International bestseller Garth Nix has an exciting adult debut hitting the shelves this month.
Sir Hereward and Mister Fitz is a new collection of eight stories featuring Sir Hereward and his sorcerous puppet Mister Fitz. Together they are travellers in a world of magic, gunpowder and adventure.
We caught up with Garth Nix to find out what he’s reading.
What are you reading now?
I’m re-reading a very old but excellent thriller by Hammond Innes, Dead and Alive, for research purposes about salvaging boats. I also just read and thoroughly enjoyed Romantic Comedy by Curtis Sittenfeld, I am a sucker for books with writers as the protagonist, and romantic comedies.
If you were stranded on a desert island and you could only have five books – what would they be?
To be absolutely literal, the answer would be all non-fiction books on survival, medicine etc But in terms of enjoyment, I would go for books I love that are long and can stand multiple re-reads. With that in mind: The Lord of the Rings; The Collected Works of Shakespeare; The Norton Anthology of Poetry; a bit of a cheat with the box set of Patrick O’Brian’s Aubrey and Maturin novels; and the massive omnibus containing all of J P Martin’s Uncle stories illustrated by Quentin Blake.
Where is your favourite place to read?
Anywhere. But I do love a comfortable armchair in a sunny nook, or in the bath on a cold, rainy day. With a cup of tea in both cases.
Do you read one book at a time or multiple?
I usually have three or four books on the go at once. Often a mixture of fiction and non-fiction.
Do you use a bookmark or fold the corners of pages?
Neither. I just remember where I was up to (sometimes requiring a certain amount of flicking backwards and forwards until I work it out).
What can you tell us about your latest book Sir Hereward and Mister Fitz?
This is a collection of eight previously published stories and a ninth new “gunpowder and sorcery” story for adults, featuring a knight-artillerist (Sir Hereward) the only male child born to a society of witches, and his companion, a free-willed sorcerous puppet (Mister Fitz), who is also a sorcerer. Their job is to deal with errant minor gods. Perhaps I can leave it to George R. R. Martin who kindly said: “If you haven’t met them yet, you are in for a treat. They are the best partnership in the world of fantasy since Fafhrd and the Gray Mouser.”
What are some of your favourite stories in this collection?
I like them all! I guess I have a particular fondness for the first one, “Sir Hereward and Mister Fitz Go To War Again” because it was the first story, where I came up with the two characters.
What was the inspiration behind your characters Sir Hereward and Mister Fitz?
They are definitely an homage to Fritz Leiber’s stories of the barbarian swordsman Fafhrd and his thief companion, the Gray Mouser; but also, as with Leiber’s duo, owe something to Don Quixote and Sancho Panza; and the sword and sorcery setting (updated in my case with gunpowder as well) is very much in the tradition of Robert E. Howard’s Conan the Barbarian, and other authors like L. Sprague De Camp and Michael Moorcock.
What book character would you be, and why?
There are many book characters I would like to be, but am not at all like. I would love to be Gandalf (in a peaceable time); or a wizard of Earthsea; or a retired knight who has done much derring-do but doesn’t have to fight any more; or a very rich Regency gentleman with many eccentric hobbies and a penchant for arranging romances for my relatives.
If you could meet one author (living or dead) – who would it be and why?
I’ve been writing for a long time, worked in publishing for many years, my wife is a publisher, and I am still a minority shareholder in a literary agency, so I have met many, many authors and have many authors as friends and acquaintances. I’ve met a number of my heroes, like Diana Wynne Jones and Susan Cooper (wonderful encounters, the person who said never meet your heroes had bad luck or bad judgment). I’d be interested in meeting almost any author whose work I love but I haven’t had the chance to meet, though if they are dead I would like them to be fully resurrected and not shambling zombies intent on rending my flesh.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Garth Nix has been a full-time writer since 2001, but has also worked as a literary agent, marketing consultant, book editor, book publicist, book sales representative, bookseller, and as a part-time soldier in the Australian Army Reserve.
Garth’s books include the Old Kingdom fantasy series: Sabriel, Lirael, Abhorsen, Clariel, Goldenhand and Terciel and Elinor; SF novels Shade’s Children and A Confusion of Princes; fantasy novels Angel Mage and The Left-Handed Booksellers of London; and a Regency romance with magic, Newt’s Emerald. His novels for children include The Ragwitch; the six books of The Seventh Tower sequence; The Keys to the Kingdom series and Frogkisser! His short fiction includes more than 60 published stories, some of them collected in Across the Wall and To Hold the Bridge.
He has co-written several books with Sean Williams, including the Troubletwisters series; Spirit Animals Book Three: Blood Ties; Have Sword, Will Travel; and Let Sleeping Dragons Lie.
More than six million copies of Garth’s books have been sold around the world, they have appeared on the bestseller lists of The New York Times, Publishers Weekly, The Bookseller and others, and his work has been translated into 42 languages. He has won multiple Aurealis Awards, the Ditmar Award, the Mythopoeic Award, CBCA Honour Book, and has been shortlisted for the Locus Awards, the Shirley Jackson Award and others.