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 2011.
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.
MarsCon Q&A session–
Here’s the link to the first of the videos, recoded and uploaded by Serack, it should be easy to find the subsequent ones: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iKCc5tTpppM
And here’s my transcript of the interview–the segments correspond to Serack’s videos.
Note: I didn’t quite get my recorder on before they started the interview so the beginning of the first question was missed. The interviewer asked Jim what it was like to write Changes and Jim said it was like being the guy that has spent the past 2 months making… -Serack (aka ufgrad2008 on youtube)
Jim: “….the model city of Tokyo and then he finally gets to strap on the Godzilla suit?” (Mimes stomping motions, to laughter from audience.) “Stomp on it, that’s what it felt like, it was great.”
Interviewer: Well, let’s talk about the biggest change….uhh, you cut your hair!”
Jim: “This is long compared to what I had, but I think, uh, in Side Jobs they put out the new photo, uh, which is with me with the, with the really, really short buzz cut. This is getting to where, uh, I don’t know, there’s a lot of maintenance on this hair-do. Uh, I’ve got to stick my head under the faucet and get it all wet and then do this (shakes his head quickly side-to-side, like a dog shaking off), and that seems like a lot of effort compared to the buzz cut.
Interviewer: All right, we, we started late because everybody in Virginia wanted Jim’s autograph, (laughter and applause from the audience) and everybody got it, so uh, we’ve been promised that we’ll get our full hour still. (Applause). So, we’re going to talk for a little bit, and then towards the end, we’re going to let you guys ask some questions. Um, let’s with start with what you finished, let’s talk about Alera for a little bit.
Interviewer: The uh, how, how did it feel to wrap the series, you know, you been doing one for so long?
Jim: Uh, well, the Alera was about six books long, but, I mean, I, it was planned, I had planned it to be six books. Um, and, uh, to finally get it done, uh, you know, I got finished with it and I’m like, well, we’ve got all the, all the exciting story really closed out here and we know what’s going on and I could’ve done another fifty pages of, of kinda dull boring stuff. And I thought, who wants to talk, uh, road projects, yeah, it’s critically important to Alera, but you realize as far as readers go how exciting could that possibly be? Um, and the sort of political fallout after we’re all done with the giant war, it’s like ok, you know what, Star Wars, after the Death Star blows up, there’s exactly zero lines of dialogue and a minute, you know, maybe sixty seconds of movie. And so it’s like, ok, look, let’s just have people walk up, we’ll hang the medals on them, end of the series. And there’s, there’s…that’s not a bad way to end things. But, um, to finally finish it, I’m like going, “Oh, man, now I’m done with that. I still have ideas for characters and stuff, uh, so I’ll have to hijack them for other stories in the future.”
Interviewer: Do you think you’ll revisit Alera?
Jim: It’s possible, it’s possible that I could. I had kind of one idea for a series of sort of misfit Cursors, uh, once Ehren takes over the Cursor Academy. Um, which would be a lot of fun, you know, to train the first Canim Cursor, and so on. Oh, my gosh, that would be a difficult thing to do.
Interviewer: You’ve apparently got an audience for it already, though.
Jim: Yeah, I have an idea for that and then the other thing we might do is, is to head 150 years or so down the line, where Alera is a much steam-punkier place than it was before, and uh, about the time that it’s time to deal with the Vord that are still on the other continent. And then, you know, then the real trouble shows up, um, as opposed to the Vord being the real trouble.
Interviewer: Uh, last time I talked to you, you said that you had never had a really original idea; you described the influences that became Alera. So, tell these guys what they were, because it’s hysterical
Jim: Many moons ago, when I was young and had long hair, um, I was a part of the online writers workshop that Del Ray was running, something they were doing at the time. It was me and a bunch of wanna-be writers, we would be submitting material every couple of weeks, and critiquing each other’s material and of course discussing writing craft and how you go about writing. And there was this huge flame war discussion going on, uh, it was one of those “discussions” where you pretty much just hit the capslock key on your, and you hit “reply,” capslock, and then start typing. (Laughter) But, uh, there was a big discussion that was going on about story craft and about how you put together a story, and the, uh, the two sides of the discussion that were going on is that, uh, one side was holding up the idea of the sacred idea of a story, that if you have a good enough idea for a story, you can write it miserably and it will still do really, really well and it will be very popular, and they said look at Jurassic Park. (Laughter) That was their example, not mine. And then, the other side of the argument was, it’s all about…it’s not about originality of ideas, it’s about presentation, and that a good enough writer, uh, can take an old idea and give it his own spin and his own good presentation and write a compelling story out of it. And uh, you know, it’s like how many versions of Romeo and Juliet have we seen over the years? And everyone’s like ok. So the discussion ping-ponged back and forth and there was a couple loudmouths on each side sort of leasing the charge, and I was the loudmouth over here on the craft side, and there was another loudmouth over there on the, uh, ideas side. And, uh, finally, the guy says, ‘All right, why don’t you put your money where your mouth is, let’s see you write a novel out of one of these terrible ideas.’ And, me being young and arrogant, I said, ‘No, you know what, why don’t you give me two terrible ideas; I’ll use ‘em both!’ Because I wasn’t gonna get one-upped by the guy, and, uh, I wasn’t too bright. And the guy said, ‘Ok, well, first terrible idea that I want you to use is lost Roman legion. I am sick of lost Roman legions, all the lost Roman legions should have been found by now. And Lost Rioman legion is the first terrible idea.’ I’m like, ‘Ok. Now I need number two.’ And he says, ‘Number two? Pokemon.’ (Audience laughter.). And I said, ‘All right.’ And, uh, that’s where Alera came from. Um, lost Roman legion, what happens to them? We’ll send them to the land of the Pokemon. And, um, and that’s how it got started. But if you ever go back and reread Furies of Calderon, and you get to the scene at the ford where they’re trying to get away from their, from pretty much the first serious fury fight that we see, and everybody’s calling up their furies, just, uh, saying to yourself, just, in your mind ahead of it, saying to yourself, ‘Brutus, I choose you.’ (Laughter) as you’re reading, and there it is. And after that it’s impossible to take the rest of the story seriously, but it’s funny.
Interviewer: So, how about gaming? What do you…Do you still have time for that?
Jim: I don’t know, my schedule’s kinda busy until at least 5:30, and uh…Oh, you mean generally?
Interviewer: In general, yes.
Jim: Generally. Uh, yes, our gaming group meets at our house every Friday that I’m in town. Um, and, lets see, we’ve been playing, uh, Dark Sun, we’ve been doing, we did fourth edition D&D, right now we’re secretly doing something I signed a non-disclosure agreement about, uh, because one of the, our GM is actually, is an editor for Watsi [I was told this is likely WotC which is DnD 4e for “Wizards of the Coast” -Serack], uh, one of their freelance editors, so we get to, get to play test stuff. I got to play test fourth edition D&D, uh, before it came out and I had to sign all the “I won’t talk about it” papers and then I had to fill in, they wanted a review for it. I don’t know why they wanted a review, the books had already been printed at the time that they said the reviews were due, you know, they were already ready to go, so I filled out my review after I’d been playing fourth edition and I gave them a two word review for fourth edition, which was, “New Coke.” (Laughter) I’ve got to say, fourth edition D&D I mean, it is a great game, but it isn’t really Dungeons and Dragons, it’s some new game. But, uh, so we did that, we’ve done a little bit of Ravenloft play testing, and uh, we generally have a good time. Tuesday night is gaming night, but it’s computer gaming night, and that’s when I play City of Heroes. So, I’m the only guy who can legally play Harry Dresden on City of Heroes. (Laughter) Because you can’t violate copyright, except, it’s copywritten to me. So, uh, they’ve taken my name and costume away several times and I’ve had to go to the staff and say, ‘No, I’m, I actually am the owner of this copyright. I can play the character!’ I guess now there’s a note on my customer thing, so they’ll see it, because they haven’t taken my stuff away in a while. (Laughter)
Interviewer: Have you played the Harry Dresden role playing game?
Jim: Oh, I have not played the Harry Dresden role playing game, (laughter) because, if you think about it, it’s impossible. Okay, if I’m the GM, (laughter) it’s just like work. If I’m the player, I’m the GM’s nightmare because I can say, ‘Yes, it is like that, and I’ll write it that way in the next book if I have to!’ (Laughter) But it seems like a lot of people are enjoying it, so that’s good, that’s good. I’m kind of out on this one, but that’s okay.
Interviewer: So, with Alera wrapped up, do you have plans for anything that’s not Dresden-related right now?
Jim: Um, yeah, there’s a lot of things kicking around right now, uh, I’m, uh, I’ve got a really good…I was trying to outrun an electrical storm, uh, on the way home from a game at about 5:30 in the morning and I had a van full of sleeping kids who were, you know, who were just exhausted because we’d been playing the entire day before, uh, so, they’d been up, I’d been up for about 24 hours straight, I was really tired, I was playing, uh, some Nine Inch Nails album like really, really loud, one of the really heavy industrial ones, I think it was Pretty Hate Machine (?) and then I noticed, uh, an electrical storm coming, it was coming perpendicular to my course so, if I could get to the city fast enough, I could get ahead of it and I’m like going, ‘Oh, I could so make a steam punk book out of this situation.’ You know, imagine actually being in that. So I had a great idea for a steam punk world setting which, I mean, it would seem like fantasy but actually be science fiction sort of like the Alera books kinda seem like fantasy though really they’re built more like science fiction, and uh, but…That might be something I’d do next. I’ve got an actual science fiction science fiction series that’s got a little bit of space opera, called U.S. Marshals. I went to all this trouble to create this, uh, it’s 200 years in the future, and everybody who lives off the planet has seceded from Earth because they were tired of taxation without representation, you know, being a teeny, teeny, teeny minority of the number of people on the planet, and, uh, they form their own, you know, they kinda form their own conglomerate of a nation called the United System, and so I had to figure out 200 years of history just so I would be able to have characters named U.S. Marshals, (laughter), uh, and the Marshals are the only ones who know about the aliens. So, it’s sort of Men in Black meets X-Men on the Moon, 200 years in the future, uh, and it’d be a lot of fun. Actually, I’ve got fir…I’ve got half of the first one written and I stopped writing with my character having ejected from his ship in a decaying orbit over the Moon with a solar flare coming on, and he’s been there for like five years. Uh, you know, it was funny, though, writing up to like the hugest, most tensest, deadliest danger moment in the book and then just kind of leaving it there. I feel a little bit bad for doing that, uh, it’s bad enough that I kind of did it to the whole world at the end of Changes. Boom! Haha! (Laughter) And now it’s gonna be a year before you hear anything. Actually, it’s going to be longer than that, but we will deal with that in a second. (Assorted gasps and exclamations of “WHAT?!” from the audience)
Interviewer: So yeah, speaking of Changes, how many people here were ready to form a lynch mob? (Laughter)
Jim: Officers, here they are. (Points, to more laughter)
Interviewer: Did you get a lot of trouble from your editors about that?
Jim: Uh, I…they were like, ‘What?! What, what, what are you doing?’ And I assured them that no, I’m not ending the series there, um, and they’re like, ‘But but but but but but but but but….,’ they sounded like that, and I said, ‘Okay,’ and I wrote the first three chapters of the next book and sent it to them, and they went, ‘Oh. OH!’ and I’m like, ‘Yeah, come on. My kid’s just starting college, I’m not gonna…(laughter), I’m not gonna end the Dresden Files now!’ So, uh, and then once they had the idea of what Ghost Story was gonna be like and be about they, uh, it was much more, uh, they were much more amenable to it.
Interviewer: You had mentioned before that you saw the series going around 23 books or so?
Jim: Yeah, the original plan was to have about 20 of the case books like we’ve had so far, and then a big old apocalyptic trilogy at the end, um, it’s taken me a little bit longer to do the story as I’d originally planned it, like, I think I’m about two books behind. On the other hand, I think it’s cool that book 13, you know, uh, I get to have my character being dead solving his own murder. But uh, still it’s going to be 20-ish books, depending on, uh, if the kid goes to doctoral school. (Laughter) I really hope he doesn’t want too much education, uh, goodness knows how long it could be.
Audience member: He could get two Ph.Ds! (Laughter)
Interviewer: Ah, so, that puts you at about the halfway point now?
Interviewer: And you have pretty much pulled out every stop in the book for the battle sequence on this one.
Jim: Ah, yeah, but now we can start the good stuff! (Laughter)
Interviewer: Do you worry that you’re going to have trouble stopping it?
Jim: Um, actually, no, I mean, I kind of planned it out. We just started rolling and, uh, for what I’ve got in mind, you know, for the rest of the series, I kinda paced myself, in terms of…because I knew that was going to be an issue. You know, power escalation in a series is always something that is a big deal. Although Dresden’s superpowers as he’s growing in the books are mostly, ‘Gosh, I’m getting smarter, sneakier and more underhanded!’, it’s like, yeah, that’s really…that’s how it actually works in real life. But that’s, uh, so far I think we’re doing all…I think I’m on the right pace.
Interviewer: You’ve uh, through the whole series, you’ve always abused Harry.
Jim: Abused? (Laughter) I’ve, okay, I mean, I guess some people might consider it abuse. (Points to audience member)…That’s just such a great prosthetic you’ve got for your hand as well, uh, just so you know. But I don’t abuse him. (Laughter)
Interviewer: Well, you haven’t been kind to him.
Jim: (Sips his Coke) It’s not my job to be kind to him. (Laughter). That can be for the readers. My job is not, uh, to be kind.
Interviewer: Was there, uh, anything that you took away from him in the last book that was difficult for you to write? Or was it just fun?
Jim: Uh, no. It was just fun. (Laughter) I swear, there are some authors who will kind of occasionally write themselves into the books, or give themselves…put a character into the books who more or less represents themselves, um, I don’t do that, but if I did, uh, Harry Dresden would punch me right in the nose. (Laughter) ‘You’re the guy who’s’…you know when Dresden goes, ‘It’s like someone up there just hates me and has it in for me’? That’s me. (Laughter). You know, but yeah, he’d pop me right in the nose if he could.
Interviewer: so do you want to talk about Ghost Story? Is there anything you can say about it?
Jim: Um, Ghost Story, uh, for me to get it done, in…it’s been a difficult story to write, on account of, um, normally Dresden can…I mean, if, um, I run into a problem when I’m writing it, I can just have Dresden kick down a door somewhere, and hat up and get tough. Being a ghost and all, he’s actually having to use his brain, um, which means that I’m actually having to use my brain, and that’s hard. (Laughter) So, it’s been a difficult story to write. If I wanted…if I’d finished it in time to come out on the April date, it would have been a very half-assed story, and I believe in full-assed stories, (Laughter) so in order to make sure the story has a complete ass, I had to ask for some more time to get it done, so it’s going to be out in July instead of April. (Audience expresses its despair) Fine! I’ll just stop writing it at all! I will go home…(makes a sulky/pouty expression)
Interviewer: You’ll get it in July. You’ll be lucky.
Jim: But yeah, I needed some more time to get it done, it was hard. Um, it’s been difficult to write it, but I think I’ve gotten over the…I’ve gotten over the roughest parts of the book, um, so, you know, my editors were panicking and everything, uh, they’re…they’ve got this thing they call a calendar, which they say is very important. (Laughter) I don’t know, but uh, so I said, ‘Okay, listen, we’re going to have to do it a different time’ and they’re like, uh, ‘Okay, end of July’, and I’m like, ‘Is there any chance that I’d be, you know, making a Comic-Con appearance as part of that?’ Because if I did, then they would pay for it, um, which I still find vital, for some reason. I’ve had some success, and I’m still used to being the poor college kid living in the little 20’x20’ rental house. In my head, that’s who I see myself as, and I know that’s not true any more, but gosh, it feels like it’s true. Uh, you k now, my wife still cuts out coupons. Uh, ‘We’ve got to get to the store today, before these coupons go!’ Uh, okay, then you kind of stop and think, ‘Do we?’ ‘Yes, coupons!’ ‘Right! Okay, here we go.’
Interviewer: All right, let’s uh, let’s go to the audience because I…we’re going to be flooded here. First one up.
Audience Member: Uh, how did you come up with your characters? Why did you choose Chicago?
Jim: Okay, how did I come up with my characters, and why did I choose Chicago. Um, for Harry Dresden himself, uh, I put him together following a checklist that a, that my writing teacher had on a worksheet that was for one of her lectures, and the lecture was entitled, “How to Construct a Protagonist” And, uh, basically, I wanted to prove to her how wrong she was about everything. So, one semester I said, “Okay, this semester, I’m just going to be your good little writing monkey, I’m going to fill out all your worksheets, and doo all the things, and you’re going to see what terrible, awful, cookie-cutter, pablum crap comes out of that kind of writing process. Uh, which is when I wrote the first book of the Dresden Files. (Laughter)
Interviewer: So have you noticed that Jim’s whole writing career is basically him saying f^$% you to everyone else out there? (Laughter)
Jim: YEAH! Yeah, I’ve…uh, that’s why I try not to be the guy who takes myself too seriously because, you know, I’m basically this idiot that’s just stumbled into things, and uh, gotten a little bit lucky and then…at least, I like to think that I’d recognized that I’d gotten lucky and worked really hard to make it happen. But, but Harry Dresden, the name itself, I was watching TV one night and there were, uh…I had just watched a videotape of one of my favorite movies at the time, which was Cast a Deadly Spell, (applause), yeah, which is a fun movie, and uh, the tape had started skipping, or not skipping but it had gotten, it would stop, and I would rewind it and try to play past it and it wouldn’t go past, but at this part where, in that movie where the guy goes, uh, the main character, Fred Ward’s character, uh, H. Philip Lovecraft shows up to uh, to the gangster bar, and the gangster, the gangster’s henchman comes walking up to him and says, ‘(sneering voice) Harry wants to see you.’ And Fred Ward goes, ‘Oh. Harry wants to see me.’ ‘Harry wants to see you now.’ And what I got to hear about six times as I tried to fast forward past the stuck part of the tape was ‘Harry wants to see me. Harry wants to see me. Harry wants to see’ like that. And then I said, ‘Okay, the heck with that, I’m going to try and find something on normal television, which I hate, because there’s commercials. And, uh, so I’m skipping through channels, it’s like eleven thirty on a Friday night in Kansas City, and I actually find a channel that’s showing reruns of Babylon 5. So it’s like, ‘Okay, acceptable.’ (Laughter) And, uh, I’m watching the episode of Amazon 5 (sic), and, with this ‘Harry wants to see…’ stuck in my head, and then Box Lightner (sp?) is on there playing his character with (deep voice) the gravelly Box Lightner voice, and he’s there talking about various military attacks that have happened throughout history, and one of the attacks that he mentions as he’s going through this monologue is (deep voice) Dresden. ‘Harry wants to’ Dresden, it’s just stuck in my head. ‘Harry wants’ Dresden, okay fine, Harry Dresden, character name, get out of my head. (Laughter) And that’s where the name came from.
When I put the character together, I said, ‘Okay, this guy is a wizard detective. Okay, let’s take a wizard. Gandalf. Let’s take a detective. Sherlock.’ I mean, come on, I could not get any more obvious in terms of picking archetypical choices, and I started pulling attributes from each of them. So I made him tall and skinny like Sherlock, and grumpy like Gandalf, you know, smart and grumpy like Gandalf, and uh, that was pretty much where the character came from.
Murphy, I needed somebody who was gonna be sort of an ally-slash-antagonist in the first book, uh, and I’d been really impressed at an aikido demonstration at OU that year, that I’d seem maybe two weeks before where this little, 5 foot tall woman, 5 foot tall, she was 5’ tall, maybe 45, called three of the defensive linemen from OU up onto the stage as part of the demonstration, and said, like, ‘Okay, tackle me.’ And she just dumped these guys everywhere. I mean, it was just flying arms and legs, and she’d like, she’d throw them all on the floor and then like, ‘And now I run away. Okay, get up and do it again.’ Whomp whomp whomp whomp whomp. ‘And now I run away.’ Whomp whomp whomp whomp whomp, ‘And now I run away.’ Like that. And I was like, ‘Wow, that is so cool!’ so Murphy was born there.
Bob the Skull was an inside joke between me and my writing teacher. Uh, I was working on Chapter Two or Three, and she’s like, ‘Okay, you’re going to have to be explaining how some of this magic works.’ And I said, ‘Yeah, I’ve got this character, this assistant character who I think is going to be working with Harry who’s going to help him. And Harry’s going to consult with him and so we’ll be able to get…you know, I’ll be able to use the joy of idiocy principle to get, uh, information dispersed there.’ And she was like, ‘Well, okay, fine, do that, as long as you don’t make him a talking head.’ (Laughter) Which is writing craft for a character who shows up and spews information but otherwise has no other role. Uh, so, I uh, made him a literal talking head named Bob, and when I showed up with that chapter and she read it she looks at me and says, ‘You think you’re very clever, don’t you?’ (Laughter)
Um, and it…almost all of them come from stuff like that. Um, some characters are…I only needed for a minute, some characters that I only needed for a minute were actually too cool and I had to keep them. Uh, Butters. (Applause) And, uh, there’s still…there are characters who surprise me with how memorable or how difficult or how surly they are in terms of trying to get them to do what I need them to do. Uh, but…again…now I kind of grab characters when they…when the mood strikes me and I try to recycle a lot, uh, because, you know, I went to a lot of work to try to create these people and so by God, I’m going to get my mileage out of them. Plus, it’s more fun when you get to see folks show up again. Morty the ectomancer who was originally a throw away character, but know you, at the same time, I’m sitting here thinking you know, I’m going to be having Dresden running around as a ghost, I think I’ve got to get that ectomancer back in here. I mean, I went to all the trouble of making him, so you know, he’ll be, uh, he’ll be playing a role in the upcoming book.
Interviewer: All right, uh, saw a hand over here
Serack: Um, could you explain free will to us from Bob’s perspective?
Jim: Free will from Bob’s perspective? Bob thinks free will is a complete illusion, uh, since he doesn’t really have it. Um, it’s a conceit that mortals have to make themselves feel like they can be in control of things. Uh, but really, it doesn’t actually exist, that’s Bob’s take on it. But then again, Bob doesn’t really have free will, he’s sort of…
Serack: He said that Lash got it.
Jim: Lash isn’t Bob.
Serack: Well, no, but he [Bob] said that Lash got, obtained free will.
Jim: Yeah, Bob doesn’t have to tell the truth to Dresden! (Laughter) I mean, come on! Bob offered it as a possible explanation, but you know, Bob’s essentially…he’s a theoretician. That’s what he does… ‘Explain this’ , ‘Okay, maybe it was this, I don’t know.’ But yeah, he tries to stay out of the whole, anything like, anything that verges on morality, Bob tries to avoid uh, you know, speaking with any authority on because he doesn’t have any compass himself. It all depends on who actually happens to be in possession of the skull at the time.
Interviewer: Let’s go over this way. Anyone over…yeah.
Audience member: When you play City of Heroes as Dresden, does he have a hat?
Jim: He does not. (Laughter) And the number one question I get asked when I play City of Heroes as Dresden is, “Where’s his hat?” (Thumps his head with the microphone)
Interviewer: (pointing), Uh, blue shirt
Audience member: Yes, what happens when Bob gets let out of his skull?
Jim: Uh, when Bob gets let out of his skull? Um, whatever he can get away with, basically. That’s why Dresden’s usually careful to throw some terms on there. Although, uh, depending on who lets him out and what gets done…we’re going to have some more fun with that next book, I’m not going to say anything else.
Interviewer: (Pointing) Yeah
Audience member: Why does Toot-toot keep getting bigger?
Jim: Why does Toot-toot keep getting bigger?
(Different) audience member: Pizza! (Laughter)
Jim: Yeah, okay, that’s a good answer. (Laughter) Because I’m not going to tell you. Um, I will tell you, however, that the Sidhe don’t start out as Sidhe, and leave it at that.
Q&A, Segment 4
Audience Member: Can you talk at all about the importance of Harry’s penchant for giving names [Names?] to characters and objects in the story that didn’t have a name [Name?] before he took care of that?
Jim: Um, can I talk about the importance…how important it is to Dresden to give things names [Names?] when he doesn’t have one. So if he doesn’t have a name for something or it’s just too difficult to pronounce he can just call it Shagnasty and leave it at that. (Laughter) Um. Dresden…well, in terms of him doing it himself, I think it’s part of human nature. Really, if we ran into something that didn’t have a name, we come up with a name for it right quick. You know, I mean, it’s not…you can see, I think you see this mostly demonstrated ably online a lot. It’s not just enough to say that you got beaten by the other team. It’s like you got beaten by them while they were rolling on the floor laughing. You were ROFL-stomped. (Laughter) And…we come up with these names for things, especially in English because English is such a thug language, we’ll just, we’ll just take from anybody. I think there’s some sort of academy in France where their like, ‘Okay, we have to approve or not approve the new possible words that we’re going to have.’ English, no, we will make them up left and right, and I’ve made up some occasionally, and you know, I think every family has a little bit of their own language that you know, that they’ll have some word that they made up that has significance to them, uh, and not necessarily anybody else. As far as…we need to name things, we need to understand what their role is. Dresden in particular is somebody who grew up without any solidity, without any concrete foundation underneath him. And I think that is….probably a reflection of that in his character in that he really does need to have things ordered in his own head, because they never are in the real world, and naming things helps with that.
Interviewer: I always saw that as another one of the travis-mcgee () traits that you borrowed.
Jim: Uh, possibly. I don’t know, did he do that a lot?
Interviewer: Maybe not consciously.
Jim: Oh, I steal things left and right, unconsciously, all the time. Bob the Skull is like my own subconscious, in some ways. And uh, he would merrily steal things left and right, with no compunction whatsoever. Yeah, every time I think I’ve come up with something bright and new and original, uh, I find out I haven’t. It’s like, Bob the Skull, I thought that was great, great and new and (laughing) you know, and then I watched the opening sequence to Scooby-Doo and went, ‘Oh.’ (Laughter) Like, the very first thing in Scooby-Doo.
Audience member: Do you have any plans to, uh, make a sequel or make another ZOMG Zombie Apocalypse for City of Heroes?
Jim: Oh, do I have any plans to make another uh, module for City of Heroes? Uh, I wrote a City of Heroes module, it’s called ZOMG Zombie Apocalypse, Zombie Apocalypse Now, is what it’s called, and…uh, where you have to go out and fight zombies. Uh, and it’s…there’s a lot of zombie fighting involved, and it’s intricate. You’ll just have to believe me, you’ll just have to trust me, if you don’t play City of Heroes. Uh, I wold like to write some more, except that I’ve got this editor, uh, who, while being a perfectly sweet person and just one of the nicest people I’ve ever met, really does want to have her book in. So I’ll try to focus on it, I’ve got a…it’ll have to be after this next project gets done.
Interviewer: Yeah, you’re upset enough about July. Don’t make him push it back further. (Laughter)
Jim: I KNOW, RIGHT?!
Audience member: Not now, but ever?
Jim: Yeah, at some point I’d like to.
Audience member: You’re not making Codex Alera any more……(Laughter)
Interviewer: [something unintelligible, to Jim]
Jim: Yes, yes I do.
Interviewer: (Pointing) Greg!
Greg: Yo, I just wanted to thank you (?) I was on a plane when I read the line, “Harry, you stole a Warden’s cloak?” and I’m, I cracked up laughing, and I was unable to explain to everyone that you had been building up to that joke for about four books. (Laughter) [Untelligible] because of you, I have met an Air Marshal. (Laughter and applause)
Jim: I’ve got my own TSA story to go along with that. Um, I was going…well, I do a lot of travelling when they send me on the tour, and I was on the tour last year and I was coming back from San Diego, and I’d been get…occasionally folks will come up and give me gifts, and if they’re small enough, I can accept them ‘cuz then I can fit them into my stuff, and somebody had given me a hand carved, intricately hand carved oak wand, apparently on the assumption that I was a Wiccan, but I thanked them very kindly for it. It’s on my Harry Dresden swag shelf at home. But it had a pointy end, and the TSA they stopped and they opened my bag and they held up the wand and the agent, very serious and dour agent, holds up the wand, looks at me and says, ‘What’s this?’ And I said, ‘(Disbelievingly) It’s a magic wand. Obviously.’ (Laughter) And the guy kept, the guy kinda looks at me, and I look back at him (nods, innocently and with a serious face) (Laughter). And apparent, I don’t know, I don’t know, because he couldn’t give me really a hard time, uh, maybe he also assumed I was a Wiccan and didn’t want to infringe upon my rights, because he just goes, like, ‘Okay’ and puts it back in the bag. (Laughter)
Audience Member: [something unintelligible possibly a compliment to do with Murphy] (Applause)
Jim: Ok, thank you.
Audience member: …now I know that they’re talking Martian.
Jim: Yes, yes, and actually, Shannon helped me with that one, she’s been learning Martian for many years. And occasionally I can say, ‘How you doing, honey?’ and she’ll go, ‘Unh,’ which means, ‘Not so good, leave me alone.’ And I know that, and she knows that, that’s ‘cuz she’s cool, she’s learned that.
Audience Member: So, have any of your kids shown interest in writing?
Jim: Um, I’ve got the boy, and, uh, has he shown an interest in writing? Um, his…we did our first…Shannon and I did our first, like, tandem interview over the phone one day, and he came home from school and the dog made a lot of noise and I had to stop the interview while that was happening and they’re like, ‘What’s going on’ ‘Oh, my son just came home from school.’ ‘Do you mind if I ask him a question?’ ‘No, go ahead’ and he’s like, they’re like, ‘What do you think about your mom and your dad, you know, they’re both authors, I mean, that’s really a remarkable thing…’ and J kinda smiles and says, ‘You know, if these two could do it I’m…I really don’t know how remarkable it could be.” (Laughter) Cruises right on out of the room, I mean, he didn’t even blink coming up with that answer. We’re like, ‘Yeah, that’s the boy.’ And uh, he’s getting ready for school, he’s originally thinking he wants to go into medicine, I think it’s just because he wants to hear, you know, he wanted to be a trauma surgeon, originally, it was just because he wanted to hear, ‘Dr. Butcher to Emergency, Dr. Butcher” I think that’s what he wanted, and then he got a taste of exactly what pre-med students have to go through and med students and interns and so on and so at the moment I think he’s working on computers and he says, ‘You know, I’m going to go to school and…’ one night he sits down with me and he says, ‘Dad, you know, I’m going to go to school and I’m going to get this degree, and, uh, then I’m going to decide that I just want to be a writer!’ and I’m like ‘Well, the hours are good, uh, and you get to wear great clothes.’ As a writer that’s the best part of the job is that I can do it in my PJs. So, who knows, he might be writing himself one day, I told him he has to read books if he wants to do it though and he’s like, ‘Aww!’ (slumps backwards in his chair) (Laughter)
Interviewer: Does he read your books?
