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Guy Gavriel Kay

Photo of Guy Gavriel Kay

Photo: © Ted Davis Photography

About the Author

Guy Gavriel Kay is the international bestselling author of fourteen previous novels, including the Fionavar Tapestry series, TiganaThe Last Light of the SunUnder HeavenRiver of StarsChildren of Earth and Sky, and A Brightness Long Ago. He has been awarded the International Goliardos Prize for his work in the literature of the fantastic and won the World Fantasy Award for Ysabel in 2008. In 2014 he was named to the Order of Canada, the country’s highest civilian honor. His works have been translated into more than thirty languages.

Guy Gavriel Kay Also Contributed To

More Series From Guy Gavriel Kay

Fionavar Tapestry

Sarantine Mosaic

Under Heaven

Author Q&A

PENGUIN RANDOM HOUSE: Children of Earth and Sky is available today! Tell us a bit about it and its amazingly complex characters.

Guy Gavriel Kay: I like engaging characters, I want my readers caught up in them, and I’m bored (as a reader, too) by simplistic ones. So I guess as a writer I’m drawn to that layering up of characters. In this case, what’s a little different is that I intend Children to be a book about the non-powerful (though hardly ‘ordinary’). How they attempt to get on with their lives, take control of their lives (hardest for women) in a time of major war and political tension. So this is set in my quarter-turn equivalent of the late 15th century, with the doings of emperors and dukes and other powerful leaders filtering down to, and through, five main protagonists, three men and two woman, who are not power players. I’m suggesting that the lives of ‘the great’ are not the only lives worth our attention. Feeding our children can matter more than who succeeds to a throne far away.

PRH: This story features different cultures coming into conflict. When you write this kind of novel, is it hard giving both sides equal time and points of view? How important is that to you as a writer?

GGK: It has varied book to book (most things do for me). But in general, creating stock, obvious, good vs bad interests me less than suggesting the underlying humanity (and underlying violence, too) in much of history. The past is both astonishingly strange and remarkably similar, and I like to explore both. The hardest balancing act in Children was actually among my protagonists. I had to try to keep the reader engaged by all of them. People will have favorites (how not?) but that engagement with each person’s story is critical.

PRH: You have said in the past that you learned a lot about “false starts in writing” when you were given a glimpse at J.R.R. Tolkien’s process. Have you been able to avoid false starts in your work? If not, what happens when you have one?

GGK: You go back! Rewind the tape, find where you went astray. More often these days, because I take a lot of time and have done this for a long time now, it is more a matter of not starting a scene or section until I have thought through the implications. So, one way to not false start is to not jump the starter’s gun! Also: rewriting! You can fix things.

PRH: As a writer myself and an admirer of your work, how much do you attribute the high quality of your every novel to spending several years with it before publication? What does that process look like?

GGK: Thank you, first of all. I think I partly answered this in the previous question. I’m envious, I suppose, of those who can whip their books out, but I know I can’t make myself happy with a book doing it that way. I absolutely place value on novels that essentially just want to entertain or distract us on a beach, on an airplane, before dropping off after a hard day … we need that … but I also know I am, for better or worse, trying to give more, do more to readers, and that means taking time to pull together the threads of that ambition.

PRH: I know it is likely two or three years before we will be able to read it, but what are you currently working on? Got a title or something you can share about it?

GGK: You know I’d have to kill you, Shawn. In truth, as always, I never know what the next book will be when I finish one. A lot of random reading, conversations, correspondence with scholars, a due measure of brooding (with single malt sometimes) will happen over the next while. So far (cross fingers for me) something has always emerged to say ‘this is what you want to do’.

Children of Earth and Sky by Guy Gavriel Kay is available today in fine bookstores! It is a fantastic read. If you haven’t read Guy’s work before, definitely go pick this one up. It will be a great way to be introduced to one of the best historical fantasy writers working today!

Happy reading!

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