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Scott Lynch répond à nos questions !

Par Thys, le lundi 7 août 2006 à 13:29:27

Interview with Scott Lynch, english version

"The Lies of Locke Lamora" is a brilliant debut.

Thank you!

And the buzz is not limited to North America, even if - for example - the French translation won't be released until 2007 (but our review is out !). How do you manage this success and this amount of hype ?

Well, it's a very pleasant thing to have to 'manage,' let me tell you. I've actually found the reaction to TLOLL to be a very useful thing as I write the next novel... a helpful sort of pressure to remind me at all times to put my best effort forward. And I've seen enough reviews and comments now to start identifying certain trends in reader opinion... I certainly don't write to anyone else's order, or by popular vote, but if, say, ninety-five out of a hundred people all say the same thing about a certain aspect of TLOLL, it probably means something.

As for the hype, well, it's not bad at all. I'm not dealing with anything approaching real fame, here-- there are no photographers on my front lawn, no tabloids gossiping about what I'm wearing, no constant invasions of my privacy. So there's really no added pressure in my daily life at all.

Bragelonne has bought the rights of "The Lies of Locke Lamora" for France. Will you be consulted about the French translation of your work ? Would you like to be ?

I have already been in touch with the translator of the French edition of TLOLL; just a friendly little exchange of greetings. I'm on call in case there are any questions that need to be answered; otherwise, I'm not sure anyone would *want* me more involved... my French is deplorable. I took German in high school...

I am, however, really looking forward to seeing what Bragelonne will do for the cover of the novel. Everything I've seen on their webpage is so vivid, stylish, and colorful. The thought of seeing TLOLL get that treatment pleases me immensely.

You have already an impressive list of books to be published in future, with all the Gentleman Bastards sequence. Is it that you just can't stop writing ?

I did it for fun before it became my full-time job; now that it's my full-time job, I see no reason to relax and work at anything less than my full capacity. I'm relatively young and healthy, with no children or other unusual responsibilities in life. I might as well make good use of the next few years, and all the time available to me. You never know when you might be forced to slow down, right? Or when you might get run over by a bus.

Internet could be a really important tool for promoting books...Personally, how do you develop those features (with you livejournal, website, etc...) ?

Well, it's sort of a fourfold approach-- my personal website, my LiveJournal, my appearance at various messageboards, and my response to interviews like this one. I'm no stranger to the 'net; I spent many years on forums before I sold my first novel, so it's not a significant change from my usual pattern of behavior.

The internet isn't a cure-all, and it isn't perfect by any means, but my opinion is that it *can* be a sort of equalizer for those of us who are still relatively unknown authors-- at this stage in my career, building a readership one at a time, or two at a time, or three at a time, or whatever, via the 'net, is absolutely worthwhile. I hope that I'll *never* cease to think of it as worthwhile. And I don't look upon it as a chore-- I really like the vast majority of people that I meet and talk to online.

I can understand some authors desiring more privacy for themselves, especially those who are much more famous than myself... if George R.R. Martin or Robert Jordan tried to respond to all of their mail, I'm sure they'd never write another word of fiction as long as either of them lived. But I just don't have any patience for those who don't take the time to reach out to their readership, and then complain about their sales or their careers... as far as I'm concerned, my career is firmly in my hands. I try not to think of my readers as some distant abstract. I'm a fantasy reader, a fan, and a book-buyer, too.

The Gray King is a fascinating character, perhaps more charismatic than Locke. Is his family story completely finished ?

At last, an easy question! Yes.

Camorr is a really vivid place, a city that never sleeps, dangerous and rich. The city reminded me Lankhmar, of the Fritz Leiber's books. How much is the city a real protagonist for you ?

My goal for TLOLL *was* to write the city as though it were another major character-- my goal in each of the first four books in this sequence, in fact, is to detail a new major city that doesn't simply reek of the same-old same-old sort of fantasy cliche settings. I love visiting new cities; the particular atmosphere of each tends to hit you relatively quickly, and it's amazing how many different personalities can take hold in what is essentially a giant pile of stone, glass, concrete, and asphalt. I wanted the cities in my work to feel more exotic and more lovable, somehow, for all their dirt and disease, than many cities in fantasy ever get the chance to be.

You have said that Locke was inspired by the Final Fantasy VI game. Sorry for the geek question, but why him and not Sabin or another character ?

Locke Lamora isn't actually based on the character of Locke Cole, save that they're both thieves. I just liked the name 'Locke,' and it gave me a chance to carry out a little homage to something that I cherished as a teenager. Actually, I still cherish it nowadays... I have a Super Nintendo emulator on my computer, with copies of all the SNES games I most enjoyed. And the Lynch family SNES still works, sixteen years after we bought it.

If I were to name my favorite character from FF VI, it would probably be Cyan.

I have read on your website that you are a volunteer firefighter. Could this experience be useful for your stories ?

Oh, absolutely... the thing is, having been up close and personal with large fires on several occasions now, I have to resist the temptation to throw gratuitous fires into every book, for the sheer pleasure of describing them. ;) I do indulge myself a bit in *Red Seas Under Red Skies;* I set a few ships on fire.

