The ESC Q&A: "The Memory Of Souls" Author Jenn Lyons
Author Interview: Jenn Lyons
Before she was known as the author of the Chorus Of Dragons saga, epic fantasy writer Jenn Lyons embraced her dark fantasies by making people play such video games as The Saboteur and Lord Of The Rings: Conquest (insert evil laugh here). In the following interview, she discusses the third book of the Chorus saga, The Memory Of Souls (hardcover, Kindle), including how games didn't factory into the story...this time.
For people who haven't read the first two books, The Ruin Of Kings and The Name Of All Things, what is the Chorus Of Dragons saga about?
It's about a man named Kihrin who finds out he's at the center of this series of prophecies about the destruction of the world. But rather than being the one who's going to save everyone, he might be the one destroying everything. Which is a bit of a problem for him, since he doesn't want to do that.
And then what is The Memory Of Souls about, and how does it connect, chronologically and narratively, to the previous books?
The Memory Of Souls picks up immediately after the end of Name, and narratively deals with the heroes from those two books having to deal with the consequences of what's happened. Things have gone from bad to worse, but not to worry: Every time this evil god has previously come close to escaping in ages past, people have always performed this ritual to imprison him again. All it requires is for an immortal race to give up their immortality...
The Ruin Of Kings and The Name Of All Things were epic fantasy tales. Can the same be said for The Memory Of Souls?
I would say it's even more epic fantasy than the first two in that this book really follows the heroic quest trope. This is very classic stuff: The heroes are traveling to a far-off land to do a thing so they can defeat a dark god. And then nothing goes as planned, as is tradition.
And what do you think makes the Chorus Of Dragons different from other epic fantasy sagas, such as J.R.R. Tolkien's The Lord Of The Rings and George R.R. Martin's A Song Of Ice And Fire?
The most obvious answer is that I didn't write them — and that does make a huge difference. I couldn't have written those books if I'd wanted to. That's the joy of being a writer. We're always uniquely ourselves in how we approach our work. I could write a fantasy retelling of The War Of The Roses and it would look nothing like A Song Of Ice And Fire precisely because I wouldn't be able to stop myself from approaching it from my perspective.
I also think that there's a sense of humor in my books that are typically just not present in most epic fantasies. These books are fundamentally quite dark, and I think it's important to balance that out because I am firmly convinced that human nature is such that when the situation is at its darkest is precisely when someone will tell a fart joke.
Are there any writers or specific stories that had a big influence on The Memory Of Souls but not on The Ruin Of Kings or The Name Of All Things?
Weirdly, no. I'm sure there were because no act of creation happens in a void, but nothing obvious is coming to mind. Though I will say it's difficult to have a magical, immortal race that lives on the top of trees without thinking of Tolkien, or having a beautiful, elegant race that lives up high while an entirely different, "ugly" race lives down below in the shadows without thinking of H.G. Wells.
Prior to your writing career, you worked for Electronic Arts on such games as Lord Of The Rings: Conquest and The Saboteur.
Yes. I worked in QA, and then later ran the Playtesting Lab. Basically, I got a bunch of volunteers to play games and then asked them what they thought.
You also said, in a previous interview, that a chapter in Ruin that would make people think, "yes, of course the author worked in video games." Is there anything particularly game-y in The Memory Of Souls?
Not in the same meta way. I mean, Ruin has this scene where Kihrin is being trained by someone who has close to perfect control over illusions. And as I was writing it, I realized this training would end up being a VR game. Because why wouldn't you fold that into sword training if you could? Kihrin would fight until he "died" and then his teacher would hit the magical equivalent of "restart." Repeat until he learned something. But there wasn't a need for a scene like that in this book. Kihrin's trained now, Janel's trained now. We're out of the tutorial section.
But ask me that question again when we get to book 4.
Finally, the Chorus Of Dragons saga will ultimately be a five-book story. Do you know yet what the other two books will be called and when they'll be out?
Don't hold me to it, because I don't know if the name is final, but I believe book 4 is The House Of Always and it will be out next year. My working title for Book 5 (an almost certain guarantee it will not be called that) is The Map Of God.
Paul Semel has been writing about books (and video games, and music, and movies...) for more than twenty-five years. For more of his author interviews, visit his website, paulsemel.com.
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