30 May 2011

Q&A with Ian Irvine

The Calamitous Queen by Ian Irvine, out in June 2011!

How long did it take you to write the Grim and Grimmer series?
I began the plan of the series, and the first book, in August 2008, and finished the final edits of the fourth book in March 2011, but most of that time I was writing other things. The total time to write each book was about a month. The Headless Highwayman and The Grasping Goblin took a bit over a month each, The Desperate Dwarf and The Calamitous Queen a bit less. But a lot of that work is planning. For instance I spent six days planning The Calamitous Queen in great detail, then another six and a half days writing the first draft. Curiously, I find that the faster I write, the less editing I have to do. I still do a lot of drafts, though.

Do you procrastinate? Are you an early-morning or late-at-night writer?
I don’t procrastinate because I really enjoy writing and want to do more of it. I usually start about 7.30 am and write until after lunch, have a break or a brief nap, then write through until dinner time. Sometimes, If I’m working to a very tight deadline, as with The Calamitous Queen, I’ll start at 5 am and go right through to dinner time, and even do a bit of writing late at night.

Where do you get your inspiration for your books?
Everywhere. I’ve travelled a lot, and worked in a dozen countries, so I have plenty of experience to draw on. I also draw inspiration from my scientific background (I’ve been a marine scientist for 30 years) which perhaps is why I write differently to most other writers.

When did you write your first book and how old were you?
In 1987, when I was 37. It was A Shadow on the Glass, and forms the first book of my epic fantasy quartet The View from the Mirror. The quartet is over 800,000 words and it took more than 10 years to get the series published, but it’s never been out of print in Australia since, and has been published in many other countries.

What does your family think of your writing?
Well, they all enjoy reading so I imagine they’re fairly pleased, though to be honest I’ve never asked them.

What are you reading at the moment?
I’m re-reading my 20-book set of the Brother Cadfael medieval whodunits by Ellis Peters (AKA Edith Pargeter). And I’m about to start Jonathan Stroud’s The Ring of Solomon, the fourth in his Bartimaeus series about a sarcastic and cowardly djinni, which I’m very much looking forward to.

What are you writing next?
Now that I’ve done the Grim and Grimmer quartet, I’m working on a new epic fantasy series for older readers called The Tainted Realm. The first book, which I’ve just finished, is Vengeance. I’m also tossing around ideas for a new children’s series though I won’t start it until The Tainted Realm is finished next year.

Do you hear from your readers much? What kinds of things do they say?
I get email from a few hundred different people a year – readers can email me here. Now that I have a Facebook author page, I’m in touch with my readers daily and we have a great conversation going. The most common questions are: When is the next book coming out? Why did you kill off that character I really loved? Are your books available as eBooks? The answers to many FAQs can be found on my gigantic website.

As a child, what did you want to be when you grew up?
Deep space explorer. Fighter pilot. Adventurer. Pretty much anything that didn’t involve real work.

What do you like to do when you're not writing?
Lie on the lounge reading a book. Wander around the garden. Daydream.

When was the last time you went on a bus?
Umm, years ago, since I live in the country and there’s no public transport at all here. I’ve a vague memory of getting a bus in Sydney some years back.

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