Thursday, January 14, 2010
Books from Peter V. Brett - Plus an Interview





This is a Worldbuilders blog.





Well folks, here's the last of the prizes, and the last of the author interviews.

Read on, and find out why Peter V. Brett is my new best friend.

*****

Heya Brett. Before we start, could you give us some of the details about how awesome you are? Y'know, awards, how many foreign countries your books have sold in. Stuff like that. Dazzle us.

Awesome, right. Let's see... The Warded Man (AKA The Painted Man) was written on my cellphone during my subway commute to work. In many circles, I am more famous for that than the book itself.

No, seriously:

(You can read articles about it: here, here or here.)

Despite having been written with my thumbs, it was named one of Amazon UK's 10 Best Science Fiction and Fantasy Books of 2008, and has since sold in 18 countries and 17 languages so far (closed a deal in Turkey just a couple of days ago. Very excited about that for multiple reasons). It has been a bestseller in the US, UK, Poland, and Germany that I know of.

The series has been optioned for film by Hollywood director Paul WS Anderson and producer Jeremy Bolt, who have done such movies as Event Horizon, Death Race, Pandorum, and the Resident Evil franchise.

Er... I am also devastatingly handsome, and make babies with the kind of auburn hair I am told women pay vast amounts of money to their colorists for. I drew the little chapter avatars in the US version of The Warded Man myself.

And he also makes julienne fries ladies and gentlemen. Order yours today!

Let's start with an easy question. If you were a cake, what sort of cake would you be?

The kind that's been sitting on the counter a long time and is sort of stale so you don't really want to eat it right this second but keep it around in case you suddenly wake up desperate for cake in the middle of the night.

What are you reading right now?

I just got over the flu, so I got a lot of reading done, including Brandon Sanderson's new Wheel of Time book, The Gathering Storm, which I admit I really enjoyed even though Brandon is my nemesis. I think Jordan's spirit is pleased. I also read Shadow's Edge by Brent Weeks and Legend by David Gemmell. I'm trying to decide between starting Mistborn by Sanderson or Acacia by David Anthony Durham next. In the meantime I am reading a bunch of comic books I've accumulated over the last few weeks.

All this reading feels good. For the last couple of years I've been too focused on my own writing to read much else, and I think that was unhealthy. I also had trouble turning off my internal editor, which sucks a lot of the fun out of reading.

If you had to pick your favorite book of all time, what would it be?

Ugh. Hard. Favorites shift with my moods. Let's broaden a bit. My Personal Top 5:

The Hobbit by JRR Tolkien
The Elfstones of Shannara by Terry Brooks
A Game of Thrones by George RR Martin
The Shadow Rising by Robert Jordan
Shogun by James Clavell

You're relatively new to the publishing world. How has getting your book published changed your life?

Man, you have no idea...

Oh, wait. Yes you do.

I sold in mid 2007, and since then, pretty much EVERYTHING in my life has changed. One minute I was begging someone, anyone, to please read my book, and the next I'm answering fan mail from Australia and Japan. In addition to selling and deciding to write full time, my wife lost her job, we had a baby, and bought a new apartment.

Even though it's mostly been great stuff that I always dreamed about, I really felt like the rug was pulled out from under me, as all the constants in my life up to that point vanished. I didn't know which way was up, and felt an incredible pressure to write a sequel that wouldn't let down the readers who loved the first book. It was doubly hard because I was doing much of it as a zombie on the baby's bi-hourly feeding schedule while we fretted over money, the cost of health insurance, etc.

Your blog helped me a lot as I adjusted to the change. Seeing someone else going through many of the same things (and coming out the other end of it) made it a little easier for me.

That's nice to hear. Sometimes I would write some of those blogs and then think, "Why am I telling people this? Why am I burdening people with my emo bullshit?"

I know that feeling well, but the people who would feel burdened by hearing about your life probably don't read your blog. I've found that blogging about my life helps me order my thoughts and keep things in perspective.

How often do you check your amazon sales rank?

Far too often. It is a sick, sick obsession. I also have google scour the internets and read every single review, no matter how nut-crunching.

Oh man. Google Alerts? I've avoided that particular madness by the clever application of my own ignorance. I don't know how to set it up. I just trust that if something important enough happens, someone will e-mail me.

That is probably wise of you. Google alerts takes about 3 seconds and the internet know-how of a shoe to set up, but it's probably best you never open that door.

How many copies of your own books do you currently own?

I have two shelves of my own books. One has two copies of each version/translation for my personal collection. So far that is 16 distinct volumes, so there are 32 books in my personal collection. These books are precious to me, and I guard them like my young.

The other shelf has books I am free to give away, and I try to run contests and things on my blog to keep those moving. That shelf has another 47 books at the moment, in various languages.

Wow. Specific numbers. Nobody else has been that forthcoming yet.

What are they hiding, do you think? Secret bunkers of their books in case of apocalypse?

Absolutely. I assume everyone buys their own first book obsessively, usually in conjunction with checking their Amazon sales rank.

Okay. Before this interview goes any farther, I have a confession to make.

