Category Archive for ‘interviews’

Wonderbooks! Cheltenham! Interviews!

Posted on September 3rd, 2013 in announcements, appearances, interviews, news

Another smorgasbord of news items for your delectation.  Firstly, I see that Jeff Vandermeer has announced his latest publication, Wonderbook, a unique project that I suppose you could call an illustrated guide to writing speculative fiction, with contributions from a whole range of big figures in the genre, including Gaiman, Le Guin, Martin, Beukes, and many more.  Oh, and me, talking about the maps in The Heroes and the way in which maps and narrative developed together and informed each other.  Jeff gives some examples of the one-of-a-kind artwork over here.

Next, a quick heads up that I’ll be appearing at the Cheltenham Literary Festival, no less, on Saturday 5th October discussing the enduring appeal of Lord of the Rings, alongside Tolkien’s editor (not to mention GRRM’s, Robin Hobb’s, and one of mine) Jane Johnson, Tolkien scholar, author, satirist, and hilarious conversationalist Adam Roberts, and Brian Sibley, co-adapter of the classic Radio 4 serialisation. See?  I am a serious literary figure! Not to mention a fan of Tolkien. In your FACE.

And finally, the David Gemmell Legend Award are running some interviews with their shortlisted authors, and they’ve got a quick one with me up now, covering Red Country, my mission, and the importance of awards (or not).

For now, that is all.

Major West Needs YOU!

Posted on May 8th, 2013 in artwork, Graphic Novel, interviews

As of today, the whole 24 page first issue of The First Law Graphic Novel is up at  You can go check it out, entirely free of charge.  It is our GIFT to you ungrateful lot, and new pages will carry on being posted every monday, wednesday, and friday.

For those who’d rather not wait, though, all 22 pages of Issue 2 are also available as of now on ComiXology, and it’s a humdinger, with the appearance of the Union’s most self-obsessed young officer, Jezal dan Luthar, not to mention his reluctant fencing partner Collem West and the latter’s unconventional sister Ardee.  Meanwhile Logen wanders into the sort of trouble you can only get out of with a blade, and Inquisitor Glokta shows the results that can be achieved with a cleaver, a set of fingers, and the will.  The art and colours I feel just keep getting better.  Both I and Collem West urge you to contribute to this righteous cause.


Go on, he could do with cheering up, he’s got the weight of the world on his shoulders.  As well as cinematic-style guided view, ComiXology will also provide you with a bonus package of inks and pencils. Incidentally, it looks as if a physical collection of the first four issues should be available around end of August, but more on that as I have it.  I’ll also be looking at the development of some of the pages from script, to pencils, to inks, to colours, over here as we go.

In the meantime, a few interviews about how this project came to be, how it’s got where it is, and where we hope it’s going:

With veteran comics writer Chuck Dixon, who’s adapting the books, plus a comment or two from me, over at Comic Book Resources.  You’ll also see a few panels from the second issue in that one.

With me at Graphic Novel Reporter.

With me and Rich Young, the editor and co-ordinator of the project, over at Pipedream Comics.

Then there’s a piece with the artist, Andie Tong, over here.

A quickie at Sword and Laser.

More in-depth at NerdSpan.


Sword and Laser

Posted on December 21st, 2012 in interviews

Sword and Laser’s latest author profile is on that Joe Abercrombie fella, along with an interview via skype.  Ended up with a slightly ropey connection, so apologies for that.  Should you not be utterly sick of the sound of my voice by the end of it, you could listen to a longer and solely audio interview with me on Speculate!

That is all.

