Joe Abercrombie on Diamond Toilet Seats, PS3, and The Heroes

Today I’d like to welcome Joe Abercrombie to Fantasy Literature. Joe is the author of The First Law Trilogy (The Blade Itself, Before They are Hanged, and The Last Argument of Kings) and the stand alone work Best Served Cold. His next book is titled The Heroes and is set to release the first quarter of 2011. All of his work has been popular and highly regarded, especially here at FanLit. I was excited to get the opportunity to talk with Joe about himself and his work. Pyr Books has also agreed to give away a full set of The First Law Trilogy to two lucky Fanlit commenters! So be sure to leave a comment for your chance to win.

Justin: Thanks for stopping by, Joe. It’s an honor to have you with us. Let’s get started… We’re interested in your “getting published” story. Will you tell us about your experiences in getting The Blade Itself published?

Joe: Once I’d finished a draft of The Blade Itself that I was happy with I set about trying to get it published in the usual fashion – sending a letter and 50 sample pages to agents specializing in sf&f. Spent about a year collecting photocopied rejections. Then a friend of mine who knew I was doing it and worked for an educational publisher found himself on a desk editing course with Gillian Redfearn, who had just then started as an editor at Gollancz. He persuaded her to have a look at it, she liked it, asked to see the rest, and I got an offer a week later. I was pretty thrilled, as you can imagine, but things move slowly in publishing (after the initial interest), and the first book didn’t actually come out until over a year later, by which point I think I was already starting on the third book.

Joe Abercrombie'sToilet

Joe Abercrombie’s Toilet

Justin: So the “read my friend’s manuscript actually worked?… nice! What’s the biggest adjustment you’ve had to make since becoming a full-time writer, besides the additional garage for your new Ferrari collection, and the boarding house for your mistresses?

Joe: The toilet seat carved from a single enormous diamond is cold when you first sit down on it. But it soon warms up. In all honesty it’s been a slow and steady shift from a not very serious hobby, to a serious hobby, to getting a contract and obviously taking it more seriously, to it being a part-time job, to it being a full-time job, over the course of about six or seven years. So in a sense I’ve been adjusting steadily the whole time, and I still am.

Justin: Do you have a certain ritual before getting into the writing frame-of-mind? Like Yoga, blood sacrifice, or just some quiet alone time?

Joe: Not really. I have two little girls these days, so there’s no time for rituals outside of the endless round of feeding, playing, putting to bed. Oh, I do have a desk that’s on motorised legs, though, so that I can sit or stand at it. I usually sit to do revision and e-mail, then stand for the actual nitty-gritty of the writing. So maybe motoring it into the standing position would count…

Justin: I need one of those in my cube at work. Being able to adjust the height for proper napping would be great. Anyway… I’m super pumped about the next book! How far along is The Heroes?

Joe: I’ve just finished the first draft of the fourth part of five, and it feels like it’s coming together pretty well. There’ll be a fair bit of editing and revision to do, as there always is, but the current release date of February 2011 looks good still.

Justin: Very nice, it’s always a wonderful to see a talented and prolific writer. Those two things don’t have to be mutually exclusive. I know you try to do something a little different from book to book. What’s The Heroes going to bring to the table that will set it apart from the rest your work?

Joe: Well, in some ways it will be pretty similar. It features quite a few characters from The First Law, and I’d like to think it has a similar mixture of awful yet lovable characters, bladder-loosening humour and bowel-loosening action. But this time around it’s very focused in terms of time and place – the book covers the events of a single battle, so the vast majority of it happens in one valley over the course of three days. It follows six characters on both sides and at different levels of command, and their paths converge and cross in various surprising, hilarious, and horrible ways. So it’s an attempt to do a classic war story in a fantasy setting, really – A Bridge Too Far meets Lord of the Rings – and get across a sense of the epic scale of a great battle while still telling some human stories within it.

Justin: Speaking of Lord of the Rings, has anyone approached you about translating one of your books to other media, like film, or television, or even a graphic novel type of thing?

Joe: A couple of people have approached about one thing or another, but inquiries are many and results are few. I’m not holding my breath.

Justin: John Malkovich as Bayaz… what do you think?

Joe: I can see that. Perhaps he’s a little too overtly clever and sinister though? Might you want someone who comes across a bit more like your bluff but pleasant uncle? Who looks like the friendly local butcher you wouldn’t want to cross. Then the dark side might be a bit more surprising. Bob Hoskins, maybe? Wouldn’t have been my first choice either, but I once saw a photo of him, bald, with the beard, and he looked perfect.