You were one of the first people to send your books into the fundraiser, and while I was sitting up with my baby one night, I didn't have anything to read. Your books were sitting right there....
So I read one. That's not something I normally do with donations, but it was just sitting there. Taunting me.

Admission of guilt is the first step towards absolution, my friend. I think if you put a note in the front of the book saying "I read this one; the cookie crumbs and coffee stains are mine. Love, Pat" whoever wins the book will forgive the fact that it is second-hand, since they will probably get a lot more for it on eBay.

Boy, are you sure? I never write in books other than when I sign my own for people. I think it's a sin, isn't it?

This is a special case. Anyone who wins it in the Heifer fundraiser will probably be more a fan of yours than mine, anyway, and I give you leave to illuminate my book with your delicate cursive... or deface it with your chicken-scratch, if your handwriting is anything like mine. (Thank goodness we live in the computer age.)

Okay. If you're sure...

  • A copy of The Warded Man by Peter V. Brett. Signed by the author... and another author who read it.



Feel free to add "It didn't suck" to your note...

Man, way better than that. I have to say, your book was really fucking good.

!! Do go on...

Okay, to be completely honest with you, I was really ready to dislike it. I'm not proud of this... but, I'd heard you'd already got a movie deal going, so I was a little jealous. And you wrote it on the subway, so I was ready to be all snarky about that, too.

I was kinda expecting you to be Paolini of the F-train. His book got popular because he was so young, and I assumed yours just got attention because of the subway gimmick.

I should know better than jump to conclusions like that, of course. But I can be just as ignorant and petty as the next guy...
And I was totally wrong, your book is, like .5 of a Whedon on the coolness scale.

Firefly Whedon or Dollhouse Whedon?

There is only one Whedon, and I am his prophet.

Did you see that time in Astonishing X-Men when he made xxx Xxxxxx Xxxx xxxxxxxx? That was AWESOME.

That was awesome. He caught me off guard like he always does. That's one of his gifts, in my opinion. He's exceptionally good at coming at any sort of story from a fresh direction.

Sorry I xxx-ed out your potential spoiler, by the way. I have issues.

Back to the point though. I really dug your book even though I didn't want to like it at first...

I understand completely. So long as we're being honest, I felt the same way about you at first. When my book first came out last year, it seemed like every other review was referring to it as "The best new fantasy since The Name of the Wind". I know it was meant as a compliment, but after it happened a few times, it started to stick in my craw. My inner insecurity began translating that as "this is a good book, but TNotW is a better one." Grr.

I didn't know anything about you or TNotW at the time, so I picked up a copy to see what all the fuss was about. Admittedly, I went in with more than a little bias, ready to pounce on any flaws I could find just to make myself feel better.

Of course, I ended up utterly charmed, and when I started reading your blog and saw what a nice guy you were, I realized I was being a bit of a dick.

Heh. The same thing happened with me when my book came out. Everyone was like, "Pat Rothfuss is the next Scott Lynch!" I remember thinking, "Can't I just be the first Pat Rothfuss? I've got a lot more experience being that."

Ha. I just feel sorry for the poor schmo who gets saddled with being the next Peter Brett. That's no prize.

So.... Now that we're friends and all, is there any chance I could get an early look at Desert Spear? I'll do just about anything to get a copy. I'm not joking here. I'd choke a nun.

Hrm. Well, here's the thing. I only have 4 advance read copies, and two of them have been promised to fans as prizes in an ongoing contest on my blog. The other two are my personal copies, on the aforementioned "precious" shelf. They are so beautiful, the paired books on that shelf, like a little Noah's Ark of books. Even my mom doesn't have a Desert Spear ARC.

But that said, maybe if there were a way to make the copy eventually go to charity...

I wouldn't want to steal one of your personal copies. Like I said, I understand the book-hoarding impulse....

Actually, I made a plea to Del Rey, and they shook loose another copy for me to send you. You know. For charity.

Muahahahaha! Witness my power! No. Wait. I mean... that will be a great addition to the fundraiser. This is all about charity you know...

Just put it and The Warded Man in a plain brown box labeled "Pat's used books" and add it to the lottery.

Done:


What's the most shameful self-promotional thing you've ever done?

I brought chocolate cake with icing wards to a signing at ComicCon just to entice people over. In my defense, it was my birthday.

You were at Comic-Con this year?

New York, not San Diego. I usually go to SDCC, but my daughter was born on that exact weekend in 2008, so I think I may miss it until she is old enough for me to convince her that an airplane hanger full of 200,000 cosplayers is a birthday treat.

If you play your cards right, you should be able to convince her that it's a special birthday party just for her.

That's the plan.

What is the best compliment you've ever received?

Milla Jovovich hugged me and told me she loved my book.

Oh man. Now I'm filled with terrible rage and jealousy. I think I might hate you again....

Uh-oh.

What's the most hurtful thing someone has ever said in a review of your book?

A lot of readers try to pinpoint my personal morality and politics from the book. Sometimes they are wrong and say terrible things about my beliefs that are really upsetting. A few times I have tried to engage those critics in a polite, calm, and non-confrontational manner, just to set the record straight. Sometimes that helps. Sometimes it is a clusterfuck.

