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 Interview collective de Robin Hobb

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Gentille Chef
Gentille Chef

Nombre de messages : 2082
Age : 34
Date d'inscription : 03/04/2006

MessageSujet: Interview collective de Robin Hobb   5/5/2007, 15:52

Et voici les réponses à l'interview, en anglais en attendant qu'Hélie rentre de vacances. Very Happy

Je tiens à préciser que Robin Hobb a été très disponible pour cette
interview. Personnellement, je suis d'autant plus fan de la dame après
avoir découvert cette autre facette. I love you


This has been a very interesting yet difficult set of questions for me to answer. Some of it may be due to the questions being translated, yet for the most part, the English is good and clear. I am sorry that it has taken me so long to complete them, but the answers were not easy to compose.

Over and over, a question below has made me realize that other people perceive my writing and my stories very differently from how I do. So I thought I would preface these questions and my answers with a little bit about my ideas on writing.

I am, first and foremost, a story teller. I am not dedicated to preaching my beliefs or to trying to teach anybody anything through my writing. I want to tell an interesting story, one that catches the reader and keeps him for at least a day or two, and perhaps much longer. Often when I write on a difficult topic, it is because I have more questions than I do answers. When I write from a character’s point of view, it is just that: the viewpoint of the character. I don’t necessarily agree with everything my characters say or do. I try to make each character true to himself and a product of his world.

In my opinion, some of the questions in this interview make an assumption about my work, and ask a question based on that assumption. When I do not agree with the assumption or understand why it is made, it is harder for me to formulate an answer. For example, instead of asking, “What is your favourite color?” the question is more like, “Why is magenta your favourite color?” And if magenta is not my favourite color, then that is an odd question to try to answer.

So, I hope that my some of my replies don’t seem argumentative. They are not intended to be that way. Unfortunately, for some of the questions, there was no easy answer.

I would also appreciate if you put a warning in front of this interview. Some of the questions and answers contain ‘spoilers’ or information about the plot or characters that readers should not be given until after they have finished the book.

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Gentille Chef
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Date d'inscription : 03/04/2006

MessageSujet: Re: Interview collective de Robin Hobb   5/5/2007, 15:57

  • Animals play a large part in your stories and could be considered as characters in a way. The description you made is truly realistic. How and how long did you study animals to obtain a so realistic result?

Animals are definitely characters in my stories. I attempted to develop them as completely as I did my human characters.

I did not set out to study them deliberately, or research them in particular. I was surrounded by animals as I was growing up. We had many different kinds of pets as well as many types of wildlife. It was natural to learn about them just as anyone learns about his neighbours. The exceptions to this were the bees and the hunting cats. I have not personally dealt with them, and so I did need to read about them. The history of hunting with cats was particularly fascinating.

  • Diversity, depth and complexity of characters are a richness of your books. Their differences make your texts both lively and interesting. How did you create your characters?

When I read a book, the thing that I particularly enjoy is well developed characters. So, I make an effort to make that a part of my writing as well.

I do not have a set technique for developing or creating characters. I think it happens in a part of my mind that I cannot consciously access. The characters are the first part of a story that come to me. Often they simply step out into the spotlight on the stage with a name, a past and a story to tell. I enjoy trusting the characters and seeing where they will go and what they will do. I don’t begin to write the book until I have a good idea of where the story will go, but I never feel that I’m in full control. I’m afraid I would become very bored with my writing if I was certain of exactly what would happen next and what each character would do.

But once the character has introduced himself, it is important to keep track of what he has told me. I keep a file that reminds me of his/her hair color, age in relation to other characters, interesting facts about him, and things I may know about him or her that may not be used in the books. Sometimes an author knows something but there is never a right moment to share it. Still, just knowing that can enrich how the character is portrayed.

  • Was it difficult for you?