Also, I've been up close to quite a few people now who've been distressed, trapped, or seriously injured. I've seen death, near-death, and all sorts of wounds, and I think that that will naturally have an effect on my writing. There's an awful lot of blood and violence in my work, and that's not going to change, but-- what I've seen on my fire calls informs how the characters in my story behave when they're seriously hurt. I like to think it makes their reactions more naturalistic, and therefore more sympathetic, no matter how melodramatic their situation might be.

Or maybe that's just wishful thinking, somehow. I sometimes wonder if telling myself that I'm learning from what I see is part of my way of dealing with some of the awful crap I witness as a firefighter. But that sounds unduly dramatic... I do what I do because someone has to, and because it's exciting.

Several months ago, the movie rights of Locke have been sold. Is that exciting for you ? Probably more than a Sword of Truth mini-serie, I suppose

It's incredibly thrilling, not to mention unlikely. It's so unlikely that prior to selling my first novel, I never even fantasized about selling film rights at *all.* I just presumed it would never happen. According to my editor at Gollancz in the UK, this (first-time author getting a first novel optioned for a film) has happened to only two of his authors in fifteen years. The other guy would be Richard Morgan, who got a lot more money for his than I did for mine. ;)

The screenplay is being written at the moment-- I spoke to the screenwriters by phone for nearly two hours just a few days ago. There are a great many hurdles still to clear, and in all likelihood it never will actually be filmed... but everyone involved so far has been making a stellar effort to push the project.

Some miscellaneous questions, now ! What is your opinion about the fantasy genre in the last decade ? What are your favourite authors ?

It's been a lovely decade for fantasy, from a purely artistic perspective-- we've got authors like G.R.R. Martin, Steve Erikson, and R. Scott Bakker breathing real life and novelty into lengthy series. We've got people like China Mieville and Steph Swainston and Jeff Vandermeer pretty much doing as they damn well please and getting away with it. There's a whole crop of skilled and mature people doing interesting things in the genre-- Matthew Woodring Stover, Sarah Monette, Susanna Clarke, Joe Abercrombie, Catherynne Valente, Lois McMaster Bujold... sure, there are piles of crap on the shelves, but there's an embarrassment of riches as well. More stuff than I have time to read, sadly!

How would you define your relation with fans ? Can their expectations sometimes weigh you down ?

I like to think that I have a friendly and open relationship with my readers... I don't let anyone intrude unduly on my private life, but I don't like the idea of walling myself off, either. As for their expectations, well, if they're high, I see that as nothing more or less than a challenge to keep them high with future books. I don't resent my fans and readers; quite the opposite. It's a hell of a privilege to have someone pay attention to you. Being *ignored* would weigh me down.

Now that your book is out, how do you react to book reviews ?

Well, most book reviews tend to be plot synopses with a few sentences of personal reaction tacked on, so I don't get very worked up one way or another. It's always nice to see a positive recommendation, of course.

I'm extremely happy to read in-depth reviews of my work by people who know what they're talking about. Even if they offer criticism, it tends to be useful criticism, fairly phrased and genuinely instructional. And sure, I've come across a bare handful of reviews written by self-satisfied morons who don't have anything constructive or perceptive to say. Fuck 'em. What can they do, erase good reviews from other people? Steal my books off the shelves?

Do you have any book recommendations for our readers, fantasy or otherwise?

Lately, I've been spending a lot of time with Patrick O'Brian's Aubrey-Maturin novels and a lot of Dumas; this is also the year I've discovered Tim Powers' work-- I especially enjoyed *The Anubis Gates.* A newer book, just released in the UK, is Alan Campbell's *Scar Night*. I received an advance reading copy for the US edition (due out next year) and really enjoyed it. Action-filled and atmospheric as all hell; *Gormenghast* minus to slower bits, with a bigger body-count, you might say.

Another geek question, sorry again. Do you have an opinion about the last Final Fantasy games ?

Heh. I've no qualms about geek questions; I'm a geek. The truth is, the series lost my interest with Final Fantasy VIII; I found the characters incredibly annoying, the plot intrusive and actively antagonistic to actual gameplay, and the hand-wringing of the characters at key plot points wasn't interesting... it was jaw-droppingly stupid.

I still adore VII and every game that came before it. Lately, I've also been playing the *Knights of the Old Republic* games, *Morrowind,* and *Oblivion.*

Last but not least, is there anything you wish to share with your (future) French fans ?

I hope the book is worth the wait, for those who will experience it for the first time in its French translation. The folks at Bragelonne seem extremely cool and pleasant, and it's damn flattering... we've sold the rights to TLOLL to fifteen countries now, but France was one of the very first to pick them up. I also hope that French readers more adept at my language than I am at theirs won't forget that I welcome e-mail, even criticism. ;)

Thanks a lot for your time, Scott, and by the way, Artemis seems to be a very nice kitten ! ;-)

She is, when she's not chewing on my laptop screen or hitting the 'send' button on important e-mails, which she's done at least once!

  1. Entretien avec Scott Lynch, version française
  2. Interview with Scott Lynch, english version