A few days ago, I had the distinct pleasure of sitting down in person with William Richter, author of the “Dark Eyes” series and all around awesome guy for an interview about a whole lot of stuff. I’ve tried to keep the questions as spoiler-free as possible concerning the “Dark Eyes” series, but I think you guys will find his answers just as interesting as I did. If you haven’t already started the “Dark Eyes” series – what are you waiting for? It second book, “Tiger” just hit shelves last week, and if you check out my reviews for both books in the review archive, you’ll see why I loved it just as much as the first.
Anyway, find out more about this author and his opinions and processes after the jump!
USAGI: Hey there, Will! First, let me take the time to thank you for taking time out of your schedule (literally) to come shoot the breeze with me and answer all of my questions. So let’s get to those! First question: Why write a female main character? I find that cross-gender narration is not only hard to do, but almost impossible to get right, and you’ve been able to do it. So what was your reason for making Wally the star instead of Tiger?
WILLIAM RICHTER: Thank you for the compliment! A member of my extended family was my inspiration for the Wally character, and I suppose the specificity of that–writing as if through the eyes of someone I know well–made a difference. It is definitely a challenge to write from the point of view of a character who is very different from you, the author, but that’s pretty much the description of a novelist’s job. I remember someone using the term ‘imaginative empathy’ to describe that process, and that sounds about right to me.
U: On adapting to creative writing, I’ve had friends whose manuscripts have been severely lacking in the sensory imagery/language department because as screenwriters, they’re used to relying on stage/crew directions in their writing. Would you say that in the earliest stages of “Dark Eyes”, this was your weakness? If not, what was your biggest weakness in the early stages of writing “Dark Eyes” and “Tiger” in the technical areas?
It definitely is a challenge to move back and forth from prose to screenwriting, because of the different requirements that you point out. For me, though, my writing has always leaned in the direction of less description, more action and dialogue, so it would be disingenuous of me to blame the screenwriting process! I am always looking to do a better job with description… and I’ve been lucky enough to work with editors who are not shy about nudging me in that direction. Hopefully, my writing will continue to evolve.
U: Why did you feel the need to tell Wally’s specific story?
WR: I’d been thinking about the character of Wally for a while–because of the inspiring person in my life–and that continued until the point where I could see her story, stretching out in front of me. When I get to that point with an idea, I just have to go with it.
U: What is a story you want to tell next?
WR: I have another installment for DARK EYES in the works (the redemption of Alexei Klesko!?!?), plus an adult crime novel and a screen project–none of which I’m ready to talk specifics about… but thanks for asking!
In the back of my mind, I’ve been working forever on a Hawaiian history story. One day it will come together and I’ll be ready to go with it, but that hasn’t happened yet.
U: Do you have any projects in development (either onscreen or novel-related) that you feel you can talk about? If so, what are you currently writing?
WR: Most of my time these days is going into the adult crime novel. For the first time, I’m writing in first person, which is a real challenge… more than I anticipated. To be writing ‘in character’ is a new experience.
U: If you could get any director currently living to take on the “Dark Eyes” series to adapt onscreen, who would you choose?
WR: I’ve been really impressed with Kathryn Bigelow… she’s great at creating tension in unexpected ways. Can you convince her to take on DARK EYES?
U: What inspires you?
WR: Stress and discomfort inspire me. If I’m worried about something, I like to write about it because I get to create my own ending… as opposed to real life!
U: What would you say are the messages of “Dark Eyes” and “Tiger”, respectively?
WR: The DARK EYES stories, for me, are about the state of ‘belonging’. How do we know where we rightfully belong, or who we belong to? How do we define the concept of ‘home’? I don’t necessarily know the answers, but those questions are often floating around in my head.
U: Do you have anything else to say to readers out there? Step up, and let ye be heard!
WR: I say THANK YOU! And stay tuned!
U: Thanks for that, Will! Remember, guys – the first two books in the “Dark Eyes” series are out now! You should totally read them, because they’re fresh, different, and totally awesome. I’m already really anticipating book three!