Jim has been very gracious in making himself available to his fan base, not only by interacting with us here and on other websites but by doing many interviews, con pannels, and Q&A sessions.
Quite a few of these have been recorded in audio or video format and posted on the internet, and an overall list of everything I know about is posted in the sticky above. Several forum members have voluntiered their time to transcribe these for those that have trouble with audio recordings (some of our fellow forum members can not hear), and also for ease of reference for when we discuss what Jim has said about his works.
This is a continuous project. At the moment (I am writing this shortly before the Ghost Story release) more than half of these audio and video recordings have been transcribed, but we could always use help with finishing those left, and Jim being so interactive with his fan base is always generating new ones. So if you would like to contribute to this endeavor, please visit This Topic where I have tried to make a list of the ones that need doing, and where you can post your work when you are done, if you chose to help out with this project.
This page is where I am putting the transcripts from 2010.
*2009 Whisper radio interview audio (interview starts at 49:40)
2010 Powells Books Signing Q&A (youtube vid) derek
Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3 | Part 4 | Part 5 | Part 6
*2010 Mysterious Galaxy in San Diego on April 9th youtube videos
Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3 | Part 4 | Part 5
2010 Buzzy Multimedia interview youtube video Serack
2010 Dragon Page interview audio LogicMouseLives
2010 Question from Dragoncon video (here’s the comic they are talking about) derek
*2010 Dragon Con Q&A session (Part “7” picks up where Part 6 leaves off, but was made by a diff. person who numbered it “8”)
Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3 | Part 4 | Part 5 | Part 6 | Part “7”
Suduvu interview video
2010 Fantasy authors panel @ NYC Comic con Videos
2010 NovelsAlive interview youtube vid derek
Absent Willow Review interview Written Crawker
2010 SFBC interview @ NYCC youtube video derek
*2010 The Walking Eye Interview about the DFRPG with Fred Hicks (Iago) and Jim podcast audio
2010 Brief Side Jobs interview from his Publisher youtube sjsharks
By the way, it may be quicker to read these transcripts rather than viewing/listening, but if you have the time I highly recommend you view/listen as well as read. They say some large (IMO usually arbitrary) percentage of communication is actually contained in the tone of a voice and such, and in these cases, I’d say that a percentage of the fun is distilled out when you only enjoy these in text rather than viewing/listening.
Jim Butcher “Changes” Q&A – Powells Books 4/08/2010 Part 1 of 6
Transcription by Derek
Jim Butcher: Okay, first of all, if anyone’s seen my hair, if you could please call 1-800-Jim’s-Do it would be appreciated.
Audience: My son has it.
Jim Butcher: Alright, we’ll just do questions and answers, I guess, because that’s kind of fun. Hey, no way. Completely bald, you’re first.
Audience: What are your thoughts on The Dresden Files RPG coming out in June?
Jim Butcher: What are my thoughts on The Dresden Files RPG coming out in June? That if I DM’d it, it would be too much like work. And that if I played it, I would be a frickin’ nightmare to any GM. “No, it is that way and if necessary, I’ll put it in the next book!” Other than that, though, the guys who worked on it have done a really phenomenal job. They really dug into it and worked their tails off, really unbelievably so. So, it’s gonna be — finally, they are getting it done. My friend Fred says — he’s the one who’s producing it — says, ‘Yeah, we had no idea how big a project this was going to be. In fact, we had to design three other games so that we could build up our company enough to get enough people onboard to actually ramp up to able to do this game.’ He’s like, ‘If I’d known that when I got started, I never would have done it.’ It’s like that with me, with writing, if I’d known how long it would take. But, it should be fairly cool. I really like the rules system. I don’t think I’ll ever get to play it, but I don’t know, maybe I can just shave off the whiskers, and go bald one day, and not wear my glasses and show up anonymously at a con somewhere and play that way or something. Who’s next?
Audience: So, with the books, it’s been about a year between books-ish and that’s reflected in the story. Have you ever had like some huge leap forward planned? Have you ever had a huge leap backwards? Or is it pretty much going to be the next book’s gonna be a year from —
Jim Butcher: Okay. I’ll go. What he’s asking is the storyline has basically been about one book story year per real life year, am I going to keep doing that? Am I going to start jumping back or forward? The answer is yes, I’m going to keep doing that because it works a little bit better on account of it just makes it easier to keep track of what year it is in the story. And am I going to make any big leaps forward or backwards? Well, there is a whole law of magic about messing with time. And given that it’s a Law of Magic, Dresden’s going to have to break it eventually. So, yeah, ‘sort of’ would be the proper answer to the question. Yeah?
Audience: What’s coming out in November?
Jim Butcher: What’s coming out in November? November is the short story collection with all the Dresden short — not all the Dresden short stories, but most of them in it. Plus, the novella that I wrote from Murphy’s point of view called “Aftermath” that starts about 45 minutes after the end of Changes. So, it was fun, although man, Murphy is an alien creature to me. She really is. But we wound up with a pretty good story, I think. Yeah?
Audience: So for those of us who just couldn’t put it once we’d picked it up, what’s coming next?
Jim Butcher: For those — what now?
Jim Butcher: Oh, okay. So what’s coming next in the Dresden Files? I’m not going to tell you that. Come on, you’ve got to give me a break there. Although, I will say that — because we’re trying not to spoiler people who haven’t got to read the book yet — I will say that my contract, they’ve paid me up through book 13, so I have to write at least one more. And my kid leaves for college next fall, so…that’s like another six years after that. Man, I’m never gonna get to retire.
Audience: I was just wondering about the titles of the books, how they’re all two words and both words are always the same number of letters. Why did you choose to do that?
Jim Butcher: Okay. He’s asking about the titles of the books, why are the books always two words, same number of letters. Answer to that was that I had noticed when I was in college and in my writing courses that all of the really successful, or most of the really successful serial P.I. novels had a naming scheme of some kind attached to them. MacDonald’s books, John MacDonald’s books all had a color in the name. A is Alibi, B is for Burglar, etc. with the Kinsey Millhone books. It was the same way with several different authors that I looked at. So, I said, ‘I need a naming scheme,’ and I was going to use puns because I thought that would be fun. And so I was trying to get pun stuff set up and they didn’t, they didn’t like that. The editors didn’t like that at all. So, the first book, I think the original name was Semiautomagic and then I said, ‘Can we call it Abracadaver?’ and they said, ‘No, we can’t.’ And I went through several different names and it finally ended up as Storm Front, which was only kind of vaguely a pun. But they did it in these nice square little boxes with the title all being lined up. And so I said, ‘Well, hey, the next one was already going to be called Fool Moon, so that one will line up too.’ And so at that point, then I said, ‘Okay, the only pattern I’m going to have here is where we line up these little boxes. So, let’s at least keep that.’ Until we got to this book, which is called Changes and totally breaks the pattern…presumably because there’s going to be some changes. So…yes, ma’am?
Audience: What’s coming as far as the graphic novels and [inaudible]?
Jim Butcher: Okay, two questions here. She’s cheating. What’s happening as far as the graphic novels and what did happen to my hair? The graphic novels, they just sent me the sketches to approve for issue 7 of Storm Front, and I just read and approved the script for issue 8 of Storm Front. So, I think they’ve got the first 4 issues together for part 1 of Storm Front and now they’re going to do part 2. And that’s how it’s going to progress is about 8 issues per novel, and then turning it into 2 graphic booklets because that’s the way the industry works these days. As far as my hair, I went to bed one night and it went out to fight crime, as it usually does, and it just never came back the next day. So, I have to assume that somebody finally got to it. No, the truth on that is is that I’m kinda carrying a theme through here, so, you know, there’s been some changes. Plus, sometimes you look at your life and there’s all these big parts of it that you can’t control. And I might not be able to control my life, but I can control my hair. So, yeah, and at this point, I just killed it. Razed earth policy, right here. Yeah, right here.
Audience: Does the cat make it to the next book?
Jim Butcher: Does the cat make it to the next book? I’m not going to tell you that. I’m just not. Although, nah, Mister’s just far too cool. We really haven’t run into anything that could kill Mister at this point. Just absolute feline disdain would make him nearly invincible, so…. Back here, yes?
Audience: Does Dresden actually have a cowboy hat?
Jim Butcher: Does Dresden actually have a cowboy hat? *shakes head* No. I think I’ve actually made a comment about it a couple of times. I think Murphy commented about it in one book and Dresden did in a short story. I think he did in Changes, too. ‘If only I had a hat, we could have saved the world.’ No, he doesn’t have one, but the Sorcerer’s Apprentice apparently does, and you know, he’s got the hat.
Jim Butcher “Changes” Q&A – Powells Books 4/08/2010 Part 2 of 6
Transcription by Derek
Audience: You said that most of the short stories would be in this collection. Which ones aren’t?
Jim Butcher: Which short stories are not in the collection? Let me think. One of them is called “Curses”, and it’s the short story — it’s more of a lighter one — it’s a short story about Harry getting hired by the Cubs to get the billy goat curse taken off the team. And the other one is called — I was really incensed that it wasn’t in, we weren’t going to be able to do it — the other one’s called “Even Hand”. It’s a short story from the perspective of John Marcone, and it sort of shows you what he’s doing behind the scenes. And if you read the short story and then go read the scene in Changes, in Burger King, it has two totally different meanings. I was so upset that I wasn’t going to get to put that in the book. As it is, I missed two of the short stories, and I know I told you guys I wanted them all together where you could get to all of them. So, the only thing that I can do to still keep my word to you is to write a second collection of short stories. So, I’ve got to write more of the things. But, I’m going to do it because I said I would.
Audience: Since you finished the Codex Alera series and you’re working on this, are you going to work on other series at all?
Jim Butcher: Okay, since I finished on Codex Alera, am I gonna be working on something else to take it’s place? Yes. I’m sure. (laughter) I’m just not quite sure what, yet. But, yeah, I would have too much time on my hands if I didn’t. So, I think what I’m planning on is kind of a post-apocalyptic fantasy thing that I’m going to write with my friend Cam Banks, because Cam is like one of the only guys I’ve ever known who could put up with me long enough to do that. But it’s sort of one of those the heroes went forth to face the dark lord and fulfill the prophecy and bravely did they stride in upon him, and he killed them all and the world was plunged into darkness.
Jim Butcher: Yeah, for one. (laughter) That’s exactly what it is. Over here.
Audience: How difficult was it to get the first book published?
Jim Butcher: How difficult was it to get the first book published? Well, I wrote my first book when I was nineteen, in 1990, and it was awful. I wrote book two not too long after that, also terrible. Book three, as well. Terrible. Book four, I’d decided to change things up and write kind of, sort of X-Files-y, paranormal thing, and that was also a dismal failure. As was book five, which was a rewrite of book one, which hadn’t been all that good to begin with. So, eventually, though, I wrote — I think it was the sixth or seventh book I wrote, which was Storm Front. And I sent it off to an editor because I got a recommendation from my teacher, I had an introduction letter to Ginger Buchanan. And it stayed there for three years. So, I started thinking, ‘Well, maybe I better not wait on that forever.’ You know, and so all in all, I finally got an agent in 1999, and it got sold about six months after that. And so, basically, it was an overnight project. It took me a real long time to get undumb enough to actually do a good job. I’m not terribly bright some days, but. At the very back, hand up.
Audience: You’re doing a short story from the point of view of Murphy, and you’ve done one from the point of view from Thomas. Will we [inaudible] short stories be done from the point of view of some of the other characters.
Jim Butcher: Um, maybe? I haven’t got that far yet. Maybe. Probably not from the point of view of anybody who’s really clued into what’s going on, though. Or if i do, then the character will just be standing there going, ‘I’m not going to tell you that.’ (laughter) ‘You’re just going to have to trust me. It was important that we do this. Ha Ha.’ But we’ll have to see. Some of the characters I just couldn’t do that with. I couldn’t do that from Mouse’s point of view, for example, because he’s so much cooler than everybody else. (laughter)
Jim Butcher: Well, he’s a dog, man. Dogs are cool, just kind of intrinsically that way. Right here. Sitting down. Just behind you, yeah.
