Friday, October 12, 2007

Interview with Patrick St-Denis of Pat's Fantasy Hotlist

I had the privilege of talking with Patrick about his travels, his blog and his writing. You can of course find Pat's blog (the best SFF site around in my opinion) at http://fantasyhotlist.blogspot.com/

Enjoy


When did your love affair with the fantasy genre begin. What authors were your early favorites?

Hmmm, this goes way back. . . It must have started when I was about 9 or 10 years old, with those fun Ian Livingstone and Steve Jackson fantasy books where you role-played an adventure by deciding which page to turn to. At one point, I must have had nearly 100 French translations of those books.

During my first week of high school, I was introduced to D&D by some classmates. And the rest, as they say, is history! I wasn't a gamer for very long, however. Just about three years or so, and then I completely lost interest. But the first game module we ever played was the first Dragonlance one. When my DM told me that there were novels based on what we were role-playing, I immediately bought Margaret Weis and Tracy Hickman's the Dragonlance Chronicles. I guess it's safe to say that I never looked back after that!

I went through Dragons of Autumn Twilight and Dragons of Winter Night with the help of a French-English dictionary. By the time I finished Dragons of Spring Dawning, I didn't need the dictionary anymore. I was 12 years old back then, and from that moment on I never again read anything in French for pleasure. Which is why, though I'm a francophone, my whole literary culture has always been in English. Weird, I know. . .

The Dragonlance Chronicles hooked me up on the fantasy genre, and it wasn't long before I also had the Dragonlance Legends under my belt. Which were then followed by various Forgotten Realms, Greyhawk, and a panoply of other TSR titles. At that point, Weis and Hickman, as well as R. A. Salvatore, were among my favorite authors.

Becoming jaded with the TSR scene at some point, I elected to "graduate" and try some "more serious" stuff. Naturally, since they were the big guns of that era in the fantasy genre, I discovered the works of authors such as David Eddings, Terry Brooks and Raymond E. Feist. Those three reigned as my favorite writers for quite some time. Then I was introduced to authors like Stephen R. Donaldson, Frank Herbert, Melanie Rawn, Guy Gavriel Kay, Tad Williams, C. S. Friedman, and many, many more. I'm now 33 years of age, and I figure that most SFF fans in my age group probably followed a very similar road. . .


What made you decide to start publishing your Fantasy Hotlist? Was there anything specific you were hoping to get across to your audience? Did you think you'd even have an audience?

Well, the funny thing about my blog is that it was never meant to exist for more than a week or two. I have a very short attention span (whether it's with girls, tv shows, bands, etc), and unless I'm hooked from the very start I will lose interest fairly rapidly.

Truth be told, I had never before shown any interest whatsoever in creating a website, or in reviewing books per se. After all, I had never written a book review in my life. Hence, there was no urge within me to create what became Pat's Fantasy Hotlist.

If you want to blame someone for my polluting cyberspace since January of 2005, then your scapegoat should be my friend Pat. He created what became the most popular political blog in the province of Québec, and ranked as high as number 2 in Canada. One day at work, he was telling me that I should consider doing the same (in retrospect, he was probably hoping that I would join him in the political sphere). But even though I use a computer every day to accomplish an assortment of tasks, I'm a terrible computer-illiterate. Aware of that particular shortcoming of mine (he would in all likelihood point out several others, if given the chance!), he explained how easily a blog could be set up and then run. Claiming that even I could manage to get the hang of it was really saying something, so I decided to give this blog thing a shot!

Thus, on January 5th 2005 (if memory serves me right), bored out of my mind and for want of a better idea, I sat down in front of my computer. And instead of downloading porn or midget sex clips, I resolved to discover if creating a blog was as easy as my friend made it sound. To my dismay, it was. In the space of a few minutes, the whole thing was up and running. The problem was that I now needed to give the blog a name and a purpose in order to continue. Which threw me off-balance, for I simply wanted to see my template on my computer screen.

Racking my brain for inspiration, I suddenly remembered my friend John Fallon, the actor/producer/director/critic, who created what became the most popular horror website in the world (http://www.joblo.com/arrow/). We lost touch for a few years, but I recalled when he told me that he got into that because no mainstream critic reviewed horror movies seriously. A couple of years went by, and all of a sudden he found himself on top of the horror movie entourage. The studios now fly him on location to meet and interview actors and directors, etc. He attended two Playboy parties and countless film festivals around the globe. Note to all the editors and publicists who will read this interview: I am willing to forsake a year's worth of ARCs if you can get me into a single Playboy party!:p I mean, come on, throw me a bone here!

