Monday, March 16, 2015

The best advice Game Of Thrones author George RR Martin gave Joe Abercrombie

I was lucky enough to interview Joe Abercrombie for The Sunday Telegraph while he was touring Australia. The truncated interview appeared on March 15. Here's the full version:

Never become famous. It's one piece of advice British fantasy author Joe Abercrombie hopes to live by.
It's one thing that Game Of Thrones author George RR Martin told him although Abercrombie, whose works combine plenty of violence, sex and moral ambiguity, may have to put that to the test if, as rumoured, his books are turned into the "next" Game Of Thrones TV series.
"I think (fame) would be lovely when you haven't experienced it," Abercrombie, who was out in Australia to promote his latest book Half The World, said.
"But it can't go back in the box. George Martin told me, never become famous, never become recognisable. It's done great things for him and his series but he does regret it. He has reporters camping out the front of his house."
So how is Abercrombie going on the fame scale?
"The paparazzi run me over in their rush to get to the real celebrities," he said.
"Being recognised is extremely rare. It has happened but it is very rare and is often quite random, which is one of the nice things about being a writer. You can still go about your routine." 
He is realistic about the jump to television, which has catapulted Game Of Thrones into the consciousness.
"There is some nibbling going on but if I had signed up, I'd have to say 'no comment'," he said.
"So maybe I should say no comment!
"It all moves with incredibly wintry slowness and anything could fall apart at any moment."
Strangely for an author who made his name with ultra-violent, non-heroic fantasy books with lashings of sex, his latest series is aimed at teenagers.
"I think I did it to avoid boredom," he said.
"It seemed like a good opportunity to expand to a slightly different audience. It was quite liberating to write something without the encumbrance of my previous books."
How did his existing fans react to the change of pace.
"Generally very good, although there have been a few malcontents. Some people were surprised, most pleasantly surprised but it's not so much different in terms of its edge and moral ambiguity."
And for those younger readers who decide to pick up his MA-rated earlier works? At age 13, Abercrombie said he was reading "everything" and although he admits hearing that children aged as young as 10 have read his adult books is a "little surprising", he hopes young adults  will appreciate reading something that isn't "morally simple".
"I've never talked down to readers. Young adults are young but adult and the last thing they want is to be spoon-fed shiny, optimistic stuff."
Abercrombie was touring around Australia and is heartened by how well some bookstores are doing, in contrast to the UK.
"It makes you feel sad," he said.
"But a business model that doesn't work can't be sustained.
"I fear that people of my kids' generation will not get the experience of wandering into an Aladdin's Cave of books and enjoying that sense of community with a bookseller.
"But I'm not sure what to do to reverse it. The pricing genie is out of the bottle."

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