Audience: I really love the way you handle the fae, and I’m curious if we’re ever going to meet Titania?
Jim Butcher: Are we ever gonna get to meet Titania, Queen Titania, the Summer Queen? Yes. But probably, it’s going to be awhile. It might not be until the last three books. She’s heavy duty, so. Over here.
Audience: How many books are you planning to write?
Jim Butcher: How many books am I planning to write? The original plan — actually, the events of Changes were originally, I originally had had them penciled in for book ten, but it’s taken me a couple books longer to get there. So, the original plan was for twenty books and a three book apocalyptic trilogy capstone ending *dunh duh duh dunh* with music by John Williams. (laughter) But, we’ll see. We’ll see if I’m still going to be able to get there by twenty. It might actually wind up being twenty one or twenty two, something like that. Not a whole enormous high number of books (laughter) but because I want the story to have, like, a beginning and an end, and for everybody to get to read them, so. Oh, by the way, people coming through line tonight, please don’t tell me, ‘Just don’t die.’ Okay? (laughter) Because I think we can all rationally assume that that is sort of implied and you’re just going to jinx it. Right here, young man.
Audience: What does your shirt say?
Jim Butcher: What does my shirt say? It is Latin for ‘A long time ago, in a galaxy far, far away’. (cheers) Or as close as Latin can come to saying that.
Audience: Are you thinking about selling the movie rights, or did the series take that out of you?
Jim Butcher: Okay, did I ever think about selling the movie rights, or did the series take that out of me? And the answer is: I already did sell the movie rights. Lionsgate has them. And they have them for another three years and five days, not that I’m keeping track. And after that time, they revert back to me. I doubt Lionsgate is going to do anything with it. I can’t imagine why they would. As far as they’re concerned, this was just the show that crashed on SciFi, so…we’ll see what happens later, though. Right here, sir.
Audience: So, I’m on my second read through of the book. Why do you hate Harry Dresden? (laughter)
Jim Butcher: You’ve got it all wrong, man. I love him. I love him and I want him to succeed. But for that to happen, he must have great pain (laughter)
Audience: [inaudible] succeed admirably.
Jim Butcher: Joss Whedon — I read an interview about Joss Whedon where they were on the set of Buffy and they had just had to have Buffy do some heart wrenching scene for, like, the fifth time. And Joss hadn’t gotten quite what he wanted, so he asked Sarah to go do it again. And she turned around and just kind of stared at him. And she said, ‘Joss, do you have any idea how difficult this is on me? This is really bad.’ He puts his hand on her shoulder and says, ‘Sarah, this show thrives upon your pain.’ (laughter) I look at that and just go, ‘Mm. Joss Whedon is my master, now.’ (cheers) Because he had something exactly right. If Harry had a happy day, it would be boring. It would be a terrible bore. Let’s go back over here, first.
Audience: So, who plays Harry Dresden in this hypothetical movie?
Jim Butcher: Who plays Harry Dresden in this hypothetical movie? I don’t know. There’s been all kinds of different people giving suggestions. I always kind of liked Will Smith, just because he has the right attitude. (laughter) But now he’s gone to hit the gym and he’s gotten all buff and stuff, now. So, I don’t know. Right here.
Audience: Why the frozen turkey?
Jim Butcher: ‘K, hang on. Why the frozen turkey? Why NOT a frozen turkey? That’s the question I pose to you. I had to kind of Looney Tunes something and I couldn’t readily think of a way to get a safe up above the city. A frozen turkey falling out of a plane, though. Yeah.
Audience: I was going to ask how often do you get writers block, and what do you do to get past it?
Jim Butcher: I don’t have writers block. I have a mortgage. (laughter) Honestly, writers block is for folks who don’t have to have their stuff in on time, and I’m not one of those folks. So, generally speaking, I really don’t believe in writers block. I don’t really get writers block. Sometimes I just really, really, really want to go play City of Heroes instead. But, uh, really, it’s one of those things that I believe is a point of personal discipline that you just have to sit down and go through it, and start writing until it works. There are other people who say writers block is real. Maybe they’re right, but I disbelieve. I roll to disbelieve. Twenty!
Jim Butcher “Changes” Q&A – Powells Books 4/08/2010 Part 3 of 6
Transcription by Derek
Audience: What’s your take on the whole Amazon Kindle thing?
Jim Butcher: What’s my take on the whole Amazon Kindle thing? This is my understanding of it. Amazon said, ‘Okay, we’re going to have the book available for Kindle. You can pre-order it.’ And then they started negotiating with Penguin for getting the rights to the book. And Penguin had already sold electronic rights here, there and everywhere to other people. And then a couple of days before the release, Amazon says, ‘You’re going to give it to us for a real, real low price, or we’re not going to buy it. And what’s more, we’re not going to buy any of your other spring stuff, either.’ And Penguin said, ‘Alright.’ And that’s my take on it. (laughter) Amazon tried to power play and it, they kind of bounced off without moving Penguin too much, so. You can get the iBook version and there’s some shareware now that converts iBook to Kindle format. So, yeah, I’m just looking at Amazon going, ‘Really? Really?’ But I guess we’ll have to see what happens. At the very back in the blue shirt.
Audience: When you first wrote Storm Front, did you have, like, this entire series somewhat planned out, or did it just kind of [inaudible]?
Jim Butcher: When I first wrote Storm Front, did I have the entire series somewhat planned out? Yes. I did it for a project, it was a class project. So, I kind of had — well, the first couple of chapters I just wrote one night, and I said, ‘Okay, maybe I’d better plan the book.’ And then as I was planning the book, I said, ‘Maybe I’d better plan the world.’ And then when I was done with the world, I said, ‘Maybe I’d better plan the time line if this is gonna be a series.’ And I did that, and it was one of those obsessive compulsive projects that went on for awhile. But, yeah, I had to go back and write the first book, ’cause otherwise it was gonna be late and I had a grade card, so. Yes, right here.
Jim Butcher: Yes, the guy with the very short hair.
Audience: Harry loves Star Wars and everything like that. Is he a Brown Coat, too?
Jim Butcher: Is Harry a Brown Coat, too? Not so much, he never got to see Firefly because he watches TV by going to a park that’s across from an electronics store, and watching the TVs that are in the window where they have the closed caption on — because there’s actually, I’ve actually gone to that store in Chicago and looked at it — so, you know, he wanted to go see Firefly, but he kept showing on Friday night and it wasn’t there. It was getting preempted by baseball and…I mean, I remember that. I tell you, I still have’t watched the last episode of Firefly, because if I do that, then they’ll all be gone. So, it’s just sitting there waiting, and one day, maybe. Right here.
Audience: I noticed this kind of sub-genre of urban fantasy seems to be primarily female authors, and I wondered if you had any thoughts on that [inaudible]?
Jim Butcher: Okay. Urban fantasy seems to be mostly female authors. What are my thoughts on…what? Oh, I thought you said something, sorry. Seems to be mostly female authors and I’m not…demonstrably. So, what are my thoughts on it? Why is it like that? Because the first one to get alot of attention was Laurel? I don’t know, really. Really, I think the publishing industry is mostly women. I mean, there seems to be pretty much an even split of authors but on the other hand, the romance genre sells something like 60%…50% or 60% of fiction book sales is just romance. It’s kind of a girl thing, unless you’re a guy who’s in prison because while you can’t buy porn, you can buy romance novels. (laughter) So, go figure.
Audience: Do you have weird writing tics or writing OCD-ness that need to get through your books?
Jim Butcher: Do I have any weird writing tics or OCD-ness that I use to get through my books? Most of my tics and OCD get in the way of me getting through my books. I do like to write. I do my best writing from around ten at night until around six in the morning, because there’s nobody bothering me. If you’re there during the day, it’s like, ‘Dad, I love you,’ this and, ‘Honey, do you need something to eat,’ that and…you can’t work in that kind of environment. (laughter) And I also like to have either a really bad movie or a movie I’ve seen a gajillion times on the TV while I’m writing so that I can just look up for the good parts. It’s like, ‘Okay, the orcs just broke through the door in Moria.’ (looks up) ‘Back to work.’ Like that. Very back, halfway around the corner, there. No, not behind you. You, yeah.
Jim Butcher: I’m sorry, what’s that?
Audience: Was Empire Strikes Back one of the movies that were watched when writing this last book?
Jim Butcher: Empire Strikes Back was not a movie on this book. The movies on this book were Watchmen. No, no wait. Watchmen was for the short story stuff. Oh, what were the movies on this one. I don’t remember. It’s kind of a blur. This was over November and December, Thanksgiving, Christmas, et cetera.
Jim Butcher: Fellowship was not in there. It was the ones that were on the DVR. Oh, okay. It was Tremors and Army of Darkness. (cheers) There. Now you know. Let’s see, here in the middle. Young lady, yes?
Audience: How long do you spend, like, how long does it take you to write your books now that you’ve got it all figured out?
Jim Butcher: How long does it take me to write a book? Somewhere between, apparently, two months and seven or eight months. And it seems to be kind of random which, they don’t like that in New York. But I did all of Changes, I think all of it but about seven chapters I did in the space of eight weeks between the beginning of November and New Year. And I worked, like, sixteen hours a day every day, including Christmas, and New Year and Thanksgiving. And was oh so charming a person during that time, let me tell you. But, I was able to get it done, though, so. Did I let you ask one yet?
Jim Butcher: Okay, well, then.
Audience: You finished up the Codex Alera, but you left it open to possibly doing something in the future with it. Are you thinking about doing that, or…?
Jim Butcher: I finished up the Codex Alera, but left it open to possibly doing something in the future with it. Am I thinking about doing that? I don’t have a specific idea yet. The one I’m kind of leaning towards is the one where we go back about two hundred years later, when we’ve had a lot of combination of Canim engineering with Aleran fury crafting. And it would be very steampunky, kind of ‘Furypunk.’ (laughter) When the enemy of the Vord shows up to wipe out life on the planet, exterminate the Vord. But we’ll — I don’t know if I’m ever going to write that or not. That might be something that I go back and write when I’m older to pay off my gambling debts or something.
[something about someone who’s had arms up from the very beginning, followed by confusion over who should ask the next question]
Audience: I just want to know how old is Harry? You always say thirty something. When is he going to reach his forties, for God’s sake?
Jim Butcher: What the hell, man. We’re going at a year per book. (laughter)
Audience: [inaudible] give us his first age. How old is he?
Jim Butcher: Oh, let’s see. When he starts off, in Storm Front he was twenty four, twenty five.
Audience: Got it. I can do the math.
Jim Butcher: Okay. (laughter) He’s eight or nine months younger than I am. Or no, he’s about a year younger than I am.
Audience: [inaudible] Thank you.
Jim Butcher: Sure. Yeah, see, that’s why — see how personal I took that. (laughter) When the hell is he going to be forty, because you must be at least seventy five. (laughter) That’s what was in my head. I admit that may not have been what you meant. Alright, we’re cool, then.
Audience: Any hints on what the short story in the RPG will be?
Jim Butcher: Any hints on what the short story in the RPG will be? No. I’ve been trying to write it on my goofy iPad. The iPad type thing does not work so well when you’ve got alot of dialog. I wanted to go get an iMac bluetooth keyboard, but I couldn’t get here in time to go to the apple store which is, like, two doors down. Well, that’s fine anyway because, gosh, I’m so tired, I don’t know what would happen if I started writing right now. Okay.
Audience: You touched on the dragons in the Dresdenverse. Are you going to do anything more with the dragons in the…?
Jim Butcher: Is there going to be more with the dragons in the Dresdenverse. Yeah. Yeah, otherwise — I’m essentially lazy, so I don’t want to actually create anything that I’m not going to use for something eventually.