Jim: Um, oh, oh no. He read Alera, he read Alera, because he was smart enough to understand that when I was writing about Tavi I was writing about him, but uh, other than that, no. He does…he likes the, uh, gaming books, anything that’s written up on you know, Warhammer 40,000 or Warhammer, he snaps those up, but other than that….
Interviewer: (Pointing) In the back.
Audience member: Of all the cities you could pick, why Chicago?
Jim: Why Chicago. Ok, why Chicago? Um, because, when I turned the first chapter into my teacher she said, ‘Jim, I know that I told you to do something similar to what Laura Hamilton was doing befacuse that was what you’d been suggesting, that was what you kept holding up as what you liked’, ‘cause I really loved the first five or six Anita books, and uh, she says, ‘But, uh, you know, really, you’re close enough to what she’s doing without also setting the story in Missouri.’ She says, ‘You can’t use Kansas City. Find somewhere else.’ And, uh, on the globe on her desk there were four cities, uh, in the United States that were on the globe. Uh, er, no there were three cities. Uh, one, no, excuse me, there were four. One was Washington, D.C., which I didn’t want to write, because if you write Washington D.C. you have to write politics, and if you write politics you alienate half your audience at least. (Laughter) One was New York; I didn’t want to write New York because the Fantastic Four and Spiderman have got that all sewn up pretty good. One of them was Los Angeles, which I didn’t want to write because, uh, I just didn’t want to learn about Los Angeles. And uh, the other city…the remaining city was Chicago, and I said, ‘Okay, can I use Chicago? I know it’s on the river and all, the same river as St. Louis, but can I use Chicago?’ She’s like, ‘Yes, Chicago will be fine.’ That was why I chose Chicago, because otherwise she would not have let me have a good grade.
Interviewer: Do you do a lot of travel to do research for locations?
Jim: Um, uh, I…I didn’t when I first started the books, up through about book seven or book 8, I mean , there was just no way I could even…I could possibly afford it. Uh, I did a lot of my research online, uh, I started making contacts online for people in Chicago so I’d be able to say ‘Hey, I need to know what the west wall of Graceland Cemetery looks like.’ And I’d have somebody say, ‘Oh, I drive by there on my way to work everyday, I will take pictures on my cell phone and email them to you.’ And I’m like, ‘Oh, I love the internet!’ (Laughter) Lately, I’ve been able to say, ‘Okay, I need a couple of rooftops that are about the same height and at fairly close together, let me go get Google Earth, okay and I find two buildings that are exactly what I want, and where are the streetlights, they’re right here ‘cause I can zoom in and see them, he’d have to remove all these streetlights right here to make this feasible, okay, and, and, so then I can write a good scene that way. I’ve actually gone to Chicago several times now, uh, I was actually in the Field Museum and I got a picture of myself in front of Sue trying to hitch a ride. (Laughter) Uh, the same day I went to the Field Museum I also went to the aquarium, and I’m like, ‘Oh, I have got to use this in a book!’ And they had this lady taking a tour of schoolkids through looking at all the dolphins underwater and I’m like, ‘Uh, Ma’am?’ Okay, just so you know, if you ask them, ‘Ma’am, what would happen, uh, if this glass broke? (Laughter) I mean, you know, if somebody shot it or something.’ (Laughter) They don’t take that in nearly a good a humor as you would think. Even if you say, ‘No, I need to know for professional reasons.’ (Laughter) Ok, so just, FYI.
Interviwer: (Pointing) Yup!
Audience member: Uh, do you ever give yourself nightmares?
Jim: Do I ever give myself nightmares? Um, mostly about having….uh, showing up to a…uh, like, showing up to someplace to sign my books, only, I can’t sign them because I didn’t finish them. (Laughter) It’s like one of those I didn’t get my homework done dreams. I’ve never appeared naked in one, though, which, I think that’s a mercy for all of us. (Laughter) But, uh, other than that, uh, no, not really.
Interviewer: (Pointing) Yeah.
Audience member: Uh, where did MacAnally come from?
Jim: Where did MacAnally come from? Uh, MacAnally, I…I basically just needed a neutral barkeep character where I could have a lot of things happen, uh, kind of uh, I wanted to have sort of a, uh, a little microcosm Casablanca where I could have the Nazis and the French rubbing elbows. Uh, and, I needed a name for the barkeep, ‘cause I was writing it fairly early in the Dresden…in Storm Front, so I named him after my friend MacAnally, who was a buddy of mine all the way through junior high and high school. And who liked his drink, uh, I was always like the sober guy, I was always the guy that the people…the people were going to go somewhere that they were gonna be drunk they were like, ‘Hey Jim, do you wanna go?’ because they knew I wasn’t going to drink and that way, they had somebody to drive. So I got to wind up in…and I remember all these things that these other people have no memory of (Laughter), so I feel kind of special, you know.
Audience member: Um, so you said that Dresden Files started as this sort of eff you to your teacher moment, and, you know, said that you have panned, you know, so many books and then three apocalyptic trilogy…at what point did it change from ‘Eff you’ to, like, when did you stop and do that planning?
Jim: Uh, when did I stop and do the planning? After I…after I handed the first draft to my teacher and she read it and she looks at me and she says, ‘You did it.’ I said, ‘What?’ She said, ‘This will sell. You will be able to sell this to a publisher. This is of professional quality, you’ve been working towards this for years, you did it.’ And I said, ‘I did?’ (Laughter) She says, ‘Yes.’ And it was the first time…I mean, her…praise from this teacher was like….she was not preparing you, uh, to, you know….she was not the kind of teacher who would, who would write a big star on your paper and put it on the refrigerator for you so everybody could see how good it was. She was the kind of teacher who would, uh, like, literally roll up a chapter, after she’d read it, lean over, thwap you lightly on the head with it, and say, ‘What were you thinking?’ and then tell you…and then tear it down. Uh, I mean, in a very neutral, mechanic, crasftsman fashion, but that’s what she would do. And so when she said, ‘You did it.’ I was just like, you…I mean, I was rolling my jaw up off the floor on a little…on a stick, because it just kept hitting the floor. And so after that, I said, ‘Well, uh, if you really think this could go, I mean, do you think I should plan for a series?’ And she’s like, ‘Well, that might be something that you would consider, yes.’ And so, I went home and wrote out…and planned it for a twenty book series, and I came back and I said, ‘A twenty book series, do you think that would be okay?’ (Laughter) And she sorta gets this little smile of her face and she says, ‘You know, I think if you can sell a twenty book series, yeah, you’ll be doing fine.’ (Laughter)
Interviewer: So, how’re you doing?
Jim: Yeah, uh, I’m doing fine. (Laughter). I had no idea exactly how dry that was at the time. I mean, because there’s no way you can walk up to a publishers as an unpublished author and say, ‘I want to sell you a twenty book series!’ Uh, that’s impossible, that doesn’t happen. And I didn’t know it was impossible, so I did it. (Laughter). Uh, go figure. Uh, like I said, I’ve stumbled into things a lot. Uh, and then…I think I’ve been fortunate enough to realize in time that I had a good thing going and then smart enough not to ruin it. Uh, so, you know, and plus, you know, there was, you know, writing…uh, writing for ten years without getting paid, is kind of, you know, my “in papers” but, uh, you know, that’s the kind of investment you…you have to make, when you’re not very innately talented, which, apparently I wasn’t. It was a lot of working to build up skills.
Audience member: Are you still in touch with this teacher?
Jim: Am I still in touch with the teacher? We swap emails once or twice a year. Uh, I wrote her, uh, I wrote her a letter that was for her students, uh, so that she could show it to them, and I, uh…the letter starts off, ‘Dear Debbie’s Students, Shut up and do what Debbie tells you to do. (Laughter)’ And then I told them that story, and then, at the end, ‘So, in conclusion, I…you know, my career would have taken off five years sooner if I had just shut up and done what Debbie told me to do. (Laughter). You know, Sincerely, Jim Butcher’
Audience member: I had the same question.
Audience member: Um, a buch of us have been chomping at the bit and wondering, um, who’s going to wield Amoracchius and Fidelacchius and [unintelligible]
Jim: Um, yeah, ok, who’s going to get to wield the two new Swords? Um, well really, not the two new swords, but the Swords that are in Dresden’s keeping right now, and are we going to get anything more about that from Ghost Story? Probably not, nah. (Laughter)
Interviewer: How…how long will they have to wait?
Jim: I…well…oh, uh, let’s see, we’ll probably get the new…we’ll probably get the new, the new wielder of Fidelacchius in Book 14 or 15. Um, Amoracchius is gonna, uh…we’re gonna…(Jim chuckles evilly), that’s…that’s gonna be apocalypse time by the time we get [unintelligible]. Amoracchius is not one of those Swords that really rampages around the world very often, and when if does, you’ve heard about it, so…(Laughter).
Audience member: I’ve read the last book, and I was very curious about development of [unintelligible] and I was wondering if we were going to get a little bit of backstory on him?
Jim: Backstory on Mouse? I mean, there’s…there’s like eight weeks before Harry got him, (Laughter), that’s really not a whole lot to fit that in…I mean, in terms…in terms of what he is, um, I will say this about Mouse: uh, he does have a bunch of brothers and sisters, uh, who, who wonder where….how come they haven’t heard from him. ‘You never howl, you never pee on anything….’ (Laughter) And plus, there is…uh, I will just say that the possibility exists that Harry didn’t rescue all of them, and if so, where are the others? (Various awww!s from the audience) Interesting.
Interviewer: Don’t ever mess with the dog. The audience hates it when you mess with the dog.
Jim: I’ve been…I…I’ve been, yeah, there have been several folks who have said, ‘yeah, you need to write a, uh, a Mouse and Mister short story.’ (Applause) Oh my gosh, that would so be like an episode of Pinky and the Brain. (Laughter and applause, comments about taking over the world.)
Jim: But, uh…but you will learn more about Mouse when, you know, you really have to have someone who’s able to talk to him, and the only one who can talk to animals is, is Injun Joe right now.
Audience member: Can Harry [unintelligible] Joe, ‘cause, [unintelligible] animals, he knows all the animals [unintelligible]
Jim: Oh, well, if he knew where Mouse was, maybe.
Audience member: Will Harry find love and actually get to keep it? (Laughter)
Jim: Will harry find love and get to keep it. Um, maybe? Maybe, maybe. Yeah, the romance is the one thing I never really sketched out; I wanted it to be kind of more organic to go along with the story as…as it developed or didn’t, and uh, as it turns out, you know, as it turns out, the person that you’re in love with can have some small effects on other aspects of your life. (Laughter) You know, who knew?
Interviewer: So, you yourself don’t know where that particular angle is going yet?
Jim: No, no, why? It’s too much fun to…it’s too much fun to find out while I’m writing it. Uh, so, I’ll let you know as soon as I do.
Audience member: [comment cut off]….ants along the side?
Jim: How much was I involved with the back and forth, uh, kinda, the banter between the characters that are in the margins of the role-playing game book. Uh, I went over it, I went over the dialogue to approve it after it was already all done. Uh, and…and basically said, ‘Yeah, this is good.’ You know, so, that was the work of them, uh, and I think it speaks to, uh, their dedication and commitment as to, uh, how well they actually did do that dialogue. (Applause) Yrah, I swear, I mean, some of these researchers that Fred managed to get to put on the books, I mean, they are just spooky. Uh, you know, they had written all these things into…into the rule book that I was like, ‘You can’t…you can’t put that, that, you can’t put that there!’ And they’re, ‘Why not?’ ‘Well, because it’s not going to be out ‘til Book 18!’ (Laughter) But they had put together the pieces and inferred the existence of, uh, certain things, and uh, you know, they were just kind of, you know, throwing them in, and I’m like, ‘Don’t do that, don’t do that!’ (Laughter)
Interviewer: On, on the flip side though, was there anything in there that you looked at and said ‘Oh, I could use that!’?
Jim: Um, not so far, not so far. Uh, there are some things that I’ve looked at and gone, ‘Ooh, interesting!’ uh, and so it’s gone into the cooker, but, uh, I’ll probably…I’ll probably think it’s original. (Laughter) And then at some point I’ll be going back through the rule book and go, ‘Oh! Okay, I got it there, I…I really should send a letter to Fred.’ (Laughter)
Audience member: Um, that was a leading question because there’s a back and forth between Harry and Billy about the werewolves being able to talk to animals, uh, dogs specifically. So….
Jim: Where? Which book?
Audience member: I just got them for Christmas; I don’t have them memorized yet.
Various: [Unparseable comments about what book and section the information might be found in from various audience members]
Audience member: Um, it’s basically, ‘Billy says “Woof”’. (Laughter)
Jim: Right, yeah, yeah, the wolves can’t…I mean, they…just because you can turn into a wolf doesn’t mean you can talk to a dog. It does give you a little bit more insight and perspective into being a dog. Uh, which almost counts as communication. Um, you know, for me, uh, I think I understand my dog pretty well, although I had to subtitle him for a long time in order to do it. So, I had my dog voice when I do my dog’s dialogue back to me when I talk to him. So, you know, ‘What’s going on Fros (sp?), whatcha doing?’ (In a high voice) ‘Oh nothing, I’m not trying to jump up on this chair to get what’s left of your sandwich.’ (Laughter) You know, that kind of thing.
Interviewer: Now that, uh, the SyFy series has ended, uh, what’re…what…what is the state of the rights for the Dresden Files?
Jim: Uh, the rights to the Dresden Files have…I got them back early, so they’re all mineminemine again. (Applause) And we’ll see what happens, we’ll see what happens with them.
Audience member: Uh, considering the experience with the series and how that kind of well, (other audience member: tanked), that happened, uh, what kind of involvement would you insist upon, if anything else were to ever happen again, I mean, would it be similar to the involvement you had with the comic? Final say? I mean, what would you like to have?
Jim: Oh, um, if…the question is: if we do…if there’s another, uh, shot at a TV show or movie, et cetera, what kind of role would I want to have, would I want to play in it. Um, I think it would depend a lot upon, uh, how much I already had on my plate, uh, because I’m kind of at a point in my life right now where there’s enough to do that if I add anything else to it, I’m going to be letting down someone that I care about a lot, and that’s not acceptable to me. Um, so, uh, I think it would depend on what my schedule was looking like and so on for how much I would want to be involved. And, I mean, if you want to get involved in Hollywood, there’s a number of levels to which you can get involved, and some of them I kind of don’t like, I kinda don’t like the, uh, you know, the executive producer level of involvement, where they put your name on it, and they do things in your name but you’re not actually doing things. Although there is an additional paycheck that goes along with it, I understand. Uh, but, uh, you know, as far as that goes, uh, I would…I would either like to be up to…in it up to my neck with, with uh, veto authority over it, or, you know, not involved, you know, except as the, ‘And oh here…and by the way, there’s the author.’ Although I think I would say, ‘I get to appear in the background somewhere, and that’s all there is to it!’ (Laughter)
Interviewer: Everyone caught his cameo in the series?
Jim: Yeah, I got to do the cameo for the…for the TV series, uh, which was fun and cool. And, uh, I got to meet people and so on.
Interviewer: (Pointing) Yeah.
Audience member: At what point in the series are we going to find out about Harry and the island of Demonreach?
Jim: At what point in the series are we going to find out about the connection between Harry and the island of Demonreach? In the last chapter of Ghost Story. (Audience gasps, applauds) Yeah, that came as a shock to the betas who are reading it in progress right now, they’re like, ‘Really? Really?’
Audience member: Is there any plans….Side Jobs was an enjoyable book, do you have any plans to do any other novellas like that or collections…?
Jim: Ok, um, do I have any plans for any more novellas or collections? The answer to that is I originally wrote Side Jobs because I…I wanted to do the anthology because I wanted to get all the short stories in one place; there are people who can’t afford to go buy, you know, a dozen different anthologies, uh, and so I wanted to be able to have them all in one spot for the readers to be able to get them. Um, and, as it turned out, when Side Jobs came out, there was…there was issues at other publishers and I had two stories out that did not make Side Jobs. Um, so, now, the only thing I can do if I wanted to stick to my original goal is to do another anthology, uh, of short stories, because…(Applause), so that’s kind of the idea now, as…I’m writing several more short stories, uh, early next year…early this year…Oh my gosh, I’ve got to…I’ve got to get those written! (Laughter)
Interviewer: Good night, everyone, Jim’s got to go!
Jim: And, uh, and then I’ll also be writing another novella, and, uh, you know, to include, uh, so I’m going to do another few short stories so that I can do another anthology, probably not next year, but maybe the year after.
Interviewer: (Pointing) Yes?
Audience member: What did Margaret LeFay have on Leanansidhe in order to convince her to be Harry’s godmother?
Jim: What did Margaret LeFay have on the Leanansidhe in order to convince her to be Harry’s godmother. Uh, (singsong) I’m not gonna tell you! (Laughter) (Jim nods.) uh, but…but you’ll see.
Audience member: When?
Jim: At some point. (Laughter) At some point. I’m not sure…I’m not sure if that’ll be late in the series or early in the capstone, so….
Interviewer: (Pointing) Yeah.
Audience member: The Alphas have started demonstrating a little bit more than just turning into a wolf, how far are you planning on going with that?
Jim: I’m sorry, what was the first part of the question?
Audience member: The Alphas have started demonstrating…
Jim: Oh, the Alphas have started, uh, to develop, uh, into something more than just turning into a wolf, and how far will I be running with that. Um, a bit. (Laughter) But, uh, but I don’t want to spoil anything for you, so, uh…yeah, they’re…Okay, the Alphas are…the Alphas are us, they’re the gamers who look at this thing…who look…the gamers…the people who show up at the conventions and cosplay and who suddenly get handed this stuff, this cool stuff they can do. Of course they’re not just going to leave it at…at what they’re handed, ‘Look, here’s how you can become a wolf, that’s amazing,’ ‘Oh, that IS amazing! But what else can we do?’ (Laughter) ‘Wouldn’t it be even more amazing if…?’ And uh, yeah, so far nobody’s managed to melt themselves into a puddle of grey goo, that’s sort of the…that’s sort of the ultimate FAIL as a shapeshifter, uh (Laughter) you know, if you get the mega-fail that’s what happens to you, but we’ll see.
Audience member: Will we get to see Ivy grow up a bit?
Jim: Will we get to see Ivy grow up a bit? Oh yes.
Audience member: [Unintelligible]
Jim: Uh, who do I think would play a good Harry. Besides Will Smith, because I’ve always said Will Smith. Uh, this guy in the back (points, to laughter), for one. I really don’t know him but he’s quite tall and he was pointing to himself, so, uh…(Laughter) (suggestions from the audience—“the dude with the hand”) yeah, well, Matt, yeah, he might do it pretty well, actually, he’s got the right look, um, uh, let’s see, Alexis Denisov, uh, I think, could do it, or could have done it, I don’t know what he’s like lately. Marsters could have done it, I don’t know if he could do it lately, he’s getting kind of…you know, he’s getting a little weathered, we might have to cast him as uh, as somebody else. Um….(to somebody in the audience) what? Oh, uh, I would…I would accept Hugh Jackman, (Laughter)…I would tolerate him, I would tolerate Mr. Jackman. Uh, uh, really, it’s not something that I really think about so much, because in my head, he’s never somebody who’s in the movies, he’s the guy in my head who, uh, is the guy in the uh, in the prequel cartoon, that Ardien drew. Uh, in the prequel comic, the, uh, Welcome to the Jungle, that’s Dresden as he looks in my head, that’s very, very close to what he is because they worked so closely with me putting the images together.
Note: Here is a picture of “Matt” (Esperacchius) from that Marscon with Priscellie (as warden molly from Harry’s Soulgaze) on the left and myself on the right -Serack
Electric McButters: Uh, could Ivy…does the Archive read digital? Or is it only print?
Jim: Does the archive read digital, or is it only print? No, she gets it all. Uh, and…yeah, and nobody ever planned for the amount of information that has actually shown up in the past 20 years or so. Uh, so yeah, that’s not a good thing to be throwing on the…the little girl, don’t-have-any-insulation-against-everything-Archive. (Jim chuckles evilly) Like, totally bad timing for that, haha. Uh, I think Ivy would punch me in the nose too. (Laughter)
(audience gets loud)
Interviewer: Could you start again, please?
Audience member: You’ve got all this written down on indestructible scrolls somewhere, [unintelligible]…we still get the end of the story, right?
Jim: Oh, heck no. (Laughter) So it’s in your best interest to see that I am all right. (Laughter)
Interviewer: (Pointing) Uh, way in the back.
Audience member: Any…give us any teasers on the upcoming shorts?
Jim: On the upcoming short stories? Huh. Man, I might have to do a Mister and Mouse one…(Applause) [unintelligible]…although it might really wind up being more Mister, Mouse and Bob (more applause), because that would be really cool. Uh, uh, let me think who else…um…no, I was…I was thinking I’ll probably do another…another Murphy one at some point, and…because, I mean, it was so hard to do, the first one, it was like, okay, I did a lot of work on that I need to get some more mileage out of that one. Uh, and then, I will probably actually do one from the point of view of the private eye…
Jim: Yeah, Vince (Applause). Uh, just because, uh, he’s really…I mean, he is so much my tribute to the late Robert Parker character, uh, it’s really…it was my intention to write…to write somebody who’s totally in that Spencer vein. And uh, Vince….Vince is good for that. Uh, he’d be…he’d be hilarious as a…as a point of view character, but….
Interviewer: Do you have a title for the book after Ghost Story?
Jim: Uh, no not yet.
Interviewer: All right, we’ve got time for one last question.
Jim: Wait! I do. I’ve…I put in email somewhere. (Laughter) I can’t remember right now, though, but it’s digital. (Priscellie comes up onto the stage and wispers to Jim). Oh! Right! Okay, duh. Winter Knight. Yeah, Winter Knight. I mean, come on, obviously. All right, look. Being dead does not get you out of a contract with the Queen of Air and Darkness. It does not.
Audience: …[unintelligible] until he died?
Jim: He cheated. What if he cheated? Somebody must’ve.
Interviewer: So, I guess that kind of answers your other question about being hit by a bus, if being dead doesn’t get you out of a contract. (Laughter)
Jim: Yeah, it doesn’t get you out of a contract with Penguin, either.
Interviewer: All right, we’re coming to the end of the hour, we’ve got time for one last question. (Points)
Audience member: With the Dresden Files is chugging along, and Codex Alera done, are we going to see you doing any other series or are you going to focus solely on doing Dresden?
Jim: Uh, I’m only doing the Dresden, uh, for the next year or so, uh, just because my wife says, ‘Jim, you have got to take some time off or I will kill you.’ (Laughter) Uh, and…and she’s probably right. Um, but I am gong to be starting…I mean, I’m going to be doing another project…I don’t want to be doing just the Dresden Files, I want to be doing other stuff, too. I think, in the future, uh, I think the way I’ll do it next is that I’ll…I’ll write the book and have it written and then sell it. Because that seems to be so much of a less, uh, deadline, stressy, uh, time-crunchy way to get things done.
Audience member: Any change you’ll be going back to Alera?
Jim: Any chance of going back to Alera? Maybe.
Interviewer: Did you come in late? (Laughter)
Jim: Yeah, I kinda talked about that earlier, um, oh, that question doesn’t count, we’ll go one more.
Audience member: Any books coming out on audio?
Interviewer: Any books coming out on audio?
Jim: Oh, the Dresden books on audio? They’re all on audio.
Audience member: Are they?
Jim: Yes. Yeah, James Marsters read them all. Okay, one more, that one didn’t…
Interviewer: Yeah that one doesn’t count either. Sorry Lunacy!
Audience member: If the faerie queen dies, do you get out of the contract?
Jim: If the faerie queen dies do you get out of the contract? No. You just have a different faerie queen show up to…I mean, the faerie queen is an office, it’s not a person, uh, so, I mean, Lily found that out the hard way, you know, so…
Jim: If you will turn your books to page…. (laughter) OK, I’m not a podium person is the issue here. OK, so instead of doing a reading or anything like that I thought we could just skip straight to the questions and answers, because that’s the fun part. Plus everybody…most of you have already, uh, read what there was to…so…. Q&A? Is that cool with you? OK, but for this to work, one of you has to ask a question. All right, right here. (points)
Tara/Starbeam: Is Harry left- or right-handed?
Jim: Is Harry left- or right-handed? He’s a righty. (Same audience member then asks about the scar on Harry’s right arm from cleaning a fish at Ebenezer’s; hard to hear over laughter.) Was it on his right arm? Oh, okay. He probably shouldn’t have been trying to cut it left-handed, then, should he? I think that explains itself. (points) Right over here.
Audience member: What happened to the Other Harry Ghost from Grave Peril?
Jim: What happened to the Other Harry Ghost from Grave Peril? That was the ghost that was created actually for a purpose, fulfilled that purpose, then was no longer able to … or was no longer trapped there and so it just sort of “piffed.”
Priscilla: The technical term.
Jim: I really just should have said that. That’s it. Right here. (points)
Audience member: When are we going to hear more about drakes and dragons?
Jim: When are we going to hear more about drakes, dragons…oh, dragon dragons, oh, you mean, like Ferrovax. When are we going to hear more about dragons. Ferrovax will probably come in real late in the case books and we might see some dragon action about that. I’ve got a good idea for it and it is suitably cool. But we’ll get there at some point. I hope so. I’ll be terribly disappointed if it isn’t, and (little fake shake to his voice) everyone will yell at me on Twitter. (points to audience member)
Audience member: Are you ever going to do a book from Michael Carpenter’s perspective?
Jim: Am I ever going to do a book from Michael Carpenter’s perspective? Probably not. I suppose we could go back that way. A short story from his perspective is more likely. But I don’t know that I’d write a whole book that way. I did have an idea if I ever have to pay off my debts or something, I might be able to, uh, do a spin-off series set around the Knights of the Cross but, you know, it’s not something I’ve got planned out hard and fast yet. But Michael got his honorable retirement, you know, without dying, so he’s pretty happy with the way things are.
Audience member: What about Murphy?
Jim: Oh, would I write a book from her perspective? Probably not a book but I’d be happy to do some more stories. And also, if there’s ever like a spin-off series where I grab characters and told things from their point of view, that might be fun. But the moment is really nice…did you just say (what sounds like coughBUTTERScough)? But at the time I, uh, kinda need time away from the Dresden Files after I finish a book. Because by the time I get to the end of a book, I’m like, “I’m so sick of you, Harry Dresden. I could just shoot you dead.” (pause, lots of laughs) Oh, wait…. (points to audience member)
Audience member: Did you cackle maniacally when you wrote the end of Changes?
Jim: Did I cackle maniacally at the end of Changes? Oh, for like thirty minutes. You know, probably all the way until I found somebody to read it and then scream.
Priscilla: Thanks, Jim.
Jim: (Something unintelligible) Because as you know, writers do not truly exist upon the royalties they receive for their work but upon your pain and suffering.
Shecky: *cough* Skavis!
Audience member: You once said that for Codex Alera you put together lost legions and Pokemon. Are you putting anything else together for another series?
Jim: He’s referring to the story I tell everyone about how I put together Codex Alera out of lost Roman legions and Pokemon. And am I doing something like that for any other series. No, I haven’t really thrown together any, like, really semi-lame ideas to make something cool. I try to go with cool ideas, although the more I think about it the more I think, “Maybe I really DO need to try the lame ideas, because heck, it’s been working so far…. You know, if it’s not broke, maybe I shouldn’t fix it. I dunno. (points) Right here, in the beard.
Audience member: Will we be seeing more from the Codex Alera world?
Jim: “Will we be seeing more from the Codex Alera world?” was the question. If we do, it’ll be a couple of generations after the story we’ve had so far, where you can see how Tavi has basically wrecked the status quo completely. And it’ll be a much steampunkier Alera if we do that. (points) Right here.
Audience member: Is Lash coming back?
Jim: Specifically, is Lash coming back? Lash actually appeared in Ghost Story, although not under that name. (lots of groans at the response, then he uses a sing-song voice, waving his hand) I’m not gonna tell you…. (gleefully “evil” at more groans of dismay) Yes, yes…awww, man, that is like heroin for writers. (points to the next questioner)
Audience member: Are we ever going to hear more about the Oblivion War?
Jim: Are we ever going to hear more about the Oblivion War? Probably not in The Dresden Files because, you know, Harry’s not involved. It’s something I might, you know, do more work with. Although it’s really a sort of slow, boring war that takes thousands of years at this point to get anything done.
Audience member: Like marriage.
Jim: (laughing) Oh, I dunno if it’s boring. My wife’s heavily armed. (points) Back here with the camera.
Audience member: Is that – regarding Lash – is that why the whisperer was allowed to be where she was?
Priscilla: No spoilers!
Jim: I..I dunno what you’re talking about. Yes, the question does not compute.
Audience member: Was Little Chicago destroyed with Harry’s apartment?
Jim: Was Little Chicago destroyed with Harry’s apartment? Well, it certainly looks that way. Giant burning house falls onto your pewter model of the city? Pewter doesn’t really stand up well to being in a burning house all that well, so…
Audience member: Do you believe in magic?
