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Bane of Kings Interviews the author responsible for the upcoming sword and sorcery novel The Hammer and the Blade, published by Angry Robot books, Paul S. Kemp, who is a New York Times Bestseller, and has written several Star Wars stories such as Crosscurrent and Riptide, as well as the popular Erevis Cale novels. You can find Bane of Kings’ review of The Hammer and the Blade here, as well as Shadowhawk’s review here. Bane of Kings has also reviewed The Old Republic: Deceived, which can be found here.
Bane of Kings: First of all, in a nutshell, who is Paul S. Kemp?
Paul S. Kemp: I’m a cigar smoking, scotch drinking guy who loves all things nerdy. I live in Michigan, have a day job (as a corporate lawyer), have been married twenty years and have three young children. Life is good, man. :).
Bane of Kings: Can you tell us a bit about your upcoming fantasy novel The Hammer and the Blade, published by Angry Robot Books?
Paul S. Kemp: Sure. The Hammer and the Blade is a sword and sorcery novel featuring a pair of likeable rakes named Egil and Nix. It’s fast paced with (what I think are) enormously compelling characters. And it’s a helluva lot of fun.
Let me say it this way: When I read certain authors (Leiber, Howard, Moorcock), I feel like the storytelling has a certain joy in it. The tale just rips along and makes you smile, even when awful things are happening. The Hammer and the Blade is my attempt to spin a ripping yarn that exudes that same sense of joy. I hope (and think) I managed to do it.
Bane of Kings: Which authors are your biggest inspiration when it comes to writing fantasy, and who are your favourite?
Paul S. Kemp: I think I draw inspiration most directly from Leiber’s Fafhrd and the Mouser stories, Moorcock’s Elric tales, and Howard’s Conan stories. I re-read all of them from time to time and they always feel fresh.
Bane of Kings: And, do you read outside of the fantasy genre, and if so, who are your favourite authors that write non-fantasy novels?
Paul S. Kemp: I actually read more out of genre than in. I’m trying to get more balance into that equation this year. There’s a ton of great genre work being written and I’m missing it. I need to remedy that.
Anyway, my favorite writers outside of genre are Michael Chabon and Daniel Woodrell. Chabon because his prose is the kind of gorgeous stuff that makes me seethe with good natured envy. And Woodrell because his prose and storytelling is just so damned cutting. He communicates in a sentence what it would take some writers paragraphs to present.
Bane of Kings: What was it like writing in an original setting and how does it compare with writing for a tie-in universe like Star Wars?
Paul S. Kemp: Honestly, it was and is awesome. There were no external constraints of any kind on the world building and subject matter, so I could just let it all hang out. And that was nice. When you write tie-in, you must always navigate at least some constraints, and, of course, many details of the setting aren’t yours to play with. So, there’s obviously more room to work in an original setting. That said, I’ve been very careful about choosing the tie-in lines in which I work and, for the most part, any creative constraints I’ve faced have been minor.
Bane of Kings: You have written stories in a wide range of universes, from Warhammer Fantasy to Star Wars, including your own original creation. Which would you say you have had the most fun writing in, and if you were only limited to writing in one universe for the rest of your career as an author, which universe would it be and why?
Paul S. Kemp: I’ve had a lot of fun writing all of my novels, but I can say without qualification that writing The Hammer and the Blade is the most fun I’ve ever had writing a book. The characters and subject matter are just perfect for me, given where I am in my career and mental space. So, if I were forced to choose only one setting in which to keep writing, it’d be Egil and Nix stories set on Ellerth.
Bane of Kings: Is The Hammer and the Blade a standalone novel, or will we be seeing more from Egil and Nix, and if so, would you be able to give us any information about upcoming novels?
Paul S. Kemp: Yes and yes. It is standalone, in that it tells a complete, self-contained story, but there will be sequels. The first, A Discourse in Steel, will release in July 2013. I plan to write the Egil and Nix novels as standalones, such that a reader new to the characters could pretty much grab any novel in the series and dive right in. Yes, the characters will grow over the course of the books, events and characters from earlier novels will be referenced in later ones, but I still plan to write each one in such a way that readers can just join in anywhere along the line and not miss too much.
Bane of Kings: What are you currently reading at the moment, fiction and/or nonfiction-wise?
Paul S. Kemp: Blackbirds by Chuck Wendig and The Weird anthology, edited by Ann and Jeff Vandermeer. Very much enjoying both.
Paul S. Kemp: Anything by [China] Mieville, mostly because I admire his ability to plaster every page with some wildly imaginative wonder. Astounds me every time I read one of his novels.
Bane of Kings: Will we be seeing more of your work soon, and is there anything you can tell us about your upcoming projects?
Paul S. Kemp: Indeed! Lots of things coming up. After The Hammer and the Blade, I’ve got my next novel in the Forgotten Realms setting, Godborn, coming out. Godborn continues the story of Erevis Cale and company. Then there’s my duology set in the Star Wars galaxy (I can’t yet reveal subject matter, but it’s most, most cool).
Bane of Kings: When did you want to become an author and what was your first piece of written fiction?
Paul S. Kemp: I think the desire has always been there, but it became acute during law school, when I realized that I, well, hated law school. I figured I’d better find something else to do with my life.
My first piece of published fiction was a short story (I can’t remember the title) that I sold to an online fantasy magazine called Dragonscroll.
Bane of Kings: What are your favourite activities outside of writing?
Paul S. Kemp: Hanging out with my kids, swimming, playing games (board and video games), watching excellent nerdy TV shows (Dr. Who, Firefly, etc.).
Bane of Kings: What are you most looking forward to in the rest of 2012?
Paul S. Kemp: Seeing my daughter (now six months old) take her first steps.
And that’s it, my second interview finished. Now, with that said and done, if you’re interested in finding out more about Paul S. Kemp, you can do so here.
Follow him on Twitter: https://twitter.com/#!/Paulskemp.
Visit his website: http://paulskemp.com/.
Watch the trailer for Star Wars: The Old Republic – Deceived: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bVyJP92TiVg.
Milo, aka Bane of Kings, is a SFF/Comic reader, and watches a lot of TV. His favourite authors are Neil Gaiman, China Mieville, Jim Butcher, Brandon Sanderson & Iain M. Banks, whilst his favourite TV shows are Battlestar Galactica (2003), Person Of Interest, Firefly, Game of Thrones, & Buffy the Vampire Slayer