Half a King and other random, or incredibly important, info….

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Last night I went, with the lovely Jenny from Wondrous Reads to an event organised by Waterstones and held in the newly refurbished Manchester Central Library – which is very impressive btw -in fact we got lost temporarily – how embarrassing would that have been – going to see a fantasy author and can’t even traverse a library without getting lost (clearly we need some sort of tracker or just, maybe, Aragorn to help us in our quest) – we were literally ‘on an adventure..  ‘

Okay.  This was a reading by Joe Abercrombie from his latest book Half a King together with a Q&A and book signing – would it be rude to say he’s very easy on the eye – or would it be awkward?  Well, there it is – I chucked it out there!  Also, he’s amusing, reads very well and is interesting to listen to.  I suppose it helps when you’re in a room full of people who basically love your work but yes, he came over very well and I would certainly recommend you go and listen to him and engage in a few Q&A at any future events.

In terms of the questions (what I can remember or make out from my notes, which are not the best).  The following is is no particular order and is not some sort of verbatim style record.  I’ve just given a general feeling and I’ve not captured all the questions – I certainly haven’t even attempted to capture the humour!

There was a question about what part of the writing stage does JA like best.  The answer being when the book has been drafted and is now ready for it’s second draft – this being the part where you finely hone your novel!!  Jokingly put – the writing part is the least enjoyable part!  The answer was longer but I’m summarising a little for you here (or can’t read all my notes – you can decide!)

In terms of characters and favourites – this tends to be the smaller characters of the piece.  It’s not necessarily that they’re the favourites but they’re the ones who aren’t really carrying the weight of the story on their shoulders.  They just duck in and out and are easier to have a good time with and consequently to write without always thinking of the bigger picture and, yes, sometimes these characters become more than originally envisaged.

One question that I’m always interested in (but never ask because I’m such a shrinking violet!) is: what type of books an author likes to read.  The answer to this was mostly non-fictional books.  JA mentioned that he doesn’t really read fantasy as it’s too easy to fall into critical editor mode and also in fairness it probably ends up feeling like a busman’s holiday.  He likes to read about vikings (as do I!) – obviously purely for research purposes (same here!  Don’t judge!) which is why he maybe, sometimes, also plays on Skyrim (this is also for work purposes!).

Another character based question revolved around the use of scarred, maimed or disabled characters in his writing.  Actually, this was a really interesting question and answer that I wish I’d noted the answer to more thoroughly.  Basically JA mentioned that he was interested in looking at the consequences of actions.  Writing in a brutal world with sword fighting, wars and skirmishes means that your characters suffer injuries and this is reflected in the reality that people carry the scars and reminders of their actions.  It’s about looking at fantasy versus reality really, it’s a fantasy world but it’s brutal and therefore the characterisation is a reflection of that.  Again – sorry that I didn’t get the answer more fully!

In terms of future books – and I could be wrong, but the Half King book is a trilogy with releases due July/Feb/July (pretty impressive dateline to be honest).  After that a possible return to the first law world with some tie-in short stories.  In terms of the graphic/comic adaptations – it doesn’t look like there will be any more of these – it’s a difficult market to break into and involves a huge ass amount of work (I’m sort of ad libbing a little bit but, you get the picture).

There was the inevitable (and much loved) question about future film/tv adaptations and surprisingly Mr Abercrombie is not averse to the possibility!  Hey, I’m not averse to that idea either!!  However, these things involve a very lengthy process beginning with the right to option – which is really only a baby step!  He certainly won’t be turning down any approaches so all you film makers out there, what are you waiting for!!  No. Seriously.  The rest of us – the message is don’t hold your breath just yet!

At this point – my note taking left a little (even more) to be desired.

Jumping backwards I think the first question was about naming any character that you wish you’d written?  Now here’s the thing, this was right at the beginning in which we were told about a particular author and a particularly nasty little character that he wrote about – and Mr A said he would have liked to have written that character – and both names have escaped me – is that the ultimate teaser or what? Try to bear in mind that I didn’t want to actually, really take notes – I wanted to listen – so, I can’t remember the name of the author or character mentioned, mm, because… I was too busy listening.  So, I’m very bad with names.  That’s why.

