Question 1: Graham Austin-King
This is the first question I was asked and by Graham Austin-King, he of the Riven Wyrde books. You can find out more about him here.
Hi G.R (just sort of heard myself saying that in my head and, wow! Dallas flashback...) Anyway, thanks for doing this.
Your books are set in an alternate China, about as far as the stereotypical fantasy setting (lotr) as you can get. Do you feel that the 'medieval Europe' style fantasy setting is played out, or was this an effort to avoid the ruts that have already been cut into the road?
Thanks for kicking it off with the first question (hopefully not the last), and great one at that.
Is Medieval European style played out? Of course not. One look at the bestseller lists, the books filling the shelves and the recommendations then euro-centric fantasy is alive and kicking (or stabbing and slicing).
There are writers who have used different settings before - GGK, Mazakis Williams and, more recently, Ken Liu (and I want to read this). They've explored the middle and far east, taking what works for a story and tackling some assumptions about a culture.
I grew up watching the Kung Fu movies of Hong Kong, Korea and China (and at different times learning some martial arts myself - never enough to be a danger to anyone but myself!) and they contain a lot of things that we, as westerners, would call fantasy. Hammer films teamed up with the Shaw Brothers to make 7 Golden Vampires - bringing the East and West together on film long before Rush Hour.
The East has a lot to explore, a lot of social and cultural differences that a writer can use to draw readers into a different fantasy world. More than anything, I wanted to try something different, to travel a different road even if, along it, there are many things that readers will recognise as more traditional fantasy.
The flip side of that? Knowing that many readers are more likely to choose books set in medieval Europe, or with Vikings or with any of the more familiar settings. I don't think that The Stone Road is particularly a niche novel, but I can understand that many will look at it and think it is not for them... they shouldn't. At the moment it is very cheap on Amazon and well worth a shot!