SpineOut : April - May 2017
COVER STORY AuthorinterviewPageone For fans of the Smoke and Bone Trilogy, how is Strange the Dreamer similar and/or different from the trilogy? Well, it also involves a love story with major obstacles, and it shares some themes with Daughter of Smoke and Bone – things I come back to again and again, like questions of identity and otherness, vengeance and forgiveness. Some differences are that it’s set in a new, unfamiliar world, and that my main characters aren’t fighters or warriors, and couldn’t hope to solve their problems with violence even if they wanted to, which they definitely don’t. There isn’t a villain either. Lazlo Strange, the titular character, is a dreamer. What does he dream of? Lazlo has been obsessed since he was a little boy (for very good reason, as you learn in Chapter 1), with a mythic lost city called Weep. Working in the Great Library of Zosma, he has exhausted all resources trying to find out what happened there to cut it off from the rest of the world, but without success. Though he knows it’s impossible, still he dreams of going there to discover its secrets for himself. That’s one level on which he’s a dreamer. He’s also regarded as one in a derogatory ‘head in the clouds’ sense by his colleagues because he reads myths and fairy tales, and later on in the book, we discover that his dreams are ... well, more beautiful than other people’s. I love the many levels of meaning for dreams and Lazlo embodies them all. Do we choose our dreams or do our dreams choose us? I mean, who can say? I’ve wanted to be a writer for as long as I can remember—probably since I could hold a pencil. I don’t think I chose it, any more than I chose my personality or my height or hair colour (ha ha, actually I did choose that). Some things are just part of us from the beginning, and others develop as a result of our experience. Either way, we don’t really choose them. It is a choice whether to pursue them or not, follow them or deny them, and I think that if we deny them, it’s like cutting off oxygen to a part of ourselves, which shrivels and dies, diminishing us. Strange the Dreamer is about a war between gods and men and the adventures of heroes. Did any myths or epic tales inspire this novel? Not directly. I’ve read myths and fairy tales all my life, but not so much in recent years. So while the foundations of my imagination owe much to myths, I wasn’t consciously thinking of any specific ones in creating the Mesarthim.
February - March 2017