Justin: Super Mario as Bayaz? I’ll have to do some serious google image searching now. I can only imagine the results I’m going to get from looking up “Bob Hoskins’ beard.” Speaking of strange, what’s the strangest thing you’ve gotten from a fan? I love asking this question! Seriously, I send you guys fans send you guys all kinds of strange things.

Joe: Can’t say I’ve received anything particularly strange. Now I’m disappointed. A couple have sent me pictures inspired by the books, of varying quality. But to be honest I’m always shocked and delighted when anyone reads the books and likes them. I need nothing more. Apart from the money, of course.

Justin: US fans feel sorely neglected by the lack of your presence. Any plans to change that for The Heroes?

Joe: I’m hoping to make it over to the US this year, probably the east coast in the fall, but it’s a long way from confirmed, and I wouldn’t want to jinx it. Can you imagine the public outcry if I offered dates and couldn’t arrive?

Justin: This is a little off topic, but I feel the need to ask, since I know you’re a gamer: so is it Xbox 360 or PS3? Personally I haven’t been able to stop playing Trials HD for the 360… I just can’t quit. Annoying friends keep beating my scores… it’s driving me crazy. What games have your attention at the moment?

Joe: I’ve got a PS3, not out of the spiritual conviction that some gamers seem to have, but just because a friend of mine has an Xbox so exclusive titles I tend to play with him. Plus I never really enjoyed the sense that there was a helicopter taking off in the corner of the room while playing. Recently very much enjoyed the old school roleplaying style of Dragon Age, and the newer school action one of Assassin’s Creed 2. At the moment I’m playing Bioshock 2, looking forward to the latest Final Fantasy and Red Dead Redemption later in the year. There have been a lot of excellent games about lately – feels as if the latest generation of consoles have finally come into their own. Probably just in time to be replaced by a new generation. You know, like with fantasy authors.

Justin: You have to watch those upstart fantasy authors, you know the type. They think they can make fantasy all dark and violent… the nerve of those guys! What If I’m currently not reading the latest from Joe Abercrombie, what else should I be reading? Any particular book that you think readers should pick up?

Joe: Older books by Joe Abercrombie? This may be disappointing, but I must confess to not reading a lot these days, and most of what I do read is non-fiction of one kind or another, particularly a lot of history. But I’m currently reading and very much enjoying George PelecanosThe Way Home. As far as sf&f goes I liked Finch a lot, Jeff Vandermeer’s latest.

Justin: I remember something you wrote once jokingly that someday you will have to explain to your children about the content of your books. Seriously, what are you going to tell them?

Joe: Within these covers you will find all you need to know about life.

Justin: Their therapy bills are going to be high… Next Question: Ok, You, Brent Weeks, Pat Rothfuss, and Sam Sykes are locked in a 4-way duel to death, who goes down first?

Joe: Have you seen the size of Sam Sykes? I would try and talk Rothfuss and Weeks into bringing the giant down together, then aim to mop up the survivors…

Justin: Any words of encouragement for aspiring fantasy writers?

The First Law

You know you want these!

Joe: And contribute to my own extinction? Never.

Justin: Thank you, Joe, for giving us some of your time. I enjoyed the interview a great deal. Best of luck on the future release, and I’m sure we’ll see you again soon!

FanLit readers, learn more about the author at Joe Abercrombie’s website. Be sure to leave a comment below for a chance to win one of two sets of the First Law Trilogy! Check back in a week’s time to see who won.


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JUSTIN BLAZIER retired from FanLit in September 2012 after entertaining us for 3 years. Like many fantasy enthusiasts, Justin cut his teeth on Tolkien. Due to lack of space, his small public library would often give him their donated SFF books. Justin lives in a small home near the river with his wife, their baby daughter, and Norman, a mildly smelly dog. He doesn't have much time for reviewing anymore, but he still shows up here occasionally to let us know how he feels about stuff.

View all posts by Justin Blazier

50 comments

  1. I found it interesting to hear from an author who doesn’t read other current books in his field.

  2. Great interview, Justin. I can’t wait for heroes.. Abercrombie is one of my favorites.

  3. I think the diamond toilet is tacky.

  4. I can’t wait for “Heroes” to be released!

  5. Interesting that he’s a gamer, and the games he mentioned were all great games. very cool!

  6. Mr. Abercrombie, is a new author to me, and the first law trilogy sounds really interesting, thanks for giving us the chance to win it.

