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INTERVIEW: 10 Questions with Joe Abercrombie

[Editor’s Note: This interview was conducted by Guest Blogger Lucien Spelman.]

I recently had the honor of interviewing Joe Abercrombie, my favorite new author of The Genre (The Genre being George R.R. Martinesque-dark-fantasy-hacking-off-of-heads-with-a-bit-of humor, intrigue, and-just-enough-magic-for-those-whose-loafers-might-feel-a-little-light-as-of-late-but-still-feel-they-need-a-bit-of-Conan-fiber-in-their-literary-diets-so-they-can-look-their-macho-D&D-playing-peers-in-the-eyes-type-of-fantasy). Having read prior interviews with him, all I could think is boring, boring, boring. Not him, the interviews. “Homage to the genre?” “Surprised by your success?” “Favorite pub?” (Alright, that one was pretty good, but still.) Puleeze…

Using my best journalistic instincts, I went straight for the questions his readers really have on their minds…

1. You write combat scenes pretty well. Have you ever been beaten around the face and neck? If so, what were the circumstances? Has that played into your writing? If no, why not? Are you a delicate, whinging bag of mush? Man-up for god’s sake and do some research.

Yes, I have received a head wound. I will refer you to THIS blog post incidentally, my most commented upon of all time. Seems people love violence – who knew? And yes, as will be clear from the story, I am a delicate, whinging bag of mush. Most of us are, really…

2. For every book you sell, there are ten such manuscripts hidden under someone’s Star Wars blanky. And for every such manuscript hidden under a blanky there are ten more hidden in the deepest recesses of every fanboy/girls walnut sized frontal lobe. What is the difference between you and us… I mean them?

There is no difference between us apart from luck, and that I got my manuscript out of my lobes, out from under my blanky, and fired it off into the world at everyone I could find. Oh, and I’m way funnier, way cleverer, and way, way, way better looking.

3. Drunken tirade, or slow and steady she goes?

Drunken tirade, big style. Don’t you pricks know who the f**k I am?

4. Careful research, or screw it–I’ll make it up as I go along?

You’ve read the books, what do you think? I do research of a general nature, read a lot of history, but to get big-scale ideas. The specifics I tend to do in whatever way suits the scene best. That’s one of the advantages of fantasy. You can have the shoes of seventeenth century Italy in a room with the windows of twelfth century Sweden, if it suits the scene. I’d find it a bit smothering to have to constantly stop writing in order to get the details exactly straight.

5. In the event of an emergency:

  1. I’ll tell the editor there was a family crisis, bear with me and you won’t be disappointed.
  2. I’ll tell the editor Bugger off, don’t you know who I am?
  3. Editor? Please, you think I need an editor?

I’d like to pretend it would be B. But since there’s the tiniest chance that my editor will actually read this, I will be honest and admit that I would beg on my knees for forgiveness.

6. What’s your brand? Sell us in a forty-second pitch. Never mind, we’re wankholes from Hollywood and we have an appointment with our coffee-enema practitioners at 10:45… You have twenty seconds… GO!

I have a very important meeting, and can only give you guys five seconds. Lord of the Rings meets LA Confidential with a few black laughs.

7. Have you ever heard of Earl B. Morris?


8. What’s the difference between American Fantasy and British Fantasy?

You know what? I’m not sure there is that much difference. The British seemed to largely abandon the more commercial, epic, heroic area (well, apart from David Gemmell, maybe) in the 80s and 90s and concentrate on more literary areas, leaving that commercial ground firmly in the hands of the Americans, perhaps feeling themselves too much in the shadow of Tolkien. But I think these days there are a few new British writers leading the charge back into that area. And I’m running from shell-hole to shell-hole in their wake, calling for mummy.

9. You have a yellow 1956 Ford Galaxy that is disabled and pulled over to the side of the road in Murfeesboro, Tennessee. You are surrounded by men in hoods, and you strongly suspect one of them is the mayor, judging by his height and comportment. It is dark. He informs you you are to be the extraordinary guest at a special bonfire in your honor, unless you spin him a tale in less than fifty words. Spin it.

“No need, Mister Mayor, I’m more than happy to attend your bonfire event. I love barbecue. I think my hood’s in the boot somewhere…”

10. Please tell us about Best Served Cold, and please make everyone else want to buy it as badly as I want them to.

A very dangerous woman is betrayed by her ruthless employer and thrown down a mountain. Crippled but by no means dead she sets out to wreak bloody vengeance upon him and his six henchmen, assisted by a gang of outcasts and misfits including a barbarian who wants to do the right thing, the nation’s least reliable drunk, the nation’s most treacherous poisoner, and a psychopath obsessed with numbers. Meanwhile, in the background, the world around them slides into an ever more destructive civil war. The results are bloody, unpredictable, and occasionally blackly hilarious. And bloody.

For more about Joe Abercrombie, visit him at

For more information about Lucien E.G. Spelman, visit him here:

4 Comments on INTERVIEW: 10 Questions with Joe Abercrombie

  1. Lucien, excellent interview, makes me want to go out and beat someone about the face and neck (and me with no martial arts class tonight!). Those SF Irregulars really do quite extraordinary interviews don’t they (cleverly pats self and Lucien on back simultaneously).

    I’m just finishing Before They Are Hanged, excellent series.

  2. I was getting interested until we learned that Joe Abercrombie doesn’t know who Earl B. Morris is. Now I shall have to work to get his books banned instead. So sad. *shakes head*


  3. He’s a brilliant writer.  I enjoy his work a lot.  Thanks for the informative interview.

  4. Funniest interview since R Dawkins and God. J Abercrombie is perhaps the best writer in this genre around today creating wonderful books that wil be read eternally, or until the second Tuesday in 2053, whichever comes first.

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