Posted November 22, 2013 by Amy in Books

Focusing on Farideh: An Interview With Erin M. Evans


With Erin M. Evans newest book, The Adversary, set to hit store shelves in just over a week, anticipation is high for the third installment in The Sundering. We chatted with Evans about working with Wizards of the Coast, how Farideh has evolved through the years, the challenges of working in a male dominated environment, and more.

Your newest book, The Adversary, is releasing early next month. Tell us about it.
At the beginning of The Adversary, my character, Farideh—a young tiefling warlock—makes a choice trying to protect two of the people she cares about most, and it ends up having chilling effects. The book follows her trying to make amends and unravel the schemes she finds herself trapped in—between the Nine Hells and the Empire of Netheril.

Do you feel this is a book that newcomers can just pick up and read, or do you recommend starting with one of your earlier books?
The Adversary was written with the goal that you should be able to start Farideh’s story here, without reading the previous two books first. The book is structured in such a way that you get the information you need to flesh out the whole picture. Now, if you’ve already read Brimstone Angels and Lesser Evils, then you’ll probably have a fuller experience—some details take on new meaning, some themes become clearer based on that background. But if you haven’t, you should still enjoy The Adversary—and you can always go back for the first two!

The book features your popular Farideh character (who finds herself in some rather precarious positions). Do you find it more difficult to write with a previously established character, or does it simplify the writing process for you?
Farideh is the sort of character who changes enough from book to book that it becomes a little tricky. Each title I feel like I need to sit down and puzzle out what’s changed for her, who she is now and how she’s going to react. In Brimstone Angels, she’s very young and sheltered and idealistic. As the books go on, she gets tougher and less inclined to accept what she doesn’t believe.

How much of a challenge is it to keep all the details straight from novel to novel?
It’s definitely tricky! I used to wonder how it was that authors forgot things like eye color or character names—I don’t anymore, now that I’ve written series fiction. I feel like I have to go back every time and search which arm Farideh’s pact brand is on, which eye is silver, what color are Brin’s eyes, which of the erinyes are which, etc. I keep a lot of spreadsheets.

The Adversary is part of a Wizards of the Coast book set that follows a common story arc called The Sundering. How does working within those constraints affect your writing process?
I find the constraints really inspiring, actually. Having these elements that can’t change just hints at new and exciting ways to take the story.

Is it difficult to stay within the guidelines of The Sundering, or do your characters often want to take you in different directions?

For The Adversary, I didn’t have too much trouble staying within the guidelines of the Sundering—the characters definitely went their own ways at times, and I added a lot of elements that I had no idea would be in the final story when I started. The sequel, which will come out in Fall 2014 was a little trickier—it takes place in Cormyr which had a great deal more decided about it. So it’s been challenging to find the path where the story, the setting, and the characters are all falling together just right. But that’s half the fun!

What has been your favorite aspect of working with an iconic company like Wizards of the Coast?
The people. Working with the other authors in the Sundering series is a huge honor—and a delight. Among them, they’ve written iconic books, changed lives with their stories, and contributed in big ways to the genre. And when I get to spend time with them, it’s equal parts inspiring and like having five really wonderful older brothers.

Fantasy is still a very male dominated genre. How has that affected you in your career, both personally and sales/marketing, etc.?
I think the hardest part is that you tend to have a viewpoint that people aren’t expecting, and sometimes that flusters them. Whether that’s having to go back and forth with cover artists who are so used to female characters being sex symbols (when your character is seventeen and self-conscious) or knowing that some readers are going to assume that, as a lady, you’re writing Twilight with horns—people tend to guess what you’re trying to say and guess wrong. But the flipside of that is that I get to tell stories that stand out and resonate with a lot of readers.

Do you have any advice for the aspiring authors out there, male or female?
    •    Write. Everything that interests you. Poetry, non-fiction, genre, literary. Just write. Even if it’s terrible—especially if it’s terrible. You can’t use muscles you don’t exercise.
    •    Read. Everything. Everything. Every genre does something best, every author has a new trick. Don’t be squeamish about getting out of your comfort zone. If you can’t learn to analyze what other authors have done, it’s hard to learn how to do it yourself.
    •    Make sure there is something true in everything you write. And that still applies to fantasy. If there’s nothing that you have to dig inside yourself to find, it will show.

 What are you reading right now?
Right now, I’m reading The Companions by R.A. Salvatore, Snow by Orhan Pamuk, and re-reading Privilege of the Sword by Ellen Kushner. Also lots of picture books—the two-year-old is a book fiend, too.


U.S. Senior Editor & Deputy EIC, @averyzoe on Twitter, mother of 5, gamer, reader, wife to @macanthony, and all-around bad-ass (no, not really)