Back then I was still relying on Amazon.com reviews for the most part, which also featured brief PW and Kirkus pieces. But none of those reviews satisfied me, for none of them elaborated on facets that interested me. Most of the time, those reviews consisted of a short version of the cover blurb, with a few extra sentences thrown into the mix. I remember being irritated a whole lot by that sort of reviews at that particular time, which compelled me to turn this new blog into my own little fantasy book review site. Since nobody seemed willing to explore themes such as worldbuilding, characterization, pace, yada yada yada, I decided that I would give it a shot. In addition, with so many websites and blogs focusing on the negative back then, I wanted to share my love of the genre with fellow readers and raise awareness in all the good things fantasy and science fiction have to offer. This has remained the blog's objective since Day 1, and I would like to believe that I've achieved my goal.

As for the name, I know that Pat's Fantasy Hotlist sounds a lot like a porn-related site. This goes to prove that you should never try to come up with stuff like that late at night. But it was the best I could do on such short notice! Having said that, I feel bad for the sexually deprived men of all ages who end up on my blog everyday, courtesy of Google and other search engines, while looking for some naughty stuff! Man, it must be so damn disappointing to realize that I'm reviewing books!;-) Ah well, what can you do!?!

As for an audience, I never thought that more than maybe a dozen people would be interested in reading the drivel I would post. At the time, blogs were not the popular medium they have become nowadays. I didn't even bother with a counter at first, thinking that I could probably count the number of people who'd visit the Hotlist on the fingers of my hands. I abandoned my "lurker" status on many SFF websites, and started posting on message boards. Adding links to my blog in my posts, I guess I was able to, little by little, pique people's curiosity. When a web counter was added to the blog a few weeks later around Valentine's Day, I was shocked to discover that I was already attracting 350 to 400 visitors per week. You see, I was dreaming of reaching the 1000th-visitor threshold. Shit, it feels like so long ago. . .

Realizing that I now had an audience, regardless of the fact that it was about 50 visitors per day, I began to take this whole reviewing thing a bit more seriously, curious to see where it would take me. Truth to tell, I've been steering by those same stars since then, and one would think that things worked out well for me regarding this endeavor.

And as long as I'm having fun, I guess I'll continue to do it!:-)


Was there a specific point in time where you thought. "Wow, this is going way better than I thought. I've got something pretty exciting started here"

Well, these moments have been occurring sporadically since the very beginning. In terms of traffic, every time I believe the Hotlist to have peaked, things pick up even more, leaving me bewildered once again. The blog's popularity never ceases to astound me, and that's a fact.

Hitting the 100-hits per day average was a big thing for me. Then it was 200, 300, and then 500 visitors per day. Somehow, between January and March 2007 I doubled my traffic. I don't know what happened, but the Hotlist was now receiving about 20,000 visitors every month. And just when I thought that things couldn't possible get any crazier with about 1000 hits a day, George R. R. Martin came out and claimed that my little virtual sandbox should be considered for a Hugo Award next year. Believe it or not, this coming from someone like GRRM really puts asses in the seats!;-)

I don't know how it's even possible, yet my traffic has been increasing steadily ever since the Hotlist saw the light. By some unfathomable means, more and more people discover it and stick around. I'm at a total loss as to how this can be happening. . . But I'd be lying if I told you that it doesn't make me feel good!

Specific moments that made me realize that I had something good going on include securing interviews with authors like Tad Williams and Robin Hobb when the Hotlist was just a few weeks old, getting those first review copies, the first ARC, the first giveaways (for Hobb's Shaman's Crossing and Gaiman's Anansi Boys), getting that first Q&A with GRRM when the blog was barely one year old, reaching the 100,000th visitor mark, having my stuff translated into foreign languages, seeing quotes from my reviews in press releases and then in paperback editions of novels I had reviewed, being asked if my interviews could be used for promo purposes, etc.

Still, without the shadow of a doubt, the most satisfying pleasure I've derived from all this is the respect from the industry that I've slowly and laboriously earned over the last three years or so. Being told that the Hotlist forced many publishers to reconsider their position in regards to blogs proved that toiling in obscurity for so long paid off in the end. . .

The new generation of SFF bloggers have it so easy, and they don't even realize it!

