Sex elves and AD&D: An interview with Tanya Huff

Tanya Huff is the author of The Silvered a new mage and werewolf fantasy out in the UK via Titan Books. Before The Silvered, Tanya had already grown an audience of loyal fans through the sci-fi Confederation series and hits like the Enchantment Emporium and Blood Books.

The Ravenloft novel Scholar of Decay was written by Tanya back in 1995. When Geek Native was given the chance to ask a few questions about gaming, The Silvered, established books and new projects – I leapt at the chance. Many thanks to Tanya for taking part.

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I read through The Silvered and then jumped to Valour’s Choice. As a reader I found myself drawing all sorts of comparisons while also revelling in the differences. As the creator of many different words does the same thing happen to you? Do you have to fight to keep ideas apart or do you welcome the returning themes?

I honestly never think “themes” while I’m writing. I just tell the story. Since when you delve to the bottom line most of my stories are about finding personal power – wrapped in the tasty candy coating of adventure and blowing stuff up – I’m not surprised there’s some cross-over between worlds.

With interviews here at Geek Native I like to ask authors to describe their own novel in just a few sentences. It is always an interesting point of view and also provides some context for readers who are yet to read either the book or any reviews. Since The Silvered and Valour’s Choice have both recently been covered let’s try something a little different. How would you pitch The Silvered to someone who usually reads sci-fi and how would you persaude a fantasy fan to give Valour’s Choice a go?

The Silvered is about the intersection between technology and magic and Valour’s Choice is Rorke’s Drift with space marines and giant evolved lizards. Basically, if you like one of my books you’ll likely like all of them.

“What makes for a good leading female character is the same thing that makes for a good leading male character – a three dimensional portrayal respecting the character, the story, and the reader.”

Which was the harder book to write? Why?

The Silvered. Definitely. Four different point of view characters who all had to grow and change while balanced on the cusp a societal change. Although the writing the werewolves as the Regency Ton was definitely fun, Valour’s Choice is Rorke’s Drift with space marines and giant evolved lizards and was the most fun I have ever had writing a book.

Tough question coming up; out of The Silvered and Valour’s Choice who is your favourite character?

I’ve written hundreds of characters at this point but I can truthfully say Torin Kerr is one of my absolute favourites.

What makes for a good leading female character? If it was argued that neither sci-fi or fantasy have great records when it comes to the portrayal of women – would you agree?

What makes for a good leading female character is the same thing that makes for a good leading male character – a three dimensional portrayal respecting the character, the story, and the reader.

Other than Terry Pratchett and Charles de Lint, both of whom write amazing female characters, I read predominantly women writers who have no problem portraying female characters but if the argument is that the field as a whole has a problem, I’d agree.

I used the nickname “sex elves” for the di’Taykan. What’s your verdict? Does this make me an arse or is there some truth in the moniker?

I’m pretty sure I used the nickname “sex elves” for the di’Taykan… no wait, I called them space elves and then made it quite obvious they have a lot of sex. Which makes you better at condensing information.

In The Silvered many of the Imperial soldiers gave the mage pack a hard time for sleeping with werewolves. Does that make them each a bit of an arse too, illiberal and boring or should the reader have any sympathy with that point of view?

I personally think that makes the Imperial soldiers arse-like, singly and collectively, but I would never presume to tell a reader what they should or should not think outside the text of the story.

Have you had much experience with tabletop roleplaying games like Dungeons & Dragons or sci-fi equivalents like the Firefly RPG (the license of which is currently held by Dragonlance’s Margaret Weis Productions)? Would you like to see the world of The Silvered or the Confederation novels made available as a game?

“The Silvered is and always was intended to be a standalone. Nothing more coming, that story is told.”

I used to play D&D back before it was AD&D and I played every Sunday in an RPG that was loosely based on about half a dozen different systems. (I’ve never met a GM who didn’t start picking one from column A and two from column B after a few years playing.) I would LOVE to have one of my books made available as a game.

Scholar of Decay is a novel for the Ravenloft RPG setting. Would you write another book based on an established game setting?

Unfortunately, I haven’t played in any RPG’s for years. Old school AD&D, sure. Otherwise, I’m too far out of the loop.

What projects are coming up next? Any clues to what the future might hold for fans of either book?

The Silvered is and always was intended to be a standalone. Nothing more coming, that story is told. But, I’m currently working on a new Torin Kerr book that we’re calling the first of the Peacekeeper series and I’m hoping there’ll be at least three of those. Maybe four, so I don’t commit trilogy…

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  1. […] recent book is The Silvered and covers the convergence of science and magic. After an interview for Geek Native I was able to tag on some questions about social media and the future of publishing. Tanya kindly […]