Interview with Kit

October 28th, 2009

Question: First, how does it feel to be done?

Kit: Very very odd, and at root, anti-climactic, which is partly why I am so deeply pleased that you and my other friends are putting together this Deverry “party”. I finished the last of the page proofs and thought to myself, “Well, that’s over. No more Deverry.” And I had the neurotic feeling that no one would particularly care, either. But it was definitely time for the series to end. Because it -was- over. Even though on some theoretical level I could have
followed the stories of various characters and of the countries involved for hundreds of years, I knew that I’d reached The End.

Question: when you’ve told the story of Deverry’s evolution, you indicated that you wrote scads back in the early eighties, when you first conceived and sold the series. You said that the last scene in the last book would tie back into the first scene of DAGGERSPELL, like Celtic knotwork. Has it been difficult to make that happen?

Kit: No, oddly enough it was very much easier than I thought, though perhaps the connections aren’t obvious ones. DAGGERSPELL began with the Jill-soul being born from the Halls of Light. MAGE ends with Aderyn being reborn from that same place. The “past life section” in MAGE shows the Deverrians arriving in the world of Annwn some thousand years before DAGGERSPELL opened. The latest incarnation of the Jill-soul is Branna. Jill’s last line in DAGGERSPELL is “It would have to do for now.” Branna thinks the same thing in her last appearance in MAGE.

There is a further twist on the knotted structure in SPIRT STONE, which is Book 2 in the final four. In DAGGERSPELL, Jill and Rhodry ride into the middle of a war sparked by Aderyn’s son Loddlaen, but they have no idea of what the real causes of that war are. The past life section of SPIRIT STONE finally reveal them. That section also shows what made Alastyr, the evil magician of DARKSPELL, turn to the dark path when he was a teenager. So Book 2 of the last four books echoes Book 2 of the first four.

Question: How has the series changed over the years–I don’t mean the vexations of marketing and publishers, but your internal perception of the world and your approach to the material.

Kit: It got longer and longer. (glyph of straight face) But seriously . . . you know this story, but I will tell it again for the discussion. When I started writing Deverry, I thought it was a short story — that material is now the end of Book 6. So I realized my mistake early and decided I was writing a trilogy, which then expanded into a tetraology, which expanded into two tetralogies, ending with the death of a central character. Except of course I’d never finished
the Civil Wars sections, so that became a trilogy that also carried the main story forward. I thought GOLD FALCON would then finish off the series by being the fourth to that last trilogy.

Wrong again!

These data about the length are important because they do show my approach to the vast heap of material changing. At first I thought I was writing some episodic series books, that the three or four books would follow a pattern: present time adventure for Jill and Rhodry, coupled with a past life adventure for Whoever, each adventure complete in itself. Then I began to see the connections between everything, and the consequences of the actions in both past and present.

Once you start seeing the consequences of your characters’ actions, you can no longer write Standard Series Episodes, or at least, I couldn’t. It was Maddyn in BRISTLING WOOD who really changed my mind. I had thought that once he joined the Silver Daggers, that episode would be over, because it was “really” about how the Silver Daggers began. Then I realized that his deep connection to Nevyn had made that impossible. As soon as Nevyn decided “I’m doing something to stop the wars”, my fate was sealed. :-) Besides, although I was sure that Maddyn was an earlier incarnation of Rhodry Maelwaedd, they were so different that I knew there were some stories about how living the lives in between had turned one into the other — that was the genesis of A TIME OF EXILE.

Overall, too, as my perception of the stories changed, my view of what Deverry was got deeper. It couldn’t stay as just a “Celtic fantasy background” because the places themselves became “characters” of a sort. The cities, particularly Dun Deverry and Aberwyn, grow and change and at times shrink during the series. So, starting with BRISTLING WOOD again, I began to give much more space to descriptions of the terrain and to the history of places — maybe just a few lines here and there, but each one of those capsules did add something to the sense of history and of place. I did more and more research into the so-called Dark Ages and their transitions into more stable forms of government as well as more research into Gaulish culture in order to add solid touches to the changes within Deverry.

My view of the Westfolk and elven culture also changed, from the Tolkienesque “noble and magical” to something a fair bit more realistic, as the readers will see in SILVER MAGE. Sam Gamgee’s style of wide-eyed sense of wonder at the elves has morphed into the far more realistic envy and bitterness that, I believe, real humans would feel faced with an impossibly beautiful and long-lived race.

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4 Responses to “Interview with Kit”

  1. Estaraon 28 Oct 2009 at 2:45 pm

    I think that probably only in a long project like Deverry could the changing outside perceptions (of Elves for example) be carefully introduced and explored.

    It’s to the credit of writer, publisher and buying public that Katherine Kerr was able to eventually bring (most) of her vision to completion.

  2. Carolon 28 Oct 2009 at 10:48 pm

    I think you have done a great job. You really have morphed the characters (and by characters, not just the people in the book, but the places etc) into very real and living entities. It feels that the world could actually exisits even when I am not reading the books, that people would continue their daily lives reguarless if the events had been caught on paper or not. I love the fact who everything changes, places grow and develop, as do people and reincarnations. And I think you have captured the elves brilliantlyt…I love elves, but I am certain I would feel very inadequate standing next to one! LOL

    I can’t wait to read the final book. I’m sad that its ended, even though as you said, it was time to end (actually, I would have been happy for you to keep going!). But I can always pick them up and re-read them, so it hasn’t really ended, its just one particular trend that has come to a conclusion. (And Deverry can keep exisiting in my mind even when its not penned down!)

    well done!

  3. Maureenon 29 Oct 2009 at 12:43 am

    I have always insisted that the reason why Kit’s books were so good was because despite the fantasy setting, her characters act like real people with real reactions to events and real emotions. people are not born good or bad, but rather make choices in their life for better or for worse.
    I have yet to read the final book, but I know it will be good and I know that this series will be stay on my bookshelf till im old and grey.
    THANKYOU KATHERINE KERR. THANKYOU FOR AN ORIGINAL, COMPLEX, NON DUMBED DOWN FANTASY SERIES THAT MATTERS. you have certianly inspired my writing and I try to make sure my characters act believably as learnt from your series :)

  4. Heatheron 18 Nov 2009 at 7:38 am

    That last bit in caps should probably be one of the critiques that are often on the first page when the paperback comes out. So true!

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