“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 Gavriel Kay, born on Nov. 7, 1954, has had a knack for creating those “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on fantasy writing by traveling to Oxford to assist Christopher Tolkien, son of J.R.R. Tolkien, with editing J.R.R.’s unpublished work The Silmarillion. With that experience as inspiration he began his own career with the book The Summer Tree.
Many of his 14 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. His 2019 book – A Brightness Long Ago – is set in Renaissance Italy (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 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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