Question about world building –  which, yes, Mr A does maybe have a map and a timeline, and probably a few other bits and pieces along those lines!  but, ultimately, he’s more interested in the characters – which is all good.  The world building is important but it’s a setting and the characters, who they are and what they’re up to, what motivates them that is more important.  Smiley face in particular for this answer.

I can’t remember why I wrote this down, or more to the point, what the question was but I do remember a discussion where JA compared himself to the Sergio Leonie of the fantasy world – so, focusing on the face, the sweat, the sun pounding down, the close up of the large eye!  Dirt under the finger nails – not the type of thing that you focused on in your early western films!  Basically making it real I suppose?  And as you know the answer now you can probably guess the question – answers on a postcard.

Asked if, looking back, would he change anything about his books – no, that’s not to say they’re perfect or don’t have some howlers – but, that’s the book – I suppose there comes a point where you’ve finished basically (and anyway – and in this case I quote because it made me LOL  – he CBA – that was jokingly said btw).

Writing for YA – No different really, yes, not dropping the ‘f’ bomb but – this is a different setting and so it doesn’t feel wrong or untrue.  He’s not just basically gone back to the First Law world and told everyone to clean up their act and watch their potty mouth!!!  There’s a story that he wanted to tell, this may be not as explicit as the other books but the writing, story and plot don’t have to be less effective and it is a different world from First Law.  This book has a younger protagonist and I suppose in that respect a coming of age feel but at the end of the day young adults are still adults and they’re entitled to good fantasy too.

In terms of how he would sell this to a teenage market – ‘buy this book because I want a swimming pool shaped like a magic sword’ had to be my favourite answer – okay, this was just a joke – although now you mention it….  Read it because of the characters, because it’s good – just read it!

Yes, I have a very higgledy-piggledy way of writing this up which is probably why I’m not a reporter!

This was a very enjoyable evening and as Mr Abercrombie left us on a bombshell with the excerpt he read I’m off to read the rest…. ‘the end, goodbye.’


10 Responses to “Half a King and other random, or incredibly important, info….”

  1. booksbrainsandbeer

    Loved Half a King, and a bit jealous that you got to hear him read and answer questions. Thanks for sharing your notes.

    • lynnsbooks

      Oh my goodness – he is so nice! It was a really good event. 😀

  2. jenclair

    What a great q & a session. I really liked Half a King and would have loved to hear JA in person discussing the book and his reading and writing preferences. Ask Jenny if she remembers the author and character that JA would have liked to have written…I’m so curious!

    • lynnsbooks

      haha, just asked Jenny and she didn’t write it down – will have to go back and check my notes again!! I would like to know who it was now but I can’t remember as it wasn’t an author or character that I’m familiar with. it was a really good event and he’s a genuinely nice guy (even if he is Lord Grimdark!)
      Lynn 😀

  3. Mogsy

    Oh, JEALOUS. What an awesome event! I love Author Q&As and one with Joe Abercrombie would have been a wonderful one to attend and I would have loved to meet him in person. And I have to agree, JA cuts a fine figure 😉

    • lynnsbooks

      He is a lovely guy and it was a great event AND – you won’t believe it but in another four weeks Brandon Sanderson is here too! I am so excited!! You won’t believe this either – how geeky would it be to have bought tickets to Sanderson and have no.2 and 3. Very geeky – they’re my tickets!! LOL
      Lynn 😀

  4. jdbookworm

    It was a great event and I’m glad we went – I’ll write my report at weekend 😀 just wish I could remember which character he said he would like to write!

    • lynnsbooks

      I think you’re right – I think Vance was the author – now we need to do a bit of detective work and find the character…..

  5. Fan Art Up | Lynn's Book Blog

    […] I’m currently reading by Joe Abercrombie – who I went to see a few nights ago (post here) and the other is my doodle inspired by the book I just finished by Jim Butcher – Dead Beat in […]

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