Talking to Pyr: Gillian Polack sits down with Enge, Shepherd & Kenyon
Posted by Lou Anders
Over on BiblioBuffet, Gillian Polack interviews three Pyr authors at once: James Enge, Joel Shepherd, and Kay Kenyon. Why three authors together? Gillian writes that Pyr, "is one of a very few publishers I know who have no bad books to their name (if they have one, I haven’t read it). Additionally, it not only has a very clear image of what it does, but it communicates that image to the world. If I were a sensible person, I would be asking the editor and management how they do what they do, but today I’m asking writers. Without the writers, an imprint is just a logo, after all, and it’s the nature of the authors and the selection of the authors that makes everything possible."
Which is all very nice to hear and I hope you are paying attention, but the real reason you should follow the link above is because the authors of The Wolf Age, Bright of the Sky, and Sasha (among their many other books) are all brilliant and interesting people, with quite a lot to say that is valuable and witty.
Here are some snippets to whet appetites with:
Kay Kenyon: If you want your fantasy with a quirky hero you won’t find him or her in most traditional fantasy novels. This may be because to counter the mythic Evil, one must be mythically Good. We don’t read the traditional story for complexity and ambiguity. Of course, we pick up different reads for different reasons, and sometimes Tolkien, Brooks, and Jordan are perfect. But I’m glad there's room in fantasy (and science fiction) for the cruel, deluded, screwed-up hero. As with watching House (the TV series), we’re not just perversely enjoying people being complete asses—we’re hoping for their redemption, waiting for some small crack of light to peek out so we can believe in humanity again. The traditional fantasy asks us to believe in that goodness from the get-go. But these days, who can?
James Enge: Escapism, and even consolation, shouldn't be slurs in fantasy. A skillful escape is always worth watching, and skill is where art resides: the making of the thing made. Popular art, under its clown mask, has as much claim to that as higher art. It seems to me that what Pyr is after, under Lou’s direction, is genuine genre work ("deep genre" in Judith Berman’s deathless phrase) executed with some literary skill. But maybe I'm prone to think that because it’s always been my target.
Joel Shepherd: Formula is not always a bad thing, some formulas are entertaining when done well. And as is always observed by clever people (or people who think they’re clever) all writing is derivative of something, and all plots fall into a formula of some description. But where I find it impossible to conform to formula is where formula is often about the icing rather than the cake. The cake for me is drama, because that’s what moves all plots, and that’s what I find interesting to create when I’m writing—especially personal drama, where characters are faced with difficult decisions and struggle to decide which way they’re going to turn. What the formulas often attempt to prescribe is exactly what kind of drama is taking place, when it really shouldn’t matter, so long as the drama is dramatic and gripping.