Paul S. Kemp on ‘The Godborn’

Our interview with author Paul S. Kemp covering his latest Forgotten Realms novel The Godborn.

To start things off, can you shed some light on what the event of the Sundering is and how it takes place in relation to the events in The Godborn? As a reader, I’m not very familiar with the game side of the Forgotten Realms, so I’m still a little hazy on exactly what the Sundering is and how that affects the books.

For instance, in The Companions, R.A. Salvatore referenced an event taking place which changed the way magic was used, causing one of his characters to fall from the sky. I’m assuming that event was the Sundering. However when reading The Godborn, I didn’t catch any specific spot that made me go “Aha, the Sundering happened!” So I was wondering if The Godborn took place prior to it, or in the events were very subtly referenced and I missed it. 

PSK: In a nutshell: One hundred years ago, an event called the Spellplague happened in the Realms (I think this is what you’re referencing from Bob’s novel, when you talk about an event that changed how magic worked). Among other things, the Spellplague brought back together two worlds that were once separated – Abeir and Toril. Basically, Abeir and Toril were “mirror worlds,” that co-existed in different dimensions (they’d been separated long, long ago for reasons that don’t matter for purposes of this answer). The Spellplague played havoc with magic and mashed parts of Abeir and Toril back together, causing chaos, resulting in dead gods, people and places “switching” worlds, etc. All of these events occurred as part of the prophesized Age of Upheaval.

The Sundering represents the end of the Age of Upheaval. The worlds of Abeir and Toril are once more separating, some of the events of consequences of the Spellplague are being returned to a previous state, etc. Meanwhile, various groups and individuals are trying to make sense of events and, if they can make sense of them, use events to their advantage. So the Sundering hasn’t happened. Instead, it’s happening over the course of the novels in this series, sometimes in the background, sometimes in the forefront. And the different books of the series may show different aspects of the Sundering and its effect on various or different groups of characters.

Prior to the The Sundering, you already had another Erevis Cale story in the works. How did The Sundering change what you initially had planned and what eventually became The Godborn? 

PSK: Honestly, it really didn’t change it much at all. In theory, the events of The Godborn were to be told as part of a trilogy, The Cycle of Night. But I only had an outline for the whole trilogy, just very broad points — where the story was to end up, etc. As it happened, those broadly outlined points fit perfectly in the one novel (and the particular events also fit well with what was planned for The Sundering Series). Obviously, if I had written this as a trilogy, I would have expanded some things, added some subplots, and so on, but it works really, really well as a single standalone novel.

I will take the opportunity to say this, though:  I think the book repays readers who give the story their full engagement and attention (because the plot is complicated and there are a lot of characters and much is implied but not expressly stated). I’m really looking forward to hearing reader reactions about the story.

Being called The Godborn, I had assumed going in that someone would become a god. My question is how long ago did you know who would become that god? Did you know this several books ago, or was it decided during the plotting stages for this book?

PSK: That’s a good question. I actually waffled on this question a lot over the last few years. At one point, it was this person, at another point this person, at another this other person. The version that ended up in the novel was definitely the right choice, but I didn’t settle on it for good until after the Sundering story summit last year.

When writing The Godborn, were there any themes you kept in mind to lead the direction of the story?

PSK: Perhaps it’s obvious from the title, but birth and rebirth are thematic elements that appear a lot in the book (starting with the opening chapter), and those are there to speak to the idea of how we remake ourselves, how do we write the story of our lives.

The action in this novel takes place on several planes, one of which is the realm of Mephistopheles, ruler of the eighth Hell. Has anyone else in the realms played in Hell as much as you have? 

PSK: I know Ed Greenwood and Erin Evans have written about devils and the Hells (Erin quite extensively in her Brimstone Angels series, and in the forthcoming Sundering novel, The Adversary), though I think Mephistopheles has been my personal fiend since I introduced Magadon as his son in Dawn of Night. I like writing fiends in general, but I love Meph, the second most powerful devil in Hell, always second, always the fiendish bridesmaid but never the bride. That must eat at him, no?  :)

The Godborn also takes some really dark turns with a pair of characters named Sayeed and Zeeahd. What led to that element of the story, one that had a very strong horror vibe? 

Paul S. Kemp: I’m not entirely sure where the story of Sayeed and Zeeahd came from, to be honest. I remember pitching them to my then-editor and he loved the idea, but they really are horrific. Zeeahd is probably the most disturbing character I’ve ever written and that’s his role in the story – not to be disturbing for its own sake, but to act as a kind of personification of evil. He’s disgusting, vile, with almost no redeeming characteristics. Sayeed serves a different role in the story. Because of his affliction, he’s become almost insensate to the world, incapable of feeling pleasure. He loathes himself and is sinking into nihilism. He’s supposed to serve as a mirror of another character in the book who loses everything, and the way they each respond to their loss is indicative of the differences in their makeup.

What can readers expect from you next? 

PSK: I’m scheduled to do more novels in the Realms, picking up after the events of The Godborn. Those books are untitled at the moment, but the first is to be released in November 2014.

I also have plans for my next Egil and Nix novel and (maybe, hopefully, eventually) a return to the Star Wars expanded universe.

Once again we want to thank Paul for taking the time to answer our questions. The Godborn is available in hardcover, digital and audiobook formats. Readers interested in getting a signed copy can check out Paul S. Kemp’s official website for further details. You can also check out his excerpts from the novel here.

Posted By: Skuldren for Roqoo Depot.

1 Comment »

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  1. Fantastic interview!

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