Interviews The Townhouse of Ideas

Author Interview: Steven Brust, FINAL PART

Okay! So here we go with the THIRD AND FINAL part of this three-part interview that I did with fantasy author Steven Brust back in 2011! Here’s a link to Part One and Part Two of this interview, in case you missed them:

All right, here we go!

Let’s continue in the geek vein: favorite movie of all time? (not necessarily geeky)

SB: Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid. Followed by The Princess Bride and Bull Durham.

PC: Mmm. Video gaming? …I don’t see you as the video gamer type somehow.

SB: I almost always have some game going while I write. Lately it’s been LOTRO.

PC: How does “having a videogame on while you write” work exactly? Write a little play a little back and forth, or…?

SB: It’s something for my forebrain to work on my backbrain thinks about the book.  I always keep my current project open on one screen, so it keeps staring at me asking what the next question is.

PC: What was your fave before LOTRO?

SB: There was a text-only rpg called Gemstone for a while. For a long time, I really enjoyed Aces of the Pacific and Aces over Europe.  Alas, I don’t think those will run on Windows 7.  But the most productive and profitable of all was online poker.  It was perfect for writing and I made some decent money until the Fed shut the sites down. That hurt.

the best royalty-free image I could find related to poker. Do you want me to get sued? Is that what you want? No, certainly not. So-- working from the idea that a little imagery is better than no imagery-- here we are.

PC: Ow. Back to TV: You been keepin’ an eye on Game of Thrones?

SB: Haven’t seen it yet.

PC: Mmm. Comic books? Favorite graphic novel?

SB: I read anything by Neil. But I’m not a comic person. I’m dyslexic, and I think that’s why my brain has trouble processing comics or animation.

PC: Heh. My wife and I met through a Sandman fanzine circa 1994 when such things were still done by mailing ink on paper. She’s a Minnesota gal.

SB: Ya sure.  🙂

PC: Neil’s aware of us… just sort of shook his head as if to say “great, now they’re marrying.” Not quite rolling his eyes, but…

 SB: hee hee

PC: How long have you had a Twitter account?

SB: Trying to think… I’m not sure. A couple of years maybe?

PC: I was a bit aghast that you only have like 11 times my followers.

SB: I don’t post much.

PC: Okay, the interview spirits are telling me to ask you about drumming. I can’t help mentioning Random, etc., etc. Oh, and I think of the drum Silverberg mentioned that Gilgamesh had, with its one stick, for going into a drumming-induced trance…

SB: Drumming is fun on many levels. Playing the kit (which I’m not all that good at) you have the fun of filling a dance floor. With the doumbek, well, I can make music on that. It’s all about listening. It’s a kind of high you don’t get any other way.

PC: Yeah, see…

SB: Silverberg is very good.

PC: I got into him for Lord Valentine’s Castle. Another V-character…

SB: My favorite of his is Star of Gypsies.

PC: I have not read that. Read much Heinlein?

SB: Of course.

PC: “Star of Gypsies” sounds like a Heinleinesque title. Favorite Heinlein? Mine is probably Job: A Comedy of Justice, which says something about me…

SB: Um. Tough call. Probably Moon is a Harsh Mistress.

PC: Hmmmm. What are you most looking forward to?

SB: Working on a sequel to Spiked with Skyler.

PC: I suspected you might say something Spiked-related.

SB: Yeah, I’m more than little psyched.

PC: What’s wrong with the publishing industry these days, anyway? No, that’s negative. What I’m really asking is…

SB: I have no idea. I work very hard not to think about that.

PC:  Yeah.

SB: Seriously, I have no idea. I think there are cool things happening–mostly having to do with Cory Doctorow. But I don’t think in those terms. I just write books, and am very, very happy that I can make a living doing that.

PC:  What I’m really asking is what you’d change if you were in charge.

SB: I’d give me a lot more money.

PC: Tch. What would you do with it?

SB:  Now, that, I can tell you. I’d build a huge paddlewheeler, big enough to live on, and I’d park it in Minnesota during the summer, and Louisiana in the winter. I’d host poker games and concerts. And I’d get a lot of writing done.

PC: I was gonna ask you about Brokedown Palace but then I remember I hadn’t even mentioned To Reign in Hell; tell me about THAT.

SB: What do you want to know?

PC: Ummm… I guess I meant it as a sort of “Aw gee mister was it as super neato cool writing it as I imagine?!?!?!?” It made quite an impression on me. The darkness, the chaos, whispering… if it WAS the chaos talking, and not Someone else…

SB: It was a struggle. I was doing a lot of experimenting; Much of it didn’t work so the re-write was intense. But I’m pleased with how it came out.

PC: And hey, a sea of chaos, incidentally.

SB: The fun part of it was doing all the short scenes–that let me do a lot of opening and closing sentences, and I love opening and closing sentences.

PC: Yeah, that’s where you’re a Viking. And as long as I have you here, what exactly does Vlad’s world owe to Leiber, exactly?

SB: Heh. Everything. With the Fafhrd and Gray Mouser stories, Leiber invented the field where I make my living.

PC: (Am I right that Verra comes up a lot in Brokedown Palace? Because that’s how I remember it but it’s been like maybe 20 years.)

SB: (Yes.)

PC: …What IS a sea of chaos, anyway? I sort of imagine it like liquid antimatter. But worse.

SB: That’s a reasonable way to imagine it.

PC: (Have you read Leiber’s The Sinful Ones? What about Our Lady of Darkness?)

SB: No.

PC: Aww, they’re keen.

Is it a dumb question to ask why in the world anyone would be crazy enough to make Morganti weapons in the first place? Or am I way too idealistic about hominids’ capacity for evil and spite?

SB: Why would anyone be crazy enough to invent napalm? How about atomic weapons?

PC: Yeah, see, that’s why I had a feeling it was just me. Sigh.

Well, I hate to let you go, since I’m afraid I’ll think of a fantastic question as soon as I do, but I guess there’s always email and that’s what follow-up questions are for.

SB: Cool. Thanks much, and take care.

PC: “Wave bye-bye to Steven Brust, Barb!”

(she waves) “Bye-bye! Thank you!”

Me too, bye! I’ll be in touch…!

SB: (Lizard Boy waves back)

PC: Thanks…!