quinta-feira, 22 de março de 2012

[Dale Wizards] Interview w/ Elaine Cunningham

PORTUGUÊS: Para ler a primeira parte desta entrevista em português, clique aqui.
ENGLISH: This is the complete interview, in english, with Elaine Cunningham. To read other Dale Wizards interviews, click here.

Dale Wizards (DW): Hello Lady Elaine, first of all, its a pleasure to make this interview with you. I hope you enjoy it. Every RPG player tends to put a little of herself in its characters and normally writers do the same in their books. What can we find from you in your books?

Elaine Cunningham (EC): Hi, Dale Wizards. I think that the most obvious connection between me and my books is a sense of humor. In real life, I like amusing people. When you write a novel, you spend a lot of time with your characters, and it helps if they're people you enjoy being around. I also try to write the sort of story I enjoy reading, and some of my favorite authors include clever word play and amusing situations. A few of my short stories are dark and grim, but I don't think I could spend months writing in that tone. 

Some of my interests find their way into my books; for example, I used to teach music and history, so I have a fondness for bards. You're also likely to encounter certain themes, such as the importance (and the challenges) of family ties.

DW: Talking about your favorite authors, who they are?

(EC): I read so many different kinds of books that it's difficult to pin down favorite authors. In fantasy, I love Terry Pratchett and Gail Carriger. I read a lot of historical mysteries, and a current favorite is the St. Cyr mysteries by C.S. Harris. For historical fiction, I like Bernard Cornwell, C.J. Sansom, and Philippa Gregory. In history, I appreciate Lady Antonia Fraser's mixture of elegant prose and common sense. My favorite poets are Robert Frost and Wislawa Szymborska. I enjoy reading a rather wide range of humorists, including Oscar Wilde, Mark Twain, Dorothy Parker and David Sedaris. I read a considerable amount of non-fiction, but that is more likely to focus on the topic than the writer.  

DW: What are the differences that Sevrin has when compared to other medieval fantasy settings? Could you tell us how was the experience to change from writing a book in an already existent campaign setting to one that you have created?
(EC): The periods in history that I find the most fascinating are times of change--not just technology, but when people's view of reality is shifting in some important way. The late sixteenth century was such a time. You had people like Tycho Brahe, the Danish astronomer, who also wrote about alchemy, and his more famous student (and probable murderer) Johannes Kepler, who defined laws of planetary motion and whose mother was tried as a witch. This was an era when magic and science were interwoven in complex and ever-changing patterns. This sort of dynamic uncertainty lies at the heart of Sevrin.

So Sevrin is really more of a Renaissance setting than a medieval setting. It's a land ruled by scientists--alchemists who create medicines and alchemical weapons and complex clockwork devices. The clockwork element usually appears in steampunk, which is largely set in Victorian times, but in this world the alchemist artisans are ahead of their time. 

Writing in your own setting is very different from a licensed setting. The latter is like writing historical fiction, because careful adherence to "facts" is vitally important. The Forgotten Realms history is entirely imaginary, but if you want your story to feel "real" you can't deviate from the established lore. When you're writing your own fantasy setting you have fewer restrictions, but you also have a daunting task: Creating a detailed world that's internally consistent and intriguing enough to persuade readers to visit it.

20 years of ElfShadow
DW: It has been twenty years since the publishing date of your first book. Do you feel any diference on the readers? Does that interfere when you write your stories?
(EC): A lot has happened in twenty years, and two developments that have had a big effect on fantasy novels is the popularity of video games and the amazing computer graphics in fantasy movies. Readers have become accustomed to spectacular special effects, dazzling fight scenes, and fast-paced storytelling that cuts quickly from one scene to the next. Of course this is going to have an effect on reader expectations, and yes, it's a little daunting.

But it's not just the stories with big battle scenes that need to adjust. Everything moves faster these days. A book that "starts slow" is likely to be left on the shelves. So yes, I think my pace has adjusted over the years. Recently I edited several short stories I'd written years ago, and found myself cutting, trimming, streamlined. I try to write leaner prose and plan stories with a faster pace.

Another change is the attitude that books are not ends in themselves, but rather raw material for movies. I am frequently asked if any of my books will be made into movies (Answer: This isn't something writers control...), or if I have a particular actor in mind when I wrote a character. Even if readers don't expect or hope that a book will become a movie, they still want books that have a cinematic feel to them. So it's important for writers to think in terms of set, scene, and action.

DW: Since you are a Celtic music lover, is there any band you would name, for one who knows nothing about celtic music? Do you have anything of your own recorded?

(EC): There are many fine Celtic bands. I prefer a more traditional approach to the pop/rock crossovers, so acoustic groups such as Altan, Lunasa, and the old Bothy Band appeal to me. Cherish the Ladies is a great group, particularly in concert. For fiddlers, Kevin Burke for Sligo-style Irish fiddling, Alisdair Fraser for Scottish fiddle (and yes, there's a difference.) My favorite Celtic harpers are Kim Robertson and Patrick Ball. For something a little different, try Maggie Sansone on hammered dulcimer. 

I fell in love with Celtic music about 10 years ago. Since then I've picked up the Irish fiddle and Celtic harp, but since more of my time goes to writing than practicing, I'm not at performance level on either instrument and I don't expect to get there any time soon. But there's a dwarf bard in Word of Honor, the third Tales of Sevrin book, who makes me want to ballads and set them to simple harp arrangements. So later this year, time permitting, I may start doing audio files of Hedvig's songs and posting them on my website.

Forgotten Realms Elven Silmarillion
DW: In every nowadays discussion about RPG systems, someone always brings out something about the new itineration of D&D. What's your impression on the new edition? 
(EC): To be quite honest, I don't know much about the new edition. I take a wait-and-see approach to edition changes. When I started writing Elfshadow, D&D was in the process of changing to second edition. I've seen the rise and fall of second edition, 3E, 3.5 and 4. There were pros and cons of each edition, and I didn't have much problem adapting. I have every confidence that I'll find much to enjoy about the upcoming edition, as well.

DW: Thank you so much, Lady Elaine Cunningham. Could you leave us Brazilian fantasy fiction lovers a farewell message? 

(EC): I appreciate the invitation to chat with you, and I hope to return in the near future to talk about upcoming projects and fantasy trends. 

Until then, if you'd like to learn more about Sevrin, visit my website,  www.ElaineCunningham.com, and scroll down on the right-hand column to the Categories pull-down menu for a list of short articles about the people, places, lore and legends of Sevrin. 

I enjoy hearing from readers through email, twitter, and facebook. Hope to "meet" some of you online in the near future. 
- Elaine Cunningham

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