Κυριακή, 17 Ιανουαρίου, 2021
    Αρχική Interview with Guy Gavriel Kay

    Interview with Guy Gavriel Kay


    Interview with Guy Gavriel Kay

    Interview: Zoey Tsoura

    Guy Gavriel Kay is the internationally bestselling author of thirteen novels, including the most recent Under Heaven and River of Stars. He has been awarded with the International Goliardos Prize for his work in the Fantasy genre, and won the World Fantasy Award for Ysabel in 2008. His books have been translated in more than twenty-five languages.

    Today we are honored to have Mr. Guy Gavriel Kay as a guest in our webpage for a mini interview and a presentation of his latest book.


    Many of your fans here in Greece are first introduced to your work through your earliest books, namely the Fionavar Tapestry trilogy (1984-1986). A lot of them, however, aren’t aware that your contribution to the world of literature started a few years before that, when you assisted Christopher Tolkien, J. R. R. Tolkien’s son, in editing the stories that finally became the Silmarillion, published in 1977. Could you tell us a bit about this unique experience? What did working on this great author’s stories teach you about writing and fantasy? Did you want to become a writer before that or did this experience plant that seed?

     Guy Gavriel KayG.G.K. I did want to be a writer before that year in Oxford, but it is also true that the time there intensified that awareness or desire. On the other hand, I was very young, and practical enough to know that the chances of making a living writing fiction were slim, so I returned to Canada and took a law degree, before taking a year off to see if I could write a book! The work on The Silmarillion taught me a great many things, including patience as an artist, seeing how many drafts and revisions Tolkien did with his material. He was also, for me, a strong example of staying true to your own vision, not trying to adjust to a ‘market’ or what you might think the market might want.

    Interview with Guy Gavriel Kay

    The Fionavar Tapestry trilogy (1984-1986) was your first published work, and has become a classic in the fantasy genre. It’s your most popular work among Greek readers – recently, special editions of all three books were launched, commemorating the 20th anniversary of their initial publication in Greece. In them, a group of five students from Toronto are transported to the magical land of Fionavar, and their battle against an ancient evil will determine the fate of all worlds. Despite the common elements it shared with other fantasy works, the trilogy also introduced many elements new at the time, such as the inclusion of the contemporary world. Where did the inspiration for this trilogy come from? Did you intend, perhaps, to pose a question through it about the potential of the fantasy genre itself?

     Guy Gavriel KayG.G.K. It is hard to look back and identify all the inspirations for an earlier work! I knew I was unhappy, even angry, about all the ‘lazy’ fantasy I was seeing, I felt the genre had great strengths in it, and deserved more than just ‘more of the same.’ Other young writers, the ambitious ones, were even abandoning ‘epic’ fantasy then, for what came to be called in English ‘urban fantasy’, smaller works, often involving supernatural elements entering our world. I wanted to try to stay with an epic, but add those sorts of things you mentioned, character depth, ideas of the erotic, working with and through a great many mythic and folklore elements, while also playing  with many of the core ideas of epic fantasy. And yes, that is a good way to put it: did want to make a statement, ask a question about the potential remaining within epic fantasy. I feel fortunate and honoured that that first trilogy has been so generously received over all these years, including in Greece. When it was done I made a decision to not try to repeat myself, to move on to a completely different thing – for myself and for the genre. And that leads to your next question!

    Interview with Guy Gavriel Kay

    It would be impossible for me not to ask about Tigana (1990), your second-most-popular book in Greece and one of my absolute favorite books of all time. In it, you start diverging distinctly from the norm of the fantasy genre at the time, and carving out your own course with history as a compass. What obstacles did you meet in trying to publish something so revolutionary for its time? Considering the world’s current affairs, how important do you think is Tigana‘s account of the struggle of refugees, as well as the the significance of protecting one’s cultural identity?