You seem to have built a pretty solid network of relationships with publishers and authors alike. (As evidenced by your numerous interviews, books for your giveaways, and access to ARC's). How did you go about building those relationships? Did authors and publishers take your seriously at first or did they treat you (in your words) as a "punk with a blog"?

As I mentioned above, this was a painfully slow and frustrating process. What is now a solid network on relationships with publishers and authors alike was for many long months a work in progress, something that was built one brick at a time.

Early on, I realized that content was the most important aspect that was under my control. Hence, my striving to maintain the quality that has come to be associated with the Hotlist. That, and not taking myself too seriously. This is supposed to be a fun gig, after all.

The relationship between a reviewer and a reader is based on trust. This doesn't happen overnight, which is something many of the newer bloggers don't seem to understand. When people realize that you write fair, honest and insightful reviews, then it's a question of taste. The reviewers I trust when it comes to trying new novels don't necessarily write the best book reviews out there, and neither do I. Yet over the years I have come to rely on them because I know that we have similar tastes in books.

At the beginning, bloggers like me got absolutely no respect from the publishing world. Which, in the end, proved to be a good thing in disguise. Since there was no rewards to be had, no promise of glory, etc, we were just a bunch of people who had one thing in common -- our love for the genre. We didn't write with the publishers in mind, for we believed ourselves to be beneath their notice. We wrote book reviews for fellow SFF fans, and we didn't have to worry about ruffling any feathers along the way. I still maintain that it gave us a little edge over our counterparts in print reviews.

It's different with authors, because for them publicity is a precious commodity. If contacted directly, either via their website or on a message board, I have never encountered an author who refused an interview or something of the kind. Writers understand that opportunities to get their names out there are few and far between. Hence, never once have I been turned down by an author. Maybe it was just dumb luck, but this is how I secured an interview with Tad Williams when the Hotlist was about two months old. Same thing with L. E. Modesitt, jr. and Robin Hobb later that spring. Those interviews certainly helped the Hotlist get noticed, for vulgar blogs were not supposed to host such Q&As back then. I guess I pushed the boundaries of what vulgar blogs could do!:p

Since just about anyone can create a blog, editors and publicists were always more reticent to work with me. It took more than a year for some to finally give the Hotlist a chance. Although a major pain in the ass, I now see this as paying my due. Events needed to follow their course, and in the end things worked out rather well for me. And yet, those people could have saved us all a lot of time by sending me all the free stuff and letting me interview their writers right off the bat!;-)

Coming back from nearly 4 months spent backpacking around Europe in the summer of 2004, I was far behind in my reading when the Hotlist first saw the light. As a matter of course, I attempted to write reviews about new releases like Williams' Shadowmarch, Donaldson' The Runes of the Earth, Gaiman's Anansi Boys, and Bakker's The Thousandfold Thought. But I did review many "older" titles, such as Hobb's The Liveship Traders and The Tawny Man series, as well as Neal Stephenson's Quicksilver and The Confusion, Kim Stanley Robinson's The Years of Rice and Salt, and many other novels. The fact that all these books had been read by most people permitted them to compare their taste to mine, and analyze just how I broke down books when I review them. In the long run, I believe that this helped the Hotlist grow.

Little did I know, but at the end of 2005, with 46 reviews, 5 interviews, and a couple of giveaways under my belt, Pat's Fantasy Hotlist was about to take off. It took a long time, but publishers were finally realizing that a blog like mine could be a great asset, after all. No one in the industry was knocking on my door, mind you, but at least I had reached the point where most people actually returned my emails! A small victory, to be sure, and a sign of things to come. In the first few weeks of 2006, I did two interviews with Steven Erikson, one with David Eddings, and then I secured my first interview with George R. R. Martin. Looking back, I now realize that I needed to earn the publishing industry's respect, and a part of me will never cease to be amazed that I succeeded in this undertaking. Credibility has always been important to me, you see, even if I'm doing this for the fun of it. More reviews followed, as well as more interviews with the likes of Paul Kearney, Jacqueline Carey, Tracy Hickman, Naomi Novik, and all of a sudden I had contacts basically everywhere on both sides of the Atlantic. Finally, I would have the opportunity to turn Pat's Fantasy Hotlist into what I had always wanted it to be.

With the Hotlist being one of the very first blogs to review SFF titles regularly and seriously, slowly but surely it caught the attention of authors, agents, editors, and publicists. Though I've worked relatively hard to get where I'm at, I have to admit that I've been having a ball since the get-go. I have no delusions of grandeur, you know. While I'll concede that a lot of time and effort went into making the Hotlist what it is, along the way things often fell into place as if by magic. I don't believe I'm that great a reviewer, and even less of an interviewer. I just do things my way, and so far a growing number of fans have enjoyed what I've been posting. I'm keeping my fingers crossed that this won't change any time soon!

