Reality Skimming promotes optimistic SF -- stories that inspire us to fight the good fight for another day. Committment to larger projects, the writer's sense of mission, joy of reading, the creative campfire of the SF community and the love of deserving protagonists are celebrated. We believe in heroes and striving to be what we believe in. It is also a news hub for content related to the Okal Rel Saga written by Lynda Williams.
Originally from Scotland, Dave Duncan has lived all his adult life in Western Canada, having enjoyed a long career as a petroleum geologist before taking up writing. Since discovering that imaginary worlds are more satisfying than the real one, he has published more than fifty novels, mostly in the fantasy genre, but also science fiction, young adult, and historical. His most successful works have been fantasy series: The Seventh Sword, A Man of His Word and its sequel, A Handful of Men, and seven books about The King’s Blades. His 50th novel, The Eye of Strife, is now available from Five Rivers (and Amazon &c &c of course). To find out more, please visit http://daveduncan.com/
Interview by Christel Bodenbender
Your 50th book, The Eye of Strife, has just been published, which is an exciting achievement. Did you foresee going this far when you started writing?
Heavens, no! I was much more excited by selling my second book than I was by my first, because the second meant the first sale had not been a fluke. Besides, I was in my fifties already and wondering about retirement. (I gave up doing that a while back.)
Could you tell us a bit more about your latest book? Is it part of a series?
No, it's a standalone, and not an easy book to describe. It's almost a parody of epic fantasy, with gods and swordsmen and beautiful maidens. Even I didn't know how it was going to turn out until I was almost finished writing it. I didn't expect The Eye of Strife to be my fiftieth, which ought to be something more solemn and worthy. Or maybe a bagatelle is more appropriate?
Are most of your books/book series in unrelated worlds, or do you often draw on the same world and focus on different aspects/peoples within that world?
Um, yes... I don't tell the stories; the stories usually tell me. When I start writing, F&SF was largely a paperback genre (polite term for pulp fiction) so I could write cliffhanger series. When I got bumped up to hardcovers, that wasn't okay anymore, because hardcovers had to come out no more often than once a year. I've written about as many standalones as series, with the series running from two to four books.
Tell us what writing means to you?
Do you mean love or money? I tumbled into writing when boredom with a thirty-year career collided with a cyclical downturn of the oil business. (Here we go again, right?) I found writing great fun, and profitable, and ego-boosting. Nowadays I do it because I love doing it, and people still like what I do. In the company of Odysseus and Robert A Heinlein, I shall sail beyond the sunset.
You have spun many tales, what do you think is the source of your inspiration?
Insomnia. When I can't sleep, I make up stories. A few of them seem to have potential and inspire me to try writing them down, but beginnings are much easier to write than endings. I have dozens of openings on file, several half books, and even a 160,000-word completed novel that I've never gotten around to sending to my agent because I don't like the ending.
What are your favourite kinds of stories to write?
Obviously SF in all its varieties. I've never written a mainstream story. I just can't get interested in them.
Could you tell us about some future projects?
The book that I thought would be my fiftieth, but was delayed by various happenstances, is called Irona 700 and it will be published by Open Road Media in August. It's a more substantial work. If there's such a thing as a political fantasy, then it's one of those. If not, I may have created a new subgenre.
Apart from that, see above under “sunset”. I have a twosome historical fantasy almost done, and the last few days I've been trying out a science fiction story tentatively called Neweden, a title that ought to send shivers down your spine. And there are all those unfinished fragments on the hard drive.