Interviews With Barbara Hambly
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Deb's Interview With Barbara Hambly - July, 1997
I'm in yellow, asking the questions, and Ms. Hambly's answers are in white (at least, that's how I designed it to look...)
1. What insipred you to return to mysteries (genra-wise) with A Free Man of Color?
What inspired my return to mysteries? The short answer is, another mystery
story I wanted to tell. My original Master Plan for my Career was to run two
careers, fantasy and mysteries. I started the mystery end prematurely with
Search The Seven Hills/a.k.a. Quirinal Hill Affair (actually, the original title
was The Baby Eaters but everybody vetoed that one), and discovered that a mystery
writer HAS to write a series. That's how they're marketed. Nobody really cares
whether Dr. Moran murdered his daughters or how he did it -- they want to see
Sherlock Holmes in action. I put that end of my career on hold for a long time
and worked at fantasies, although Those Who Hunt the Night was written in the
style of a detective-story. I've had the idea of a free black detective in the
antebellum South for a long time (since college, actually); and, I loved New
Orleans from the first time I visited here back in '88, long before I met my
beloved (who lives here). (I'm writing this in our New Orleans apartment -- we
live part-time in New Orleans, part-time in Los Angeles. At the moment we're
just watching the westernmost of Hurricane Danny's petticoats go by overhead).
2. Is there a particular cover artist you like? What are your favorite/least favorite covers?
My favorite cover artists? It's a toss-up between Michael Whelan (who did
Silicon Mage, probably one of my four fave covers) and the new guy, Donato
Giancola -- wow! I'd love a Tom Canty cover one of these days, but my editors
at Del Rey assure me that his "look" isn't in line with the type of stuff I
write, and they're probably right about that. The cover Giancola did for
Icefalcon's Quest is gorgeous; I can't stop looking at it. My favorite covers
so far are: the original cover of Time of the Dark, Whelan's Silicon Mage cover,
Mother of Winter, and that lovely paperback reissue of Search the Seven Hills
that looks like a movie-poster -- oh, and Bride of the Rat God! It's like
asking what's my favorite book I've written. Way too many to choose from.
3. Do you have any siblings?
Siblings? I have an older sister Mary, who is an LVN and just starting the
RN program -- she has a son and a daughter, Mark and Brandy -- and a younger
brother Ed, an English teacher, who also has a son and a daughter, Ed the Fourth
and Jamie. Our ages are very close, grouped in about three and a half years; we
essentially all grew up together and I have the impression that we're really all
the same age.
4. The re-release and additions to the Darwath books prompts this question - do you have plans to add to other series in the fiture, or will you coninue to write books in new areas. Del Rey did report on Dragonshadow, and mentioned another book had been purchaced, but didn't mention what it was. Besides Fever Season, and The Icefalcon's Quest, what's in the works?
Icefalcon's Quest is a continuation of the Darwath Series, as I may have
said before. After that the next fantasy is Dragonshadow, which is the same
cast of characters as Dragonsbane, and then Graveyard Dust in the New Orleans
series. The next fantasy for Del Rey will be Fading of the Light, which isn't
connected with any work I've done before.
5. How do you like working in the Star Wars universe? Is it fairly regulated? Any plans for future books there?
I had a blast working in the Star Wars universe. I gather there are
contractual questions about how Bantam is going to be farming out future Star
Wars novel contracts; they're all still in negotiations, so I can't talk about
them, but it's up in the air as to whether I'll do another. (Which is a pity,
because I've had one HELL of an idea for the series that I'm dying to do!)
6. I actually had a chance to ask about the use of chiarascuro (see the nifty words list if I've lost you) in the Windrose Chronicles, and got back pretty much what I expected:
Chiaroscuro is a word I used a good deal because it's a description of
light-and-dark, the way I see scenes; firelight and shadow. When you've written
close to thirty novels you use a lot of the same words. I don't use chiaroscuro
nearly as often as I use "the".
7. You mentioned at a convention (I read this somewhere) that you "cast" main characters, and that Tom Baker was the model for Antryg. Did Joanna and Caris have models?
Sometimes I cast characters, and sometimes I see them clearly but have never
seen them before in my life. Joanna is like that. I have no idea who'd play
her -- somebody short, bosomy, and slightly Jewish-looking but blonde. Caris is
based partly on a guy I trained in karate with, as far as appearance (not
personality); one of the most gorgeous young men I've ever seen and a complete
8. Are you much of a Web-surfer?
I am almost completely computer-stupid. I don't go on the Web much because
I have no idea how to get there and it takes forever to get around, especialy
when we're in L.A.
9. Do you write using the computer, paper, typewriter, or a combination of these?
I do, however, write on a computer. We have duplicate computers in L.A. and
New Orleans. We both use Word for Windows, though I've written whole chunks and
chapters of novels on sheets of typing-paper while on airplanes or in hotel
10. In the past few years, your work has appeared in several collections of short stories. Is this a format you enjoy doing? Will you continue to do more short stories?
I'm not very good at short stories. I never wrote them at all before I got
involved with George -- he's a master of the form and basically taught me how to
write them. I've only written about a dozen so far. My usual length is 100,000
11. One of the things many people like are your "crossover" books, where someone in one universe crosses into another one. Do you plan to have characters from different series meet? (I asked this because Ingold was mentioned in the Sun-Cross series)
Crossovers between series and series? I'm not sure. That's a little too
comic-book for me to feel comfortable with, though a number of people have told
me to do it. I've never felt at ease with gimmicks, and Batman vs. Spiderman
has always felt to me to be a bit gimmicky. But, anything can happen.
12. Who is your favorite character?
My favorite character? Yeep. That's like asking about a favorite cover --
you get a list. A pretty long one, in this case, because I love all these
people. If I didn't, I wouldn't write about them. In no particular order,
people I really love writing are: John Aversin, Sun Wolf, Antryg, Ingold,
Hannibal Sefton, Ben January, Ben's mother Livia, Abishag Shaw, the Bishop
Govannin, Princess Leia, Luke Skywalker, Dylan Arios, Christine Flamande, the
Mud Tortoise, Don Simon Ysidro, the Icefalcon, Callista, Pope Sixtus I, Felix
Silanus, Cain and Abel, and probably a whole host of others -- the fact that
someone isn't on this list doesn't mean I don't like to write about them. I
love these people.
13. Which character is most like you?
The most like me? I'd say the one that comes closest to me is Christine
Flamande from Bride of the Rat-God, although I don't have her substance-abuse
problems -- her, and the evil Bishop Govannin from the Darwath series.
14. What is Starhawk's real name?
Starhawk's real name? I haven't the faintest idea yet.
15. If there was one place in the world you could go, where would it be?
If there was only one place in the world I could go -- presumably for a
visit or a vacation, and not the place where I live -- I'd say Peiking. (Or
Beijing -- I'm old-fashioned that way). There's a lot of places I loved and
want to go back to -- Paris, Istanbul, Manhattan, San Francisco, Venice Italy,
Rome -- (my beloved will NEVER convince me that Chicago is worth more than one
trip) -- but of those that I've never been to yet, I'd say Peiking (if the Ming
Tombs and the Great Wall are included in the itinerary).
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