Live Chat – Paul S. Kemp of the Forgotten Realms

On November 10th (2007) best selling author Paul S. Kemp joined us live for a chat in our chat room. Kemp has written several books perhaps most notable those featuring the adventures of his creation, Erevis Cale, in the Forgotten Realms setting. He also wrote an installment of the R.A. Salvatore presented War of the Spider Queen series, Resurrection, bringing it to a conclusion.

paul s kemp

We’d like to thank Mr. Kemp for his time. You can also check out an interview with Paul S. Kemp.

[Patrick] Okay, everything after my next post will be recorded

[Damon] Paul is there anything you can tell us about the 4th Edition yet? Anything about stories you are working on in that setting?

[Patrick] Hehe, nevermind, sart recording with that one, [:-{D]

[paulskemp] @Damon — I am working on a trilogy that builds on the characters and events of the Twilight War. It is set in the 4E Realms. But I can’t say much more about it or WotC will cut off my thumbs

[Patrick] Your most well known character is Erevis Cale. You currently have two triligies based on the character, do you plan on continuning his story or stopping after Shadowrealm?

[paulskemp] For the record, I’m excited about 4E FR on balance.

[LoneHeroDragon] How did you get chosen to write for Forgotten Realms?

[paulskemp] @Pat — Man, that’s hard to answer without some implicit spoilers for Shadowrealm. I intend to carry on the storyline from the Twilight War, but whether that will involve Cale, Riven, both or neither, is something I cannot yet speak to. Sorry to be so cryptic.

[Patrick] No worries. [:-{D}

[paulskemp] @LHD — I sent a sample chapter of a fantasy novel I’d written to WotC. It was a world of my own creation. They liked it, asked me to participate in a closed call for the Sembia series. Things took off from there.

[paulskemp] It’s been a wild ride, really. Lots of fun.

[Patrick] (From The Bodhisatva: Jay Tomio): Take me back. Sembia is announced , you are writing The Halls of Stormweather and you debut Erevis Cale. He in some form existed before , this is the concept you chose to kick off your career, to be your initial vehicle to explore the world. Where did Erevis come from before others read about him?

[Damon] Writing in a shared world, how much control do you have in the story? Is there any real limit you have come up against with something you wanted to do,but was too much of a world changing event?

[LoneHeroDragon] What type of world was that fantasy story set in?

[Starkilla] did you write before your first official book? how hard was the beginning?

[paulskemp] @Pat/Jay: In origin, I suppose he comes from my general fascination with the anti-hero. Moorcock’s Elric work represents my favorite works of fantasy. Movies and Television like Unforgiven, Payback, Homicide, and the like are the kinds of drama that intrigue and interest me. Cale originates in all of that. If you mean his more mundane origin — WotC said — here’s a butler to a wealthy lord. He gets things done. Make something of him. I just went the former assassin route. πŸ™‚

[paulskemp] @Damon — A lot, actually. It’s somewhat of a misapprehension that writing in the Realms is highly constraining. There are some limites, true, but I never seem to bump up against them (or I’m able to get my editor to move the goalposts a bit). i suspect writing in a more tightly scripted setting like Star Wars is a bit different

[paulskemp] @LHD — A more or less generic fantasy world. That novel is a trunk novel. There were some good chapters in it, but I was learning how to be a writer when I wrote it. It shows. Fortunately I sent WotC my best chapter (which, not surprisingly, came near the end).

[Patrick] Since you mentioned Elric. (Another Question for Jay Tomio): 2. In previous conversations you have expressed to me your admiration for Moorcock’s Elric character, and while I think it’s easy enough to see the Moorcockian influence applied in your work (and everyone elses for that matter) what I see instance of back and forth chumy, dialogue remind me of a S&S duo.

[paulskemp] @SK — What do you mean by “the beginning” exactly?

[Patrick] What can we all learn from Fritz Leiber?

[Starkilla] beginning to write

[paulskemp] @Pat — Well, I like to think that a reader could draw a straight line from Moorcock and Leiber (the king of SnS duos) and my work. I’m not comparing my work to theirs. Just saying that those two are, in my mind, the biggest influence and inspiration on my work.

[LoneHeroDragon] Are you given a compendium of realmslore for the area you’re supposed to write in when given a certain project?

[paulskemp] @Pat — the SnS can, all at the same time, be fun, fast paced, and still explore the human condition (which is the purpose of all writing, irrespective of genre)

[Damon] Here are two questions in one. Tell us a little about this story you released on the web for your readers. Do you feel that other authors look down at shared world writers?