     Guy Gavriel KayG.G.K. Another shrewd question! Tigana was a very risky book, I didn’t even realize as I was working how challenging it would be for publishers. But it was so new, so different from what fantasy tends to do, or be allowed to do, that it made them nervous. My agent submitted it when it was half-done (he absolutely loved it) but even my editor in London who loved my work was too anxious about what it seemed to be, so political, so thematic, to even bid for it! I was halfway in a huge book, and an editor, a friend, didn’t even offer! That was a hard time. I learned a lot about staying true to yourself, to your work, and I took a deep breath and kept going. In the end, when it was done, when editors around the world could see that it could actually be achieved, and how strong they thought it was, it was sold in many markets in competitive bidding for far more money that Fionavar had, it became my breakout book. But halfway … no one even wanted it! Many of my books are written with a view to highlighting various themes of today in work drawn on history, but Tigana is the one where, whenever I travel for any of the books, someone in an audience will stand up and ask, ‘When you wrote Tigana, were you writing about us?’ This happens all over the world.

    With the exception of Ysabel (2007), every book of yours since Tigana is set in a fictional world inspired by different countries and historical eras: Tigana (1990) and renaissance Italy – A Song for Arbonne (1992) and medieval Provence – The Lions of Al-Rassan (1995) and medieval Spain – The Sarantine Mosaic duology (1998-2000) and the Byzantine Empire. The Last Light of the Sun (2004) draws upon the Viking invasions of Saxon England, Under Heaven (2010) and River of Stars (2013) introduce us to a world similar to 8th century and 12th century China respectively, while your latest novel, Children of Earth and Sky (2016), takes us on a journey to a fictional 16th century Croatia, Venice, and Ottoman Empire. How much research is required for such a book? How much time does it take you to write such complex and historically rich novels, from their inception up until the last draft?

     Guy Gavriel KayG.G.K. Obviously, yes, there is a long period of reading and research. And that is actually my own favourite part of writing! I am just learning things. Things that interest me! And I don’t have to do anything with it, until I actually start writing. It has varied from book to book as to how long, but generally a year to a year and a half of reading, notes, travel, correspondence. The two China-inspired books involved 5-6 years of reading, but that was because Ysabel actually interrupted my plans to write Under Heaven! We had taken our sons back to Provence where I was set to continue reading and perhaps begin writing a book inspired by China, but our return to the area around Aix-en-Provence where we had been before, to work, but not for ten years … that return hit me with the sight, sound, smell, taste, history of that part of the world again, and the ideas for a book set there and today began to emerge. I have learned I can only write the book that is ready to be written, so that came next, even though I had already been researching China for some time. After Ysabel was done I returned to reading and talking to academics about the Tang Dynasty of China, and Under Heaven emerged from that. Generally now, I seem to be about three years between books.

    Interview with Guy Gavriel Kay

    You have often mentioned your fondness for Greece. Twice in your career you have retreated to a quiet fishing village in southern Crete in order to work on your novels. Is there a period in Greek history, apart from the Byzantine era, that has given birth to a spark of inspiration that may in the future grow into a book?

    G.G.K. I truly never know what my next book will be. Of course there is so much in Greek history, classical and after, that fascinates me. I see there is a ‘trend’ now to rewrite myths, legends, from more ‘modern’ perspectives, and I actually dislike being part of trends! I try to find times and places that have not been extensively explored, if that makes sense. Having said that, Greece, and specificly my memories of Agia Galini on Crete will always me close to my heart.

    Are you working on a new book at the moment? Could you share with us what it is about? When can we expect it to be published?

    G.G.K. Good timing! Just last week my publishers revealed the title and cover (for North America) of the new book! It is called A Brightness Long Ago, it evokes the Italy of the 15th century, and it will be out in English in May 2019.

    Here is a small animation they made, to show the cover!

    Interview with Guy Gavriel Kay

    My most recently published books are:

    Children of Earth and Sky 

     Guy Gavriel KayFrom the small coastal town of Senjan, notorious for its pirates, a young woman sets out to find vengeance for her lost family. That same spring, from the wealthy city-state of Seressa, famous for its canals and lagoon, come two very different people: a young artist traveling to the dangerous east to paint the grand khalif at his request—and possibly to do more—and a fiercely intelligent, angry woman posing as a doctor’s wife but sent by Seressa as a spy.

    The trading ship that carries them is commanded by the accomplished younger son of a merchant family, ambivalent about the life he’s been born to live. And farther east a boy trains to become a soldier in the elite infantry of the khalif—to win glory in the war everyone knows is coming.

