Friday, 30 January 2015

Interview: Joshua Palmatier

Joshua Palmatier on a good hair day.
Today's author is Joshua Palmatier, author of The Throne of Amenkor series, as well as a whole lotta other good books. Josh was kind enough to sit still long enough for me to ask him a few questions.

1.      HWK: I remember reading “The Skewed Throne” and enjoying it.  Of all your novels, which one is your favourite and why?

JP:  Hmm . . . well, there something in each of them that I love, otherwise I wouldn’t have written them, but I think I’d have to say “The Skewed Throne” is my favorite.  This may be because it was the first novel that I managed to get published, so there’s a ton of high level emotion involved in the book just from that.  Getting that phone call from my agent saying DAW was interest in it, getting the contracts, seeing it for the first time on the shelf at Barnes & Noble—all of those things were new experiences and had a huge impact on me.  But I’d also say that it’s because of the main character, Varis.  I like Varis.  She’s tough, stronger than she thinks, and yet at the same time vulnerable and can be easily hurt.  She’s a survivor.  I like her practicality and perseverance and that no nonsense attitude.  She’s a good person, even though she’s done some terrible things.  I love all of my other main characters, too, of course, but she’s probably the most ruthless of them all.

2.       HWK: What is the greatest thing you have learned as an author?

JP:  Probably that the industry is rough and that, as Kate Elliott once told me, you have to persevere.  Persistence is the key.  There are going to be some highs, but there are also going to be lows, and no matter how great your book is, that doesn’t mean anything when it hits the market (or the agent or the editor).  There are so many factors that go into whether a book is a success or not (or gets sold or not) that you’re going to take some lumps occasionally and you just can’t let those lows get you down.  They will, of course—you’ll be depressed, think you’re a hack, that your writing sucks, etc—but that’s a normal reaction.  You have to pick yourself back up and keep writing.  You have to believe in your writing, that it SHOULD be out there, and that eventually it will be and that it will be recognized.  It’s all about persistence, not just in getting that first novel published, but afterwards as well.

3.       HWK: You have a PhD in Mathematics.  (My second daughter would love you, as that’s her favourite subject.)  Only the truly dedicated (or insane) pursue PhDs.  What do you love about mathematics?

JP:  Well, there’s the benefit that I can use it to get a day job and thus pay my bills, because the writing certainly doesn’t come close to doing that.  Yet.  But it’s more than that, of course.  I’ve always loved mathematics.  It just MAKES SENSE.  And early on, I realized that I was pretty damn good at explaining it to others so that it made sense to them.  So I decided, in sixth grade, that I’d be a math teacher.  (It wasn’t until eighth grade that I decided to be a writer.)  A little later, I decided I’d rather teach at the college level, which of course required the PhD.  There’s a simplicity and perfection about mathematics that I enjoy, a reason for everything, and once you see that, it becomes easy.  Getting people to see that simplicity is the problem.

4.       HWK: In life, what can’t you live without?

Chocolate.  HA!  But seriously, let’s see . . . No, it’s pretty much chocolate.

5.       HWK: If you can talk about it, what’s your next planned project?  Otherwise, what’s your latest project?

My current project is the sequel to SHATTERING THE LEY, called THREADING THE NEEDLE.  It continues the story set up in LEY, which revolves around a society that has tapped into the ley lines as a power source and has used it to build up large cities, the Wielders of the ley sowing towers in a single day, creating flying barges, etc.  Think London or New York City, but with everything being powered by the ley.  In LEY, the Baron controls the ley using his vicious Dogs as a military force and tight control of the Wielders themselves.  But of course there are those that want to break the Baron’s hold on this power, including the barons that control the surrounding cities.  LEY is all about how the Baron’s control is broken.

So THREADING THE NEEDLE picks up almost immediately after that, with the people of the city of Erenthrall that the Baron controlled picking up the pieces.  The Nexus that the Prime Wielders used to control and augment the power of the ley has shattered and various groups are now vying for the power and for the resources left over in the ruined city.  But the destruction of the Nexus has damaged the natural order of the ley, creating massive distortions that envelop entire cities, auroral lights that wreak havoc with reality wherever they appear, and seismic quakes brought on by the natural ley trying to reestablish itself.  In NEEDLE, we follow the main characters from LEY—Kara and Allan—as they attempt to keep their friends and family alive in this dangerous new world, while at the same time try to heal the ley . . . before it tears their world completely apart.

I’m writing the last few chapters of THREADING THE NEEDLE right now (I’m actually at the final big scene).  I’m hoping that I can get this revised and handed in so that it appears this year from DAW Books.  After that . . . hopefully I can start work on the third book in the series, REAPING THE AURORA.  Also in the works this year is another anthology project co-edited by Patricia Bray and myself called TEMPORALLY OUT OF ORDER, with stories about objects or gadgets that are acting “temporally” out of order, as opposed to temporarily.  I think the stories for this anthology are going to be loads of fun.

6.       HWK: Which of your novels would you want new fans to read first?

I’d like fans to start at the beginning, with the “Throne of Amenkor” trilogy—comprised of THE SKEWED THRONE, THE CRACKED THRONE, and THE VACANT THRONE—mostly because I’d rather people read the books in the order that they were written and appeared in print.  I’d like to think my writing has improved over time, and I’d hate to have someone read a later book, love it, then grab an earlier book and be disappointed with the writing.  But there’s another reason as well:  that trilogy is completed.  You can get all three books and read them BAM! BAM! BAM! Without a wait.  There’s a certain satisfaction in that kind of reading experience.  *grin*

7.       HWK: One final question where you can preach to your heart’s content:  If you could convince the world of one thing, what would it be?

JP:  To read more!  Not necessarily my books, but I don’t think people are reading as much as they should and I don’t think they realize how much it improves . . . well, pretty much everything about their lives.  And it’s not that they need to be reading “classics” or all of those “good” books suggested in English classes and whatnot.  They can read anything.  But I’m probably preaching to the choir here, so I’ll just leave it at that.  *grin*

Find Joshua on Goodreads, the Web, and his LiveJournal. Haven't read any of his books? You can get The Skewed Throne on Amazon, Kobo Books, and pretty much anywhere good books are sold.

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