    Bioshock2 is definitely a fun game :]

  7. Okay. I want one of those desks that you can stand or sit at! : ) Seriously, I work on my computer for most of the day and I have to remind myself to change positions, straighten my back, etc. or I have a killer backache/headache by the end of the day. I can only just imagine how helpful that desk would be. I could *really* change positions. :-))

    PS Just love the cover art. Even if you didn’t get much say, your designer made some lovely covers. ;-)

  8. Great interview! People have been telling me to read the First Law trilogy for a while now… and if my TBR pile ever becomes manageable, it will be one of the first series I’ll pick up.

  9. I enjoyed his sense of humor in the interview! The interview itself was a great read. I wonder how his humor plays out in his novels!

  10. In various sick, twisted and hilarious ways. I have never laughed so hard or cringed in horror so much as I do with an Abercrombie novel.

  11. definitely sick. I’ve read The First Law and have downloaded audio for Best Served Cold.
    Christa, I agree: I’ve got to get one of those desks!!!

  12. I must admit this would be a new author for me. I glanced and some reviews and am intrigued. I would love the opportunity to read these books.

  13. Great interview and a new author for me to check out.

  14. Thank you for this great interview! And oh my….what an AWESOME giveaway! Please please enter me, if it is international! This series sounds AMAZING!
    Thank you sooo much for this chance!
    Giada M.

    fabgiada @ gmail.com

  15. Anonymous /

    Pity the man isn’t serious about his writing !

    Anyone who has time to play is obviously not committed to his craft!.

    I have only read Best Served Cold so please tell me this giveaway is open worldwide ?

    Thanks

  16. Great interview and awesome giveaway. My brother and I devoured the first law trilogy and Best Served Cold. So hard to put down!

  17. Good interview. I’m looking forward to the Heroes.

  18. That man certainly has a wonderful sense of humour. Very nice interview, thanks for the fun read. The author’s website/blog appears to be lovely material just as well.

    Would love to join in the giveaway draw, as long as it’s available worldwide.

  19. Wow, Humorous Interview.

    Interesting about the Desk, I am work at home dad as well… Never thought about a desk I could stand up in. Genius. :thumb:

    Would love to enter in the competition if its available for ppl in Spain.

  20. Anonymous /

    “And contribute to my own extinction? Never.”

    Mr. Abercrombie is my new hero.

    I also found it interesting that he doesn’t read much fiction, currently. I find, when I’m in the middle of writing a book (which is all the time, now), that it’s hard to set aside my own characters and world and become involved in another world. I almost have to plan to read other fiction.

    Andrew
    peteandthedog.blogspot.com

  21. Would love to have the earlier books. Just finished Best Served Cold, which was terrific—bloody and funny.

  22. Great interview. Abercrombie seems to be a good guy.

  23. I am currently reading Before They Are Hanged. I really enjoy reading this trilogy. A fellow reader and I love reading and stopping at a designated point and discussing it. That is what we have done with this trilogy so far. I am waiting for her currently so we can discuss the half way point. But I have enjoyed the world created in these books.

    I think there is a chance of an anthology Joe may be working on a story for. I believe Joe posted about it on his blog. I am looking forward to that book too. :)

  24. I work in a bookstore and people always ask me,”whats a good book” (which for some reason baffles me.) my first pick is always without a doubt the First Law trilogy. Then they say, ” I dont know, im not really into fantasy” at this point I look around, to make sure no one is looking, and say (while my hand is around their throat) ” if you dont but these books right know, i swear to god, i will write a strongly worded letter to Joe and he wont be your friend anymore, he may also kill you, i’m not sure, take your pick.” they usually take the books at that point, running and screaming from the store, another satisfied customer. :evil:

  25. I am waaaaiting for Heroes!! Thanks so much for the contest!

  26. The first law has been on my list for a while, but just haven’t been able to pick up a copy yet. Maybe this is my lucky week!

  27. Several of my GoodReads friends have spoken highly of this trilogy. If this interview is anything to go by, I can see why!

  28. Abercrombie has become one of my favorite authors! And like all of you, I can’t wait to have my copy of The Heroes. :thumb:

  29. Great interview… loved the Sam Sykes comment!
    Somehow I managed to miss The First Law Trilogy, despite all the rave reviews. I now have some serious catching up to do, so winning the prize would help a lot :-)
    I was introduced to Joe at eastercon 2010 but, to my eternal shame, did not realise who he was :-( Maybe winning his books and reading them would help mitigate my ignorance!

