Bilgemunky.com was fortunatate enough to be asked to participate in a blog tour featuring interviews with Bob and Geno Salvatore, authors of The Stowaway. We’re the second stop on this tour, with a different website featured each day of this week. To visit the other sites, please check out the Blog Tour Schedule.
Oh, and be sure to read the whole thing, because there’s a prize involved!
The Stowaway – from the pirate perspective…
1. Although prominently featured on the cover, the dark elf Drizzt actually plays a very small role in this book. As most Bilgemunky.com readers would approach this work with a pirate rather than fantasy background, could you
please fill us in a little on who Drizzt is, how he came to be at sea, and whether his role in this story will expand in the sequel?
[Bob] Who is Drizzt? Well, this character came onto the scene in 1988, and I’ve been writing about him ever since – more than 20 novels now and several short stories. In short, Drizzt is a drow elf, a dark elf, a race known as evil and particularly nasty. But Drizzt isn’t that way at all, and had the courage to walk away from a society he could not accept.
He wound up at sea in this book – well, basically, he was at sea in the time frame where we set this book, since the events of the third book in which Drizzt appeared, “The Halfling’s Gem,” run parallel to “The Stowaway.”
[Geno] Originally Wizards had the idea to set a book in the time frame between two other Drizzt novels, “Siege of Darkness” and “Passage to Dawn.” There’s a six-year gap in the story at that point, and one where Drizzt was at sea. When we started writing “Stowaway,” though, we realized that this time frame would better suit our needs. It was amazing how easily everything fit together as we went through the tale. Whenever we needed something for our story, it seemed as if it was hinted at in “The Halfling’s Gem.” It fit perfectly.
Drizzt and the other characters from my father’s books will certainly be around as I go forward, but they are secondary to the main character here. It’s his story.
2. Aside from Drizzt, many other primary and secondary characters (Perrauult, Elbeth, Asbeel, etc.) also seem to carry a presence that outweighs their participation within this particular story. Could you please fill us newcomers in – briefly – on who these characters might be from a larger perspective, and perhaps also share a little about the world in which
[Geno] There is definitely another story going on with these characters beyond their involvement here. A lot happened before we got to this point, obviously. However, I’m telling the story of one young man, who came into the world in the midst of this larger backdrop. Certainly I’ll be giving more clues and bits about Perrault, Elbeth, Asbeel and the others as I go forward, but that background will be as needed for the tale I’m telling.
[Bob] These characters might seem much larger than life, but in the context of the gigantic and rich Forgotten Realms world setting, they aren’t major players after all. The Realms have been around for a long, long time – Ed Greenwood created them in the 1960’s, I started playing in this grand sandbox in 1987, when I wrote the first of my contributions, “The Crystal Shard.” I would greatly encourage anyone interested in learning more about the Forgotten Realms to look no further than their local bookstore. I will also add to those who do, get ready for an amazing journey through a truly amazing, intricate and detailed fantasy world.
3. Pirate adventures don’t generally conjure images of trolls, elves, dwarves, or charmed heirlooms. What was the inspiration for taking your fantasy writing to the high seas, and what unique challenges did it pose?
[Bob] I told you that the Forgotten Realms were huge and detailed, and so in that setting, this type of adventure isn’t nearly as unusual as you might think. I’ve had Drizzt battling pirates in at least four novels now, including the last one (not coincidentally titled, “The Pirate King”).
My favorite scene in “The Stowaway,” involved a dwarf with an attitude and a flying chariot of fire, came straight from “The Halfling’s Gem,” which came out in 1990 – well, the event came from there, but I got to write it from an entirely new perspective.
[Geno] I don’t go about writing anything snared in the trappings of the environment. Whether I’m writing a book in the Forgotten Realms or in some other fantastical setting, it’s no different to me than writing a book set in our world. I’m writing about people and trying to convey real emotions and attitudes. The story should work set in the Caribbean and with more conventional human pirates. I think it does.
[Bob] Yeah, but trolls and dwarfs can be more fun.
4. This book utilizes an unsual chronology. From chapter to chapter, the reader might find themselves learning of the present, distant past, recent past, not-so-recent past, or anywhere in between. Why did you opt to tell your story in such a non-linear format?
[Geno] It didn’t start out that way, but structure was one of the things we attacked very early on. We decided that doing it this way, using the captor as a vehicle for my main character to tell his story and therefore being free to tell it non-linearly, would be the most effective way to keep the reader interested.
[Bob] If you could pull it off – it’s not an easy way to spin a tale.
[Geno] It can be hard keeping it all straight, and harder to make sure that the reader will be able to keep it all straight.
[Bob] And in this case, it worked. The non-linear story heightens the anticipation for the reader, but it’s seamless and no one will get lost.
5. Speaking hypothetically, how might being a pirate in a fantasy world differ from being a pirate in our own? What changes would the introduction of magic and monsters bring to the “sweet trade”?
[Bob] The biggest difference involves the mechanics of actually getting away with your actions. In the Forgotten Realms, we’ve got magic users who can use divination spells to locate pirates, and fireballs to burn the sails off their ships. The biggest challenge for me in going this route those years ago was logically creating counter-measures with magic to balance the firepower and allow for thieves sailing around in wooden boats to be a believable and feasible thing within the context of the fantasy setting. By the time Geno stepped in, all these years later, the heavy lifting on this issue had been long resolved.
6. Maimun’s captor throughout the portions of the novel representing the “present” is an un-named villain who seems to comfortably fit the classical definition of a pirate – missing eye, wooden leg, broad brimmed hat, and a clear salty swagger to his speech. His presence in this book seems primarily to serve as a vessel for Maimun to tell his life story up to – presumably – shortly before whatever adventures brought him into the pirate’s clutches. What more can we expect to learn of this bloke in future books, and what can a reader whose primary interest is piracy and maritime fiction look forward to in these sequels?
[Geno] Part of the fun in writing in an unusual setting is introducing the familiar within the framework of the fantastical. It’s also an anchor of familiarity for the reader. The captor is a pirate. The reader knows what a pirate is. The cliché works here and because the Forgotten Realms at this time is around the same place in its development as we were in the heyday of the classic pirate, it works without being anachronistic.
[Bob] And that’s the key. The cliché pirate works in the setting to add familiarity but it does not jolt the reader out of the setting. It fits. Maybe I can do the parrot’s dialogue in the next book.
[Geno] There’s no parrot.
[Bob] How ya fixed for blades? Ya better look!
Thanks to Bob And Geno Salvatore, and to the folks at Raab Associates and Wizards of the Coast for inviting Bilgemunky.com to participate. And as a special bonus, all comments to this post made within the next two weeks will automatically be entered into a raffle to win autographed copies of The Stowaway and The Pirate King (also by R.A. Salvatore). Comment as much as you like, but you’ll still only be entered into the drawing once 😉