Jim Butcher “Changes” Q&A – Powell’s Books 4/08/2010 Part 4 of 6
Transcription by Derek
Jim Butcher: Yeah.
Audience: I’m trying to set this city up for the RPG because I want to run it.
Jim Butcher: Okay.
Audience: In your opinion, who’d be the seat of power here?
Jim Butcher: Okay, you’re trying to set up Portland as a setting for the RPG game. Hrm. Who would be the what of power?
Audience: Who holds the power here?
Jim Butcher: Who holds the power? Mm…
Audience: [inaudible] (laughter)
Jim Butcher: It should. If it was here, I would probably do something with where water met land, is what I would probably…
Audience: That’s all the city. (laughter)
Jim Butcher: Yeah. But, I mean, I would have something specifically that — I would go look for some sort of supernatural person who was specifically a shore type entity, for instance, the Leanansidhe is specifically a shore type entity, only she’s in Germany, but, you know. I would hit the libraries and look in the local Native American lore and see what you can find about water creatures. So, that would just be me, though. You can do it your own way. (laughter) Back here, with the beard.
Audience: I was going to ask you, what exactly are Outsiders? Are they the fae or are they something else entirely?
Jim Butcher: Exactly what are Outsiders? They are something else entirely. No, fae are all — all the fae are part mortal. There is some bit of mortal in every single one of the fae. So, the Outsiders are something that comes from way beyond that. So, you know, they’re more the generic Hellboy fangs and tentacles crowd. Yeah?
Audience: Are there things man should not know? (laughter)
Jim Butcher: Are there things man should not know? Not only should not, but never seem to. (laughter) Although, it’s mostly my wife who tells me about those things. (laughter) Yeah, in the Dresden universe, there are all kinds of things for the really dark secrets of magic that Harry has absolutely no clue about which, hopefully as he learns about them later in this series, you’ll be able to look back at stuff he was doing earlier and then be going, ‘Oh, my God, I can’t believe what a maniacal serial killer you-…Oh, wait a minute. Now, I sound just like the Wardens and the rest of the Senior Council.’
Audience: Um, can you that [inaudible]
Jim Butcher: /Shee/ (Pronunciation of the word ‘Sidhe’)
Jim Butcher: /Shee/. (laughter)
Jim Butcher: It’s Gaelic, man, it doesn’t have to make any sense. (laughter) Let’s go over here.
Audience: Have you ever written something that made your editor go, ‘Oh, no, that’s too crazy. You can’t do that.’
Jim Butcher: Have I ever written something that made my editor go, ‘Oh, no, that’s too crazy. You can’t do that.’ Um, yeah, that last chapter of Changes kinda got to her. (laughter) So, I had to write the first two chapters of book thirteen and say, ‘No, look. See, this is where it fits in.’ ‘Oh! That’s cool!’ Yeah, but nobody ever gone, ‘Aw, that’s just too wild.’ I have had the — the first editor of the books, Jen Heddle, she did kind of give me a nightmare assignment once where she said, ‘Oo, I love these four story lines you’ve got going here in Grave Peril and I want you to expand on them.’ Because normally editors go, ‘You need to get rid of this, you need to get rid of that.’ She’s like, ‘No, I want you to expand on these four subplots and give us some more on them, and make the book fifty pages shorter.’ (laughter) ‘So, you want it bigger and smaller…’ She says, ‘Uh huh, and hurry.’ That’s professional writing, people. Right there, that’s a good example. Back here.
Audience: I also read Charlene Harris, and just in my my little universe, I would dearly love for you and her to combine on a story where Harry [inaudible]. (laughter)
Jim Butcher: I — Charlaine is nicest person in the whole world. I would not wish working in tandem with me upon Charlaine.
Jim Butcher: What’s that?
Audience: At a book signing for her, I was mentioning what you said about her. She said, ‘Oh, I’ve got him fooled.’ (laughter)
Jim Butcher: No, she’s just sweet. I mean, she is just the nicest person. And if there was anybody in the world I could feel bitter and jealous about, it would be Charlaine. She’s just too nice, so I can’t even do that. All I can really do is, you know, DVR True Blood and have a good time. Let’s see. Right here.
Audience: Your books crack me up pretty much consistently, all the time. What’s the funniest you think you’ve written so far?
Jim Butcher: What’s the funniest thing, to me, that I’ve written so far? I don’t know. I just try to be funny, everybody else decides whether or not I succeed. I know the most satisfying things I’ve written were with the dinosaur. I really like that. (cheers) I really loved having Harry show up to the vampire ball dressed as a cheesy vampire. [inaudible] I love how completely overly serious I made the bad guys in “Day Off”, the short story “Day Off”. The bad guys there are kind of like the Scooby-Doo crowd if they were goth and thought they were lead in Scanners. There was somebody else over here, too. Yes.
Audience: There’s a bunch of people, actually, over there.
Jim Butcher: I keep getting there, there, there. Right here. Young lady.
Audience: What inspired you to write the book Changes?
Jim Butcher: What inspired me to write the book Changes? Well, I had signed this contract and (laughter) I want to stay in my house. But, really, this was kinda the big middle point. Changes was the mid-point of this first part of the series. This is where we got to — I finally got to pull the trigger on all these cool things that I’d been wanting to do for a long time. Boom, boom, boom. I felt like the special effects explosives guy in Tropic Thunder while I was doing that. (laughter) But, yeah, it was just the set up, and I wanted to put Dresden into what would be, for him, the ultimate rough situation, you know, the ultimate moral bind. Now, you’ve had all these offers, you could have assembled all this power if you wanted it. Now, we’re gonna put you in a situation where you’re gonna have to help the one person you would most want to help in the world, Harry. Poor guy. You’re right. I do hate him. Wow. Yeah?
Audience: In one of your previous books, you describe Portland as being a middle of nowhere city —
Jim Butcher: Wait. Did I? Really?
Audience: Yes. As a Portlander, myself, I would like to know what you meant by that. (laughter)
Jim Butcher: Which book did I put that in? Because, seriously, ’cause I don’t know.
Audience: I don’t remember which one, but like Michael left his truck here.
Jim Butcher: Oh, oh yeah. Michael had a mission somewhere up here and dropped his truck off in the country somewhere.
Audience: Does this have anything to do with your last visit up here? (laughter)
Jim Butcher: Do you work for some kind of news blog or something? (laughter) Are you one of those investigative interviewers where I don’t get to answering the question? “You need, you need to shut up. You need to be quiet now.”
Jim Butcher: (laughs) No, I’ve had nothing but a good time when I’m up here.
Audience: We didn’t hear the question.
Jim Butcher: Oh, the question was ‘In one of your books, you referred to Portland as the middle of nowhere. And was that the result of…please answer the question, Senator. Was that a result of…was that the result of your reception here?’ I said, ‘Nah, I’ve never had anything but a good time here.’ But, yeah, mid-, you know, you’re up by Portland. You’re in the country within fifty miles of town here. You’re from Chicago and you’ve got to drive to Oregon to pick up your truck. Do you know what you have to drive across to get to Oregon from Chicago? Yeah. Man, there is some long miles on there.
Jim Butcher: There you go. Okay, let’s see. Back here, sir.
Audience: I just read through the beta pdf for the RPG. Are the anecdotes, the notes from Harry and Bob, did you write those or did they?
Jim Butcher: In the RPG, did I write the comments and notes from Harry and Bob that appear in the margins of the rule book? No, I didn’t write those, they did. I went through and approved them, and said, ‘Yeah, why not.’
Audience: Was it Harry and Bob that wrote them, or…
Jim Butcher: No, it would have been Fred and Chad, I believe. Fred Hicks and Chad Underkoffler are all over that game. Really obsessive guys, I don’t see how they do it.
Audience: My little brother [inaudible] texting me all day. But, he wants to know what your favorite tabletop RPG is.
Jim Butcher: What my favorite tabletop RPG is? It’s Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay. The original from Games Workshop, not the reprint from Green Ronin. Which I was I kinda happily saying that last night and the guy who works at Green Ronin and wrote it was in the audience…(moans) ‘Oh, I fail.’
Jim Butcher “Changes” Q&A – Powell’s Books 4/08/2010 Part 5 of 6
Transcription by Derek
Jim Butcher: Um, over here sir.
Jim Butcher: Yeah.
Audience: Do you have any regrets about the TV series at all or –?
Jim Butcher: Do I have any regrets about the TV series?
Audience: And would you do it all over again if you had the opportunity?
Jim Butcher: If I could do it — well, that’s just it. When you’re a writer — I’m just the writer of the book. I don’t matter anything in Hollywood. The TV series, really, I figure that came in top 2% in terms of writer/fun experience with Hollywood. I figure that’s in the top couple of percentiles. It could have come out a whole lot worse than it did. You guys didn’t see, like, the second treatment that it was getting when they were planning it. That was the one where his name got changed to Eric and other things…I was looking at that, just going (bangs head on microphone) (laughter). But really, I mean, it turned out almost as well as I could have expected it for anybody that wasn’t going to dump a whole huge budget onto making it. Yeah, it could have been worse. That’s my view on the whole thing. It could have been worse. Let’s see, right back here, blue shirt.
Audience: In the books you have a lot of pretty technical knowledge, forensics, police procedures. How much research do you do on these? Do you read books or — ?
Jim Butcher: For forensics, police procedures? Yeah, I have — well, you know, then I go out and kill people and photograph….just so I can make sure that I’m doing it just like real police work. (laughter) Actually, a lot of my stuff originally came from a series of books called “The How Done It Series” that was produced by Writer’s Digest. It’s just a number of books that are — police procedure, and you get to learn all about police procedure, you know, how to find people who are missing, that sort of thing. So, that’s where my initial stuff came from and after I just kind of talk to cops and forensics folks once in a while, who I will meet, and grab it from there. Yep?
Audience: I was wondering if you intended to do anything more with the Alera series along the lines of a graphic novel or –?
Jim Butcher: Do I intend to do anything more with the Alera series, i.e. like a graphic novel or something like that? That’s one of those things that you kind of — I mean, unless you want to go out and actively sell it, that’s one of those things that you really don’t get to pick whether or not you do it. If somebody comes to me and says, ‘I would like to do an Alera movie,’ I’ll be like, ‘Okay.’ That’s kind of how it works. I would be happy to see something else happen with it. It would really be a great cartoon. If they made a movie out of it now, it would probably wind up looking alot like ‘The Last Airbender’ is gonna look, because that’s looking quite cool. I mean, okay, we’re gonna have some action and some cool special effects with the elements. Way to go M. Night…don’t try and put any red door knobs in this one. (laughter) You know, give this a solid movie. Right back there.
Jim Butcher: Where did I get the idea for an undead T-Rex? When I was watching and I found out that they actually have the bones of Sue, I mean the actual real bones or the fossils of them, are actually there in Chicago. They’re not the ones that are hanging up, but you know, for the purposes of having fun, I decided they were. I saw a show on the History Channel about digging up Sue, when they found her and so on, and how she ended up there and why. And then when they were doing the zombie thing, I was writing down the rules of what was going to happen when we had the necromancers running around. It’s, like, okay, the older the corpses are, the more power you can put in them. And you don’t use animals, you use people because they can hold more magical energy proportionately, [inaudible] infinitely more. And then I thought, “But, you know, on the other hand…sure, maybe the human corpses are, you know, you get ten points per year in the human and only one point per year in the animal corpse, but sixty five million years…you can get yourself a pretty good zombie out of that.’ (laughter) And once I’d figured out that, it’s like, okay, and there’s no way I’m letting the bad guy have it, either. (laughter)
Audience: So when does Big Al show up?
Jim Butcher: When does what?
Audience: Big Al.
Jim Butcher: Big Al?
Audience: ‘Walking With Dinosaurs’
Jim Butcher: Oh, okay. I don’t know, I’m not a ‘Walking With Dinosaurs’ person. I’m not certain. Right here in green.
