David Gemmell interview: April 2002

[This was originally posted at lycos.co.uk/punchbag/, because Lycos was taken down]

1) During your career you have seen many diverse changes such as labouring, door management and journalism. How does it feel to be on the receiving end of an interview?

Depends on the skills of the interviewer. If I get someone with a knowledge of the genre, and, ideally, some knowledge of my work, then the interview is a joy. Roz Kaveney and Stan Nicholls are perfect examples of the professional journalist. However they are exceptions. The normal routine is for the interviewer to start by saying they know nothing about fantasy and ‘maybe you could explan it a little. Elves and fairies isnt it?’ These interviews are irritating. I do them because its part of the job.

2) Having been a successful journalist you’d be used to deadlines, what do you do to keep yourself calm as each deadline approaches?

Who said I keep calm? I need deadlines, but the deadlines are still a nightmare. I pride myself on never having missed one, either as a journalist or an author. On several occasions, though, I should have had the nerve to delay submission. I always felt I should have asked for an extension to complete Morningstar in the way I had originally planned. Instead I raced to a finish I now find unsatisfactory.

3) Which author do you read in order to relax and what have you read recently?

I don’t read much in the way of fiction. I’ve just finished reading a charming book by Nancy Reagan, based on the love leters her husband wrote to her over forty years. Extraordinarily touching. I occasionally read old Louis Lamour books – especially the Sackett series.

4) On Stormrider’s release (4th April 02) you’ve completed twenty seven novels, what if any rituals do you have after completion?

I take friends out to dinner to celebrate. Then I take a week or so break before beginning a new story. I love to write. It is a joy beyond description to find a new character and watch him breathe and grow.

5) With each novel having different artwork, what options do you get with the selection of the pieces and does the company present you with a number to choose from?

I get to choose the artist, but then I leave the artist alone to do the work. John Bolton has produced my latest covers. I think the man is a genius. The Midnight Falcon cover is a wonderful piece, full of light and movement. The Stormrider artwork is exceptional.

6) Raven Armoury has two versions of Druss’es Axe Snaga, were you approached by the company and have they presented you with one? Also are their any plans for any more Gemmell weaponry such as Connavar’s sword or Waylanders Crossbow?

Many years ago Raven armoury approached me and asked if they could make Snaga. They gave me the first – and I allowed them to recreate it for sale. There is no business deal between us. I liked the work, and I liked the passion they put into their craft. I would love to see Waylander’s crossbow produced – but so far no-one has had the skill to do it.

7) You’ve had a foray outside fantasy with White Knight Black Swan under the pseudonym Ross Harding, are there any plans to re-release it or are there plans for some others?

No plans yet. White Knight Black Swan was a work of love for me. I’d like to do another thriller, but now is not the time. When I do it will be under yet another pseudonym.

8) With a number of fans disappointed with the disappearance of Gaise Macon a third of the way into Ravenheart, (whom many thought was being built up into one of the main characters) do you as an author feel that with hindsight it would have been better to have delayed release until Stormrider was closer to completion or would you have preferred to release the two more as a compendium and why your answer?

The original idea for Ravenheart would have incorporated the story of Stormrider. It just got too long. In the end I had a choice. Write a 900 page single novel, or do two at around 400 pages. I thought long about the former, and then realised that the flow would be all wrong. The first novel centred around Jaim Grymauch. He was a very charismatic figure, and the climax of his story worked beautifully as a natural ending. To have merely continued the novel after that would have created a huge sense of anti climax. So I split the story. Unfortunately this did necessitate a somewhat abrupt departure for young Gaise Macon.

9) Your editor says that your next title is called “White Wolf.” Is it either a prequel/follow up to Winter Warriors in which there is a character named as such? What hints can you give about the novel?

No, the novel is a Drenai novel set in the years after the Battle of Skeln, but before the siege of Dros Delnoch. The hero is a man named Skilgannon, who carried the demon possessed Swords of Night and Day. Druss the Legend will feature in the story, but not as the lead. [Having said that Druss tends to be a man who creates his own agendas, so it will be hard to hold him back]