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Monday, 16 May 2011

We Do Write interview

I was recently interviewed by Dorothy Dreyer on her blog We Do Write. As you might guess from the name, it's all about writing, not game design, so don't feel you have to. Highlights (or lowlights, depending on your tastes) are: Earl Grey tea, Ragnarok, Lawrence of Arabia, the day I saw a ghost, super powers, how I met Leo Hartas, horses, Alfred Hitchcock, and Philippe Starck furniture. Ouch.


  1. Reading ‘Mirabilis’, I wondered why you chose a modern style of speech for your characters – the young ones, anyway – rather than pseudo-contemporary 1900s dialogue (or perhaps I mean a contemporary 1900s manner as imagined by me after reading romanticists like Chesterton, John Buchan, etc!).

    M. R. James did cracking dialogue.

  2. Efrem Orizzonte17 May 2011 at 10:03

    I liked the interview! Some things I already knew from the interview you gave me, but it's nice to read them written differently :-) Oh, and I'm an Earl Grey fan myself.

    BTW, Mirabilis is turning out to be one of the most interesting and entertaining reads I've had in a while. Are those hardbacks available yet? Will they be available for purchase from Amazon as well? I'd gladly go for the paperbacks, but I like hardcover better.

  3. Hi Tom, interesting question. You have to find an idiom that conveys the subjective truth of the characters. Let's say that the most fashionable slang of (say) 1812 was: "I say, old boy, you're the absolute macaroni." If I have a character talk like that, sticking to the objective truth of what he'd actually say, he won't sound young and hip, he'll sound like a retired brigadier.

    So one has to find a dialogue style that isn't completely modern but that gives a modern reader the right idea of who those characters are. It's effectively a translation job - if the characters' original speech was Latin, as in Rome or Gladiator, then the need to update it becomes obvious. In something like The Tudors, one could ask why they don't speak in Shakespearean English. Because no-one would watch it? That's only part of the answer. The fact is that a modern reader cannot hear Tudor, or even Edwardian, dialogue with the nuance of intent it would originally have conveyed.

    Efrem, the hardbacks are currently en route from Charles de Gaulle airport. The French didn't want to part with them but in the end they had to :-) I'll put up Amazon links as soon as I have them - in the next couple of weeks, I hope.

  4. How would anyone know how Victorians talked anyhow? Even in a modern novel the conversation isn't like real life.

  5. Well, Jayz, it's true that we don't know what casual conversation would have sounded like, but one comes across the occasional line of dialogue in plays and novels that has the ring of authenticity. Certainly the writer of historical fiction needs to be wary - you might imagine from novels that no middle class Victorian ever said "don't", for instance. Although I prefer to apply Emerson's dictum that "A foolish consistency is the hobgoblin of little minds" nonetheless I took care that every colloquialism or saying used in Mirabilis would actually have been current in 1901 - while not losing too much sleep over it. The point, after all, is that it's a story, not an historical record.

  6. Is Mirabilis part of the Fabled Lands?

  7. Hi Bart, nope, not related to Fabled Lands in any way.