Telling a story is like trying to eat grapes with a fork. It's always trying to get away from you. And if you're a good author, and you've challenged yourself, and you're telling big stories, there's more and more that's trying to get away from you simultaneously.
I think that fiction is an excellent place for us to struggle with questions of good and evil, and humanity and inhumanity.
Sometimes after a compliment about my characterization skills, I'm asked if I model my characters on real people. Emphatically, no. And sort of, yes.
'The Black Prism' is a story of emperors and prisoners and magic set in a Mediterranean, 1600-esque world. It's a fantasy story; it's fast and fun and inventive.
It's easier for me to write certain character types because of my own life experiences, but I find it too artistically limiting to only write about red-headed kids who grew up in small town Montana. That's really part of the fun of fantasy, I think. Our imagination is basically unlimited. Okay, that's a terrifying thing about fantasy, too.
I believe that it's an author's job to cast his imagination into the far spaces. Your life should - and I think it's inescapable that it will - inform your work. I'm all for using anything that can make your art better, but your intuition should be an equal partner.