Today's author interview is with Den Patrick.
1. First, who is Den Patrick? Tell me about yourself.
I live in London, where I’ve had jobs as a bookseller and comics editor. I worked for Games Workshop many years ago in their stores. I still enjoying tabletop gaming, role playing games, card games, console games... you get the idea. I also reviewed SFF books for a few years for the now defunct Dreamwatch Magazine. I’m originally from Dorset, born to Londoner parents. I attended a performing arts college, which just goes to prove you never know what you’ll be when you eventually grow up.
2. In your new book, The Boy with the Porcelain Blade, we have Lucien who is Orfano. Enlighten is what that means.
The Orfano are, as you might guess, orphaned children, found on the steps of Demesne, the vast sprawling castle where the novel takes place. The Orfano are unique from other foundlings, bearing strange deformities and possessing talents. The reclusive king has decreed that the Orfano be fostered with one of the four Great Houses. The Orfano are distrusted because of their otherness; the more superstitious folk of Landfall think them witches, or streghe in the old tongue.
3. How was Lucien born in your mind?
I tried to ask myself what it would be like to grow up in that environment. I studied counseling and family counseling briefly and I’m fascinated by what makes people tick: nature, nurture, environment, conditioning and so on. Lucien lacks ears and is self-conscious about his deformity, though he tries to hide it with long hair, fine clothes, and a teenage bravura he rarely feels.
Lucien was always going to be brat, growing up in Demesne with so much privilege. It was important to surround him with people who would humanize and ground him. Camelia the cook becomes a mother figure to him. His relationship with Rafaela, his nanny changes over the course of the novel, but she is frequently a conscience of sorts.
4. What's the best thing about writing fantasy?
All genres have their tropes, but I like to think Fantasy is more mutable. Daniel Polansky added a strong noir flavour to his Low Town Novels. Richard Morgan, Mark Charan Newton and M. John Harrison all feature technology, and that’s before we get into Urban Fantasy, which has become a distinct genre to itself. Reviews have already commented that The Boy with the Porcelain Blade feels like a Thriller, but features a dash of Horror, and even nods to Gothic. I think it’s great that people can see those influences bleeding through.
5. If you could choose a fantasy world other than your own, which world would you like to explore and why?
I couldn’t stay in Mark Charan Newton’s rich and mysterious Villjamur on account of the fierce cold.
China Miéville’s New Crobuzon feels like a Weird version of London (where I currently live). I would love to meet a cactus person. Downside: Slakemoths, and the police state.
Rivendell would be great place to go for a writing retreat but I’m pretty sure I’d get bored after a week. There’s only so much unearthly singing and angelic beauty I can take.
I have a terrible sense of direction. I’d be taking my life in hands visiting M. John Harrison’s Viriconium, a vast, tumbledown, unknowable city.
I realise I’ve unwittingly answered this question citing Fantasy cities, which just goes to prove where my heart is. Ultimately, I think I’d live in Scott Lynch’s Camorr. A nice high tower in the Videnza, round the corner from Madam Strollo’s candle shop. I’d have a view of the sea and wide windows for lots of sunlight.
6. Last, what are you working on right now?
I’m editing book two of The Erebus Sequence, the follow up to The Boy with the Porcelain Blade. It’s set nine years after the first novel, and features a new point of view character. I tend to stick with a single point of view for the length of the novel, so it’s fun to have a new protagonist. The emergence of a shadowy manipulator called Erebus creates a crisis that threatens to destroy the fragile peace. It’s proving to be a lot of work, but very rewarding.
The Boy with the Porcelain Blade is out tomorrow, March 20th from Gollancz