This year, the Boskone Blog is hosting a special interview series during the month of September that features each of Boskone 53’s guests. We thought it would be a fun way to introduce our guests to you and to start the fun a little earlier than usual. You can also visit the Boskone 53 website anytime to purchase your Boskone membership at the pre-convention rate (and save some money).
To kick off the Boskone Guest Interview Series, we bring you Boskone 53’s Guest of Honor: Garth Nix. We are delighted to have Garth with us at Boskone this year. For those of you who haven’t yet had the chance to read his work, you are in for a treat. We hope you enjoy this interview, and we look forward to seeing you all at Boskone in February 2016!
Bio: Garth Nix was born in 1963 in Melbourne, Australia. A full-time writer since 2001, he has worked as a literary agent, marketing consultant, book editor, book publicist, book sales representative, bookseller, and part-time soldier in the Australian Army Reserve. Garth’s books include the award-winning fantasy novels Sabriel, Lirael, and Abhorsen; Clariel, a prequel in the Abhorsen series; the cult favorite teen science fiction novel Shade’s Children; and his critically acclaimed collection of short stories, To Hold the Bridge. His fantasy novels for younger readers include The Ragwitch, the six books of the Seventh Tower sequence, the Keys to the Kingdom series, and A Confusion of Princes. His books have appeared on the bestseller lists of the New York Times, Publishers Weekly, the Guardian, and the Australian, and his work has been translated in forty languages. He lives in Sydney, Australia, with his wife and two children. For more information, visit Garth’s website, friend him on Facebook, and follow him on Twitter.
If you could read any book right now, what book would it be and why?
Right now, I am reading old books, filling in gaps. For example, I’d never read any Anthony Trollope, so I read most of his books last year. So right now I would like to discover a writer I’ve never heard about before, perhaps from the late 19th or early 20th century, who has half a dozen books I can wallow in for a while. I read very widely, so it wouldn’t have to be genre. It could be non-fiction too, since I often go on a non-fiction reading spree for a while.
You have worked in nearly ever facet of the publishing industry. How has that experience affected your career as a writer?
It has helped me greatly, because understanding how the book business works makes it somewhat more possible to get the most out of opportunities and to work more effectively with key partners: my agents, publishers and booksellers. It also helps me put both successes and failures into an overall perspective and move on from them, which is necessary for continuing to concentrate on the writing.
Many of your books are written for Middle Grade or Young Adult readers. What do you enjoy most about writing within these genres and for these readers?
I think there is a distinct difference between children’s books and Young Adult books, the former are for children (but the good ones will also have a lot to offer adults), the latter are not for children but are for adults beginning with younger ones, but are not limited by the age of the adult.
They offer different attractions as both a reader and writer. I guess I like children’s stories partly because of the purity of story, and the necessity to keep the prose sparse without necessarily sacrificing beauty. I probably like Young Adult fiction because it typically concerns a young adult and their first adult experiences, choices and consequences. But I tend not to analyze the category of what I write, I make up stories and somewhere along the way it becomes clear how they can most effectively be sold. This is not the same as who they are for, because in my mind, all my stories are for everyone once they are mature enough to safely comprehend the particular content, themes, action and so forth. This may be an intellectual/emotional age of four or fifteen or anywhere in between, depending on the story, with no upper limit.
In all of your books and stories, do you have a favorite character? Or a character who has stuck with you after the story was published? What is it about this character that has made him/her so compelling for you?
I don’t have favorite characters as a rule. I like them all, or at least all the ones that end up in the final manuscript. I have cut out characters that while being perfectly personable and interesting, haven’t added to the story or worse, have actively distracted from the story. I guess I am much more focused on the overall story than I am by character. The characters have a story purpose and to fulfill that purpose, must seem as real as I can make them, but I tend not to think about them once the writing is done. Until I need them again, of course, for a sequel or related story!
What are you working on now?
I’ve just finished a completely unexpected and unnecessary (in the sense no one is waiting for it) children’s novel, with a title that must remain secret for now. But I am also working on the next novel in the Old Kingdom series, which picks up pretty much from the end of Abhorsen and the novella ‘The Creature in the Case’. It has a secret title too, and is simply known as Old Kingdom #5. And, as always, I am noodling about with some short fiction and a screenplay or two.
Is there a particular book/story/piece of artwork that started you on the path of your career? (Valerie Alberti)
Not one in particular, but I would say that many books and artworks had a huge influence, particularly the ones I read between the ages of say seven and sixteen. A forensic literary detective (if there was such a thing) would find many very important influences in my work, including but by no means limited to Tolkien, Le Guin, Andre Norton, Robert Heinlein, Joan Aiken, Susan Cooper, Lloyd Alexander, Alan Garner, C.S. Lewis, Dorothy Sayers, John Masefield, Rosemary Sutcliff, E. Nesbit, Dickens, Asimov, Ronald Welch, Georgette Heyer, Joy Chant, Robin McKinley, Peter Dickinson, Sheri S. Tepper, Barbara Leonie Picard, J.P. Martin, Roald Dahl . . .
What are your comfort reads? (Daniel Pelletier)
All of the above! Plus many more. I like to re-read favorite books. The good ones have many layers of meaning and can offer new things as well as the comfort of the old, because as a reader I will have changed (though perhaps only a little) between readings.
Special thanks to Garth Nix for taking the time to help us kick off the Boskone Guest Interview Series. Stay tuned for our next guest interview and be sure to visit the convention’s website to learn more about Boskone 53.