Ray Feist has begun a new series! ‘King of Ashes’ makes a triumphant return for one of the world’s most loved sci-fi writers. But it is a different read for fans used to the style of novels such as ‘Magician.’
Buzz Mag caught up with Ray Feist in San Diego prior to an extensive Australian and South African tour.
At 72 years of age Raymond Feist comes from a family of Hollywood Royalty. His mother was a Big Band singer in World War 2, his father (Felix Feist) was a respected and well known director, many of the Stars of the 50’s including Kirk Douglas, Joan Crawford, Nancy Reagan, Lee J. Cobb, Robert Taylor and many a party was held and many a movie plot sold and discussed in the Feist home.
In the Feist household young Ray grew up in a world where story telling was held in really high regard. “I read all the time, my father read all the time. We had some great discussions. I grew up around writers. I used to sit in the living room and listen to my father and his buddies yack about stuff.”
“One of the “guys” arguing in the Feist living room was Gene Coon, is well known by sci-fi fans as the writer who created Khan, in the Star Trek series.”He and my father would argue about stuff for ages. My father knew some great writers F. Scott Fitzgerald, Dorothy Parker. For me being a writer was normal, it wasn’t a weird thing. I was brought up to believe I could write and there was no doubt in my mind I wouldn’t be making a living out of writing.”
In fact the ‘Empire’ Series had its origins in a Lawrence Durrell’s four books “Alexandria Quartet,” a series suggested to the young Ray by his father Felix.
“Under such illustrious circumstances is was perhaps inevitable that the young Raymond Feist would grow up to be one of the giants of the Fantasy World.
“I would have argued with you about that till I was in my mid thirties,” he admonishes. ‘It never crossed my mind that one day I would be a novelist. Yet here we are!”
Are you a bit like your father or would they be “fighting words?”
“Actually not. My father and I are very different personalities. The one thing we have in common is that my father loved to tell stories. But when it came to telling about his own life, he was very close to the chest. When he was around he would tell me these great stories, but never about himself.
“I remember my father saying to me once ‘If you’re not writing action, you’re writing talking heads, if you’re writing talking heads, they had better be saying something important.” It’s something that has guided me through my entire life.’
“King of Ashes” was interesting to me because for the first time, there was no hint of mythical creatures until half way through the book. I was wondering how limited some of the creatures are going to be in future novels.
“I wanted a very different world to Midkemia, Garn is a very different world. It has a few ‘fantastic creatures,’ but that is not a focus. In Midkemia, everyone knows someone who has had a run in with the Gods, in Garn there are people of faith who believe in divine power, magic here will be very, very different. The difference will be that only women can manipulate magic, there are males who are repositories of power, but you’re not going to see thunderbolts, alien planets, magic will continue to be subtle for the most part.
“King of Ashes” actually follows a different writing style. I was used to the classic one liners opening a chapter. Not to see here.
‘That was actually one of my editors,’ explains Ray. “He hated those one liners. I was halfway through ‘Magician’ before I realized I had turned it into a pattern. It’s a different way of communicating to the reader, this is a different narrative. It’s a bit more dull, it’s a bit more timely. I think I wave evolved a bit as a writer, but the readers have really evolved in almost forty years,
“With this book we start with Hatushaly which is a lot of man against himself, With his other main character Declan it’s man against man, and we twist that, there will be conflict. Declan and Hatushaly are very different potentially and they have different skill sets. In the course of the series there will be some serious changes. Hatushaly is a character in turmoil from childhood, Declan on the other hand has two feet in the ground, life is pretty ideal, but of course I am not going to let that hang around for too long. Characters have to change otherwise it is a really boring narrative.”
I thought that Hatu and Declan would meet up at the end of Book 1?
“Oh their paths will cross many times before the series concludes,” admits Ray.
“Most of Hatu’s problems are internal while most of Declan’s problems are external. I am going to put them through a lot.”
‘Then there’s Hava, who is taking over the book despite what I thought I was going to do. She keeps insisting on a bigger role, the next book in the series is “Queen of Storms,” and she is a major, major character! They all get back together in the third book which I hope is a satisfying dramatic climax.
I wondered about Dante, last seen as a slave to the evil supernatural ‘Sisters of the Deep.’
“He is going to be interesting,” explains Ray. “A real wildcard!”
People will be saying “What? How can you do that to them?” The first books lays down some characters that come into their own later on. ‘The Church Of The One’ will play a much bigger role as will those mysterious protectors, seen meeting in the dim recesses of the church by Hatu.
“I am trying to get a story going here on multiple levels. I am trying to get characters whose behaviour is understandable, in the context of basic human behaviour. The consequences of what happens when you have people with impulse control over real power. It’s a pretty timely story in America right now.
I was thankful that this series doesn’t hold too much in the way of “horrific,” but Ray tells me otherwise.
“In terms of the Supernatural stuff, yes, but in terms of horrific human behaviour I won’t be holding back. That’s the thing about drama. All drama is conflict.”
Feist explains hat this series will be different to the past series. “It is at the tale end of magic, the tale end of the the supernatural, which is slowly going away.”
Finally I wanted to know why we hadn’t seen Peter Jackson directing a version of “”The Magician?”
“He is very busy, explains Ray, “Besides he’s not the only talented person in the business. I get this question all the time “When are the going to make a movie. My answer is when I get the right film! I have made some serious money for “Fairytale” and “Magician.” I don’t really take the deal seriously until the production company says “We’re going public!”
“I had a deal with Columbia Pictures years ago for ‘Fairytale.”
‘I don’t want to name names, it didn’t happen. But I have made serious money on movies and television shows that have never been shot. I’ve had Producers come to me and say “I want to do a film about “Magician” or “Daughter of Empire,” you don’t get that for free. You get a year or eighteen months and you’re going to pay me a decent five figures to get that option. You get a year to put together your production, get a director attached stars, serious money. After a year we get together and if it hasn’t progressed I get the option back and I keep the money! That’s been going on since 1991!
I used to hang out with a guy that rote “Lucifer’s Hammer” and he would say to me “I hope we never make the movie, I’ve had six options on this book!”
I suggested it was pure Hollywood and Ray laughed. I suggested that maybe we make a movie about him. They might provide some more options. Ray laughed louder. “I doubt that.”
I doubted that!