Two extra points for use of the word 'clusterfuck.' Do you have a particular piece of grammar that you screw up regularly?

I grew reading a lot of British fantasy (Tolkien, CS Lewis, Lewis Carroll, etc.) so there are a lot of Britishisms I use without realizing it. My copyeditors hate me.

If you could punch one literary figure in the face, who would it be?

I challenged Brent Weeks to a knife fight at the World Fantasy Convention this year, Beat It style, but he'd left his switchblade in his room so we just drank scotch instead.

Rumor has it that Voltaire wrote on the naked backs of his lovers. Do you have any little rituals that help you write?

I write very long books, so I would need many lovers.

That's what I keep telling Sarah, but she isn't buying it. How long was the Warded Man, anyway? It didn't feel very long at all....

The Warded Man was 163,000 words, give or take. The first draft was closer to 180,000, but I cut a lot in the final editing pass. The Desert Spear, however, weighs in at a hefty 240,000 words, and that's AFTER the heavy cutting. It's no Wise Man's Fear, but the hardcover will still make an effective bludgeon.

I hear you about the cutting. Over the years I'm guessing I cut over 100,000 words out of The Name of the Wind.

Speaking of which, I had an idea when I was interviewing Weeks a while back. It turns out he cuts a lot of stuff too. I'm thinking it would be cool to collect some deleted scenes from some other fantasy authors, put them into an anthology along with some commentary by the authors.

We could call it Worldbuilders, and some of the money it made could go to help match funds for the Worldbuilders fundraiser. I'll admit it's just a pipe dream so far, but what do you think?

It's a good dream.

I saw that interview, where you both were talking about having cut the first sections from your books. I don't know if this is just the case for all new writers, but the Prologue to The Warded Man was cut just prior to publication as well. I have a whole page of my website devoted to excised material, along with essays as to why things were cut. If you ever want to do a Worldbuilders anthology, I will be happy to contribute.

Rock. On. I'm so going to make this happen.

In the meantime, I still need to make a donation to Worldbuilders for this year. I don't feel right about entering the lottery, though. Would it be possible for me to made a modest addition to the pool helping to match donations?

Oh merciful Buddha, are you serious? Some cash to help match donations would be the best thing ever.

Last year the fundraiser really tapped me out financially, so I was trying to be more careful this year when I said I'd only match 50%. But we've ended up raising WAY more than I expected. We're already over 115,000 dollars. Even with Subterranean Press matching the first 10,000, that still leaves me stretched really thin.

I never planned on Worldbuilders being a one-man show. I'd always hoped some other folks would offer to help match donations, or maybe do fundraisers or auctions of their own to help Worldbuilders raise funds to match donations....

But you're the first to actually offer.


Anyway, the short answer is "Yes." I'd love to have you onboard helping to match donations.

You are now officially my new best friend.


*Ahem.* Anyway... back to the pre-tangent question. Do you have any weird writing habits?

Sometimes when I have writer's block I will sync whatever chapter I am working on to my phone and write on the subway. For some odd reason, that always clears the block. No idea why.

That's another reason the Voltaire thing wouldn't work for you. It'd be hard to get properly intimate on the F-Train. People would complain about how many seats you were taking up.

You'd be surprised what you can get away with on the F...

I recently made a joke about "transition putty" on my blog. That being, of course, what we writers buy at Home Depot to smooth out our rough transitions. If you could have some sort of handyman tool like that, something like Plot Spackle or a Character Level. What would it be?

I wish I could go buy a box of minor character names like I can a box of nails. Look at all the trouble it's causing you. You had to start a whole contest to get some ideas.

Heh. You detected my clever scheme, did you? Keep quiet about it and I'll cut you in for 10% of the names.

Mum's the word.

Those are all the questions I have. Thanks much for the interview, and double thanks for being willing to help out Worldbuilders as our first official author Sponsor. I can't thank you enough for that.

Oh, and next time you see Milla, give her a hug for me....


Will do. Thanks so much for having me on the blog, and for all the great work you're doing with Heifer. I'm glad I could do my own little part to help.

*****

Personally, I can't think of a better way to end the last post of the fundraiser: our first author sponsor. Hopefully the first of many.

  • Four copies of The Warded Man by Peter V. Brett. Signed by the Author.

Not only is Brett's debut novel a smashing good read, but owning a copy will bring you good luck, protect you from the swine flu, and make you roughly 33% more attractive to the opposite sex.

Plus Brett has hugged Milla Jovovich. That means if you win one of these books that he's touched with his own hands, it's like you're getting to hug her too, albeit twice removed.



Well folks, this is the last of the prizes. You have until midnight on January 15th to get in on the action. For every $10 you donate on my Team Heifer page you get a chance to win books like these and many, many others.

If you want to know more about what you can win, or if you'd like more info about Worldbuilders itself, you can head over here for all the details.



With thanks to our sponsor, Subterranean Press.

(Ahhh... Last post of the fundraiser. Now can relax a bit....)

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