We had a wonderful time with Raymond E. Feist, the American best-selling fantasy author.
Raymond was in South Africa to promote his latest novel, Magician’s End. Writers Write has never had a more in demand author. Enthusiastic fans were desperate to meet their legendary literary hero. If we had 500 tickets, we would have sold all of them. Alas, the hotel could only accommodate 80 of us. He charmed the guests and took time to chat with every one of his supporters.
During the live interview, Raymond shared some writing advice. He said: “The hardest thing for a writer to conquer is fear.” He explained that this fear is sneaky and insidious and manifests in strange ways. Instead of settling down to write, you decide to reorganise your sock drawer, sharpen your pencils or nip down to the hardware to buy some supplies to fix the garage door. “Get over it. You’re never going to write the perfect sentence—but just get something on the page. Start writing.”
Date of Interview: 23 September 2014
Place: Big Space, Ten Bompas Road, Dunkeld, Johannesburg
The Book: Magician’s End
I prefer people over possessions.
I am terrified that something will happen to my children.
6. What is your greatest regret?
Aristotle said, “A life lived without regrets is not a life worth living.” I do have regrets, a bunch, but I am kind of glad I did everything I did because it brought me to this moment. If you could guarantee that I would I have the exact same two kids, I might go back and change some things.
7. If you could choose to be a character in a book, who would it be?
8. Which book have you read the most in your lifetime?
I rarely reread, but I would have to say it is Huckleberry Finn.
9. What is your favourite journey?
I am really liking this one, because it is my first visit to South Africa. But I like the journey into your own consciousness and your own personal growth in an attempt to become a better person.
10. What is your favourite quotation?
“Never attribute to malice what can be satisfactorily explained by stupidity.” It is a Robert A. Heinlein take on a quote by Napoleon.
11. Dogs or Cats? Which do you prefer?
12. What do you most value in a friend?
13. What quality do you most admire in a woman?
14. Which book that you’ve written is your favourite?
None of them and all of them.
Nate for boys, and Molly for girls.
16. What do you do as a hobby?
I don’t have a hobby, but I collect whiskey and sports jerseys.
17. Which are your three favourite books?
- To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee
- Great Expectations by Charles Dickens
- The Last Plantagenets by Thomas B. Costain
18. Where do you get your greatest ideas for writing?
19. What is your Writing Routine?
I start early in the morning after a shower and a cup of coffee. I check my email and I avoid social media. The days when I play World of Warcraft with my daughter online are less productive, but I try to write 10 – 12 pages a day.
20. What are your Top Writing Tips?
- Write. Get your butt in the seat and your fingers on the keyboard.
- If you are writing without action, your characters are nothing but ‘talking heads’, and if they are ‘talking heads’, they better be saying something important.
- Give your reader someone to care about.
- The hardest thing for a writer to conquer is fear. Get over it. You’re never going to write the perfect sentence—but just get something on the page. Start writing.
- Tell the story. Get the editor out of your head—turn the writer loose on the page.
- Don’t ever over re-write. You will never get it perfect.
- Be aware of self-indulgence in description—give the reader enough information to get the picture, but don’t overdo it.
- When you’re writing, the most important thing, your north star, is the ending. Every word you write should be weighed against that, and if it isn’t contributing to your ending, it’s a sideline and should be omitted. Readers know instinctively when a writer doesn’t have an ending yet.
- It’s easy and exciting to start a book, but the most important advice is to FINISH it!
Interviewer: Mia Botha