– Have the plotlines diverged much since you began writing the Black Company books, or did you have the entire plot more or less figured out from the very beginning? Were any characters added or further fleshed out beyond your original intentions? Have you made any changes to your initial plans during the course of the three series?
After thinking about it for several days I think I have figured out what youâ€™re asking here….
There’s no permalink yet to Pat’s Fantasy Hotseat’s interview with Glen Cook, so you may have to scroll down, but check it out. Cook so doesn’t give a crap about pleasing the interviewer. He’s going to take each question and try to answer it as honestly as possible. I’ll tell you right now–a lot of authors are thinking what Cook’s saying here when they’re asked a crappily worded or insulting question.
The problem with the question above is it’s actually multiple questions…or one question asked three times. I’ve been guilty of it as an interviewer if I’m too enthusiastic about an interview subject, but it’s definitely a bad idea. Short, concise questions are almost always better–or a longer one that ends with a question and the rest is context, fine. Three tendrils of mush? Not so much.
Then take this one:
– In retrospect, is it safe to say that the genre wasnâ€™t quite ready for the Black Company sequence in the mid 80s? Fantasy was dominated by powerhouses such as David Eddings, Terry Brooks, and Raymond E. Feist at the time. Looking back, was your series too avante-garde in style and tone?
Another question I donâ€™t understand. The world must have been ready for whatever people see as different because they never went out of print and my editors constantly carped at me to write faster. The books are still selling well. How about those other guys?
My first reaction to that question, in my head, would be “f— you”, especially if I was someone like Cook who has sold a ton of books over his career, and also managed to get some critical acclaim, too (still underrated, re his best work). My second thought is that for someone who seems to pride himself on not being pretentious, Pat comes off as more than a little pompous. (The other thing to remember is that if giving interview answers becomes like chewing stale gum after awhile, having to come up with questions can be just as bad. It’s why I’ve cut down on the number of interviews I’m doing.)
Then there’re the comments, with a few people seeming a little put out that Cook didn’t stick to the party line and just answer each question as pleasantly as possible. Listen, maybe it’s not a good idea to respond as Cook does if you’re new to the business, but it’s refreshing to see somebody who doesn’t mind just being honest.
Basically, Cook’s steadfast refusal to participate in a game being badly played by the interviewer is the best thing about the interview. And the fact there’s some salty humor in there, too. I’m not sure it’s the interview Pat wanted, but it’s the interview he deserved, and it’s highly entertaining.
I wish we could have a “say whatever you damn well want to say” week for interviews. Boy, would that be an eye-opener.