Interview: Raymond E. Feist Discusses Faerie Tale

Interview: Raymond E. Feist Discusses Faerie Tale

Grim Oak Press is producing a limited edition of Faerie Tale by Raymond E. Feist.

It is one of my favorite books, a story that I first read as a teenager but one that has held up remarkably well after three decades of adulthood. When I decided to expand Grim Oak Press, it was with joy that I'd be able to contact Feist and his publisher and ask after the subsidiary rights to add it to our limited edition line-up. Magician is one of my favorite novels too but it was Faerie Tale that showed me fantasy could be more than epic.

Now that Grim Oak Press has begun the journey to bring Faerie Tale to life in a new limited edition, I decided to ask Feist to partake in an interview, to talk about the book, why is was written, and how he feels about the story in its 30th Anniversary Year.

We hope you enjoy the interview below! And be sure to pre-order the limited edition here!

Shawn Speakman: It has been 30 years since Faerie Tale published and in that time it has become a cult classic among your readers. What do you attribute this to?

Raymond E. Feist: I honestly have no idea, save it’s sort of a one-off from what at the time came to be known as “urban fantasy.”  Mine was more “rural fantasy,” or “suburban fantasy.” But it had that similarity of a juxtaposition of the commonplace with “otherworld” elements.  A common meme in a lot of fantasy is “what if?” What if your next door neighbors were the fae?

Faerie Tale was an improbable project to begin with, arising from three completely unrelated questions that occurred to me. It started around Christmas 1985. I was driving along and the radio was awash with Christmas tunes, and out of nowhere “We Three Kings” popped into my head, and I realized I’d heard the story of the three wise men, the Magi, all my life but I had no idea who the Magi were, save a vague Dungeons & Dragons sense they were some kind of magicians. So off to the library (this was before Google) and I found a fascinating bit of history. Islam had a rule, convert or die, except for Christians and Jew, because the other Abrahamic faithful were “children of The Book.” They worshiped God. But buried deep in history is besides Christians and Jews, the only other group they left alone were the Magi.

To this day no one is quite certain why. Politics? Fear of something? Shared beliefs? It’s a mystery. Then a bit later the question occurred to me, humans in modern form have been wandering around about 200,000 years. We’ve got about 6,000 years of history. 194,000 years is a heck of a long time to be hunting and gathering, and we’ve only had industrialization for about the last 200 years. Then came the third bit, what if fairies lived next door? Suddenly the answer came to me, humans keep building up civilization and the fairies keep knocking them back to the Stone Age, until the Magi showed up and stopped them. Now all I needed was the story, and that morphed into Faerie Tale. I think it’s that silly set of questions and answers that provide the appeal of the book to a lot of people.

SS: You had great success with Magician and its sequels when they published. Why did you decide to write an entirely new novel not set in Midkemia?

REF: With Faerie Tale and King of Ashes, both were to more or less prove something to myself. Faerie Tale was to demonstrated I could write outside of Midkemia and something contemporary. With Ashes it was because I had run out of RIftwars.  here were always five of them, and at the end of the last one it seemed a logical place to call it a day (or 30 years if you’d rather) and move on to something new. That was far more anxiety provoking than I anticipated for too many reasons to go into here, but let’s say it’s a relief that Farerie Tale found its audience, and I hope King of Ashes does as well.

SS: Hill House produced a gorgeous limited edition of Faerie Tale in 1988. Pictures are included here in the interview. What did you like about that particular edition of the book?

REF: I got to play boss a little bit on that one. It was a joint venture between myself and Hill House and I got to recruit the artists. Don Maitz is very well known and respected among illustrators and Lela Dowling is not as well known outside the comic convention and commissions circuit on the West Coast. She does wonderful whimsical stuff, and some outright funny comic work, but I found her style perfect for the interior illustrations. I’m very happy with how that edition turned out.


SS: Don Maitz is creating the cover and interior illustrations for the new Grim Oak Press limited edition of Faerie Tale? What do you love about Don’s artwork that fits well with the story you’ve written?

REF: Don has a rare gift for communicating. Someone once said a good cover  “takes place between two lines in the book.” I’m not sure that’s true given some of the covers I’ve had but I think it’s true of the classic style of illustration. Don studied the masters of that craft, Wyeth, Rockwell, Pyle, Parrish, Frazetta, Flagg, and all the others. He knows the Pre-Raphialite brotherhood artists and Sir Lawrence Alta-Tadema. So he began with a rock solid foundation. Like Pyle, he’s nuts for pirates and does wonderful work with that subject. The one thing that often puts Don apart is his sense of humor. At times it’s broad, but other times it is subtle. Often it’s the title of the piece that tips the joke, and as an unredeemed punster, Don loves his gags. His pirate painting “Forty Thieves” has people standing and counting, repeatedly as they try to find that fortieth thief.

SS: I know you get asked this fairly often, but have you ever considered returning to the mythos you created in Faerie Tale — in a sequel/prequel novel or short story?

REF: Not specifically to those characters, though it has occurred to me upon occasion that Mark Blackman is a character I could use again, given his history and interests. I may do another contemporary fantasy before I’m done. I’ve discussed it with my publisher but not final decision has been made.

The limited edition of Faerie Tale by Raymond E. Feist is available for pre-order now. Don Maitz will begin his artful contribution to the book soon!

And don't forget! Those who own a limited numbered edition of Faerie Tale have the first right of refusal for the same signed and numbered edition of Magician and its sequels! Coming later this year!

Beware the faeries!

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