Jim: Do I believe in magic? I believe there are more things in heaven and earth than are in your books, Horatio. I do not know where it is, I do not know if magic is really advanced science or if science is magic. I’m not sure I care. I’m just glad there are things in the world we haven’t seen and measured and catalogued, and I’m perfectly happy leaving it right there. Myself personally, I do have faith of my own; it isn’t particularly Wiccan at all, really, but I know people who very sincerely do believe in it and who I respect. But for me myself, yeah, I think there are lots of things going on that we don’t understand yet, and if that’s what magic is, then, okay, I can live with that.
Audience member: Will we see Ivy and Kincaid again soon?
Jim: Will we see Ivy and Kincaid again soon? Uh, probably not. I need to write the short story of Kincaid coming home after that job… (Audience groans.)
Audience member: Is Harry’s debt to Mab fulfilled?
Jim: Is Harry’s debt to Mab fulfilled? Nooooo, ‘tis not. You don’t get away from Mab that easy. I mean, merely being dead? C’mon. Like no one’s every tried THAT before. (points) With the camera right here.
Audience member: Is Harry a Cubs fan or a White Sox fan?
Jim: According to the short story and Changes, Harry is a Cubs fan. And he often goes there with a…basically a king of the Leprechauns to watch a game, so… Like Harry, the Cubs just…they could be doing so well, and then they just fall apart… So there’s some simpatico going there. (points) Green shirt right here.
Audience member: Have you considered any middle grade or young adult writing as a Dresden Files spinoff?
Jim: Have I considered any middle grade or young adult writing as a Dresden spinoff or as part of the Dresden series? I haven’t really. I’m writing a trilogy of stories right now that I’m calling The Bigfoot Trilogywhere Bigfoot is the client and he’s having issues with his kid and he can’t exactly walk into Chicago and straighten things out with the principal so he hires Harry to help, you know. And the first one is “B Is for Bigfoot” because the kid’s in grade school, and the next one is the kid’s in high school so it’s “I Was a Teenaged Bigfoot.” The last one’ll be when he’s in college and it’ll be “Bigfoot on Campus.” But that’s about as close as I’m going to be able to come to Young Adult is to have that out there. (points) Right here. Airborne.
Priscilla: Lil’ Harry Adventures!
Audience member: Archangel. Is … The people behind the destruction of Archangel–are they dead? And will we see their comeuppance?
Jim: That’s going to be another “I’m not going to tell you” question because it’s more fun to read about it in the books than it is for me to flat out tell you here. (points) In the Ghostbusters shirt.
Audience member: Did you mean to include the author’s note at the end of the last two Dresden Files, the ones that referred to the Codex Alera or was that an unintentional printing error?
Jim: Oh, that was completely me. Look, I took that bullet for you, Anne. (Fakes getting shot.) Ugh! Oh, everybody, over here with the curly hair, this is my boss Anne Sowards. (Lots of applause.) It’s just a cross-promotional thing, so that people who don’t know that I’ve got something else out there will have a chance that I do and, you know, I wasn’t really bothered that it was still there. It’s still true,, but Alera…I’m done with it for the time being.
Audience member: Are we going to see the Jade Court any?
Jim: Are we going to see the Jade Court at any point? Maybe a little in the honkin’ apocalyptic trilogy at the end. They’re isolationists, you know, they’re going to stay where they are. And if you’re doing things that aren’t actually in China they just don’t care about you. (points) Right here in the hat.
Audience member: Are we going to see more of Maggie and is she a witch?
Jim: Are we going to see more of Maggie and is she a witch? We WILL see more of Maggie and (sing-song voice) I’m not gonna tell yooooou. But yeah, she’s definitely going to be a part of what’s going on and if I ever need to write Dresden: The Next Generation it’ll center on her.
Audience member: About Murphy’s dad and how he killed himself in the books…was that despair forced on him?
Jim: About Murphy’s dad and how he killed himself in the books…was that despair forced on him? (smirking) Who says he killed himself? (lots of audience reaction) You know, they just found him there and it, you know, looked like a suicide.
Another audience member: And the forums explode. (more reaction)
Jim: Oh, come on, I said this in like Kansas City and they had the YouTube video up like five minutes after I was finished talking.
Audience member: So the swords…they showed up in the fight in Changes and they were sort of mentioned, but are we going to see the new bearers of the Swords in the future anytime soon?
Jim: Are we going to see anything about bearers of the Swords anytime soon? Maybe not the next book but the one after? Book 15? Yeah, book 15, maybe.
Audience member: In the previous books, Odin showed up. Are any of the other pantheons going to make an appearance?
Jim: In the previous books, Odin showed up. Are any of the other pantheons going to make an appearance? Yes, they are. That kind of question is the reason why I say, “Now that I’ve killed Dresden, now we can do the FUN STUFF.”
Audience member: Not to give away any spoilers, but the next time Murphy sees Dresden, what’s her reaction going to be?
Jim: The next time Murphy sees Dresden, what’s her reaction going to be? (shakes head) You gotta know better than that. I mean, honestly, I can only sing so much, “I’m not gonna tell you.” (points) Right there in the Yankees hat.
Audience member: Are we ever going to see Dresden on the big or small screen ever again?
Jim: Are we ever going to see Dresden on the big or small screen again? (pause) I am willing to forgive Hollywood… (lots of cheers/applause)….for The Sorcerer’s Apprentice. I’m just saying if you take their trailer poster and the first Dresden comic cover…hold ‘em up next to each other…I’m just saying…. And the TV show was actually something that was a “glass half full” for me. You know, an optimist thinks a glass is half full, a pessimist thinks the glass is half-empty and an engineer thinks it’s over-designed by 100%. But I was kinda getting into what they were doing. I thought they were doing a better job as they went on. I thought it would have been real interesting to see what they would do in the future, On the other hand, though, the show did get canceled, and – still being positive – it got canceled before they could do anything completely squirrelly. I’m certainly willing to talk to ‘em and there’s almost always interest and people asking questions and making inquiries. But it’s Hollywood, and nothing is certain until the check clears. Literally until the check clears. Just having it is not enough. (points) Right here.
Shecky: Eldest brother Gruff and his other brothers…are we ever going to see that facet of the….
Jim: Will we ever see the Gruffs again? Yes, probably in Cold Days. Here (points) with the glasses.
Audience member: The wraith compound…is it, like, next to Oprah?
Jim: (laughing) Is the wraith compound next to Oprah? I don’t even know where Oprah lives. I dunno. I would think probably no, because I don’t know that they would want all the company.
Audience member: My friend here went to Otakon (?) and apparently Harry dropped into our world.
Jim: Oh, found a Dresden business card? Yeah, yeah, there’re some around.
Audience member: We called the number. It was static!
Jim: Wow. That’s awesome. And a little creepy. Yeah, right here.
Audience member: Do you now regret the end of Changes?
Jim: Do I now regret the end of Changes?
Same audience member: Hearing the static in the store.
Jim: Oh, no. Those people work for me. I’m not worried about it. (points) Back here, white shirt.
Audience member: How much are we going to see of the Nevernever in the next book?
Jim: How much are we going to see of the Nevernever in the next book? Quite a bit.
Audience member: A couple of years ago you discussed having a sci-fi series where you left the protagonist (unintelligible)… Will you be doing that?
Jim: He’s gonna hang there a while longer. I went back and read it and it wasn’t nearly as clever as I thought it was at the time, so I need to plan out a few things. I actually read some books about some things that’re actually coming ahead, like science fiction writers are supposed to do and, yeah, I think I have to do a little bit more thinking before I go back there again and actually have some credible science fiction.
Audience member: Are we going to see anything about Mac in terms of backstory and is Mac a Norse god?
Jim: Are we going to see anything with Mac in backstory and is Mac a Norse god? No, he’s not a Norse god; yes, we will find out more about him.
Audience member: At the end of Changes Harry had a memory blank. Are we ever going to find out what he blanked out?
Jim: At the end of Changes Harry had a memory blank. Are we ever going to find out what he blanked out? No, on account of it wasn’t inflicted by anyone else; he did it to himself. Right here (points), black and white hat.
Audience member: Are Fix and Harry going to have an epic battle?
Jim: Are who? Oh, are Fix and Harry gonna go toe to toe? Maybe. And Fix is a lot better at doing his Knight stuff than Dresden will be. Sure, you know, hand Harry a bunch of new power, you just know that means he’s gonna get beaten up harder. That’s really what it’s there for, you know. (points) In the back, with the blonde hair.
Audience member: The cottage on Demonreach…will we see more things taking place there? Same thing with the cottage that the faerie queens live in.
Jim: The cottage on Demonreach will see more things take place there, yes. Same thing with the cottage that the faerie queens live in? No, not really….theirs is much more (waggles his hand) gingerbread-y. Let’s see, uh, right here, blue shirt. (points)
Audience member: I was wondering, are we going to learn anything more about the White Court anytime soon? And can a human becomes a White Court vampire?
Jim: Are we going to hear any any more about the White Court anytime soon? can a human becomes a White Court vampire? The answer to that is we will probably find out more about them not in the next book but the one after or maybe the one after that. As far as humans becoming one, no, you gotta be born that way. (points) Right here, blue shirt.
Audience member: You’ve mentioned that the timing of Harry’s birth is important and that it’s also important who Harry’s parents are. Was the timing of Elaine’s birth intentional, and are we going to learn more about her parents?
Jim: Was the timing of Elaine’s birth intentional the way Harry’s was and are we going to learn more about her parents? (sing-song voice) I’m not gonna tell you. Uh, back here, green shirt again.
Audience member: Are you going to be doing any more original comic stories, like Welcome to the Jungle?
Jim: Am I going to be doing any more original comic stories, like Welcome to the Jungle? Yeah, I just outlined one called Ghoul Goblin, which will be set between the end of Fool Moon and the beginning of Grave Peril. Actually, yeah, I got done outlining and thought, “Wow, this is a really cool story; I should have written this as a BOOK.” But it’ll make a fine graphic novel, I think.
Melissa/SherlockBones: Will we ever be hearing from Luccio again?
Jim: Will we ever be hearing from Luccio again? Yes, absolutely. She’s too cool to get rid of. You know, not when I can KILL HER HORRIBLY. They actually asked me in DC last night…they wanted me not to kill anybody else. I’m like, “Are you KIDDING? I killed the protagonist! No one’s safe!”
Audience member: Can the same be said for Kumori?
Jim: Can the same be said for Kumori? Yeah, we can’t get rid of her yet. So…yeah, not YET. You always go for the PAIN. Yeah, thank you, Buffy geeks.
Audience member: (hard to hear) Are we ever going to see like, more of his response to things that are going on and more of him as the Blackstaff?
Jim: Are we going to see more of Ebenezer’s response to what’s going on and more of him as the Blackstaff? Um, both. Next book.
Audience member: What informs your need to hurt Harry so much?
Jim: What informs my need to hurt Harry so much? Where does that come from? Okay, I gotta answer this question with a story. Filming the last episode of Season 2 of Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Sarah Michelle Geller had to do the scene where she kills Angel. She had to do that like five or six times. (Audience member shouts, “What?!” as if a spoiler has been given away; Jim bows to whoever did it as others laugh.) Well done, sir. But she had to do the scene like five or six times, and at one point before they did the last shot of it, she comes up to Joss [Whedon] and tells him, “Do you have…you know, I’m a method actor. Do you have any idea how horrible this is? How painful this is for me to keep doing this?” And reportedly Whedon put his hand on her shoulder and said, “Sarah, this show thrives on your pain.” So my “show” thrives on Harry Dresden’s pain. Not because I want to put Dresden in pain but because I want to put you (points across the audience) in pain.
Audience member: Good job!
Jim: (grins and looks pleased as audience applauds) But that’s why. (points) Right here.
Audience member: Any word on Harry’s mother and whether she’s going to make it back?
Jim: Any word on Harry’s mother and whether she’s going to make it back? No, they did a good job on her. Although they didn’t do a good enough job as evidenced by the fact that her kids are wrecking people’s plans left and right.
Audience member: Okay, so how is it that Count Dracula survived Bram Stoker’s Big Book of Vampire Slaying?
Jim: How is it that Count Dracula survived Bram Stoker’s Big Book of Vampire Slaying? He didn’t.
Same audience member: But Harry said he was still alive.
Jim: DRAKUL’s still alive. Dracula is the little one.
Audience member: Mini-Drakul.
Jim: Yeah, that’s the Son of the Dragon.
Audience member: Are we going to hear about the conditions that Harry’s father had to show up inside his … when he was in his subconscious?
Jim: Oh, are we going to hear about the conditions that had to be met for Harry’s father to show up and visit him in his subconscious? Harry could have been imagining that. I’m sure, I mean, probably most of this is in his imagination. (pause) Probably, you know. I mean, sure, he’s a wizard and all but come on. His dad showing up to talk to him? Yeah, ‘cause that’s how lucky he is. (points) Very back in the plaid shirt.
Audience member: How soon are we going to see more direct contact with Cowl and the Black Court? [Ed. note: Meaning the Black Council.]
Jim: How soon are we going to see more direct contact with Cowl and the Black Court? Next book. Yeah, next book we’ll see them again Actually, this will be really the first time I get to have them be more active than behind the scenes in terms of what role they’re playing.
Audience member: Your fallen angel characters…I was just wondering if you have ever really given any thought to developing the whole idea of angels …
Jim: I have a lot of fallen angel characters and have I ever given thought to developing the whole angel notion a bit more. Yeah, but they’re kinda limited in terms of what they can do. You know, they can respond to…they can respond if the bad guys cheat but mostly they just kinda stand there and look menacing and the Fallen just don’t mess with them unless someone’s got an actual plan going on. You know, angels slugging it out with one another could potentially, you know, blow up planets. That’s the kind of level of power that angels are; they’re just off the scale of like anything that Dresden can do. But they’re sort of more observers than anything and occasionally, you know, they’ll be the one who says, “Hey, could you stand outside the door until my child grows up and is safe?” “Yeah, I can do that.” Yeah, it’s not a big deal for one of them.
Audience member: Are there any fallen angels who are not Nickelheads?
Jim: Are there any fallen angels who are not Nickelheads? Plenty. Including Lucifer.
Audience member: How did you come up with having the Leanansidhe as Harry’s fairy godmother?
Jim: How did I come up with having the Leanansidhe as his fairy godmother? I looked her up, I thought she was cool, I thought it was a great idea to have a character who had sort of made her bones in the fairy business by working to inspire these poor artists and singers and playwrights in exchange for draining their blood. I thought that was a great place, you know, for a fairy godmother to start. You know, if you’re planning on throwing your wizard into the grinder over and over, you gotta give him a fairy godmother with TEETH. So I wasn’t going to go with some wimpy sunlight fairy. No way. We can do better than that. Okay, last one. (points) Hat with buttons.
Audience member: What, if anything, could threaten the Carpenter household right now?
Jim: What, if anything, could threaten the Carpenter household right now? Nuthin’ much. Yeah, Michael’s got a dozen angels on constant security detail. He’s fine. There’s one that goes with each kid when they go to school. It’s ridiculous around there. And they’ve also got, you know, Mouse, there to keep track of things. Plus they’ve got like the biggest threshold in the entire WORLD for that kind of thing.
Shecky: Mister could do it.
Jim: (laughs) Yeah, well, Mister could threaten the house. You’re right. Mister would walk right up, walk through all the defenses, you know, pop Mouse on the nose, Mouse would walk away. “I give, I give, come on, it’s not worth it, Mister. That’s right, give him the food.” Okay, guys, if there are any other questions and you can ask them in fairly short order, feel free to ask ‘em when you come up to the signing. And thank you for putting up with me, and we’ll get some books signed.
Fast Forward, Contemporary Science Fiction interview
Transcribed by Serack
Tom Schaad: And we’re here with Jim Butcher, author of Ghost Story. Jim Welcome to the show.
Jim: Thank you very much.
Tom Schaad: It’s been a long time waiting to get you on the east coast to where we could snag you away from a book tour and talk to you about this series. How many times have you done this kind of a big tour like you’re just completing?
Jim: I started it the same year that Proven Guilty came out, which was in 2008 I think. So this is tour number four.
Tom Schaad: Have you noticed any change, in the rhythm of the tour, in the response of your readers in that time?
Jim: Well the readers are always great, weather you are at a small convention, or at a big book store somewhere, they are always fun guys, but I noticed that my wrist is getting more sore, so I suppose I am signing a few more books.
Tom Schaad: That’s not a bad thing for an author to say.
Jim: Oh, that’s an awesome problem. I like having that problem.
Tom Schaad: Now lets talk about this book. The thirteenth novel in the chronicles of Harry Dresden. Now there were a lot of people who you disagree with because they call the ending of your last book, Changes, as a cliffhanger. And I don’t know why they would think that having the protagonist shot and falling off a boat and going into the water a cliffhanger of any kind.
Jim: Yah, well technically speaking, a cliffhanger is when there is something in progress and you don’t know what is going to happen. Changes was a book that was all about Harry going out to rescue his daughter, even if it kills him, and it does. The End. That didn’t seem to be cliffhangery to me, but I sometimes forget that everybody else doesn’t know the whole rest of the story to the end of the series.
Tom Schaad: Actually, Ghost Story, although it has it’s own little arc and everything like that, is really as much about change as anything that happened in the previous novel. I mean a lot of changes are going on. A lot of things are happening. There is this seismic shock wave traveling through the Harry Dresden universe right now and things haven’t even close to settled down so that people can look around and figure out what the landscape is like now. And I wanted to talk about one aspect of this that seemed to show itself in terms of the scheduling of the publication of this novel. This one came out a little later than it was originally planned to come out.
Jim: Indeed, about a three month delay.
Tom Schaad: And in the opening statement of the book, you talk about that a little bit. You thank a lot of the people you work with on a regular basis, and the people that you live with on a continual basis for their patience and forbearance while you finally finish this book. What was it about this particular novel that required you to take more time to get to the point where you were satisfied?
Jim: There were several contributing factors. One of which was that my son had gone off to college, so that’s a major kind of re balancing thing in your life when you know there’s not this small person that you’re supposed to be dad to anymore.
Tom Schaad: But congratulations on that.
Jim: Oh, well thank you very much. As the series gains success there’s been more and more obligations that I need to meet as an author, which take more and more of my time. And then for another, this was a really different book. Instead of Dresden kicking down the door and solving problems that way, he had to do everything indirectly. He had to accomplish all his goals by being able to talk to people. And that was a very different set of solutions and I wasn’t very used to working with that. I’m much more comfortable with kicking down the door and blowing something up.
Tom Schaad: Well you can have him walk through the doors, you do several times (Jim: That’s true, that’s true) because he is a ghost.
Jim: Yah that was a whole lot of fun. At the beginning of the series, I knew that I wanted to kill my protagonist and have him solve his own murder in book thirteen. If I ever got to book thirteen, that was the plan.
Tom Schaad: It’s a really fun book to read, and I really did enjoy it. You cost me about twenty four hours of my life, thank you very much. (Jim: You’re welcome) But there were some things I found in this book as a recurring theme. It’s been in some of the other stories you have written about Harry Dresden, some of the things I found were basically explicitly discussed and examined. And one of them is the impact and the reality of unintended consequences, and for Harry, because his actions are so huge and gigantic, and have such a big impact… well we can talk about Changes because it’s already been out for over a year, I mean the absolute destruction of the Red Court of vampires leaving this huge power vacuum that has to be filled by something, is just a part of what he has to deal with and try to address in this novel. Is that one of the things you have been working up to in terms of specifically examining it? Is it something that you feel you talked about a number of times in these books?
Jim: Yah I have talked about it a number of times, how the consequences of ones’ choices will come back to haunt you, good or bad. No matter what you do, you can’t escape the consequences of what you’ve chosen to do. And for Harry, it’s a little more dramatic, because he’s basically a super hero, but in some of this he has to face up to the consequences of what he’s done. And in the last book at some point, he was facing this horrible situation and he had his daughter he was going to rescue and people would say, if you do this, it’s going to cause all this harm, it’s going to set the world on fire, and he said, “Let the world burn, me and the kid will roast marshmallows.” You know, that was his attitude going in. But he gets to find out later that he is getting faced with the reality of that choice, and real people are getting hurt because of it. And that is something that is going to effect him very deeply for the rest of the series.
Tom Schaad: And it is interesting, Harry’s character does tend to have tunnel vision. Occasionally it is because of combat and a lack of oxygen to the brain, but often (Jim chuckles) it’s just his own personal way of viewing the world, he’s very linear, which a lot of people comment on this novel. That you’re so linear, weather it’s the fae or the others, this linear thing you’ve got going is really limiting you.
Jim: Yah, Harry is all about straight lines.
Tom Schaad: Usually with flames traveling along them in many instances.
Jim: Indeed, well I think that’s in some measure it reflects part of the mindset of somebody who has to deal with life or death situations. If you’re a salesman and you’re negotiating a sale, or if you’re a politician and you’re negotiating a bill, compromise is something you expect and something that you aim for. So it’s alright to get there sort of eventually by a circuitous rout. For Dresden, the things he deals with, if he doesn’t take care of them, somebody’s going to die. And there’s just no compromise when it’s life and death, you only have one or the other. And that’s sort of where he’s been.
Tom Schaad: And in many cases, you’ve put him in situations, well or the universe that you’ve created has put him in situations, where there’s not time to seek compromise. You know, it’s gonna happen now, make up you’re mind, lets get down to it, let’s do it. (Jim: Right) You really do kind of hit the accelerator, usually about five paragraphs in, if we aren’t already blowing something up in the first paragraph in a lot of your stories. You obviously enjoy writing this style, and you obviously have a talent for it because you appeal to so many readers in terms of this mixture of the supernatural and the detective noir. I mean Harry is, one of the things that everybody loves about Harry is he is such an unreconstituted smart ass. (Jim: chuckles Yah, not that I’m like that or anything, but yah) And I’m sure this is the kind of thing that would get you kicked out of high school in a New York minute, is just reflexively responding with a shot back. I mean it’s almost like watching somebody play verbal tennis sometimes. You know, he’s either bleeding on the floor and he’s still cracking wise, I mean people dream about being able to do that.
Jim: That was one of the private I. traits that I sort of borrowed when I put Dresden together. He’s sort of a Frankenstein of classical and more recent wizards and the very successful, hard boiled PI’s, and one of the things that I always admired about the PI’s was their ability to say the worst thing possible, at the worst time possible, to the worst person possible, every time. And that’s one of the really fun things I get to do with that character.
Tom Schaad: Now we’re thirteen novels, a collection of short stories, a number of other novels that you’ve written in the codex, and three novels that you started out as you were learning how to write and developing your skill as a writer that still have not been published-
Jim: And won’t be. I wouldn’t have made Osama bin Laden read those novels. They were awful at first.
Tom Schaad: But let’s talk about you as a writer. From the time that the first Harry Dresden novel was accepted and published, to now, has anything changed, have you seen any changes in yourself and the creative process that you use and the tools that you’ve developed that has changed as you continue to write and continue to create and expand this rather complicated world that you’ve built.
Jim: Well it is a big complicated world, but as long as you can try to build it on the same principles of logic, you can add new stuff to it, or you remember how the old stuff works much easier than you could if it was a “real” world. Where a lot of times, things just don’t make sense. As far as my writing process goes, that’s stayed pretty much the same. I do most of my writing at night and I’ll start around 10 or 11 oclock and writ until 5 or 6 in the morning. Well that’s the only time that’s quiet. There’s never going to be anybody that’s going to call me or interrupt me with anything. Plus it works out well because my wife writes as well, but the process is, I’ll write a chapter, I’ll send it off to a group of beta readers, with my goal being to make them scream for ending the chapter at that point, and why isn’t the next chapter written. Which I think has been an unintended consequence of my process that has helped the books be very successful is that I try and make sure that it’s hard to stop reading at the end of a chapter and (Tom Schaad: Oh you succeed at that far too well) then you stay up all night, and enjoy the book. I really like that.
Tom Schaad: I want to talk about one of the other themes. They are my obsessions, not anybody else’s. There is a rather long discussion as to what constitutes free will as an element in the back end of this book. Is what is presented and discussed as a concept, your own philosophy? How did that come about, the idea that free will is making your choices based upon truth.
Jim: Right, and in the Dresden Files universe it’s a vital component. It’s what devides mortals, human beings, from everybody else. Is that we’re the ones that have elements of both good and evil inside us, we’re the ones who get to chose what to do. And because that’s who we are, we make the world around us through those choices. The forces of the universe, these cosmic forces are always ballanced against one another, and we’re the ones who can tilt that see-saw one way or another with our actions. I think that is largely true in real life, but it is certainly a very fun, dramatic use of the concept of free will for writing with. It’s very important in general, and that’s why Harry, as he’s gotten more mature, he’s striven so much harder to make sure that other people have a choice, you know, he’s not trying to make choices for people any more, he’s trying to make sure that they know what’s going on, and can make an informed choice.
Tom Schaad: I think that we forget, because we’ve had so many of these books that we have been able to read and we have been able follow along in all these adventures, how compressed the time line is really in terms of what’s happened in the first thirteen novels. I mean, half the time Harry hasn’t been able to complete the healing process before he’s tossed in the cauldron again. And as a wizard, you talk a lot in the books about how old the fae are, and how old the vampires are, and how old many of the members of the White Council are because wizards are extremely long lived. And yet Harry’s still a young pup compared to most of these people, he’s just been played around like a ping pong ball for the last five, eight, ten years?
Jim: Yah, a ping pong ball filled with nitroglycerin.
Tom Schaad: Yah, nitroglycerin is a good attitude, and quite honestly it does as much damage to the ping pong ball as it does to everybody else. (Jim: Indeed, exactly) Harry is one banged up dude! But because he is in this situation, you get a chance to revisit some acquaintances he’s made in some of the previous books. I’m thinking of several characters. A necromancer, Morty, another character that has slowly grown, Butters, who works in the morgue, and actually is the one that does most of the autopsies on supernatural beings because he’s the only one who admits that that’s what they are. And he see’s them because he can’t interact with them because he can’t be the driving force in the physical action that takes place He see’s them in an entirely new light. Was that fun to kind of grow these guy’s out and show them differently?
Jim: It was very fun, and very difficult, which is another reason that the book stretched out so long. I had to face all these problems, and that’s what the people who left Chicago when he died had to do as well. They had to suddenly address these problems as well, they had to suddenly address these problems that are happening. You know, Harry had no idea how long a shadow he cast when he was alive, and how many things avoided the city because everybody knew that you know that crazy guy Harry Dresden lived there. And now that he’s gone, everyone else had to kind of try and step into his shoes and he has really big shoes.
Tom Schaad: But as we see as we go through the book, some of them are going a really good job, I mean considering what their own natural gifts are, and everything else like that, they are really… weather it’s following his example or weather it’s just basically not having him to take the load and them taking the load and realizing how strong they were. A lot of them are doing an incredible job in an incredibly difficult situation. Physically and emotionally.
Jim: And they are able to do it because they kind of have an idea what’s out there and of how to approach going up against it. They know their own limitations, and they know the things out there aren’t invulnerable either, and that’s stuff that they learned from Dresden. I mean, this entire book, all the folks that are still running around Chicago, their running around still trying to defend the City, because Harry was an example of how to do it. I think in the series, one of the things that I hadn’t actually planned out which has come forward is that the main facet of Dresden’s character is not that he’s personally tough, or personally a good wise ass, but that he is able to empower the people around him to become something more than they were. And as he does that suddenly he finds himself standing with these allies who are very, very capable. In part because he’s shown them how to be so.
Tom Schaad: This was the thirteenth novel, and this was a tough slog for you. Of course everybody is already asking you about the next book. It’s what we do, it’s part of the dynamic. (Jim: Oh they read so much faster than I write!) Now these too books, Changes, and Ghost Story go together very tightly. They are very tightly connected as part of a process. Is that process, are you finished with this, are you now moving on to another series of set pieces, or is this only, where are we going now. Where do you want to go with the story of Harry?
Jim: Well the next story is called Cold Days. And I don’t want to leave any spoilers, but for those who’ve already read the book, they will have an idea of why it’s called Cold Days. And I really think of Changes, Ghost Story, and Cold Days as kind of a three piece set. Where Harry is pulled out of all of his usual haunts, all of his usual routine (Tom Schaad: Well you’ve blown most of them up) Well yes I did, a bunch of them blew up. It’s what I do. The great part about being a writer, as opposed to a film maker is I can blow up Chicago or not blow up Chicago, it costs me just as much. In any case, I think the third book will be something that is very interesting. It will be a lot of fun. I’m anticipating it gleefully now which is very good because a few months ago I couldn’t stand this guy, I was sick of him. But we will get to Cold Days, and we will have a good time.
Tom Schaad: And with that we will have to end this interview because we have run out of time but what a great place to stop.
Jim: Thank you very much.
Tom Schaad: Jim thanks for stopping by, thank you very much for Ghost Story, and we will look forward to many more years to come of you not getting sick of Harry Dresden.
Jim: As long as I can take some time away, and work on something else. Which I have been doing the past couple of months, it’s much more fun to go back to Dresden’s world. It’s kind of hard to do it back to back.
Tom Schaad: Thank you again
Jim: Well you’re welcome.
Tom Schaad: Well that’s it for this addition of Fast Forward. We hope you found something of interest, we hope you come see us again, and until then this is Tom Schaad saying, Take Care.
This transcript isn’t done, but I want to save what has been accomplished thus far here, and link it’s source so that I don’t have to keep digging for it to check for updates. -Serack
Notes on formatting: No special formatting on Q or A, but statements that might be classified as Word of Jim are in bold. Items in brackets are either reactions from the audience as a whole, statements made by an audience member mid-question that Jim reacts to, or notes on how Jim is speaking. Words in single quotes are Jim quoting himself or a hypothetical person. Words in double quotes are Jim quoting an actual person. A prefix of Q and A are obviously Question and Answer. A prefix of Audience indicates something said by one (or more) audience members to Jim that is pertinent, but not a question. A prefix of Jim indicates something said by Jim that is not an answer.
Editors note: I am a big fan in the transformative power of hypertext. Therefore, I have filled this transcription with it. Become enlightened.
