6 April 2011

Waking the Dragon Within

Part one of a two part interview with Tracy Hickman, author of Embers of Atlantis


The release of the much anticipated Embers of Atlantis is expected late this summer. But for eager fans, waiting any length of time can seem merciless. Luckily, New York Times bestselling author Tracy Hickman agreed to sate your appetite with a two-part interview, communicating some of his thoughts on the upcoming book!

In Embers of Atlantis, the first novel based in the acclaimed Fireborn roleplaying game setting, powerful scions walk the streets of modern London, oblivious to their true nature. Unknowingly, they carry within them the spirits of reincarnated dragons from an age of myth. As magic begins to emerge once more in the 21st century, long-dormant memories begin to flood the minds of these scions, reminding them of their mystical heritage.

Fusing the Modern World with Fantasy

FFG: What is your favorite part of the Fireborn world? TH: My favorite part of the Fireborn world is the fusion of the modern, recognizable world with the worlds of classic, epic fantasy. How would vampires integrate into London’s North End? Are there gremlins at Heathrow? Setting these fantastical elements in familiar places has been invigorating.

FFG: Who would you say your favorite character is in the Fireborn world? TH: My favorite character from the Fireborn world would undoubtedly be Joe, the leader of the Velvet Underground. I was able to expand his character to a certain extent in the book and this was a personal delight for me. In the book, we get to examine the monster known as the “vampire,” and we even get to make fun of the mistaken stereotype of the monster as a redeemable romantic figure. Monsters are not redeemable - they just like their prey to believe they are.

FFG: What part of Embers of Atlantis was the most exciting to write? TH: I have to admit that it was the sections that take place in Normandy, France. I visited Caen and the Normandy beachheads with my family several years ago. Also, being something of an amateur World War II buff since I was a teenager, bringing zombie Nazis back from the dead to refight the Normandy battles was a special treat for me. Rommel even makes a significant guest appearance.

Then, too, the climax of the book takes place at Mont Saint Michel - an especially magical place that was once thought to be a reflection of the Atlantis myths. I have special memories of touring that magical place and it was wonderful to draw on those memories when I wrote the climax of the book.

FFG: Who do you find your writing style to be inspired by? TH: It is important to choose the right book to read while you’re writing a book because that book colors what you write. So I am always careful of what I am reading while I’m writing. But I would have to say that my own style is most influenced by two very different sources: Stephen King and Stephen Leacock.

The first I’m sure you’ve heard of but the second is actually my favorite author. He was a Canadian Lecturer and Economics Professor around the 1900s. His works, Sunshine Sketches of a Little Town and Arcadian Adventures among the Idle Rich, are wonderful, and his Nonsense Novels, a writer’s delight. I recommend looking him up.

FFG: What advice do you have for aspiring writers? TH: People want to know the secret to writing a bestseller...that silver bullet or golden key that successful authors keep hidden from the world. The truth is that there is no such elixir, no hidden key, no secret incantation that will bring a writer success. What is true is that it takes hard work, devotion to the craft and a level of talent to make it happen. My wife, Laura, and I help aspiring writers explore the craft in our online writing seminars at www.scribesforge.com, emphasizing that discipline and talent must be added by the writer.

FFG: Finally, which of our games do you like playing the most, if any? TH: I’ve long admired Fantasy Flight Games. I used to play War of the Ring with my son, Jarod, prior to his becoming a missionary for our church. He will be returning this summer and I look forward to playing it again with him. I also enjoy playing Arkham Horror with my daughter, Tasha. Tannhäuser remains a favorite, as well, and my entire family plays Talisman. Right now the game that has my attention is Dust Tactics...fun, fast and with beautiful game pieces.

Don’t let your mind stay dormant! The second part of the interview with Tracy Hickman, author of Embers of Atlantis, is forthcoming. Watch for it in the coming weeks.

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