Risingshadow has had the honour of interviewing Greg Keyes.

Greg Keyes is the New York Times best-selling author of the novels The Waterborn, The Blackgod, plus The Age of Unreason tetralogy. He has also written the Star Wars: New Jedi Order novels Edge of Victory I: Conquest, Edge of Victory II: Rebirth, and The Final Prophecy, as well as tie-ins to the popular Elder Scrolls video game franchise. He lives in Savannah, Georgia.


- Could you tell us something about yourself in your own words?

Greg -- I grew up in mostly quite rural places.  I grew up reading, and mostly reading science fiction and fantasy. I’ve had an interesting life – interesting to me, at least.  I spent the first couple of decades of my adult life in school, playing, traveling, and having adventures of one sort of another.  Now I’m the father of two young children and having an altogether different (but very rewarding) sort of adventure.

- You've written several speculative fiction novels that range from fantasy to science fiction. Have you always been interested in speculative fiction?

Greg -- Yes.  I can remember that in second and third grade, for instance, I was reading the Tom Swift and Danny Dunn books, as well as the Lester Del Rey and Heinlein YA books.  By fourth grade I was getting into the hard stuff.

- What are your favourite authors and novels? Have any of them influenced your writing style?

Greg -- That’s tough, because there are so many, and I have trouble ranking.  For science fiction I would certainly list Larry Niven, Asimov, Heinlein, Philip Jose farmer and Poul Anderson as favorites.  In fantasy (and there is overlap here) I would list Jack Vance, Tolkien, Ursula LeGuin, Lynn Abbey and Michael Moorcock.  I’m leaving plenty of authors out, and picking a favorite book, I think, is impossible.  In terms of influences, I’m sure everything I’ve ever read contributed to my style and choice of themes.  I also credit my studies in anthropology, myth, and folklore with forming the way I see story, along with role playing games like D&D, which was an important influence on me as a teen and young adult.  Finally, movies – and the way they tell stories -- have had a pretty significant impact on me.

- You recently wrote two Elder Scrolls novels (The Infernal City and Lord of Souls). What inspired you to write them?

Greg -- Well, I was asked to, but in playing the Oblivion and Morrowind I became a fan.  It’s an interesting, complex universe that strays somewhat from the “normative” fantasy setting. It was a fun playground to play in.

- Your epic fantasy series, The Kingdoms of Thorn and Bone (The Briar King, The Charnel Prince, The Blood Knight and The Born Queen), has been popular and highly regarded among fantasy readers. Are you planning on writing similar kind of fantasy series or novels in the near future?

Greg -- Absolutely. I’m considering a sequel set some decades after the events of The Born Queen, but I’m also thinking about an entirely new series.

- Your latest novel, Dawn of the Planet of the Apes: Firestorm, will be published soon by Titan Books. What inspired you to write it?

Greg -- I’ll defer part of this answer to the next question, but the short answer is I was asked if I was interested, and I was.

- Have you always been interested in the Planet of the Apes films? Have you read Pierre Boulle's novel, Planet of the Apes (La Planète des singes)?

Greg -- Yes.  I grew up mostly in rural Mississippi, and didn’t see a lot of movies at theaters.  I first saw Planet of the Apes on television, probably in the early seventies, and it made a very deep impression on me.  What hooked me first was the starship, and this idea that they had been in cold sleep, and that far more time than they thought had passed. It was a time travel story.  And the ape society was fascinating to me.  And of course, the sort of Human chauvinistic thrill when “Bright Eyes” finally talks. I went immediately to the library, checked out the book and read that as well.  After that I watched the rest of the movies.

When Rise of the Planet of the Apes was released I came to it a bit skeptically, but it won me over pretty quickly.  And the script for Dawn of the Planet of the Apes – well, I’ll just say I can’t wait to see the movie.

- Are you planning on writing more Planet of the Apes novels?

Greg -- I would certainly consider writing more if asked, yes.

- What are you currently working on?

Greg -- I’m finishing up the movie novelization of Interstellar, the next Christopher Nolan film.  I’m also revising a project of my own.

- Is there anything you'd like to add?

Greg -- In researching this book I was reminded of the really troubling ways we have treated our nearest relatives over the years.  Some of this is getting better – lab testing on apes, for instance, is on the wane. But there are a lot of damaged apes out there.  There are also some very good people doing what they can for them.

Photo: Greg Keyes (Epinal, France, 2010). Photo source: Wikimedia Commons.

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