Interview with Hank Woon about the Cathay novel “A Forgotten Tomorrow”

It’s interview time again!!!! Some weeks ago I stumbled upon a Wikipedia entry where the RedBrick novels are listed. And what did my tired eyes see? “A Forgotten Tomorrow – TBA”. This led me to the idea to make another interview with Hank Woon, the author of the so-far two Cathay novels, to find out what the actual state of the third novel is. So here we go:

cathay_obsidimanAgain I am very happy that the story of Daylen Jagaro will fill another book. In our interview about the second novel „Immortal Twilight", you told us that the idea of the sequel came when Jacques Marcotte made an offhand comment about how the story could develop. Did you need such a push again for writing the third novel “A Forgotten Tomorrow”? Or was it clear after "Immortal Twilight", that you had to write a third book?

The basis for the third book came about during the writing of the second. The complete story couldn't really be told in just the second book, and I was already writing down notes for the third while writing the second.

Will the third novel of your Cathay saga be the last? Or were you planning to make it a quadrology?

Yes, it's set to just be a trilogy.

What is the actual state of the novel?

The outline has been finished for a couple years now. Smile Only the prologue has actually been written at this stage, however.

Assuming that the main characters of the previous two novels, like Bik-Bik, Su Shen and Bei, will still play a big part in „A Forgotten Tomorrow", who else will step on the scene?

There will be some cool new villains (as well as some old ones) that are part of a new secret society. There will be a Samurai character involved, whose own quest is  tired up with the quest of our main cast, and Bik-Bik will get to meet someone special… In addition, the Ka-Li dragon and what that represents will be explored more fully (which can, in a way, be interpreted as a character, I suppose), and another famous character from the first novel will return (there is a clear tie in with some elements that were set up in the first novel, bringing the trilogy full circle).

This third novel will be the first released since the Cathay sourcebooks are on the market too. Do you now go deeper into the land and the culture of Cathay (if even possible) or do you pick up some stories that are told in the sourcebooks?  Did the sourcebooks influence or change your writing?

The sourcebooks were written first, and in that way, I guess they influenced my novels. The novels really are just magnified moments of Daylen's life as he was writing the sourcebooks, before returning with his journals to the Great Library back in Throal.

When you look back at the two previous novels, „Dark Shadows of Yesterday" and „Immortal Twilight", is it hard to end the wonderful journey of Daylen Jagaro? Did you expect to get him that far when you started to write the first novel?

cathay_scribeWell, there are still many tales left for Daylen Jagaro. Whether any of them will be told is a mystery, but the Cathay trilogy really only covers his adventures with Su Shen and Bei. There is a year gap between the first and second novels, and a 6-month gap between the second and third. That's a year and a half total of adventures just waiting to be told. Smile If the Earthdawn novels ever pick up steam and go into a more widespread production, it would be fun to add some of these little tales to some anthologies, or better still, get other authors to tell some of these mini stories of Daylen and Bik-Bik (which would be a lot of fun for me to read). But unfortunately, it doesn't look like the publishing industry is heading in that direction, so it's likely “A Forgotten Tomorrow” will be Daylen's last, but you never know.

On a side note, if a Jih'Poh sourcebook is ever written, I'd like it also to be from Daylen's POV (whether or not I'm the writer on that or not). In the meantime, keep an eye out for my upcoming Earthdawn adventure Lost Dynasty, which I wrote back in 2004 and delves into the ancient human kingdom of Landis.

What can you already tell us about the story of the third novel „A Forgotten Tomorrow"? What about Yen-Li and his "comrade"?

Well, without getting too spoilerific, the third novel will be set 6 months after the events in Immortal Twilight. Yen-Li and his comrade are the main antagonists, but there are even larger powers at work behind the scenes. As I already mentioned, a new secret society with new colorful (and powerful) secondary villains will be introduced, as well as some new characters to travel alongside our heroes.

By the beginning of the novel, Daylen has become a bit of a philanthropist, traveling Cathay in hopes of learning as much as he can about Cathayan culture for the Great Library back home and trying to help those affected by the war whenever he can. Of course, the villains still have their own goals, and poor Daylen gets swept right back up in it. The story will also hearken back to events in the first novel, shedding light on events that transpired there and adding new twists to the tale.

The first two novels were released in 2008 and 2009. Considering that you had to work on the Cathay sourcebooks too, I ask myself when you could possibly finish "A Forgotten Tomorrow". And then there is RedBrick, always cautious spreading release dates, but when do you hope to get the novel published?

Well, I'm not exactly sure when I can get around to it. The Cathay sourcebooks were actually finished before the first two novels (the drafts were handed in back in August of 2005). I haven't had as much time in the past couple of years to do much writing because of my day jobs. I had worked a temporary stint with Paizo Publishing back in 2009, helping with the big launch of the Pathfinder Roleplaying Game, then did some contract work with Microsoft and Expedia before finally landing a permanent gig with The Pokémon Company International. During all of that I was running a Pathfinder campaign for some friends (still ongoing); freelance writing, editing, and designing for both Earthdawn and Pathfinder; and somewhere in there somehow managed to get married and write and sell a screenplay for a straight-to-DVD network movie (to start filming in June 2012—won't say for who or what network though, since that's secret!).

Nowadays, though, I'm mainly busy with family obligations and my day job. Working for Pokémon is the best career I could have hoped to have landed (I actually just made the transition from contract to full time earlier this year), and while it's a lot of fun, it's also very demanding. In what little spare time I have (and trust me, that's not a lot), I try to enjoy my hobbies (including the Pathfinder campaign I'm running and an unpublished, "just for fun" play-by-email strategy wargame I designed based on George R. R. Martin's A Song of Ice and Fire series), study Japanese (my wife is from Tokyo), and maintain some semblance of a social life.

It will get finished someday, though. The dust from the chaos of the last two years is still settling. Once I get some time, I'll be plugging away at it chapter by chapter, posting them up on RedBrick's developer forums for the team to dissect bit by bit. It will be much slower going than the previous two, especially since it might be a big longer as well, but in the end, it will be worth the wait. I'm already finished with the Prologue, and the team has had access to it for some time, so the process has already begun. Smile

I thank you for for the interview and I’m looking forward to hold the third book in my hands, someday. Smile

The Cathay pictures of this post were used with kind permission by RedBrick and can be found at their Download Section.

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