  30. Great interview. I came across a website that stated Joe Abercrombie is one of the best, newly fantasy writers working today. I would say that Abercrombie is a fun guy and easy going guy.

  31. I have just begun into these boks, and now have a formidable man-crush on Mr. Abercrombie’s writing.
    Just amazing.

  32. Our lucky winners are…….Captain Laekira and Jen G.!

    Please contact Justin within 5 days after contest ends.
    http://www.fantasyliterature.com/contact-fanlit/

  33. Anonymous /

    Cool interview though the idea of writing while standing up seems strange.

  34. It is lovely to hear that some of the characters from The First Law will be reappearing for The eluded content of the book makes sense considering how BSC ended and I do look forward to the battle genius and brutality of the warring generals that I suspect shall be in action.

    If you do have a chance to come to the States, try and book a day or three on the West Coast too! San Francisco and Los Angeles have great writer scenes for all genres and also a well deserved reputation for top notch cuisine and accommodations :)

  35. Um . . . Excuse me, Username Joshua (and all you other newbies), I can appreciate your man crush on Britain’s finest (besting second-placed Paul Potts by a hefty margin). But don’t come up in here acting like this is your man when you’re new to the sex-icon that is Mr. Abercrombie. All right?

    If any such man was worthy of a diamond throne . . . Well, I let you, the reader, make an oh-so educated guess.

    And as for you, Mr. Eric Abraham, I think He-Who-Sits-on-a-Diamond-Throne would be pleased with the manner in which you promote his books — because he is a sadistic sucker. And whatever makes the Gore-Splattering One happy makes me, one of his devout followers, happy as well.

    Oh, and to anyone else who may be reading this, Joe only stands up “for the actual nitty-gritty of the writing” because he is capable of defying gravity. And it is that superhuman ability that is transposed into his works. And I don’t know about you, but when reading it and being aware of this, I am constantly overwhelmed by the sense of divinity. Divinity, which, as written in The Book of Joe, he came across and adopted, taking the power upon himself.

    -Glen L. Schroeder
    glschroeder89@gmail.com

  36. Joe is easily one of the best fantasy authors of this millenium (although i am sure he weill disagree with the ‘one of’-part :-))

    Cheers,
    KToff

  37. Glen, if he defies gravity, why does he need use a toilet at all? Doesn’t that cause some logistical problems?

  38. Kat, your point is one that is commonly brought up. The answer, of course, is that He partakes in human . . . activities, shall we say, in order to be more attuned to His human subjects, whom He created in his likeness. And thus, by first-hand experience, it is said, He never grows forgetful of humanity’s ways.

    -Glen L. Schroeder
    glschroeder89@gmail.com

  39. “So it’s an attempt to do a classic war story in a fantasy setting, really – A Bridge Too Far meets Lord of the Rings – and get across a sense of the epic scale of a great battle while still telling some human stories within it.”

    That book is pretty much doomed to get interesting atleast.

  40. Glen, sounds kind of shitty, if you ask me.

  41. Joe does not use said Diamond Toilet seat because he has to, he uses it simply because he can. No other reason is needed.

  42. Kat, I do apologize for our different views on theology. No hard feelings?

  43. Actually, Glen, I’m the one who Photoshopped Mr. Abercrombie onto the diamond toilet seat. I raised him up, and I can easily cast him back down. Watch how the mighty fall!
    So… who’s all-powerful, now? :butt:

  44. Has Anyone seen Jeff Bridges in Iron Man? He would make an awesome Bayaz with that beard and smile

  45. So, do we have a winner?

  46. 13or or 14 posts up the winners were announced, but for good measure I’ll mention them again.

    Our lucky winners are…….Captain Laekira and Jen G.!

  47. Congrats you guys

  48. Thanks Justin!

    :( I’ll win the next time… hopefully…

  49. Malan, Violette Martinside, Thomas K. May 3rd, 2010   4:52 pm   “So it’s an undertake inside the direction of perform a classic combat sinside the direction ofry inside a fantasy settinsideg, really – A Bridge Too Far meets Lord of the Rinsidegs – and get across a sense of the epic scale of a great battle while still tellinsideg some human sinside the direction ofries withinside it.

  50. Magnificent web site. Lots of helpful info here. I¡¦m sending it to several pals ans additionally sharing in delicious. And certainly, thanks to your sweat!

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