The first thing to say about Fool’s Assassin is that I’m so happy and excited to be working with these characters again. For years I wanted to come back, but had a lot of doubts. Now that I’m writing them, it’s like coming home again. And to answer a question that I’ve been receiving a lot, chronologically in my universe, these books would come after The Rain Wild Chronicles.
Please tell us a bit more about the much loved characters the Fitz and the Fool.
Just go read the books!~ J Seriously, they are both very dear to me, and extremely annoying at the same time. I’ve spent literally decades of my life living with them, and there are moments when I almost seem to hear some scathing little remark from the Fool when I’m engaging in my real life activities. Or Fitz giving me unsolicited and mostly illegal advice on how to deal with annoying people. Never take social advice from an assassin, retired or not. Their friendship with one another is long, deep, and complicated.
When did you passion for writing fantasy begin?
I think that my passion for writing fantasy began at about the same time as my passion for reading fantasy. When you engage deeply with a story, even if you are only seven or eight years old, you will step into that story and start imagining what you would have done if you were the protagonist, only the world would be much different, and this would be how the Black Stallion would react to me . . . You see how it happens. Fantasy is my genre and my home in the writing world. I consider it the biggest writing room in all literature, where there are literally no boundaries at all.
What is your favourite novel?
Of mine? Or my two hundred favorite novels shelved in the book cases behind me? I think ever since I started to read, there have been favorite novels for different stages of my life. And one is never bumped out of place to yield to another. Instead I just add to my favorite shelves. So McElligott’s Pool and The Black Stallion and Little Women and The Jungle Book are still all there. So is Ill Met in Lanhkmar, Dune, The Dying Earth, Earth Abides, A Game of Thrones, Good Omens, The Hero and The Crown, Dream Snake, Lord Valentine’s Castle, War for the Oaks, Mistborn, The Lavender Keeper and dozens of others. My old favorites are comfort reads but I am always looking for my next new favorite. The one gem on my shelf that always sparkles for me is, of course, The Lord of the Rings.
Which author would you most like to have dinner with?
Oh, again this would be a large party. Let’s see. Can I resurrect someone? If so, I’d have to choose between Rudyard Kipling, JRR Tolkien, and H. Rider Haggard. I’d love to have a discussion with Ayn Rand and Charlotte Bronte. At the same table!
I’ve already had the pleasure of dining with George RR Martin and Fiona McIntosh and Vonda McIntyre and once had a wonderful conversation with Octavia Butler. And with Richard Morgan. Had a long conversation with Myke Cole, and Brandon Sanderson, and Brent Weeks and Joe Abercrombie . . . so I’m already terribly spoiled in that department. Oh! Diane Duane!!!! Yes, that would be lovely.
How difficult is it to write fresh fantasy, given the pitfalls and cliches in the genre?
I think every author has to stop worrying about that and just surge ahead. What falls out of your own brain is bound to be different from what anyone else imagines. I think that a dedicated effort to be sure that your elves are not going to be like anyone else’s would actually box the author in. So I try to not be inhibited in the customs of my cultures, not to make the politically correct of my fantasy world match too deeply the politically correct world that we live in, and to let my characters be people, with all the bad habits, kinks and scars that our real friends have.
What is your writing process?
Not intending to be funny: I sit at the keyboard, put my fingers on the keys and go. To me it’s the real secret of writing. Put yourself in front of the screen or the blank sheet of paper and get to work. It would be lovely to have special music or a silent house, windchimes and scented candles or even a cat that knew what ‘SCRAM!’ means. But the reality of the gainfully employed writer is that it’s a job and a responsibility. I hate missing deadlines, though I have. I hate turning in a book that I don’t think is my best, but I’ve done that, too, knowing that my editors will drag me back, rub my nose in my cheats and make me go at it again. The real secret to writing is to sit down and do it and not let a particular process dictate whether you get your words that day or not. I’d rather be at my desk with my big keyboard, but if I can’t be, then I’ll write on paper in the back seat of a car or huddle over my laptop late at night in a hotel. Just do it.
Why do you think Game of Thrones has sparked a new interest in the fantasy genre?
George RR Martin is a very visual writer, with deep experience in television as well as in writing. So I think A Game of Thrones reached out to many readers who love that level of detail. Martin paints the whole scene, right down to how the leaves hang and the sort of sand on the beach. The reader is right there in the story. He is also able to sustain a detailed story through a long arch, with many satisfying sub-plots. There are many characters in those tales, and none of them are disposable. Each one contributes something to the greater story. That’s rare. I know it’s what I love about his reading, so I’m going to guess that is why it works for everyone else.
How do you feel to receive praise for your books, like the amazing quote from George RR Martin?
Humbled. In a word, that’s it. George RR Martin took time to read my book. Wow.
What are your thoughts on the new cover, please talk us through it.
I have been incredibly blessed with amazing cover art from some very dedicated artists. Jackie Morris is an amazing artist, and I always feel very confident when my work is in her hands. It’s not just that she reads and knows my characters and settings. It’s that, if she draws a tree, it’s an oak or an elm, it’s not ‘generic tree’. The same is true for her bears and rabbits and other creatures. With so much of the art I see, I say to myself, “Well, I know that’s meant to be a cat because it is like a lot of other art that is supposed to be cats.” With Jackie’s art, I see her cat or bear, and it is THAT particular cat or bear, and it could be something I saw outside my window. (The cat, not the bear, thank goodness, though sometimes we do get black bears in our back yards here in Tacoma. But not often!)
Fool’s Assassin by Robin Hobb is published by Harper Voyager on 12th August and is available to pre-order now.