This interview was conducted and written by staff writer, Michael Worthan.
Every now and then I get to meet someone I am a massive fan of and who shatters my expectations of how they will be. I have been following Brent Weeks since the Night Angel series came out and it is one of the better reading choices I have made in my life. Getting to interview him has always been a great experience and he is open and honest about his feelings, and has taken time out a number of times to speak to me on the different sites I have been a part of. It is now my genuine honor to have him on my website, one I own outright. So check out the interview below, buy his book HERE and visit his site HERE.
How did the Lightbringer books go from trilogy to series?
Funny story. I had always sort of thought that this was going to be a significantly bigger story than the Night Angel Trilogy was. But I had originally pitched it to Orbit as a trilogy. However, as soon as I sent off the completed manuscript of the first book, The Black Prism, I sent an email to my editor, saying, “Yeah, this isn’t going to be three books.” Unfortunately, the memo never made it to the UK, so some UK readers got a book labeled “The Lightbringer Trilogy”, where the US has always seen “Series” on the title. As for it being five books instead of four, I had thought that I could squeeze all the awesome action that I’ve had planned into just four volumes. But when I started doing that, I realized the series would lose a lot of depth of feeling and resonance if I forced it into four books. So with many apologies, I changed it to five — so far fans have been really happy.
Within your books you’ve always been descriptive, but in this series you make race, eye color, and marks on characters’ bodies very important as it pertains to their magical abilities. Was that a difficult task to keep track of?
Actually, I’d quibble with calling my writing descriptive. I’ve never been the kind of writer who is going to tell you about all the sequins on a dress, or every detail of a feast, or belabor a landscape for half a page, much less two or three. What I do instead is describe the character traits that are important to the characters themselves, and thus have an impact on the plot and their decisions. Is that hard to keep track of? Yes, absolutely. In fact, I often pepper my assistant with questions: What was this guy’s hair color again? Were they cousins? Who were their parents? And so forth. Once you get in the neighborhood of a million words, it’s probably impossible to keep track of all the history and lore by yourself.
Although your book is full of strong men, you have also developed very strong women. From Karris, to Teia, and especially in Book 4 we see Tisis grow. How important was it for you to see these characters develop and not just become stagnant?
It’s important to me that every character comes across as honest and vibrant. And I think the very best characters are capable of growth and change, albeit not always in a positive direction. And sometimes our world and our choices can change us positively and negatively at the exact same time.
As someone who grew up with many strong women in his life I see these characters and relate to the reactions others have to them, what inspired them for you?
I’ve known strong women, and I’ve known weak women; I’ve known strong men, and I’ve known weak men. I don’t see the problems of writing female characters as unique problems, I see them as another iteration of the same problem: how can I write a character that feels real, and is deeply interesting, whether I like them or not? Certainly it takes some special labors to get characters right if they are very dissimilar to me. But I refer back to Dorothy Sayers, who snarkily titled an essay she wrote, “Are Women Human?” Women are human first. Does gender matter? Does how society treats you matter? Absolutely. But let’s not miss the forest for the trees.
There is always talk about making books movies. We’ve seen the good and the bad when these come down the pike. Has there been any talk about making either the Night Angel Trilogy or the Lightbringer Series a show or movie? What fears do you have about doing something like that?
Mostly I fear just getting sidetracked. A lot of writers, I think, see getting a movie made as their ticket to being socially relevant and wealthy. So they spend a lot of time reaching for that and getting excited when some random producer from Hollywood sends an email. Sure, it’s exciting to get an email from a random producer. But what I do is write the best books I’m capable of. So for the time being, I am holding on to my movie rights, and I’ve said no to everybody who’s come and asked. If Steven Spielberg or Peter Jackson came knocking at my door, I would certainly let them in. But I’m also perfectly content to never make a movie deal. I’m already doing what I love.
Now that we have book four, and even though you are just now going on a book tour, what can fans expect next from you?
I’ve already started writing Book 5. I’ll be saying no to side projects and working on that. That will probably be the next thing fans see from me. No promises about when that will be published. I’ll point out that I have written a book every two years for the last 14 years now.
Last question: As a fellow facial hair aficionado I must say nice beard. What care products do you use?
Haha! I use some beard oils. I’ve tried a few, but I like one from Cliff Original, and a beard soap from the same. I have to keep my cheeks shaven on my daughters’ and wife’s request/demand, so I also use the Cliff Original shave butter, which is a total indulgence because it’s way too expensive. So I’ll sort of ricochet back and forth between dollar store shave cream and that. Thanks for having me on, I can’t believe we talked beard care!