Interview with Katherine Addison

We’re very happy today to welcome on the blog Katherine Addison! She wrote the Goblin Emperor, and you can find a review here. We hope that you’ll enjoy the interview as much as we did. Thanks to the author for the answers.


Welcome on Between Dreams and Reality, Can you present you in a few words?

Novelist; geek about pretty much everything, including literature, Renaissance England, Nazi Germany, and Victorian true crime.

When did you first realize you wanted to be a writer?

When I was twelve.

Can you tell us a little more about The Goblin Emperor?

I wanted to write a book that had elves and airships in it. It turned out also to have goblins, philosophy, court intrigue, and a lot of history.

Why did you choose to write about a goblin? It’s a character we don’t often see in literature.

I found that I wanted to reinvent goblins a little bit, because (a) nobody should have to be evil just because their entire species has been condemned to it by the author and (b) fantasy should be the place where you don’t have to abide by anybody’s’ rules. So I let the goblins be the elves’ equals, and nobody is inherently evil.

List 5 characters from The Goblin Emperor and do word associations

Maia: grief, kind, lost, striving, shy

Setheris: shards of glass, brutality, complicated, bully, stiletto

Csevet: loyal, watchful, poker-faced, knowledge, competence

Beshelar: wooden, ethical, rigid, soldier, unsubtle

Csethiro: fierce, clever, intellectual, strength, sisters

What would you most like potential readers to know about you and/or your book?

Of my books, this is the only one that I have never, at any point in the process, hated.

What’s the hardest scene for you to write?

I am terrible at fight scenes. I ‘m not good at writing action, and it’s incredibly difficult to visualize all the *movements* that are part of a fight, even if it’s just one-on-one.

Did you need to do a lot of researches for your books?

No. The lovely thing about writing in completely made-up worlds is that you only have to do as much research as you want.

How did you end up writing fantasy books? Is there any other genre that appeal to you?

I love fantasy, science fiction, horror, mystery, and have since I was a little girl. I write them all, with varying degrees of success. But I never imagined myself as anything other than a fantasy/horror writer.

What authors have been an influence for you? And have you read any books lately that you want to share with us or have you been too busy with writing to read?

I mostly read nonfiction these days (although I highly recommend my friends Scott Lynch and Elizabeth Bear), but my major influences are Gene Wolfe, J. R. R. Tolkien, Ellen Kushner, Peter Beagle, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, H. P. Lovecraft, M. R. James, Shirley Jackson.

When you sit down and write do you know how the story will end or do you just let the pen take you?

It depends on the story. Sometimes I know the ending before I begin; sometimes I don’t know the ending until I fall over it.

Are there any other projects you’re working on or thinking about starting in the near future?

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.

Where do your favorite myths come from? Why are they are favorites

I loved Greek mythology as a kid, and I still like it, less for itself (since, after all, the classical Greek gods are a deeply unpleasant bunch of people) than for the way it’s been used in retelling and allusions in the millennia since.



The Goblin Emperor by Katherine Addison

Synopsis: A vividly imagined fantasy of court intrigue and dark magics in a steampunk-inflected world, by a brilliant young talent.

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.

This exciting fantasy novel, set against the pageantry and color of a fascinating, unique world, is a memorable debut for a great new talent.

Review: I have a weakness for goblins, I will confess. So yes: the mention of a half-goblin hero made me want to read this book, even though I feared the story might be a bit too dry for my usual tastes.

This turned out to be a beautiful read though!

Maia (the lead character) turns out to be half goblin and half elf. The goblins in this book are another kind of goblin than I hoped for, but that was about the only disappointment I encountered, and there was lots of good stuff to counter that disappointment.

Maia has been living secluded – with a mentor who despises him – for most of his life, when at nineteen he is suddenly pushed in the role of emperor, because his father and older brothers all die in a terrible accident. I liked Maia from the start. He’s young, unworldly, and has no clue how to be an emperor. He does know he doesn’t want to be like his father, so he tries hard to find his own way to be what people expect him to be.

I will confess I hadn’t expected to love this book as much as I did. I’ve read my share of court intrigues, and they can be boring if the author isn’t careful. The Goblin Emperor didn’t bore me for one second though. I was totally gripped by Maia’s struggles to learn how to rule, figure out who to trust, and keep holding on to his ideals in the process.

I was surprised by how much emotion there was in this story. I must admit I shed more than one tear while reading this book. Of course there’s lots of politics and back-stabbing going on, but at the heart this story is about Maia,  his search for who he is, and where he belongs. After a lonely childhood, Maia longs for friends, and his attempts at reaching out are heart-breaking at times. I rooted for him to find people he could rely on, and to succeed in becoming the emperor he wants to be.

All in all this is a wonderful read that moved me and drew me in. I was sad when I finished it, because I didn’t want to say goodbye. I will most certainly reread this pearl in the future.


Pearls Cast Before A McPig