Audience: Are you going back to the naming scheme or has that been tossed out the window?
Jim Butcher: Am I going back to the naming scheme or has it been tossed out the window? I wanted to toss it out the window. I wanted to call the next book Dead. But they said, ‘We can’t do that.’ I said, ‘Why not? It’s a great name.’ It’s like, ‘No, you can’t do that. It sounds like the name of a graphic novel or something.’ It’s like, ‘That’s the best objection you can come up with?’ So I said, ‘Okay, how about we call it Ghost Story?’ And they said, ‘Fine.’ So, right now it’s Ghost Story and we’ll have to see how that turns out. Yes?
Audience: [inaudible] why Japanese on his staff?
Jim Butcher: You’ll have to ask Chris. There’s Japanese haiku on Harry’s, er, not haiku but kanji on Harry’s staff, which spells out matrix, apparently. What I suspect was that at the time, Chris who was I think 21 or 22, had a Japanese girlfriend and liked watching ‘The Matrix’. That’s my guess. I’ve got no idea if that’s true or not. We can ask Chris and find out.
Audience: How much do I have to pay to get your Netflix queue so that I have that sense of mind that I know what you’re watching [inaudible]
Jim Butcher: Oh, how much do you have to pay to get my Netflix queue? Really, it’s not hard to find out what I’m watching. I’ve got Dish Network and I’ve just got the movie channels, the whole spread of them, and basically find the dopiest science fiction movie that’s on, and that’s what I’m watching.
Audience: So, SyFy Channel.
Jim Butcher: No, no. Movies. Movies. Not the SyFy Channel, the Syphilis Channel. S-Y-F-Y…what the? Because that’s what the fans want, that and more wrestling. (laughter) Back here with the blonde hair and glasses.
Audience: So, now that you have an army of flying monkeys, what do you want us to do?
Jim Butcher: Oh, you’re an army of flying monkeys? Really? Because nobody’s been throwing any projectiles at all and, really, I’m somewhat disappointed, I think.
Audience: Well, that can change.
Jim Butcher: No, for you guys, listen, your job is to — okay, I’ll go all Miyagi on you here. Okay, we make deal. My part, write book, that what I do. Your part, read book and have fun, that what you do. That’s it. Read the books, have a good time. That’s sort of the point. Right here.
Audience: Who are your favorite authors?
Jim Butcher: Okay, this will be a list that is not exhaustive, because I always wind up forgetting somebody and I usually only thank the people whoever I’ve read most recently. I just read Mistborn by Brandon Sanderson. I thought that was extremely fine, so now I’ve got another guy I’ve got to read all his books. I actually liked him because I thought his style was so much like Louise Bujold, who is, professionally speaking, I want to have her babies. I really like the Jill Kismet books by Lili, yeah, because they’re good. Yeah, she’s tough, I like her. Let me think. Robert, the late and much lamented Robert B. Parker. I love his work. Let me think. I go back and read the Belgariad at least once a year and I pretend that Mr. Eddings never wrote anything else. I really like it. I also, every couple of years I try and go back and ready the Prydain Chronicles by Lloyd Alexander. Yeah, it’s surprising how good those books are still, even though I’m a grownup now. But there’s some of them, there’s more.
Audience: There’s five. That sequence has five books.
Jim Butcher: Yeah, The Prydain. There’s other authors. I’m not thinking of them right now, but there’s a few. I’m sorry, was there a followup there? Over here.
Audience: Okay, so, in your about the author excerpt on every single one of your books, you mention these four skills that were obsolete at least two hundred years ago. What are some of those?
Jim Butcher: Okay, my resume of obsolete skills?
Audience: Pretty please.
Jim Butcher: Okay. I know how to do trick and stunt riding on horseback, including stuff like hanging off the horse and using it for a shield, and doing vaults so that you can get from one side of the horse to the other so that you can shield yourself on the horse from multiple guys while you ride through them. I can also ride a horse at a full gallop, standing up in the saddle. And none of those are skills which really I’ve ever had to put on a resume. (laughter) At one point I was fairly good at archery. At one point I could put an arrow in a one inch bullseye at sixty yards and do it ten or twelve times in forty five seconds. Yeah, I really had too much time on my hands at that point.
Audience: Underwater basket weaving?
Jim Butcher: No, didn’t learn that one. No underwater basket weaving.
Jim Butcher “Changes” Q&A – Powell’s Books 4/08/2010 Part 6 of 6
Transcription by Derek
Jim Butcher: But there’s all the fencing and stuff. Again, it’s hard to make money as a professional fencer these days. But there’s a bunch skills and stuff like that. Now I’m getting into leather working and making armor, because you have to wear armor when you’re playing the LARP game that me and my kid play. Also, surprisingly, not really a lot of work for armorers. But I’ve got a bunch of skills. I’ve got a great skill set if we ever have some kind of EMP driven apocalypse that also gets rid of guns. (laughter) Although, I’ve actually gotten into guns now. I’m doing a little bit of research. I decided that I knew enough old weapons that I went and found the finest killing technology that 1860 had to offer. So, now I’ve got a Henry rifle and I take that up to the range and shoot it. It’s a lot of fun. You know, Shannon’s got her Sig because for times when I’m tour and so on and she’s home by herself, just in case the twenty pound Bichon-Frise is not enough, she went out and got herself a gun that’s got twenty bullets in it or something like that. It’s incredible. It glows in the dark, and it’s radioactive, and does some other stuff I don’t even know about nor do I want to know about. But, boy, I’ve got the repeating rifle. I’m good. I’ve got the Henry. Yeah.
Audience: So are you trying to get a sponsorship from Coke and Burger King, or –?
Jim Butcher: I am trying and they will not talk to me. (laughter) Yeah, they handed out prizes at the place in Houston, they had a trivia contest and for prizes they handed out two LARP swords to first and second place, and then third through seventh place got Burger King coupons. So, and they had an actual Burger King coupon so I got it and went to Burger King that night. Let’s go right here, first.
Audience: I haven’t been able to come up with the author’s name, but I was pleasantly surprised to be reading another author’s book and he refers to Harry and he visits the bar in Chicago. Are there any other treats like that out and about?
Jim Butcher: If there are, they didn’t talk to me about them. But the thing you’re — Okay, she says she’s reading a book and she found an indirect reference in Harry Dresden and to people stopping at McAnally’s bar in Chicago. That was in one of the books by Justin Gustainis who was — he and I were in the Del Ray Online Writers Workshop together. So, when there were these long howling discussions about the nature of writing craft, Justin and I often found ourselves on the same side, so we thought very similarly. And I was one of the first alumni of that. The first book in that series, Black Magic Woman, Justin sent it to me and said, ‘Well, what do you think?’ And I read it and I said, ‘I think this is going to break you in. What you need to do is turn this into a series and you can use this kind of basis for it.’ And he was like, ‘Oh my gosh, you’re right.’ And he went got himself a series sold. It’s like, ‘Woohoo, I helped Justin!’ That was fun. That’s one of the moments where it’s like, ‘Oh, I love having the power of a writer.’
Audience: Is there any books that are popular, like, well known that you’ve read and you’ve just —
Jim Butcher: I’m sorry. Can you start again at the beginning?
Audience: Is there any books that are popular, well known, that you’ve read and you’ve just winced in pain from reading them.
Jim Butcher: Popular, well known books that I’ve read that I winced in pain from reading? Well, I’m gonna tell you what I told Patrick Nielsen Hayden at the very first con I was ever at, before I actually had anything actually published. It was only sold. But I was on a panel called ‘Books that Needed Better Editors’ and I was on it with Patrick Nielsen Hayden who’s the most awarded editor in fantasy and Glen Cook, who is also a veteran fantasy writer. And they were talking about their stuff and said, ‘What do you think, Jim?’ And I said, ‘Well, I’m just getting started here. I don’t really know a whole lot. I don’t want to say anything too over the top.’ And he’s like, ‘No, go ahead. I want to hear what you have say.’ And I said, ‘Alright. I think the Lord of the Rings could have used a lot of work, and here’s why.’ (laughter) And mostly what it amounted to was the first couple — until you get to like page 204 when Aragorn first shows up, really there’s — it’s really a whole lot of talk about people moving. And, man, I am just not that interested in reading two hundred pages of somebody moving, if it was me who was moving, I’m not even interested enough to do that. I wouldn’t want to be there for that, much less somebody else. And I launched this discussion and Pat argued with me, and he was much better at it than I was so he won. But that was one of them. As far as books that have come out lately that I’ve just winced at…I don’t know. I really had problems, I tried to pick up The Relic and read it, and I really had problems with that. People kept getting lost in all the rooms underneath the museum I seem to remember, and admittedly it’s supposed to be a real maze down there, but I finally just went, ‘Okay, you know what? I’m tired about reading about people who are lost and trying to find their way out. Okay, you got lost. You go eaten by the Kothoga. Get over it. We don’t have to draw it out this much.’ There’s been a lot of Stephen King books that I didn’t like. I didn’t like The Gunslinger. I really didn’t, I’m sorry. I’m not sure it made me wince, but I just didn’t care. That’s really what a books got to have. You’ve got to make me care about somebody or something that’s in it if I’m going to go all the way to the end. We’re gonna go with, like, one more question, then we’re gonna get some stuff signed. Oh, and you’re jumping up and down. He’s obviously expending the most effort back here. (laughter) Yeah.
Audience: Alright, I have one question and it’s very important. I’ve thought over this for many sleepless nights. If you took DNA from a wizard and was somehow able to take that and clone it and grew, would that wizard clone be able to use magic like a full wizard? [inaudible] magic is hereditary.
Jim Butcher: Well, it’s hereditary but not consistent. He would have the same chance of being able to use magic as any other child of the wizard.
Audience: So, [inaudible]
Jim Butcher: Something like that. It’s not like you’ve got a gene for wizard and a gene for hedge mage. There’s all kinds of things that go into it that make you a heavyweight magic user or not. But, yeah, you’d probably have about the same chance as the child of two wizards. I’m not sure you really can, they really can make the whole complete copy. Or I think you have some other weird issues — well, maybe not if you’re a wizard, though. If your DNA replicates clearly.
Audience: Think about it. (laughter)
Jim Butcher: Yeah, they don’t have to [inaudible]. You’re right. Could be, I don’t know. I question whether the DNA would survive the highly technical process of being cloned if it was from a wizard, so.
Audience: Ah, good save.
Jim Butcher: *Woosh* See that? Lightning fast dodge. Alright, we’re going to do some signing books now.
*Harpsichord Music in the background*
Flash to poster of Changes cover
author Jim Butcher on
a novel of The Dresden Files
*end text* *End Harpsichord Music*
In a non Spoilery way…
Dresden finds out he actually has a child by Susan Rodriguez whom he had a steamy encounter with way back in book 5 and finds out that he has a daughter who’s about 8 years old. And not only that, but that she’s been taken by the Red Court.
He Has to do something about it because nobody else is going to. He tries to go get some help from the White Council which does him about as much good as it always does, which is to say they make things worse. After that everything is going to be up to him so he is going to find out exactly how far he is willing to go to save his daughter. And exactly what he is willing to sacrifice and give up to do so. Dresden has been offered so many things over the years. This is one of those books where all of those old deals are much more tempting than they ever have been before. He’s got to decide, he may not have the options he had before of just calmly turning away from it, where now, if he does, it might be his little girl who dies.
Why did you give Harry a daughter as opposed to a son?
I wanted him to get hit with absolutely the worst person he would need to protect. He has so far resisted all these offers that have come along. I wanted to give him the absolute worst, or absolute best maybe, reason to get over his moral objections that he’s had before, or force himself through them in order to protect a life.