Jim: I don’t want to do a reading or anything like that. I like to assume most of my fans can read, so how about we just go straight to questions and answers, is that okay with you?
J: Okay. Someone has to ask a question first.
Q: In Blood Rites, Harry uses this bear shaped belt buckle, and it just gives him an instant recharge; it never came back! [Laughter]
A: He used it, and then it left him semi-comatose, so it’s not the kind of thing you want to rely on in a life and death situation. [Laughter] All of the stuff he has like that takes him months of work to upkeep, he spends two days a week – his weekends are just staying at home and making sure his magic items still work. He’s such a nerd; he’s a magic nerd. So he doesn’t get out a lot.
Q: [Paraphrase; question inaudible] Most of your fantasy is pulled from folklore, why did you decide to go with Mab and Titania, which are from Midsummer Night’s Dream?
A: Mab is a bit older than Midsummer Night’s Dream, I believe [agreement from audience]. Titania – Shakespeare might have laid claim to her, but based on what I know of him and what I know of myself as a professional storyteller, and he was doing pretty much the same thing, I’m not at all sure he mad that up. I’m sure he grifted it from someone. Me personally, if there are perfectly cool storytelling bits to use, my gosh, why reinvent wheels? Even when I think I come up with something cool and original, I realize later ‘Oh man, I totally swiped that.’[Laughter] I used to think Bob the Skull was awesome – that’s an awesome character – and them my kid was watching the opening sequence to the old Scooby Doo cartoon. [Laughter]
Q: Three questions. First, are you going to write any more Alera?
A: Three questions. She’s just jumping right in. First question is: am I going to write any more Alera? Answer is: maybe, and if I do, it will be like Alera, The Next Generation. It will be a steampunkier place, a couple of hundred years later.
Q: Are you going to write any other fantasy series?
A: I am, I’m writing another fantasy series right now, at least the first book, which is strongly influenced by The Black Company. [acclaim from audience] Yeah, well, it’s not done yet, I don’t know if it is awesome or not. [Black Company is awesome, though!] Black Company IS awesome.
Q: Why did you cut your hair?
A: Mostly to shock my wife. [Laughter] Also, on the Changes tour, it seemed nicely thematic. I walked out of my house with hair down to my shoulders, and a big ol’ beard – the writing beard, the one that’s been there for a couple of months – and I went back in with a crew cut and shaved clean, and was looking forward to that moment of ‘Oh my God!’ shock, and we had one of those conversations where we talk for twenty minutes and she never looks up from what she’s doing. [Laughter] And it stopped being fun to wait for it, and I just started watching TV, and it was probably another twenty minutes after that and she goes “Oh my God!” [Laughter] “If I hadn’t been talking to you, I would have shot you!” [Laughter]
Q: What did Bob do that has Mab out for his head?
A: [sing song voice] I’m not gonna tell you! [Laughter] Questions like that, that’s how I’m going to answer; it’s more fun if you get them from the book anyway.
Q: Will Waldo Butters be receiving one of the Swords?
A: [sing song voice] I’m not gonna tell you! [Laughter] There’s several people who could get them, and I’m just trying to decide who I hate the most. [Laughter] It just isn’t a good thing to get one of them; it isn’t a happy thing to get one of those swords. Cool, not happy.
Q: Why is James Marsters not going to be doing the new audiobook?
A: He had something happen at the last minute and bailed. [Disappointment from audience] We had between 9:00 on Friday night and noon on Saturday to find somebody who could record it, who was in New York over Memorial Day weekend. [unintelligible] [What does Spike have to do that is more important than this?] They were gonna have Luke Perry do the reading, and I’ve got nothing against Mr. Perry, but perhaps he was not suitable. [Laughter] They said, “Oh you can go listen to some of the stuff he has done on Audible!” and I did, and there wasn’t anything longer than 26 minutes that he had done the reading for. So, “Well maybe we can get someone else.” “Are you sure, he was in Buffy the Vampire Slayer too!” [Laughter] “Well, who else is there?” “John Glover.” “John Glover? Lionel Luthor? The guy who played my absolute favorite screen version of Satan ever in Brimstone? Yes, we can go with that.” [Laughter] So we’ll see, I haven’t gotten to listen to it myself.
Audience: I’ve got two questions.
Jim: See? See what an example you set? He’s got two questions!
Q: The first is concerning Susan Rodriguez. Toward the end of Ghost Story, [uproar from audience].
Jim: So what I’m taking from this, then, is that you don’t want any spoilers? [No!] Alright. (To questioner) You’re on your own here, man, I can’t help you.
Q: [unintelligible – audience still muttering] … and was wondering if there was a reason for that, or if Harry just didn’t think of it?
A: He was kind of busy. Dresden generally has a plateful, and he spends a lot of time between stories going ‘I could have done that more intelligently.’ But unfortunately, when you’re the guy on the ground and there’s all kinds of funky stuff happening to you, you just make your decisions and go, and hope that someone doesn’t smash you flat while you’re trying it. What was your other question?
Q: The character progression of Tavi seems to parallel that of Harry, where he starts off low, gets a little more power, and then at the end, he gets a massive power boost between the 5th and 6th books. I was just wondering if something similar to that is going to happen to Harry, maybe before the Apocalyptic Trilogy?
A: The answer to that is, I never want Dresden to be the big fish in the pond. I want Dresden to be the smart, fast, medium sized fish, who is constantly outclassed by all the actual big fish. And I don’t see how we’re going to get out of that. I’m not planning on skyrocketing Dresden anytime soon, although the next book should be pretty interesting to see how that turns out. I think Dresden is in the process of finding out that the pond is whole lot bigger than he thought it was, and there’s going to be a whole lot of new doors opening after this book. Or, as I told my shocked editor after she read the end of Changes, I think she said something along the lines of “What were you thinking?” [Laughter] And my response was [enthusiastic] “That now we can do the good stuff!” [Laughter]
Q: I was wondering if you have a bible of all the stuff for Codex Alera. [unintelligible] And if you did, are you planning on publishing that?
A: I do have a bible, it’s called the Wikipedia. [Laughter] Seriously, you all keep much better track of this stuff than I can. [Laughter] By the time I’ve done a book, I’ve seen seven or eight slightly different versions of the same book, and besides which I’ve also seen all the versions that I might have written and decided not to write for whatever reasons. So by the time you get up to six books in a series, that’s keeping track of different versions of 50 novels or so, plus all the potential bits, and a lot of times I’ll completely blank on what it is that went into the final version. And go check Wikipedia, because seriously it’s absolutely invaluable, and I love the Internet.
Q: I had a friend who wrote a pretty sizable novel, and I thought it was really well done, but he won’t shop it around to any publishers because it had too many geek references. Did you have any problems shopping it around?
A: The answer to that is that the editor who bought the Dresden Files, she’s really as geeky as a New York editor can get. Jen Heddle, she’s very big in the fan community. Maybe it helped, selling things to her, I don’t know. No one ever said ‘Hey, can you tone down the pop culture references, I’m sure the Dresden Files is sure gonna flake a few years from now’. [Laughter] I didn’t write it for posterity, I wrote it for people like me, who spend way too much time playing role-playing games, and video games, and watching good stuff on TV.
Q: I’ve worked with a kukri for about 35 years now, and I’m very fascinated by it. Well we be seeing any more kukri play?
A: For those who don’t get that reference right away, that’s the knife that Thomas uses when he’s not using a falcata, which is a big kukri. Well, yeah, it’s just such a great head chopping knife, and there’s always some head chopping to be done. [Laughter]
Q: When you were first doing this in the class, how did you decide it was going to be Harry? That is was going to be the character you were going to be with for the whole series?
A: Well, remember the only reason I wrote my first book was to prove to my writing teacher how wrong she was about writing stuff. [Laughter] That said, the way I put it together is I scrapped all my favorite wizards and private eyes and made a Frankenstein out of their parts, and that’s where it came from. I said, okay I’m going to Gandalf’s temper, Merlin’s meddling, Sherlock’s chassis and three-quarters of his brain. [Laughter] I’ll take Travis McGee’s testicles [Laughter] just for the pure fortitude, and Spencer’s mouth, although I never really out-Spencer’ed Parker, or at least I haven’t so far. And that’s how I put him together. It was a very artificial process. And you can see, as I was telling my writing teacher, how awful things turn out when you do that kind of thing. [Laughter]
Q: At the Masquerade Ball [ed note: event occurs in Grave Peril] you had Mister Ferro [Ed note: Ferrovax] dressed as a green-eyed Roman Centurion. In Codex Alera, a lot of the more powerful characters have green eyes. Is that coincidence, or is some other thing going on there? [ed note secundus –this is me!]
A: Nah, its coincidence. Eyes pretty much come in blue, green and brown. [Laughter] There’s gonna be some overlap. Or some mixture of shades. It’s not my call. I guess I could mess up everyone’s eyes funky colors, like Sanderson likes to do. Anyone read The Way of Kings, by the way? I finished that this afternoon. Oh my god, what a good book! [Laughter]
Q: Aside from Sanderson, what are you playing and/or reading?
A: I just started [The] Wise Man’s Fear [acclaim from audience] because I’ve been promising myself that for the longest time. ‘You can go read it on your tour, if you get all your stuff done!’ It’s my carrot. [Laughter] And I picked up the book to take with me on my tour, its my low tech book, and I went ‘Oh my god, this thing weighs like 50 pounds!” [Laughter] ‘Where’s my iPad, I’ll put it on there and take it on there.’ Harry Connolly is another good writer I’ve picked up lately, his first book, Child of Fire is very nifty. [Ed note: The cover for Child of Fire is painted by Christian McGrath, who also does covers for The Dresden Files series.] There’s a new writer whose book is not published yet named Benedict Jacka. The title of his first novel is Fated, and it’s very good. He’s one of those authors I read and I go ‘Oh man, I gotta step up my game.’ [Laughter] I just got done with Elizabeth Moon’s new book in the Paksenarrion series. Just to be clear, I’m sorry about the three month delay, Elizabeth Moon just took 20 years between book 3 and book 4. [Laughter] Just saying. [Ed note, Jim probably is referring to Liar’s Oath part of the Legacy of Gird omnibus, which was published in 1992 and Oath of Fealty which was published in 2010.] And as far as games, I’ve been on League of Legends a lot. [audience appreciation] Yes, yes! I play Cho’Gath. Cho’Gath are a great character because any of them can kill you, but only Cho’Gath can eat you. [Laughter] And that’s just an enormous amount of fun. And Call of Duty because Battlefield 3 isn’t out yet.
Q: What is your favorite tabletop game?
A: Hands down, no questions, Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay. I was one of the playtesters for D&D 4th Edition where I had to sign all the super-secret papers and everything, and got to play it early. And I’m not sure why they even had playtesters, because they went to print before any of the playtesters had a chance to turn any of their stuff in, so I turned in my summary, and I turned in a two word overall summary of 4th Edition, which was “New Coke” [Laughter And Applause]
Q: Any intentions to attend any conventions?
A: I did like 14 conventions just last year! I just got done with ComicCon. This is my last trip around this year. Next year, I’m not going to travel, I’m taking some time off from the trippin’ in honor of the Mayan Apocalypse. [Laughter] And if we’re all still here in 2013, I can hit the road again. I fear I’m getting jaded, it’s my 7th or 8th apocalypse. [Laughter] I keep getting disappointed.
Q: What other cultures and folklore can we expect to see in the Dresden series?
A: I would say I’m not gonna tell you, but I am. I’ll probably start adding in some Asian stuff; probably some more Indian or Southwest Asian stuff. I’m gonna get through some more Norse stuff because I just like the Norse. Other than that, we’ll have to see. We’ve still got a lot to do; we’ve still got an epic dragon battle. I’ve got a bunch of stuff planned, I’ve got a bunch of ways where ‘I’ve got to end the book exactly like this!’ where I’ve got a horrible ending at the end of the book for Dresden, starting with Changes.
Q: Speaking of epic dragon battles, is Ferro coming back?
A: Yes. But not until later. He’s epic. [Laughter]
Q: Also, everyone else is buying into the zombie craze, are you buying into it?
A: The zombie craze? Why would I do anything with zombies? Zombies are stupid, why would I ever use those. [Laughter] Again. We can’t get away from zombies completely because some of the necromancers survived. [Ed note: See Dead Beat]
Q: When will we see more of Injun Joe?
A: I don’t have everything plotted out. I know about the big events, but not individual character stuff. Injun Joe will have to be in there by [pause to think] at least by book 15. Probably 15 and 16, he’ll both be in. [pause] Yeah, that seems about right. [Laughter] I have to think these things through, I haven’t thought of the answer to absolutely every question.
Q: You mentioned that Mister Ferro won’t be back until the Apocalyptic Trilogy, right? [Jim: Probably not.] Will we see other dragons before that?
A: How many dragons do you guys want? [Laughter; “All of them!”] Actually, we’re darn close. There’s only like three or four of them left in the world. Which is why killing one is kind of a big deal. Also, its going to totally upset all kinds of things if that happens. So: of course. You can’t just go ‘I slew a dragon!’ ‘Greaaaaat. You did what? [Laughter] You did what?’ That’s the kind of reaction you garner, especially from people who are defenders of the status quo, which is pretty much everyone.
Q: Do you know if the Evil Hat people are working on an expansion [for the Dresden Files RPG].
A: They must be, they keep asking me questions. [Laughter] And I’ll get back them, and we’ll swap back and forth, and they’ll say ‘We’ll put this in!’ ‘Don’t put that in, I haven’t put it in a book yet!’ [Laughter]
Q: Is there gonna be more Bob. [Jim: Is there gonna be more Bob?] Yeah, cause it didn’t . . . you didn’t . . . [Ed note: Questioner is clearly trying to ascertain the fate of Bob, post-Ghost Story, without drawing the ire of the crowd for saying something spoilery. In person, you could see the light bulb flash on Jim’s face]
A: Now see, you’re trying to get the answer to a question where the answer is “I’m not gonna tell you.” [Laughter] [“I kinda figured, I just wanted to try.”] Okay.
Q: In Dead Beat, Cowl comes across oddly, he asks Harry three times, and he says “Thrice I ask you and done!” Given the specific background of the Fomor, and knowing the Fae—and that’s a very Fae sort of thing to say—is he going to be tying in with either of those races?
A: [sing song voice] I’m not gonna tell you! [Laughter] Again, I’m not gonna give you the answers to questions that the books raised up. I just can’t do it. Literally, I could only do it by mistake, and you keep trying to trick me! [Laughter]
Q: What made you choose Chicago?
A: My teacher wouldn’t let me have Kansas City? She said “I think this might get published, and you’re already walking close enough to Laurell K. Hamilton’s toes that you don’t need to be setting your series is Missouri as well. [Ed note: She is referring to the Anita Blake series.] Pick another city.” And there was a globe on her desk, and there were only four cities in America. There was DC, which I didn’t want, because then you’re writing politics; there was New York, which I didn’t want, because superheroes have that place sewn up pretty tight; there’s Los Angeles which I didn’t want because it’s Los Angeles, and besides, Hollywood’s got them covered. [Ed note: Laurell K. Hamilton eventually published another series set in Los Angeles, starting a Fae Private Detective. Skipping LA was probably a good move.] And there was Chicago. And I said “What about Chicago?”, and she said “Fine, anywhere, just not Kansas City.” [Laughter]
Q: Is Dresden’s grandmother with Ebenezer going to be important at all?
A: Not in this story. Not unless I go back and write the French and Indian War in the Dresdenverse. That is when all the Senior Council were the punks that they hate Dresden for being. [Laughter]
Q: Is Dresden’s affinity for ice going to spill over into water and other types of magic? [Ed note: See Changes]
A: [sing song voice] I’m not gonna tell you! And besides, ice is just fire backwards. [Laughter]
Q: The dedication said something about onion-colored light. What’s that about?
A: You would have had to have been playing on AmberMUSH in the early 90’s to get that.
Q: I’m interested in how you work with your editor. At what point do you send a draft of to her, and how many drafts do you do before you work with her?
A: Basically, I send her a book, and I want to send her a book that she doesn’t have to work very hard on, because it makes her like me and take me out to dinner and stuff. [Laughter] So, usually I’ll give her a book, and she’ll send me a letter with a few comments with anything she really feels needs to be changed. Ann is a very good editor precisely because she does not edit with a very heavy hand. She thinks that the creative people know what they are doing. So she’ll only point things out of there’s a logical inconsistency or something else that sort of leaps out. Generally, I’ll send another one after that and it’ll go to a copy editor, who will occasionally do obsessive things. Like because I misspelled a name once, the first time I used it, she’ll go through and correct all the rest of the names to match the first one. Even though I used this name 177 times, and this name once . . . I actually had copy editors who did that. I know! It’s like working with a computer. A computer from Paranoia. [Laughter] Trust the Computer!
Q: Are there any other mediums you are thinking about coming out with Dresden? The SyFy series was okay, but are there any other mediums?
A: There’s always talk. It’s just talk until their check clears. [Laughter] I mean clears, getting it isn’t good enough, I’ve done that before. You have to wait until the money actually arrives in your account, then you know they’re serious. We’ll have to see. There’s talk of video game. There’s always talk of more movie stuff. We’ll have to see what happens?
Q: Do you find that some of your characters take on lives of their own and take you in directions that you hadn’t intended?
A: The answer to that is: those people work for me. [Laughter] And if they start going to rogue on me, I will go back in and change things around so that they will have to go the way I need them to go, and if they just won’t do it . . [lost train of thought] Which is fun, because I can do that, because it’s my imagination universe, and I’m God there. [Laughter] A capricious and malicious god! [Laughter] But its not something that I’ll let them get away with, on account of: I’ve got a deadline to meet, people. If I let them go running of, it might have been six months, or eight months or 20 years or something.
Q: In Turn Coat, Luccio laments Molly’s lack of combat training [unintelligible]. My question is, why would Molly get her martial training from Harry when her parents are a Knight of the Cross and his sparring partner?
A: Okay, let me ask you this: really? [repeats question, comment from audience] Really, exactly. My son is thinking about going into the writing business because, and I quote this, “If you two can do it, how hard can it be?” [Laughter] I asked him, “Do you want me to show you things?” “Nah, I got this.” [Laughter] And the reason is, once you get to a certain age, kids aren’t really interesting in learning things from their parents. And that age is usually anywhere after around 10 years old. Up until they’re maybe 25, at which point they might stop. For something. It’s very difficult to have credibility and be knowledgeable about what you do in the eyes of your kid.
Q: What was your opinion of the TV show The Dresden Files? It was so far away from …
A: It was. Coulda been worse. [Laughter] I’m a glass half full kinda person. There’s three kinds of people. The optimists, for whom the glass is half full; the pessimists, for whom the glass is half empty; and the engineers, for whom the glass is over-designed by 100%. [Laughter] They coulda done worse. And it ended before it went totally squirrelly. I had a theory about why the show got cancelled, I’ve got no proof for the theory, but like any good conspiracy theory, I feel that the complete lack of proof really only strengthens it. [Laughter] I think it was an office politics thing, really, more than anything else. They’ve had shows with worse ratings that went on for longer.
Q: In the epic Dresden blockbuster movie, who is the hardest character to cast?
A: Probably, gosh … we’d need a credible geek to play Butters. [Laughter] I’m trying to think who it could be . . . I can’t think of anyone that just leaps into my head and I think “Harry Dresden!” [At this point audience members start to argue about something. Someone mentions Nathan Fillion] I can see Captain Tightpants, because he can really take a beating. [Laughter] He plays ‘I’ve been completely humiliated in this combat’ well. For that sake. And also, I’ve met him and he’s a really nice guy.
Q: Will you be exploiting any new mythology?
A: I read Rick Riordan’s books and thought ‘Okay, now I have to do this too.’[Ed note: Rick Riordan is famous for the Percy Jackson series set with the Greek pantheon – he also wrote a series with the Egyptian pantheon] [Laughter]
Q: I was wondering if you were planning on doing another Marvel comic book series?
A: They haven’t asked me so far. I don’t know if I would, they don’t pay a whole lot. And while I would really love to do it in terms of it would be really fun, I keep having less and less time. Which seems backwards somehow. I’ve got all this opportunity to do really fun stuff and no time to do it, and I keep trying to catch up with all the things that people need me to do.
Q: How far ahead do you plan or envision the series? Do you have an outline?
A: I’ve got an outline that roughly sketches out the Dresden Files from beginning to end. The original plan is about 20 case books like we’ve had so far, and a big ol’ Apocalyptic Trilogy at the end. I’m saying 20ish case books at this point, because I’ve never written a 20 book epic fantasy series. [Laughter] So we’ll have to see. Plus if my kid goes to grad school or something. [Laughter] My muse looks and awful lot like my bank balance. I’m one of those guys, I don’t have a muse, I have a mortgage.
Q: You’ve said you are a martial arts enthusiast, what have you practiced or had an interest in?
A: Enthusiast is a great word, because it implies that I like it, but not that I’m any good at it. [Laughter] Its an important distinction. My first training was in Ryūkyū Kempo. I went from there to Taekwando, Shōrin-ryū, Goja Shōrin-ryū, I’ve done enough Aikido to know I wouldn’t be very good at it. A little bit of Shaolin Kung Fu. And a bunch of fencing.
Q: Not counting Harry, do you have a favorite character?
A: I love writing Bob. [Laughter] He’s my inner puerile 14 year-old. [Laughter] And he doesn’t have to keep his mouth shut. He can say absolutely any appalling thing, and I like that a lot about him. I like most of my characters, or I wouldn’t be writing them. [cell phone rings, then stops] Oh, good, its not me! I was sure that would happen.
Q: How much backlash did you get for ending Changes the way you ended it? [Laughter]
A: A bunch! Apparently, people thought it was a cliffhanger! [Laughter] I’ve maintained that technically, it was no cliffhanger, sir. Dresden sets out to rescue his daughter even if it kills him, and it does. The end. [Laughter] There were many screams. As if thousands of readers had cried out … [Laughter] It made me go warm and happy. [Laughter] People ask ‘Why do you hate Dresden so much? Why do you torture him?’ ‘I’m not torturing Dresden. I’m torturing all of you!’ [Laughter]
Q: When I read the end of cliffhanger, my thought was, ‘Have you ever seen Misery?’
A: Have I ever seen Misery? Oh, right, yeah. I don’t sweat about that as much, I don’t know why. I’ve never really felt a sense of personal danger from a fan. Which might just mean that I’m a lot stupider. [Laughter] It’s entirely possible.
Q: Who would you cast as Dresden?
A: I dunno. I could see Captain Tightpants doing it. Interestingly, the one for the actual series, the second place guy, was Adam Baldwin – Jayne, from Firefly. He would have been a much bulldogier Dresden, but they decided they wanted a dark intense Dresden instead, so they went with Paul [Blackthorne]. Just so you know. Adam Baldwin was the second guy.
Will there ever be a story about Kincaid and Murphy in Hawaii?
Yes. It’s gonna have to wait until I do a little research on Hawaiian gods. There’s going to be issues with volcanoes and so…[unintelligible]
If it’s not a spoiler, what’s Murphy doing for a paycheck these days?
Well, if you stop and think about it, I’m sure it will occur to you. Of course, she didn’t talk about it with Dresden.
The three families of the White Court feed on different emotions, is that like knife, spoon, fork, or can they mix it up?
They can mix it up, and it’s one of the things they fight about a lot, about what they do. There’s all this “you are what you eat” sort of thing in play, and the different houses have different aspects [unintelligible] divide things up by territory. And you could feed on all sorts of stuff. You could probably be a White Court vampire that fed on the warm happy feeling that people get when they’re holding a puppy. Although you’d be a really….you’d probably sparkle if you did that. [Unintelligible] it might actually be fun to show that in some future files.
Are we going to see short stories from Molly’s perspective in the next short story anthology?
I don’t know. Maybe. That could be kind of fun. Molly certainly has a unique perspective, especially after the events of the last book [GS].
Two questions, one: what is your favorite [unintelligible] them all, and two: are we ever going to see the Warden from Atlanta?
Is there a Warden in Atlanta? Probably somewhere, there’s really not all that many Wardens operating in North America, because it’s in far less trouble than the rest of the world, generally speaking.
As far as my favorite MMO, I Everquested for a really, really long time, but it’s really pointless to play a massively multiplayer online game when I do nothing but solo. I still play City of Heroes, on occasion, where I’m the only one who’s allowed to play Harry Dresden. They keep changing my name to “generichero1234” or something like that, and I keep having to point out to them, “Hey, I’m actually the copyright holder, and I can use this name.” and so basically they’ve made a note on my online profile that says, “By the way, GMs, he’s allowed.”
On Twitter there’s a guy Harry Dresden [unintelligible]…I know you’re on Twitter, I was wondering if you’ve ever seen this [unintelligible]
Yeah, the folks who are roleplaying as Harry Dresden and [unintelligible] on Twitter…yeah, they’re fine. I could go be all dragon with his horde of treasure over copyright or something like that if I wanted to, but what would be the point? The entire point of the service is for people to meet and have a good time, and they’re really having a good time. What’s the problem? But I don’t pay those guys or anything like that. But they’re goofing a lot of fun.
May I suggest vampires who feed on schadenfreude (the feeling of happiness over someone else’s pain)?
Oh, so that would be when I put out one of those cliffhanger endings, see, then they’re gonna get fed.
Are there any characters or scenes that strike you as being the most difficult to write?
The scenes when people are in a lot of pain are hard. I’m sort of kind of an empathetic person, and those are tough on me. The scenes that are really, really violent are kind of hard. Stuff like when I turned the loup-garou loose in the police station. I mena, admittedly, yeah, I totally stole that out of Terminator, that’s not the point, those are difficult. The most difficult ones are the ones that have a whole lot of description and introspection in them, and there’s nobody for my characters to talk to and be a smartass with, because, really, that’s easy to write: easy and fun, its when there’s serious pondering going on that it gets difficult.
Speaking of Twitter, all the stuff that you were writing about a couple of weeks ago: does it make you mad that people are taking something you made and trying to twist it? You seemed kind of upset.
There’s the folks on Twitter who got upset with me, that’ve got their own opinion, and it could be that they have a point, maybe they do, maybe they don’t, I don’t know. It made me upset that they did so in a way that was so overtly and impersonally hostile. But you know what? It’s a big world and I don’t see any reason why they can’t do that kind of thing on Twitter. I can kind of just go “Meh.” If I just turned around and started screaming at them, what’s the point? That’s not going to accomplish anything good.
How about a short story from the perspective of Mouse or Mister? A day in the life?
I suppose it could be done. Mister’s would be really freaky, because he’s a cat. [unintelligible]….he’s a cat. I guess it could be fun writing that. From Mouse’s perspective? I don’t know, Mouse knows too much about what’s going on, he’d give it away. Mouse is actually far more clued in than Dresden.
[unintelligible question, Jim didn’t repeat it back, had something to do with the third eye, potential futures and the ThreeEye junkie in SF]
He was mostly just looking at Dresden and [unintelligible] out because he was on drugs.
[unintelligible follow on question]
Yeah, but I hadn’t planned that far ahead. That was in Chapter 13 or 14, and I was still trying to prove my teacher wrong.
Are we ever going to see Sue again?
Yes. But it might be a while.
I was wondering if and when we were going to see the Jade Court vampires?
They might be a little bit involved in the big finale, but not in any serious way. If it’s not happening in China, they just don’t care. They’re a very insular, very isolated group, they know what’s important to them and stuff that’s outside of there is completely not important.
I just got finished reading an author named Kevin Hearne, the Iron Druid Chronicles, have you read them?
No, I have not.
I was wondering.,,the main character is almost [unintelligible] in my mind. And that would be really awesome.
I’ve got a copy at home, it’s on my to-read list. I met the guy at ComicCon, he seems like a nice guy. We sat and watched somebody [unintelligible] video of Patrick Rothfuss writing [unintelligible] at one of the local bars. And Pat is one of the nicest guys in person, he really is. He’s one of those guys that doesn’t take himself seriously at all, he’s really happy to make fun of himself, and he good at it.
I asked because that was based on a lot of Norse/Celtic mythology which you said you enjoy…
I haven’t read any of it.
I’ve got the game, and I wanted to ask a couple questions about [unintelligible]
You can ask me my opinion about the game, but I’m not the guy who writes the game, I just write the stories.
The other White Vampire Courts, what are their virgins [at least, I think he said virgins, not versions. Given the reaction to the question, I went with the former] like?
I [unintelligible] directly about that one. They’re all more or less the same. It just depends on what they start feeding on first and what intense encounter they have with what emotion first.
There is some mention of possible superhero connections at some point in time, do you have any plans for that?
What, to do actual superheroes in the Dresden universe? No, it’s just that Dresden exists in a cosmos with alternate realities that just keep going and going and going and going, and eventually you get to somewhere where there’s an actual Spiderman in the Dresden universe, it’s just that getting there is a little difficult, since it’s really hard to [unintelligible] though apparently you can do it if you get the right [unintelligible].
What do you think of Simon Greene’s Nightside series?
Cool. Very stylistic, I pick up new ones whenever they come out. I kind of like the little James-Bond-shorts opening sequences at the beginning of every book.
Are we ever going to see Lash again?
She’s actually mentioned in Ghost Story although not by name. Her story isn’t over.
You mentioned that Harry isn’t a hat person. Why does he have a hat on every cover then, you’d think you’d fix that!
The art department thought it was perfect visual shorthand for wizard detective. He’s got the wizard’s staff and a fedora, and that’s why they told him to do it that way. And I’ve been giving them a little bit of a hard time about it ever since.
What does the Jade Court feed on?
All these questions about things that are never going to come in, [unintelligible, though a few people audible in the background indicate that he said “Chi”].
What’s the status of the Red Court and the Nickelheads?
[singsong] I’m not gonna tell you! Red Court, mostly dead. Well, no. Most of them are all the way dead. [unintelligible]
When you’re writing a fight sequence, do you block it out, or is it all in your head, or do you miniaturize it?
