The Iron Druid Chronicles is the first series in a long time that has me on pins and needles waiting for the next release. Author Kevin Hearne graciously answered a few questions for OBS about his series.
1) You’re a proud nerd and today it seems like nerds have inherited the mantle of “cool” (or as a nerd, that’s how I liked to see it) with the popularity of superhero movies, supernatural and sci-fi and fantasy media. How do you think audiences have changed and embraced these genres?
I’m still reeling from the change and can’t believe it’s true. When I was growing up it wasn’t cool to be a nerd at all and I hid from jocks like they were Imperial Stormtroopers. Now it seems like nerds are everywhere. Except Congress. We’re too socially inept and obsessed with the truth to run for office, and that’s too bad, because a few good nerds in the right places could probably fix everything. And I think I hijacked my own answer. Wasn’t your question about audiences?
2) What do you think of the evolution of the urban fantasy genre? I love the strong female characters in the genre, but I stumbled onto your book when I went searching specifically for male protagonists. Are male protagonists too few and far in-between?
I certainly thought they were when I wrote HOUNDED. At the time—this was 2008—I looked at the shelves and found Jim Butcher and Simon Green. That was it. I know there were more, but I guess the places I looked weren’t well stocked. So I saw an opportunity there; I knew I wanted to read some more urban fantasy with male protagonists, and if I felt that way, there were probably many others who felt the same. There are many more male authors and protagonists on the shelves now or coming soon—the publishing world saw the void too and rushed to fill it.
3) Along with the rarity of male protagonists, other than Mark Del Franco, I haven’t come across a character like Atticus – a Druid. Why did you decide to make him a druid?
Partly it was because I wanted a magic user who could talk to animals. Another attractive thing about Druids is that we know so little about them that I could have a free hand in creating the backstory. And lastly, it was precisely because there were no Druids on the shelves that I went after it. I thought my book would stand out from the crowd of vampire and werewolf books. I honestly didn’t hear about Mark Del Franco’s series until two months before HOUNDED hit the stores. Up to that point I thought I was the only guy writing about Druids in a UF setting.
4) I think it must be so much fun to write someone who has done everything and can, quiet plausibly know some incredible people through history – what is the best and worst thing about Atticus’ 2000 years for a writer?
The best part is that I can put him in situations that don’t get a whole lot of attention; it allows me to bring something new to readers. The downside is that I can’t put him in some of the really big events where there is so much historical detail that I can’t squeeze him in without ignoring the facts. I had him miss the American Civil War, for example. He played minor roles on the fringes of the World Wars. But I’ve had a great time putting him in the Library of Alexandria before it was destroyed, and I have plans regarding the quest for the Holy Grail.
5) What is the one person you want to write Atticus as knowing, or is there a moment in history that you want him to be part of, but haven’t written yet?
Actually the Holy Grail thing I was just mentioning is my next historical project. If you ignore the later, Christianized versions of the tale with King Arthur and go back to the original romances told by bards, they’re fascinating tales—the Grail is nota cup or chalice at all, and there’s an Irish connection there to exploit.
6) As much as I love everything in the books, the Widow MacDonagh and Oberon and their relationships with Atticus stood out to me the most – what was the inspiration for both these characters? Any chance of the widow returning, magically and from the interference of meddling Gods in Atticus’ life?
The widow MacDonagh was inspired by my late grandmother—and, I suspect, she bears a lot of resemblance to many Irish grandmothers. I probably shouldn’t reveal any spoilers about what happened to her; all will be made clear in TRICKED. Oberon helps keep Atticus grounded so that he doesn’t lose his humanity—that was his original purpose, and the comic relief thing was secondary. To my surprise, he’s become the fan favorite. My editor, who is much smarter than me, saw that coming.
7) Can you sum up Atticus’ journey in the three titles that have been published and the three more to come?
Atticus should have kept running. He never should have stood up to a god.
8 ) Thus far, your books delve in various mythologies and religions, and you manage to include the Virgin Mary as well – what is your research like for these aspects of the books?
I find the research enjoyable. Human belief systems are endlessly fascinating. I sometimes wish I had majored in Comparative Religions.
9) Do you have any other books planned that don’t involve Atticus? Or perhaps, contributions to anthologies?
The ideas I have for other projects seem a bit distant at the moment; keeping up with the demands of The Iron Druid Chronicles takes up all my time right now.
10) Who is your favourite author and/or comic book title?
I think Atticus kind of gives that away in HAMMERED: it’s Neil Gaiman. His work on The Sandman is sublime.
Check out my review of the first three books in the series here.