Ask me Anything

Posted on December 6th, 2012 in interviews, reviews

I’m participating once again in an Ask Me Anything over on Reddit’s fantasy sub-forum. I’ll be answering questions live there from 11pm GMT tonight for a couple of hours (I think that’s 5pm central), and will try to pop back a couple of times during the following day to pick up on any further questions or follow-ups.  The thread is live as of now, so you can leave questions and I’ll hopefully get to them tonight.  Unless I decide I don’t like a given question and refuse to answer it.  Or just ignore it from pure rattle-snake meanness.  But by all means stop by and, er, ask me anything…

In other news, writers Greg Wilson and Brad Beaulieu are doing a triptych of shows about my stuff over on their Speculate! podcast.  They’re starting with an in-depth review of Red Country, then next week they’re airing an interview we did a few weeks back, and finally getting into the nitty-gritty of the writing…

Back, Just Desserts, Vile at Times

Posted on November 20th, 2012 in interviews, news, reviews

Holy cow, I am back, and this time there’ll be no more travelling for a while, I am actually rather pleased to say.  I’ve racked up a fair few air miles, not to mention signatures, these past couple of months.  I had a great time at SupaNovas in Brisbane and Adelaide, and need to thank Ineke Prochazka and the rest of the staff, as well as the many volunteers for looking after the authors while we were there, not to mention all the folks who came out to get a signature or listen to me talk nonsense.  I couldn’t sell a book to everyone, but it didn’t stop me trying…

I hung out with some great authors – Trudi Canavan and husband Paul, Rachel Caine and assistant Heidi, Sean Williams, Juliet Marillier, AD Cornish, Fiona MacIntosh, Alison Goodman, John Birmingham, and others.  Here’s a photo of several of the aforementioned having desserts with Felicia Day, just cos, you know, my life is that cool…

Just desserts.  Heh.  Equally cool was hanging out with some highly entertaining and talented comics guys – Tristan Jones, Dave Yardin, Tom Taylor, Dave de Vries, not to mention the suave yet deadly Howard Chaykin.  I very much hope to spend more time with them in future.  I need to thank Sandra and the rest of the Dymocks staff as well for doing their best to shift my units, especially Aris.  From now on I think I will have to insist on all booksellers being able to do this as a minimum standard…

In other news, reviews of Red Country continue to surface.  Here’s a particularly nice assessment from Niall Alexander at

Red Country is vile at times, and plain ugly most all others, but mark my words: from source to termination, you won’t be able to look away… because by the dead, this book is brilliant, and certain to satisfy longstanding fans as well as welcome—warmly, I warrant—new readers from near and from far … the work of Joe Abercrombie is as blackly fantastic as it’s ever been, and markedly more approachable than before.

And if you’re a little less tired of the sound of my voice than I am, there’s an audio interview with Sean Wright at the Adventures of a Bookonaut blog.

Right.  I’m going to lie down for a day or two…

Still Down Under

Posted on November 11th, 2012 in interviews, news, reviews

Monday finds me in Brisbane, following a brilliant event with Ellison Hawker bookshop in Hobart.  A big thanks to Richard and the rest of the folks that made that happen, as well as the good people of Tasmania who turned out to see me.  I’d have liked to stay longer but sadly had to be up at 3 for a flight to Brisbane.  I’ve been at SupaNova over the weekend, which I guess you could say is Australia’s answer to Comic Con, signing books, talking out of my ass, and watching the Cosplayers swarm by, some in fantastic costumes, and some in fantastically ill-advised ones…

Meanwhile the press chugs on.  Nice to see a review in The Independent, since I don’t think I’ve ever been reviewed there before, and doubly nice since it’s rather a nice review too:

“This is not the epic fantasy of your fathers. Abercrombie has attempted something quite audacious – he’s essentially written a Western in the style of one from Clint Eastwood’s classic period, but set it in an epic fantasy world. And, darn, if he doesn’t pull it off … Red Country reads like neither a Western nor a fantasy novel, but something new, fresh and exciting – exactly what a genre still worshipping at the altar of J R R Tolkien needs.”

And another nice review from Nick Sharps at SF Signal:

“The exploration of themes is Red Country’s highest accomplishment. The characters are believable in their cowardice and their courage, and those recurring characters are bound to incite no small amount of excitement. The action is intense and grisly. The writing is finely constructed.”

Many interviews about also.  One with Michael Flett at Geek Chocolate.  A concise little video interview with Megan at Shearer’s Bookstore in Leichart.  And a much longer interview via skype with Dark Matter webzine.