    As these lives entwine, their fates—and those of many others—will hang in the balance when the khalif sends out his massive army to take the great fortress that is the gateway to the western world….

    You can buy the book at Amazon

    River of Stars

     Guy Gavriel KayRen Daiyan was still just a boy when he took the lives of seven men while guarding an imperial magistrate. That moment on a lonely road changed his life in entirely unexpected ways, sending him into the forests of Kitai among the outlaws. From there he emerges years later—and his life changes again, dramatically, as he circles toward the court and emperor, while war approaches Kitai from the north.
    Lin Shan is the daughter of a scholar, his beloved only child. Educated by him in ways young women never are, gifted as a songwriter and calligrapher, she finds herself living a life suspended between two worlds. Her intelligence captivates an emperor—and alienates women at the court. But when her father’s life is endangered by the savage politics of the day, Shan must act in ways no woman ever has.
    In an empire divided by bitter factions circling an exquisitely cultured emperor who loves his gardens and his art far more than the burdens of governing, dramatic events on the northern steppe alter the balance of power in the world, leading to events no one could have foretold, under the river of stars.

    You can buy the book at Amazon

    Under Heaven

     Guy Gavriel Kay Guy Gavriel KayIt begins simply. Shen Tai, son of an illustrious general serving the Emperor of Kitai, has spent two years honoring the memory of his late father by burying the bones of the dead from both armies at the site of one of his father’s last great battles. In recognition of his labors and his filial piety, an unlikely source has sent him a dangerous gift: 250 Sardian horses. 

    You give a man one of the famed Sardian horses to reward him greatly. You give him four or five to exalt him above his fellows, propel him towards rank, and earn him jealousy, possibly mortal jealousy. Two hundred and fifty is an unthinkable gift, a gift to overwhelm an emperor. 

    Wisely, the gift comes with the stipulation that Tai must claim the horses in person. Otherwise he would probably be dead already…

    events no one could have foretold, under the river of stars.

    Interview with Guy Gavriel Kay

    You can buy the book at Amazon


    Guy Gavriel KayNed Marriner is in France with his father, a celebrated photographer shooting the Saint-Sauveur Cathedral of Aix-en-Provence. While exploring the cathedral, Ned meets Kate, an American exchange student with a deep knowledge of the area’s history. But even Kate is at a loss when she and Ned surprise a scar-faced stranger, wearing a leather jacket and carrying a knife. “I think you ought to go now,” he tells them. “You have blundered into a corner of a very old story…”

    In this ancient place, where the borders between the living and the long-dead are thin, Ned and his family are about to be drawn into a haunted story, as mythic figures from conflicts of long ago erupt into the present, changing—and claiming—lives.

    You can buy the book at Amazon

    Lord of Emperors

    Guy Gavriel Kay

    In the golden city of Sarantium, a renowned mosaicist seeks to fill his artistic ambitions and his destiny high upon a dome intended to be the emperor’s enduring sanctuary and legacy.

    The beauty and solitude of Crispin’s work cannot protect him from the dangerous intrigues of court and city, swirling with rumors of war and conspiracy, while otherworldly fires mysteriously flicker and disappear in the streets at night. The emperor is plotting a conquest of Crispin’s homeland to regain an empire. And with his fate entwined with that of his royal benefactor, Crispin’s loyalties come with a very high price.

    And another voyager has come to the imperial city: Rustem of Kerakek, a physician from an eastern desert kingdom, determined to find his own fate amid the shifting, treacherous currents of passion and violence that define Sarantium.

    Interview with Guy Gavriel Kay

    You can buy the book at Amazon

    Along with my other books they are available for online purchase through  Amazon.

    You can also find  all the  books that has been translated in Greek from here.

    Can you share with us the best way to reach you and where to learn more about your books?

    You can visit my :Website, Goodreads, Amazon

    I would like thank again Mr. Guy Gavriel Kay  for taking time to answer the questions of this mini interview.

    Author’s photograph and Book Covers are from Author’s Official Page.

    Interview with Guy Gavriel Kay

    Προηγούμενο άρθροΣυνέντευξη με τον Guy Gavriel Kay
    Επόμενο άρθροBrian Wilson


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