The creation of the characters is not a conscious process for me, so, no, it is not difficult to create them. The hard part comes in working with them, as they are an unfolding part of the story and may carry the plot in unforeseen directions. And, as I mentioned above, keeping track of the detail. It is far too easy to say a character is left handed or has freckles when you first introduce him, and then lose track of that detail when he appears much later in the story. Yet that consistency is very important to helping the reader immerse himself in the book and believe in the reality of the story.

  • Why did you choose to surround the Fool in an aura of mystery?

I did not choose to surround the Fool in mystery. He was not a character who wished to divulge much about himself. As the story unfolded, I discovered more things about him, but often I was not really certain what he would do or say next, or even what he was talking about. So the mystery is entirely of his own devising.

I really enjoyed working with such a character. Jacques Post, the Dutch publisher for the Farseer books, once observed that if we ever knew everything about the Fool, he would lose most of his charm. I completely agree with that. Leaving some things about him as vague as they are allows each reader to imagine what those details might be.

WARNING TO READERS: Do not read question five or six, or the answers to those questions unless you have already read the Liveship Trilogy and the Tawny Man Trilogy. Otherwise, you will learn things that may spoil your enjoyment of the story before you read it.

5. Why is it/he the only common character of the whole of the Realm of the Elderlings?

This is a difficult question to answer, as are several others here, because I think it is based on assumptions about how I write. At no time did I sit down and think, ‘What character or characters from Farseer should appear in the Liveship books?” Rather, when I am imagining a story, the characters come to me first, and then the plot unfolds from the characters. I did not plan to put the Fool in the Liveship books. He inserted himself there. Perhaps an easier way to say it would be to say that everyone else from the Farseer trilogy was somewhere else doing something else, so of course they could not have been in Bingtown or the Pirate Isles or the Rain Wilds.

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Date d'inscription : 03/04/2006

MessageSujet: Re: Interview collective de Robin Hobb   5/5/2007, 15:59

  • Why him rather than anybody else?

I think the answer to this is the same as my answer to question five. The character was there, and so of course he became part of the story. He had a mission, a real reason to be there. Without that character, the plot of the story would not have moved forward. But other characters would not have logically been there or taken part in those events.

I think my question in response to this one would be, “But why on earth would Kettricken or Chade or Burrich be in Bingtown or the Rain Wilds?” If they had been, it would have been an entirely different story.

  • The principal characters of The Fitz’Trilogies are orphans (Fitz and Umbre), who conceal their parents (the Fool), or give up their own role of parents. Why?

I am confused by this question. The Fool does not conceal his parents, nor give up his role as a parent. Neither does Umbre. Fitz does not know his mother, but does know who his father is. Nor is he, at the beginning of the book, an orphan. Neither Umbre nor the Fool are parents, so they cannot ‘give up their own role of parents.’ So I do not know how to answer this question. Could you please ask it again with different words?

  • At the beginning, the Witted are considered as being out of the ordinary and persecuted because of their differences. However, in the course of the story we see them evolve and finally they come to persecute their persecutors. Why is this evolution important?

I would not say that the Witted ‘evolve’ during the story. I would say that the viewpoint character, Fitz, comes to know more about them, and as a result, he sees them in a different light. As the Witted come to feel that they might have a more sympathetic ruler in power, they move out of the shadows to assert themselves. As political powers shift in the Six Duchies, the Witted become more confident and open and their social position changes. We see such shifts happen all throughout history. Consider women gaining the right to vote, for example. Or apartheid ending. The change in perception of the Witted is important because it’s part of the plot line of the book. As the viewpoint character grows and matures, so does his understanding of the world around him.

I also would not say that they ‘persecute their persecutors.’ To refer back to my beginning comments, this is one of the questions that makes an assumption that I don’t really agree with, so it is difficult to answer.

  • Is your point that a victim of persecution has only three choices: become a persecutor, let his persecutors continue or forget his gift and try to be ordinary?

No. I do not have a point!

I think it should be remembered that this is a story. I do not write books with the intention of making a point or teaching a lesson to the reader, or persuading the reader to think as I do. Often I write about a question not because I feel I have the answer, but because I’m wondering about the question.

