Intervju med tre flotte fantasyforfattere

Publisert 30. september 2015 12:00, sist redigert 9. oktober 2015 13:12

This Monday was a really exciting day for me. It began with an interview with Laini Tayor, the author of the Daughter of Smoke and Bone Trilogy, which will be published next week. Laini was really lovely and she came up with some really great answers. You can look forward to reading that. 

After this I went to Deichman at Grünerløkka for a fantasy event there. Here I saw Laini Taylor again, but this time she was accompanied by Tone Almhjell who wrote The Twistrose Key, and Siri Pettersen, the author of the Raven Rings (Ravneringene) trilogy. It was so much fun to see how they bantered with each other on the stage and to listen to them talk about so many different topics. But best of all I got to interview them myself after the event was done. 

And here is the result:

What is fantasy? As I myself have been asked (and stumped by) this question I thought I would ask someone with a little more authority on the subject. And who better to ask than three fantasy authors.

Tone - Fantasy is stories that are set in a world that is not our own. They are worlds that are created. It's like a secondary creation. Sometimes they are in our own world. But if it's set in our world then it's different. Then it's a different version of our world. One that has magic or one that has supernatural creatures.

Siri - Isn't that the easy answer though. It's any story that has supernatural elements?

Tone - You could have a fantasy story that set in an alternate world where there is no magic. Where it's just politics and war, and it would still be fantasy because it's not set in our world. You don't need the magic. Though you do often have it. Fantasy is such a huge and sprawling genre and it encompasses so many different subgenres that it's really hard to give a brief answer. But the element of otherness, the element of  what is not exactly the way we know it, is definitely a part of fantasy.

What part of your story and plot building did you find the most difficult? 

Siri and Laini - The middle part is the most difficult. With beginnings and endings you usually have an idea or an inkling about how they should go but the whole middle, that's a challenge. And you have to include all the things that need to happen.

Laini - I love playing with language and I love coming up with ideas. For me the challenging thing to learn how to do was to tell a story that continues to move, and things happen that moves the reader from point a to point b to c and so on.

Tone - Definitely making all the story bits come together in a way that moves the reader along. That's the hard part of the craft. One you really have to work hard for. Some of it you can do by instinct, but a lot of the time you have to work hard to figure out how to move from this part to that part.

Siri - I actually really like connecting the threads and tying things together. I find that fun. I think that the challenging bit for my part is eliminating ideas. Eliminating story threads. Making choices like that. To go: This is a brilliant idea, but it doesn't belong here.

Laini - I think of it like landscape painting, like when you sit down and you are in front of a garden. To draw it you can't paint every single flower. You have to really make things into big shapes and draw things that give context to each other and simplify it, or else if everything is showing, then nothing really shows at all.

What are your most treasured memories when it comes to meeting fans?

Siri - I have one from just two days ago. I was signing at the science fiction bookstore stand in Göteborg book fair. There was this line and this girl, she came closer and closer and when she stood in front of me she put the books on the counter and she looked at me and she said "Jag är bara så himla gla nu. Du har inga aning!" and she started crying. And the tears just, you know, she couldn't stop, cause when it first started it just flew and flew. And I just had to hug her, I mean what could I do? And she had this really cute boyfriend. He was standing beside her and he was just stroking her and it was really beautiful. That was a pretty strong moment. I never had anyone cry before. That was intense.

Laini - When my first book came out, on one of my first events that I ever did with readers, I had an eleven year old boy swoon at my feet. He literally fell down on the grown like he was stunned. And that boy is now starting college and he's like six foot five and super cute.

Tone - I get a lot of people talking about their pets. And I love that and whenever I meet somebody they are like "Oh, it's really nice to meet you. I had a cat." I always love to listen to their stories. There is such an outpouring of emotions about their pets and the pets that they have lost. They all have an excellent story and so much love for their animals that they want to share with me and I'm really grateful for that.

There was this one kid though. I remember him and I'm actually going to mention him in the acknowledgements of my next book. This was at a school in Manhattan. He listened to me talk about Silver and the world and he was like "So. Okay. So I have a question. Why are there no lizards in your world?" And I said "Well, lizards would be miserable in Silver because it's always winter, and you know they wouldn't deal with that very well. But there is a different part of that world where it's always summer and your lizard would probably be happy there." And he was like "Yeah. You should totally write a story where my lizard is the main character." And I said "Well, you never know. What is the name of your lizard." and he was like "Ninja 1". So if I ever write a story about a lizard named Ninja 1 you'll know where the idea came from.

What kind of a pet would you have, if you did not have to limit your choices to real animals?

Laini - Without hesitation - a dragon. 

