In the following email interview about her new fantasy novel Into The Broken Lands (hardcover, Kindle, audiobook), writer Tanya Huff says, “…there’s a quest for a mystical object … [and] … a devastating mage war…” But as she also explains, despite its obvious, scope, Lands isn’t an epic fantasy story.
To begin, what is Into The Broken Lands about, and what kind of world is it set in?
On the surface, Into The Broken Lands is a quest fantasy. There’s a quest for a mystical object, and the two parties after it have to fight their way through horrors left behind by a devastating mage war in order to reach it. The two parties are operating on two separate timelines — one sixty years before the other, so there’s essentially two books interwoven with each other — the mystical object turns out to be something unexpected, and the mage war isn’t as finished as everyone thought.
Below that, it’s about the power of belief, the realization that no one is one thing only, and what it means to be human.
And underlying that, as there is in all my books, is the characters discovering not who they are, but who they choose to be.
It’s a created world, geographically our Italy, technologically post-canon / pre-firearms, and although magic — called mage craft — exists, in this part of the word, it’s been outlawed.
Where did you get the idea for Into The Broken Lands?
The germ of the idea was definitely Nonee, the outsider, more thing than person. And characters need story so…
Other than that, I honestly have no idea. This was a percolate over a few years book, rather than a blinding flash of inspiration book. Everything was grist for the mill.
It sounds like Into The Broken Lands is an epic fantasy novel…
I don’t consider Into The Broken Lands epic. Though at over 160,000 words, it’s the longest book I’ve written. For me, epic fantasy requires an archetypal battle between good and evil with a broad, world spanning focus. This book is character driven, focused in on the people involved, so I’d call it heroic fantasy.
Broadly speaking, my definition of epic fantasy would be (using a story everyone will recognize) is The Lord Of The Rings, whereas my definition of heroic fantasy would be [Robert E. Howard’s] Conan The Barbarian novels.
Prior to Into The Broken Lands you wrote enough books that Wikipedia gave your bibliography its own page. Are there any writers, or maybe specific stories, that had a particularly big influence on Into The Broken Lands but not on anything else you’ve written?
When I’m working on developing and writing a book or story, everything I’m exposed to books, movies, reality gets ground up and contributes.
If I was exposed to it, bits and shadows are in there somewhere.
Well, except for the ducks. They’re a specific person’s fault.
Speaking of which, what about your six cats? What influence did they have on Into The Broken Lands?
Well, it’s five cats now, and do you know how much cat food costs these days? If I don’t keep writing, they don’t get fed, and they devour me in my sleep. That keeps me motivated.
I mentioned a moment ago how you’ve written a lot of books prior to Into The Broken Lands. Most of those were part of a couple different series, including the Quarters series, the Blood series, and the Smoke series. And I get the sense that Broken is part of a series as well. Is it?
My agent and I discussed how the advertising for Into The Broken Lands makes it seem like it’s the beginning of a series, but it’s not. (He’s requested a change; lord only knows if it’ll happen.) It’s a stand-alone novel, and was always intended to be a stand-alone novel. This story is very definitely finished in this book.
Now, I’m not saying I’ll never write another book using this setting — if I get hit with a plot, I’ll definitely use it — but I don’t currently have a plan to.
Hollywood loves making movies, TV shows, and games based on fantasy novels. Do you think Into The Broken Lands could work as a movie, show, or game?
It would work as a basis of a movie for sure, but then two rides at Disney have been used as the basis for movies so the bar is pretty low. I think, however, it would work best as a streaming adaptation because that allows for enough time to tell the story (or in the case of Into The Broken Lands, the two stories). If they can adapt The Wheel Of Time, they’d have no problems with this.
And if someone wanted to adapt Into The Broken Lands into a TV show, or a theme park ride, who would you want them to cast as the main characters and why them?
I honestly haven’t thought about it much. Off the top of my head, Michael B. Jordan, who played Killmonger in Black Panther, would make a great Garrett.
Speaking of books becoming shows, your Blood series was made into a show called Blood Ties. Did you learn anything from that experience that you’d want to apply to the possible Broken Lands show?
The best thing a book author can do when their book (or books) is developed for another media, is cash the check and keep your mouth shut. I was very, very lucky in that Kaleidoscope Productions kept me involved. That doesn’t usually happen and you shouldn’t expect it to.
However, because my training is in radio and television, I wrote a script for Blood Ties and I’d certainly apply what I learned doing that to writing a script for Into The Broken Lands were I given the chance to.
So, is there anything else you think people need to know about Into The Broken Lands?
I think it’s some of the best writing I’ve done. And I kept the body count surprisingly low…if you discount the whole Mage War thing that happens before the book begins (which I do).
Finally, if someone enjoys Into The Broken Lands, which of your stand-alone novels would you suggest they read next, and which of your series would you suggest they read after that?
If you enjoyed Into The Broken Lands because you enjoy created world fantasy, then I suggest The Silvered. Also created world. Also stand-alone.
As for a series, that would be The Quarter Series.
But if you enjoyed Into The Broken Lands because you enjoyed the story-telling, then jump in wherever you like (although The Blood series was completed in 1997 so take that into account, contemporary shifts).