Author Interview: Raymond E. Feist

Today I am interviewing Raymond E. Feist, author of the new epic fantasy novel, Master of Furies, final book in the Firemane saga!

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DJ: Hi Raymond! Thanks for agreeing to do this interview! 
For readers who aren’t familiar with you, could you tell us a little about yourself?

Raymond E. Feist:  My official bio has all the usual stuff, born in L.A., moved to San Diego fifty odd years ago, traveled a lot, got fired from many jobs before discovering writing.  Educated at UC San Diego, and the rest of that sort of data. At my age, wanderlust, romance, and adventures are mostly fond memories and (slightly exaggerated) stories.  Writing is the toughest and best job I’ve ever had.  I write to entertain, nothing more, but occasionally good fiction touches on a truth or two that readers take seriously,  My kids are grown and moved away.  My current vices include sports (San Diego Padres and Los Angeles Rams), really good whisky, great films (and a few guilty pleasures), and reading history and biographies.

DJ: What is Master of Furies and then the Firemane saga about?

Raymond:  There really is no twenty-five word or less answer to that one. The smart aleck answer is, “About four hundred and eighty pages, and three novels, respectively.”  Summing up novels is tricky, because of spoilers, so let’s start with the Firemane Saga.  My novels are all pretty much find a character and stick him or her into a world of hurt then see how they cope.  The three novel chart the journey of three main characters, Hatushaly, the scion to a fallen kingdom, raised in secret by a hidden nation of criminals and assassins.  He has known Hava, a young woman who was also raised by the same people.  Third is Declan, a smith’s apprentice who becomes a master swordmaker.  Destiny brings them together, with their stories intertwined by fate.  Revenge becomes a factor in all their lives and drives them along paths none could anticipate.

Master of Furies is the third volume in that story, resolving horrific events and conflict detailed in the previous two books, bringing our main characters and others to life changing choices and irreversible consequences. Mysterious enemies are revealed and massive challenges manifest.  Lives are forever changed and new confrontations arise that span worlds.

DJ: What were some of your influences for the Firemane saga

Raymond:  Odd question, really.  After forty years writing, I’d have to say it’s the overall influences since I began.  As a youngers I read what was known sixty years ago as “boys adventure fiction,” things by Robert Louis Stevenson, Axleandre Dumas, Raphael Sabatini, Sir Walter Scott, as well as the “pulp writers,” R.E. Howard, Edgar Rice Boroughs, and others. Throw in science fiction and fantasy as I got older, and I can say pretty much every good storyteller had an impact.  

As sort of my own influence, Firemane was trying to do something different, with a different type of character set and environment than I’d done before.  Midkemia, the setting of my long Riftwar Cycle, which included the worlds of Kelwan, and an alternate reality the Dasati homeworld, already had been different one from another, and Garn, the setting for Firemane, was another try at a different approach.  The trick is to not try to write in a different style, the “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it,” approach assuming my readers would be really annoyed if I tried to write like Jane Austin.  I’m pretty sure I wouldn’t do it well.

DJ: Could you briefly tell us a little about your main characters? Do they have any cool quirks or habits, or any reason why readers will sympathize with them?

Raymond:  The trick to a good character is the readers needs to find something about that character that is recognizable. Not necessarily something to identify with, but something that allows the reader to get where the character is coming from, even if it’s a place alien to the reader’s experience.  Hatushaly and Declan both set off on the path of revenge, but for entirely different motives.  Hatushaly is driven by a sense of duty and Declan by loss and rage. Hava is motivated by her love for a life-long friend. Each manifests their behavior based on life experiences.  Declan was raised by a loving couple while Hatushaly and Have were raised in a strict school environment almost completely devoid of affection and a sense of family. They are taught to proceed in life behind facades and falsehoods, which is alien to Declan’s view of the world.

DJ: Aside from the main characters in the story, who is a favorite side character or a character with a smaller role in the story? Why?

Raymond:  To me characters drive the narrative, so they all have their parts; some bigger, some smaller.  I think that may be my film and theater childhood coming out, the “no small parts,” approach to storytelling.  Some are more fun to write than others.  Probably in this series, the character of Bodia became my fun character.  Explaining in detail why would involve spoilers, but I can say that one characteristic is he’s a pedagog, which allows me to write long winded, hopefully amusing, bits with him as he tends to be a detail freak.

DJ: How have the reviews been from readers, bloggers, and reviewers for the first two books of the Firemane saga? Is there anything that your audience seems to be particularly enjoying or is eager to find out more about?

Raymond: After forty years doing this, I don’t pretend to understand what it is my readers like or dislike.  I get messages telling me the newest book is the best thing I’ve ever done, and others who say my first book, Magician, was my best work and I’ve gone downhill since then.  Who do I believe? I write for myself, fundamentally, and I can say immodestly, I write the best example of what I like in a story I can imagine, and thankfully a lot of other people seem to share my taste.   I’ve had a long list of characters over the years, and literally a dozen or so have fans.  Not every one of them is someone’s favorite, but a whole lot more are than I could have anticipated when I started writing.

