The End of a Saga: An Interview with Robert V.S. Redick


With the release of The Night of the Swarm, author Robert V.S. Redick’s long-running series The Chathrand Voyage comes to a close. What is it like to say goodbye to lands and people that have been your “home” for over a decade? I asked Redick.

Is it hard saying goodbye to a series? What’s it like typing those final words and knowing that this is a world you may not ever see again?

The truth is, there’s been a delayed effect, perhaps like the kind that used to afflict transoceanic travelers a few centuries ago, who had to rush and scramble to prepare for this life-changing journey, and only once aboard their ship had the luxury to stop and think, “Wow, I’m really going, and I may never be back.”

That’s where I am now: just starting to feel the loss of this world and its people. And how could I not? Pazel, Thasha & company were my beloved, dysfunctional second family for nearly 11 years. Which is to say: they drove me crazy, they sustained me, I fought with them, and I learned from them even when we disagreed. They taught me about myself as a writer and as a moral agent (for while there are no moral answers in honest fiction, there are always moral questions).

And yet it also feels right to be saying goodbye. This story, this journey, comes to a definitive close with The Night of the Swarm. That’s not to say that everything is tied up neatly with a bow; life isn’t like that, and neither is my fiction. As for whether I visit Alifros again: I think I will, one day. There are more stories to tell there; it’s only this story that’s ending.

While working on this series, did you draw anything from your tenure as a stage critic?

Oh, definitely. Theater is all about people; there’s really nothing else up on that stage that can carry an audience, unless you’re talking about the most flashy Broadway extravaganzas (and most of those, bereft of good character development, rightly flop). Theater is also the best medium around for thinking about voice. Just read a good script and you’ll know exactly what I mean. I learned so much from that work about character, drama, pacing, point of view, revelation and withholding, you name it.

I also spent some time studying acting, in my amateurish way, and that was perhaps even more informative. Actors have to get inside their characters, to imagine them deeply, vividly, without a moment’s lapse. They do exercises to help them get there, and I confess I’ve done some of those as well. Any trick one can pull to deepen the intensity of the fictional dream, whether it’s occurring at the desk or in a park or a shopping mall, is a good investment.

I’ve read comments that the series should become a television series. Have there been any developments in that direction?

My publisher’s been contacted by a few producers, including MGM, but it hasn’t gone beyond friendly discussion. I understand both the interest and the caution, frankly. I mean, there’s more action in the 2500 pages of this four-book story than you’ll find in five summers’ worth of blockbusters. That’s not an exaggeration. But it’s expensive action. First and foremost, over 50% of the series takes place at sea, and much of that on this colossal, 600-year-old enchanted sailing vessel. And then there are the dueling sorcerers, the demons, the flame-trolls erupting from lava fields, the carnivorous forests, the mutant rats—on and on and on. This could a cinematic feast, but only if someone with deep pockets and fearless vision falls in love with it.

I’m sure your writing career is far from over, so I have to ask for your fans: What’s next?

I’m well underway with the next series, which will likely be a two-parter. It’s still epic fantasy, but that’s where the similarity ends. This one will be a desert epic (I needed a break from oceans), a war story, a tale of first love and demonic possession. It’s also a much more pared-down, eye-level, minute-by-minute kind of tale. And the only other thing I can say now is that I’m having an absolute blast.

Check out the book’s official trailer here!