[paulskemp] @SK — It was hard in the beginning, in that your “toolbox” as a writer is not as full as it will become later in your career. Early on, churning out 1,000 words at a stretch can be like pulling teeth. And those aren’t even a GOOD 1,000 words. Now, lots of things I used to have to think hard about come much more easily

[paulskemp] @LHD — Sometimes. We did with Sembia, but that’s because there was little extant lore about it at the time the series came out. usually, my editor just relies on me to do my own homework.

[paulskemp] @Damon — I posted a Lovecraftian tale, “One Thousand and One Words,” on my website for free download. It had been accepted to an anthology, but I was not overly happy with the contractual terms (too long of an exclusive period) so I opted to post it online isntead. I think it’s quite a strong tale. I’m very proud of it. 1,500 or so folks downloaded it. I’ve heard from many and they seemd to enjoy it. It also seemed to inspire some readers, who otherwise might not have looked at my work, to have a peek at my novels. Can’t beat that.

[LoneHeroDragon] What advice would you give to an aspiring writer that wants to someday write for Forgotten Realms?

[Damon] Well I can say Paul I know a bunch of us enjoyed it and appreciate the fact it was on your website

[Patrick] With you having a full-time career and then coming home to be a family man, when do you find time to write? And do you have any goals that you strive to reach monthly, weekly, or daily?

[paulskemp] @Damon — Many non-shared world writers look down on shared world writers. But then, many non-genre writers look down on genre writers. It’s just part of human nature to want whatever you’re doing to be superior in your own mind to what someone else is doing. I think it’s unfortunate, but so it goes. Sites like FBS, Graemes, the Gravel Pit, etc. are breaking through that by evaluating shared world works not as shared world works, but just as another fantasy novel, to stand or fall on its own. That’s a great thing.

[Damon] So can you tell us of any other projects you are working on outside of the Realms?

[paulskemp] LHD — Breakign into the Realms is going to be very tough right now and for the foreseeable future. I’d recommend getting some short fiction under your belt and maybe pitching to WotC non-shared world line (Discoveries). Thta’s a better place to break in. If you did that, you might be able to parlay it into some Realms work, at least in antjhologies. I think WotC may be trying to “brand” the line with a stable core of writers. That’s just my impression at this point.

[paulskemp] @Damon — I’m pleased to hear that.

[paulskemp] @Pat — I do try to hit goals every day. But I allow myself to just *think* about the writing somedays, too. Sometimes you just need to do that. not hit thekeys, but just think about character, plot, whatever. I write on lunch, evenings, weekends, whenever I can.

[Patrick] You have recently released some short stories, one in Sails & Sorcery: Tales of Nautical Fantasy and your four-bit story. Were they more difficult than writing a novel? And do you prefer one over the other?

[LoneHeroDragon] That makes sense. I had assumed that would be happening soon, what with all the new writers being snapped up. But the Realms is quite a big place. A man can hope.

[paulskemp] Short stories are a very different beast. I was thinking about it today. Short stories are about events, often ideas, and, at least in many cases, characterization is not the focus. In novels, however, characters are (IMO) by far the most imporrtant things. I can look back on short stories I’ve loved and it’s always the idea or event that stays with me. With novels I’ve loved, it’s always the characters. A writer who can do both well is a rare bird.

[Starkilla] are you maybe planning to make some stories into audio books? my impression is you could reach more “readers” maybe

[paulskemp] LHD — Definitely.

[Patrick] (From Jay Tomio): 4. The late Robert Jordan has always stated he knew exactly how his story would end. Does the story of Erevis have an end in your head?

[paulskemp] @SK: That’s really a question for WotC and Random House to answer. I think it’s possible at some point in the future, but in the near term, I don’t think they’ll be any audio books of Cale. At this point, I think only Bob Salvatore may get audio treatment among FR writers.

[Starkilla] i was more thinking about your short stories maybe… stories which are not tied to a publisher

[paulskemp] @Pat/Jay – It does. but I don’t want to say much more than that. πŸ™‚

[Patrick] Hehe, all right!

[Damon] written and read by Paul S Kemp πŸ™‚

[paulskemp] @SK — Perhaps. I’ve not seen too much in the way of audio short stories. I’ve contemplated podcasts of parts of the novels and may yet do that. I’m not all that savvy in things technical. πŸ™‚

[Patrick] (From Jay Tomio): You have expressed an interest in short fiction, both as a writer and reader. Can you recommend a collection we should all be familiar with?

