Executive Interview with Robin Hobb

Image Source 1, Image Source 2, Edited by Zoe Calamar

Hello all! Recently I had the pleasure of interviewing Robin Hobb (otherwise known as Megan Lindholm), a beloved science fiction and fantasy author, and a personal hero of mine. She is best known for the Realm of the Elderlings saga, a mega-series comprised of several sub-series, including the Farseer and Liveship Traders trilogies. A six-issue comic adaptation of the first entry in the Farseer trilogy, Assassin’s Apprentice, is currently being released by Dark Horse Comics. Well, without further ado, please enjoy this interview with one of the greatest sci-fantasy authors of our time. 

ZC: First of all, congratulations on the Assassin’s Apprentice comic release! I know you’ve been involved with other comic adaptations of your work before, the French versions of Farseer and Liveship Traders. How did your experience differ this time? Was it strange going back to Fitz, particularly such a young Fitz, after so many years?

RH: Truth to tell, I did very little work for the French versions.  I was

delighted to receive the finished products in the mail, and I was amazed

how, with my very limited knowledge of French, I could still clearly follow

the story from the illustrations.

For the Dark Horse ones, I was kept informed at every step, first with the

‘script’ and then with the pencils, then the pencils with the words put in,

and then the colored panels.  But again, my role was mostly to admire the

work that other people were doing.  Very seldom did I have to suggest a

change or correction. 

It was altogether a very pleasant experience.

ZC: Something I think you’re particularly good at is writing…

unpleasant people, shall we say? I remember seeing a post on r/Fantasy

asking who peoples’ favorite fantasy jerks were, and I swear every comment

was “Kyle, Kyle, Kyle, Regal, Kyle, Hest, Kennit, Kyle, etc..” Do you have

any specific strategies when it comes to writing these guys?

RH: I love all my characters. Even my villains.  To write a character

believably, in my opinion, the writer must put on the character like one

might put on a coat.  And then, you have to share the character’s opinions.

I don’t think anyone goes around saying, “I’m the villain, and I want to do

evil things.”  Even the worst person, in real life or fiction, feels

justified in what they are doing. When the writer invites the reader into

the mind of the ‘villain’ and shares those thoughts and feelings, it can be

more horrifying than simply presenting the villain as a bad guy.

ZC: I absolutely adore the way you use epigraphs. Excerpts from Fitz’s memoirs, Bee’s

Dream Journal, the Erek/Detozi conversations… What’s your process for coming

up with them?

RH: Necessity is the mother of invention.  In the first Farseer trilogy, I was

writing from a very tight first-person point of view.  So the reader would

only know what Fitz knew at the moment Fitz knew it.  But sometimes, the

reader needed information that Fitz might have learned earlier in his life\

or didn’t know at all. So those little notes at the beginning of each

chapter was how I could convey that.

ZC: Side note, I remember listening to the Assassin’s Apprentice audiobook

shortly after I had read Liveship, and there was an epigraph talking about

Others’ Island, and I was like, “Sweet Eda, this woman really had her

worldbuilding planned out.”

RH: It’s all one world. All connected.

ZC: Speaking of worldbuilding, you were very much a trailblazer when it

comes to the connected-world-mega-series trend. It’s very easy to see the

line going from Realm of the Elderlings to the Cosmere, the First Law

series, and Malazan. Did you know from the beginning that your series/world

was going to be so interconnected, or was it a happy accident? When you did

know that Elderlings was going to be as sprawling as it ended up being, how

did you go about planning it?

RH: I think a lot of writing happens in a part of the brain that the writer

does not always have conscious awareness of. The world unfolds as it is

written.  The map expands. But from the beginning, old events would affect

what is the ‘present’ in the story. And, of course, the events in the story

affect everything that comes afterward.

As far as multi-book/connected world, I’m hardly a trailblazer.  Think

Tarzan, Conan, Tolkien’s Middle Earth, Zelazny’s Amber . . . so many

wonderful worlds with multiple books about them.  If you haven’t discovered

these, well, I envy you!

ZC: Would you rather be Skilled or Witted? 

RH: Witted, definitely.

ZC: Any idea of what animal your Wit-partner would be?

RH: Presently, a Belgian Malinois named Ginger. 

ZC: This might be a tough one, but if you had to pick a favorite of the

characters you’ve written, who would it be? I’m partial to Patience myself.

RH: As I mentioned before, I love all my characters. My favorite is always the

character I am writing at the moment. There are a lot of ‘minor’ characters

that I’m very fond of, such as Hands or Lacey. They all have lives that go

far beyond what is on the page. Each of them could be the main character in

a book. I wish I had time to write them all.

ZC: What can we expect from you next? I was thrilled to see you discussing a

new book on your blog/Twitter. Are you able to give us any information on


RH: Not at this time. I’m at a place where it would be easy to talk a book to

death. Or worse, announce I’m writing something and then have it stutter to

a halt. So nothing at this time but thanks for your interest.

A huge thank you to Robin Hobb for taking the time to speak with me. If you have any interest in the fantasy genre at all and haven’t read any of her books, you are doing yourself a MASSIVE disservice. Assassin’s Apprentice and Ship of Magic are both fantastic places to start, both of which are available wherever you get your books! You’re welcome 🙂