Excerpts from the interview:
“There is a fairly clean dividing line between the Robin Hobb voice and the Megan Lindholm voice in my writing, so when I get a story idea I can immediately tell which voice is the better fit. If I'm approached to contribute to an anthology with a theme I'll say, 'I don't have any Robin Hobb stories related to that, but I do have some Megan Lindholm stories.' And they say, 'Oh, that's all right....' They want the Robin Hobb name on the story. But the whole point of establishing a different name for this different voice was to let readers know what to expect. For me, switching the names would be a big cheat -- like putting 'Raisin Bran' on the outside of a cornflakes box. When my British editions say 'by Megan Lindholm, who also writes as Robin Hobb,' that makes the distinction nicely. It says this is a Megan Lindholm book.
“The feedback on Shaman's Crossing has been, 'This is a good book, but there's a lot of world-building and a lot of description.' Well, in the first book of a trilogy there's bound to be quite a bit of that. And they're talking about predestination (because in this world your birth order determines what you do with your life), and the idea of loyalty and duty, and what happens when the idea of doing what is right takes you into conflict with maintaining loyalties that you've grown up with. Maybe I keep coming back to that because I see a lot of it in our world -- what people expect of you, as opposed to what is absolutely the right thing to do.
“The new trilogy is set in an entirely different type of world than the Farseer books. Some people consider it a major risk if you step away from the medieval setting in a fantasy. If you set it in our world right now, or in China or ancient Egypt, or at a time when Earth had steam engines and gunpowder, a lot of readers will say, 'Well, that's not really fantasy -- it's not what I was looking for.' But I've set this series in a time where the edge of real technology is making its way in, so there are cannons, and gas pipes leading into some of the buildings, and the beginnings of thought about steam engines.
“At the same time, it's the story of a conquest by one people over another. I did my very best to make this not the American West, not Native Americans, not the expansion of the Thirteen Colonies. If someone thinks it is, I could stand on my soapbox and rant that the reader 'got it wrong,' but if that's what the reader got from it then that's the story I told someone. Ultimately, I don't think the reader can get it wrong. It's like trying to talk to somebody who says, 'Your story didn't work for me.' No matter how much you argue that they should have enjoyed it, you're just going to make yourself look silly.”
“It's not magic if everybody can do it. If you write a novel where everybody could snap their fingers and light a fire, it becomes the commonplace technology. The inversion of 'any sufficiently advanced technology is magic' would be 'any sufficiently common magic is technology.' If the people in your fantasy world are using it enough that they're aware of it, they regard it very differently from how we would regard somebody who actually could pull rabbits out of a hat or snap his fingers and start a fire. We would be amazed by that. But if you've heard that someone in the next town, or everybody in one of the eastern states, can do that, then when they come to town it's something you'll go to see but you're not as frightened or amazed by it. When the trapeze artists come to town we don't think, 'Oh, that's magic!' We think, 'They really trained for that, and that runs in their family.'”
“I don't know if I'm going to go back to the Farseer universe. If I get a really good idea I will. There were characters I really enjoyed working with. After I finished the Ships trilogy, Fitz's voice kept taking me over (even when I was writing e-mails!), so I went right on and picked up the story of Fitz and the Fool in The Tawny Man trilogy. I'm never going to say absolutely that I've finished their story; I've learned my lesson. But I really think I've finished it. Right now I am pretty excited about Nevare, where he's going and what I'm doing with him in the new trilogy.”