Every victim of persecution would, I think, react in a unique way to that persecution. Consider Gandi. Do you think that he made one of those three choices? I don’t think so.

I think it would be impossible to delineate all the ways that a person might react to persecution. We could talk about people going mad, or concealing what they are or moving far away or committing suicide or any number of reactions.

I think the topic of all the ways that a person might react to persecution would be a reason for a sociology study rather than a work of fiction.

  • In The Farseer Trilogy, women play a predominant role: they show strong personalities, contrary to men who seem rather childish and narrow-minded. And yet they are in the minority. Did you do this on purpose in order to bring to light these women in a society led by men?

Oh, dear. Which of the men seemed childish and narrow minded? It was not my intention to portray men that way. I would never deliberately write in a way that seemed to say, “People of this gender are like this and people of that gender are like that.” I don’t believe that is true and I think it would be very poor characterization. I think this question is very interesting because in other interviews, I’ve been asked why there are ‘so few female characters in Farseer and they don’t seem important.’ You see, that’s another question that surprised me very much. When I look at the Farseer trilogy, I don’t separate the characters by gender, but see each one as an individual. Some of them are childish and narrow minded. Some are strong. But I don’t see those traits as being attached to one gender or the other.

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MessageSujet: Re: Interview collective de Robin Hobb   5/5/2007, 16:07

In The Farseer Trilogy, readers may perceive the Outislanders as “villains”, living in a society controlled by men. Why did you choose to portray them like that although you gave them a way of life based on a matriarchal society?

I do quite a bit of research for all my books. That isn’t because I want to base them exactly on our world, but because I want to make it easy for the reader to come into my story and believe what I say about the world. So, if I’m setting a story in a tropical climate near the ocean, I write about tropical plants there. People in a tropical climate would not grow cabbages in their gardens, for instance. And I would look at what sorts of cultures had evolved in tropical climates near the ocean.
Thus, many things about the Outislanders were inspired by the Vikings of our own world. They came from a cold northern country where raiding was an acceptable way to make a living. The women in Viking societies had property rights at a very early time. Children born to them while their husbands were absent, even if the men were gone for several years, were still recognized as their husband’s children. The women often had more control of the households and agriculture simply because they were the ones who stayed home and did it. Thus, it seemed only logical to me that while my Outislanders were off raiding, the women who remained at home would have to be strong and authoritative. The ‘society controlled by men’ would be the most common aspect of shipboard life, where a strong leader is mandated by the demands of sailing.
Again, this question seems to assume that I am making a statement about gender or matriarchal societies. Actually, I’m just trying to tell a story with a realistic setting. I’m not interested in gender-based political arguments.

Do you believe a society led by women could not perpetrate the kind of atrocities accomplished by the Outislanders in the first Fitz’trilogy?

Good heavens! I think it would depend entirely on who the women were, don’t you? No two women in the world are alike. Hillary Clinton, Mother Theresa and Joan of Arc are all women, for example. Lizzie Borden was also a woman, and she chopped up her parents with an axe. But somehow I don’t think we can say that this means that Mother Theresa was capable of doing the same thing. Or that Margaret Thatcher would. How about Catherine d' Medici? Lucretia Borgia ? Saint Theresa?

I emphatically do not believe that gender determines character in any way. I think it is sexist to propose such an idea.

Is the Mountain Kingdom a utopia, your view of a perfect world, where leaders are the servants of their peoples?

No. I do not think that utopias exist. It was a different culture from that of the Six Duchies, with its own problems and shortcomings. The culture had evolved to serve a society very different from that of the Six Duchies, as was mentioned in the books. A scattered population, some of whom are migratory, has different needs from those of coastal traders, fishermen or farmers. So their culture is different.

Again, I do not employ fiction to make political statements. A writer of fiction controls all the factors, so such statements are inherently, well, silly. I could write about a world ruled by cats and how happy everyone was there, but would anyone seriously think I was advocating rule by cats? The Mountain Kingdom culture is a part of a story.

You might be able to have a perfect world if you banished all the humans. But then, who would write the books?

