Interview (& Giveaway): Katherine Addison, author of The Goblin Emperor

Please welcome Katherine Addison (aka Sarah Monette) to the blog! Her brand new book, THE GOBLIN EMPEROR, just came out, and not only did she answer a few of my questions about it, but we’ve got 2 copies to give away to a couple of lucky winners!

thegoblinemperorWill you tell us a bit about your new book, THE GOBLIN EMPEROR, and what inspired you to write it?
I wanted to write a book with elves and airships, because it seemed like it would be awesome. It turned out to be a coming-of-age story about a half-goblin youngest son who suddenly becomes emperor–tossed in the deep end with the sharks.

As Sarah Monette, you’ve got a ton of titles under your belt. What made you decide to use a pseudonym for The Goblin Emperor?
It wasn’t exactly my choice. My first series, the Doctrine of Labyrinths, got caught in what authors fondly call the Numbers Death-Spiral. The major bookstores didn’t sell as many books as they wanted to, so they ordered fewer, so they sold fewer . . . until it reached the point that if publishers tried to pitch a book under my name, all that was going to happen was that the bookstore buyers’ computers would go to red alert, shields up and photon torpedoes armed and ready. Like being blackballed: “You’ll never work in this town again!” My original publisher chose not to offer me another contract, but Tor was happy to pick me up, the only catch being that, to fool the computers, I had to take a pseudonym. I didn’t argue.

Speaking of an extensive backlist…what is one of the first things you can remember writing?
I started writing when I was eleven, with a very bad horror story. I followed it with a number of very bad fantasy stories. I wrote a dreadfully bad fantasy novel my senior year of high school. I started writing Melusine when I was nineteen.

Have you wanted to be a writer from a young age?
Oh yes. As soon as I figured out that a writer was something you could *be*.

Worldbuilding is very important in a book like The Goblin Emperor, and in fantasy as a whole. What are a few of your favorite literary “worlds”?
Middle-Earth and Narnia and Oz were all very important to me as a child, also the English-pastoral worlds of Winnie-the-Pooh and The Wind in the Willows. Pern was like the perfect teenage wish-fulfillment world: who the hell *doesn’t* want a telepathic dragon best friend? As an adult, I have become extremely fond of the Cthulhu Mythos, which isn’t a “world,” per se, but which provides a splendid frame to build worlds on.

What made you decide to give the book a steampunk feel?
Airships! I love them.

How about that gorgeous cover! You must have done something to please the Cover Gods. Do you think it captures the spirit of the book?
I think it is an excellent cover. I particularly–and not surprisingly–love the airship.

What do you enjoy most about reading, and writing, fantasy?
I love world-building, both reading it and doing it myself. And I love that fantasy can, given the chance, upend everything you think you know.

What is your writing process like? Are you a plotter or a pantser?
It seems to vary from book to book. Melusine and The Virtu, I wrote scene to scene. With The Mirador, I knew, and had written, the ending before I knew anything else. With Corambis, I knew where I was going, but figuring out how to get there was a challenge.

The Goblin Emperor was another scene to scene book, including getting stuck for MONTHS because I couldn’t figure out how to write Chapter 26.

What are a few of your biggest literary influences?
In more or less chronological order, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, M. R. James, H. P. Lovecraft, Dorothy Sayers, J. R. R. Tolkien, Gene Wolfe, Ellen Kushner, Emma Bull. I’d love to be able to write like Kelly Link, but there’s just no way.

What do you like to see in a good book, and is there anything that will make you put a book down, unfinished?
I am unbelievably picky about prose style, and it’s a make-or-break for me. I love world-building, the more elaborate and detailed the better. I have a weakness for sharp, funny, layered dialogue, and while I love antiheroes (having written them myself), I have decided life is too short to read books about people I don’t *like*.

