Interview : Ken Scholes

Réalisée par :mail
Date :Mai 2010
Allan : Ken, can you introduce yourself to our visitors ?
Ken :Yes, I’m happy to introduce myself. My name is Ken Scholes. I’m an American writer living just outside of Portland, Oregon, on the west coast of the United States. I’m married and have identical twin daughters that are nearly a year old.
I have a degree in history and am a military veteran. I’ve read science fiction and fantasy most of my life. I started writing fairly young, took a break from it, and came back to it in my late twenties. After winning Writers of the Future and selling several short stories, I added novels to my repertoire with Lamentation.

Allan : Can you explain how was your career to publish this book ?
Ken :I started with short fiction and used that venue to sharpen my tools and learn my craft. In 2005, after making several sales to small press markets, I was a winner in the Writers of the Future contest and shortly after that, I started placing my fiction in pro-level markets. In 2006, my wife Jen and my best friend Jay Lake dared me to write a novel in less than eight weeks and I took the dare. In six and a half weeks, I transformed my short story «Of Metal Men and Scarlet Thread and Dancing with the Sunrise» into Lamentation. Tor picked up all five proposed books in the Psalms of Isaak series and I’m presently writing volume four, Requiem.

Allan : I have read somewhere that you come first with short stories and that you were asked to make a full novel… It must be encouraging for you, isn’t it ?
Ken :Yes, «Of Metal Men and Scarlet Thread and Dancing with the Sunrise» was first published in Realms of Fantasy in 2006. The art for the short story inspired me to continue the story of Rudolfo and Isaak so I wrote a second short story that was rejected because it did not stand on its own quite well enough. The note from the editor suggested that I write a novel in that world with those characters. And of course, my friends and family were all very much in agreement.
It is definitely very encouraging. So are the notes that people are sending me about the books as they come out and find their way into people’s hands.

Allan : Lamentation was so the first book you publish. How would you present it ?
Ken : Lamentation is the opening act for the Psalms of Isaak though I’m told it stands well enough on its own. It follows the lives of four people as they’re changed irrevocably by the destruction of an entire city – the most important city in the Named Lands. For two thousand years, the Androfrancine Order dug what scraps they could from the Churning Waste, maintaining a record of the Old World the one before that in their Great Library. But all of that is lost in an instant when Windwir falls and the only clue remaining is a mysterious metal man who claims to have brought the city down with a spell. As alliances shift and war breaks out, Rudolfo and his allies set out to learn who really destroyed Windwir…and why.

Allan : The book is real – good – surprise : there is action, love, and the most important, with a lot of suspens: if I’m right, you have wrote some short stories on this world ?
Ken :I had no idea when I wrote “Of Metal Men…” that I would develop such a larger story for these characters. But when I did, I first envisioned it as a series of four short stories and I wrote the second one in what I was calling the Androfrancine Cycle. The first two short stories eventually became Lamentation and the concepts I had for the remaining two were then folded into the later books in the series. I also wrote a novelette set earlier in this world, “A Weeping Czar Beholds the Fallen Moon” ( : It ties in with Canticle and tells some of the backstory around the Year of the Fallen Moon and the Moon Wizard who fell.

Allan : This world is very complex, but a lot of things seems to be around Windsir, at least before the action of Lamentation… This town has kept the whole knowledge and gave him as they want to prevent bad acts: the knowledge is dangerous?
Ken :I think Androfrancines and the people who founded that movement would see knowledge — at least some knowledge — as potentially dangerous and to be guarded. It seemed a likely outcome after surviving the Age of Laughing Madness and nursing the leftovers of humanity back to life. They also made preserving that light of knowledge the center point of their Order.

Allan : What was very surprising is that the action start very fast… The average is to give a big slap to the Reader ?
Ken : I’ve had some readers who’ve said it started slowly for them but overwhelmingly most have said the book moves very fast for them. I do try to keep the scenes short and to start with a bang.

Allan : The alternation of the vision gives an important rhythm to the text: will you introduce new actors on the next volume?
Ken : Well, the actors aren’t new but some are quite expanded. Vlad Li Tam and Winters both have recurring scenes and we get a little bit more of Lysias.

Allan : We start with some certainties, sure to know who are the «good» and the «bad» mens… And it seems that we are wrong. Do you want to show how it is simple to distort reality?
Ken :I don’t think it was intentional, but it’s definitely a theme in the series. And I’m told it’s somewhat unusual in a fantasy novel to have such a blurry line between good and evil but I think it’s a valuable exploration even in fiction. It also seems true to life in many ways.

Allan : So, we are now waiting the next volume, that if I’m right will be published for French version next year… Do you have any idea the number of books you will write?
Ken :Yes, there will be five volumes in this first series. The next four are Canticle, Antiphon, Requiem and Hymn. After that, I hope to go back and tell other stories in this world both in the future and the past. But I also hope to tell new stories in different worlds, too.

Allan : We start with the destruction of Windsir… Have you anticipate a «Prequel» like number of your colleague?
Ken :Yes, I have a few ideas including some books set during the peak of the Androfrancine Order, featuring some of earlier generations of families introduced in Lamentation.

Allan : And, What else? Other projects?
Ken :Well, my biggest project right now are the two baby girls my wife and I had last summer. Between parenting and my day job and writing, I’m staying too busy for much else!

Allan : I leave you say a last word:
Ken :I always enjoy interacting with my readers so I invite my French readers to look me up at

Crécdit Photo : ©Lon Prater

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