Raymond Feist is a magician and a revelation. From his serious science fantasy novels I was expecting an encounter with a very serious fellow but instead when I was pleasantly surprised to meet a warm, funny and generously articulate fellow.
When I called Mr Feist recently and naturally enquired that it was indeed Mr Feist at the other end of the line he answered me “I really hope so otherwise there is someone else wearing my clothes!”
Raymond, who is visiting Australia, (one of his favourite places after his home in California) next month to attend Supanova and to promote his new book King of ashes, He tells me the title of the new novel visited him in a dream, in those creative Morpheus moments between sleeping and waking.
Raymond has visited Tasmania a couple of time and in 1987 he visited Hobart and Launceston on the whiskey trail, a trail he has still not completed. He did manage to check out larks (distillery) and the Casino and speaks fondly of the lovely people that came along for book signings. The old style back of bookstore signings are preferred by him to the large halls of 600 people although in saying that he is keen to meet the latter type of audiences that will greet him in Melbourne as a guest of Supanova.
Raymond prefers the old school signings at the back of the bookstore sadly now this has been replaced by the large halls of 600 people, the kind of audience that will greet Raymond in Melbourne.
Before becoming a bestselling author Raymond worked at a host of jobs including what we would call Pixie photographer. Yes, he does write science fantasy and possibly about pixies but this kind of ‘pixie’ is rather the name given to a brand of human baby photography. In Raymond’s case his job saw him door knock on houses to take portraits of babies and toddlers.
When he did become an author he was inspired by his writing heroes such as Neil Gaiman and his love of historical fiction. Even with his extensive catalogue of historically inspired writing Raymond still doesn’t take himself too seriously as illustrated by one of the many stories he tells me during our chat . In 1987 when he was on tour in Christchurch, New Zealand he was interviewed by a young woman who was filling in for the reporter that was meant to be doing the interview and she was not that informed about him. The young lad lady’s refreshing honesty impressing him very much.
This was one of the many short vignettes he shares with me throughout our chat, illustrating his storytelling ability. He tells me his priority is to tell stories that entertain but it’s an added bonus when his books can heal or change a reader’s life. There have been incidents when readers have told him they have read his book when they were particularly low or troubled and how his books would change their perspective. He’s thrilled his books resonate with others and can do their bit in making their lives better. Grateful for the support of fans he’s equally diplomatic to those who are not fans of his work.
At one particular conference when questions were welcomed, a fellow in the audience put up his hand and piped up he didn’t like Raymond’s books! Raymond was quick to answer that is why we have different flavours of ice cream because everyone has preference for a different flavour. He later learned from the conference organisers that the person was a resident heckler and Raymond was the first to answer him back.
Another story Raymond tells me is returns once again to the adulation shown by fans. At Toowoomba in 1987 fans decked him out as a king gave him a throne to sit upon!
Talking of decking out and clothes I realise we have come full circle as I find myself vicariously visiting Raymond’s wardrobe. Its garments a literally material manifestation of his deep relationship with Australia and New Zealand. Housed in his wardrobe are his West Coast Eagles, Brisbane Bears and All Blacks jerseys, which he no doubt wore on previous visits to football games in the two nations and impresses me with his knowledge of the history and rules of the codes.
Raymond even turns the interview around to quiz me on my career aims and expectations!
After an hour and a half of good conversation and too many stories to enclose in these pages I realise we have barely touched on Raymond’s book but he thinks those particulars best left to be discovered by the readers.
We say our goodbyes for now, in the hope that one day soon we may meet up in Tassie when he returns to finish that whiskey trail.
King of ashes is out now published by Harper Collins.
Raymond’s Australian tour details below ...
KING OF ASHES | SUPANOVA | AUSTRALIAN TOUR | JUNE 2018
SYDNEY SUPANOVA: Friday 15 June, Saturday 16 June & Sunday 17 June
MELBOURNE: Tuesday 19 June
Raymond E. Feist in conversation with Chris Flynn
The Athenaeum, 188 Collins St, Melbourne VIC 3000
6:30pm for 7:00pm start
MEET RAYMOND E. FEIST AT HIS ONLY MELBOURNE EVENT
BRISBANE: Wednesday 20 June