Have you read any good books lately? Are there any you would recommend?
At the moment, I’m mostly reading true crime, which is not to everybody’s taste. But I did just read a truly excellent book, Room 1219: The Life of Fatty Arbuckle, the Mysterious Death of Virginia Rappe, and the Scandal that Changed Hollywood, by Greg Merritt, which is partly “true crime,” in that it deals with the three trials of Roscoe Arbuckle for the murder of Virginia Rappe (he was acquitted all three times), but it’s also a biography of Arbuckle, and a history of early Hollywood, and an excellent analysis of the consequences of Rappe’s death, both for Arbuckle and for the movie industry.

What’s next for you?
Right now, I’m working on my third collaboration with Elizabeth Bear, An Apprentice to Elves, which is the third book in the Iskryne series, after A Companion to Wolves and The Tempering of Men.

Keep up with Katherine/Sarah: Website | Twitter

Giveaway details:

1.) You MUST fill out the form below (if you’ve signed into Rafflecopter before, it will remember you!)
2.) Giveaway is for 2 copies of THE GOBLIN EMPEROR by Katherine Addison to 2 winners

3.) Giveaway is open to all those with US and Canadian mailing addresses
4.) You must enter on or before 4/30/14
5.) Giveaway books courtesy of Tor
6.) Please see my Giveaway Policy.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

The youngest, half-goblin son of the Emperor has lived his entire life in exile, distant from the Imperial Court and the deadly intrigue that suffuses it. But when his father and three sons in line for the throne are killed in an “accident,” he has no choice but to take his place as the only surviving rightful heir.

Entirely unschooled in the art of court politics, he has no friends, no advisors, and the sure knowledge that whoever assassinated his father and brothers could make an attempt on his life at any moment.

Surrounded by sycophants eager to curry favor with the naïve new emperor, and overwhelmed by the burdens of his new life, he can trust nobody. Amid the swirl of plots to depose him, offers of arranged marriages, and the specter of the unknown conspirators who lurk in the shadows, he must quickly adjust to life as the Goblin Emperor. All the while, he is alone, and trying to find even a single friend . . . and hoping for the possibility of romance, yet also vigilant against the unseen enemies that threaten him, lest he lose his throne–or his life.


  1. >>Right now, I’m working on my third collaboration with Elizabeth Bear, An Apprentice to Elves, which is the third book in the Iskryne series, after A Companion to Wolves and The Tempering of Men.

    I’m very happy that you are continuing this series, as well as putting out new solo stuff again, Sarah!

  2. I’ve heard such great things about this book. But somehow I missed the detail that it had airships! Elves and airships, together at last. 🙂 Thanks for the chance to win a copy, and thanks to Katherine Addison for the interview!

  3. I’ve heard great things about The Goblin Emperor.

  4. I’ve been looking forward to this book since I first heard about it and I’m glad it’s finally time for its release.

  5. This title just keeps cropping up all over the place! I’d love to have a copy to read and review. Fingers crossed!

  6. Thank you so much for the interview and giveaway. Looking forward to checking this one out, not everyday a half-goblin is the main character in a story. 🙂

  7. This books looks really interesting. I’ll definitely be checking it out.

  8. I’ve heard nothing but good things about this book. It sounds fantastic, and I love the cover too.

  9. A new Sarah Monette book! I have been a fan for years and can’t wait to read this new installment, which looks fabulous. Wonderful!

  10. ‘The Goblin Emperor’ sounds awesome. I would be thrilled to win a copy. Thanks very much.

    Amy in NYC – life long lover of all things SF & F.

  11. I can’t wait to read this!

  12. Looking forward to reading this one!!!

  13. Much excitement for this new book. The reviews have been very positive and the themes sound very intriguing. Crossing my fingers….

  14. I want to read this book!

  15. Interesting inspiration

  16. I read the digital ARC and LOVED this book. It’s on my to pick up list, I’d love to get my hands on a solid copy.

  17. First: I’ve read reviews of The Goblin Emperor and am eager to read it.

    But I’ve started to see pushback against the whole world building movement. Would be curious to see your reaction to the notion that it has become too much a focus of many authors. At what point does it begin to interfere with storytelling?

  18. Charming interview! All the early reviews for The Goblin Emperor have me very interested for how she pulled off such optimistic Fantasy.

  19. Even without knowing I want to read this book, the cover would have sold me on it.

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