Kevin Hearne on Druids, Bards, Farm Boys and More

Adrian Liang on April 13, 2018

Scourged.jpgKevin Hearne has his ink-stained fingers in a lot of pies these days: comics based on his first Iron Druid book, an epic fantasy trilogy, and a brand-new, laugh-out-loud series that lovingly punctures some of fantasy's most beloved tropes.

Last month, I sat down with Kevin Hearne and Delilah S. Dawson to talk primarily about their upcoming book, Kill the Farm Boy. We spoke as well about Hearne's Scourged and A Plague of Giants, and we've excerpted those parts of that interview for readers who have been both longing for—and dreading—the end of Hearne's contemporary fantasy series.

Adrian Liang: Is Scourged—which released on April 3—truly the concluding book in the Iron Druid Chronicles?

Kevin Hearne: Yes, absolutely. Scourged is the ninth book. It's been so much fun. You never know if you're ever going to be able to finish a series unless folks actually buy it, so I'm very grateful to folks for doing that and allowing me to finish the series the way I wished to. The number nine is such a big deal in Irish pagan mythology, I thought the narrator from that culture would tell his story in nine books. Not only did I do the nine books, I wrote five different novellas—a couple of them mysteries from Oberon's point of view—and then I did a whole bunch of short stories as well. So I got to round out the world quite a bit and explore some things. There's still more to explore, if I want to come back to it. If I continue, it would probably be with some other characters in the world.

I was going to ask if you get requests for spinoff books based on certain characters.

I do. Some folks would like to see more Owen or more Granuaile or even the sisters of the Polish coven. Then there's of course Owen's apprentices that came along in the last couple of books, who have potential as well. We'll see. At the moment I've got other things to do. I have to finish the epic fantasy series, and I also need to write the fun stuff with Delilah Dawson.

A Plague of Giants came out last year. It starts a new series, but when you wrote it, you were still working on the Iron Druid Chronicles. What was it like to pivot to a whole new series and world-build something entirely new?

PlagueofGiantsa.jpgI actually began building A Plague of Giants prior to writing the Iron Druid [books]. I wrote a very early version of it before I wrote Hounded. But I don't think the early version was anywhere where it needed to be. I needed to up my game a little bit. Structurally A Plague of Giants is quite a challenge: It's a mountain I wanted to climb. I'm telling the story through eleven different first-person points of view. It also jumps back and forth in time. But I think I pulled it off.... [Laughs] Basically we have a bard who is providing the frame and telling the story of these different folks who have experienced different portions of a continental war. He can take on their voice and seeming for a while and tell the story in their own voices. I'm a big believer in people having very different voices and how it reveals quite a bit of their character in the language they use, so I had a great time doing that. The story continues in A Blight of Black Wings, which I'm writing at the moment, and it will conclude in A Curse of Krakens. They look at some of our modern issues of colonialism and dealing with the legacy. I'm pretty proud of that particular series and I hope folks like it. It's very different from Iron Druid, but I've always wanted to write epic fantasy.

You have a hilarious new novel called Kill the Farm Boy coming out in July. You originally envisioned it as an anthology with a dozen authors, but it became instead the first book of a trilogy that you're writing with Delilah Dawson. How did that happen?

KilltheFarmBoy.jpgDelilah came back about a year [after I suggested the anthology] and said, "Why don't we just write the book ourselves?" We just loved the idea of making fun of the white male power fantasy where the farm boy always gets raised up by somebody coming along and telling him he's special…. "Farm boy" is a ubiquitous character in fantasy—and even in Star Wars. Luke Skywalker is a farm boy that goes on to challenge the Empire and finds that he's secretly has a special destiny. Kill the Farm Boy was born from that.... I really enjoy it, because every time I get a new chapter from Delilah, I know I'm going to laugh my head off. And then I hope that I can make her laugh with what I do next. We're editing each other's work but always building and riffing off of each other. It's a lot of fun. It's so much fun that I kind of regret not collaborating earlier.

What have you read lately that you've been recommending?

The City of Brass by S. A. Chakraborty was such a fantastic epic fantasy, and I cannot wait for the sequel, which I believe she is almost finished writing, so I'm very excited. And I've actually been reading some novellas recently. I think there's some amazing work being done in the shorter formats. The Only Harmless Great Thing by Brooke Bolander was beautiful and just gorgeous and fierce. It'll make you cry but you will also be amazed at what she did with language, too. I was so impressed. I highly recommend that one. And there's River of Teeth by Sarah Gailey, with the man-eating hippopotami that live in an alternate America where hippos were imported for livestock. I love it. She's got a sequel to that one as well. I'm reading mysteries a lot, actually. I'm reading A Curious Beginning by Deanna Raybourn, which is the first Veronica Speedwell mystery. She's got three or four in that series. I haven't finished it yet, but it's so much fun.

To find out what your character name would be if you lived in the lands of Pell, give Delilah and Kevin's name generator a spin.

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