Harry has always had this real Cavalier complex, especially where women are concerned. It isn’t a survival trait for him, but he’s got it anyway. Not only was he going to protect his child, but his child is also female and that makes a difference in his thinking. It isn’t rational, but it is part of who he is. Harry wouldn’t be “ah it’s a boy screw him,” but it’s not just his child, it’s a little girl who needs protection. It’s something that can change his mind about decisions he’s made before.
Writing this book was like I was finally getting to pull the trigger on so many things I have been building for so long. I felt like the special effects guy in “Tropic Thunder”, you know. Just havin way too much fun with my job.
Do the events of “Changes” happen about when you expected in the Dresden time-line?
When in the Dresden Files did I know the plot of changes?
That was when I first set up the story, which was originally for a class project, so uh, it would be about 1996. I kinda planned out the entire story arc of the series. I knew the general events of it. Specifically how things were going to work out with Susan and so on was something I adjusted to on the fly, but I knew this was going to be kind of a mile stone moment in his “wizardly” career.
Did you go from two-word titles to a one-word title to signify that “Changes” does mark a change?
*Jim* *Vigorous head nodding*
Absolutely, that was one of the things. It was a, supposed to be indicative. The same thing with the doo, this is my promotional doo. *points at his freshly shorn hair*
What is your writing process?
I write linearly from beginning to end. Chapter 1 to chapter whatever, to the end of the book. I don’t think I’m smart enough to do it the other way, I just have to go one bit at a time.
Which characters are the most fun to write?
Oh, I have fun with so many characters. I got to do some more Mab in this book, and Mab is always one of my favorites to write. Mouse is also great fun to right. Sanya, the last Knight of the Cross who’s in operation got to show up. *Russian Accent*Is always fun writing Sanya with his Russian accent in my head. *end Russian Accent*
Does Mouse look anything like this?
*jim holds a, 8 inch statue of a Chinese temple dog almost exactly like the right statue in this picture, but a darker bronze*
Yes, this is a statue of a foo dog, or at least a replica of a statue, Mouse himself is a temple dog. The way he looks in my head is he looks a lot more like a Russian Caucasian. The Soviets bread them as security dogs, from Tibetan mastiffs, and I think Saint Bernards. Mouse looks quite somewhat like this, if you scale up a Tibetan Mastiff, you get to Mouse Size, and that’s about where he is. He gets to take part in the adventure in this one, and have a lot of fun as well. You’ll get to find out more about Mouse, and exactly where he’s fun, and about the kinds of things he can do and why. But you know, I don’t want to spoil that for anybody, that’s for the future.
There are people that ask me if I could ever write something from Mouse’s point of view, and I say, “I would, but then the reader would know too much.” Mouse is quite a bit smarter I think than Harry in some ways.
mythology in The Dresden Files
One of the things I wanted to do for the Dresden files was, I wanted to create a world not where I was going to pick one mythology or the other that was the correct one, but where they could all be true, and yet not true at the same time. Something that could encompass virtually anything anyone believed, and to explain how it got to be that way. To make it feasible for them to exist side by side. So that I could be playing around with demi-gods from one culture, struggling against divine beings of another.
Oh, Changes is pretty close. It’s right up there between Changes and Dead Beat, because Zombie Trex! I mean what else do you need to say about Dead Beat. That was an enormous amount of fun to write. But Changes was extremely gratifying for me because there were so many things that had been building up and building up over the course of the entire series before, that I finally got to make happen here.
Do you write the dialogue with the Dresden FIles audiobooks, read by James Marsters, in mind?
*end text* (Transcribers note, Buzzy Multimedia is the company that produces the audio books)
I don’t really write the dialogue thinking about the audiobooks, mostly because I only have the vaguest understanding of how that gets put together. I am not an audio performer myself. Even if I tried to put it together for the audio books, I’m not sure if I wouldn’t be making it worse. So mostly I just try and write like I always have. I probably should apologize to James for that sometime. I should research the audio thing and see if I can write something friendlier.
Will there be more Dresden Files graphic novels/comics?
Yes, there will. Dynamite is going to be busy issuing the second four issues of Storm Front which should be out in the next few months. And then after that they are going on to Fool Moon, and they are already trying to convince me to write another original story like “Welcome to the Jungle” was. I’m really tempted, because writing comics is fun.
What are some of the big debates among fans of The Dresden Files?
Some of the things that I’ve seen:
There’s enormous arguments about who should get one of the Swords of the Cross, and which person should be wielding them. Who might have stolen Thorned Namshiel’s coin, and who’s actually a secret Denarian now, and walking among the members of the cast. Of course, who Harry should wind up with romantically is always a huge discussion on the boards. I am sure there are many many others, the exact way magic works, you know, what Harry should be doing to manufacture the most advantageous gear for himself, and so on.
Did your beta-readers have opinions about your “Lord of the Rings” recasting?
At one point in the books, the characters are arguing who they are in The Fellowship of the Ring. There’s some fairly unusual decisions about who was playing who. And in the discussion inside the books, the beta readers had their own take on it. There was this huge discussion on, well if we were casting Lord of the Rings for the Dresden Files, who would be who. We’re not even sure who might be Frodo. It might be Murphy, because I think everybody there would be afraid to cast Murphy as the dwarf, I think because she would have something to say about that so. I know if I was standing near Murphy I wouldn’t suggest that she should be the dwarf.
Why did you cast Harry as Sam?
Sam was really the Hero in The Lord of the Rings in a great many ways, he was the one who mattered. But yah, I had a great time writing that scene, and I’m sure the Beta’s had a great time arguing it, and I’m sure that argument will carry on to the fan forums. If you wana drop by jim-butcher.com and check out our fan forums, you might be able to throw in your own 2 bits into the discussion.
By the end of the Dresden Files series, will all our questions be answered?
I hope so. I do want to be able to answer all the questions at the end of the series, mostly because I’m fundamentally a lazy writer so I don’t want to write something that I don’t want to use for something later on. All the threads I’ve got hanging, I want to make sure I have them all tied up nice and neat before we are done.
Book Twelve is not the last book, so for all the people who are asking, Fear not, there will be a Book Thirteen. The Publishers already payed me for it so I have to write it. Look for it Next year.
interview conducted & edited by Abbie Bernstein
Music by Eric Kufs (transcribers note, there was also acoustic guitar music for each text interlude after the intro with harpsichord.)
Barnes & Noble Booksellers
Huntington Beach, Calif.
This interview has been a presentation of
*Introduction of interviewers: Michael R. Mennenga and Michael A. Stackpole*
[First ~17 minutes are discussion between the presenters of various topics, including: The iPad, particularly concerning e-Publishing on it. A question of copyright/territorial law vs. e-Publishing submitted by a listener. The predicted crash of the paper publishing market. Various new e-Publishing software including a plug for “Legendmaker”. Interview starts at 16:50.]
And welcome back to more Dragon Page cover to cover, I’m Michael R. Mennenga. Joining me on the phone is the one, the only, the notorious Jim Butcher. His new Dresden Files book is out, it’s called Changes and if you haven’t picked that up, what the hell is wrong with you? Welcome to the show, Jim.
*Laughing* Thank you very much.
Not a problem. My wife, Laurie loves and hates you right now.
I bet. Yeah.
Yeah, she is absolutely– She was floored by this recent episode in the Dresden Files, but–
Yeah, you can’t see me right now, but I’m grinning real big!
*Chucking* Yeah, I bet you are. But she only had one question for me to ask and that was “When the hell’s the next one coming out?!?”
Well, actually the next thing we’ll see will be the anthology called Side Jobs, which will be out in November. It’s a collection of most of the Harry Dresden short stories I’ve done, along with a new novella called Aftermath, from Murphy’s point of view, that picks up about 45 minutes after the end of Changes.
That’ll be the next thing in November, and then when we get to the next novel, next April, then we’ll continue with things.
Yeah, you kind of left everybody hanging. Spoiler alert there a little bit, but wow it’s quite the wild ride, to say the least, well I tell you what, for those folks that’ve been living under a rock and don’t know what we’re talking about, let’s talk about what is the Dresden Files, what is this whole Harry Dresden thing about, and where is Changes taking us?
Well, the Dresden Files are–my favorite description I’ve ever heard of it was Buffy the Vampire Slayer meets Sam Spade.
And I like that a lot.
I do too.
The central character is called Harry Dresden, he’s Chicago’s only professional wizard, and he deals with all kinds of paranormal and supernatural threats to folks that are in the city. He’s often hired on by local law enforcement as a consultant when they bump into something that they just can’t handle.
Changes, well, it’s the twelfth book in the series and, really, Changes was a whole lot of fun as a writer, because there were so many things, so many pieces of the story that I’ve been putting together, you know for twelve books now! And I finally got to pull the trigger on a bunch of really cool events, which is intensely satisfying. But the book Changes starts off with Harry Dresden finding out that his ex-girlfriend had a child the last time they got together, she had a child by him and never told him. And now she’s been taken by some of the nastier enemies he’s managed to make and so he sets out to go find his daughter and get her back no matter what the cost. And for Harry that’s kind of serious, because Harry has access to all kinds of resources that most people don’t, so–
Wow. And it is quite the wild ride, and I’ve come to the conclusion that Harry is just never going to be happy, he’s always going to be tormented and tortured and you’re going to just have fun torturing him, right?
Um, well, I’m gonna have a great time!
I think I’ve been too heavily influenced by Joss Whedon. I remember reading an interview where he was on the set of an episode and had shot this incredibly, intensely emotional scene for Buffy several times, and they needed to do it one more time and Sarah Michelle Gellar looks at him and says, “Do you have any idea how hard this is to keep doing this over and over?” and Joss looks at her and puts his hand on a shoulder and says, “Sarah, this show thrives…on your pain.” And I just loved that. It’s like, okay, yeah, this series thrives on Dresden’s pain. That’s what we’re doing here.
Yeah, it really does. It’s been quite the wild journey too. I know we talked last time about some of the twists and turns that you’ve taken him on, a couple of journeys that you didn’t quite expect he was going to go to, and it ended up writing that way. Did any of that come in here, into play on Changes?
Yeah, it really did. The whole issue with Harry’s child was something that, it wasn’t in my original plan, it didn’t start showing up until book three or so. I knew I wanted to have this centrally motivating event, something that would really make him have to exceed all his former boundaries if he was going to accomplish it. And I’d originally had some other kind of much dopier plan in mind, but for this one, for him in particular I think it was perfect. To give him this child. Harry himself grew up an orphan, and he always sort of promised himself along the way was that if he ever had children, that child would never be alone, you know, he would be there to guide and protect the child. And you know, finding out that he’s got an eight year old daughter, that was just devastating to him, and so he had a whole bunch of real personal issues to go along with this.
I never really wanted to plan out Dresden’s romance. I wanted that to be kind of an organic thing that would grow up through the course of the books, but it turns out that the people you love sort of have an effect on other parts of your life? Other than just who you’re going out with. Strange, but true. So it’s thrown off my pace a little bit. I had originally planned these events for book ten, but it took me a couple extra books to get here, so–
Wow. Well it is an amazing, amazing series, and like I said, for those of you that have not checked it out, it is definitely well worth your time. Go out and buy all twelve of ‘em! Right now! Just do it.
So you’ve got another project that you kind of wanted to chat about.
Oh, the Dresden Files Roleplaying game! Which has been under construction for years and years and years. And there’s been a whole lot of “No really, we promise, it’s almost done!” Some of which has been caused, I’m ashamed to say, by me, because they had to wait a lot of times for me to be able to throw my input to ‘em. And let em know “Okay, yeah, this is good, this is not good. No, wait you have erase this, you know, I don’t want people to know this yet! etcetera.” But they’re currently taking pre-orders. It’s being produced by Evil Hat games, that’s the company that Fred Hicks is running. Their FUDGE system, which, it’s not quite diceless, but it’s real close to it, has won several awards in independent game design and they have really gone all out for this game, I mean it is unbelievable how much they have delved into the story world, how much research they’ve done in the books to create this roleplaying game for folks who want to come play in the world of the Dresden Files.
