So today the lovely Liv Rancourt is hosting an interview with me over at her blog. An excerpt:
[In Stormbringer] I wanted to explore the idea of what it’s like for the “bad guys” in SFF stories. I was a big Blizzard fangirl growing up, and one of the things they started to do in their video games in the mid- to late-90s, was deconstruct the idea of the faceless, disposable Always Chaotic Evil horde of monsters. Because in Blizzard games, the player gets to play as Warcraft‘s orcs (who are, well, orcs) and Starcraft‘s zerg (alien space locusts). Which means the narrative in those games has to give the orcs and the zerg things like culture and personality and motivations, and these have to go beyond the KILL ALL HUMANS used in media with “traditional” protagonists like lost kings and space marines. That stuck with me as a kid, and I think once you’ve seen this sort of humanising (for want of a better word), it becomes hard to go back to taking the Bad Guy Horde at face value.
Deconstructions like this aren’t new or unique, but I’ve noticed there seems to be a recent proliferation of media that feature simplistic Good Guys vs. Bad Guys, “they hate us for our freedoms” style conflicts. I’m talking films like Pacific Rim and The Avengers, that show a sentient alien Other invading Earth, usually for reasons that are never explored much beyond “because they’re evil!”. Worse, these narratives often laud the mass (nuclear) genocide of said Other as a moral and heroic act. That’s not a plotline I’m comfortable with, particularly when it seems to pop up over and over and over again.
So I guess Stormbringer is a reaction to that. In the book, the core conflict is about a group of heroes on a quest to retrieve a magic hammer before an undead horde and a monster army destroys their home. At least, that’s the story they think they’re in. Other characters have different ideas, not least the said undead horde and monster armies themselves…