Saladin Ahmed Bonus interview - Sword & Laser Episode 2

Uploaded by geekandsundry on May 3, 2012


VERONICA BELMONT: Hey, everyone.
No full episode of Sword and Laser this week, but we are
going to bring you our extended interview with author
Saladin Ahmed.
We had a lot more questions we wanted to ask them from our
interview last week that we didn't get a chance to.
Oh, but make sure you watch the new episode of TableTop
coming this Friday.
But back to Ahmed--
Saladin Ahmed, sorry.
That's Mr. Ahmed to me
VERONICA BELMONT: So I haven't had a chance to
read the book yet.
Can you tell us more about Throne of the Crescent Moon?
Throne of the Crescent Moon, I guess the elevator pitch is
that it's sort of the wide-eyed '80s fantasy meets
the new gritty fantasy meets the Arabian Nights.
And I guess what I mean by that is that I'm kind of
trying to pay homage to the sort of fantasy novels many of
us grew up reading and are kind of maligned now-- stuff
like the Dragonlance books, for instance--
and kind of take that on with some of the more adult
concerns that writers like Martin, or Scott Lynch, or
Abercrombie are writing in now.
And finally the kind of setting is a very different
place, and I hope is more than just a different setting but a
kind of different culture that's based more on medieval
Islam and the medieval Arab world than it is on a kind of
medieval European setting.
MALE SPEAKER: What do you think is the attraction?
Because you're not the only author who wants to take that
kind of classic style and redo it--
MALE SPEAKER: --as an homage.
MALE SPEAKER: Well, Lev Grossman, The Magicians, which
is our April book, is sort of the same thing for Narnia that
is what you're describing for Arabian Nights.
What's the attraction with that, do you think?
SALADIN AHMED: Well, I think that, yeah, Lev's a very smart
and very well read guy.
And I think for both of us part of what probably
motivates us is to kind of take the stuff that we loved
as young readers and that always will probably hold a
place in our heart and kind of integrate it, or at least put
it in a conversation with the kind of men or grown people
that we are now.
And that's definitely what I'm doing.
And I know for a fact that that's what happens in his
work, even if that's not how Lev would describe it himself,
I don't know.
VERONICA BELMONT: His ideas about fantasy a very
I recently read a blog post about that, about just modern
views on traditional fantasy and how that's changing.
But we actually had some more questions from
our Goodreads audience.
Brittany wants to know "Will his future books feature more
awesome female characters, maybe
even as a focal character?
I would love to see more of the tribal magics as well."
SALADIN AHMED: You know, it's interesting because, like
anything else, people take things very differently.
Some people have thought the book was too religious in its
setting detail.
Some people thought it didn't have enough religious detail
in its setting.
Some people have kind of complained about some of the
female characters, and some people have really celebrated
it, more of the latter, fortunately.
And yeah, absolutely the female characters who are
strong characters who appear in this
first book will reappear.
And there's also a very significant character--