DJ: What was your favorite part about writing Master of Furies

Raymond:  As with any book, finishing it. There’s a bit of imposter syndrome in my nature.  When I broke in I was meeting men and women I had been writing back in junior high school. Issac Asimov, Theodor Sturgeon, Andre Norton, C.L.Moore, Poul Anderson, and others.  Several I’m pleased to say actually became friends, but I still feel like the new kid and I’ve been doing this 1978.  It’s that “will they like this next one?” anxiety that drives me to do well, because the feeling is, “will I ever be asked to write another.”  One might think after thirty five books, all of which are still in print, I’d evidence a bit more confidence, but no.  Each time I start it’s, “OK, what do I do now?” 

As for the narrative itself, my favorite part is a spoiler, so I’m not touching that one.

DJ: What do you think readers will be talking about most once they finish it?

Raymond: That they were entertained. I try to write what used be called “ripping yarns,” and if a reader takes away anything else, that’s a bonus. I’ve gotten a few of those messages over the years, that something I wrote gave a readers a new perspective, but that’s never my goal.  My goal is to entertain, provide a small respite from real world stress.  And that the spoilers worked as intended.

DJ: Did you have a goal when you began writing the Firemane Saga? Was there a particular message or meaning you are hoping to get across when readers finish it? Or is there perhaps a certain theme to the story?

Raymond: I never set out with a “message.” Rather I like to examine certain human conditions and experiences, albeit occurring in fantastical settings. So, passages of life, loss and reward, revenge, redemption, dealing with the unexpected, all are common human experiences. I create characters and they deal with those issue, and the reader can either accept them as wise, or foolish and the character got lucky.  Messages can be inferred by the reader, but I never intentionally impy them. 

DJ: I’m always curious when authors finish a series, how close to the original course they stayed when it is finally completed or if it ended up evolving and changing. Did the plot stay the same as you had first imagined it? How about the ending? The evolution of your characters?

Raymond:  In my case there really isn’t an “original course.”  I pretty much know where the end is, but getting there is often the fun of the process.  My characters take on a life of their own, and it’s as if they say to me, “You just think we’re going over there to do that, but actually we’re off in this other direction to do this thing you didn’t even imagine until this very moment.”  I’ve had stories take unexpected turns and I just go with it.

DJ: When I read, I love to collect quotes – whether it be because they’re funny, foodie, or have a personal meaning to me. Do you have any favorite quotes from Master of Furies that you can share with us?

Raymond: Not really.  I’ve discovered if I’m being clever, I’m probably not.  Often it’s my readers who tell me they loved a line or a bit, and that’s when I say, “Ya, that’s actually pretty good.”

DJ: Now that Master of Furies is released, what is next for you?

Raymond:  Another book. I often say, “Unless an insanely gorgeous woman who owns a Mediterranean Island and a distillery in Scotland says she can’t live without me.  So, probably another book.”

DJ: Where can readers find out more about you?  
DJ: Before we go, what is that one thing you’d like readers to know about Master of Furies and the Firemane saga that we haven’t talked about yet?

Raymond: Not really.  More than usual this book is loaded with surprises so I ain’t talking!

DJ: Thank you so much for taking time out of your day to answer my questions! 

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***Master of Furies is published by Harper Voyager and is available TODAY!!!***

Buy the Book: 

Amazon | Goodreads

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About the Book:

War has swept across Marquensas. Ruthless raiders have massacred the inhabitants of Beran’s Hill, including Gwen, the beloved wife of Declan Smith. Hollow of heart, his hopes burned to ashes, Declan swears to track down and destroy the raiders, an ambition shared by Baron Daylon Dumarch, whose family was massacred as they fled the capital.

Meanwhile Hava, whose gift for piracy has seen her acquire the treasure ship Borzon’s Black Wake and the swift Azhante sailing vessel, Queen of Storms, and won her the name of “the Sea Demon,” is closing in on the whereabouts of those who unleashed the murderous hordes.

Her husband, Hatushaly, the last remaining member of the ruling family of Ithrace, the legendary Firemanes, seeks to control the magical powers he has inherited. He is able now to visualize and even travel among the filaments of energies that power all existence: the furies. But will he be able to channel his magic in time to combat the deepest, darkest threat the world of Garn has ever faced? 

About the Author:

Raymond E. Feist is the author of more than thirty previous books, including the internationally bestselling Riftwar Cycle of novels set in his signature world of Midkemia, as well as a standalone novel, FAERIE TALE. The Firemane Saga is his first all-new epic fantasy series. He lives in San Diego, California.

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