Ambush: David Coe's Shift In Focus

Coe_2   Coephoto

As part of a new feature, I'll be checking in on various writers and asking what's currently on their minds. Think of it as a literary ambush, Amazon-style. Today, it's David B. Coe, author of the recently published The Sorcerer's Plague, the first of his Southlands series, and a former winner of the Crawford Award. He's a very interesting and to my mind underrated fantasy author. If you haven't read his work, starting with this new Southlands series would be a good place to start. Coe has been tackling what I'd call a sea change in his fiction: a switch from multiple third-person characters to a single, first-person narrator. Sometimes this occurs in a single series, like the bestselling Michael Connelly's Bosch detective novels changing from third to first person, sometimes, as with Coe, to tell a radically different story.

"For the past few weeks I've been working on a number of new projects in addition to the Blood of the Southlands series that I'm currently writing. The interesting thing is that I think I'm going to be writing all these new projects (two new multibook series and a short story--none of them related to one another) in first person. Sounds like a small thing, I know. But epic fantasy, which is what I usually write, tends to be written in third person and from the points of view of many characters. This new work I'm doing will have only one point of view character, who will be telling his or her own story. Because of this, these stories tend to have more intimate voices, to be more character driven, and, in some ways, more coherent. The other thing about these projects is that, while all are fantasy, all of them also involve crime mysteries of some sort. They draw upon the tradition of first person narrative originated by the old mystery masters (Spillane, Hammet, etc.) and brought over to SF/Fantasy by people like Philip K. Dick. Anyway, this all represents an artistic departure for me, and I'm having fun with it."

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"Because of this, these stories tend to have more intimate voices, to be more character driven, and, in some ways, more coherent."

This also restricts the knowledge of the motivation of the secondary characters. I'll be interested to read the result.

Posted by: Gary | Monday January 21, 2008 at 7:38 AM

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