Which stories, facts and real places inspired you to create these novels and this universe?

To answer this question, I would have to write a whole book. Every story or book I’ve ever written has its roots somewhere. But often it is not in this real world of ours. I think most fantasy begins with the words ‘what if’.
When I write my books, I do quite a bit of research. And sometimes what I am researching for one book will be inspiration for the next one.
I think the main inspiration for the Farseer trilogy would have been my curiosity about the clichés of fantasy. I wanted to see if I could knock the rust off of some of them and make them work again.

Why did you choose to write in the first person?

First person seems to me to be the most natural story telling voice. It brings the reader immediately into the story, involves him deeply, and makes it possible to share a very detailed point of view. The drawback is that the character can only tell the reader exactly when he knows at that time. So it does have its limitations. Still, I think it is my favourite way to write or tell a story.

Was it difficult to get inside a man’s mind?

Every character is a person. Every character is a person who is and is not like me. Letting Fitz be Fitz was the rule that I tried to follow. My question was always, “What would Fitz do if that happened to him?” Never, “What would a man do if that happened to him?” Because I was trying to write about Fitz, not my idea of what a generic male would or would not do. Certainly Chade or Burrich would have reacted very differently to some of the problems that confronted Fitz. So would Molly or Patience. But those reactions are not gender based, but based on the individual. If all my male characters were based on my idea of a ‘man’s mind’ and all my female characters based on a ‘woman’s mind’ they would all be same. There would be no story if Queen Desire had the same values as Patience, for instance.

What made you write about stories that took place in two different societies of the same universe?

This is definitely one of the questions that left me confused. If a writer sets one story in Paris and the next tale in Los Angeles—well, isn’t that rather normal? To set all my stories in the same place would seem very strange to me. Also rather unimaginative. I’ll still attempt to answer this. I wrote the Liveships as it happened in Bingtown, Jamaillia, the Pirate Isles and the Rain Wilds because I wanted to tell that story and it could not have happened in Buckkeep. Or in Paris.

Did you choose from the beginning to make the dragons the main crossing point of your different novels?

No. Not at all. I believed that the Liveship Trilogy would be a completely different tale from the Farseer Trilogy. I knew it would take place in the same world, but initially I did not foresee how much the events of one story would impact the other story. It was very surprising and interesting to me to what it unfold.

Which trilogy did you write first? The Farseer Trilogy or The Liveship Traders Trilogy?

The Farseer Trilogy was written first.

Had you at the beginning the idea of developing not only the Six Duchies kingdom but also the other regions of your universe?

No. I wanted to tell Fitz’s story. And when I wrote the Liveship stories, I was interested in the ships themselves and how they affected the people around them. With the Tawny Man trilogy, I returned to Fitz’s story. To me, the story is about the character far more than the place. Of course, the setting determines a great deal of who the character is, but the story is about the character, not the location. Otherwise, I would be writing travelogues!

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MessageSujet: Re: Interview collective de Robin Hobb   5/5/2007, 16:11

If yes, will we read the history of Chalcède, Jamaïlla or the Red Ship Raiders one day?

Only if I discover a fascinating character with a compelling plot line who happens to live in one of those places. A story is more about plot and character than about place. Who would want to read about someone walking around all day in a city in Chalced if nothing interesting happened to him?

Will readers discover the Elders and their mysteries?

The answer to 21 is the same as the answer to 20. I know a lot of about the Elderlings, but simply to write about them is not the same as writing a novel. A novel demands character and a plot as well as a setting. If a character came to me and demanded to have his story written, it might say more to the readers about the Elderlings. But my next story could just as easily be a story set in Kansas, if that is what the plot and character demand.

Do you intend to write a sequel based on the Fool’s story?

Same answer to this as for 20 and 21. I will only write more about the Fool if I come up with an absolutely compelling story line that demands to be written. Otherwise, it would be simply a commercial decision, one in which I said, “Oh, people would spend a lot of money to read more about the Fool I should write something more about him, even if it’s not very good and I’m not excited about it.” That would be cheating the reader and myself. And I don’t think the Fool would put up with it.