Right, now to Canberra, and then more SupaNova in Adelaide.  I’ll look forward to seeing some of you there.  And, incidentally, I believe Red Country is out in the US as of tomorrow…

Down Under

Posted on November 2nd, 2012 in interviews, reviews

So after saying I wouldn’t be around for a few weeks, here I am again, jetlagged, in Australia.  That’s some gruelling journey right there, 27 hours by cab, train, train again, plane, plane again, and cab again, but, man, the weather is good.

Anyway, a few things to draw your attention to, in passing.  There’s an interview with me over on Fantasy Book Critic in which I say stuff about stuff and talk a little bit about what might come next…

Then reviews of Red Country continue to appear.  A hum-dinger from Eric Brown in the Guardian:

Abercrombie rings the changes with his sixth novel, tipping his hat to the Western genre but continuing his mission to drag fantasy, kicking and screaming, into the 21st century with his characteristic mix of gritty realism, complex characterisation, set-piece scenes of stomach-churning violence and villains who are as fully rounded as his flawed heroes … Abercrombie writes fantasy like no one else: Red Country is a marvellous follow-up to his highly praised The Heroes.”

I like that.  Then there’s an interesting take from Justin Landon, of Staffer’s Book Review, who combines some stiff criticism with some fulsome praise:

Joe Abercrombie is the best living fantasist. Notice, I didn’t qualify that by saying he’s the best living British fantasist, or the best living fantasist who doesn’t write A Song of Ice and Fire, or the best living fantasist who isn’t quite as good looking as China Mièville. I say this, not to trade in unnecessary superlative, but because I genuinely believe it. He’s subversive, creative, authentic, and all together, undeniably, modern.

Aw, shucks.  I mean I wouldn’t say best, necessarily.  Top two, maybe.  Another good one from Mark Yon at SFFWorld, though not without caveats:

“Red Country is as dark, as cynical, as violent and as grimly-humorous as we have come to expect. The characters are as un-stereotypical as ever. The ‘heroes’ are not your clean-cut type, your ‘villains’ are at times worthy of your sympathy … It shows all of Joe’s strengths and is easily on par with previous books, which is all the recommendation some will need.

But forget about all that boring book crap, because perhaps most excitingly of all, there is now an edited video up on YouTube of the fabled star-studded authorial D&D session which took place at ConFusion in Detroit at the start of the year.  Players included me, Peter Brett, Brent Weeks, Scott Lynch, Pat Rothfuss, Jim Hines, Elizabeth Bear, Jay Lake with Saladin Ahmed and Myke Cole sharing the Dungeon Mastering responsibilities, and the filming done, incidentally, by the aforementioned Justin Landon.  We didn’t get far with the module (Keep on the Borderlands, an absolute classic), but it surely was quite the nostalgic laugh.  Perhaps we’ll pick it up again at some other convention in a couple of years.  I look forward to the moment when daring half-elven thief Darque Shadeaux leads his party once more toward danger.  Or at least follows his party around danger…

Fantasy Faction Podcast

Posted on February 21st, 2012 in interviews

While at the SFX Weekender in Prestatyn, those two nice young men from Fantasy Faction interviewed me in a room full of snooker tables.  You may witness the results, largely consisting of me speaking very quickly, upon their podcast.  We talk of books past, books present, and books yet to come, among other things.  Quickly, in my case…

Ask me Anything

Posted on January 6th, 2012 in interviews

Ever dreamed of asking me a question but couldn’t be arsed to post on this blog?  Then all your dreams they come true, for between the hours of 11pm-1am GMT (That’s 5-7PM Central) on Tuesday Jan 10th I will be responding in real time to  questions posed by the generally public over at Reddit’s fantasy forum, where other writerly persons such as Brandon Sanderson, Robin Hobb, and Patrick of Rothfuss have appeared before me, further details to be found here.  The basic idea is, you pose a totally fair and reasonable question, I either totally refuse to respond, or reply in a totally snarky and dismissive way.  Apart from the typing, it’s just like meeting me in real life!

