Let’s start with an introduction: Who is David Hair?
Hi, I’m a New Zealander who writes fantasy fiction. Sometimes that’s epic fantasy, other times mythic, YA or adventure stories. I’ve written 22 novels to date, some set in imagined worlds, others in ours. Readers might best know The Moontide Quartet and it’s sequels. I enjoy travel, football, wine, staying fit and spending time with family and friends.
Your new series will start with Map’s Edge, due to be published by Jo Fletcher Books in October. It looks really interesting: How would you introduce the novel and series to a potential reader?
Map’s Edge is the first book of The Tethered Citadel It’s a fast-paced adventure story about a journey into the unknown, on a fantasy world where humanity is living in the shadow of an Ice Age brought on by misused sorcery. At its core, it’s about misfits banding together in a “road movie” that gradually introduces themes around culture clash and colonialism. Hopefully it’ll be a fun read while having some emotional and moral heft.
What inspired you to write the novel and series? And where do you draw your inspiration from in general?
I think the things that drive my writing most are threefold; travel (I love seeing new places and learning about different cultures); mythology (because I love the fantastic stories that we tell about ourselves); and historic and current events. In the case of The Tethered Citadel, I first conceived of the setting after visiting Japan, and noticing geographical and cultural similarities with my homeland of New Zealand (both are long, narrow, North-South-aligned mountainous island nations, and the Japanese and the New Zealand Maori both have strong warrior cultures). That got me thinking about the impacts of western contact and colonialism, and led me to this story.
How were you introduced to genre fiction?
When I was at primary school I found a copy of The Weirdstone of Brisingamen by Alan Garner, which I loved. That took me on to C S Lewis and JRR Tolkien, a well-trodden path into fantasy, I guess.
How do you like being a writer and working within the publishing industry?
It’s fun being creative and dreaming up new story worlds and ideas, and I love that I’m leaving a creative legacy in this world. On the downside, it can be quite isolating, and I miss having workmates. It’s also less secure and your income is more lumpy and unpredictable, so you have to adjust your life to that. But overall I have no regrets.
As for publishing itself, it’s very much in transition from a very structured printed book environment dominated by mainstream publishers, to a more fluid environment which is very fast-moving and confusing. I’ve been fortunate that mostly I’m working with traditional publishers, which makes life easier.
Do you have any specific working, writing, researching practices?
Each series is quite distinct and requires different research, but when it’s set in our world, I’m big on walking the terrain and getting a feel for the locations.
When did you realize you wanted to be an author, and what was your first foray into writing? Do you still look back on it fondly?
Writing was the job I always fantasized of doing, back when I was a financial services industry person, but I lacked the confidence to have a go at it. I did some writing classes in my 30s, and finally tried writing a novel at the age of 36, which I finally found a publisher for in 2009. That was called The Bone Tiki, and it won a national award here in new Zealand, which effectively launched my writing career. So yeah, I’m quite fond of it.
What’s your opinion of the genre today, and where do you see your work fitting into it?
I used to read avidly before I became a writer; now I read non-fiction for research and the piece of fiction to relax. So I’m not terribly aware of the trends. Interests and issues that resonate with me are what fuels my creative process. But I see myself primarily writing epic fantasy, which is my main love and enables me to (hopefully) build up a rich, complex and satisfying experience for the reader.
Do you have any other projects in the pipeline, and what are you working on at the moment?
Several in the pipeline – writers need to eat! As well as The Tethered Citadel trilogy, I’ve got an urban fantasy idea I’m developing, a historical fantasy concept I’m working up, a possible ecologically inspired epic series, and another series set in the Moontide Quartet universe mapped out.
But whether any see the light of day will depend on market forces, of course. You’re only as good as your last book, and your next idea!
What are you reading at the moment (fiction, non-fiction)?
Currently, I’m flip-flopping between a Yuval Noah Harari book about the course of future human development, called Homo Deus; and the latest Ben Aaronovitch Rivers of London (urban fantasy) book.
If you could recommend only one novel or book to someone, what would it be?
Wow, that’s a really tough question. I have many favorites but they all have a specific mood/memory attached to them. Right now, I’d probably say David Mitchell’s Cloud Atlas, which is stunningly good on so many levels. Not a fantasy novel, of course, though it has fantastical elements. And the book is better than the film (of course!).
What’s something readers might be surprised to learn about you?
I don’t know, I’m a pretty regular guy. But I have lived in India, Thailand and England in the past, if that counts. And I was an extra in Lord of the Rings, along with the rest of New Zealand.
What are you most looking forward to in the next twelve months?
A cure or vaccine for COVID-19; the fall of rightwing crypto-fascist populists and authoritarian regimes everywhere; and Leeds United having a brilliant first season back in the Premier League. C’mon world, it can happen!
David Hair’s Map’s Edge is out today in the UK, published by Jo Fletcher Books.
Also on CR: Guest Post on “Juggling YA and Adult Fantasy Writing”