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Raymond E. Feist p2

Fantasy author Raymond E. Feist talks about his writing and mentions some favorite history books

Mr Feist said he wouldn’t change anything about Magician because there was a naivity in the characters that created a bond with readers. Pug made some horrible decisions, said Mr Feist, “some are bad and worse”, that “most would find impossible to live with”. But Pug always tried to follow the principle of, Am I serving the greater good?.
Mr Feist said one New Zealand teacher said his middle school boys had connected with the young characters like Pug and Tomas, especially when the characters had to make decisions about careers.
Mr Feist liked readers to identify with characters. Readers responded to a character’s sense of duty or honour, for example. He said characters in the final books in the Riftwar Cycle (of 30 novels) had qualities that would remind readers of characters from earlier books. He wanted people to keep turning the pages because they loved a character so much or because they found an idea so compelling.
Mr Feist made a lot of other points about his writing.
He liked to write toward something. He wrote the endings in some series before writing the rest of the novels. Then he just made up the story as he went along. He said he had muscle memory from writing 30 novels, and he knew what was working when he wrote.
Writing was like being the first reader of his book, he said. If an interesting character came along he wanted to know more about them. He said characters were there to carry the story forward, and he had no qualms about disposing of them when they were no longer needed. He could always create new ones.
He was fond of transforming characters over the course of several books. Some characters unexpectedly become heroes. Some villains turn out to be not so bad after all.
He said he didn’t have outright villains in his novels. Every evil character had his reasons for acting the way they did, and readers could understand their point of view if not agree with them.
He had come to realise when some stories or scenes would be better used in other books.
As far as favorite books went, Raymond E. Feist was a big reader of history and biography, and he said he hadn’t read fantasy for 20 years. He recommended Thomas B. Costain’s 1962 four-book series A History of the Plantagenets, particularly the final volume in the series The Last Plantagenets, which covers 1377-1485, including Richard III.
He also liked Will in the World: How Shakespeare Became Shakespeare, by Stephen Greenblatt, a 2005 book Mr Feist described as pure genius.

-copyright Simon Sandall.