Category Archives: Essays

Danica and Leonora

Friendship interests me as a writer. It can be a mysterious thing. Usually it grows over time, someone becomes a presence in our life and at some point we realize how much we value them – and often that comes … Continue reading

Children of Earth and Sky: An Origin Story

Croatia has roads in many places going back to the Romans. They joke today that the old roads are better graded and designed than the new ones. It is probably true. On a book tour many years ago, I was … Continue reading

6 Books I Love

Guy Gavriel Kay described the process of picking his six favourite books as a thoroughly regrettable, “evil, sadistic exercise.” This first appeared at www.cbc.ca in 2016.   The historical fiction that first hooked him Eagle of the Ninth by Rosemary Sutcliff … Continue reading

Something to Write Home About

This  first appeared at https://thewalrus.ca in 2016.  I wrote my first, never-published book in a fishing village on the south coast of Crete at the end of the 1970s. I went back, two winters later, to write most of The Summer … Continue reading

On the Strengths of Fiction Done as Near-History

This first appeared at http://boingboing.net/ in 2016.  The origin story of Children of Earth and Sky, my current novel, begins with my Croatian editor being the first person ever to tell me about the Uskoks of Senj. He did that … Continue reading

On Readings

Public performances are another aspect of the writer’s business about which I feel some ambivalence. There are ironies here: I enjoy reading aloud, and I derive a great deal of pleasure from meeting readers. What’s the problem, then? Well, I’ve … Continue reading

Tigana Afterword

This afterword first appeared in the ROC USA 10th anniversary edition of Tigana, published in 1999. It is reprinted here with kind permission of the publishers.     Tigana is in good part a novel about memory: the necessity of … Continue reading

Toastmaster address at WFC 2007

Toastmaster Address, World Fantasy Awards 2007 This was the toastmaster address GGK delivered at the World Fantasy Awards banquet in Saratoga Springs, at WFC 2007. It lacks the ad libs and the laugh track, but does have an addendum with … Continue reading

Reflections on an Ethical Society

What follows was delivered on November 4, 2000 at the one-day ‘Reflections on an Ethical Society’ conference at University of Toronto’s Convocation Hall. (Ironically, the setting for the opening scene of The Summer Tree .) This is a somewhat edited … Continue reading

Release the Fans!

This was first printed in the Globe & Mail, March 6, 2009. A few recent online incidents regarding authors and readers on the Web are just too revealing to pass up a chance to consider them. By way of a … Continue reading

On Rereading

A while ago, a reader posted online that she’d finished her fourteenth read of one of my earlier novels. I offered a thank you and queried, idly, if that was the record. Evidently not. People began outlining their reread statistics, … Continue reading

Sometimes a Game is Just a Game

This was first printed in the Globe & Mail, May 2008. Reproduced with kind permission. Incidentally, the title was their choice!       Edmond Burke said, “All it takes for evil to triumph is for good men to do … Continue reading

Mondegreens

Mondegreens This piece first appeared in the National Post. It is reprinted here with kind permission. Sometimes life delivers something we always longed for but didn’t even know it. It doesn’t happen (as best I can tell) nearly often enough, … Continue reading

On Myth

This was written in the summer of 1999 as part of the Chapters book chain’s ‘Great Writers’ series of essays that ran as full page inserts in Canadian newspapers.     ‘Mythology is what never was, but always is.’ It … Continue reading

The Problem with the Patriot"

Bright Weavings – GGK’s Words: Essay “The Problem with the Patriot” The Problem with ‘The Patriot‘ I was in London when the latest summer blockbuster, Roland Emmerich’s ‘The Patriot’ opened in theatres there. It was assaulted by some of the … Continue reading

Authors draw their knives during literary awards season

This was first printed in the Globe & Mail, October 16, 2009. This time of year, in France and Italy, hunters renew their licences and start cleaning rifles, not always carefully enough, preparing to go forth to destroy the peace … Continue reading

In Memoriam – Dorothy Dunnett

This appreciation first appeared in Locus Magazine, December 2001. I met Dorothy Dunnett first in the spring of 1975, a memory I cherish and a moment that was to teach me something about writers and how they might deal graciously … Continue reading

On Writing Sailing to Sarantium

This piece was written for Earthlight, GGK’s British publishing house.         At the end of every novel I write, a journey begins with no known destination. I never know what my next book will be. In order … Continue reading

Under Heaven Author’s Letter

Exile Sometimes a reader’s question stops you cold. Makes you cast an eye back over your own body of work and think about it differently. This can happen with an academic paper or a thoughtful review, but it feels more … Continue reading

The Fionavar Tapestry Afterword

This afterword first appeared in the HarperPerennial Canada 20th anniversary edition of The Tapestry, published in 2004. It is reprinted here with kind permission of the publishers.     On the occasion of an anniversary edition, there are many things … Continue reading

Home and Away

‘Home and Away’ is an amended form of a speech I first delivered as the keynote speech for an academic conference in Toronto, and then (with examples updated and varied) at a convention in Zagreb, Croatia. I cut the speechmaker’s … Continue reading

The Greatest Russians of all Time

This was first printed in the Globe & Mail, January 2009. It was recently reported that over fifty million Russians had decided the greatest Russian ever. In a broadcast on the state-run Rossiya channel, which concluded three months of telephone … Continue reading