I just found this talk between two of my favourite writers yesterday. The writers are George R.R. Martin (the writer of A Song of Ice and Fire), and Bernard Cornwell (the writer of the Sharpe novels, and the Arthur-chronicles I mentioned in my post yesterday, as well as many other books).
It’s an excellent read with a lot of insight into how they work, what inspires them, and what genres and historical events influence their writing.
Just one quote here, but the whole thing is well worth reading:
GEORGE: — When Tolkien began writing The Lord of the Rings, it was intended as a sequel to The Hobbit. “The tale grew in the telling,” he said later, when LOTR had grown into the trilogy we know today. That’s a line I have often had occasion to quote over the years, as my own Song of Ice and Fire swelled from the three books I had originally sold to the seven books (five published, two more to write) I’m now producing. Much of your own work has taken the form of multi-part series. Are your tales too ‘growing in the telling,’ or do you know how long your journeys will take before you set out? When you wrote that first Sharpe book, did you ever imagine how long and how far you would march with him and Harper? Did you know how many books Uhtred’s story would require, when you first sat down to write about him?
BERNARD: No idea! I don’t even know what will happen In the next chapter, let alone the next book, and have no idea how many books there might be in a series. E.L. Doctorow said something I like which is that writing a novel is a bit like driving down an unfamiliar country road at night and you can only see as far ahead as your somewhat feeble headlamps show. I write into the darkness. I guess the joy of reading a book is to find out what happens, and for me that’s the joy of writing one too!