When I write a fight sequence it’s all in my head. I’ve done enough martial arts that I can usually picture everything without any help. I used to occasionally borrow my son, “Hey, I’m doing a fight scene, you’re going to be Harry Dresden.” “NOOO!” That was when we were much younger. Now he’d toss me around.
I noticed that a lot of characters, especially the minor characters, as the series develops, they’re nerds, but then as the story progresses, like Butters, they come into their own and become heroes, do you do that on purpose?
Do I write nerds that eventually grow up to be heroes on purpose? Look around this room. [unintelligible] I will fly my nerd flag next to anybody in this room, proudly, I’ve got nerd stories in my closet at home along with all my nerdiest nerd costumes to go out on the weekend, comic books, anime books, everything, I’m awful, I’m hopeless. But I’m really happy.
Is Toot going to come back; is he going to be any more significant?
Book 14 we’ll see a lot more Faerie activity due. Book 14 is entitled Cold Days, I’ve only got the first sentence written, but that’s the hard part. Once you’ve got your first sentence, the rest of the book is just putting in more of it.
Are you planning on doing any more fantasy series like Codex Alera?
Yeah, the new fantasy trilogy that I’m writing is actually the prequel to my epicepicfantasyepic that I’m going to write one day when I grow up. I figured, “It’s so epic it needs a prequel trilogy” so, that’s the one that I’m working on right now, which is the Black Company-based one. And so far it’s a lot of fun, I’m able to make it quite a bit funnier than most fantasy novels, like most of the Alera books were.
You’ve done a lot of fencing; what styles have you studied?
I did epee and foil for the most part, I didn’t go saber fencing because those people were just crazy. “Let’s go out into the parking lot and hit each other with car antennas!” That’s saber fencing, baby! Although I did learn a lot of saber style when we switched to LARP, because we had a lot of folks who were hardcore fencers who [unintelligible].
Ghost Story blerb with Jim produced by his Publisher
Transcription by dagaetch
Dresden returns to Chicago as a disembodied spirit and has to solve his own murder. After all, I mean Harry’s done business in Chicago for a long time and, y’know, part of the problem is that theres an awful lot of ghosts floating around that town that he put there. So some of that is gonna come back to haunt him, so to speak. It’s been a very fun story, we’re going to have a good time with this one.
Well this is Ethan with the Gamer’s Haven podcast, and I have the pleasure to have on the line someone I’ve been trying to get on the show for about a year and a half, I have Mr. Jim Butcher. How are you doing today Jim?
Good, I’m doing good.
For those of you who have been living under a rock for the last 10 or 15 years and haven’t heard, one of Jim’s various works is the Dresden Files books. He has a new book coming out, is it July 26th?
And that is, gosh, I’ve lost count of how many…
This will be book 13 of the Dresden Files.
Yeah, I thought so.
It’s Ghost Story, and also Jim is known for having written the Codex Alera series as well.
Want to thank you for being on the show today, know you have a busy schedule obviously since you churn out books every week it seems.
So I just want to thank you for being on the show.
Well to start off, as Gamer’s Haven is predominantly a gaming podcast, I was wanting to get just a little about your gaming background. As I understand it, you’ve done a lot of LARPing, but have you done the tabletop stuff?
Oh, of course. I picked up D&D when it came in that red box, when I was in first grade, so, yeah, and since then, D&D, Warhammer fantasy roleplay was the next game I really started picking up, and it’s still my favorite system; but I’ve also played Cthulhu and GURPS and Chill and a million different systems.
Obviously gaming has a lot to do with not only Codex Alera but Dresden Files, I mean there’s a lot of common elements in there. There is a Dresden Files RPG that I believe won the Origins award this year.
Yeah, it did, they were really excited about it too.
And it’s up for an ENnie at GenCon this year as well.
I believe so.
And that’s all done by the Evil Hat guys, Fred Hicks and…
Yea, I can’t take credit for any of that. They did a mile and a half of work on the system, they really threw themselves heart and soul into it, and it really shows in their production.
Definitely one thing that they captured with the RPG that you do well with the books is the voice of Dresden, it’s really prevalent in there, it makes it feel like it fits with the universe you’ve created inside your books.
Oh yeah, they’ve researched the books, they probably know the Dresden Files better than I do at this point, so…
Speaking of the Dresden Files, how did gaming sort of influence your creativity in creating the Dresden Files and Codex Alera?
Probably mostly by hanging around with gamers. Gamers tend to be the more intelligent, creative people around, otherwise they wouldn’t be so bored with this world that they need to make up imaginary ones to go play in. That’s really all I do. The way I think of the Dresden Files books, they’re kind of a game that I GM in my head with myself, and I write down everything that happens, and that’s my job.
Speaking as a lifetime gamer, reading the Dresden books, and I’m a recent convert, it was in the reading pile for many years and then I discovered the audio books they put out of them and devoured those. I can definitely tell, as a guy who’s familiar with D&D and the world of darkness, that it really feels, it’s hard to put, Dresden makes a lot of decisions that gamers would make in that situation.
Yeah, Dresden as a wizard, I know a lot of times wizardly characters come off kind of shaman-y, with some deeply spiritual connection to this quasi-sentient sort of magic that does things on its own. That wasn’t the kind of wizard I wanted Dresden to be. I kind of wanted him to be a wizard who was more like a plumber, you know, “There are certain rules, this is the way things work, and it’s this kind of energy and he knows how to work with it.” It’s kind of what his trade is, so he tries to base his decisions as much as possible on reasonable commonsense. So yeah, he does have many of the solutions that gamers have.
Quick question that some gamers probably want to know is, have you ever played Dresden in a game?
Oh no! No, I haven’t even played the Dresden Files RPG, are you kidding? There’s just no way! If I’m the player in that game, what GM is going to be able to reasonably overrule me? “Yes it is this way in the game, and if necessary, I’ll write it that way in the next book!” I would be the worst power gaming twink player, and as a GM, it’s too much like work. So, you know, all these other people are just enjoying the hell out of the game and I’m ripping stuff off from it left and right for kind of a steampunk game that I run at home. I’m not the guy who can enjoy it, but I do very much enjoy seeing other people get to play in that world and have a good time.
Of course, this all sort of leads up to the new Dresden book, Ghost Story is coming out July 26th, it’s the big thing right now, and it’s as you said book 13. For our listeners, what can you tell us about the next installment and why we should be excited about it?
Well the conclusion of book 12, Dresden got shot and fell into Lake Michigan, and started moving down a tunnel towards the light. Everybody was just furious at me that I would end the book on a cliffhanger like that, to which I can only reply, that technically is not a cliffhanger, it’s the conclusion to that story. Dresden set out to rescue his daughter even if it killed him, and it did, the end. The next book though, is, being Harry Dresden nothing comes easy not even dying. That’s one of my rules for the universe, for Dresden nothing comes easy. In this book he’s actually wound up in the afterlife and sent back to Earth to solve his own murder before he can move on to whatever comes next. Unfortunately, his bodies not available and he gets sent back as a spirit, so he basically has to follow all the rules that ghosts do. So Dresden gets to be a ghost in his own town, trying to solve his own murder, without any of his magic and there’s hardly anyone who can see or even hear him, much less help him out, so he has a tough road to walk. No big surprise there.
When you first started developing the Dresden books many years ago, how did you start setting rules for that universe? Did you just iron them out all ahead of time, or did you come up with it as you went along?
I got it ironed out pretty well ahead of time. The first thing I did was, first of all I had to decide on what kind of magic I wanted, and as I said I didn’t want that kind of quasi-sentient magic, or the overly magic-magic where if you move your wand just like this and say the words exactly right, then something happens. I didn’t want pop machine magic, where you put a couple orders in and something comes out. I wanted magic to actually resemble real life energy, so as my model I actually took a lot of Newtonian physics to use for my explanations of magic. So energy cannot be created or destroyed, for an action there’s an equal and opposite reaction, that’s the kind of stuff I wanted to keep. After that, I said okay that’s the base I’m coming from, now I’m going to go out and look at what do people actually believe about magic? People who actually incorporate this into their religion, their belief system, and I went and read a ton of books. It was sort of from all of that, and then kind of coming from the physics based model, and stuff that I thought would be dramatic and cool, that’s what I started putting together so that I could understand how things would work in the story world.
In developing the Dresden world, sort of steering this back to the gaming aspect of it, did you find there was any sort of, you’ve done your share, you mentioned you have sort of a steampunk world that you roleplay in. In developing the Dresden world and other worlds, have you learned anything or do you have any great advice for people who want to build worlds, not just for literature but for their home campaign?
As far as other writers go, I recommend that they run campaigns in their story world, because it doesn’t matter how much you prepare for a campaign, the players will not go the way that you expect them to go, because players just don’t do that, they’re not capable. What that means is they’ll wander off in some completely random direction that you had no intention for them to go there, and you’ll be frantically building the world about two steps in front of them, which I think is fantastic exercise for the imagination. As far as gamers go, the really key thing to remember is, stimulus response, when something happens it causes a response. When the players do something, it’s gotta change the world and the way people around them see them and act and behave. If the players have the sense that the things that they do matter, because when they take an action there’s a response that comes back from the story world for it, then that creates a much greater sense of reality then if they don’t. If Dresden goes out and winds up starting a war with vampires, all kinds of consequences have to come blowing back from that directly on his head. He started the war with the Red Court in book three, and nine books later, it culminates in them taking his daughter and having a showdown with all of them.
With Dresden, we’ve actually managed to see it now adapted into several different mediums. There’s obviously the novels and the short stories that you do, but there’s also comic books, the role playing game, and there was the TV series. As the creator and as the writer, I’m always curious as to how that process looks like and is from your end of things.
*laughs* From this end? Well, we’ll start with the audio books. I got a call from my agent one day who said “Hey, I’m talking with people who might want to do and audio book deal.” And I said “Yay!” And then the agent calls me back and says “They want to get James Marsters to read the book for you,” and I said “yay!” and that was my process, that was about as involved with it as I was. TV, more or less the same thing, I was contacted by, uh, Morgan Gendel was the first person to show an interest in it and so he picked up the property and pitched it and sold it, and then the studio handed it off to Robert Wolfe who actually did all the work in the field to get the show going. I was invited to read the script for the pilot episode, which was a two hour episode and it was fairly close to the plot of Storm Front, which I thought was really nifty. Later it got chopped down from a two hour pilot movie to a one hour episode of the series, which had to dispense with several characters and so on, and it really was kind of a choppy, weird looking episode because of it. But Robert sent me the script, I got invited to come up and visit the set, I did do a cameo appearance in one of the episodes where I’m one of Butters’s minions in the background, and that was kind of neat. It was really amazing seeing how many people it takes to put a show like that together. There’s literally like a small army of people working on the thing. But it was neat to go visit them, and I thought they were doing an increasingly good job as the season went on, of putting a show together , and it would have been interesting to see where they would have taken it if it had gone on longer. But it was not to be, and that’s okay. I like to think that even though it got canceled after the one season, it got cancelled before they could do anything completely squirrelly with it, so that cup is half full!
That’s a good way to look at it. You mentioned a little bit about, in the tv series it evolving; are you surprised at how Dresden, and the Dresden universe, has evolved over 13 books and a tv series and a role playing game and all of that?
Are you kidding?! I’m shocked! No, I mean, I gotta tell you, it was easier writing the books when I was just writing my dumb little wizard books that nobody really cared about. Now, there’s a huge fan following, and as you said it’s become this giant thing. Yeah, completely shocked. I did not think…I started writing the first book just to prove to my writing teacher how wrong she was about what good books were like. From that has grown this huge series now, and I’m kinda floored. I’m really happy, don’t get me wrong, but I just kinda shake my head over it once in a while and think to myself, “well, worse things could happen.” So…
There’s a few questions I try to ask everyone I have on the show, first of all, you mentioned a steampunk setting, what is it you’re playing recently or running gamewise?
I’m running a steampunk game that I’m going to have a steampunky story set in at some point, where I’m going to write some actual books there, so I wanted to run the world so I could…it kinda forces me to do some building that I wouldn’t do otherwise…using the Warhammer fantasy build system. I was one of the play-testers of D&D Fourth Edition, where I had to sign the Do Not Disclose agreement and had to give my firstborn to Wizards of the Coast and so on. I wrote my review , a two word review of D&D 4th edition which I don’t think they liked very much, because I just wrote, “New Coke” and left it at that. But in any case, I’ve played some 4th edition lately, I’ve played some Gamma world lately, which is, oh my gosh, that is ridiculous, we do total party wipes like every Friday it’s hilarious. That’s pretty much what we’ve been doing lately.
I haven’t gotten into the whole Gamma world thing, it just seemed a bit too random for me, but…
It’s very random and over the top, but if you approach it with the right attitude, “we’re all going to die as amusingly as possible,” then it becomes a much more fun game. You either have to play it like that, or you have to play it commando style, where everything is bland, and everybody is right on top of it.
Sort of reminds me of Paranoia, I don’t know if you ever played that one…
Oh yeah, absolutely.
That can be incredibly random, or be really really dark.
Exactly. It’s really hilarious or it’s completely grim. On the other hand, we’ve had some really terrible, I mean horrible hideous Cthulhu campaigns that were just fun as anything. Once you can be laughing about cannibalism because it’s hilarious, you’re doing something right.
I’m a big fan of the Lovecraft stuff, and…yeah. That can be darn entertaining, and it can also give you nightmares and not let you sleep at night.
With all these other iterations of Dresden out there, the tv series, the books, all that…with the comic books, do you write the comic books or do they have separate authors for the comics?
I wrote the entire script for Welcome to the Jungle, which is the four issue kind of preview. It’s this little prequel story to Storm Front. They’re writing the script based off of the manuscripts for Storm Front and Fool Moon, and they send me those for review. If anything, I think they stick to it too closely, because I look at that and go “Hey, I really didn’t know very much about storytelling there, you could’ve skipped this whole part and I don’t think anybody would have complained.” But they tend not to, so. I recently did an outline for another graphic novel, for Dynamite, which they’re going to produce, and I wrote a fairly in-depth outline and then there’s gonna be, the script is actually going to be written together with the same script writer they’ve been using for Storm Front/Fool Moon. That’ll be a new project coming out.
It’s just like with making a campaign world for D&D or any of it. How is it to have other people playing in your sandbox, as it were?
Oh, I get twitchy, I think anybody would. For tv, I kind of said, “Okay, these books may be my babies, but baby’s going off to college now, and is gonna get it’s hair dyed pink and get a piercing in an awkward place, and I just have to accept that.” Working with the comics, they’ve been very considerate with me in terms of, creatively speaking, which is great, and that’s been a fairly positive experience so far.
With these other people playing in your sandbox, one thing I like to ask the writers I have on the show is, are there any sandboxes out there that you would love to go play in?
Yeah, there are several story worlds that I would have so much fun romping around in. David Weber’s Honor Harrington universe just cries out for someone to go play in it. Black Company, I would love to write the new adventures of Black Company except I couldn’t, but that setting was just so wonderful and the characters were so much fun. There’s all kind of places where I would go and play, but it’s their sandbox and their creation, you don’t go over there and do that.
One thing that’s great about gaming is it lets you go play in other people’s sandboxes.
With the RPG coming out, you’re actually the first writer I’ve had on the show that has worked on original content that has turned into a role playing game. With the RPG out there, now that there are countless people out there, “playing in your sandbox,” how does that make you feel as far as the attention that people are giving to your work over the last fifteen years?
It’s a lot of fun, basically. Folks are having a good time, which was sort of the point of the stories to begin with, to write things that people had fun reading. The idea that they’re going to get to go out and use their own creativity to add to the stuff that I’ve done, to have more fun, fantastic! Go for it. Do it.
When Fred Hicks went to you about making a role playing game, was that something you always wanted to see happen with the Dresden stuff?
I thought he was kinda crazy. I thought it was an awful idea, but he said he wanted to. Fred’s actually an old gaming buddy of mine, we gamed together a lot in college and he was one of the people I took particular delight in tormenting when he played in my game. Because really, that’s what a good GM does, he goes out of his way to make things awful for you and that’s the fun! But when he said he wanted to make a Dresden Files game, I thought, you know, Fred, don’t feel like you have to do this because I’m your friend or anything, I think you’re crazy, but if you think you can do it – “Oh I think it will be great!” – Okay, if you say so…I think it was a much bigger project than even he knew it was going to be, and it took him several years, but you know the game when it finally came out, it was worth the wait. They had really made something cool.
You haven’t actually had the chance to play it all, right?
No, I’ve gone to a couple sessions where people were playing and sort of observed, and I’ve read the rulebooks and I steal all the things that I like for my own game, so…
Did Fred have to fill in any blanks for you? I mean, what kind of leeway did you give him on that?
The guys who were doing the research, were so in-depth, there were pages and pages of communication between us. One of the problems that I had was not so much getting them enough information, as grabbing them because they had been research the books in such depth that they could say “Well, if these two things are true this third thing must be true also!” and I’d say “don’t put that in the role playing game I’m saving that for the book! You can’t possibly say that!” “Oh, okay. But it’s true, right?” “I’m not saying whether it’s true or not!” “Okay Jim.”
Well, looking at wrapping this thing up, I know we have a limited time with you, I have a series of questions that I try to ask, I’m going to try to put my James Lipton face on.
In your gaming background and in your years as a gamer, what stands out right at this moment as your favorite game?
My favorite game, like system?
It can be system, it can be session you played, it’s whatever you take from the question.
Oh…You know what, the thing I enjoyed the most, was running a Birthright campaign under the old D&D rules.
My co-host would talk your ear off about that.
I mean, I ran a Birthright campaign that was epic. It was fun. You can ask Fred about it sometime if you ever talk to him.
I have never played Birthright *gasp from Jim* but my co-host has threatened to tie me down and make me play once.
Oh, it was awesome, everybody in the party basically gets to be a highlander unless you want to be just a regular old human, in which case you go up in levels faster than everybody else.
Along the same lines, have you had an absolutely terrible time in a game system, or a setting or anything like that?
Oh…I really haven’t enjoyed the new D&D very much. I think it feels very artificial, that the wonder of the game system, the fantastic element of it seems to have vanished into simulation.
We’re all pretty edition neutral on Gamer’s Haven, we just want people to play games, we don’t care what edition it is. We’re always making the point that we live in a very interesting time with D&D because you have 4th edition, plus you can still play Pathfinder which is the 3.6, you can go back and play the 3rd edition books, you can go back and play 1st edition, you can play original D&D still! That stuffs all available.
Finally, I just want to ask you real quick, one thing Gamer’s Haven is all about is sort of spreading the knowledge of and love of the hobby of gaming. I’m always curious, what is it about this hobby that you love? What brings you back to it time and again?
Really, gaming I think is the social interaction, it’s the fact that you’re there with friends is what really brings you back to the gaming over and over. The stories that you get to tell later, the laughs you get to have while you’re doing it, really people build up their communities, their social friendships around all kind of different things, gaming is no crazier than going to professional football games or any number of other social centered activities. I think what brings me back to the gaming is that, being with my friends, and then telling the story. You’ve got to be making stuff up left and right, and even when you’re a player, if you’re a good player, you’re still continually adding things to the game or creating headaches for your DM, so…
Ghost Story comes out in hardback on July 26th, and I believe the audiobook is about a week or so after that, like August…?
Yeah, a little bit after that.
Obviously, paperback is TBD at this point. The role playing game is getting tons and tons of praise, it came out last year and a lot of people are salivating over it. I want to thank you for being on the show, and you have a good one!
Thank you very much for having me! You too.
JB: Okay, Hi. *applause* Wow, there’s a lot of people here. Alright, well let’s just…I don’t like to do a reading, most of my fans can do that for themselves, so let’s just go to questions and answers if that’s okay with you guys. *more applause* Okay, but for it to work, someone has to ask a question. Okay good, right here.
Does the relationship of Ebenezar McCoy and Thomas Raith ever come into play as grandfather/grandson?
That’s one of those things that’s in the future, that’s way more fun if you don’t get to find out about it. Unfortunately or fortunately, depending on your particular point of view on the matter, I think blood relations come into play and that’s all there is to it. One way or another, positive or negative, they’re there for something always, so yeah.
Is Mouse going to come back soon?
How far have you read? *laughter* Oh, you just didn’t want him to disappear? I’m not giving anything like that away. You don’t ask me questions I can actually answer *unintelligible* coming in the future!
Did you know all along that Harry was going to get shot, or did it just come up in the writing?
Well I don’t know, gosh, I had him dead solving his own murder in book 13. Yeah, I pretty much planned that out. I know there was a bunch of ways I wanted to end the book with him, and a bunch of ways I wanted to begin a book with him, and I’ve gotten to do several of them so far, I’m going to have to step it up though to be able to get them all in.
Is the Winter Court interested in Molly?
Lea’s offer (back in Grave Peril) was a pretty generic, “Give me your first child” offer, as opposed to “Hey, I specifically want that one.” But Molly is unfortunately in a position where she’s going to get noticed by all kinds of things that intent her no good, and the Winter Court may be among them, yes. But that’s what you get for hanging around with Dresden, it rubs off on you.
Is Harry’s daughter going to be a big power play in the series?
What, it’s not good enough for you already? I mean, we did a global extermination of Red Court vampires, she was kind of fulcrum-ish in that, yeah.
Is she going to have powers of her own?
There’s another one of those questions I can’t answer! It’ll be more fun when we find out later.
Would someone in Mab’s weight class be capable of taking a White Court demon out of a vampire?
Oh, absolutely. She could rip that thing right out of Thomas. Not that there would be much of Thomas left after she was done. Mab’s not particularly gentle that way. It’s possible that there might be some way to get out of it, maybe, but what fun would that be?
Why are you in Naperville but not Chicago?
Because I don’t schedule these things. I just go where the editor tells me. “Jim, you’re going here.” “Yes, I can do that.” They’ve got like a minute by minute schedule for my day that I can follow and read and look at, it’s like “Okay, quarter of seven get to the bookstore, seven, start talking…” I’m following the schedule.
How do you feel about the tv series?
Could’ve been worse. No seriously, it’s a glass half full situation. It’s one of those things where, had the series kept going, it might have gone all squirrelly. The fact that it went down early, meh, I don’t necessarily like that. I have a theory about why it happened. It’s this whole conspiracy theory about, I mean there’s shooters on the grassy knoll and…there’s no proof to it, but I figure a good conspiracy theory, that actually makes it stronger. In any case, they could have done a worse job with it, and I certainly could have gotten burned harder than I did. I got to go up and do the Stan Lee appearance in the background on the show, and I got to meet the actors and the people who were making it and so on, so that was a fun experience, it was cool.
What’s been your favorite part about writing the Dresden Files?
I would have to say, going to work in my pajamas is the very best part. I don’t ever have to wear a tie, I just hate them, like with a completely irrational pathological hatred. So I haven’t had to wear one for a job lately, and I get to go to work in my PJ’s, and I got to spend a lot more time with my kid while he was at home than I would have gotten to otherwise. So that’s probably the best part about the job. The actual specific working on it? The reader screams of pain, maybe? *audience member: good to know you can hear those!* Just occasionally, well I don’t hear them so much as sense them through the forest. Yeah, I do occasionally. I’m even worse to the poor people who beta read for me. They go on a chapter by chapter base, and I make it a point to make them scream every chapter. But, I mean, you can’t do that to everyone! Darn it.
Where was Harry’s apartment?
In the same mythical four or five blocks where his office was, and where Mac’s is. It’s really dangerous to use an actual location because there’s always that occasional unbalanced person who just decides “Well, this needs to be true to the books, I’m going to burn this house down.” *audience laughter* I knew I was gonna be wrecking the place, so maybe I’ll just kind of make it semi-mythical and that will be healthier for everyone.
What was the actual delay about in the publishing of Ghost Story?
The deadline date that it was due, the last day that they could do it without changing the publishing schedule, I think I had written up to the scene where Dresden is talking to Molly outside of the Big Hoods hideout. So there was still like a third of the book left to write, which was most of the issue. When you get right down to it, it just wasn’t done yet. I write as fast as I can, and in this case, it was considerably harder to write, it just wasn’t done yet, so I had to say “It isn’t finished!” and in New York they went “Ugh, creative people! Okay…”
Are you working on any other projects besides Harry Dresden?
Yeah, always. Right now, I’m working on a fantasy trilogy which I think is going to wind up being the prequel trilogy to my epic epic fantasy epic. I’ve got my big epic fantasy epic in mind, but I feel I need to lay groundwork with a prequel trilogy. So far it’s a lot of fun, it’s very strongly influenced by the Black Company, and we’ll see what happens.
On the JB forums, there’s a “Give Him Idea’s” topic. Do you ever take any ideas from your fans to put into your books at all?
There is? I didn’t realize that! I knew there were several “Ask Jim Questions” things, which I will occasionally jet by and answer, at least the simple ones. I didn’t realize it was there! That’s interesting. There are folks who kind of occasionally stop and say “Hey! I would really like to read a story from, you know, Toot-Toot’s perspective.” That would be such a wild perspective. I’m going to have to eat nothing but *crowd offers suggestions* stuff like that, I would have to just fuel myself purely on sugar. Pizza doesn’t have the same affect on my it does on faeries. I just sort of get sleepy myself. But yeah, definitely have to do some serious candy for that to happen.
Do you have anyone in mind or assigned yet for who bears the Swords?
Several people actually, I haven’t decided who they’re going to fall out to. I’ve got several really cool candidates that would just be a whole lot of fun, but it’s like, “But I don’t want to do it to you guys, you’re nice! Give you one of these Swords and I’m going to have to be mean to you.” That’s kind of the way it works out.
Is there any possibility of you going to WizardCon?
Oh no, I’m going home and staying there for like, a month and a half. I’m gonna go crouch down in my aerobic room and just stay there like that. Maybe order out for pizza sometimes, that’s about it. Besides, I gotta get to work on the next book, so…
What do you think of the graphic novels?
Depends on which ones you mean. I really enjoyed writing Welcome to the Jungle, it was a lot of fun to write. I really enjoyed the artist they had on it, Ardian, he was awesome. But apparently there were some issues with checks bouncing, and somebody came to Ardian and said “Hey! We would like you to write for our comic book, Batman!” And Ardian said, “Very well, I shall write Batman now.” For which I can hardly blame him. We tried some different artists and we’ve got a new artist that’s coming in to do Fool Moon, and I’ve written the outline for another original graphic novel which will be a lot of fun. As I’m writing the outline, I’m like “Man this is cool! I should have written this as a book!” If only I knew then what I know now.
Given the role of the White God in the books, is Dresden ever going to meet Il Papa and will he be badass?
The answer to that is, I’m not sure. I’m not sure that the public Pope is the real Pope in the Dresden Files. The real Pope might be way stealthier than that, I’m not certain. That might just be the guy designed to draw political fire and tangle up everybody who really wants to get things politically involved in church things.
What’s the most difficult scenes for you to write out of all the books?
I don’t know, it’s gotta be one of those scenes that I wrote on a day when I really didn’t want to write. Because there are days like that when you are a writer. I mean you don’t just sit down and go “Aha! I am feeling the creative spark today and everything is working wonderfully. And look it’s six hours later and I have a wonderful scene, and now I shall go and play video games.” It doesn’t work like that. There are days when you sit down and go “Ugh, I hate this jerk Harry Dresden. I hate spending time with him. All the people in this world I could just set em on fire and kill them at this moment. Arrrararrrar. But, I have to do work today because there’s a deadline. So it’s going to be one of those scenes that I wrote.
To be honest with you, after it’s over, I can’t tell the difference between the scenes that I was all stoked up about and the ones that I just ground through. Although writing the whole slaughter scene in Fool Moon in the Police station where the Loup Garou gets loose and starts killing everybody? Totally stole it from Terminator, but that’s ok. That was one of those ones that after I got done writing that little psychotic bit I was like “Ok perhaps I shall go outside go outside and not be near my wife and child for a while… I might go walk around the block and maybe go get some ice cream and come back semi normal.
Did you ever run the role playing game? Also are they planning any supplements?
I know they are planning some more supplements because they keep asking me questions. So I know they’re doing some more stuff.
As far as the RPG personally? Man I would be the worst guy in the world to play that game. Can you imagine really trying to GM with me… because I’m like this power gaming twink when I play. “Yes it is that way, if necessary, I’ll write it that way in the next book!” I’d be the worst player in the whole world. I guess I could GM it, but… too much like work!
What’s the favorite line you’ve written that wasn’t said by Harry?
Oh gosh… It’s probably something somebody said to insult Harry. You know, probably a Bob the Skull line. I always enjoy his dialogue, because he’s just my inner puerile fourteen year old. I can just have him say anything I want and it’s cool.
Can a vanilla mortal become a wizard?
Almost everybody has some measure of talent that they can develop into something. Like Billy and Billy’s friends were normal people. And they learned how to do a spell that turned them into a wolf. So they can go do the werewolf thing. Although that’s a little misleading because that’s the universe as experienced by Harry Dresden and when you’re a wizard, everything’s a spell. That’s how he looks at things, that’s his filter. They look at it a little bit differently but yah, in the Dresden Files, anybody can learn magic, and probably even become dangerous… There are very few people who would qualify as a wizard.
I mean, you can go out and play basket, ball right now, and start practicing and learning and eventually you would be a good basketball player if you kept practicing and working at it every day. I mean you’d be good. But… you might not make the Bulls. You know, you might whoop up the playground, but when you get up to the NBA, that’s a whole different pail of fish.
Are, we going to get a new beetle?
I don’t know yet. We’ll see what kind of car Dresden ends up with. Uh, smashing stuff was just sort of one of the themes of Changes (chuckle). It was great fun, I felt like I was the guy who spent six months building the tiny model set of Tokyo, and then finally gets to strap on the Godzilla suit and go kick it all down. That’s what Changes was like for me, I don’t know about ya’ll. I got to the end of that and was like woooo (hands in the air). Then I looked around and there was the great scream through the universe as millions of my fellow nerds had cried out in outrage.
As you go through the creative process for Dresden and Alera, how much does Shannon interact with you and is she part of the process?