her story's available free on my website as a kind of
prequel story-- who will appear in book two who becomes
a very, very significant character.
VERONICA BELMONT: How many books do you
have planned so far?
SALADIN AHMED: Well, I have sort of outlines for
books two and three.
I'm writing book two right now and parts of
books three as I go.
But I have some ideas for what might happen in a fourth book,
if I were to be so lucky.
Beyond that I don't know.
I'm not sure that I would keep writing in this world or that
I would start something new.
MALE SPEAKER: Well, Charles has a question outside of the
writing world.
We mentioned TableTop, the series with Wil Wheaton, about
tabletop gaming.
Charles says "What was GM-ing the D&D fantasy game with
various authors like Joe Abercrombie, Scott Lynch, et
cetera like?
And how did his RPG experience influence his writing?"
VERONICA BELMONT: And how the freak do I get to be part of
that group?
Because that is amazing.
And I love Dungeons & Dragons.
And I can't even imagine doing a D&D
campaign with those guys.
That's amazing.
VERONICA BELMONT: Everyone would just die all the time.
MALE SPEAKER: The story must have been incredible.
SALADIN AHMED: It was quite a lot of fun.
We had a very limited time to do it in.
And the way you do a three-hour D&D game is you do
a little plug and play module.
You're not going to world build a whole lot.
It was especially fun because basically the writer Peter
Brett came up with the idea on Twitter, and it just kind of
spiraled from there.
So we did this massive writer's AD&D game at
ConFusion, which is a Michigan-based convention.
And it was just a blast to do, especially because myself and
Myke Cole, who's a kind of modern fantasist, we were the
rookie writers.
We were the guys with the new books out.
And so we were nominated to DM.
So we co-DMed Keep on the Borderlands, which is the kind
of classic old school D&D module.
And it was just a lot of fun.
There were a lot of antics.
There's a video somewhere around online.
VERONICA BELMONT: I was just going to say there's got to be
a video somewhere.
MALE SPEAKER: We got to dig that up.
VERONICA BELMONT: Any plans to do that again
in the future sometime?
Did you enjoy your DM experience?
SALADIN AHMED: I had a blast doing it.
What I actually want to play, though, speaking of tabletop,
is Talisman, the old-school kind of board
slash RPG game hybrid.
Because it's perfect for like a few hours.
And I'd love to play that with some other writers.
VERONICA BELMONT: I've been trying to put together a D&D
match on Google+ Hangouts sometime.
VERONICA BELMONT: I feel like Google+ Hangout would be a
really good way--
MALE SPEAKER: That'd be fun.
VERONICA BELMONT: --to get people--
I've talked about it with a few other people.
So maybe sometime we can get some kind of all-star--
VERONICA BELMONT: --D&D match going on.
VERONICA BELMONT: Well, not match, but D&D game.
You never know, maybe, I'm just saying.
Just keep it in the back of your noggin there.
So finally we have a question from AE.
He writes his name the way--
I don't know what it's called when the A and the E are
combined, like in aether.
MALE SPEAKER: Or Aethelwold.
MALE SPEAKER: How would you say that, just that letter?
VERONICA BELMONT: I don't know, A?
There's got to be a real way to say it.
But anyway, his question is, "What roll does his beard play
in writing?
How often does stroking it with three fingers yield a
nefariously good solution to a plot problem?"
SALADIN AHMED: The beard is maybe a product of being a
writer that if you're going to try and raise children and
live a life and write, you don't have a
lot of time to shave.
So I think it's more the results than the
cause of the writing.
But who knows?
If I don't shave for a while, it might get its own kind of
sentience, and then--
VERONICA BELMONT: It starts writing
its own short stories--
SALADIN AHMED: So we'll see.
VERONICA BELMONT: --and then it becomes a more popular
writer than even you are.
MALE SPEAKER: And then you're jealous of your beard, and you
have to try to kill it.
Oh, that would be a great story too.
Now what do you say to the accusations that you are
Jonathan Coulton?
SALADIN AHMED: You know, I had no idea, I'm sorry to say, who
Jonathan Coulton was till a couple of years ago when John
Scalzi at the Nebula Awards Ceremony came up.
And he said, you look like Jonathan Coulton.
And I've heard various--
Everybody gets these celebrity look-alikes that you don't
actually look anything like, and people say this to you.
And I said, yeah, yeah, whatever.
And Scalzi whips up a picture of Coulton on his
phone and shows me.
And I go, oh my god, I do look just like him.
And at a couple of science fiction convictions since
then, I've seen people on Twitter being like, is
Jonathan Coulton here?
I thought he was taller.
His hair's darker than I thought.
MALE SPEAKER: He gets that himself a lot.
SALADIN AHMED: It's kind of uncanny.
I think if the novel doesn't start selling blockbuster,
maybe I'll start being a Coulton impersonator--
SALADIN AHMED: --see I can make some money doing that.
MALE SPEAKER: Like a Coulton tribute band.
SALADIN AHMED: Yes, exactly.
VERONICA BELMONT: Or you could switch careers for like a
year, and he could try writing fantasy novels, and you could
be a geek musician.
Are you musically inclined?
But I could bang on some pails or something like that.
I could do an interpretive dance.
VERONICA BELMONT: They'd be like, Jonathan Coulton's
really lost his touch.
He's really--
MALE SPEAKER: He's different.
VERONICA BELMONT: He's simplifying.
It's a more minimal sound--
MALE SPEAKER: I like it.
VERONICA BELMONT: --than we're used to.
Well, thank you so much for answering our extra questions.
And if you want to catch the full interview with Saladin
Ahmed, check out Episode 2 of the Sword and Laser.