Siri - A raven. Not even griffins. I don't care. They can have wings. They can breathe fire. No. I just really want a raven.

Tone - Oh, this is so difficult. Let's see. I think it would be a tossup between a really huggable bear. And in my next book there is this really cool character and I'm sort of in love with her and she's a Lynx. She's just so... I don't know, she has attitude.

Laini - It would be pretty bad ass to have tiger that was big enough that you could ride down the street. I imagine that would be such a sight.

What is your main motivation for writing books?

Tone - I have a really pompous one. I just really want to tell stories. When I grew up, I lived in the middle of Norway and there weren't any fantasy books there. There was the Lord of the Rings and then there was nothing. Because, first of all, nothing was translated and second of all, the English books they just weren't in the store, and I had no way to get them. I had no idea what existed out there or what to do.

Siri - No shelves labeled fantasy anywhere.

Tone - So, I'm sort of always writing for myself at eleven. I can see myself as I'm sitting there in the big chair and my hair sticks out in weird places as it always did, and I'm getting to the end of Lord of the Rings and I'm crying like crazy. Not just because it's a moving scene, but because it's over and so I can never read it again for the first time. I was inconsolable and in a way I am always writing for myself at that moment.

Siri - That's a brilliant answer. Yeah, what she said. But no. I am actually writing for revenge. I keep telling people about this, but I had this book when I was a kid called Aller kjæreste søster by Astrid Lindgren. At the ending of that book, when she finds a portal, there is a hole in the garden and she crawls through it and she comes to a parallel world where she meets her soul mate Ylva-li and they have a lot of fun et cetera, but when the parents buy her a puppy she goes out into the yard the day after and the hole is gone and the roses have withered which kind of implies that everyone is dead. Ylva-li even said "the next time you come I'll be dead." And the next time there is nothing there. They just killed off an entire world and you never hear any more about it. There is no emotion. She never grieves or anything. That's the end of the book. The hole was gone and the roses have withered - The End.

I still have that book and I've written with a pencil. I didn't know how to write at the time and I've written at the end an alternate ending that goes something like this: "Oh no! Ylva'li was dead. I threw myself to the ground and wept and wept. Oh no!" It was very dramatic. I don't think I ever got out of that hole in the garden. It was very provocative that someone was trying to shut down the world of fantasy and trying to tell me that since everything is okay on this side, you don't need what's going on on that side. Which is BS obviously. I have been on the other side my entire life, and this is my revenge on Astrid Lindgren. I love the book though. I really do. But the ending is traumatizing.

Laini - Oh, I don't have a great answer like that but I just love stories and I can think of nothing better to do for a living than being able to write books and not have to have some other job.

Tone - Basically what happens is that you sit in your sweatpants and you eat chocolate and you tell stories - I mean, what's not to like?

Laini - I just feel super lucky. It's just so great being able to do that and not something else.

If there is one thing about your books that you would never change, even if you had to fight the kolkagga from Ravneringene, what would that one thing be?

Tone - I would never dumb it down. I truly believe that young readers are so intelligent and able to follow any story. Sometimes much better than adult readers. They will actually pay attention to the details and get it right. Whenever I get the sense that people feel that this is too complicated, your language is too complex, or it's not super easy, will the kids like it? and I just think: well, first of all, they don't like it when you call them kids. And second of all, they are not dumb, so I will not dumb it down. They can stretch and reach and follow any story they like.

Siri - I'll steal that answer. I agree. One of the things with Odin's Child was that on purpose I never explained anything. I introduced words and concepts, but I didn't tell anybody what it was. Which can be frustrating if you're new to fantasy, but that was a decision I made very consciously. I wouldn't explain anything that the characters at the time wouldn't reflect on, and not before it was necessary to do so. Even though some people were, you know, banging their heads against the wall. That's kind of the purpose, because I hate reading explanations myself.

Oh, and the kiss. I wouldn't change that. Does it have to rain when they kiss? I mean yes, yes it does. 

Bøker i dette innlegget


Siri Pettersen

Guder og monstre

Laini Taylor

Mørk Engel

Laini Taylor


Siri Pettersen


Siri Pettersen

Støv og stjerneskinn

Laini Taylor

The Twistrose Key

Tone Almhjell


Tone Almhjell

fantasy, forfattertreff, intervju, september 2015

Vera var tidligere med i ungdomsredaksjonen, men er nå med i "voksen"-redaksjonen. Hun er 20 år og studerer for å bli bibliotekar. Her på Ubok legger hun inn bøker i bokbasen, skriver litt i bloggen og iblant stikker hun også hodet inn på forumet. Hun er også med på ulike arrangementer som forfatterintervju og uboks lesesirkel.