Regular Pidgin-fanciers will recall we interviewed fantasy author Teresa Edgerton and that that post's title suggested a second half. Well, Spool Pidgin didn't get it's reputation (?) by writing checks its ass can't cash, no sir!
This second act finds us in a dusty attic full of old tomes and alchemical equipment of questionable, nay, mindboggling purpose. Pidgin takes a seat on something wooden that could equally be a travelling chest or an elaborate coffin and begins asking questions. This time around we focus on Goblin Moon itself, Teresa's recently re-released fantasy-of-manners classic...
Firstly, I think Goblin Moon is the most well-dressed genre novel I've ever read! Is that merely a pleasant side effect of your penchant for historical re-enactment or is it something more, perhaps? An integral part of characterisation, say? Clothes maketh the man and all that...
Absolutely. It’s a very important part of the characterization: who a character is, who they think they are, who they want other people to think they are. It’s age and status and personal history, and so much more.
But it’s also about the setting: the extravagance and the exuberance of the era I’ve used as a model for my world. It’s a reflection of their imaginations and curiosity. A hunger for novelty, and a willingness to try new things.
Aside from being contractually freed up, why do you think the time's right for a re-release? Are fantasy readers more accepting of worlds beyond the Tolkien template?
I think they are. They’re ready for new stories that take them to places they’ve never been before.
I love the way your two main players, Sera and Lord Skelbrooke, have doubts about their essential goodness (though the latter has more reason that the former, arguably). What is it that motivates you to explore this character flaw? Conversely, I note your bad guys never question their certainty.
To my mind, that’s always been one of the major differences between “good guys” and “bad guys,” that willingness to examine their own behavior, to consider the consequences. People who are self-righteous and have no qualms about what they are doing are dangerous. It’s the same with people who think the world revolves around what they want, what they can get.
So I don’t consider it a flaw, but it does provide characters with an opportunity to agonize a bit, and characters who torture themselves with doubts are always more interesting to read about.
At this juncture, Spool Pidgin notices a strange-looking jar atop the mantlepiece. In it floats what appears to be a tiny little man-like... thing. Putting an ear to the jar, Spool dimly hears the little creature recite a short scene from Goblin Moon.
Goblin Moon harks back, unashamedly, to 18th/early 19th century literature- the explanatory chapter subtitles, mid-scene point of view shifts, even the word 'd--m!' being censored. Its a descision that pays off well but must have been a brave choice at the time. Was it a hard sell to your agent and your publishers at Ace?
Not at all difficult. In the early nineties, the fantasy field was opening up to new ideas. There was an enormous amount of variety. I hadn’t worked with an agent before, and I went looking for one after the book had already been accepted, but before the contract was negotiated. My editor at Ace loved it. Everyone who read the book before it was published was excited about it.
Then epic fantasy came roaring back. If I had waited a year or two, I doubt I would have been able to sell it.
What attracted you to the regency period (or thereabouts), in terms of its fantasy world potential?
I was always interested in that period as far back as I can remember. When I decided to write a story set in that period, the more I read about it, the more I realized that the 18th century was the perfect setting for a fantasy novel, beauty wedded to the grotesque, fantastical even before the addition of fantasy elements. Magic and science were still practically the same thing, so there were a lot of opportunities. Some of the most bizarre things in Goblin Moon I didn’t even have to invent.
The violence in GM is actually quite shocking in its way, though (or maybe even because) there isn't that much of it. It's like going on a dinner date with Audrey Hepburn and then, just before dessert arrives, she pulls out a puppy and nails it to the table. Erm... well, sort of. Was it a conscious aesthetic decision or were you as surprised as anyone?
Fantasy wasn’t nearly so drenched in blood and gore right then, but yes, it was an aesthetic decision. I’d written three books of high fantasy, where the heroes fought their way out of every dangerous situation, and I wanted a hero with more ingenuity. In the end, he was more ruthless than I had planned, which shocked even me. I’m thrilled that Goblin Moon can get that sort of reaction in this day and age, even without an excess of violence.
With that, Teresa stands up, says goodbye, then leaves the room and locks the door. I'd check the notes I've made but now the oil lamps have mysteriously gone out. Alone, shrouded in darkness, Spool Pidgin notices the travelling chest it's sat on is starting to rattle...