Ask the Author: Robert Jackson Bennett

“Oh man, I didn't realize these questions were piling up! Shoot. I will try to be more diligent about answering these.” Robert Jackson Bennett

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Robert Jackson Bennett Nope. I'm not sure many authors do. Your first book is a lot like your first job: you don't know where anything goes or what's going on, so you just kind of fake it as best as you can. Later books are much like later jobs, in that frequently you're still faking it - you're just doing a much better job at faking it.
Robert Jackson Bennett It varies. I get some of my plot ideas from the real world, namely history and news. The real world is a treasure chest of plot snags and complications. As far as attitude, ambiance, and atmosphere, I tend to pillage art, TV shows, and movies for that.
Robert Jackson Bennett Thank you! Your English is great. I believe I go into a bit of the worldbuilding influences here:

The pertinent answer:

I was vacuuming at the house one day – I tend to have my best ideas when cleaning house – and Prisoner of Zenda was on the TV on TCM. It’s a fun adventure tale about a British man who goes on vacation to the fictional European country of Ruritania, where he happens to have a strong resemblance to the king, and hijinks ensue. Anyway, I was vacuuming, and I thought, “I bet it’d be very difficult to be an ambassador to a balkanized, fractured place like that, where every region has their own rules” – and that made me think.

So I thought, “Okay. So we have an ambassador to this country – Eastern European, maybe, very male, very macho, very stark, very dour, lots of furs and horns on the walls and so on. What sort of ambassador would most clash with them? Who would be the most out of place, as an ambassador?” And I just thought, “Well, naturally, a highly educated, Southeast Asian woman.” And I don’t really know why, but that just seemed to work.

But then I thought, “Okay. So. These fictional nations. They don’t like this ambassador. They can’t like her, of course, because that’s boring. But they can’t just dislike her because of who or what she is. What greater reason can there be?”

And the answer came back, right away, “Because her country killed all their gods.”

And that was that.
Robert Jackson Bennett Ugh, hope I'm not too late on this.

Someone said something recently I found inspiring: live every day as if it's the early stages of a young, great nation. That one's stuck with me a lot.
Robert Jackson Bennett Nope, CoS is my first second world fantasy novel. The Troupe is a fantasy novel set in our world, and American Elsewhere is a science fiction novel set in America (obviously). Basically everything before CoS is kind of all over the place.
Robert Jackson Bennett I usually write about one to two hours a day, and I come in with a specific thing I want to see accomplished - one scene, one development, one moment. The goal is to get it done, not to get it perfect. Once it's done, I move on, though I often keep thinking in the back of my head about how I can improve it.

Storytelling is odd in that you often have to completely remake your tools and your process for every story you write. The thing that you can refine is a sense of what feels wrong or right, and what's missing.
Robert Jackson Bennett To be a writer, you need to write, and keep writing. To be famous is mostly a matter of luck, in my opinion. The older I get, the more I consider luck to be the main factor in nearly anything. You can decrease luck's influence by writing more, or writing a certain kind of thing - but luck will still be the deciding force.
Robert Jackson Bennett Oh god, how long have I been missing these questions? Shit!

Uh, to answer your question, I write about things I'm concerned or uncertain about. To quote Gaiman, I write to figure out how I feel about things. Because I don't know myself.
Robert Jackson Bennett Once when I was a kid I went out in the woods and found a giant mound of butchered deer carcasses, huge piles of heads and legs and other bits. It feels like that could quite easily lead somewhere interesting.

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