David Hair was last interviewed by ScifiPulse in January 2021. In addition to talking about his life living in various countries (New Zealand, England, India, and Thailand), we also discussed his career as an award-winning fantasy author as well as his novel, Mother of Daemons. With his latest novel, World’s Edge, soon to be released, I was able to again interview him for ScifiPulse.
Nicholas Yanes: I interviewed you earlier this year. How has life been for you? Anything exciting? Any superpowers?
David Hair: Hello again, and thanks for getting back in touch. I’m well, thank you. Apart from writing, I’ve been doing a lot of distance running (half-marathons), and cycling; as well watching lots of football, now that my beloved Leeds United are back in the Premier League. We’ve started this season poorly though, so I’m a bit jittery, but optimistic we’ll come right.
Yanes: More seriously, how have you handled the pandemic?
Hair: Here in New Zealand, we’ve been relatively fortunate in that COVID has not taken a strong foothold, thanks to our isolation and the government’s rapid response. However, the Delta variant is now starting to spread, so we’re at a tipping point. Touch wood we’ll get enough folk vaccinated that we come through it without overwhelming the health system. GET VACCINATED, PEOPLE!
At a personal level, apart from having my wife working from home more frequently, it’s been business as usual for me. I was socially distancing long before it was fashionable J
Yanes: A while ago I posted a piece about how Covid has shaped how writers approach stories. How has Covid and how people responded to it impacted your storytelling?
Hair: To be honest, I’m still processing it. That’s partly because when it started, I was still completing existing projects, so had to keep my creative head firmly in those worlds. Even now, I’m finishing off the current trilogy, which was devised prior to the pandemic, so I haven’t applied my creative thinking to pandemic-related story-lines. So maybe it’ll come out more in future work, as well as other current issues like the climate crisis, and the increasingly confrontational geopolitical landscape. I also wonder whether at the moment, reading to escape from the current reality, rather than confront it, is the more prevalent mood?
Yanes: Your latest book is World’s Edge. What was the inspiration for it? Specifically, as a sequel to Map’s Edge, were there threads you felt compelled to follow up on?
Hair: Both books are part of a trilogy called The Tethered Citadel, and were conceived as part of an overall plan, so I came to each with the major plot points already mapped out. But within any plan, you always leave room for fresh ideas that occur while writing each individual book. In World’s Edge, without giving any spoilers, the biggest deviations from the plan were around the personality of the queen (who was originally a villainous character but took on layers of complexity as I wrote), and what’s happening inside the titular citadel.
Yanes: While developing this book, were there characters or elements that took on a life of their own?
Hair: Definitely the final climax – and this is illustrative of my writing process. I’d done a first draft and submitted it to my beta readers. They liked it, but thought the climax was a little generic, so they challenged me to come up with something different. In response, I tried out some ideas, and came up with something that I am thrilled with: an idea I think is genuinely original and very exciting. I can’t wait to see what the readers make of it, but it’s probably the best action scene I’ve ever written, and certainly the most unique. No spoilers, though. You’ll just have to read it!
Yanes: This series of novels is a massive undertaking. Was there a moment in which you knew this project would work?
Hair: Massive? Ha! I’ve written two quartets in which the individual books are nearly twice as long as the books in this series, so I actually see this series as comparatively small. As for a “moment”, there’s a point in producing every book I’ve written where I fall in love with it. Sometimes that happens early on, but other times it can happen as late as the final draft – but to date it’s always happened. With World’s Edge, it was when I created the new climactic scenes I’ve mentioned above. Before that I was slightly underwhelmed with it, but once that final scene was nailed down, the rest of the revisions also came to life. It just lifted everything.
Yanes: Just like your other stories, I love your world building. How did you go about shaping the locations readers visit in World’s Edge?
Hair: A lot of The Tethered Citadel trilogy was conceived in my imagination during an international holiday (remember those?) to Japan. As a New Zealander, I saw a lot of geographical similarities between NZ and Japan: we’re both a series of north-south running narrow islands with our east coasts facing the Pacific, with a mountainous spine and similar climates. Add to that similarities between the warrior cultures of the samurai and the Maori, and it really sparked my imagination. I think there’s a terrific alternate history concept in which Japan discovers New Zealand before the Europeans (who then get their butts kicked when they “discover” New Zealand) – I hereby copyright that idea! J
Yanes: Now with World’s Edge out, is there a section of prose in the book that you are particularly proud of?
Hair: I had all my “pretty prose” tendencies beaten out of me (not literally!) when I was doing night classes in short story writing, when I was younger. The teacher was into minimalist, efficient prose and that’s the style I use.
Yanes: When people finish reading World’s Edge, what do you hope they take away from it?
Hair: With this book, I’m hoping they’ll be really excited by the ending – have I mentioned that I’m quite pleased with it? Also, I hope they will enjoy the way the world of the story has expanded, from a mostly “western- European-centric” setting to something far more exotic and unique; and of course, I hope they’ll be fired up to read Book Three (which is called Sorcerer’s Edge, and comes out this time next year).
Yanes: Finally, what else are you working on that people can look forward to?
Hair: I’ll soon be announcing a new trilogy, an epic fantasy with a very strong ecological theme running through it, provisionally called The Talmont Trilogy. And I’ve a few other irons in the fire as well. If you keep an eye on my website and socials, you’ll get updated in due course (if and when I remember: I’m a little lax on such things (hangs head in shame)).
Thanks for having getting in touch. All the best from Wellington, New Zealand. Stay safe and happy reading.