Friday, April 16, 2010

Graham Edwards Interview

This is an interview I did with this author a few years ago.

There are many unique voices in the Fantasy genre. Graham Edwards is one of these voices. He has written two Fantasy trilogies with interesting themes and characters. The first trilogy consists of Dragoncharm, Dragonstorm, and Dragonflame. The trilogy tells the story of a changing world through the eyes of dragons. His second trilogy involves a mythic journey along a wall of history. Stone & Sky, Stone and Sea, and Stone & Sun are the books in this series.

DL: What led you to become a writer? Was it hard getting published?

I've always written, from an early age. Eventually I kind of rolled up my sleeves and decided to 'do it properly', which for me meant actually finishing a novel. That was Dragoncharm and it took two and a half years to write, longhand. I sent it out unsolicited and after a handful of rejections it was taken up by Jane Johnson at Voyager. These days it's really tough for a first-time author to get published without an agent. In other respects nothing much has changed - as well as being able to string
words together you have to land them on the right desk at the right time.

DL: Why did you choose the Fantasy genre to write in?

GE: I think it chose me really . It might sound odd but I never really thought of Dragoncharm as fantasy. For me, the story was driven by the characters, who just happened to be dragons. All the trappings of fantasy (and I would say the Dragoncharm books take place in a mythical prehistory rather than a traditional high fantasy realm) were just the life support system I needed to make them breathe. That said, I love the way fantasy can reflect and inform what we naively call the 'real world'.

DL: What authors, Fantasy or otherwise, influence your writing?

GE: I grew up on a diet of science fiction. More recently I've enjoyed reading Robert Holdstock, John Irving, Kim Stanley Robinson and John Steinbeck.

DL: What do you think about the current state of the Fantasy genre. Do you think that many books are too derivative?

GE: I've tried a few of the big doorstop epics but they don't do a lot for me. There is a lot of derivative stuff out there - what I used to know as sword & sorcery - but there's also a lot that, to me at least
, is far more interesting. I've mentioned Mr. Holdstock but there's a host of others like Graham Joyce and John Crowley who are exploring some fascinating territories.

DL: Your first trilogy has dragons as the main characters. Why dragons?

GE: The Dragoncharm series has its roots in Watership Down, which I read at a young age. I thought it might be fun to try something similar using mythological creatures. Somehow it didn't seem a tremendous leap from rabbits to dragons. I think I was probably influenced by the 80's movie “Dragonslayer” too. It was the first time I'd seen a dragon that looked like a real animal rather than a gold-hoarding flight of fancy - okay, she ate the odd princess but she was REAL. I loved the way she lurched around ‹like a grounded bat.

DL: The second trilogy is different. What is it about and where did you get the idea for it?

GE: In the dragon books I touch on some of the differences between history and myth. I wanted a way to explore these ideas more fully; the Stone books are the result. Stone is a world-sized wall in which all the memories of our world are stored - memories of past and future, history and myth. Travelling along the wall of Stone is a little like travelling through time.

The Stone books are an assemblage of many influences - all those SF Big Dumb Object books I read as a kid (Rendezvous with Rama, Ringworld etc); a fascination with time travel and the paradoxes it generates; the fluidity of history. I also began to wonder if altering Stone's database of memories meant you were actually changing history ...
And, once I'd thought of it, the world-sized wall seemed like the best adventure playground ever for getting my characters into all sorts of s àcrapes. Interestingly, Adam Roberts has just used the giant wall concept in his novel On, though in an entirely different way - I'm obviously not the only one fascinated by the idea.

DL: I’m always fascinated with Fantasy that has mythic themes. Do you use themes from mythology in your books?

GE: Actually I plunder mythology in a pretty shameless way. I tend to cherry-pick the things I like and ignore the things I don't. So in the dragon books I have faeries and giants and basilisks (which kill by a glance but bear no physical resemblance to the mythological cockatrice). And in the Stone books I have everything from Russian tree spirits to part-evolved Viking gods.

Myths speak to us in such powerful ways. These are the oldest stories of all. They inform us about human evolution in a way 'real history' can't - in truth the two can't be separated. I once worked on a heritage projec Qt where I was trying to weave together Scottish history and myth. One of the trustees was adamant we should dispense with the mythology altogether and include only what she called 'the real stories'. I nearly resorted to physical violence.

DL: A writer friend of mine said that all Fantasy authors eventually attempt an Authurian novel. Since you live in the country where the King Arthur legend was born, do you have any plans for an Arthurian story? Does the legend influence any of your writing?

GE: The Arthur legend does speak strongly to an Englishman born within spitting distance o ıf Glastonbury Tor. There are echoes of Tristan and Isolde in 'Stone and Sea'. As for an Arthur book per se, I think I'll leave that to the people who do it far better than I ever would. Although I do have this idea about what the Green Knight got up to before he bumped into Sir Gawain ...

DL: What themes or modern day issues do you include in your works that you want to share with readers?

GE: I don't really think in terms of 'themes', just stories. The former must grow out of the latter. Some people have commented that Dragoncharm is 'about' racial prejudice, with its war between charmed and natural dragons and the redeeming message that 'we are all just dragons'. Sure, the issues are there, but they just came along as I wrote the book Û. I'm happy when these things find their way in, because fantasy - in fact all fiction - is at its strongest when it's throwing a new light on the world we live in. But I never set out to make a point - I'm just here to tell stories.

But I do love to make connections with the modern day, or at least with the world we know. Stone and Sun, as well as dragons and magic, has stuff about the 1950's US A-bomb test programme (oh all right, it's not that modern ...). And the dragon books are consciously set in a world that is recognisably ours, even down to specific locations like Meteor Crater and Iceland. I like to have a perceptible thread connecting our world to the fantasy worlds I concoct. Anything else is cheating.

DL: What books or sto ries are in your future?

GE: I took a long deep breath after completing the Stone trilogy. I've got a couple of half-finished novels knocking about, which may eventually see the light of day. But right now I'm working hard to get a new manuscript completed by the end of the year. I hate categories but I guess it might be called a dark fantasy. And there aren't any dragons in it. I'll be posting more details on the website when it's ready to roll.

DL: Do you have any advice for aspiring writers?

GE: The art of writing is the art of applying the seat of the pants to the seat of the chair. (I can't claim that as my own and I can't remember who said it. But it's the truest thing I know).

DL: Thank you very much for your time.

For more information visit the Graham Edwards Website at

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