The Raymond E. Feist Interview by Mike Don
This interview is reproduced for the web by kind permission of the author. It was originally published in 1989 in Dreamberry Wine, a publication of Mike Don
Mike, who is also a dealer in books, can also be contacted at 233, Maine Road, Manchester M14 7WG
*Part of an interview carried out for 'City Life' magazine in Manchester. As they could only use 500 words out of a 40-minute interview, I decided that rather than waste the rest, I'd use it in DW*
"The Tsurianni Empire" is a combination of Japanese and Chinese, Korean and a couple of other things tossed in; it's a pastiche, and Midkemia is a North-West European pastiche. When I did Midkemia, I did that intentionally, I wanted to sucker the reader by giving him a story in a fairly familiar setting, and that was a Northwest European, medieval kind of culture, where you have yeomen and soldiers and all the usual accoutrements of genre fiction. I wanted to engage the reader in a story where they cared more about this kid than about the window-dressing of the universe he was in, and (where) they felt very familiar with that universe, so that when Pug goes to Kelewan; you turn that page between the two books--and it's four years later, and Pug is in the swamp!
I wanted the reader to share that culture clash, I wanted that world to be as alien to the reader as it was to Pug. There's a very critical piece of dialogue in there between Laurie and Pug, where Laurie, who's just arrived a couple of months before, while Pug has been there four years--he's the sole survivor of the first group of prisoners brought in, because he's adaptable; it's very important for the reader to recognise his adaptability, his flexibility, his ability to roll with the punches--and Laurie is saying things like, essentially, you can play games with the Tsurianni, and Pug's saying no, you don't have a clue, you don't understand it at all, how these people are, what their values are, what their way of looking at life is; I wanted the reader to share in that sense of how this is a really different place.
Whereas the Kingdom is exactly the sort of .. not Tolkienesque per se, but sharing that sort of Gotho-Germanic/British pastiche. Tolkien went in a bit of a different direction, in that his culture was actually very non-feudal, it was very autocratic.
Yea.. at first glance it looks like another generic fantasy. but I think that by the time you've got to Sethanon you're completely rid of that notion! If I've done my job right! I wanted to do a couple of different things to the usual fantasy, and was successful in two of them; one was the depiction of multiple cultures--I'm doing another Midkemia novel, called 'Prince Of The Blood' - it's 20 years after the Riftwar and we're down in the Empire of Great Kesh; that's going to be a very different place from either the Kingdom or the Empire of Tsurianni. One of the things that is very irritating to me as a reader is when you have a homogenised world, where everybody speaks the same language, or you hear about far-off lands, but nobody ever travels there, nobody's ever BEEN there.
I also wanted to do one other thing, I wanted to write about characters who, while living in this fantastic world, were fairly accessible, normal characters. I don't want any supermen in my books. Macros, of course, is a force of nature; but that's explained away by the fact that he's been given these powers. But, overall, we have a world in which your fairly ordinary people just live in an extraordinary world. I drew models for myself, intellectually. of how these people would have lived their lives in 'my' home town; Pug would have been that nice kid, that everybody put up with, but was the last kid to get chosen for the side. Arutha would have been the class president--not terribly popular but very much admired. Tomas would have been the homecoming king and the captain of the football team. there are certain literary characters that if you dropped 'em on the corner of Hollywood and Vine people would stare... Conan the Barbarian/Arnold Schwarzenegger. Whereas these characters that I'm writing about-- you put them in a three-piece suit, put 'em on a train for downtown London, and nobody's going to bat an eyelash. I think it's one of the strengths of the book that the readers find it easy to identify with the characters and understand their motivations.
This reproduction of the interview is copyright 1999 by John Bunting, and may not be reproduced elsewhere without the permission of Mike Don.