So now you said it was diceless, does that mean it’s a card game, or, how does this play out?
No, it’s a roleplaying game, it’s not quite diceless, you just have to go check out FUDGE it’s really, really interesting. The game is run basically by involving the players much more in terms of how the story’s going. You know if you’re going up against an enemy and you want advantage against him, if you’re in your standard roleplaying game then maybe you’ll cast some kind of Bless spell or something like that, that’s your basic D&D 101 sort of thing. If you want to go up against an enemy in this, then what you have to do is you have to find out about your enemy, you have to learn things about him and understand, “Oh wait a minute, you know these ghouls are not all that bright, they could be tricked!” and then you have to find some way to work a trick into the game system, and then you get your bonus!
But it’s much more of an interactive storytelling thing, with your Game Master. And there’re rules and guidelines for it. I really love the central core of the game, which is exploration of the concepts of free will, and making choices, and how long does it take for these choices to sort of shape you, shape your destiny into something that you can’t change anymore, and so on.
Mhm. Well, we’ve been talking a lot on this show about cross media and taking your property and moving it into other areas, you know, adding things to it like this, like a roleplaying game, maybe an interactive website, some other elements and so forth. Is this the first step into kind of cross media and tying it to your series, or, I mean the TV show was out there for a little while which, sucks that it’s not around anymore.
But I mean, are you looking for other things?
I’m open to the idea of other things! I know that there’s been a little bit of interest expressed in doing a Dresden Files video game. One guy wanted to do a console game. Another group came to us and were talking about the possibility of a Dresden Files Massive Multiplayer game, which, oh my gosh, if they made that, I would never write another book! I would just be stuck there.
*Laughs* I think I’m with you on that. That would be amazing!
That would be fun.
That world? That world in a Massively Multiplayer? Holy cow.
Yeah, exactly. It’d be a lot of fun.
That’d be as bad as Evercrack and frickin’ World of Warcraft.
Yeah, exactly. It’s bad enough that I play City of Heroes, and I’m the only one who’s actually legally allowed to play Harry Dresden on City of Heroes!
You’re not allowed to use copyright names, but I was able to say, “Hey, look, I’m Jim Butcher, and I own the copyright, you can see at the beginning of all the books. I can offer you reasonable assurances that the copyright holder will not hold this against you!”
So I get to play Harry Dresden, and run around on the game like that, and prob’ly waste too much time.
Are you a big gamer? I mean, do you do a lot other than that?
Oh, yeah! I’m still a member of my gaming group–the gaming group gets together at our house every Friday night, and almost always, at least once a month I’m out doing live roleplay, LARP events, where we get dressed up in the costumes and smack each other around with boffer swords. And that’s kind of what I do with my son, it’s our father-son activity. And then we’ve got an online group that we meet once a week, we play City of Heroes. I met my wife at a Dungeons and Dragons game, I can fly my gamer flag with anybody with no fear, so–
And it’s important that you do so, absolutely.
I know I think I asked you this once before, but do you really feel like your life has changed, as much as it has, or are you still trying to just be the regular old Jim?
Yeah, I have an easy time kind of staying me, because my wife and my son have been very good at letting the air out of my head, whenever it threatens to swell too large. There are a lot of things that are different in my life. I have a lot more things to do now. It always seems like I keep thinking to myself, “It’s gonna get easier, it’s gonna get easier, as soon as I’m done with this,” but then I find out, oh no, there’s many more things on my plate. It’s one of those things, it’s like a really really great problem to have. I know that for the first ten years I was writing, I would have murdered somebody–and it could have been somebody fairly close to me too–for the chance to be able to say, “Yeah, I’m just so busy with all these projects,” because I couldn’t get somebody to look at my stuff to save the world!
Yeah, I hear that. And I mean we have a lot of aspiring writers and authors out there that listen to this show, and I know they listen to stories like this and go, “Oh yeah, I’m sure that’s a really tough problem to have, but how do we get there?”
Exactly. Yeah, it is a fantastic problem to have, I’m very happy. My wife and I can give each other PJs at Christmas and open ‘em up and go, “Aha, work clothes!” Which is, as far as I’m concerned, the very best thing about being a writer.
That’s about the best thing about being a podcaster too, yes! Oh, that’s awesome.
Well, let’s talk about some of those horrible time killers that you’ve got coming up. You’re out on tour right now. You’re somewhere in some hotel out East, I think.
Out West. I’m in Portland, Oregon today.
Oh, you’re in Oregon! Okay.
Yeah, Seattle last night, and Huston the night before that.
So is this a continuing tour? Where can people see you?
Yes, I’m gonna keep going this week. From here I’ll go to San Diego. That’s on Friday, and on Saturday I’ll be in Los Angeles. If you’re in the area and you need information you can go to www.jim-butcher.com and they’ve got my tour schedule up so you’ll be able to see where I’m appearing.
Fantastic. Are you hittin’ any of the Cons? Are you doing ComicCon, DragonCon this year or anything?
I believe I’m gonna be at New York Comic Con, I’m gonna be at the Romantic Times Convention with my wife. I’m going to go to DragonCon this year. And, then I’m going, I believe TusCon is this fall.
TusCon! That’s right. You said you were gonna be out here close, so there we go! We’ll see what happens with your schedule, it’d be awesome if we could get you back in the studio, but I know that you’re a busy, busy famous guy now.
Yeah, apparently. I just kinda walk into places and you know, people, I think they’re expecting me to come in with an entourage and maybe a bodyguard with sunglasses and one of those little curly things in his ear? But I just kinda cruise into a bookstore and, they didn’t recognize me when I walked in in Huston cause I’d cut my hair, and–
No! You cut your hair!
Excuse me sir, you can’t be back here! This is the booksto–Oh, I’m so sorry Mr. Butcher! You know.
Wow. You cut your hair? Really?
It’s kind of a theme thing, you know, where I’m writin’ a book called Changes where I shake everything up and off went the hair.
Okay, well, I’ll break that to Laurie gently.
It’ll grow back, it’ll grow back! The hair will be back. Harry will be back.
Okay, there you go. Well unfortunately we are completely out of time, but it was absolutely awesome talking to you and, uh, any last thoughts?
I don’t think so. I hope you like the new book!
Awesome. Well, I’m sure they will, unless there’s something wrong with them, they will!
Alright well, thank you so much, Jim
Thank you very much.
And we’ll be back with more Dragon Page right after this….
2010 DragonCon Question
Transcription by Derek
Interviewer: How early do you plan scenes for future books? For instance, in Summer Knight Harry earns the leaf from the Summer Court and it becomes pivotal in Small Changes — uh, Small Favor. How far ahead did you know what he’s going to do with, for instance, that leaf?
Jim: I put stuff in Storm Front that won’t come out until, like, the big trilogy at the end. I got, I planned a lot of stuff out way, way, way ahead of time because my teacher said I had to.
Interviewer: I really appreciate that piece of your work, that part of your style, about how many loose threads do you have still hanging we don’t know about?
Jim: How many what?
Interviewer: Loose threads waiting to be tied in later
Jim: Oh, heavens … I can’t really think of them as loose threads. I mean from where I’m sitting I’m kind of seeing, I know where it’s going to go somewhere. I think we’ve got a good solid… pretty much we have all the pieces on the board right now, except for a couple that are going to be emerging because of the events of Changes. Which is going to be lots of fun. Or at least I’ll have a great time. I hear different things from the reader end of things. There was actually a cartoon on the ‘Net, you know, kind of a Net toon, that in one frame was showing this guy, “”leaves me alone, I’m getting to the very end of Changes” . And in the next frame you see a couple of girls, one of them’s looking kind of odd, and her friend says “What?” And she’s like “I just got this weird sensation … it was as if thousands of nerds suddenly cried out”.
Jim: I know that was pretty hilarious. I’m sorry if anyone was bothered by the ‘nerd’ dig, I kind of own my nerd-dom.
Dayna Linton: Hi, this is Dayna Linton from NovelsAlive.tv and today I have Jim Butcher with me. How are you?
Jim Butcher: I’m good, thank you.
Dayna Linton: New York Times Best Selling Author…
Jim Butcher: Yeah.
Dayna Linton: And as your wife says, you’re a pretty big deal.
Jim Butcher: Well, that’s what my wife says.
Dayna Linton: (laughter) Your line said you’re a pretty big deal.
Jim Butcher: Oh, well. Maybe.
Dayna Linton: No, I think you are. So, tell us what you write.
Jim Butcher: I write fantasy and urban fantasy. I’m best known for a series of urban fantasy novels called The Dresden Files, which was a television show on the SciFi Channel for about thirty seconds.
Dayna Linton: Oh, it didn’t last?
Jim Butcher: It didn’t — it lasted one season and then they went with something else. I think they went with Painkiller Jane instead.
Dayna Linton: Because I do remember that title.
Jim Butcher: Yes.
Dayna Linton: I do, so…. I’m talking to the man who did that. That’s pretty cool.
Jim Butcher: No, I just sold them that.
Dayna Linton: You sold it? Okay.
Jim Butcher: I didn’t actually have too much to do with it after that. I got to appear in an episode and that was about it.
Dayna Linton: Did you? What were you?
Jim Butcher: I was one of Butter’s — the medical examiner — I was one of his minions. I got to stand around in the background with a Blackberry looking professional.
Dayna Linton: (laughter) How fun was that?
Jim Butcher: It was neat. It was neat. I’m there on the set, and there’s Dresden, and Murphy and Butters are there — only everybody else could see them too, and that was new for me.
Dayna Linton: Did they really match up the actors to your characters pretty well?
Jim Butcher: Uh, their acting all matched up pretty well. The actual actors, the way they appeared, didn’t necessarily look like they did in my head, but the way they acted, they did a fairly good job.
Dayna Linton: Oh, that’s good. Had to be a proud moment.
Jim Butcher: Oh, sure. And it’s amazing how many people are involved in shooting a TV episode. There’s like seventy or eighty people on the crew, and that’s completely irrespective of actors, directors and interfering authors.
Dayna Linton: (laughter) Interfering authors…I bet you didn’t interfere much.
Jim Butcher: Oh, only a little, when it seemed helpful.
Dayna Linton: Yeah, well, there you go. So tell me, there’s people who ask, ‘What’s the difference between fantasy and urban fantasy?’
Jim Butcher: It’s the same difference between The Lord of the Rings and Buffy the Vampire Slayer.
Dayna Linton: Well, there you go.
Jim Butcher: Lord of the Rings fantasy, your standard fantasy, is generally in another world, in another land and there’s all kinds of magic and everything, and there’s a quest.
Dayna Linton: Right.
Jim Butcher: Buffy is more — if you’ve got that setting, urban fantasy is that setting of here, and now and today. And all the supernatural stuff sort of slides in the back door somewhere to exist alongside all the normal stuff.
Dayna Linton: It’s edgier.
Jim Butcher: I would say so, yeah.
Dayna Linton: Yeah, much, much edgier. So, your latest book is?
Jim Butcher: My latest book was, is a book called Changes. It’s the twelfth book of The Dresden Files. And a whole bunch of really cool things get to happen in Changes, in the storyline. It closes out a lot of story lines that have been going since Book One. We get some fairly cool confrontations and epic battles, and it was a great deal of fun to write.
Dayna Linton: Is this the last one?
Jim Butcher: Oh, no. No, no, should be many more, but this was a good one. It was a real milestone book in the story. It’s fun. I kind of feel like the guy who spent the past ten years building a model city for a Godzilla movie and then I got to strap on the Godzilla suit and kick it all apart.
Dayna Linton: How fun!
Jim Butcher: Which was fun. It was a great deal of fun.
Dayna Linton: So, is there anything about your characters that you wish you could be like?
