I recently had the pleasure of asking Robert Mullin a few questions. Robert is an author of Science Fiction and Fantasy, and is also a cryptozoologist who has been featured on the History Channel. A search for a living dinosaur has taken Robert to Africa multiple times.
I actually have no problem taking readers through a long, dark tunnel, so long as there is a light at the end of it.
Your debut fantasy novel, Bid the Gods Arise, has been well received. In February, you released a standalone prequel to the events of BTGA. I assume this was, in part, to satiate your fans. So tell us, when’s the sequel?!
You are correct that the novella (Blood Song) is a hat tip to the fans who have been waiting so long for the second book in The Wells of the Worlds series. It is also a way to develop a popular character’s past, which will be explored in Book 2, and so I want to have that story locked in my head before I proceed further.
I hoped to have the sequel finished by the time my son was born (sometime near the beginning of August). However, as busy as things have gotten lately, the new goal is to finish before the end of the year.
My fans are extremely patient, thank goodness.
BTGA weighs in at a whopping 481 pages. How important is book length to you?
You should have seen it before my editor got to it.
I actually prefer shorter works now that I’m a busy adult, but I love the richness and depth of a well-developed world — so it’s the bigger books that still catch my eye on the bookshelf. Ultimately, though, my philosophy has always been that a well-told story is simply as long as it needs to be. We have all seen examples of those tales that dragged on longer than they should have, or those that simply whetted our appetite for what they could have been.
Describe “Mullinesque” Fantasy/Sci-Fi.
By “Mullinesque,” I’m going to assume that you mean fantasy that reflects my personal tastes or worldview.
There is a trend in modern fantasy to approach the fantastical from a nihilistic perspective. It is no doubt a knee-jerk reaction to hopelessly romantic fantasy stories wherein reality is considered to take a back seat, and good always triumphs over evil. I actually understand where this “grimdark” sensibility comes from, but I fundamentally disagree with it as both a reader and as an author. I was enraptured by the world-building, characterization, and richness of story that George R. R. Martin brought to ASOIAF, but (sadly) ultimately abandoned that author for the same reason I did Stephen King many years ago: I decided that no matter how talented he was at bringing a story to life, I no longer cared to be saturated with such a hopeless viewpoint.
I actually have no problem taking readers through a long, dark tunnel, so long as there is a light at the end of it. As a Christian, I can see both dark and light in the world, and want to make sure that they are accurately represented. (This does not mean that I don’t believe in shades of gray or even moral complexity; I simply don’t approach life or writing with an amoral or nihilistic viewpoint, and my books reflect this.)
With fantasy, I tend to prefer “mythic” or “mystical” over “magical.” I’m more interested in spiritual themes than magic-as-technology, so no matter how consistent or in-depth the magical system in any given world, it’s going to be lost on me if that is the primary focus of the book. With science fiction, it’s the same. I’m more interested in Romantic ideas (in the classical sense) than I am in nuts-and-bolts, or clinical storytelling that ultimately neither inspires nor informs. Take me on an adventure. It can be scary, it can be wondrous, it can be sad, but give me a world I’m interested in and characters I can relate to. I’m fond of stories that are not afraid to blend genres somewhat (as mine do), and that focus on character as much as setting. Ultimately people are drawn to the human condition, and I think that is what makes a timeless narrative.
Name two authors that inspired you. Why?
C.S. Lewis for his ability to expand the mind and cause the spirit to reflect. Timothy Zahn for his ability to make one forget that one is reading, and simply absorb the twists and turns as if one were watching a movie. I know of many more authors that are probably more artful, but those are qualities I would wish to emulate in my own writing.
Plug someone else’s work. Not yours, not mine. What author should we know more about?
I’m actually intrigued by several up-and-coming fantasy novelists whose tastes seem to reflect mine, but have not yet had a chance to delve into their works, so I hesitate to recommend them. Rest assured, though, that I shall. (Some of these have been kind enough to read and recommend my own books, so I have gotten introduced to them as readers first, and writers second.)
Probably the most influential author in my recent life has been J.C. Lamont. Her epic, Frank Peretti-meets-Tolkien take on history (Prophecy of the Heir) is probably one of the most ambitious projects one is likely to encounter. I think that one day, should her novels ever reach public acclaim, she might be considered one of the ground-breakers in the speculative/historical fiction genre.
Pick up Robert’s Books