Let’s start with what is clearly my most humiliating flaw: I DON’T REALLY LIKE LIVE MUSIC. I realize this places me on the Scale of Excellence somewhere between mud and protozoa. I love music—my newest book, Skullsworn, is filled with it—but I despise lines, crowds, and waiting a long time for beer, all of which seem to be features of live music venues.
Lest you think I’m a total monster, I CRY IN MOVIES. And I’m not just talking about really emotional movies. I mean pretty much any movie with, you know, characters and music. I’ve been known to tear up during advertisements. And books, of course. It’s really a wonder I can watch anything.
I MIGHT BE DEAD BY AUGUST. I mean, I really hope not, but I signed up for this three-day trail race in August. It’s three trail marathons, one a day. Keep in mind that I have not previously run one marathon on a road. It seemed like a good idea at the time. Wish me luck.
Fortunately, given the foolish decision above, I SPEND A FAIR AMOUNT OF TIME ADVENTURE RACING. Adventure racing is a ludicrous and delightful sport in which teams are given topographical maps marked with checkpoints. You have to race (on mountain bike, skis, foot, boat) to find these points, navigating throughout. My adventure race training, incidentally, helped inform some of the monastic and military training that the characters in my books endure.
Unfortunately, I am not very good at adventure racing any more. This is because I HAVE A FOUR YEAR OLD SON. Four year olds, as it turns out, are not all that compatible with independent adult interests and pursuits. Sleeping past six AM, for instance, used to be a hobby of mine. Not any more.
Having a young child, however, provides me with an excuse I’ve been needing for years: I AM JUST NOW READING HARRY POTTER FOR THE FIRST TIME. We read it aloud before bed. It’s quite good, but we’re only on chapter eight. Please don’t tell me how it ends.
Instead of reading Harry Potter, I SPENT A DECENT PART OF LAST YEAR READING BOOKS ABOUT SEX. Some interesting titles include Future Sex, Fear of Flying, and Perv. Don’t ask me what these have to do with the writing of epic fantasy—although Skullsworn does involve quite a bit of sex. In addition to the crocodile fighting and assassination, that is.
While we don’t have crocodiles here in Vermont, I AM AT WAR WITH A BEAR. Every year at this time the bear awakens like an ancient plague and, ravenous with hunger, prowls the woods of our small town looking for trash cans. More than once I have raced naked from the house, clashing pots and pans together, to chase the beast back into the woods. I live a pretty glamorous life.
Speaking of glamor, I JUST GOT THIS CREAM TUXEDO WITH BROWN SUEDE LAPELS. I didn’t realize such a thing existed before I found it in the thrift shop. Now I can’t imagine living without it. Helps me feel professional on those days when I’m working from home.
This wasn’t really possible when I WAS A HIGH SCHOOL TEACHER. I loved the job—taught world religion, philosophy, English, world history—but there was no chasing bears involved and no tuxedos. For that reason, and a number of others, I don’t plan to quit writing fantasy any time soon.
Skullsworn is published by Tor UK on 20 April. You can follow Brian on Twitter @Brian Staveley.