Jim Butcher: Oh, yeah. I think the character I’m best known for is Harry Dresden, and I would like to think that that’s the kind of person I would be if I was in his shoes. I think I’d actually be one of the giggling villains if somebody actually handed me as much power as Dresden runs around with on a regular basis, but he’s the guy I would like to think I’d be.
Dayna Linton: Okay. Well, thank you so much. I appreciate you being with us today. I know you’re beat. It’s the last day of RT and we’re all just dragging.
Jim Butcher: Yes, yes. There’s so much fun, now we’ve got to go get some rest, so….
Dayna Linton: Yes, definitely. Well, thank you very much.
Jim Butcher: Certainly.
Interviewer: Hi, this is Rome Quezada and I’m here talking with Jim Butcher, author of Changes and Side Jobs. Changes is the latest Dresden File is one hell of a book. And readers and me, we want to know…why, Jim Butcher? Why? What did Harry Dresden ever do to you?
Jim Butcher: Oh, oh, yeah, well…poor Harry. Uh, basically I make a living on him suffering, so…. It was alot of fun to write Changes. It’s the twelfth book of the series, and I feel like the guy who spent twelve years building up the model city of Tokyo and then finally you get to strap on the Godzilla suit and knock it all down, and that’s what Changes was for me. It was nice, big story events. We had a good time.
Interviewer: As the title says, it is a book full of changes and they come at a really fast pace. And it’s rare that urban fantasy reaches epic heights, and I think changes really does that. But what does this do to Harry’s five year plan? Does he have a five year plan?
Jim Butcher: Oh my gosh, Harry…a five year plan? No, no. Harry’s lucky if he’s got five hours planned out in front of him. He’s like me that way. But, yeah, it’s definitely changed where he’s going to be — how he’s going to be operating, at least in the immediate future, so…. We’ll see a bit more of that in Ghost Story, which is the thirteenth book to the series.
Interviewer: Well, I’m glad to hear that there is a next book in the series.
Jim Butcher: Oh, yeah, well, you know, when you kill the character at the end, yeah, it makes people wonder. But, yeah, the series is still going, so….
Interviewer: Could you share a little bit of what’s in store for Dresden in Ghost Story?
Jim Butcher: In Ghost Story, uh, it’s the thirteenth book of the series. Harry gets sent back to Chicago as a ghost. He’s got to solve his own murder, and if he doesn’t, there’s going to be horrible consequences to the people he loves. So, we get to, we get to see Chicago through a slightly different lens as Dresden’s coming back as a ghost. Of course, the real problem is is that, you know, with twelve books going before him of various bad guys coming to mess around in Chicago, Harry’s left a few ghosts himself around the city and, you know, they’re looking for some payback.
Interviewer: He’s not the most popular ghost is what you’re saying?
Jim Butcher: No, no, no, no, no. It’s kind of like, you know, what happens when a cop gets sent to jail. It’s something of the same situation for him. So, we’re having a good time.
Interviewer: Side Jobs is the collected Dresden short stories?
Jim Butcher: Yes. It’s coming out October Twenty Sixth. I wanted to get all the short stories that had been scattered around several anthologies, and to get them together in one book. Alot of the readers couldn’t afford to go out and be buying eight different anthologies for it, so I wanted to get them all in one book. I actually missed a couple, and so the only way I can fix it is I’ve got to write some more short stories and then put them all together in a second anthology. Maybe I’ll call it More Jobs.
Interviewer: I don’t think anyone will be complaining for that, about that.
Jim Butcher: Yeah, that’s been the reaction from everybody. Short stories are hard to write, man. It’s like writing a novel, except in a little space. It’s like trying to have a knife fight in a phone booth.
Interviewer: Right. And there’s actually an original novella in Side Jobs that takes place right after the events of Changes?
Jim Butcher: Yeah, it starts about forty five minutes after the end of Changes. It’s from Murphy’s point of view. The story’s called “Aftermath”. And it was really interesting to get into that character’s head space because normally everything is from Dresden’s point of view, so when I get to meet one of the other characters like that, it’s really interesting.
Interviewer: How much of yourself do you put into Harry? Some people say that everything you do is a self portrait. Do you feel that that’s the case with you and Harry?
Jim Butcher: Oh, gosh, I hope not. I hope I’m not that narcissistic. I think in a lot of ways, Dresden’s the guy I would like to be if I was in his situation. Actually, I think if somebody walked up to me and handed me wizard powers at this point, I’d turn into one of those cackling bad guys. I’m fairly confident about that. But, yeah, he’s the guy, he’s the guy I would like to think I would be but, you know, who knows.
Interviewer: So, you’re a martial arts enthusiast?
Jim Butcher: Yes.
Interviewer: Do you, in the course of your writing, do you ever try out those moves yourself before putting them on the page?
Jim Butcher: Yeah, occasionally until I realized that I’d gotten to the age where you’ve got to kind of limber up for that sort of things first.
Jim Butcher: But, yeah, I mean, I can’t do a lot of the stuff that people in my books do. But it is important to note “martial arts enthusiast.” That denotes that I like it without actually saying I’m good at it.
Interviewer: Okay. Are there any specific forms that you’re partial to?
Jim Butcher: I’ve studied Gojo Shorei Ryu. I’ve studied Ryukyu Kempo. A little bit of a Tae Kwon Do, some Kung Fu, some Aikido. Basically, whenever we move to a new place, I find a school, go in and learn, you know, take lessons and learn there until it’s time to go.
Interviewer: So let’s move on to other topics.
Jim Butcher: Okay.
Interviewer: You are sporting a new look. Gone are the long flowing tresses.
Jim Butcher: Yeah, I had the hair down to about there.
Interviewer: Is this a parallel development to the changes in the Dresdenverse?
Jim Butcher: Yeah, it was sort of thematic. I wanted to go on the tour and look totally different, and frankly I wanted to shock my wife. I’ve had hair down to past my shoulders since I was about twenty.
Jim Butcher: And I walked out with the hair and the long beard, and I walked back in with the crew cut and shaved. And we had one of those conversations where she never looks up from her book for fifteen minutes.
Interviewer: Oh, boy. I hope she was appropriately shocked.
Jim Butcher: When she finally does, she’s like, “Oh my gosh!” She said, “If I hadn’t been talking to you, I’d have run for my gun. A total stranger walked into my house.”
Interviewer: Well, what books do you read?
Jim Butcher: Oh, probably my favorite author is Robert B. Parker, writes the Spencer novels. I really enjoy the mysteries. I read all kinds of fantasy and science fiction. I’ll name some names — I’ll forget somebody, but I’ll name some names like Naomi Novik, I love her books. I’ve been reading Brandon Sanderson lately. There’s a new author, Harry Connolly, who is — I went and read his book and went, ‘I’ve got to up my game,’ which is, I think, is part of what made Changes come out as well as it did.
Interviewer: Thanks so much, Jim Butcher.
Jim Butcher: Oh, no problem. Thank you.
Interviewer: You’re welcome.
Jim Butcher: Hi, I’m Jim Butcher and you can find my books at sfbc.com
What i wanted to do was collect all the short stories in one place so that the fans could buy one book and be able to get all the short stories. I mean, and these anthologies have been for sale and so on and, you know a lot of folks cant really afford to, you know, to go buy a dozen anthologies. So i said lets get them all in one place and I’ll add a new one that’s got material that picks up strait after the end of Changes and we’ll go with that. It goes in chronological order, there’s an introduction at the beginning of each piece to tell you where it falls within the story line, and then it starts with the older stuff that i wrote and then moves up to the newer stuff and it ends up with; really a novella sized short story called Aftermath that picks up about 45 minutes after the end of changes. its from Murphy’s point of view, she gets to see some of the aftermath of whats happened. And there were pretty big events in Changes in terms of the story world so it should be interesting. I find it terribly interesting as I’m writing, you know, what happens as a result of all these things that Dresden did. That’s just been terribly entertaining and fun, I hope the readers will like it too.
Jim: Hi I’m Jim Butcher, I’m the author of The Dresden Files.
Interviewer: Now The Dresden Files, for those that aren’t familiar is?
Jim: The Dresden Files is a series of books about Harry Dresden, He’s a private investigator in Chicago who also happens to be the only professional wizard in the phonebook. Dresden gets involved in all the cases the police run into where there’s something wierd going on that they’re not set up to handle on their own. So when there’s a vampire attack, when a fairy swoops down and abducts a child it’s Dresden who’s the one that gets called to look into it.
Interviewer: I know with a series of books like yours it’s got a complicated chronology and back characters and a whole universe. What are the challenges of working with that from book to book?
Jim: I think that the main challenge is the fact that the readers know it so much better than I do. By the time I’ve finished a book, I’ve written maybe seven or eight slightly different versions of the same book and not only that but there’s also all the versions I could’ve written in my head and didn’t, and they’re all sort of bumping off one another in my brain, but the reader only gets the final one. So they know. Fortunately readers these days make wikipedias so I can go to the Dresden Files wiki and look things up now, so I can make sure to get the details right.
Interviewer: Now I understand you’ve got a new book coming out, a collection. Is that right?
Jim: Yes, October 26th, the new book is called Side Jobs, it’s a collection of the short stories that I’ve written for The Dresden Files over the years. It ranges from my very first Dresden Files piece that I ever wrote, which was a short story which is fairly awful, to all the different short stories that I wrote for various different anthologies. A lot of readers couldn’t afford to go out and buy eight or nine different anthologies so I said “Hey I’ll try and get all my short stories together in one book.” and not only that, at the very end it contains the novella Aftermath, it’s set about 45 minutes after the end of Changes, it’s from Murphy’s point of view and you kinda get to see some of the fallout of what’s happened after the last novel.
Interviewer: Now I found a couple of people on twitter asking, because I mentioned I was interviewing you, they wanted to know whether you’d ever considered writing about any of the other secondary characters, maybe giving them their own stories, their own novels, set in the same Dresdenverse but not…
Jim: The only time I’ve done other characters has been in the short stories, I think that the main novels that we’re on are definately gonna be from Dresden’s point of view. I think it’s possible that in the future, I don’t know maybe I’ll have to pay off gambling debts or something, and want to go back to The Dresden Files after I’m done and be able to write the stories from the other people that were living at the same time Dresden was doing his thing. I know there’s all these stories in my head about what these other characters are actually going through, as opposed to what Dresden thinks they’re going through, so it’s possible we could do something like that.
Interviewer: Now I also know that The Dresden Files has been sort of merging into other forms of media, there’s a roleplaying game that Fred Hicks worked on is this right?
Jim: Yes, yes.
Interviewer: Have you had much involvement with that or…?
Jim: My involvement with The Dresden Files roleplaying game was largely sitting down and talking to folks about the Dresden files universe, it was reading through all the stuff that they’d read, and they were so into it, some of them were going, they were drawing conclusions and I had to tell ’em “You can’t put that in the book, it won’t come out in the novels until book fourteen! Don’t blow it for me!” But they worked very, very hard on it I don’t think I’ve ever seen something that as many people put so much love into creating. And the book’s just gorgeous too, it’s far prettier than the Dungeons and Dragons rulebook so I’ve got the prettiest book.
Interviewer: Well what is it like to be a writer and to know other people are going to go traipsing around the world that you created?
Jim: More power to ’em, have a good time guys. Actually I’ve dropped in on a couple of groups in the Kans City area who were playing the game, there was one game set in Prague and another set in Kans City, and they seemed to be having a good time, and that’s the point. The whole point of writing the novels to begin with is for folks to enjoy and have a good time with, so they’re gonna go playing around the story world? OK have fun! That’s awesome!
Interviewer: So did you ever see yourself at the beginning of your career getting to a point where you would have to issue a book collecting all of your short stories? Did you ever see yourself doing that?