[Damon] I am going to take that and run with it Paul, be prepared for an invite when our podcasts start next month πŸ™‚

[paulskemp] @Pat/Jay — I cheat and read all the year’s best. πŸ™‚ But if I had to pick a collection as opposed to an anthology, Gaiman is marvelous — Fragile Things, then. I’m reading a collection by Jay Lake at the moment, but think it only fair.

[paulskemp] @Damon — I’d be game for that. My editor would be good with it too, as we’ve discussed podcasts/audio recordings before. I just don’t have the know how.

[paulskemp] @Pat/Jay: I mean the various “Years Best” anthologies, if that wasn’t clear.

[Patrick] Okay, time to to start winding this lovely chat down. Let us have one more question from everybody.

[Damon] Paul either you missed my last question, answered it too many times on your blog, or just dont want to tell us just yet πŸ™‚ Do you see more short stories coming non realm based and anything else non realm based you are working on?

[paulskemp] @Damon — I did miss that. Sorry. I will be throwing out short stories from time to time, and expect to appear in an anthology or two in coming months. And I’m currently workign, side by side with my Realms work, on a fantasy/thriller/magic realism/cannot classify type novel. I’ve posted rough excerpts on teh blog from time to time.

[Patrick] Paul, I must say that this is looking great and I am extremely looking forward to its release

[paulskemp] Man, I’m the KING of Typos. Bow down, by Godd!

[Patrick] (Last one from Jay Tomio): Are you sick and tired of doing and I am reading interviews where people seem to have to ask you how you feel about and how restrained you might be by being a shared world author, instead of asking you an important question like how do you feel about Joe Girardi?

[Patrick] Haha, we all have had some tonight

[Damon] Wow Jay taking a stab at me and he isnt even here, wtf πŸ™‚

[Starkilla] ok my last question: there is much arioch in mask isn’t it? πŸ™‚

[paulskemp] @Jay — Ha! I feel bad for Donnie Ballgame. Girardi should be solid though. Does Lowell come over to third base now. That is the question.

[Patrick] If they do that, then that would leave third open in Boston for A-Rod!

[LoneHeroDragon] Have you ever read the work of David Eddings? If so, did it have any impact on your growth as a writer? (I know it may seem a bit presumptuous to to call up the work of a single writer, but I found his work immensely entertaining and inspirational for my own writing and I can’t imagine that I’m the only one.)

[paulskemp] SK — There is some, but I think of Mask as more low key Loki (say that to yourself and be amused). Some surprises re Mask coming in Shadowrealm

[paulskemp] LHD — I read Eddings a long time ago. I remember very little about it. I was not so much an epic fantasy reader (which is what Eddings writes) as a classic Sword and Sorcery reader.

[paulskemp] Pat — That is a dirty lie! πŸ™‚ I think A-Rod lands in Anaheim, if they find the bucks.

[Patrick] When at any bookstore, the first thing a potential reader sees is the cover art. How pleased are you with the covers of your books and how much of an influence do you think it has on the potential reader purchasing a book?

[Patrick] Anaheim has potential, and him and Vlad would be rival Manny and Ortiz as a one two punch, but I am counting on Sweet Lou to work his magic and get him to come to the Cubs.

[paulskemp] Pat — I’ve been very luck with every cover save the early Sembia covers, which everyone at WotC agrees did not fit the stories. The Twilight War covers, I think, are just extraordinary. I understand from folks who should know that cover art has a meaningful effect on sales. I believe it. There’s a lot of stuff out there. In the absence of some other kind of criteria, there are some browser buyers who will take a chance on a book because the cover catches their eye, then they read teh backcopy, then the opeing pages, and off they go.

[paulskemp] I remain the tpyo god!

[Patrick] Excellent, everyone got their last question in. Any last words, Paul?

[paulskemp] Just to say thanks to all of you. SK, I know you’re up very late over there on the continent. My thanks. And to Damon, Jay, and Pat, my sincere gratitude for the work you guys do.

[Damon] Paul thank you for joining us, it was an honor to have you.

[Patrick] Thank you for stopping by. We all wish you the best of luck in your fiture endeavors and look forward to your next appearance at

[Starkilla] thank you for doing this chat.

[Patrick] Definitely an honor