What kind of advice would you like to give to young authors concerning how to write very long stories such as an entire fantasy trilogy without getting lost in the process?

I would say, first, only write a very long book if you have a story that demands that many pages.

The second advice would be to be organized. Keep extra files on your computer about your book. Have an outline. Create a timeline as you go along, so that you can be sure your characters age at the same rate. Create a glossary as you go along. Sketch out a map. Does your geography make sense? Do rivers flow downhill, for instance?

Each time you introduce a new character, make an entry about him in your glossary. It should describe him and tell on what manuscript page this character first appears. Then, if you need to, you can look up Ardie, and see what colour hair he had, how tall he was and what his father did for a living. This will keep you from contradicting yourself.

Be disciplined. Write every day, so the story stays fresh and centred in your mind. Then, when you are all finished, go back and read the whole tale again, to make sure it makes sense.

And only write a very long book if your story demands it. Don’t take a little story and stretch it out and make it dull and slow just for the sake of writing lots of pages.

A great quality of Fitz’s novels is that, though there are many of events and unexpected plot developments, we have always the feeling that we are following a man in his everyday life in a medieval world. There are conspiracies, magic and all kinds of adventures, but we never stay away from day-to-day details, such as meals, sleep, and Fitz's feelings when he looks at landscape on the road or when he's walking in the streets of Buckkeep Town, and so on. So, even if Fitz's life is generally exhausting, there are a lot of tiny peaceful moments when it's kind of relaxing to just follow him in his most insignificant comings and goings.

Do you attach importance to this everyday life aspect of the worlds you develop?

I think knowing about a character’s everyday life is essential to knowing the character. If the book jumped from main event to main event, the reader would never get a chance to know Fitz. Fitz also grows and changes from a child to a man in the books. The detail of his life helps the reader to see him do that. A description of Fitz working in the stables is important because it establishes a lot of about his relationship with Burrich, for instance.

Is it because, as a fantasy reader, you like for a novel not to be just a sequence of events happening at a breathtaking rhythm, but to let time for the reader to "live" in a world ?

I do not enjoy books that race through the tale, telling only the ‘exciting’ parts. As you mention, the reader does not have time to get to know the character or the world. The reader is carried along too swiftly. Often such books do not make much sense to me.

I also think that much of what happens that seems ‘ordinary’ can be of tremendous importance later in a story. Not every tale hinges on a great battle or a seduction or a wedding. A character having a quiet moment of introspection can change every action he takes after that. If the author doesn’t write that quiet moment, then the hero’s actions don’t make sense after that point.

In the three trilogies of "Realm of the Elderlings", magic is nearly always related to emotions, or described in terms of emotions. There is a very moving moment in Fool's Fate, when the Fool, by just touching the Skill fingerprints on Fitz's wrist, can convey to him (almost show him) the love he has felt for him for a very long time. How did you come to this link between magic and the emotions that the characters feel for one another?

I would dispute that magic is always linked to emotion in the three trilogies. Think of Verity or Fitz clearing his mind to work the Skill, and you will see what I mean. The little charms that are made by hedgewitches have nothing to do with emotion, yet are still magical.

Because the two major types of magic in the book (The Wit and the Skill) both employ linking people to either other people or animals, they would sometimes give the user access to emotions or thoughts that would otherwise remain hidden. Obviously, knowing those private thoughts or emotions could have tremendous repercussions on a relationship.

Is this a theme that you had already dealt with in previous novels, and/or that you think you'll keep being interested in?

In the Soldier Son trilogy, there is a definite link between emotion and magic, but it is a different sort of link from what I think we are discussing.

I do not see an obvious or fixed link between emotion and magic.

In the Fitz’s trilogies, we find, at the beginning of each chapter, short texts in italics that show different aspects and tidbits of the world of the Six Duchies. Sometimes they are immediately linked with current events, and sometimes they are (or seem!) of no special use for the plot itself, but every time they greatly contribute to the feeling of richness and deepness of the world.

