Another excellent Scott Lynch interview; this one from our friends over at Fantasy Fiction:
Well, the setting is in many respects very necessary to any success of the work, because a character like Locke needs a sufficiently complex world to operate in if he’s going to be any recognizable sort of con artist. You need social fluidity, middle classes between the peasants and the nobility, and you need a more generally literate and cosmopolitan society with lots of various forms of banking and lending. You couldn’t have someone like Locke, without the aid of magic, slipping effortlessly back and forth between societies like the Rohirrim and the Gondorians in Tolkien’s work, because the societies are too small, the rituals and class barriers too thick, the borders too guarded, everyone too well known to everyone else of similar rank. A master of disguise could live several different lives at the heart of Rome, but not in a legion camp in northern Gaul, if you see what I mean.
I wanted to keep the supernatural elements of the story, the magic, monsters, and mysteries, rather nebulous and only explained to a certain limited point. I just think they’re so much more effective that way, more beautiful and more scary. Certainly it raises questions in the minds of some readers, and even I sometimes have to curb the wish for more information when I’m reading other books. But dammit, the imagination needs to be flexed as well as fed, and writers should stay in practice with the fine art of omission as well as inclusion.