Of course, once the powers that be in the SFF world realized just how great an asset the Hotlist could be, I was granted opportunities I would never have been accorded otherwise. Being the first person to review Steven Erikson's Reaper's Gale last winter was quite something, especially since there were no ARCs being distributed, and Erikson's editor was kind enough to have a set of page proofs printed just for me!;-) I'm hoping the same will happen for Martin's A Dance with Dragons!:p

Throughout the good times and the bad times, though, I never forgot that I was writing for the SFF readers out there, not for anyone in the industry. Which is why I call the shots as I see it, even if it might offend some people. I don't get those privileges like ARCs, prize copies, interviews, etc, because I have a blog. I get all that because I have an audience. And in order to keep that audience, honesty is the best policy. Thankfully, I haven't read too many turds since I began reviewing novels. When I do, however, I have no choice but to let everyone know about it. David Bilsborough's The Wanderer's Tale is the perfect example of that.

Needless to say, it's been a long and winding road. Looking back, I never would have envisioned, even in my wildest dreams, that Pat's Fantasy Hotlist would one day become one of the most popular SFF blogs on the planet. But as the old adage states: The journey is more important than the destination.

And believe me, it's been quite a journey. For some reason, it never fully dawned upon me until I went to New York City last summer. Sitting in a cab between Betsy Wollheim and Sheila Gilbert abruptly made me recognize the fact that I was perhaps a little more than a punk with a blog! Yep, I had indeed become a top punk! I figure that if one must remain a punk, holding a spot in the higher echelons of the punk hierarchy is as good as it gets!

Yes, quite a journey indeed!;-)


Considering the number of reviews you do, how much time do you spend reading in a week?

It depends on how my week is going and what I'm reading. I read during my breaks at work, which amounts to 5 to 6 hours a week. The amount of time spend reading at home depends on my private and social life. On a bad week, my reading will amount to maybe 5 hours or so. On a good week, or if I'm reading something I've really been looking forward to, the sky's the limit!


How did you become associated with Gryphonwood Publishing and has that association benefited your work with the Hotlist?

This one's easy. Dave, the editor, contacted me when the Hotlist wasn't even a month old. He was looking for a reviewer for Gryphonwood Magazine, and he wanted to know if I'd agree to let him print some of my reviews in each issue. I said yes, of course, and some of my interviews also appeared in the magazine.

It did benefit me, in the sense that working for a "real" magazine impressed publicists a hell of a lot more than saying that you had a blog. So yes, I believe it certainly made it a bit easier for me to get some publicity folks to work with me early on.

And it was kind of cool to receive my Gryphonwood issue and see my stuff within its pages!


You have done a number of interviews in the past 3 years. Who has been your favorite interview to date? Is there someone out there you'd like to talk to but haven't yet?

As I said earlier, I don't necessarily consider myself a proficient interviewer. Hence, my best interviews have more to do with the fact that the author took the ball and rolled with it. To all ends and purposes, my aim is to showcase the authors and their work, see what makes them tick, learn more about their thought processes, etc. It's never about trying to position myself in a manner that makes me look good. I guess that's why I'm always happy to invite fellow bloggers along for the ride when the time comes to do some interviews.

While it's impossible for me to select a single Q&A as my personal favorite, a few of my past interviews stand out from the rest: R. Scott Bakker (December 2005), Steven Erikson (January 2006), Ian McDonald (November 2006), Peter Watts (December 2006), Hal Duncan (March 2007), and Richard Morgan (April 2007). The three-way interview between Daniel Abraham, Gardner Dozois and GRRM turned out rather well. So much so that I've told Martin that there would be a nine-way interview to coincide with the release of the new Wild Card novel, Inside Straight. Yes, I am aware that this one could turn into a nuthouse!

Two interviews which I would love to do have eluded me so far, mainly because publicists won't be cajoled into giving me the chance, and because there is no way for me to get in direct contact with both Neil Gaiman and Terry Pratchett. Given their personalities, I believe that a Q&A with each could be something special!

If you follow the blog, you are aware that I'm a big Robert Jordan fan. Incidentally, a few weeks before he passed away, in collaboration with Orbit, RJ's UK publisher, we were trying to set up an email interview with Jordan. Man, I was so excited about the possibility to interview him!


