Hi Everyone. I’ve been wanting to get Martha over to my blog for the longest time. I love, no, LOVE, her books. The first in her latest series is The Cloud Roads, which I devoured and meant to come and tell you about in great depth, but I’ll admit I got behind. Same with The Serpent Sea, which I also gobbled down like it was the best chocolate on the planet. So allow me a few moments to wax eloquent.
First, these are epic fantasy. The word building is stunning. I love the way Martha makes things so vivid and unusual, but then makes the world part of the characters’ lives. Everything makes sense and pretty soon your just turning pages to find out what happens next. It’s breathless reading. But these books stick with you. After reading, I imagined those places again and how the people were doing and everything had this amazing vividness that just stuck with me.
So finally I have managed to ask Martha to come talk to you and she most graciously agreed. So without further ado (except to say–read these books!), please welcome Martha Wells . . .
In my other books, I’ve tried to create settings that could exist in the real world, but for The Cloud Roads and the other Books of the Raksura, I wanted to make the setting a completely fantastic environment, filled with places that could only exist in a fantasy novel. My goal was to re-create the feeling I had as a kid first making my way through the SF/F section of the public library, that in the worlds of these books anything was possible. I wanted that feeling from Andre Norton’s older novels, where the characters start out in a strange place and immediately head for somewhere even stranger. And I wanted the reader to feel that beyond the next hill or bend in the road there could literally be anything.
One way that I did this was, when creating a setting for the next scene in the book, I would come up with a setting that would basically do the job that the plot needed it to do. Then I would stop and try to think of a way to make that setting more strange, more fun, more elaborate, more unexpected. For example, the Turning City in the mountains that Moon and Jade stop at on the way back to the east was originally just a small trading camp. As I worked on it, it became a town, then a city, then a city with an underground heat source that caused the ground to steam. Then I decided to go big or go home, and had it become a city on a giant plateau that is actually a wheel, turned by the force of water to grind and process a mineral that gives off heat.
I also created many different types of people to live in the world, and designing cultures for them that fit into the settings I created was challenging. I tried to fit them into their environment, and to give them societies that would complement their biology. In some ways, it was tricky to stay in the viewpoint of my non-human characters. For example, the Raksura have a complex society ruled by the queens, who are the most physically powerful. In writing about them, I had to continually question my assumptions about physical abilities and sexual politics. Also, though many of the roles in the Raksuran court are determined by biology, Raksura can also be cranky and stubborn individualists, and I wanted to leave room for that individuality.
Needless to say, I had a lot of fun writing these books. And thanks to Diana for letting me talk about them in her blog!
My website is www.marthawells.com, and in the Books of the Raksura section at www.raksura.com, there are sample chapters of all the books, plus free short stories, fan art, and other extras.