Tad Williams Interview: On Returning To Osten Ard

Tad Williams is returning to Osten Ard.

I will never forget picking up the The Dragonbone Chair, the first book in the epic fantasy trilogy Memory, Sorrow and Thorn. It was a gorgeous paperback, featuring a die-cut front cover that opened upon beautiful artwork by Michael Whelan. At this time, I had read Shannara by Terry Brooks, Thomas Covenant by Stephen R. Donaldson, and I craved another epic fantasy read.

Tad supplied that—and much, much more. The Dragonbone Chair and its sequels, Stone of Farewell and To Green Angel Tower, display everything that is epic about epic fantasy. Great world building. Better characters. And a finely wrought tale with great twists and a wonderful climax.

It has been 20 years since To Green Angel Tower published. During that time, Tad has been repeatedly asked about returning to the world of Osten Ard and he has always said, “If there is a story there, yes.”

Last week, Tad and DAW Books shared he had found that story—and it sounds amazing! He is hard at work on The Last King of Osten Ard, a new trilogy set 30 years after Memory, Sorrow and Thorn!

Similar to when Robin Hobb announced her new Fitz Chivalry book, Assassin’s Fool, I decided to send Tad three questions about The Last King of Osten Ard.

Here is that short interview:


Shawn Speakman: You and DAW Books have announced The Last King of Osten Ard, a new trilogy set after your bestselling epic fantasy trilogy, Memory, Sorrow and Thorn. You have said for years that you may return to Osten Ard — either through short stories or a new novel. It is now a trilogy. How did you come full circle back to the trilogy format for The Last King of Osten Ard?

williams-tadTad Williams: I had collected (in my head) a number of potential story ideas for an Osten Ard anthology of sorts, called Chronicle in Stone, but not enough to press me into working on it. My wife Deborah asked me (innocently) why I couldn’t ever write another full story set in that world, and I tried to explain to her about not having an idea being the most basic problem. Then I began to think about it, as I tend to do whenever I bump into something I don’t fully understand, and once I hooked the basic idea, the story began creating itself. Within a few days I was telling Deb, “You know, I might have been wrong about that can’t-write-an-Osten-Ard-story thing…”

Shawn Speakman: In what part of the process did you decide to move the story forward 30 years? What kind of creative freedom does this allow you as the writer?

Tad Williams: That was actually what started the whole story-making chain of events. My first thought was, if I feature the same characters at roughly the same age, I’m copying myself. If I start over with all-new characters, I’m keeping the setting but abandoning a bunch of characters I’ve invested in (and readers invested in, too). What’s the biggest difference between when I wrote MS&T and now? Three decades, changed lives, an entirely different perspective on the world. Then I realized, that’s the story: what happened to these people. Who are they now? How do they feel about things, now that they’re no longer on the you’re-young-so-anything-is-possible part of life’s journey? And then things quickly started coming together.
And of course, there’s far more to the new story than simply the main characters aging, or new characters appearing. That was just my route back into the world. Ultimately it has to work as a story, even for those who never read the first books.

Shawn Speakman: You have called the last book in Memory, Sorrow, and Thorn, TO GREEN ANGEL TOWER, as “the book that your life.” It took seven years to publish that massive tome of a conclusion. When can readers expect the new trilogy’s first book, THE WITCHWOOD CROWN?

Tad Williams: I’m hesitant to make firm predictions, but I’d like to have this book ready for press about this time next year, which would mean a late 2015 publication date. We’ll know better after this first one, but I feel like this is do-able, and since the third Bobby Dollar book comes out in autumn of this year, that would mean no significant gap between my next two publications, which would be nice.
The trick, though, will be to keep that going and try to get them all out within three to four years. That’s my goal.

If you haven’t read Memory, Sorrow and Thorn by Tad Williams, you are wholly missing out on one of the most important epic fantasies in the history of the genre. It helped George R. R. Martin decide to write A Game of Thrones. But beyond that, it is an amazing tale, worthy of your time and attention. Late next year cannot get here soon enough!

To learn more about Tad Williams, visit him at his website and join him on Facebook!

Time to revisit Osten Ard!

speakman-shawnShawn Speakman is the author of The Dark Thorn, an urban/epic fantasy hybrid novel bestselling author Terry Brooks calls, “a fine tale by a talented writer.”

He is also editor and contributor of Unfettered, a fantasy anthology featuring some of the best writers in the genre. When Shawn isn’t lying for a living, he runs The Signed Page and Grim Oak Press.