It seems to me there has been a great batch of newcomers to the Fantasy genre in the last few years. Any predictions on someone who could be the next perennial New York Times Bestseller. (a la Brooks, Martin, Pratchett, Jordan).

Funny you should ask this question, as the bit I wrote on the subject a few weeks back created a bit of a stir!

As I mentioned then, I don't believe there has ever been such an emergence of new talent in the history of the genre. Hence, fantasy fans should rejoice, for we appear to be in very good hands. I don't believe anyone will come to replace Robert Jordan, though.

As for my predictions, I'm sticking to my guns and continue to say that Scott Lynch is probably the one who has all the right ingrediants to be "the next big thing." But only if they market him a bit more aggressively in North America, and if there is a bigger, more ambitious story arc behind the Gentlemen Bastards. Capers can be a lot of fun, yet the series needs much more than that if it's to take off and rise above the rest. According to Anne Groell, The Republic of Thieves should do just that, so I'm quite eager to get my hands on this upcoming Lynch book!

Based on recent sales, Patrick Rothfuss, whose The Name of the Wind could become one of the bestselling fantasy debuts of all time in hardcover, should create quite a few waves. I'm eager to read the sequel, which should give us a much better idea as to where the story is going. If Rothfuss goes 2-for-2, then we'll know he's truly something special and a bright new voice in the genre.

Another author whose name we should hear often in the next couple of years is Naomi Novik. With Del Rey publishing the fifth volume in the Temeraire series in hardcover next year, we'll see if Novik can join the genre's "top dogs."


You've mentioned more than once that you love to travel. What has been your favorite destination to date. Where haven't you been that you 'd really like to?

As crazy as it might sound, there's no way for me to put into words what traveling means to me. There's a part of me that only comes alive when I travel, a part of me I only discovered when I flew away for the first time. Nothing beats that feeling, that sense of wonder. Everyday is a new adventure, a blank slate on which everything -- and I mean everything -- can and usually will happen. Unfortunately, my bank account doesn't allow me to travel as much as I would like to -- which would be all the time!

In all honesty, I can't possibly come up with a favorite destination to date. I've found that most destinations have something to offer, even if some places are nicer than others. A trip can change you, if only you'll let it. But the best traveling experiences are based on a number of factors on which you have little or no control. Oft-times, it's not about the destination. It's about the people you meet. They can literally make or break the trip for you. So you can find yourself in the most beautiful city in the world, and still manage to bore yourself to death. On the other hand, you can end up in a dump and have the time of your life. Understandably, finding yourself in a dump with crappy people means that the shit has really hit the fan. . .

Although I loved Prague, London, Copenhagen, Rome, Madrid and countless others, my favorite cities on the planet remain Paris and New York City. There is a vibe associated with both the City of Light and the Big Apple that you can't find anywhere else, I think.

As far as countries go, Italy was probably my favorite among the 25 I've visited so far. It has everything a traveler could hope for, and then some! And yes, every person or shop or restaurant or whatever affiliated with the country's tourist industry will try to screw you up the ass. Grind your teeth and take one for the team, as it's all part of that so-called Italian charm! When all is said and done, it's a small price to pay for experiencing the splendors of Italy. As my Contiki tour manager told us: "It's not wrong; it's different."

Frankly, I could talk about great cities and countries for hours, yet I doubt that most people would be interested in my ramblings!

Where would I like to go next!?! Everywhere, of course!;-) Insofar as I can tell right now, the frontrunners appear to be Australia, New Zealand, Brazil, Argentina, Poland, Norway, Sweden and Finland. But you just might see me in Southeast Asia instead, or hiking the Inca Trail in Peru for all I know. . . I wouldn't mind spending a few evenings at the beer academy in Bruges. Belgian beer permits you to have a blast while doing very little, did you not know!?! Drinking absinthe in Prague and a beer hall crawl in Munich can be cool, but you tend not to remember everything!


You've started to work from the other side of the typewriter. Can you tell us a little about what you are working on right now?

Well, I'm sort of working on a number of things, to tell the truth. . .

