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Currently Reading: The Undivided by Jennifer Fallon

Thursday, April 14, 2011

An evening with Robin Hobb

On Wednesday night last week I had the privelege of attending an evening with Robin Hobb at the Dendy Cinema in Newtown (which won't mean much unless you live in Sydney). It was a paid event, which is pretty unusual in Australia (or so I'm told) outside of conventions, and which caused a minor stir on Twitter. I was happy to cough up the $20.

Robin and me... obviously.

The event included two brief readings, in which Robin particularly wanted to establish the difference between the voices of Robin Hobb and Megan Lindholm (her other writing pseudonym - her real name is apparently Margaret Ogden). Robin followed up with a lengthy Q&A that must have run for over an hour. The questions kept on coming and the event organiser had to wrap it up with a few hands still in the air.

Many of Robin's responses were unsurprising, particularly having read interviews online, but I learnt plenty about her process and background. Robin is a believer in the idea of writing what you know, so the fantastic elements of her stories tend to reflect aspects of real life. In some cases the principle is applied very literally - for fans of The Liveship Traders who appreciated the accuracy of the nautical references, it turns out that Robin's husband is a third generation seafarer - and apparently not much has changed in the profession since the begininning.

Of her many answers I particularly enjoyed her comment about magic. She deliberately creates magic that is difficult and unreliable for the simple reason that, riffing off Clarke's Law, any magic that is sufficiently reliable is indistinguishable from science.


As I mentioned on Twitter, a young lady sitting a few seats away from me spent the whole time reading The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo. Since she must have paid her $20 for this rare opportunity as well, I can only conclude that The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo is a pretty good book. Maybe I'll go there one day.

Of course the signing was a highlight for me - I picked up some hardcovers especially for the event, knowing Robin would be able to deface them. I'm pretty happy with the results. 

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