How did you come with the idea of these head-chapter texts when you started writing the Farseer trilogy?

Writing in the first person puts a number of constraints on the writer. The writer can only tell the reader exactly what the protagonist knows at that exact moment. The writer cannot warn of impending ambush, for instance, nor have the protagonist deliberately remind the reader of something that it is essential he know. Those small prologues were a device I used to get around the limits of writing in the first person. Often they were things that Fitz would have known, but that the reader might not know or might not recall at that particular moment.

Was it a device for you to show to the reader different parts and places of the Six Duchies in which Fitz would never come during his quest, and then a means to get round the limits imposed by your choice of an inner focus on Fitz (as the reader is always following him, except in these head-chapter texts). (The reason why I think about it is the absence of these texts in the Liveship Traders trilogy, where we follow alternatively several characters, who sometimes find themselves in places very far from one another, which allows you - and the reader - to explore several very different places and countries simultaneously without the need of extra titbits.)

The Liveship Traders is not written in first person. Often, I could use another character’s viewpoint to convey something that it was essential for the reader to know.

I didn’t include any of the prologues simply for the sake of showing more geography to the reader. Each one included a piece of information that would deepen the reader’s understanding of the characters or plot.

Another question on this matter: How did you deal with these head-chapter texts when writing the novels?

I am not sure what you are asking me here.

Each little prologue was written for a specific reason. Sometimes I wrote them in advance, and then decided where the information would best benefit the story.

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MessageSujet: Re: Interview collective de Robin Hobb   5/5/2007, 16:16

Had you planned at the very beginning (for instance in the synopsis or structure of each novel) what pieces of information each of those little texts would bring and when, or were you free to create them progressively as you wrote each new chapter?

Some of the prologues were written and then set aside, to be used as needed. Sometimes, in the course of a chapter, I would realize there was something I wanted the reader to know, perhaps the property of an herb or something Chade would have done privately and Fitz would not find out about until later.

The prologues were not mentioned at all in the synopsis for the books that I presented to the publisher. Generally speaking, I would not want to take that much time to write such a detailed synopsis. I’d rather be writing the actual book.

You are mostly known for the fantasy trilogies you wrote as Robin Hobb, but you seem as well at ease with one shot novels, and the head-chapter texts in the Fitz novels depict all kinds of very short stories.

What difference is there between the writing of a single novel and the writing of a trilogy?

I think the difference between the writing of a single novel and the writing of a trilogy is the size of the idea. That is what determines is something is a short story, or an epic. I think most of us have read books in which it is obvious that a simple story has been stretched to fill pages. I’ve written a number of short stories. None of them could be expanded to fill a novel. There simply isn’t that much to tell. To me, a trilogy is a single story that has been broken into manageable parts. If I had a very complicated story to tell, I might need five books, or even nine.

Sometimes a writer only discovers how big a story is when he or she begins to write it. I’m very glad, for instance, the George RR Martin is taking as much time and space as he needs to tell the very complex story in A Song of Ice and Fire. To cut it back would not do the tale justice.

Sometimes, I think I have a book length idea. Then, when I start to write it, it turns out to be a much shorter story.

How do you determine the space you will need to develop a story (for example, why just one novel for Wizard of the Pigeons and not two or three)?

I think I have already answered this question above.

Sometimes I have to start writing a story to see how complicated it is. Will other characters wander in, bringing their own plot lines? Or will the hero resolve things in a very uncomplicated way? After years of working with plot lines, I think most writers know when an idea is suitable for a short story, or demands a book or even more. Can you imagine trying to tell a story like 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea as a short story?

The short story is a very demanding form. Every word in a short story must serve a purpose. Every sentence must advance the plot, set the scene or delineate the character. A good sentence does two or three of those things at once. There is no room in a short story for indulgence or sprawl.

