There's little dispute that Guy Gavriel Kay has crafted some of the most innovative and challenging fantasy books over the past 15 years. He has created both high fantasy with his trilogy The Fionavar Sequence (consisting of The Summer Tree, The Wandering Fire, and The Darkest Road) and recreated periods of our own history in books that cross the ages from Byzantium to Medieval France.
His most recent book, Ysabel, sees him working in the same geographical area of France - Provence - as a previous book, A Song For Arbonne, but on this occasion he has set the action in the present. After reading Ysabel I was reminded of how much I appreciated the works of Mr. Kay and set out to see if I could interview him.
Fortunately I was able to catch him before he hit the road for his publicity tour for Ysabel, and he very kindly agreed to answer questions via email. The only edits I've done involve required HTML code, but aside from that, these are his words completely unadulterated.
We decided to make the focus of the interview primarily his work, but if you are interested in finding our more about him, including the fact that he helped Christopher Tolkien edit his father's papers and spent a year working on The Silmarillion, I suggest you check out the biography page at the Brightweavings web site. There you will find more then enough information to satisfy your deepest curiosity about his personal life.
Without further ado I turn you over to Guy Gavriel Kay.
1) I'd like to ask about some of your earlier work to start with, beginning with the three books of that make up The Fionavar Sequence, The Summer Tree, The Wandering Fire, and The Darkest Road. There are some obvious cultural influences that show up in the books, Celtic, as well as Moorish, and even some Native American, but what possessed you, or I guess to be polite, what was your inspiration, to attempt such a mammoth undertaking? Did it one day just pop into your head: "Oi this sounds like a good idea, think I'll give it a go?" Or was there a little more to it than that?
I was actually intimidated and anxious about the scale of what I wanted to do. It is harder today, when multi-multi-volume fantasies are so ‘normal’, to go back to a time when a young writer insisting that he receive a three-book contract was … alarmingly uppity.