Shannon gives me enormous amounts of advice when I’m having trouble-running into something that I have a problem that I need to get through. Which I promptly ignore and then find a different solution, just because it didn’t come from me. I return the favor with her work, she promptly ignores all my brilliant advice, which I am sure is brilliant, and does her own thing. But the process of us explaining the problem to each other, and then rejecting the other person’s idea -that is part of the process, make no mistake- apparently that that helps both of us figure out what we actually need to do. Other than that, man three dimensions aren’t enough to keep us apart. We also have to work at different parts of the day. We have to move to four.
Are you going to do any more work with characters from the Paranet?
Yes, and no. There will be some that factor in, and Elaine is kind of the executive president of the Paranet. So she’ll be involved. But at this point, I can’t keep layering on new characters and still get to the end of the story I’m telling. Which I wanna do. The Dresden Files is a story that actually has a beginning, a middle and an end. And I have a plan for where it’s going, so I [laughs from the audience] –Yah stories end. [More laughter] The ones that don’t end when their supposed to, you know what they end up like? Last season of X-Files, and that’s (unintelligible). Seriously.
Does the Black Athame allow the Fae to forswear themselves?
Ooooh! Because if it did that would be awfully nice. Even if it just let them fib wow. That would be awful. And the answer to that question is NO, and kind of. We’ll get there, and actually we will get to part of that in book 14, Cold Days. I already wrote the first sentence to it and that’s the hardest part. After I’ve got that first sentence, the rest can usually go pretty good. [Audience: What is that?] What you want me to tell you?!?, I’ve gotta sell I’ve gotta sell a book. [Audience: Various affirmations] Ok the first sentence of Cold Days is: “Mab has unique ideas about physical therapy.” And we’ll go from there.
What is the Black Athame, and what is it’s relation to Medea’s Bodkin?
The Black Athame was Morgan La Fay’s athame. That was the one that got traded around in Grave Peril… at the vampire costume party. Well an Athame is the original knife that was used in magic, and while they aren’t necessarily magical themselves, if you involve them in enough really cool big things that are going on, they start gaining their own sort of power and their own sort of awareness. Which is not to say they become intelligent or anything, but they become very extremely dangerous tools. And that one was a very, very dangerous tool, on a level with Ammoracchius, which is why it got traded that way. Medea’s Bodkin is another Athame that is far older, and is used more classically documented witches. The ones who actually survived falls of several empires there –you still hear about them- Also a very bad news kind of implement, just so you know.
There was disappointment that James Marsters was not reading Ghost Story, do you expect that he will be back for the future books?
I have no reason to suspect that he won’t be. He said that he likes doing them. Apparently there was some sort of personal emergency that kind of crashed on him at the last second. So we had to get John Glover. We had to choose from folks who were: In New York, Not doing anything over the holiday weekend, and who were willing to get a contract on Saturday and begin recording on Tuesday. It was a very small field. They were like hey how about John Glover? ‘John Glover? He played my favorite version of the Devil EVER.’ If I ever have the Devil show up in the Dresden Files, he’s going to be played by John Glover. In fact I might actually have Harry Dresden say sit down and say “John Glover what are you doing here?” Because somebody did that with Robert Redford at some point and seemed to get away with it so maybe I will too, I don’t know.
You have a big supporting cast of antagonists in the Dresden Files, are there any you prefer writing over others?
Probably my top three favorites, as far as far as antagonists go are, Nicodemus who is my Archbadguy, they do not come any worse than Nicodemus in my personal way of thinking in my head. He’s smart, he’s obsessively powerful. He’s completely without any empathy or emotion at all. Which makes him just a really, really dangerous guy. Or a politician, one of the two. Second is probably Lara Raith. Who thinks, in principal it might be really nice to be a good guy, but who has time? There’s a lot of things for her to do, and principals are one of those things you can stop and admire occasionally, if you’re not busy stabbing someone in the back. And Marcone is also a favorite. Being able to write the short story Even Hand from his viewpoint was very enlightening for me. Because I had never really been entirely certain what his take on Dresden was until I actually got inside his head and started writing him for a while. He’s the guy that looks at Dresden like, you know, the guy that looks at the drunken Sheriff in town who’s just like “I just want the shootouts to stop.” It’s like, Come on, yes you keep wining them but COME ON, there’s gotta be a better way that brakes fewer windows. But at the same time he owns the undertaker shop so… [shrugs and waves his hand in front of them like they are balancing scales].
How strong is Demonreach compared to Mab, Nicodemus, and all the other antagonists Harry faces?
That’s depending on where you stand. Like literally your GPS coordinates. If you’re in the right spot, don’t mess with Demonreach, and if you’re not, who cares. He’s one of those situations. If you want to go out to that island and play, you better bring your A game, is the way it works out.
Why did you choose Chicago as the base for the Dresden Files?
Because my teacher would not let me set it in Kansas City, my hometown. She said “Jim, I really think this is gonna get published, and you’re already walking close enough to Laurel Hamilton’s toes that you do not need to set your series in Missouri as well. Pick another city.” And I said “What other city?” “Any other city it doesn’t matter, just not there.” I’m like okay, there’s a globe on her desk, it’s got four American cities on it. I don’t want to do New York because superheroes have that all sewn up. I don’t want to do D.C., because then you have to write politics, and you’re going to lose people who don’t like your politics, where you stand. Los Angeles was on the map, but I didn’t want to do L.A. because then, then I’d have to find out about L.A. And you know, Hollywood and everybody are around to find out things about them, they’re fine. So last city there was Chicago, I said “How about Chicago” and she said “Yeah that’ll be fine.” So okay, I guess I better learn about Chicago. Somewhere around book 3 I actually did that. I mean beyond like consulting maps and so on, that was around the time where the internet was actually starting to come into full swing and I was able to make contact with people who actually live there, and be able to say “Hey, I need to know what the east wall of Dresden’s cemetery looks like.” “Oh, yeah, I drive by it on the way to work, I’ll take a picture on my phone and email it to you by lunch!” It’s like, wow! This is a great day in which to be a writer.
How many more books of Harry can we look forward to?
I’m going to write about 20ish of the case files, like we’ve seen so far, there are a few things that can change that including parts of the story that I haven’t realized I have to tell yet, or my son going to graduate school. But after we’re done with the case books, then I’ll write a big old apocalyptic trilogy to kind of capstone the whole thing, because you know, who doesn’t love apocalyptic trilogies. That would be the point at which we’re bringing aircraft carriers and space shuttles into the story. Well, I guess not space shuttles really, we’ll have to figure something else out. *audience: awwww* Well, obsolete enough technology, maybe it would work, it’s certainly going to be more robust than anything brand new.
[paraphrased due to length] Why hasn’t Harry told everyone (Michael, etc) about the thing with the necktie on Nicodemus?
Because c’mon man, he’s a wizard! Wizards don’t tell you things, wizards deliberately don’t tell you things, and then feel smug about it. Actually, he probably didn’t tell the White Council because he figures “Hey, maybe I’ll need a necktie one day.” He probably didn’t mention it to Michael because it just didn’t come up, or he assumed Michael knew. Really, he kind of got lucky working it out. Although anybody who really stopped and thought about it could probably work it out. You know, guy running around with a hangman’s noose around his neck, choke him with it! Really, that’s not such a huge almighty secret.
When you write short stories, are they always by request of the author writing the anthology, or do you have them lying around?
No, all the short stories I write are by request of whoever’s putting the anthology together. And they usually say, “and this is sort of a vague theme that we’re using,” and I’ll be great! Beer! I can write that, which is fun. The only time I’ve kind of made my own theme was for trio of short stories that I’m doing for anthologies right now, which is the Bigfoot trilogy of short stories. Bigfoot’s the client. That’s about the only time I’ve done that.
Where did you get the idea for Harry?
My teacher told me, after several semesters of me writing books for her in her Writing a Genre Fiction Novel course, in which over the course of the semester you wrote a genre fiction novel, that was the class, and if you finished the book you got graded on it, and if not you failed. Yeah, it’s like here you go, get a book done. She said “Hey, you know Jim, when we talk in class you’re always talking about this trilogy of books that you really like called the Anita Blake novels (because there were three of them out at that time), and you’re always talking about Babylon 5, and lately this year you’ve been talking about Buffy the Vampire Slayer, why aren’t you writing something like that?” I said (posh British accent) “Because I am a fantasy author.” *laughter* She’s like, “You know, maybe you should think about doing it,” it was very diffidently put because she’d worked out at this point that if you tell me something I have to do the other thing, just by reflex. And so finally, that semester I decided that I was going to prove to her how wrong she was about all her writing theory. Her whole process and her whole everything, I was going to do it by being her good little writing monkey, and doing absolutely everything she told me, all the worksheets and outlines and everything, and then she would see what awful terrible cookie cutter crap comes out of that process, and I wrote Storm Front. *laughter and applause* I sure showed her! You know, I put Harry together out of Gandalf and Merlin and Sherlock Holmes, and Spenser, and Travis McGee. I said, let me go find the best qualities from these long running, successful, hard boiled private eyes, the original private eye Sherlock, and let me go find out all the qualities from them that they share in common and then all the qualities from these classical wizards that people love as characters, and I found out that if you’re a wizard, you have to be grumpy, there’s no other recourse, because wizards are grumpy. You’ve got to be nosy, and you’ve got to be a meddler, if you want to be a wizard. There’s no good wizard who’s not a meddler. I mean even Radigast was doing stuff and he got mentioned like twice. And then when I went to private eyes, what I found out about the most popular private eyes was, one of their main traits was they were tenacious, you absolutely cannot stop them from doing what they’re doing, they’re going to keep going no matter who gets in the way, that’s one. Two, they can all take a beating, and they get delivered horrible beatings left and right. So I had to have that. And then three, all the ones that I liked the most are willing to flip off to absolutely everyone, at absolutely the worst time, every time. So that was my ingredients list for Dresden, that I put together. So I made him tall like Sherlock, and skinny like Sherlock, and gawky, like the private eyes that I liked, and I beat him up a lot. I didn’t realize until I made my son watch, he was fifteen and I realized he’d never seen Raiders of the Lost Ark, so “Stop! Sit down.” And he’s like “What?”, I gotta go to a store and get a copy of Raiders of the Lost Ark, because we don’t have one, but “sit right there!” and so I made him watch it and I realized oh my gosh, that’s what Dresden is, he’s Indiana Jones, we just keep getting him more and more busted up, and I’m making it up as I go along, but anyway.
Now that Harry’s working for the Winter Court, is he going to have to deal with things like paying the rent and things like that?
Spoilers! That’s something that I’m going to let see, because it will be more fun for you to see it than not see it. I’ll tell you that Harry’s going to look at his job, his first day on the new job, he’s going to look at it much as anyone would their first day in prison, but we should have a good time with that.
Why did you cut your hair?
Mostly, to shock my wife. Plus, it was the tour for Changes and I thought it would be thematic. Yeah I walked out of the house with the hair down to the small of my back and a big old full beard, because I hadn’t done anything to it in a while, because I’d been writing, walked out with it like that, came back crew cut, clean shaven, and waited for the explosion of Oh My Gosh, and instead, we had one of those conversations where she doesn’t look up from what she’s doing for 10 minutes, *laughter* and I got tired of waiting, and finally, like 20 minutes after that, she looks up and goes “Oh my god! If I hadn’t been having a conversation with you I would have shot you!” But I’m glad you dig it. There’s a lot to be said for “I need to comb my hair! Where’s a damp washcloth *rubs his head* Done!”
Are we ever going to get to find out more about why Bob’s so squirrelly about the Winter Court, and why he’s nervous about Mab and so on?
Yeah. The next book is pretty much going to be our Winter Court book, so assume that’s true.
What did you do for fencing?
I did epi and foil in college, I graduated from that to LARP fencing, which is fencing with nerd swords, which is actually, there’s a very strong correlation if you’re in a system where you can hit people on the fingers. After that, I shifted to a different LARP game, where finger hits don’t count and so it’s a much more dramatic style of fighting, which I still do. In fact, I went mad with power when the Dresden series got popular and I bought a farm for us to go LARPing on. So I actually own a 160 acre farm, about 140 of which is 200 year old forest, it looks like Last of the Mohicans in there, but it’s awesome, we’ll go LARP in there and chase each other through the woods at night, with no lights and Nerf swords. Which is fun!
It’s been a while with no updates on the DC Q&A, so I did most of it today. I haven’t transcribed the answer to every question, but the ones I haven’t transcribed were about things other than the plot of Jim’s books. In those places, I’ve written down the questions and the approximate time at which they occur, on which video segment. Eventually, I’ll go back and transcribe those, too, unless someone else has a burning desire to do so. *looks around hopefully* These questions have a “….” above and below them, to separate them from the others.
I’ve done my best to transcribe every answer word for word, paraphrasing only when I really needed to in order to make the answer intelligible, because sometimes he gets interrupted by the audience. When I’m paraphrasing, I enclose the statements with brackets: [ ].-AcornArmy
Q&A with Jim Butcher at a Barnes & Noble in Washington, D.C. August 1, 2011 – Part 1
Q: Does Ivy know everything Bob knows?
A: Man, talk about an obscure question. Probably the vast majority of it, yeah, although Ivy’s more oriented toward things that are happening on Earth, and Bob has sources all over. [messing with the microphone] So, I would say it’s more an issue of, they have different fields of information available to them. They don’t, like, have a comparable database.
Q: So Ivy doesn’t get what Bob gets as soon as Bob gets it?
Q: What is the publishing goal for Cold Days?
A: I don’t know. It’s due next June, I would anticipate it would be around this time. I’ve got the first sentence done, though, and that’s the hard part. Now I’ve just got like 150,000 more words to go.
Q: Have we seen the last of Lasciel?
A: No, her story’s not over. Actually, she’s mentioned in Ghost Story, although not by name.
Q: What’s with the hat on all the covers of the books?
A: The art department at Penguin thought that was the perfect visual shorthand for wizard detective. ‘Cause he’s got the wizard stick and the detective hat. So that’s why they’ve done it.
What’s a typical day of writing for me? ~3:01, Part 1
How come Marsters isn’t doing the voice acting on the audio of GS? ~3:50, Part 1
How much magical theory do you read? ~4:50, Part 1
Q: What happened to Toot-toot? Is he getting pizza?
A: I only get to do this to the faces of the readers every so often: [sing-song]I’m not gonna tell you![/sing-song] ‘Cause it’s way more fun to read in the book.
Q: –he gets pizza, though, right?
A: –maybe, maybe not. You don’t know yet. But the next book is going to be much concerned with faeries, so definitely Toot-toot is going to be participating.
Do I play the Dresden Files RPG?
Q: Who’s first on Mab’s hit list?
A: That’ll be another “I’m not gonna tell you,” because we’ll find out in Chapter One of the next book. As soon as I write it.
Q: How close is your personality to Harry’s personality?
A: Harry is the guy I would like to think I would be if someone handed me his kind of power– but I think I would really end up one of those giggling villains. Actually, we’re not terribly similar. We share a taste in T-shirts and Burger King, that’s about it.
Q: Am I planning on writing any more material in the near future for the Dresden Files RPG? ~8:01, Part 1
A: Maybe, I have no objection to writing more material– [but time constraints make it seem unlikely for the near future.]
Q: You’ve established in the books that Morgan’s sword is the one used for executions in the books. Does is predate Luccio?
A: No. Morgan’s sword was used because Morgan was the guy who would do it and not have nightmares afterwards. Or, you know actually, point of fact, he probably did have nightmares afterwards, but he would tell everybody that he didn’t. He was one of those guys who was very big on the, “don’t ever give somebody an order that you wouldn’t follow yourself,” sort of line of thought. So, lopping off heads? Sure, absolutely, somebody has to do it. That’s the kind of guy he was. I mean, kind of a jerk, but he had some redeeming features, too.
Is Harry Dresden going to make it to the screen again? ~0:01, Part 2
If you had a choice, who would you have play Harry on-screen? ~1:00, Part 2
Q: Do you think Murphy will take up the Sword for good?
A: Um, [sing-song]I’m not gonna tell you![/sing-song]
Do you still find time to LARP? ~2:00, Part 2
Q: What are the chances of me writing another Alera series, or another series in general?
A: 100%, because I have to get a break from that Dresden guy, or I’ll hate him. By the time I get to the end of a book it’s like, “Man, I am so sick of hanging out with you.” It’s not that he’s a bad guy or anything, it’s just like, you know, when you have family come to visit, and the first three or four days is great, and after that it’s just a ticking clock until somebody picks up a knife. But, yeah, I’m working on a trilogy now that is probably going to be the prequel trilogy to my epic Epic Fantasy Epic that I’m gonna write one day. “It’s so epic it needs a prequel trilogy!” It’s largely inspired by the Black Company.
Q: Who is your favorite author?
A: Robert Parker.
[Audience: You should have said Shannon!]
A: I probably should have said Shannon, but she wouldn’t have believed me because, you know, I haven’t read her stuff. [Further answer ~4:30, Part 2]
Q: You mentioned Robert Parker, is there any connection between that and the Susan character and her fate.
A: No, not really. I had to name her something, so it was Susan. Actually, I think it was the Tick that influenced that more than anything. “Susan?” “Oh, now you’re not even trying!”
Q: Jim: He wants to know the first sentence of the next book. [stuff about spoiling people, then–]
A: “Mab has unique ideas on physical therapy.” And we’ll kind of go from there.
Q: She writes and she knows there are always 8 billion super-cool things that she comes up with and that she couldn’t fit into the book with a crowbar, and wonders if Jim is the same and could he tell us some of them.
A: Really, my process doesn’t work like that. I’m a fundamentally lazy writer, I try and build the book as lean as I possibly can, just because it makes the editor’s job easier and then they like me and take me out to dinner. There are a few things that have gotten taken out. When I was working with Jan Heddel(sp?) she came back with the manuscript to Grave Peril and said, “This is awesome, and I want you to expand on these four story lines, and cut the book by fifty pages.” And I said, so you want me to make the book larger and smaller? And she said, “Yes! And hurry.” There was a scene with a ghoul that had I planned on using for ghoul-related foo in Chicago that I had to delete. There was a vampire attack where the vampire tried to tear out the Blue Beetle’s engine, and didn’t realize that it was in the back, not the front. But those are the only really large things that I dropped.
Q: Is Carlos still a virgin?
A: I’m not gonna tell you.
Q: Are we ever going to see Sue the T-Rex again?
A: Are you kidding? I couldn’t just let that sit. It might be awhile, but we’re gonna get her out again, because that was just too cool to not do again.
Q: Have we met the people who created the Hexenwolf belts yet?
A: That’s another “I’m not gonna tell you” question. I will say, “kind of,” “not really,” and “yes.” But we’ll get into more of that during Cold Days as well.
Q: Are we ever going to see the Jade Court get involved in things?
A: They’re really isolationist, which means they really don’t care what’s happening outside of their own sphere of influence, which is largely China. We’re not going to see them, definitely, in any of the case books. They might show up in the big old trilogy I’m going to do at the end. That’s the plan, in case you didn’t know, there are going to be about twenty-ish of the Dresden Files, depending on whether or not my kid goes to grad school. And then I’m gonna write a big old apocalyptic trilogy for the very end.
Q: Are we going to have to wait a while until we find out what’s going on on the island?
A: Yeah, you’ll have to wait until at least the next book. We should actually be able to get some real stuff on Demonreach in the next book. You’ll get an idea of why it’s there and why Dresden is probably the worst possible person to be in charge of it. Yeah, really, Dresden is the worst possible person to be in charge of every story, that’s just kind of how he rolls.
Why did you cut your hair?
Q: You’re writing twenty books, how much of it did you have plotted?
A: The answer to that is I had twenty books plotted. [stuff about his writing class]
Q: Are we going to see more of Nicodemus or Mavra?
A: Nicodemus will show up on schedule(which you can figure out if you stop to look at things, I think). Mavra’s not done yet either, but she eventually probably will be, and I’ll leave it at that.
Q: Why did you end the Codex where you did, knowing that the threat was still viable?
A: The threat was viable, but it’s not going to show up for a while. They had won the day, and much of the drama that was going to take place afterwards was going to be stuff like, you know, fighting over where the new Fury roads got built, and who got the contracts to do the projects that were going to have to happen in order to rebuild everything. And that struck me as a little bit less quickly-paced than I would be good at writing. I need to blow things up or everyone would be bored stiff with me. That said, if I do go back to the Alera books, which I may well do one day, it’ll be a couple of generations in the future. After they’ve set up the universe, after Tavi’s radically altered the way that people use their furies. It’ll be a much steam-punkier Alera. That could still be fun, because there are still gonna be some characters that are still alive.
How do you fact check yourself with thirteen books? ~5:00, Part 3
Q: What was your motivation behind “Curses” and where does it fit into the Dresden universe?
A: I wanted to write a story about the billy-goat curse that the Cubs have labored under for more than a century, just because it was in the news that year. I think it falls just before Dead Beat. That’s the story that’s not in Side Jobs, it’s in the Naked City anthology. I’m gonna put it in the next group of short stories, which I’ll probably call, being as original as I am, “More Jobs.” But there’s gonna be more short stories, because there were a couple that got missed, and I want to have them all in anthologies, so someone can pick up one paperback and say, here, I’ve got them all.
Q: Is Mac ever going to speak more than ten words?
A: Not for a while. He’s not a man of many words, as most truly dangerous people are.
How do you come up with names? ~7:45, Part 3
How you approach creating new characters? ~8:40, Part 3
Q: Did you have Maggie and her name planned far in advance, or was she just thrown in?
A: No, I had her planned out, which is why the scene in which she was conceived was actually in the books instead of a fade-to-black. That, and someone had bet me that I couldn’t write a plot-relevant bondage scene. But yeah, I planned the kid all along. It was just a matter of when I was going to get a chance to pull it out. [snickering in the audience] And I thought it would be a really great way to get Dresden– oh come on, you people, grow up!– I thought it would be a perfect motivation to get Dresden to do things he normally would not ever consider doing. Which is what is getting us into all the lovely trouble in Ghost Story, and will continue in Cold Days.
Q: Is he going to get a new Beetle or is he going to fix up the old one?
A: We’ll see. There’s no fixing up the old one, it got squished flat. It’s possible he can get a new one, I don’t know yet. He’s not going to have nearly the material resources he had before– assuming he comes back from Faerie at all.
How many of your best ideas came from bad bets? ~1:45, Part 4
Why Chicago? ~2:01, Part 4
Q: Will there ever be a spin-off series based on another character in the Dresden Files?
A: Maybe. Could be I’ll have to pay off my gambling debts or something someday. There’s all kinds of different people I could use who could do their own series. I’d actually considered doing a kind of a side-project called “The Dresden Contracts,” which I would set during the Dresden Files, only I would have these other people going out doing things. You know, where Dresden more or less subcontracts them to help. But I’m not sure yet at this point. I’ve never really written a 20-plus volume epic fantasy before, I’m sort of new to that, so I don’t want to throw too much more clay on the spinny-thing for fear that it might fall off.
Do you have real-life inspirations for your characters? ~3:35, Part 4
Q: How much have you plotted out in advance the fates of the supporting cast?
A: I actually have not plotted out what’s going to happen to them in the long run; they’re vulnerable. And occasionally, writers get bored or frustrated and we kill somebody capriciously. Although, I probably will avoid doing capricious deaths, just because I don’t like them, I don’t like to read them, so why should I expect anybody else to like them? But, no, nobody’s safe. Sorry, that’s the best I can tell you.
Q: If we like a character and want to know more about them, could we email him and get more information or get another short story?
A: What you could do is you could send email to me or to the site on the forum I have at jim-butcher.com, and say, “Hey, I would love to see a short story like– blank; I would like to see more on blank.” Because I actually do stop when I’m putting books together, and say, occasionally I’ll stop and say, hey, who do you guys want to see more of in the next book? And I’ll say it on Twitter or on my webpage, and that’s one of the ways that I determine which characters to pick up and stick into the various plots. I’m not promising it will be good for the characters to get them more involved, but I do like to have the people that– I mean, you guys are essentially– you know, artists have always had to have patrons in order to practice their art. You guys are my patrons, and I’d be a fool not to listen to your reactions and to what you want to see. And plus, I just, you know, I like doing that, because then your favorite character’s there and I get to torture them. That’s a good time.
If you couldn’t be a writer what would you be? [Insane.] ~6:38, Part 4
Q: [Where did the name “Fitz” come from, does it have anything to do with the fact that the word means “bastard?”]
A: Yes, it means he’s an illegitimate son, and we’ll find out more about that later.
Q: Where was Marcone and what was he doing during Ghost Story?
A: Check out “Even Hand.” He was doing that sort of thing, if not that specific thing.
Q: Ragged Angel Investingations, is there more to that than Harry ever caught on to?
A: No, Harry was pretty much onto all of it. But it was where he got started, and Nick Christian was a character who I wrote several short stories with when I was learning how to write short stories. Don’t get worked up or anything; they were terrible short stories. Plus, they were set in Kansas City. So, I regarded Nick as a learning experience, and made him thirty years older, and I dropped him off as Harry’s mentor. Because, you know, I had learned things from Nick, even if it hadn’t been so good for him.
Have you ever considered a video game adaptation of the Dresden Files? [I have, but I thought it would just take too long to code.] ~9:05, Part 4
Q: Could you tell us about a time where the character surprised you with where they went?
A: Not so much, on account of, those people work for me. And if they start veering off track, all I have to do is go back in and provide them with good enough motivation to do what I need them to do. ‘Cause, as far as the Dresden Files universe goes, I’m God there. I can go back and alter the past and everything, and I am a cruel and malicious God, at times. But there are characters who surprised me with how they developed after I created them. It wasn’t that they didn’t do their job, it’s just that they did their job too well to get rid of. You know, I wanted to have the mouthy medical examiner, because I love that kind of figure. So I created Butters, and figured he’d be there once. But after I got done with him, I’m like, this guy’s way too cool, I have to find an excuse to use him again. So, yeah, Dead Beat came along, and I’m thinking, oh, man, this character, the medical– against all the necromancers who are going around animating corpses, who needs to be your side-kick? The medical examiner, who works with corpses! You know, how completely appropriate, yet useless to the hero. And so Butters jumped in, and now he’s getting even more involved. Poor guy.
How much martial arts experience do you have, and where is it, and how much more do you look into it for the books? ~1:40, Part 5
Q: There’s a lack of Mouse in this book. Are we going to have more of him, or is he going to be protecting Maggie from now on?
A: …And the answer to that is: Yes. Yeah, Mouse was one of those characters that I wanted to create so that Dresden had kind of a home security system, ’cause otherwise, there are more and more of these bad guys coming that would just kill him in his sleep. It’s like, Oh wait, there’s a Foo dog there, that isn’t going to work.
Q: Is he going to get Bob back or is he going to stay with Butters?
A: [sing-song]I’m not gonna tell you.[/sing-song]
How come you don’t mind it when people play your characters on Twitter, and why aren’t you savagely defending your intellectual property? ~4:04, Part 5
Q: How do you justify saying that the end of Changes is not a cliffhanger?
A: I will tell you this, sir, here is the story: Harry Dresden sets out to rescue his daughter, even if it costs him his life, and it does. The End. From the perspective of storytelling format, that is not a cliffhanger, because you know the end of it. Of course, I do sometimes forget that not everyone knows the whole rest of the story. Sorry.
Q: Did Mab lie?
A: Mab did not lie, Mab was wrong. There’s a subtle difference to that, at the end of Ghost Story. As far as Mab is concerned, she’s telling the truth, because she’s telling the truth from her experience, as she knows it. Dresden, however, is getting an earful of truth on a more cosmic level. So we’ll see how that plays out a little bit more in the next book.
Q: Are we going to find out why Jim likes the name “Maggie” so much?
A: If you do find out, let me know. ‘Cause then, that way, maybe I’ll have a better idea. I don’t know, a lot of the names, I just name names.
[same Q’er: –I mean, are we gonna find out the correlation, why it’s used more than once, the name Margaret?]
A: Maybe. It very well could be. I’m not sure.
Q: Can we expect a short story from Molly’s point of view, ever?
A: Almost certainly. I would probably write it from some point while she was busy being the crazy lady who defended Chicago. Actually, she’s still doing that, as of now.
Q: You’ve mentioned several times that if you use wizard’s sight irresponsibly, it can drive you nuts. What happens to the people who are driven nuts, and have we ever seen that in the series?
A: [Jim laughs.] You’ve read Changes, right? I mean, yeah, too much truth in the face of somebody who is genuinely sincere about their beliefs often pushes them to do really extreme things, like wiping out entire races of vampires. So, yeah, you are seeing it to some degree, but at the same time, while the truth can be painful, it’s also liberating. Unfortunately, sometimes it liberates you of your sanity. That’s the best answer I can give you.
Q: Is it possible that Susan left a ghost that we might encounter later?
A: No, probably not, not with that much energy flying around when she died. I don’t like to do the, “they’re dead, they’re not dead, they’re dead, they’re not dead” thing too often, because then it’s no fun. So just assume Susan is dead and gone. Although this might not be the last time we see her, now that I think of it. [laughter] I’ll have to check my notes.
Q: What was Ebenezar doing during that six month period in Ghost Story? Because we kind of expected him to be doing “something.”
A: Yes, he was doing something. He was doing stuff, but since Dresden hasn’t found out about it, none of you all can know about it either, ’cause it’s all told from Dresden’s point of view. That’s one of the unfortunate limitations of writing in the first-person. If this was Alera, I’d be showing other things that were going on off on the sidelines, because then it’s a third-person book.
Q: Is Ferrovax going to be back anytime soon?
A: Nah, not ’til the very end. Not in the actual trilogy-trilogy[the BAT], but probably the very last of the case books will feature him in it.
Q: Was Mac’s beer modeled after any specific beer?
A: No, I don’t drink. I had to go to my drinking friends and say, you have to tell me what good beer is like. And they would write me explanations of it.