34. Are there special reasons why you prefer writing a trilogy rather than a one shot novel (or the reverse)?

I don’t think I have a preference for either one. If I look back over my writing career, I don’t think that one form has dominated over the other. A very complicated story demands lots of room to unfold. A trilogy allows that. I think we see a lot of trilogies and longer work in the fantasy genre, because in addition to relating a plot line and creating characters, we are also describing a unique setting and often a system of magic. Those parts of the story demand their own allotment of words. An exotic location or a system of magic can sometimes just be sketched into a short story, but it is not as satisfying or as involving to the reader. Think of it this way. I can type the words, “He saw a room full of treasure” and leave all the imagining to you. Or I can detail what types of treasure, and if it was scattered on the floor or kept in large chests or draped over a lady’s bed. Any of those descriptions brings you much more fully into the story and increases your enjoyment of it.

As a reader, do you read shorter things, such as short stories, and have you already written some?

As Megan Lindholm, I’ve written a number of short stories. Robin Hobb tends to write longer works, but even so, there are a couple of short stories under that name.

I very much enjoy reading short stories. For that reason, I subscribe to several of the fantasy and science fiction magazines that are published in the US. Writing short stories is very difficult for me, so I greatly respect other writers who write them well. I feel that some of the most exciting and ‘cutting edge’ work in the genre happens in the short story field. Often it is a place for me to get to know a new writer. Often I will buy a novel because I have read short stories by the same author and enjoyed them.

How would you deal with the writing of very short stories?

How would I deal with writing very short stories? Very poorly! I think the short story is the most difficult form for me, and very short stories are the hardest of all. There is one type called a ‘drabble’ or a story told in exactly 100 words. I managed to write one, once. It was very difficult for me, and I didn’t think it was a very good story when I was finished. I love having room to include a lot of detail and to build a detailed character. A short story does not have that sort of space in it.

In France, the translation of the Realm of the Elderlings trilogies was kind of a mess: the Tawny Man trilogy was translated as the immediate sequel to the Farseer trilogy and under the same title ("L'Assassin royal"), even as the Liveship Traders trilogy, which is just being translated, is being published as an independent saga, so that French readers often don't know that there is a link between the three trilogies and get confused. Do you keep an eye on the translations of your novels in different countries, and how?

In the case of the French translations, I have been friends with Arnaud Mousnier-Lompre for years. We are often in touch, and so I am aware of how he is progressing on the books of mine that he has done.

I did my best to write each trilogy and even each book so that it could stand alone and still offer the reader a story. Of course, when you read all three books in any of the trilogies, you read a much longer story. And if you read all the books in all three trilogies, then you see that the stories are related to one another.

In the US, where the books were published one each year in chronological order, many readers still chose to skip the Liveship books and read the Tawny Man trilogy. I hope that the books were written in such a way that they still enjoyed them and they made sense.

What do you thing of the editorial policy of one of your French publishers Pygmalion, and particularly of the fact that each novel you wrote was divided in two or more books at the time of the translation?

My task is to write the stories. It is what I know how to do and what I love to do. After the writing work is done, I turn it over to the publishers to decide how best to present it.

One of the difficulties of translating a book from English to French, I am told, is that the book grows by about thirty percent. The books were very long in English. To publish them in the same form in French would create books with very small print or possibly with problems with binding that many pages. In either case, this is not an area in which I am an expert. So I let the publisher make those decisions.

Don’t you think this may be prejudicial for the reading and may discourage readers?

I do not see how it would be very different from having to wait to read each piece of a trilogy. Some readers in the US have told me that they do not even begin to buy the books until all three volumes of a trilogy have been published. Others say they prefer to wait for the paperbacks to come out. I think that if the story is solid, it can be published in parts and still enjoyed. Many famous books were serialized in magazines, or published only a small part at a time. I have been told that in the case of Charles Dickens, this created a great deal of anticipation and enthusiasm for each instalment.

Thank you for this opportunity to address your readers. I am sorry that it took me so long to answer all these questions, but I had to fit this work into the openings in my schedule.

Best wishes,

Robin Hobb
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