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Thursday, November 16, 2017

Finding 'balance' for characters and themes

I want readers turning pages until three o'clock in the morning. I want the themes of books to stick around for a reader. I'm always trying to find a way to balance characters and theme.” – Guy Gavriel Kay

Canadian writer Guy Gavriel Kay, born in November 1954, has had a knack for creating what is commonly known as “page turner” books, writing historical fantasy fiction with a flair that has distinguished his writing over several decades. He cut his teeth on fantasy writing by traveling to Oxford to assist Christopher Tolkien, son of J.R.R. Tolkien, editing J.R.R.’s unpublished work The Silmarillion.  With that experience as inspiration he began his own career with the 1984 book The Summer Tree. 

Many of his novels are set in fictional realms that resemble real places during real historical periods, such as Constantinople during the reign of Justinian I, or Spain during the time of El Cid.                  He has authored a dozen best-selling novels, now translated into some 25 languages, most recently focused on Middle Ages China, although his settings and lead characters have come from almost every era.

Not afraid to mix eras and genres, he has won multiple awards, including The World Fantasy Award for the book Ysabel, set in modern day France but bringing his teenage lead into direct contact with characters from both the distant past and another “parallel” world to ours.    “I have always argued,” he said, “(that) in a good novel, interesting things happen to interesting people, no matter who they are or where they are from.”

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