Q: Ebenezar is the Blackstaff, and we found out that it’s not a nickname, it’s a title. [Jim: And it’s also an object.] Is “the Gatekeeper” a nickname or a title?
A: It is a title. [Q’er: And an object?] Well, just… him.
Q: At what point do you decide that Harry’s odds are stacked high enough against him?
A: I’ll let you know when I get there.
Q: Harry’s pentacle necklace. Thomas had one like it, why didn’t he use it to try to find Harry’s body?
A: Can’t use magic through that much water. Unless you’re a water mage, but nobody called Injun Joe.
Q: Out of all the Dresden Files novels, which was the most difficult one to write?
A: It’s a toss-up between Death Masks, which I had to write while we were moving cross-country, and this most recent one, which I had to write where Harry couldn’t just go around kicking down doors and blowing things up. It was very hard to make that character try and do things in a more indirect and subtle fashion, and yet still be himself. It took a while.
Q: Molly seems to be doing a lot of very-close-to-black-magic stuff. Is she getting, like, totally corrupted?
A: Well… what’s “corrupted” mean? [laughter] Yeah, she’s playing around with some nasty stuff and it’s only a matter of time before that catches up to her. On the other hand, she’s doing things she knew Dresden would’ve done if he could have done them, so it’s all Harry’s fault.
The last 20 minutes of the 2011 Jim Butcher Boston Signing
Transcription by cass
[Question Unknown] (the question was almost certainly something like “Will the series just go on and on, or do you have a set number of books you intend to write?” -Serack
….satisfying story possible. Otherwise, you get the stories that just kind of trail off, and nobody likes those.
How tough would it be on Michael to sit back and to perhaps watch one of his own children take up one of the swords, considering he knows exactly what that means, and then sit him back on the sidelines and make him worry about his family?
I don’t know. Michael is a really interesting character in terms of his strength, because a lot of the things that would really gnaw on somebody who was a little bit more rational, he’s prepared to take on faith, and he’s comfortable with that. I don’t think he’d like having one of his kids running around out there, but he could hardly throw a stone, so to speak. Yeah, let he who is without action movie credits throw the first stone, in that sort of situation. It would be hard on him, but he is the kind of guy who would handle it well.
How is the liquidity (e.g. several different kinds each of werewolves and vampires) going to affect the story as we’re going forward?
Gosh, I don’t know…that’s kind of a neat question. I know what I’m planning to do in the future, I know when I’m planning to throw the rock, but I’m not necessarily sure how the glass is going to fall out of the window. I know the rock and the window, but not where all the glass is going to fall. I’ve studied a bit of history, and I try to use that, what I’ve learned from there as my model, and I try to approach it from that standpoint, once the events start happening. I knew Harry was going to handle the Red Court the way he did, but the fallout from it was something that I said, “Ok, now I’m going to have to stop and actually figure through this, and I based it on the fall of the Soviet Union, the fallout from the Red Court buying it, so, we’ll have to see! A lot of this is fun for me to find out, and I wouldn’t want to spoil you about it anyway.
Have I ever had character who I’ve been surprised by, who has decided to jump up and to be more involved in the series that I originally planned?
Yeah: Butters. [unintelligible]…Butters off as a one shot. I wanted him to be the smart-mouth morgue-guy/medical examiner, because I love that character in The Prophecy and The Relic..because they have wise-aleck morgue people who are just hilarious, and I love that, and I wanted to do that for the Dresden Files. But when I got done writing him, I thought, “This guy is so cool, I need to use him somewhere else!” So when Dead Beat came up and I was trying to work out a good sidekick for Harry for this particular story, I’m like, oh, wait a minute, there’s necromancers running around animating dead bodies, and having the medical examiner be the one to be helping Harry along in the middle of this is just so appropriate, and yet, totally useless to him as a helper. That’s perfect!” But, yeah, Butters is one of those characters who did that. It happens occasionally, there’ll be a character who I don’t mean to stick around quite as hard as they do, but, like I said, I’m lazy, so if someone shows signs of being proactive for me, it’s like, oh yeah, I might as well have you show up and do the work, go head. Get me a Coke while you’re up.
Is there a particular source of inspiration for any of the villains I’ve had?
Well, to a large degree, yeah. I read a lot of folklore, I read a lot of mythology. By the way, if you ever go to research folklore and mythology if you’re going to write a book of your own or research it for a game or something, just do yourself a favor and skip the “Adult” section of the library, that stuff there, because if you start reading mythology in the Adult section, you aren’t going to go five paragraphs before you bump into Freud and Jung. It’s like those guys do not know how to have a good time, when it comes to this sort of story. Go to the children’s section, and read those stories, because they just give you the stories, which is where I draw most of my information. And I draw it from things that scared me when I was a little kid. I was sure Bigfoot lived in the lilac bush behind our house when I was small. I had two older sisters, they were twelve and fourteen years older than me, who just loved scaring me. They had a good sense of drama for that. But that’s ok, because I can exorcise those demons now, and put them in a book, and make a dollar out of them, and that’s the American way.
With all these plots that are going on, with Mab and Lea obviously playing games against one another, with archangels sticking there nose in, with vague supernatural entities that live on islands, how are all these conflicting interests, where Dresden’s getting pulled in different directions by all of them, how are they going to play out in the future?
This is like heroin for writers. [singsong] I’m not gonna tell you! I’m going to write it, and we’ll have fun. I know that a lot of the folks that are generally perceived as bad guys aren’t necessarily, there are several who are currently perceived as good guys who aren’t necessarily, and we’ll continue to have those fall out over the next several books. I got some outraged emails from people for the end of Changes, and I just didn’t understand it, okay, because first of all, that technically was not a cliffhanger. Technically, I mean, in terms of story craft, not a cliffhanger, because Harry Dresden sets out to rescue his daughter from the Red Court, even if it kills him, and it does. But I sometimes forget that everybody else doesn’t know the rest of the story. My reaction was that I thought everyone would be really excited, because now that he’s dead we get to start the good stuff! But as it turns out, no, I guess you guys don’t know the rest of it like I do; that might have a slight effect on your perception.
Did I set out to make Harry a nerd?
Yeah, absolutely, he’s a magic nerd instead of a computer nerd, but yeah, I set forth to make a guy that I would relate to and, really, all my friends are nerds and I’m a nerd, and it wasn’t a big deal to make Harry a nerd, too, for me, that was a no-brainer. He just can’t play video games, which really cripples his nerdness.
There’s a lot of characters in the story who have lifespans that have gone on over many generations, do I ever plan on having any backstory on them, stuff like “young Ebenezar” or “the Bob adventures”?
Bob tales? The only thing I have in mind is where I might write the history of the French and Indian War in the Dresden Files universe, back when all the people who were on the Senior Council who can’t stand Harry because he’s a young hothead getting into trouble were young hotheads getting into trouble. I think that would be a lot of fun to do, I just have to bone up on my French and Indian War stuff to be able to do it, and so far I haven’t had time yet.
Is Lasciel going to make a comeback? The coin is still buried in the lab, right?
Her coin isn’t in the lab anymore. Her story is not yet over. However, both Lasciel and Lash appeared in Ghost Story, but not under those names. [Hums the “I’m not gonna tell you” tune]
With the publication of the Dresden Files RPG, what is it like to turn over my world to my fellow nerds to play with who love it so much?
Awesome! It is awesome. Sadly, I’m the one person who can’t play the RPG. I mean, try to imagine being my GM, really. “Yes, it is that way, and if necessary, I’ll write it that way IN THE NEXT BOOK!!! You give me that +2 [unintelligible]!” But then, if I’m GM, it’s too much like work! But everybody else has a good time, which makes me very happy, and was kind of the point of the books to begin with.
Given that I’ve planned out so many things, and there are so many stories and actions that have consequences that have to be played out in the course of the series, are there any seemingly insignificant actions that are going to be played out later on?
Yes, there are. A bunch of them. But we’ll see. I’m still working out how to get them all fit in, but the next six books are going to be very, very busy. Six or seven or eight or however many it takes.
Since you only get books once a year, do I have anything planned like Backup to help you…cope?
Normally, yeah, there’re story projects that are going on on the side, right now I’m writing a trilogy of short stories that I’m calling the Bigfoot trilogy; Bigfoot’s the client. You know, there’s issues with the kid, and he can’t exactly walk into town and take care of them, so he’s got to find somebody to help him out. Yeah, I’m going to continue to do short story projects like that on the side, I’ve outlined a new graphic novel, which I’m going to be working on. Also remember that I’ve got to get a break from that tall creepy loser once in awhile, or I’ll just kill him. Oh. Wait. I always love it when I get to start something else because I go, “Oh, I’m so sick of that loser Harry Dresden” at this point, and then I’ll start writing something else, and by the time I get done with that, I’ll go back to Harry and be like, “Oh, I’m glad to be back in the saddle with Harry, because this feels easy!”
How much time has passed, approximately, since Storm Front?
Um. I could go check the Wikipedia? I’m trying to make it more or less real time. So I think it averages out to about a year between each. Some are a little bit more, some are a little bit less. But I try to make it real time, sort of like Joss did with Buffy.
Who are my favorite writers?
This is a question I hate, because I’ll start on them, and I’ll remember half and hour later somebody I should have mentioned and didn’t. Robert B. Parker is probably my single favoritest writer. I’ll read anything he wrote. I’ve still got the last Spencer book he wrote, which I won’t read, because then there won’t be anymore Spencer books to read. And that’s sad. But I’ve got it. Robert B. Parker’s pretty good. Lately…there’s Rothfuss, that jerk. I just can’t stand Rothfuss, he can write such beautiful lyrical poetic lines in one, and then shift gears and be writing this short choppy pulp-action-style fiction, and just do it so smoothly you can’t even tell what’s going on. Oooh, I hate that. Scalzi’s brilliant. John Scalzi…he’s amazing, he really is. I’ve been reading Brandon Sanderson lately. Picked up Way of Kings, and was like, “Ohh, that is so cool!” Oh, I just love the fantasy world where either you’re a guy with a knife on the end of a stick and a leather jacket or you’ve got Iron Man armor and a lightsaber. That dichotomy is awesome. Lemme think who else I’ve been reading lately. Harry Connolly’s books, I don’t know if you’ve read Harry Connolly, his first book’s called Child of Fire, it’s really good. There’s a new guy coming out, he’s British, his name is Benedict Jacka, his first book is called Fated. It’s a wizard book, it’s really excellent, he’s got a great imagination. I read the Temeraire books, I read the Honor Harrington series. Pretty much anything Glen Cook does I like. But there’s
Are there any characters in particular who inform Harry’s voice?
He’s [the questioner] noticed characters like Gareth [?] are very similar in terms of their outlook on life and so on. I would say yeah, and the characters that inform me are folks like Dashiell Hammett’s lead character Sam Spade (or is that Ray Chandler? I’m getting confused. I think Dashiell Hammett had Sam Spade.) Ray Chandler’s characters as well. Of course, Robert Spencer is [unintelligible] as far as I’m concerned; I wish I could have Harry be as snarky as Spencer. But, yeah, definitely, he’s informed by a lot of things, and also just by the hard-boiled genre in general.
What is the first line of Cold Days?
Mab, Queen of Air and Darkness, has unique ideas about physical therapy. See? First sentence is done! The rest is just typing.
Now that Harry’s died, that whole “Die alone” death curse, is that over?
Was he not dead enough? Yeah, he got out from underneath that one. Sort of. It remains to be seen if he’s going to get out from underneath the rest of it. Which I’m having a very good time plotting out.
Is Maggie going to start playing a bigger role?
She’s like seven! Seven year olds….seven year olds, you’re lucky if their big role isn’t falling off the monkey bars and getting a broken arm, like mine did when he was seven. But, on the other hand, if I’m ever done with the Dresden Files and I’ve got to pay off my gambling debts or something, I suppose I could always do Dresden: The Next Generation with Maggie, although she’d probably think Dad was a little soft.
When will we get to see Ferrovax again?
Fair question, it probably won’t be until one of the last of the case files. If not in the big, epic, epic trilogy. No, because Ferrovax was on his best behavior at that party, and the next time he’s got an excuse to smack Dresden, somebody’s going to throw down, and we’ll have a good time with that.
PR: Hi, there. My name’s Patrick Rothfoss, and I’m here at Comic Con at the SUVUDU booth, interviewing Jim Butcher – the fabulous Jim Butcher.
JB: No, just this one.
PR: *Chuckles*. When I got the opportunity to do this, I absolutely jumped at it, because I have been, like, an increasingly gooey fan of the Dresden Files for years now, and I found myself doing something recently that I have not done for decades. Knowing that Ghost Story was about to be published, I had actually re-read, or re-listened to in the case of the audiobooks, every single book leading up to Ghost Story, which is like… thirteen?
JB: Yes, book thirteen.
PR: I have not done that since high school. And my reading time is very precious these days, so I need to make that like a statement of intent to how much I absolutely adore these books. And this is the first time I got to meet Jim, out here at Comic Con, and so in addition to being a fantastic author, I found out that he’s also a lovely human being, a snappy dresser, a wonderful kisser… *Jim laughs*… and he smells like fresh baked cookies, too. Ah, god, you probably want to edit that one out.
(Video commentary: Not a chance. Mmmmm… cookies)
So if I could just bring a couple of questions on you…
PR: You end up with a nice framework for magic to work in. You make things fairly clear to the reader, the reader understands how it works, and it is a well established system that you stick to. Why did you end up doing that?
JB: Well, I had read many books about wizards, and what I found was that the ones that were most satisfying were the ones that had very clear understandings of what magic could and couldn’t do, the kind of limits that were there. It was always very frustrating to me to see magic in operation as this sort of quasi-sentient force all its own. That was kind of the one thing that I never liked about magic, was magic that figured out what to do all by itself. And then I never really liked magic that was like “pop-machine” magic, either, that was like, as long as you say the right words and move your wand exactly right, there is what happens. So I decided to base my magic on physics. I wanted it to have certain laws that it had to adhere to. I even borrowed a bunch of Newtonian laws, you know: matter cannot be created nor destroyed, for every action there’s an equal and opposite reaction. And I wanted my wizard character, instead of being sort of the shaman, the mystic, I wanted him to be more like a plumber of magic, you know: “I happen to be able to work with this stuff, I know how it works, I know what I’m doing, and I can make this shower go”… only in this case it’s explosions and so on.
PR: That’s interesting. Somebody said, “I like the plumber of magic,” somebody said, “you know, your guy isn’t really a magician so much as he’s an engineer”, and I’m like “Wow! I’ll take that, actually.” And I kind of felt the same way about yours, because you do stick to, like, the laws of thermodynamics, and it all makes good sense.
Now, you have the basic magic that Harry uses day-to-day, there’s alchemy – though I don’t think you call it alchemy…
JB: Right, yeah.
PR: Was that a deliberate choice, to steer away from that term?
JB: Uh, yeah it was. In the Dresden Files, you have to remember that you’re getting the whole world from Harry’s point of view, and when you’re a wizard like Harry is, everything gets thought of in terms of ‘this is how it works’, because everything’s a spell. Other people, for instance the werewolves and so on, they don’t think of what they do anywhere near the same terms as Harry does. But he’s a wizard, so he’s got to lay everything out in the model that he understands. The old saying is: “If the only tool you have is a hammer, every problem’s a nail.” And that’s the way Dresden approaches things.
PR: And Harry is that hammer.
JB: He is. He is. He’s some sort of tool. *Rothfuss laughs*. I’m not sure quite what yet exactly, but a hammer seems good.
PR: So, do you, yourself, when you’re writing them, do you draw lines in your head between, say, the sort of magic that Harry does and the sort of magic the people in Bayport are capable of? Or is it just an issue of skill and quantity?
JB: Well, it’s all a little bit different, but everyone interacts with that kind of energy in a different way. For instance, wizards cause disruptions in technology and other things around them because, you know, people are never all one thing or all the other, people are a conflicted group of weirdos, and so when you have human beings that are using magic, that sort of self-inner conflict, that’s one of the side-effects that comes out, that’s why they wreck things that are around them. If you’re a fairy who’s using magic, you’re doing the same thing as a human being, but you don’t have that cluttered human nature. You can sit around as a fairy and play X-box all you want, you’re never going to ruin it, and still be an awesome wizard, but not as Dresden.
PR: That’s a great way of approaching that. The world-building that you do is one of the more phenomenal parts of the books, where it’s a very graceful introduction to the world. You don’t get the big, heavy, texty, info-dump in the first book that you have to slog through, we’re slowly introduced to a lot of these elements as the series progresses. And you have vampires, but not any sort of cliche vampires. You have werewolves, but it’s not the sort of werewolf were I go, “ugh, I used to play this at White Wolf back in high school.” Was that kind of a specific intention, that you were trying to branch of, or…?
JB: Originally, when I first started outlining the books in the series, I would say, “okay, well, the first book we’re going to have him going up against an evil wizard,” so it’s himself versus the kind of dark version of what he can do, and that’ll be a good introduction, and the next one I said, “I want to do one about werewolves,” and we’re going to be doing ghosts for book three, and so on, and I started building this stuff up as I went along, and when I actually started going in, and digging in, and doing research, and I didn’t just want to do research by watching movies, although I do that a lot, (I tried to stop doing that after college), but when I would actually start digging into old folklore, and so on, I found that things were very very different from my basic grew-up-watching-movies-TV-Scooby-Doo-playing-D&D concepts of what monsters were. The whole bitten by werewolf turns you into a werewolf, that’s so Hollywood, the actual werewolf lore, it gets back into… well, there are many different sorts of werewolves that you can kind of run into depending on where you go in world, and then what I realized after I’d done all this werewolf research, and had this big, confusing, pool of werewolf candidates, I went “okay, you know what? This is not going to be a ‘who’s the werewolf?’ book, it’s going to be a ‘which werewolf is guilty?’ book, so now we’re going to have a bunch of different werewolves available, so as I go out and find stuff out, a lot of the times that’s the fun of it, is where I go and learn things and go, “oh, okay, this is not quite the book I thought it was going to be, we’re going to switch things around.”
PR: Now, in terms of your plotting, it’s one of the things that I’m terribly jealous of, because I’m comfortable with my world-building and other elements of my writing, but there are a couple things that you do that just so thoroughly out-class me, and one of them is the plotting, where you write these books that have, in themselves, great, very tight, very satisfying plots, but it’s not like a sit-com. With a lot of series, you have the rise, and the fall, and the action, and then at the end of it, it’s like the Simpsons – nothing is ever going to change in any permanent way. But in your books, you break that tradition in the episodic fantasy. How do you do that?! Teach me!
JB: Okay, basically, when I think of a book, what I’m actually writing is, like, Harry Dresden’s worst weekend of the year that year. That’s pretty much what I’ve got in mind. And then, to do that, I’ve got to figure out what are going to be awful things I’m going to have happen to him, what are going to be the cool things that I’m going to get to do within the story, and then after I put that all together, then I spend a lot of time between the books thinking, “okay, what’s going to be the fallout from what’s happened?” That’s one of the things I’ve always taken to heart very seriously, is that actions have consequences, and choices have consequences, and you’ve got to live with them. So for Dresden, that’s one of the fun things to do is to stop and think about, “okay, now, this is what’s been going on for the past six months, or eight months, or nine months, in the the Dresden universe. How is everybody who’s actually in this book, how do they experience that?” Everyone has a slightly different experience based on who they are and what they bring to their point of view within the story. You know, Murphy experiences the world very differently from Dresden, very differently from Dresden’s brother Thomas, and so on. It’s mostly just a matter of sitting down and thinking it out, and figuring out, “how do they experience this? What kind of spin can I put on it that’s going to make it a fun part of the story?”Murphy mostly gets crap at work as fallout from her stuff, but I killed Dresden at the end of Changes, so everybody had to sort of look around and suddenly realize “oh my gosh! Somebody shot the sheriff.” Who’s going to be the one who’s going to step into his boots, and nobody can, so we’ve all got to.
PR: That’s also one of the things that’s really impressed me, is that, like, legitimately long-term bad things happen to people who are just doing their best and making decisions to help their friends, and they suffer for it, in significant, long-term ways. Now, and this is sort of the question that when someone springs it on me I kind of, “ugh, god,” but I am kind of curious: Do you think that that might reflect something of your own world-view?
JB: Ugh, god!
PR: Now, see? Isn’t that an awful question? But I am kind of curious, because I find myself wondering, in my books, how much my world-view is sort of sneaking in there.
JB: To be honest, it probably does have something to do with it. It’s not something that I consciously put in, but let me tell you, occasionally life will come along and brutally, senselessly, club you over the head with something. And it’s not because of anything you’re going to do, it’s not always because of something you choose to do, many times it won’t even be your fault, but it’s going to happen. And learning to live, learning to get along, is not about learning to not get clubbed on the head, it’s about learning to get back up off the ground again after you have been. That’s always been a real strong theme with me, personally; whatever happens, you’ve got to take the punch and get up and keep going.
PR: Harry is the “get back up” guy.
JB: He is. He is. And that was a very conscious choice in the beginning, too. I wanted a guy that I could beat up a lot. And it wasn’t actually until about the fourth book in that a fan pointed out, “hey, you’ve done this, and this, and this, and this, and this, and he’s taken all these injuries here. I’m a professional therapist, and he would take this much therapy to get back from this, and he would never recover from this..” and I’m like, “wow, you really have beaten him up a lot. You know, wizards must just be better at getting better than other people, I need to write that in. Hey, we’ll tie that in with how long they live, and, okay, cool. That works. That’s good.”
PR: I always think of that in terms of course correction. You get some feedback, or a Beta reader gives you…
PR: And then you’re like, “oh, that’s a really good point, I guess you can’t have a million people living in a pre-industrial society, you know, everyone dies of dysentery.” So, how much of that do you tend to engage in as the series goes on, because you have a story and a story and a story, whereas I tend to do a huge block of story, and then there’s a three-year gap, how much course direction would you say you do with the overall story in between books based on feedback?
JB: Considerable. I mean, when someone has a good point they have a good point, and I’m not a perfect person, so when someone will point something like that out, I’ll go, “okay, how can I take this and how can I use it as part of the story, and either keep it the way it is and have a good reason for it to be that way, or else spin it, or fix it, or have somebody realize something new about the world that hasn’t been brought out before. I mean, that’s kind of the creative challenge is kind of “how to make this cooler and better?” and not, “how do I let this be a big hole in my story somewhere?” How to make it stronger, instead of less.
PR: And I think one of the great strengths of your writing is the reasonableness of it. Because sometimes you can tell somebody’s patching a plot-hole, and it’s just like they’re putting a poster over the hole in the wall, but when you present one of these explanations, it’s so smooth, and it makes such good, rational sense, that it seems like you built it in from the very beginning.
JB: Yes! Oh, I did. All of it. Word for word, I’ve got it all laid out. On a scroll.
PR: How often do you check your own Amazon rank?
JB: A couple times a week. It used to be more often. Less now.
PR: How many copies of your own books do you have in your house?
JB: I’ve got a… not quite a walk-in closet, but one of the double-door closets… that’s just kind of stacked up with books.
JB: Yeah, yeah, they’re just basically waiting there to help burn my house down. I try to give them away whenever I can.
PR: Does it tend to accumulate?
JB: They do, they do. They add up.
PR: Do you have a vanity shelf?
JB: Yes, I do!
PR: There we go.
JB: Actually Shannon, my wife, the house that we’re in right now, she actually got to design much of it, and she actually built these big shelves in the front room where I could put all my books up, and she gets one copy of every book as soon as it comes in and puts it up on that shelf.
PR: I’m so glad I’m not the only one! Although with all of the books, and all the foreign translations, that’s got to be…
JB: It’s getting to be a big shelf, yeah.
PR: Favourite authors?
JB: This is always that question where I think, “oh! I should have said so-and-so,” later on.
JB: The late Robert B. Parker is one of my absolute favorite authors, Glen Cook, his Black Company books and his Garrett books I just love, The Deed of Paksenarrion by Elizabeth Moon, the Honor Herrington series by David Weber. Uh… y’all, naturally. Brandon Sanderson, I’ve really just been tearing into his work lately, which is just so much fun. I think he comes from that same, you know, “I really wanted to write for The Avengers,” sensibility at some point in his past, so when we’re doing the magic, we have an unlimited special-effects budget. Hooyah! These guys are more like superheros than wizards. So I love his stuff as well.
PR: And Sanderson does the same thing that you’re very good at, where he has this book where everyone’s fielding these huge armies. Have you read The Way of Kings?
JB: Yeah, I’m in the middle of it right now. It’s sitting in my hotel room, so…
PR: I won’t give any plot-stuff away, but I mean there are these constant wars, these huge armies on the field, and if you’re a certain sort of geek, you’re like, “you can’t maintain an army of a hundred-thousand people, with all the camp followers. It’s just logically impossible because of the amount of supplies that need to be…
JB: But then he’ll write in, “but you can if you can make food out of rocks! Poof!”
PR: And I’m like, “well, there you go. Thank you for being rational about this.” Uh, along those lines, because, like I said, you write such great action, and it’s not just action for the sake of action, it always moves the plot, and it makes the books such quick reads, and such good page-turners.
When you’re reading other authors, what do you see? What authors do you read, even if it’s not that the entire book is your favourite, but you see them doing something, and you’re like, “I wish I could do that, I just don’t have it in me.”
JB: The very best authors that I read are the ones that make me forget that I’m a professional story-teller. When I’m in the middle of the story, I don’t have time to be noticing all the things that they’re doing, you know, and going, “oh, that’s a nice touch,” because I’m so busy going, “let me get into this and see what’s going on next”, and being there in that world. It’s one of the reasons that I like your world so much. When I am noticing these things, when I stop and go back through and re-read, which is what you have to do after, the first time you read you have fun, then I’ll always stop at all the points that I thought really really grabbed me emotionally, and I’ll try to say “now, why did this have me grabbing the book and ready to throw it across the room I was so upset? Or why was I laughing so hard at this passage? Why did this bring me to the edge of tears?” and I’ll try to stop and figure that out and “how do they do that? Can I steal that?”
JB: Because, as a writer, that’s what you do. That’s the highest compliment as a writer is when another writer looks and you and goes, “oh, I wish I’d done that one! Can I steal that from you?”
PR: Absolutely. Uh, thank you so much, it’s been such a treat for me, and I hope to see you around at cons in the future.
JB: Hi, I’m Jim Butcher, I’m here at San Diego Comic Con at the SUVUDU booth, and I’m going to be talking to author Patrick Rothfuss. Hello, Pat. Uh, I hate this man. He’s extremely skilled, and he’s very good at all kinds of things that I struggle to master, or haven’t been able to. So we’ll start there, Pat, for how much age we’ve got.
PR: That’s a good place to start.
JB: In your writing, one of the strengths that I really feel is something that you very very well is that you have this ability to shift into this lyrical, very poetic, style of writing, which is something that remains beyond me, and more than likely ever shall. And yet you have also the ability to shift gears and go to a very solid, very gritty, very pulpy style of action when need be. How do you decide when is the right time for the one or the other?
PR: With me, the process is, I’m very heavy into revision, and I think that gives me the freedom to take bigger risks than people who are, say, very good at meeting their deadlines, which is one of the skills that you possess that I kind of envy…
JB: *looks down at his shirt, which says ‘GO AWAY: I Have A Deadline”* I’ll get you a shirt.
PR: Yeah, I would need a whole outfit. But, one of the things that is dangerous when you get arty with the language is it’s really potentially going to turn people off. But at the same time, if you can do it, then some people will love you for that just by itself. So I usually take all the risks in the draft, and I kind of free myself up to go ahead and overdue it a little bit, and then I go back through and I look at it really hard and I go, “Am I just wanking around here? Am I just, like, trying to play some sort of game and impress myself?”And then, more importantly, I get a bunch of feedback from Beta readers, and if I’m really anxious about a part because I think it’s too self-indulgent, after they read it, I’ll go through it with them, and I’m like “right here. Does this make me a complete tosser?” and sometimes they’ll go, “yeah, that’s a little… you know… you’re dicking around there.”, and I go “okay, good,” and I kind of get that in my head, but sometimes people will go, “oh, no, that’s one of my favorite parts!” , and then I feel a little bit better about maybe leaving it in.
I know you also have a lot of Beta readers that you use. Roughly how many Betas do you get reading?
JB: I’ve got about a dozen people. Thirteen? Oh, that’s a good number, thirteen. Who are kind of reading along on a chapter-by-chapter basis, which is really valuable, because they’ll be like “here, you missed this point,” and I’ll go, “oh, let me fix that right now,” before we get any further into the story
JB: What about you?
PR: For me, I almost always have a draft, and then I give them the draft, usually on paper, with a red pen, and then they bounce it back to me with little notes, and some people are just really good at catching, like, grammatical stuff, and some people, they’re historians, they go, “well, you know, rubber wasn’t vulcanized until the early 1900’s.” You know, they’re just geeks from various flavors, and they point out stuff about, they go, “owls don’t build nests.” Oh, well good, I don’t screw that up now. But some people, my favourite Betas to come back, are full of, like, peanut-gallery comments that show the reader’s mental process as they go through the book, and my favourite, like, I almost want to frame it, except my manuscript copies are too thick, it was, uh, a husband and wife who I’ve known since college, and they go through, and they read it together, and on every page, in the margins, there’s comments, where it’s almost like an MSD3K version of my book, and sometimes they’re like, “oh, I hate him so much!” and then sometimes they’ll disagree with each other in the margins, they’ll comment on each other’s comments, and, first off, it’s really fun to read, and second off, it really lets me know exactly how they feel during the reading of a scene, as opposed to them just saying ‘oh, you need a comment here,’ while pointing out potential problems. And if they’re feeling sad there, I didn’t mean that, I need to fix that, or, if I’m not getting a response here, then maybe I should do something. So, yeah, and I do that like a hundred times, I’ve got like a hundred Beta readers, but I give them a whole manuscript at a time, and then I get it back and I fix it, and then I sent out the new Beta to new readers, so I get kind of a virtual read of it.
