On today’s Orctober Creator Spotlight, we have Amalia Dillin, writer of a whole slew of books but in particular, the Orc Saga books. I read Honor Among Orcs last year and loved it but it might surprise some of you.
It’s heavily romantic, riffing off of Beauty of the Beast, playing with the concept of soulmates, and, since it’s basically Amalia’s bread and butter, toying around with mythology to create something engaging and interesting. And she was more than happy to join in and share her answers to my Orctober questions.
When did you start creating?
I’ve been writing since the first grade — I started with little stories about my cat, Patches, and then graduated to Star Wars fanfiction (which also sometimes featured my now talking-cat Patches alongside me, of course) and then finally started writing more original stories in high school and college. As long as I can remember, I always wanted to be a writer! (And sometimes also a zookeeper or marine biologist, but always a writer first.)
Why do you love orcs?
To be honest, I think it’s the untapped potential of the non-villainous perspective. It’s so easy to use them the way Tolkien did, or even the bards before him, with stories like Beowulf. These black and white brutish monsters that live in the dark and the shadow and are only capable of darkness themselves. But Tolkien gave them that origin — he tells us that they used to be Elves — and then didn’t do anything with it! And it just always niggled at me, begging to be explored.
What’s your favorite piece of your work?
Oh goodness — I’m not sure anymore. I used to think HONOR AMONG ORCS was my absolute best book. And I think it was when I released it, for sure. But I definitely feel like some of my more recent works might be stronger — and thank goodness, because I hope I’m only getting better still with each book — though they sadly do not feature orcs. Maybe THROUGH BLOOD AND STARLIGHT will become my next absolute best book, when I finish it! 🙂
What’s your favorite piece of someone else’s work?
I actually really enjoyed reading Morgan Howell’s Queen of the Orcs series (though the third book was maybe less satisfying) which is about a slave/prisoner who ends up embroiled in Orc politics. Howell did a LOT of culture building for the orcs in that series, even creating a language for them, and I thought it was all really fascinating.
What’s your biggest hope for orcs in media?
I’d love to see more Orcs on the big and little screen — more high fantasy in generally, honestly — but my hope for orcs is not all that different from my hope for all things I love, in that I would like to see them appear with all their nuance still intact. Or appear in such a way that their nuance can be explored — I want to see complex characters, not flat stereotypes!
Maybe I’m biased but I have some pretty rad peers. Go out and read some of Amalia’s stuff!
Ya know, I think it’s safe to say at this point, give everyone’s responses, that most of us creators are pretty keen on seeing more done with orcs. Shocking, I know. Keep your eyes peeled for my review of Blood of the Queen this month as well! Wednesday will be a new set of Orc Facts, and Friday will introduce Scott Oden.