If you were kind enough to watch any of my San Diego Comic Con author interviews (Thanks, if so!), then you may have noticed that they’re all kind of short. Normally the final videos clock in anywhere between three to six minutes. They don’t start out that way, though: Usually I record around 15 or 20 minutes of footage and then winnow that down to the information that I think will be of the most interest to that author’s fans. With the internet being what it is and knowing how busy the typical person can be, I know that it’s not fair or reasonable to expect you – the viewer – to sit through ten minute of chat to learn if there’s a new book coming out or get the latest on a movie adaptation.
Sometimes choosing what to keep and what to cut can be difficult; other times, not. Questions that lead nowhere, inside jokes that will leave viewers confused, and oddball tangents are the first things to get cut. After that, I usually cut out what I describe as the “Inside the Actor’s Studio” stuff: Questions that are way too obscure and reflect more of my own obscure interests than the viewer for whom I should be speaking. “It’s not the Matt Staggs show,” I remind myself as I’m editing. “You’re there for the fans and the author.”
Editing an interview becomes more difficult when I have several things that might be relevant or interesting, but I don’t have enough content for two separate videos and I’ve still got to trim things down. It’s a matter of comparing each little bit of information to the other bits, and going with a gut feeling about what I’d like to know if I was the viewer. I do my best, but sometimes things fall to the proverbial cutting room floor that I still think might interest a sizable minority of some of you.
This recently happened when I interviewed author Robin Hobb. I’d like to share some of them with you today to mark the release of her new book Fool’s Assassin.
1) Robin Hobb: Grandmother and Dungeon Master.
Robin played Dungeons & Dragons many years ago. Her favorite part of the game was its world-building aspect; something she took into her career as a fantasy author. While she doesn’t play the game now, she has taken her old D&D stuff off her shelf and run adventures for her grandchildren. How would you like to have Robin Hobb as your Dungeon Master?
Bonus: We continued chatting about the game off-camera, and got into a really deep discussion about the Jungian symbolism of assuming one of four classic archetypes (Warrior, Priest, Magician, Trickster) and descending deep into the dungeon (or subconscious) to confront monsters (the shadow self) and claim treasure (self-knowledge and wisdom). I’ve discussed this concept (Dungeon Master as psychopomp) with several people, and usually their reaction is to back away slowly. Not Robin: She not only went with the idea, but added to it by likening the Dungeon Master role to that of a tribal shaman. I really could have talked with her all day!
2) She’s a fan of classic swords & sorcery
I compared Fitz and his adventures to those of Fritz Leiber’s Fafhrd and the Gray Mouser during our interview, and Robin confessed to being a huge fan of Leiber. How much of a fan? She was able to quote Leiber’s Swords and Deviltry by memory. She’s also a fan of Conan the Barbarian creator Robert E. Howard’s stories.
3) It’s fine if you want to bring your tattered, old copies of her books to signings.
Robin believes part of the reason that people come to signings is because a book was special and meaningful to them. When she sees a love-worn copy of one of her books, she considers it a compliment.
4) Robin Hobb could probably survive the collapse of civilization.
Robin lived in a house outside of Fairbanks, AK for awhile, and learned to do all kinds of things out of necessity: Wiring a home for electricity, installing plumbing, soldering, gardening, hunting, and more. She credits her early experiences with giving her the skills to accurately represent the rough nature of a medieval setting, but I also suspect that she’d be someone you’d want to know if the zombie apocalypse happened. Better become a fan now!