“Hapthorn’s Last Case” is a thrilling mystery, certainly, but it’s a funny one. Was there a balance to writing the suspenseful with the comedic? If so, how did you manage that balance?
I include some humor in most of my writing. The guy in the back of my head who does the actual creating seems to have a natural sense of how much to use and when to use it. I don’t argue with him because he’s almost always right.
What inspired this story’s creation?
Short answer: John Joseph Adams asked me to send him something for the anniversary edition. I did so.
Longer answer: I’ve been writing about Henghis Hapthorn for fifteen years, including nine previous stories/novelettes/novellas and three novels. “Hapthorn’s Last Case” touches off from where the third novel, Hespira, ends. I may do another novel, if I get enough Patreon patrons to make it financially feasible to switch from writing shorter pennies-a-word pieces to book-length fiction.
Readers who would like to see that happen are welcome to visit my Patreon page (bit.ly/2RcRzkL).
You’ve crafted a fascinating world in such a small space. I’m especially interested in the contrast between machinery and magic, how one is usurping the other. Was this contrast always important to the story during your initial writing?
It is the basis for the nine shorter and three novel-length works that preceded “Hapthorn’s Last Case.” It was originally a throwaway line in my first novel, Fools Errant. Then, when I wrote the first Hapthorn short story, “Mastermindless,” for The Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction, I decided to make the usurpation the central problem Hapthorn faced.
Interesting fact: Back then John Joseph Adams was The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction’s slush reader, so he would have been the first person to encounter a Hapthorn tale. That’s why it seemed appropriate to bring Henghis back for John.
What’s next for you? What can people expect to see in the future?
Lots more fiction. As I said above, I may do another Hapthorn novel. I’m writing another Dying Earth-esque novel right now, set in the same milieu as my Raffalon and Baldemar stories. I’ve got two more books, one of them a big slipstreamish historical novel, before the eyes of publishers at the moment, and I’ll have more stories in F&SF and in the late Gardner Dozois’s anthologies, The Book of Magic, coming out this fall, and The Book of Legends, scheduled for 2019.
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