I was too excited yesterday (this was the closest thing to the Twilight or teenage idol craze I ever got in my life - only more inside and with less screaming) and too busy today but it's high time to write about what I remember from last evening.
Steven Erikson read from the Forge of Darkness
- Kadespala in last forest. It was nice to hear him pronounce some of the names - Kruppe is pronounced like crap (maybe because I'm Polish - and we pronounce all the letters that are written - or maybe because Darujhistan always reminded me of Italian City States but the way I always said is similar to Giuseppe - Krooppeh). After that he answered questions.
He talked about his writing method - how each point of view, each chapter, each book (there's always four), each tome and the cycle itself have elliptical form - they start and end the same (or rather with the mirroring image or phrase). I noticed some of it (the scenes framing the series are obvious ones) but I didn't realise it was true for all of them. He said that that's something that helps him keep pace and steady progress in the writing because instead of thinking how much is let till the end of the book (or series) he can concentrate on reaching that next point. It drags him to the end of the next fragment and then the one after that till he finishes the whole thing. It also let him slow down and not hurry too much to that final scenes he had in his head all this time (the whole 10 books).
Since the whole series was carefully planned out taking it into parts and only writing what is necessary was necessary to keep the schedule and the story in rains (too many authors have problem with that). Especially, since he was a different person when he finished it then when he started. It's been a little over a decade between publication of the first and the last book (and Gardens of the Moon were written 8 years before it was published) and he says he sometimes no longer recognises his own writing - the word, phrases, rhythm is not something he would use anymore.
Something I truly love about the series is that events are told from point of vies of unreliable narrators. People with their own preconceptions whose interpretation of the events isn't showing us all that happened or even can mislead us. We often get multiple views of how something happened or even what has happened and have to decide with which version to go. I asked Erikson if he knew the "One True Version of events and he said that it doesn't exists. He considers every narration reliable - within books and real life - so even his version isn't the real one. He compared it by judging the shape of a rock by throwing mud at it a seeing where it sticks and describing that side. He said that this is what makes his worldbuilding seem so realistic - it's described by people and you get the version of description and events and history that you use to make the sense of the world - just like in real life.
He said he always feels how each character thinks and their personal stories stay in his head so it's really easy to keep track of their personalities (although he admitted to forgetting their looks and sometimes gender ;) - but that's what his advanced readers are for). I talked with other fans before the reading and we mentioned how easy it is to keep track of characters and plots despite of their multitude and I suppose this is a large part of why. If his writing style resonates with you, you feel emotional attachment to does people and then you care and remember. This connection also made it easy to put all the foreshadowing in earlier books because he had those stories in his mind ready to use. It also meant he felt bad when he kill them because they became real to him. He said that's what makes reader feel connection to characters and it was certainly true to me. It sometimes still surprises me how real they are to me (I even hold a grudge!)
He told us how he writes for 4 hours six days of the week and just writes as much as he can each day - sometimes a paragraph, sometimes 15 pages. He also edits what he's written every few days so by the end book is basically ready for publication (his UK editors told him his books need very little work). However, no matter how big the book turns out to be in the end he finishes it in about 8 months (at least that how it was for the last 8 books). No wonder he gets a book out every year - even with 6 month break he got the next one out in 18 months. Still, 8 months for a 1000 page book - I'm sure you wish your favourite author was like that too.
He signed my books and my Anomander Rake poster (he didn't know those were available and said he is going to get himself one too :). I mentioned I'm Polish and that I was bummed I missed his convention appearance and he said that that was a fun convention an then wrote that in my Gardens of the Moon