you decide that the time was right to revisit the Coldfire universe? After all, it's been three decades since BLACK SUN RISING was first published.

Seeing how popular the series still is after all these years has moved me to expand the story. Not to mention, readers have been begging me for 30 years to add more story, and I guess I finally gave in.

- What were the challenges inherent to writing new Coldfire material? Did you keep old notes or computer files? I reckon that a reread or two was in order?

When I wrote the Trilogy, I had such a strong vision in my head that it seemed impossible I would ever forget the details. And if I did, all I had to do was refer to the books, right? What I didn’t realize back then was that decades later my vision would fade and those details would no longer be as obvious. So yes, I’ve had to reread the Trilogy. I’ve also got some great fans who located specific facts I needed. It’s amazing to me how well they remember the books.

- Given how long it’s been since the original trilogy was released, how does it feel to know that many SFF fans still consider the Coldfire trilogy to be one of the best dark fantasy series ever written?

It’s certainly flattering, and also exhilarating. Recently I’ve been interacting more with readers on Facebook and Patreon, and just am coming to realize how much people still love these books. It is humbling to know you wrote something that affected so many people that strongly.

- What made you decide that the first story you'd write would be about the founding of Erna and the First Sacrifice? Why choose that specific event for the first tale, as opposed to something featuring a younger Gerald Tarrant for example?

Ah, but my first story was about a younger Gerald Tarrant. Dominion, included in this volume, was written in 2012. It was my first attempt to explore a key moment in Gerald Tarrant’s history, the moment at which he ceased to be a mundane vampire and became the Hunter. That transformation has always fascinated me.

But I also wanted to explore more of Erna. There are many interesting events hinted at in the Trilogy, and still more that served as background but were never revealed to fans. Ernan history is quite dramatic. I’m working on a timeline that will make it easier to fit stories into the greater whole.

The First Sacrifice is a fascinating story, and more important, a finite one. It’s only described in the prologue to book two, so it was easy for me to go back and refresh my memory. And it raises such interesting questions. How did humans discover what the fae was, when no one was able to See it yet? How did the colony shift so completely from a scientific mindset to a “magical” one? What would drive a man like Casca to the degree of madness that we saw? How did the people on Erna shift from a modern scientific paradigm to one that echoed the rituals and symbols of Terran sorcery? The story of the Founding would not only offer a feast for Coldfire fans, but would be a self-contained story that new readers would find accessible.

- I understand that NIGHTBORN grew in the telling, going from short story to novella, then from novella to short novel. What happened?

The original prologue version was a short story.To expand it and flesh out the details demanded a novella, at least. But as I started writing it, I realized the story needed richer development than that. A novella typically has a narrow focus, in both characters and plot. I was developing a more complex tapestry, better suited to the structure of a novel. To do the story justice, I would have to give it the space that it needed. In the words of my editor Betsy Wollheim, “A book should be as long as it needs to be, to tell the story.”

- DOMINION is a Coldfire novella you wrote in 2012. I know it wasn't supposed to be included in NIGHTBORN: COLDFIRE RISING, but it was later decided that a revised version would be. Why revise the novella in the first place and what made your publisher ultimately decide to make it part of the book?

Our original vision was of a book containing several novellas, each from a different period in Erna’s history. Though I had self-published Dominion earlier (at the time there was little real market for print novellas), many Coldfire fans had never seen it, and some of those who had read it begged me to make a hardcover copy available. And, of course, everyone wanted to read more about Gerald Tarrant. So from the beginning, Betsy and I planned for Dominion to be included. What changed was that the rest of the book became a true novel, instead of a collection of shorter works.

In Nightborn, we see the seeds of humanity’s relationship with the fae. In Dominion, we see what that planet has become after centuries of human dreams and fears have left their mark on Erna. As humans adapt to the fae, the fae adapts to humans.

As for revision, the original story had been written primarily for Coldfire fans, but I wanted it to be accessible to new readers as well. That required a bit of fine-tuning, so that the work could stand on its own. While the changes I made were small, I think they improved the story considerably.

- What has the advance praise for NIGHTBORN: COLDFIRE RISING been like so far?

The reviews I’ve seen thus far have been great, (though to be fair, no one is sending me the bad ones.) The discussions I’m reading online are positive, and very encouraging. There are a few criticisms here and there—I don’t want to claim the record is perfect—but both Coldfire fans and new readers seem to enjoy the book a lot. I think it’s going to be big hit, that will hopefully introduce a lot of new people to the series.

- On your Patreon, you said that you realized that Erna has a rich history that is hinted at in the series and that there was a wealth of material for potential prequels. Mapping out such story arcs, you envisioned a set of novellas that would also explore the Age of the False Messiahs, the Neo-Gothic Revival and its Unification Wars, the great Rakhene Genocide, the transformation of the Forbidden Forest into Tarrant’s private hunting ground, and the Church’s doomed war against him and his minions.

How many such novellas/novels are you planning thus far?

I’ve decided to spend the rest of my life working on the Coldfire and Outworlds series. I’m 67. I write slowly. So who knows how many books there will be time for? I do promise I won’t start any series I may not have time to finish.

I’ve posted the Coldfire timeline on my web page, in the Book section on Bear in mind it’s a work-in-progress, and I may move a few things around as I polish the history further. But it offers a good overview of Ernan history, and as I write more Coldfire stories it will help readers see how all the pieces of the greater story fit together.

- If all goes according to plan, you said that the next novella will be a tale from the Neo-Gothic era, when a young idealist named Gerald Tarrant brings faith to his world, even as darkness begins to take root within his own soul. You believe that fans of Gerald Tarrant will love to watch that corruption unfold, as well as seeing parts of his personal history that he hinted at in the original trilogy.

How far along into writing that story are you? Are there any unexpected challenges to writing that one?

My next project is a new Outworlds book, This Variant Seed. So right now Coldfire stories are on the back burner, simmering away as new ideas take shape in my brain. I suspect it will take a good year of simmering for that story to flesh out like it needs to. I do plan for future books to be full novels, not novellas.

- Any tentative title yet?

Not for that, no.

- Which Coldfire project will you tackle next?

As you noted, I am thinking of a story set in Tarrant’s youth, dealing with the origins of the Iezu and setting the stage for his fall from grace. It includes a few chilling surprises I won’t spoil for people, regarding Tarrant’s history.

A key challenge for me as an author is that he is cited as a “young military genius.” I have no real understanding of military strategy, and I don’t think any amount of study would enable me to represent a brilliant general properly. So I have to find the parts of Tarrant’s story that I can tell without focusing on that.

- Anything else you wish to share with your fans?

Come join me on Facebook, for updates on current works and to participate in my creative process. This book’s title was chosen by my Facebook readers. I am also active on Patreon, and greatly appreciate anyone who wants to support my work. We have a nice community developing there, where people are sharing fan art and other projects.

0 commentaires: