Anyone who follows epic fantasy has heard of Adrian Tchaikovsky. A lawyer, gamer and all round top chap, he’s the author of the Shadows of the Apt series – the sort of massive fantasy work whose printing almost causes deforestation – and the wonderful Jane Austen meets Vietnam war fantasy Guns of the Dawn. I discussed his new book a little last week. Today I have an interview with Adrian, in which he talks world building, writing and which authors could beat him in a fight…
AK: Your new book, The Tiger and the Wolf, has just come out. Could you please tell readers what the book’s about and why they should be excited about it.
The Tiger and the Wolf takes us to a completely new world of shapeshifters. It’s a plunge into a setting where everyone has an animal soul, and some – like the heroine, Maniye – have more than one. This is my first new series after Shadows of the Apt, planned for at least 3 books, and the plot moves from Maniye’s quest to escape the reach of her father towards something truly world-shattering.
Why did you pick the particular animals you use in the book?
Obviously I wanted to get away from the insects and arachnids that were the mainstays on Shadows of the Apt. What I ended up with was a mix of the very familiar and the unexpected. So the people of Maniye’s cold northern climes are wolves, bears and tigers, fairly common shapeshifting fare, but other characters travelling in from elsewhere have different shapes – crocodiles, serpents, hyenas. I wanted to get a diverse spread of cultures, and the cultures are inextricably linked to the animals.
Have you learned any new lessons as a writer in the process of writing this book? And if not, could you tell us something you’ve learned from writing one of your previous novels?
I cut a whole hell of a lot of world building exposition. It’s really easy, when you put a lot of work into the world, to want to show your working to the reader. It was actually useful for me to write down, as it fixed it in my mind, but it all had to come out before the final version.
I heard you talking about your re-enactment fighting a couple of years ago. How does that feed into your writing? And which other author would you be most afraid to face in battle?
A basic understanding of how fights work is always a good thing as it gives you a much expanded toolkit when writing those scenes (though, as above, you also have to learn not to show your working too much). In T&W a lot of the fights were kind of crazy to write because the shapeshifting is instantaneous, so characters are shifting in and out of animal shape depending on what works best in that moment.
As for other writers, I’m a big guy but I reckon there are a whole raft of them who would whup my ass but good. Myke Cole, for one, or Martin Page who’s a very accomplished swordsman.
Is there any chance you’ll be returning to the world of Guns of the Dawn? I loved that book.
There’s every chance if it looks as though the demand is there. I have an idea for a sequel, with Emily being called back into military service out of civilian (and married) life, because when you’ve done what she’s done, war isn’t just going to leave you alone. Some day it’ll get written.
And finally the inevitable question – where can people find you online?
My website is www.shadowsoftheapt.com, and I’m on Facebook, and @aptshadow on Twitter.
The Tiger and the Wolf is out now from TOR.
Thanks very much to Adrian for the interview, and to Jamie-Lee Nardone for setting it up.