Viking Stylings

Posted on December 12th, 2011 in games, interviews

Leif Johnson interviewed me recently for an article over at The Escapist about the use of Viking culture in Skyrim, and indeed the relative underuse of Viking themes in computer games.  Well worth a look for those many of you who’ve been playing it over the last few weeks.  I thought I might as well reproduce the whole interview here since, you know, otherwise my precious words will only go to waste.  That would be unforgivable.

Do you think readers (or players, for that matter) respond well to Viking elements in traditional fantasy literature?

I suppose I’d say that readers or players respond well to any elements that are vivid, coherent, and well thought through.  But Norse and Anglo-Saxon elements have been firm favourites in epic fantasy for a long time.  Obviously those myths were a big part of Tolkien’s inspiration, and through Tolkien have become common throughout the genre.  I suppose one thing that’s interesting lately is that a lot of the savagery, sex, treachery and moral ambiguity that is so much a hallmark of genuine Norse myth (and a lot of other myth, for that matter), and that Tolkien tended to minimise in his work, is leaching more and more back into mainstream fantasy.

So you’re playing Skyrim–what do you think of it, especially in comparison to similarly themed video games? And why? 

So far I think it’s magnificent, I must say, and the setting is a big, big part of that.  I’ve always had a bit of a love-hate relationship with the Elder Scrolls games.  On the one hand there’s no bigger, more free-form and more immersive fantasy roleplaying experience out there.  On the other hand the gameplay can be a little hokey and in the past I’ve found the worldbuilding can be an incoherent mass of fantasy clichés.  Having a much narrower theme with Skyrim seems to have allowed for a much more convincing and atmospheric setting, and that percolates through to every part of the experience.  Compare the blandness of the Fighter’s Guild in Oblivion – they’re a bunch of fighters who meet in various non-descript fantasy buildings – with the Companions in Skyrim, who seem to have a whole ethos and personality and live in an upended longship.  The more scripted central plots – dragon attacks and so on – also seem to have become a lot more impressive this time around, and there’s a lot less repetition of bland, identikit dungeons filled with a random creature chosen to match your level requirements.

Do you think Viking elements (such as ambiance, characters, and even mythology) add anything special to traditional fantasy literature and settings? Or do they lack that same, hmm, magic?

There’s certainly something about the Viking mindset – the intense manliness and violence, the obsession with honour and disregard for death – that lends itself to heroic storylines, and indeed when that way of thinking is convincingly laid out it can seem far more alien than many fantasy stories do.  As with any other story element, though, it’s all in how you use it, picking out those details and working them into a greater whole that seems vivid and arresting.  You can have a tedious, obvious, clichéd Viking setting, all horned helmets, battleaxes and songs about mead, or you can have one that looks for something a bit more alien, unusual, and inspiring.  I’d say that in the past the Elder scrolls tended towards the obvious with their fantasy settings, but Skyrim is a mighty stride in the right direction.

Do you think that Skyrim’s success will start a string of Viking-inspired novels and games? Why or why not? And will this be a good or bad thing for the fantasy genre?

Well there’s always been a strong current of Viking inspired novels, both historical fiction (like Robert Low’s the Whale Road), fiction that mixes historical and fantasy (like MD Lachlan’s Wolfsangel), and out-and-out fantasy in invented worlds.  And Skyrim is far from the first fantasy roleplaying game to tackle the area.  I fondly remember the hugely flawed but very atmospheric Gothic 3, though it had nothing like the detail and grandeur of Skyrim.  Probably there’ll be some extra interest in the area, in the way that anything successful encourages imitation, but what I applaud about Skyrim isn’t so much that it uses Viking influences, as that it uses them with care and imagination.

Ever consider working elements of Viking lore more heavily into your work? Why or why not? (I know Logen and the Northmen have a strong Viking/Anglo-Saxon feel about them, so feel free to elaborate on that.)

Well one of the cultures in my work takes some of its cues from Viking and Anglo-Saxon culture, a sort of strange combination of Norse fatalism and Yorkshire common sense with a big emphasis on warring, feasting, death and honour.  But I don’t know that I’d ever want to go more self-consciously Viking.  I tend to be more interested in the mindset than the scenery…