And don't forget to get your entries done for the Ford Street competition!
GR: What gave you the idea for The Warlock's Child?
Paul: Many years ago Pearson published a couple of anthologies called Picture This. They sent me two photos and asked me to write a story around the pictures. One was of footprints going across wet sand. And so I pictured a fantasy world set on an island. The island gets invaded, and on it went. The story was complete, but I knew it had many avenues to explore. And so I wrote a novel from it.
GR: How did you work on it as a team? For example, did you plot it all out in advance and decide who did what, or did you work like the authors of Logan's Run, who had one person write while the other paced up and down waiting for his turn?
Paul: Basically, I wrote the first draft. I then thought it’d be great to publish as a series rather than a single novel. Problem was that I didn’t have time. So I approached Sean McMullen and he came up with sub-plots – in fact, the dragons weren’t in my first draft. Sean created that entire thread, which became the dominant part of the series.
GR: When I read a book with two names on the cover I wonder who wrote what. Can you tell us - unless it's a secret?
Paul: Hard to tell, Sue. I think Sean wound up writing more words than me, because the dragon scenes became dominant. You could say I wrote the initial plot and what I think was a passable book, but Sean took it to a new level.
GR: The characters are in their teens, but it seems to be aimed at younger readers - why is this?
Paul: Kids always read up, not down. So if it’s pitched at 11-year-olds, then the characters have to be 12+. As an aside, the original novel was called Broken Magic. But before we could get the series out another author took that title!
GR:Though it's set in your own own world, given the particular technology on the ships, for example, which historical era did you imagine when you wrote it? And who did the research?
Paul: I didn’t actually pitch it in any era – most fantasy from what I can see is medieval. Sometimes authors make certain distinctions. For example, in The Quentaris Chronicles Michael Pryor and I decided we weren’t going to have gunpowder, so no cannon, muskets, etc. The Warlock’s Child was not so strict.
GR: It can't be much fun to be the child of the villain. It's also an unusual situation, unless your name is Luke or Leia Skywalker. What made you think this might work?
Paul: A kid isn’t the only evil one involved. But on this subject, I think the scariest movies are where kids are the evil ones. Adults we expect to be evil. Kids we don’t.
GR: This series reads like a novel broken up into parts - is this the case? If so, will you consider, at some stage, publishing it as one book?
Paul: As I’ve mentioned, it was originally a novel. Sean dismantled it into six parts. And yes, we have a version that could sell as a single book. We’d like to see if we could get this published in the US.
GR: Have you had much response to this series from children so far?
Paul: We’ve had a huge response so far. Sales-wise through the shops has been good – in fact The Burning Sea has gone into two reprints, the sequel, Dragonfall Mountain, one reprint. Not too bad considering they only came out a couple of months ago. I believe The Burning Sea out-polled Andy Griffiths’ latest book in the Yabbas at Tucker Road Bentleigh Primary School. Several book clubs have already bought the first two books.
GR: A general question for both of you. You have both been known for writing for adults and have turned very successfully to writing for children and teens. How did you decide to make this change - and how has it worked out for you?
Paul: I spent many years writing adult (mostly SF&F) short stories, but knew that I could never make a living from it. In the early 80s I had two YA books contracted by an educational publisher called Parteach. Unfortunately they disappeared leaving me with two contracts but nothing else. At that time it was the closest I’d come to getting an actual novel published. So I figured I should persist writing for kids. The Wizard’s Torment was one of those manuscripts, and HarperCollins published it in 1995. It took another few years to find a publisher for the other book Parteach had contracted, and that was The Earthborn, that TOR published in 2003. The latter became a trilogy. In between those two books I had quite a few others published. So by then my reputation was that of a writer for children. I’ve dabbled in the adult sphere a few times, notably with two collections and the horror novel The Beckoning (Damnation Books).
GR: The Warlock's Child ever becomes a movie, no limits (you can have a time machine to collect young actors from the past if you wish), whom would each of you cast in the lead roles?
Paul: Age appropriate, I see them as . . .
Calbaras: Christopher Lee
Dantar: Elijah Wood
Velza: Angelina Jolie
Marko: Michael Caine
Arrissa: Wynona Ryder
Avantar: Sean Bean
Merikus (voice): Mel Brooks.
The mind boggles at the image of these actors in the roles. Thank you, Paul. Looking forward to hearing from Sean.