Bestselling Fantasy Author Raymond E. Feist on Thirty Years of Writing

Jeff VanderMeer on May 21, 2013

Magicians EndNot many authors can claim to have had a wide readership for thirty years, but that’s exactly the milestone fantasy writer Raymond E. Feist celebrates this year. Back in 1982, Feist wrote his first novel Magician, a story about an orphan boy named Pug who is thrust by a war into captivity in an alien world, only to rise to become a Master magician. That novel introduced readers to Midkemia and the Riftwars, an epic series of battles between Good and Evil. It also began a rather remarkable run during which Feist’s success has outlasted that of many of his contemporaries.

Fittingly, after twenty-nine books (authored and coauthored), Feist marks the thirtieth anniversary of the start of it all with Magician's End, the final chapter of the Chaoswar Saga and the climax of his Riftwar Cycle. Omnivoracious caught up with Feist to ask him about his career and his books.

What do you think has contributed to your longevity in the field?

I have no idea. If I did, I'd bottle it and sell it. I started out to write a "ripping yarn," and have a good time telling a story, and that's always been the prime motivation. So I guess I can say that multiple generations have decided to have fun with me. I know I get youngsters who tell me their parents gave them the books.

What are you most proud of about your body of work?

The longevity. I've been continuously in print in the English language since 1982, and there are not a lot of writers who can claim they've never had a book go out of print. It pleases me more to have people discovering me as a "new writer" more than it does to make a bestseller list.

How did you survive the rough patches? What carried you through?

I got a lot of support. I have some really good people in my life who took care of me during the crazy times. Writers tend to live in mental caves when we work, and we do need to get out and get some fresh air and sunshine now and again, and every once in a while someone needs to drag us out of that cave.

Do you have a favorite novel among your own work?

It's like kids, really. You love them all, but each is unique. Magician is my first born, so to speak, so it really is special in that respect. Magician's End is the other bookend, really, so it's special in a different way.

What, really, do you think has changed in the book culture over the last decade?

Tough one to answer. If I was to point to one important thing it's that younger readers are more attuned to the concept of content as opposed to a book as an objective item. They don't mind reading on a Kindle, Nook, iPhone, laptop, etc.

Did you do anything special to celebrate thirty years of Feist books?

Touring the UK, US, Australia and New Zealand, so I can visit with my readers. Then I come home and maybe take a week off and hang at the beach. When you live in San Diego you don't need to go far for a vacation.

What’s next for you?

I’m already working on King of Ashes, the first volume of a new series set in a new universe. I hope the readers find it as compelling as they did the Midkemian books.

What would you say to a writer just beginning now, based on everything you’ve learned over the years?

No one can teach anyone to write. They can help someone learn, so don't confuse those two things. The thing about writing is you have to practice, so write a lot and don't stress if it's isn't perfect the first bash. If you want to play piano, you practice. If you want to play piano well, you practice a lot. And if you want to play piano in Carnegie Hall, you practice hard for years. Writing's the same.


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