I had the opportunity to sit down with author Kevin J. Anderson at Dragon*Con 2008 and we talked about some of his upcoming projects. In that interview, Mr. Anderson gave the folks at Fandomania a sneak peek at his upcoming, and now available, book Terra Incognita: Edge of the World. After reading it, I had some questions for him, and he was kind enough to oblige.
Kelly Melcher: You are well known for your work in science fiction; however, your new book Edge of the World is fantasy. Is it easy to make the transition between genres?
Kevin J. Anderson: I develop imaginary worlds in which to set my stories; I create the characters, the government, the cultures, the history, the politics and beliefs. That can be on a science fiction landscape or a fantasy landscape. Some of the ground rules are different between the genres, and I am much more familiar with working in a science fiction setting. However, the Terra Incognita books don’t have a hefty amount of magic and wizardry (it’s more a historical novel set in an imaginary world), though we do have strange creatures and sea serpents and mysterious unexplored lands.
KM: Could you give us a brief setup for Edge of the World?
KJA: It’s a fantasy world based on the late Middle Ages, the beginning of the Age of Discovery, sailing ships opening up unknown lands that are just blank spaces on the map. Two continents (like Europe and Arabia) joined by a narrow isthmus of land on which has been built a city considered holy by both. After years of conflict, the two opposing cultures and religions have signed a treaty to divide the world in half… but then tragedy strikes, the holy city burns, each side blames the other, and a bloody war begins. Sailing ships are dispatched to search for a lost, legendary land that may hold the key to their victory.
KM: What was the inspiration for not just this story but the trilogy?
KJA: This has been on my back burner for many years — sailing ships, sea monsters, the Crusades, the Age of Discovery, the search for Prester John. I wanted to do something fundamentally different from all the Lord of the Rings-based fantasy universes that seem so prevalent. This is a whole different milieu.
KM: Without trying to spoil anything TOO much, what do we have to look forward to with the rest of the series?
KJA: How about the discovery of the rest of the world? New unexplored lands, strange creatures and civilizations, and the underlying truth and myth at the basis of the conflicting beliefs.
KM: What is Roswell Six and how does it relate to the Terra Incognita Series?
KJA: For Terra Incognita, we’re doing a unique crossover project that (as far as I know) has never been done before in fiction and rock music. I have always believed that SF/F fans and progressive rock music fans share a great deal of interests. So, working with ProgRock Records, I have created a rock music CD companion to the novel, The Edge Of The World. I wrote all the lyrics with my wife, bestselling author Rebecca Moesta, for the 13 tracks on the CD, which adapt one storyline from the novel. I also wrote original connective text in the CD booklet, which has interior illustrations by multiple-Hugo-winning artist Bob Eggleton. The music itself was written by accomplished keyboardist Erik Norlander, and we’ve got performances from some of the greatest names in progressive rock — James LaBrie from Dream Theater, Michael Sadler from Saga, John Payne from Asia, Lana Lane, David Ragsdale from Kansas, Gary Wehrkamp from Shadow Gallery, Chris Brown from Ghost Circus, and others. Listen to sample tracks at www.myspace.com/roswellsix.
KM: In the future, do you see yourself primarily focusing on fantasy or science fiction, or both?
KJA: I am most captivated by the story and the idea, not the specific genre. I’m better known for my science fiction work, but the fantasy let me stretch my creative muscles in a new direction. My next projects look to be set in science fiction universes, but that doesn’t mean I won’t be dipping back into fantasy.
KM: Because inquiring minds want to know, what do you and Brian Herbert have in store next for Dune fans?
KJA: Brian and I are deep in the initial writing of our new SF series, Hellhole — colonization on a rugged planet barely recovering from a recent catastrophic asteroid strike… an exiled rebel general, complicated galactic politics and the remnants of an alien civilization destroyed in the impact. There will be three Hellhole books, and Brian and I will alternate new Dune novels. The Winds Of Dune comes out in early August, the direct sequel to Dune Messiah and a followup to last year’s Paul Of Dune. Our next Dune novel (in 2011) will be The Throne Of Dune, which completes the story after Winds.
KM: What other projects can we expect in the near future and can you give any details yet? I’ve seen the title Hellhole come up on your twitter account.
KJA: I should also mention my novel Enemies & Allies, the first meeting of Batman and Superman set in the 1950s, just came out from Morrow. Right now, I’m finishing the final edit on The Map Of All Things, the second Terra Incognita novel, and just finishing the first draft of Hellhole. Before the end of the year I’ll be starting the final Terra Incognita book, and I have a few other proposals out for new projects, while Brian and I still have two more Dune novels and the Hellhole trilogy under contract. I will probably be editing a followup to last year’s bestselling humorous horror anthology, Blood Lite. And we’re starting to work on a second Roswell Six rock CD. So, yes, plenty to look forward to.
KM: How can fans best interact with you and keep up to date on your new projects and what you have coming out next?