Fantasy author Lawrence Watt-Evans transports readers to a world in which the struggle between magic and law has forced a good man to become an outlaw hero. Now the author shares the events that inspired him to create his own version of this classic literary figure.
My recent novel, Above His Proper Station, is the second half of the story that began a year earlier in A Young Man Without Magic, and that story was the result of several conversations I had with myself and my editor, the late Brian Thomsen, back in 2007. I had just finished a trilogy called the Annals of the Chosen that turned out to be much less fun to write than I’d expected – which doesn’t mean it wasn’t fun to read, of course, but I didn’t much enjoy writing it. I wanted my next project to be very different, and to be something I would enjoy writing.
I talked it over with Brian, and bounced several ideas off him, and in the process discovered that he was a huge fan, as am I, of the classic swashbucklers like The Three Musketeers, The Scarlet Pimpernel, and Scaramouche. Nobody seemed to be writing anything like that lately. I thought it would be fun to try.
Of course, those were all historical fiction, and I’m primarily a fantasy writer – I’d want to write a swashbuckler with magic in it. Brian said that if I wrote a fantasy inspired by The Scarlet Pimpernel, he’d buy it. We got together for beers at a bar in New York and had a long chat about the Pimpernel, and Scaramouche, and Captain Blood, and other swashbucklers, and Brian made some comments about their personalities that got me thinking. In the end, A Young Man Without Magic and Above His Proper Station were inspired more by Scaramouche than by The Scarlet Pimpernel – which is why one is dedicated to Rafael Sabatini, who wrote Scaramouche, and the other is dedicated to Brian Thomsen, who started me down that path.
- Lawrence Watt-Evans