Please welcome J. R. R. R. (Jim) Hardison as he answers a few questions about his new book, Fish Wielder!
Q. How did you come up with the idea for Fish Wielder? Did it develop over time, or come all at once?
A. I wrote the first rough draft of Fish Wielder when I was 15 years old and reading a lot of Conan the Barbarian stories. It seemed like he was always feeling the heat of battle surge uncontrollably through his barbarian veins and accidentally rescuing scantily clad princesses who were then magnetically drawn into his powerful, battle-scarred embrace. While I ate that stuff up with a spoon, it also seemed ripe for a bit of parody because it was just so…big. I had also just finished reading Bored of the Rings by the Harvard Lampoon, which I thought was absolutely hilarious. In that first version, the entire “book” was ten pages long. When I finished it, I put the story aside because I’d only really written it to amuse myself. But then, years and years and years later, I was trying to write something really dark and serious and it was bumming me out a bit. So, I decided to take a little break and write something funny to cheer me up, and I stumbled across those original type-written pages. When I picked it back up, it was again, just to amuse myself. But the more I played with it, the more the pieces seemed to fall magically into place and the more it seemed like there was really a story there. Not just a parody of the genre, but an actual epic fantasy in its own right.
Q. What are some of your favorite books or authors in the fantasy genre and why?
A. That is a hard question because the list would be so long. So I’ll give you a kind of highlights reel. The Dream-Quest of Unknown Kadath, The Hobbit, The Chronicles of Narnia, The Lord of the Rings, The Barsoom Chronicles, the Xanth books, The Prydain Chronicles, The Earthsea books, the Lankhmar books, The Chronicles of Thomas Covenant, the Discworld books, The Weirdstone of Brisingamen and the Myth-Begotten series are a few of my favorites.
Q. Have you always liked reading? Do you remember what your favorite book was in childhood?
A. I have always liked reading, at least ever since I can remember. It’s always hard to isolate a single favorite of anything for me, but I’ll tell you the book I have read the most times in my life: The Dream-Quest of Unknown Kadath. I generally read that book at least once a year.
Q. What was the most fun part about writing Fish Wielder? Most difficult?
A. I think the part that was most fun was plotting out the story and its sequels. There are a number of substantial twists that drive the narrative forward and plotting the story felt like running wild in the fantasy-genre playground. And the most difficult part was getting feedback on the various drafts and recognizing that it was valid. I am the kind of egotistical jerk that doesn’t receive criticism very well, so it was hard for me to hear that certain sections needed work or that ideas weren’t coming through clearly. I have had some really wonderful people help me enormously by reading early drafts of the book and giving me their constructive criticism, but despite knowing that they were wonderful people and that their criticism was constructive, I still hated getting anything back except praise. When comments came back, I’d always have to go through a period of incredulity, rage or mourning before I could actually start to accept that the feedback was right and the book would be better for it. So that was the most difficult bit. I actually enjoyed the rewriting process quite a lot—it was just accepting good critical feedback that was difficult.
Q. How does a fish breathe out of water?!
A. Magic. No, I’m lying. He’s not really a magic fish. He just happens to be an air-breathing, land-dwelling fish. He can’t even swim. He has lungs, like you and me.
More about J. R. R. R. (Jim) Hardison
Jim has worked as a writer, screen writer, animator and director in entertainment and commercials since graduating from Columbia College of Chicago in 1988. He is the author of The Helm, which YALSA praised as one of 2010’s best graphic novels for young readers, and has directed animated commercial and entertainment projects, including spots for M&M’s, AT&T, and Kellogg’s. He co-founded Character LLC in 2000 and has given story advice to many of the world’s largest brands, such as Target, Verizon, Samsung, McDonalds and Walmart, and has even appeared on NBC’s “The Apprentice” as an expert adviser on brand characters. Jim lives in Portland, Oregon with his wife, two kids and two dogs. Fish Wielder is his first novel.
About Fish Wielder
Fish Wielder is kind of like Lord of the Rings, set in Narnia, if it was written by the guys who made Monty Python and the Holy Grail while they were listening to the music of They Might Be Giants.
In ancient times, the Dark Lord Mauron cooked the most powerful magic chocolate dessert ever made, the Pudding of Power. One thousand and two years later, the evil leader of the Bad Religion, the Heartless One, is trying to recover the lost pudding in order to enslave the peoples of Grome. Only the depressed barbarian warrior Thoral Might Fist and his best friend, Brad the talking Koi fish, have a chance to save the world of Grome from destruction, but that’s going to take a ridiculous amount of magic and mayhem. Thus begins the epically silly epic fantasy of epic proportions, Fish Wielder—book one of the Fish Wielder Trilogy.