Jim: No… no, no I never really… I’ve been fairly mystified by my success. But I like to think that I’ve been very fortunately stupid in a couple of places and in a lot of other places just worked hard enough to make things work. But I’ve been very fortunate and I’ve been very fortunate to have such a great crowd of readers. They’re like cultists or maybe drug pushers, that’s what I always get. “He’s the high priest of Dresden in our neighbourhood”, or “Oh yeah, I gave her the first 3 books for free” So OK we’ve got cult drug dealers. Thank you guys.
Interviewer: Well do you have anything else you want to say to your readers?
Jim: I know a lot of people that say “Hey Jim, what’s with the cliffhanger at the end of Changes?” And I can only say to you; a cliffhanger is what you don’t know what happened. Changes was: Dresden sets out to do anything to save his daughter even if it means getting killed and he did. The end. But not the end of the story, so we’ll keep going with Harry’s story in book thirteen, Ghost Story.
Interviewer: Thanks very much!
Jim: Thank you.
End of interview
-I reformatted this from an interview on Absent Willow Review with permission, the copyright is held by them.
Forward by interviewer:
We like to say a few words about the author we are interviewing but in this instance nothing we can say would top Jim’s own self-written bio. To top it of we have to also give Jim the “Best Advice Award” that we’ve seen in a long time. After your done laughing you realize it makes perfect sense.
“There is an enormous weedout factor for wannabe writers. The good news is that you aren’t competing with every published schmoe out there. You’re only up against the rest of the wannabes, and it’s like the old axiom about being chased by a grizzly bear. You don’t have to run faster than the bear to get away. You just have to run faster than the guy next to you.”
– Jim Butcher from http://www.jim-butcher.com/jim/
Interviewer: What first inspired you to write?
Jim: I first considered it when Margaret Weis did an appearance at my high school library. She described her own career, and I thought it sounded pretty great. I’d always been a fan of fantasy and science fiction. While I loved the genre, as I moved on into college, I just couldn’t find enough of the kinds of stories I really wanted to read. So I set out to write them. Several terrible novels later, genius that I am, I thought, “Hey, maybe I should learn something about writing.” I wound up at the University of Oklahoma’s School of Professional Writing, which was where I originally wrote the first book of the Dresden Files as a class project.
Interviewer: What inspires you now?
Jim: I like to eat! In my house! But seriously—I’m a professional writer now. This is my job, how I take care of my family. Though if you mean what inspires me artistically, it can be almost anything. Any time something evokes a lot of emotion in me, I try to stop and take a look at it, and figure out what about that person or place or situation got to me. I try to find ways to convey those same emotions to the reader, to make my stories feel as genuine and as real as I can—even if they’re filled with fantastic, imaginary things.
Interviewer: What advice would you give to a new writer?
Jim: WRITE. WRITE A LOT. And don’t stop until you’re published. That’s really the only way to become a writer—but if you want to pick up some of the story craft I learned from Debbie Chester, you can go to jimbutcher.livejournal.com. I’ve written a number of articles on various aspects of storytelling. Maybe something you read there will help you cut some time off that long, lonely grind from novice to published professional.
Interviewer: You have written one Spider Man book. Was it fun to write a story with a super hero as the main character? Do you plan on writing any more super hero stories?
Jim: Oh, it was intensely fun to write Spider-Man! I mean, it was SPIDER-MAN! My favorite superhero ever! While I don’t see myself doing any more novelizations of the superheroes at Marvel or DC or from other publishers, I’m not dead set against doing so, either. Writing Spider-Man, apart from the huge pressure of the time crunch around it, was a thoroughly enjoyable experience, and I could certainly be tempted into writing some more.
Interviewer: What is your favorite book from the Dresden Files series?
Jim: Whichever one is the most recent. As time goes by, I come up with solutions to writing problems that I could have used two or three or twelve years ago. Looking back at those books makes me feel like an idiot, because I didn’t have the solution when I needed it. So at the moment, Changes is my favorite. Dead Beat comes in a close second because come on! Zombie T-Rex!
Interviewer: How many more books are planned for the Dresden series?
Jim: After Changes, another eight or nine or ten “case” books like we’ve had so far, followed by a capstone trilogy to finish things off.
Interviewer: What are you reading now?
Jim: Question seven of this interview! Hah, thought you were going to trick me on that one, I bet, but you can’t outwit the master of… Oh, wait. You mean recreationally.Right? Enchanter’s Endgame by David Eddings!
Interviewer: What future projects do you have planned?
Jim: I just finished up Side Jobs, a collection of nearly all of the Dresden Files short stories currently in print. I’ll probably do one more short story collection for the Dresden Files in the next year or two. After that, we’ll have to see.
Interviewer: What interests do you have outside of writing?
Jim: Oh, the usual kind of thing. I play a little guitar, I work out. I like video games like Left 4 Dead, City of Heroes, Rock Band and Halo. I go to live roleplaying events run by the fledgling organization, Heroic Interactive Theatre, where I can run around hitting people with nerf swords. I watch bad fantasy and science fiction movies and occasionally get on the floor an play with the dog.
Interviewer: Any last words of wisdom?
Jim: Assuming I had any wisdom to give, which I’m not at all sure I do, I think I’d be leery about dispensing it. I mean, who among us can get enough advice from other people, right? And given the evident lack of wisdom in my own life, I think I’d horde any that I did come across, to see me through a rainy day?
Beyond Binary 101 Panel at Dragon*Con.
Video and Transcripts by “Koriandr”
Unfortunately, the best story Jim told didn’t make it on my camera. My battery was running low, so I had to stop towards the end, and as fate would have it, he gave his best story at that time.
In keeping with the theme of the panel, Jim told a story about his son when he was in kindergarten. His son had to explain what he wanted to be when he grew up in class. So Jim asked him if he wanted to be an author like his dad. His son was not too thrilled with the idea, giving his father a noncommittal, “I guess so.” Jim then asked if maybe he wanted to be like his mother. His son gave him an exasperated look and said, “Dad. Only GIRLS are engineers.” (I seriously love this story soooo much)
*The panel introduces themselves, the focus is on gender roles in novels.*
*Jim is third, the first two intros are a tad lengthy*
Jim: *looks left and right* Um, I’m Jim Butcher, uh…
Jim: I suspect I’m here because I write books with chicks who kick ass.
*cheers* *YES YES*
Jim: *looks to next person* That’s all I got.
*What is the difference between gender and sexuality?*
Jim: …What is the difference between plumbing and water sports?
*cheers and laughter*
Rob Thurman: Someone told me this panel was PG-13
Jim: I don’t know what you mean.
Jim: I meant skiing and surfing.
Jim: Honest. I meant that.
*even more laughter*
*in context of where they first encountered a strong female character*
Jim: “The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe. Um, just because that was probably the first time I’d read a book where there was a strong female character that was just so overwhelming. You know, the White Witch was just awesome and cool. And you knew she was a bad guy, but that was kinda what she did and not really what she was. and that was the probably the first time where I’d encountered a thought where I went, “Hmm. Okay, well, that doesn’t necessarily have to be—you actually don’t have to be a dad to be in charge of the household. Huh.” Which at about seven was probably pretty advanced for my age, but I had two older sisters who were spoiling me, too.”
Jim: You forgot Charlie’s Angels, which was on during the same time period, as you remember, and I had two big sisters who watched it. I was like seven, man. What was I thinking? And I gotta say, female protagonists, no, Princess Leia starts off the movie by plugging a guy.
Jim: That’s the first thing you see her do, is pop out from behind somewhere and shoot a bad guy down. It’s like, “Okay, good, okay, that’s what princesses do.”
Sunder Cameron Addams: You must be a lot younger than me, Jim.
Jim: Not too much, thirty-eight.
Sunder Cameron Addams: Forty-three
Jim: *nodding, turns from looking right to looking left*
Lee Martinsdale: *breath* Sixty-one.
Jim: *continues nodding*
*on the subject of “Kick-Ass Heroines” *
Jim: Well, uh, I fall for that eyelashes thing every time.
Rob Thurman: You’re flashing back to Farrah, we know.
Jim: Yeah, yeah, that’s what I’m doing. Uh… I think that the reason the hot-ass, err… kick-ass chick….
Rob Thurman: Just a flashback to Farrah, now we all know.
Jim: Well, yeah. Like I said, I’m not complicated.
Jim: But uh, I think there’s been such a surge of these characters lately is that, frankly, it’s economical from the point of view of Hollywood. You get an action character, and a main protagonist, and you get the girl all in the same place.
Lee Martinsdale: One actor?
Jim: Yeah, you want something like Alias, and Alias covers all the personal drama she has between her and her friends, and her love life, and all then all the ensuing action stuff as well. It makes good sense, it’s economical. And from a point of view as a writer, I’ve written some female protagonist characters, and yeah, I like to do anything I can to save myself work.
Jim: But if you’re going to have that character, if you’re going to have her in that protagonist role, she needs to be able.. she’s gotta be formidable. If you don’t have a character who is able affect the environment around them and the world around them, you’re not really writing a terribly interesting character, at least from my point of view. So if you’re going to have a female character, she’s gotta have something she can absolutely go to town with. Whether that’s some sort of physical way or in some other way, you have to hand that power to the character.
Rob Thurman: So is this where we all get up and kick your butt because you think we need extra stuff, that we can’t kick your butt right now? Do we need leather pants?
Jim: There’s like five of you up here and only one of me. Five to one, of course you’ll win.
Rob Thurman: Oh, okay, it’s on.
Lee Martinsdale: Four to two, I agree with you.
Jim: I’m just saying, there’s only one person up here using intimidation tactics—and that’s not me, the guy.
Trisha Wooldridge: I just want to follow up on that, because I’ve noticed in literature, at least in one particular author, you have great and wonderful strong women characters in the books, but you take them to the screen and they’re not as strong. What do you guys feel about that?
Lee Martinsdale: Okay, give me an example.
Trisha Wooldridge: *toward Jim* Well, she’s not as cool in the TV series as she was in the books.
Lee Martinsdale: I disagree.
Jim: Who, Murphy? Yeah, her actress was the only one who actually read all the novels. I’m sorry, I’m skewed on this one here.
Audience member: *talking to Jim about female characters in the DF* They all kind of fall into the femme fatale type role, they all seem to be very sexual, their sexuality is very focused on the Dresden character.
Jim: Many of them yeah.
Audience member: This is where it goes to everybody. Do you all find it easier to switch up gender roles for protagonists or antagonists, and if you find it easier for one or the other, why?
Authors: Good question.
Jim: oh, and starting with me?
Jim: Um, uh yeah, actually it’s the poster with her in the swimsuit. If I’m going to be distracted by Farrah, it would be that, it would be classic. …Well yeah, Dresden was written to be as close to median American male as I could get, and still have him be a wizard—at least as I understood it. So, for him, it would definitely be an issue for him, cause he’s essentially supposed to be every nerd. So in that sense, having villains do it is definitely easier, if you’re strictly protagonist and villain. If you go to a character who’s somebody like Thomas, who is a vampire to feeds through sex; Thomas gets hungry and he pretty much just eats food. The entire gender issue is irrelevant, in terms of “I need to eat something,” and I base that upon my own feeling of “Man, I’m really hungry, I just want to eat something. I don’t care if that cow was cute or not.”
Jim: “I just want to eat that hamburger, and I’ll worry about the rest later.” But yeah, other than that, a lot of the femme fatale type antagonists that confront Dresden are that way, because they know he’s a guy, he’s fairly young, he’s a sucker for that. There’s a whole biological thing of when a guy runs into an attractive woman that there’s a reaction that makes him completely stupid for 45 seconds.
Jim: …Maybe longer.
Lee Martinsdale: You haven’t met my husband’s first wife.
Jim: Oh, okay. Uh, but there’s at least a little bit of backup to that, it’s a useful tactic for them. I don’t know if any of them are really actually all that into it beyond what they can get out of it. I think it largely depends on whether somebody is using sex as something that is part of their relationship or they’re using it to get something. When “sex” becomes another word for “power,” there’s a whole different connotation to everything everybody does.
Jim: Okay, I’m done.