My fantasy debut, The Eye of the Serpent, has been submitted to a number of editors, and we are still waiting for an offer. Weighing in at more than 250,000 words, it's a big book, and we know that this can be an issue. Some editors have elected to pass on it, but we're still waiting to hear from others. And that, unfortunately, is all I am allowed to reveal.;-)

I receive emails from people every week or so, each one inquiring about the status of my manuscript. I have admit that I find this very flattering, the fact that a lot of people who follow the blog actually care about this. Fear not, all of you, for I'll post the news on the Hotlist as soon as I get the call that we've signed with a publisher! Many feel that it's taking a long time, and I guess it can appear to be the case. But Matt Bialer is one of the best agents in the business, so I'm not worried. Everything must follow its course, and people should remember that it took Matt about 2 years to find Patrick Rothfuss a home. It's only been 5 months for me, so there's no reason to get into panic mode just yet! Having said that, it does seem that publishers are not looking for epic fantasy as much as they used to. . .

After sitting on it for some time -- reticent because he and his colleagues were not quite certain in which publishing niche is belonged to -- Matt is now giving my non-fantasy manuscript, Time of your Life, a shot. So I'm keeping my fingers crossed that we'll be shopping this one around later this fall.

Other than that, I've spent a good chunk of the summer mapping out the sequel to The Eye of the Serpent, titled The Celestial Dragon. As things stand, I have detailed outlines for more than half the chapters, and there's little use in going further. Things have a way to not go according to plan, so it makes little sense to produce a detailed synopsis of something so far down the line that writing what comes before will likely alter it in the long run. Suffice to say that I know where I'm going, so everything should work out fine.

Last spring, I've accepted a gig for an anthology which has not been sold to any publishers yet, which means that I can't divulge anything on the subject. If the project sees the light, I'll be writing a short story, namely the back story of one of the main characters from The Eye of the Serpent. In all likelihood, I'll write that before plunging into the sequel.

I've put everything else on the backburner since August, though, because I've been working on another project. It's something I've been meaning to do for a couple of years, but somehow never got around to actually do it. Hence, I had to get these things out of my system, otherwise I never could never concentrate on my other writing endeavors. There are quite a few tv show proposals that have been drifting inside my brain, and I felt that now was the time to get them on paper. Though I have many more ideas in the pipeline, I have written 6 proposals, each for a show whose theme is traveling. They will be submitted to Canal Évasion (Québec), Voyage and Escales (France), Travel + Escape and the Outdoor Life Network (Canada), the Travel Channel (USA), and Discovery Networks International. The French submissions have already been sent to Canal Évasion, where they are now under consideration, and will be mailed to France in a few days. I'm translating the 6 projects in English as we speak, and they'll go through Matt before I forward them to the other networks. I'm not going to expose my ideas just yet, but it's been interesting to work on something for a different medium. We'll see how it goes. . .

As you can see, I've got quite a few marbles in the air. And like all aspiring writers, I have to make do with what spare time I have. I work and have a social life, so the writing must take place on my days off, or whenever I can sit down in front of the computer for a substantial amount of time.

I do envy those who have the opportunity to write full time!:-)


Who would you say has most influenced your writing?

When he read the manuscript for The Eye of the Serpent, my agent said that he saw some Tad Williams, some Robert Jordan, and some Steven Erikson in there. While I'll be the first to admit that both Jordan and Williams certainly inspired me in ways I can't even fathom, I had yet to read Erikson when I wrote the novel. And yet, since I'm big on worldbuilding, a trait I share with Steven Erikson, I can understand the comparison.

I remember asking Scott Lynch if Locke Lamora was in any shape or form some sort of homage to Raymond E. Feist's Jimmy the Hand. Lynch replied that he had never really thought about it, yet as a big Feist fan it could well be the case.

Since I've been a big fan of the genre for over two decades, I imagine that the simple fact that so many authors have inspired me over the years will result in their influence creeping up all over my fantasy tales. Personally, as far as The Eye of the Serpent is concerned, in addition to Williams and Jordan, I see some Raymond E. Feist, Katherine Kurtz, and Robin Hobb. Some test readers have mentioned discerning some George R. R. Martin and some Guy Gavriel Kay in there. One mentioned Stephen R. Donaldson. I'm convinced that others would see entirely different things. In the end, as long as they don't think I'm shit, I'm satisfied!;-)

As for Time of your Life, nothing I've ever read influenced me regarding this project. Since it's based on my traveling experiences, as well as those of my friends, it's more genuine than anything I have ever worked on. It's a blend of more humorous stuff like American Pie and Eurotrip, dosed with a measure of intelligence and seriousness and human touch that one can find in movies such as L'Auberge Espagnole and Les Poupées Russes. Fans will recognize Friends and Seinfeld as inspirations for my sense of humor, I'm sure.

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