Do you end up, after you get a draft solid, you have Betas to read a draft, and then get back to you?
JB: Yeah, there usually are a couple of people who will do that.
PR: Okay. And is that all before you send it to the editor, or is the editor kind of, in all the process, she’s right at the end?
JB: It’s all before it goes to the editor. My philosophy has always been that I want to create as little work for my editor as possible. It makes her happy with me, and she’ll take me out to dinner and stuff.
PR: Yeah. Save her for the heavy-hitting stuff.
JB: Alright, so. For folks who are not necessarily into the writing industry, tell me what is a fairly typical “I got a few things done today” writing day like?
PR: Oh, boy. A good writing day, I sleep myself out, that means I don’t wake up by, like, alarm, or noise or something like that, so I actually wake up and I’m full of sleep. And that could be literally any time of the day, depending on what my schedule is like. I’m not diurnal or nocturnal at this point, I have a rolling, bizarre sleep schedule. So I wake up, hang out with my girlfriend and my baby, and after they’re sick of me, I probably do some e-mail, at home, because I have to stay on top of that or it’s going to bury me, and then I go over to the workhouse. I was not getting enough done on the book for years, and I realized that part of it was the fact that the internet was always there. You know, when you’re writing, typing along, and you stop sometimes, and you go “what’s that word?” or go, “what would his response be?” or, “how can I describe that facial expression?”, and mentally you have to kind of really think about that, even if it’s just for three seconds, but with the internet always there, and facebook always there, sometimes, when I would pause, I’d be like, “I wonder if somebody sent me a new e-mail,” or “maybe somebody’s posted on my wall on facebook.”
JB: “Somebody’s mentioned me on Twitter.”
PR: I haven’t done Twitter yet, thank god. And what happened once was, my cable modem broke, and so I said, “okay, great, I’m going to write today anyway”, and so I was writing, and I would get to those places, and then I’d start to think… and then I’d go, “Oh, I can’t. Oh, I can’t.” And it’s like when the power goes off in your house, and you spend, like, the next three hours flipping switches uselessly, and you don’t realize how instinctual it’s become, I caught myself about fifty times about to hop away from the book to do something else, and that’s when I realized that that was a real problem, because when I was being my most productive was back before I had internet in my house. So I actually went out and bought a workspace that has no internet on it, I have no phone in that house, people don’t stop by, no one is allowed to go in my writing room, because you stay the fuck out of my space.
JB: Okay, so I’m not the only territorial writer in the world. Grr! Get out of my room!
PR: Sarah came over to the workhouse once, and, you know, the reason we got a whole house is because property is really cheap in central Wisconsin, and we use a lot of the part for charity, so it’s just the upstairs office that’s mine. Sarah came over for a visit, and this was right when I bought it, she had the baby, and she goes, “oh, I need to change him, can I go upstairs and use…” and I go, “No!” and then she just sort of swelled up, and I’m like, “honey, no, you can’t go in there,” because I love Sarah, but she is like the internet, except instead of me going to the internet…
JB: This is being taped, right?
PR: I know. She knows. She is, like, around the house, doing whatever, and she thinks, “oh, there’s something I want to tell Pat,” or, you know, “oh, I want to give him a kiss.” For some reason she loves me, it doesn’t make any sense. And she’ll repress maybe nineteen out of twenty of those impulses, but even that one out of twenty, that means she comes in maybe two or three times an hour…
JB: I know what you mean, yeah.
PR: And it was a real stress on our relationship, ’cause sometimes it’s fine, and sometimes, “yeah, I was just playing a game”, or “yeah, I was on my e-mail,” but if she interrupts me while I’m writing, then I start to almost resent her presence, and it was not healthy.
JB: Yeah, it’s “Dad, I love you,” this, and “Honey, you should eat,” that. You can’t work in that environment!
PR: Exactly. I need to be in my cave.
JB: I feel so much better now. Thank you.
PR: I got distracted on your actual question. And then I write for… eight hours. I have a cup of tea, and I don’t even necessarily eat at that time. If I’m under a deadline, or going really well, or trying to push, then I’ll do it for twelve hours. And that might be, like, you’re blazing a trail, and actually writing draft and new material, or it might be going through Betas, or it might be going through, like, an extensive rolling checklist of potential problems that I need to resolve. That would be a good day’s writing. Then I go home in time to still see my baby before he goes to sleep. That would be a perfect writing day, right there.
*Brief, somewhat awkward silence*
I should probably come up with another question. Alright. When it comes to research. Research is a lot of things that writers will have to do, depending on what genre you’re writing and the story you’re telling, there’s a lot of things to focus, or when you’re writing a kind of an epic fantasy, in an alternate fantasy world, what kind of research do you find yourself engaging in, in a place where you can just make stuff up?
PR: I don’t think I do a lot of research like most other people do, because I think the majority of people, like, intelligent, together, people, they do, “I’m going to write a book where somebody goes on a ship”, and so they get books about seafaring, and the Renaissance, and they figure out, like, the rigging, and all of this stuff, and how whatever works. And I don’t do that, I don’t pre-research stuff. Like, you know, music is a big part of the books, but I didn’t, like, go out and try to figure out what it was like to be a musician, and read books about musicians, or Baroque luting, or whatever. As a result, I think, in some ways it works to my advantage, because if you go out and research for three months about Renaissance seafaring, and you get all this information, you feel kind of like you have to use it, or you’ve wasted your time, and that means that you suddenly have the danger of trying to put all this information in a book, because you’re proud that you know it, as opposed to it being in service to the story. I’m not saying that everyone who does this type of research does this, I just think that it’s a danger. And sometimes, I’ll run into it, and I’m like ‘oh! Either this person is an enthusiast in this area, or they’d done a bunch of research and it’s coming out of them a little too heavy for the needs of the story. As opposed to me, if you don’t know much about something, first off you can’t put too much in, second off, when you explain it to somebody else who doesn’t know anything about it, you can’t talk down to them. So, you know, right now, if I was to talk to you about seafaring in the Renaissance, I don’t really know all that much about it, other than what I’ve gleamed from history classes and a general smattering of eclectic knowledge. So we talk about it, and I’m able to express it in a way that makes sense to another ignorant person, and I don’t use terms like, “mizzon-mast” or “(?)”, whatever the hell, which is good because you haven’t done three-months of research either, and you don’t know what a mizzon-mast is, and I think that works to my advantage. Now the downside, of course, is that sometimes I make, like, real big assumptions that are, like, egregious mistakes, and sometimes, if a Beta reader doesn’t catch me on those, they’ll go really late in the process. Like, at one point, I’d been working on the book, honest to god, for, like, twelve years, and somebody, a friend, read the book and he came back and he went, “you know, lutes traditionally have fourteen strings. And they’re strung in courses, so it’s two strings tuned to the same note, and so, if you broke a string, it actually doesn’t matter, because you would still have that same note.” And I just went cold, because at that point, the book was about six, seven months away from being published, and I would have looked like a total ass to anyone who knows anything about Renaissance music. And so I had to go in and do that course correction, because I had not done the initial research. So, I approach it a little bit differently, and then after I’ve written stuff, then I research to fill in holes in my knowledge, for specific information. That’s how I handle it, for the most part.
JB: Okay. Character creation. When you’re getting a character together, where do you start from, in terms of creating this person?
PR: A lot of people ask me “do you base your characters on people you know in real life?” and for me, I always perceive the underlying question is I have written a story in which I have based all of the characters on cool people I know in real life, and it’s okay for me to do that, right? That’s the subtext that I perceive in that question, it may or may not be true. And so I always say, “no.” In my experience it doesn’t work well because it’s sort of like… what was that celebrity reality show where they took all these people and they put ’em in a house?
JB: Yeah, okay, right.
PR: It didn’t work well. It was a train-wreck. Because these people have nothing to do with each other. That’s not a story, it’s like a mess of personality. More importantly, if you go, ‘oh! Brad Pitt is really cool!”, and so you try to put Brad Pitt in your story, with a different name and a mustache so he looks different, it doesn’t work because you don’t know how Brad Pitt thinks, so that you can’t do what Brad Pitt would do, that really makes him cool. And so, you want to steal that coolness for your book, but it doesn’t work. And so I say “no, people aren’t based off this,” but, sometimes I do, but instead of trying to take the whole person, I take like a tiny, tiny, tiny speck of a person. Like, a particular aspect of their personality. Not even anything as big as… like, they’re gregarious, or anything like that. It’s just a little vocal tick, maybe it’s a love of a particular thing, and it’s almost like a seed crystal, and the character, like, coalesces around that as I build the rest of it. And at the end of it, if you knew who I stole that piece from, they would look nothing like this final character, but I think that it does help to have something real that you use kind of as the seed, that the character grows out of.
JB: A small part of their soul.
PR: Exactly. I steal just a piece, and then it gives some sort of mythic weight to the character until they get that kind of spark of life on their own, and then they kind of take off. That I’ve said succeed, but not with trying to steal a whole character.
JB: You heard it here. Patrick Rothfuss, stealing tiny pieces of your soul.
PR: Yeah, so be careful when you come see me at a Con. I will rip it right out of you. *Both laugh.* That sounds awful.
Jim: So I’ll come to a place and they’ll ask me if I’m going to do a reading, and I can never really get behind that because I’d like to think that most of my fans can read. What I’d really rather do is question and answer, if that’s okay with you guys… *audience agrees* …but for that to work, somebody has to ask a question!
In what book will we find out who fixed Little Chicago?
Probably not until 19 or 20. Since I’m a lazy writer, probably 20. I think that would be good for the last of the case files, so I’ll hold off on that one.
Jim: I originally said that Changes was about the midpoint of the series, and he asked if earlier plots had pushed the middle point later, and if so does that mean we’re getting more over the series before we got into the finale.
The midpoint of the story is not necessarily the geographical midpoint, it’s sort of where things get good. *grin* I was just so confused after Changes came out and there was a little bit of a reaction *audience laughs* and I couldn’t understand it because I was happy: “Come on he’s dead! Now I can do the good stuff,” and I guess we’ll see how that works out. I occasionally forget that not everybody knows the whole story.
Any chance for another Dresden series like on TV?
I am willing to forgive Hollywood for killing the show when it did, and for Sorcerer’s Aprentice. I’m just saying if you ever held up the posters… if it had been anyone but Nic Cage I might not have thought twice about it. The one actor in Hollywood that I know has read through the series, except for Valerie on the TV show, who played Murphy. She was the only one of the cast who had actually read the books and came up and started kneading me about them when I got to go visit the set. She was cool after that. Some people complained because she wasn’t blonde but she’s cool, she read the books.
Are you familiar with TV tropes and is Bob turning Orange and Blue a reference to one of them?
Yes, I’m familiar with TV tropes but only because somebody said that I got put on there as one of the guys who is in the definition for doing Crowning Moments of Awesome. *Jim effects an excited voice* Okay I’ll go surf there! But as far as the orange and blue thing, that’s not a reference I know of. *audience mentions morality* Okay I’ll have to go look! It’s probably one of those things that got ingrained into me when I was watching who knows what. I always think that I think of something cool and original like Bob the skull himself I think is cool and original and then I sat down with my son one morning and watched the opening credits to old Scooby-Doo and said to myself “Aww man, I’m not nearly as cool as I thought.” Then I watched the second reel of the Last Unicorn. (LordBeans – I don’t know what this is a reference to) “Aww man, I was so cool a few minutes ago!”
I read the short story from Marcone’s point of view, Even Hand, and I noticed that John Marcone is not his real name. Is that going to be significant?
Sure is if somebody tries to cast a spell at him using the name John Marcone! That would be a big deal. We’ll have to see how that works out. Actually the character that’s really interesting is the Mirror Mirror universe Marcone, and we’ll get to him in a few books.
Are any of your places like Mac’s pub based on real places?
No, except the ones that are based on real places. For example, the Field Museum, where I have actually been now. I’ve got pictures of myself coming right in front of Sue. Also the big Shedd Aquarium that they have there by the Field Museum. I got to go stand there by the big windows and look out on the tanks where they have whales and dolphins going by.
Just so you know, if you go by there and ask them: “Hey what would happen if these windows were broken? No, I need it for somebody’s shot amount or something. No no, it’s for professional reasons!” They do not have a sense of humour about it.
Are you thinking about writing a seventh book in the Alera series?
If I go back to Alera, it’ll probably be years from now and I’ll have to pay off my gambling debts or something – a good reason – and I would either go a couple of generations in the future where we would see a much steampunkier Alera after guys like Octavian got through messing the place up. Either that or I’d also give consideration to writing the incredible trouble-making angel A-team of cursors that Erin has to put up with, where one of them’s a Canin and one of them is a Marat and so on, kind of a Justice League of cursors causing trouble. But it wouldn’t be a story that’s on the same “Let’s animate mountains and smash the world” kind of scale that the first one was. I wouldn’t want to disappoint by going back to that.
What about an anime or an animated movie for either series?
I would be delighted with those because then they could blow up as much stuff as they wanted, and it wouldn’t really cost them any more than not blowing up stuff, which makes it a major difference from television. In my head it’s kind of an animated series anyway, as I’m writing it. There’s some moments where you can actually stop and say “Oh my gosh, what he’s writing looks like an anime writer’s panels,” and yes, it does. It’s what it is in my head; I just have to write it down that way.
Jim: Over here in the red shirt… you are expendable, sir!
Is there any real or historical person or place that you want to Dresden to interact with that you have not already?
Yeah, several, but I’m going to use them so I don’t want to give away too much yet. I’ve also thought about going back and writing the French and Indian war in the Dresdenverse which would be really interesting because that’s back when Ebenezar was a young hothead and most of the Senior Council guys were running around causing trouble, dumb enough to get into the kind of things Dresden does every book. We’d have sasquatches and the French and everything, it’d be a lot of fun.
Are there any clues or certain points in the books that you thought people might have picked up on by now but have not?
*After Jim repeats the question for the audience, the same audience member that asked the question also asks “And what are they?” to laughter*
Jim: I refuse to repeat that part of the question.
Actually, no. Everybody’s picked up on I think all the major plot stuff that I’ve done, and pretty much somebody’s picked up on all of them. Nobody’s put them all together. In each individual part, where things get revealed as the plot goes on, in the future you’re going to have people go “I called that!” and they get it. They would be wrong on like ninety percent of the rest but for that part, yeah, they nailed it. It’s actually possible to put together the big story too because the guys who are researching the role playing game did it and were writing it in the book and I had to tell them, “NO! Stop that. You may not put that in the role playing handbook because you’re giving things away that would be way more fun to give in the actual books. So don’t do that or I’ll scream and throw a fit at someone.”
Is there anybody that you based Dresden on? How did you go about creating Dresden?
First of all, you have to understand that I created Dresden as an excercise in my writing-a-genre-fiction-novel writing class in order to prove to my writing teacher how wrong she was about all her ideas of writing. This was in the grad program of L.U.’s college of journalism and the professional writing program there, and she had been trying to give me very good advice for a long time, which I’d been ignoring because *Jim effects a slightly pretentious voice* I had a bachelor’s degree in English literature, whereas she had merely published forty novels. So I’d been arguing and arguing with her for a couple of years and finally I said, “Okay, I’m just going to be her good little writing monkey this semester. I’m going to do all of her little worksheets and fill out all the little things and follow this very artificial, very terrible process that she’s trying to get us to get involved in, and I’m going to show her what terrible, cookie-cutter papal crap comes out of it, and that’s when I wrote Storm Front.” (LordBeans: papal?) Which showed her!
Dresden himself I put together from two sources: one, classical long-term popular wizards, and two, long-term popular private I’s. I started with Merlin and Sherlock, and those were the first two that I used. I started listing, in this very artificial process, all the common traits of these popular literary wizards and all the common traits between the successful Private I’s. I noticed a couple of interesting cross-overs: one, all the wizards and Private I’s get all of their real power from knowledge. They go find things out. That’s what really makes them dangerous. What made Gandalf dangerous was not the fact that Gandalf had a medium-sized special effects budget that could throw fire and stuff like that. What made him dangerous was him running around, finding things out, and going down into the dark musty vaults of Minas Tirith and looking up all these old records and realizing, “Wait a minute, this is how we kill the guy!” Private I’s kind of had to function the same way: You could have a Private I that was scrappy and good in a fight, somebody like Spencer who could box you to the ground if you want to play that kind of game, or they could just plug you if you want to play rough, but that’s not really what makes him dangerous. What makes him dangerous is his ability to go places and find things out. Whether they’re going to a literal underworld like the mines of Moria or going to a metaphoric underworld like the underside of the Boston crime scene, that’s what they do. So I said, “Okay, well these are the things I want to put together. What else do I need from wizards? All wizards are grumpy. I’m going to put that in because it’s just true. All Private I’s are mouthy. As much as I could tell, all the popular ones. And they both tend to be arrogant. You look at Sherlock Holmes and he’s a terribly arrogant character, kickingly so arrogant he almost seemed innocent of the fact that he was so smart. So what are the other things about the hard-boiled American private I’s that make them popular characters? Well, they all mouth off to exactly the wrong people at exactly the wrong time, and they’ll do it every time. And they can take an enormous beating, yet still drag themselves up and continue pursuing their goal. Those were the basic character traits I put together for Dresden.”
Will the history of Collin Murphy – how he killed himself, et cetera – turn out to be important in any way?
Well, no. Because that would require that he actually killed himself. So I’ll just leave it at that.
What do you feel is your biggest cliche?
An easier question would be what is my biggest avoidance of cliche, because there are far fewer of those.
The wizard with fireballs was probably it. I tried not to, but I played too much DnD when I was young. It was going to happen. I tried to avoid it but it didn’t work out. Though I did have fun playing with fireballs in the same way we used to do in all the old DnD games: *effects nerdy voice* “3000 cubic feet of fire! And we’re in a ten by ten hallway that’s this long and still spread out by… and why are you slowing down the game with that? I’m saying it’simple math!” *audience laughs* Yeah, I’m in a room with kindred spirits here.
Will we ever see Dresden forced into a situation where he may have to jump through time to do something?
That would require him breaking one of the laws of magic, and it’s not as though I have seven books outlined, one for each law, or anything. We may, probably, possibly some see such as thing at some point.
Have you ever had the idea to have a short story of Dresden crossing over into another universe, like Star Wars?
No, because I don’t want to get sued. However, just so you’re aware the Dresden Files universe exists in a big, wide, spectral multi-verse. It’s not like there’s parallel Earths. There’s an entire broadcast spectrum of parallel Earths, and if you go far enough you’ll find the parallel that’s where . You’ll find the parallel Earth where Star Wars stuff works, and so on. Dresden could get there if he wanted to, but stop and think about that for a minute: Would you really want to go the Star Wars universe? Because you’re not going to be a jedi over there. Really jedi are a lot scarier on the ground level than they are from passenger seat view next to one. You know, “There’s a bunch of heavily armed fanatics with mind control powers here; they say they want to talk to you.” That’s kind of spooky.
The RPG mentions that you can have different Dresdens based on choices you made in past books, and is that for the RPG only?
No, they came up with that because they know I’m using that as a storyline in the future. Because I’ve said several times it’s only going to be a matter of time before I can resist doing a Mirror Mirror episode of the Dresden Files. In fact, I think I’m just going to call it Mirror Mirror. It’s a great title: the same number of letters and everything! My work is done.
Will the Jade Court vampires ever come up?
They might briefly come up in the big finale. They are in China, and they are isolationists, and they stay isolated. But yeah, there’s are a gang of Chinese vampires that are no one to be trifled with. (I saw Princess Bride recently. If a bunch of references slip in I am sorry.)
As an author, when did you know that Maggie existed?
By book three. By book three I realized, “Oh, wait a minute, I have to do this,” because I remember there being some huge uproar on The List and I was still kind of keeping track of things at the time. There’s nothing that will get me riled up faster than a discussion on the Internet. There was somebody upset about the Laurell Hamilton books and going on steady with the argument that these books have devolved into BDSM* sex that have nothing to do with plot. So one of the counter arguments was, “How could you possibly have a BDSM sex scene that was actually plot relevant in any way?” *Jim makes the facial equivalent of “Well…” and the audience laughs* It could be done, plot relevant, there you go. So her existence was planned – though the specifics didn’t get settled until a little later – but in book 3 was about where I figured it out.
Great, powerful wizards are staple, but generally speaking by the time that these big, powerful wizards get to the end, in terms of the big finale of the series, what they actually accomplish is fairly small. Are you planning something like that for Dresden?
Yes and no. The problem is that most of the wizards who do that are simply not the central character of the series. Gandalf: not the central character of the series – that’s Sam. (Not Frodo. Frodo was not the central character. Frodo was a junkie who happened to be along for the ride. Sam was the man.) Similar with classic wizards like Merlin. Arthur was the center of that story, for the most part. Am I going to go all the way to the end of this to have Dresden be the one who pushes the button that says, “Destroy the universe? Yes : No.”** It’s not going to be anywhere near that simple. Hopefully, if I do it right – which I don’t know, because I’ve never written a twenty book epic fantasy before – we’ll set it up to where if it had been anybody else it would have ended in disaster. But because it’s Dresden, we all get to keep getting along. If you’re doing your job as a writer, by the time you get to the end of your story, any other individual other than that character whose making things happen… if somebody else had been there, it all would have ended horribly wrong. Hopefully I’ll be able to do the same thing.
*You have no idea how long it took me to figure out that he was saying “BDSM”! Stupid initialisms.
**I never thought I’d use the ? : format outside of coding.
Great and powerful wizards are stabled(? Stapled? Stable?), but his statement is that, generally speaking, by the time they get to the end, what they actually accomplish in terms of the big finale of the series is fairly small and is my plan something like that for Dresden?
Yes and no. The problem with most of the wizrds that do that is simply that they weren’t the central character of the series. Gandalf is not the central character of the series [Lord of the Rings], that was Sam. Not Frodo, Frodo was not a central character, Frodo was a junkie who was along for the ride. Sam was the man. Similarly, with classical wizards, with characters like Merlin, Arthur’s the central character, in that story, for the most part. Oh, there’ve been Merlin stories [unintelligible]. But am I going to all the way to the end of this to have Dresden be the one who pushes the button that says, “Destroy the universe, Y/N”, it’s not going to be anywhere near that simple. Hopefully, if I do it right, which I don’t know, because I’ve never written a 20-book epic fantasy before, I’ll set it up to where if it had been anybody else, it would have ended in disaster. But because it’s Dresden, we all get to keep getting along, is kind of what I’m trying to come up with. If you’re doing your job as a writer, by the time you get to the end of your story, if any other individual other than that character is making things happen, if somebody else had been there is all would have ended horribly wrong, if you’re doing your job right. Hopefully I’ll be able to do the same thing, but like I said, it’s big, and I’ve never written a story like that before.
What things would I go back to the earlier novels to change to tell things now?
Oh. I don’t know. I would probably scrap the first two books completely and re-write from the ground up everything about it, which would probably be a disaster. I’ve learned that going back and rewriting a novel doesn’t work anywhere near as well as you think it should. So at this point, I’m happy to accept the flaws and imperfections from early on, because that just means, “Oh, wait a minute, now I have a good direction to go to keep things moving the way I want to go. I probably would never have figured out that the whole thing about [wizards] recovering from injury has a lot to do with them living a long time, because they have far groovier telemeres than any of us have, that their DNA copier works better than ours does. I probably wouldn’t have figured that out if somebody hadn’t pointed out, “Hey! I’ve been keeping track of the folks, and physical therapists, and I just wanted to let you know that in the past five years, Dresden’s abrogated on about seven and half years of therapy, and you need to be aware that this injury would have required this kind of surgery, and this kind of recovery and another surgery to correct that and some more therapy and by the time we get to that, he’s already been busted up by the next book, which would have done this and this and that.” Ok, ok, so obviously, wizards are cooler than that. I figured out how. And that’s why, and that’s a good reason, and that’s why they live a long time, too. Awesome. This is working out great. As long as I can stay on my mental toes, I guess we’ll be all right.
Have any of my characters surprised me or done something I wasn’t expecting them to do or developed in a way I didn’t want them to go.
Those people all work for me. Occasionally they are harassable and I have to make sure to give them good motivations to do things that I knew they would do. And occasionally they just kind of come out cooler than I thought they would be. Butters, which was going to be my off-the-wall, one-shot, I-wanted-an-ME-with-a-sense-of-humor-cause-I-always-liked-them character. I’ve seen [unintelligible], I’ve seen Prophecy and those characters are fun. Which, if you haven’t seen those movies in a while, go back, because those MEs really are hilarious. But after I wrote it, I was like, “This guy is just so zany, I’ve got to use him again somewhere,” because I hadn’t really planned Butters out at all, just said, “oh, I need an ME.” Or “I need an ME with a sense of humor”, so I built this guy real quick in 20 minutes while I was watching the end of probably a Star Wars movie, and said, “Ok, let’s go” and wrote him. But he came out so neat, I said “I gotta use him again, I gotta find a good place to have this guy,” and figured “What better sidekick for a wizard going up against a gang of necromancers who animate the dead than a medical examiner whose job it is to deal with them all the time. The catch here is that he’s absolutely no real help in any professional sense, I always like to plan things out for Dresden like that—I guive him a sidekick that’s great company, thematically appropriate, yet not actually offer any true assistance. But that’s just kind of how he rolls.
If I could take any actor to play Harry and Thomas, who would I pick?
Oh man. I’d probably pick a mid-1970’s Harrison ford for Harry because I’m happy to pick actors from other times that I can’t possibly get. It’s only a matter of time before technology makes that possible, when we can actually have 1970’s Carrie Fisher starring across from 1955 John Wayne. It will happen, one day. But if I had to pick someone who’s actually working now, I’d probably pick Captain Tightpants for Harry, because he’s got a great action [unintelligible] and he was declined in that role. [Transcriber note for posterity: “Captain Tightpants” is a reference to Nathan Fillion in his role as Mal Reynolds in Firefly and Serenity]. As far as Thomas, that’s a harder call. Thomas in my head is the older brother from Lost Boys. Jason what’s-his-name. Yeah. Jason Patrick. He doesn’t look that good anymore, but I might also go with the guy who played Bryce in the first couple of seasons of Chuck, was actually very close to Thomas in my head, except his hair is too short. But other than that he looked pretty close. And now everyone’s going, “Huh, who?” and now it’s like, “Wow, I am now an obscure reference to this room.”
Audience member: The White Collar guy.
Jim: Is he in that? I’m not a White Collar fan.
Audience member: Matt Bomer.
Jim: Ok, Matt Bomer. Now we know.
Did good Bob make it out? Is bad Bob still around?
Is spoilers for the end of this book, which a lot of people here haven’t got to read yet. And even if it wasn’t totally inappropriate for me to go completely spoiler-happy on this audience, [singsong] I’m not gonna tell you. That’s my job as a professional storyteller. I give you some resolution on some things, and leave other questions still hanging, and that way you buy the next book and they don’t take my house away!
What took the extra time to finish this book [Ghost Story]
This one was really hard to write because Dresden spends a whole big chunk of time not really able to communicate with very many people. Which means I can’t write a whole bunch of snappy dialogue, which is the easiest, funnest part of my job as a writer. It was a lot of description and so on, and that’s grindingly slow for me. That was part of it, was getting Dresden out of that quandary. Part of it was actually figuring out, “Oh, wait a minute, the actual plot that I thought was happening is not exactly the plot that is happening.” And that only came together in the last month or so. A lot of is was that this book is longer than most of the other ones. In fact, it’s longer than all of the previous Dresden Files books. And also, life happens. I got my kid who [unintelligible] that all of a sudden I wasn’t a full-time dad anymore. There was a rebalancing issue to be dealt with. So there were a bunch of different things, and finally I did get it done and I called up my editor and said, “This just isn’t going to happen” and my editor said, “Jim, you’re a creative person. You people are squirrely.”…..
…extra time to finish this book?
JIM BUTCHER: This one was really hard to write because Dresden spends a whole big chunk of it not really able to communicate with very many people, which means that I can’t write a whole bunch of snappy dialogue which is the easiest, funnest part of my job as a writer. There was a lot of description written and so on, and that’s grindingly slow for me. That was part of it, was getting Dresden kind of out of that quandary.
Part of it was actually figuring out, ‘Oh, wait a minute. The actual plot that I thought was happening is not exactly the plot that I thought was happening.’ And that only came together in the last month or so.
A lot of it was that this book is longer than most of the other ones. In fact, it’s longer than all the previous Dresden Files books.
And also, life happened. I had my kid move out on me and all of the sudden I wasn’t a full time dad anymore. That was weird. That was a rebalancing issue to be dealt with.
So, I mean, there were a bunch of different things and finally I did get it done. I remember I called editor and said, “This just isn’t gonna happen.” And my editor just said, “Jim, you’re a creative person. You people are squirrelly.” And I stopped and thought about that for a minute, and I thought to myself, ‘You know what? Professionally, what I do for a living is to wander around imaginary places that only exist in my head, eavesdropping on conversations between my imaginary friends and then writing it down. Yeah, no wonder I’m not severely well attached. There might be something to that.’
Hopefully the next one will come out in much better order. And then I’m working on another fantasy on the side now. I’m taking a break from that jerk Harry Dresden. I’m tired of him. I’m always tired of him at the end of the book, so it’s always great to go somewhere else, and play in somebody else’s world and play with different imaginary friends. And then eventually I won’t be mad at Harry Dresden any more and I’ll say, ‘Okay, Harry, I’m not mad at you any more. Let’s put you through another book.’
And…that doesn’t seem very sincere, does it?
Okay, well, I hope you’re reading more widely than me because there are so many people out there who are good. Who I read for fun…and the answer to that is — I’m going to give you a bunch of names right now and then later I’m going to go, ‘Oh, I should have said this person,’ somebody I completely forgot.
The late Robert B. Parker. I love his work. I go back and reread Spencer and the Spencer series at least once a year, just because for his use of humor and his ability to turn the occasional really great phrase. Let me think.
There’s a new guy named Harry Connolly who’s got two books out. I don’t know if you’ve read his series yet. The first one’s called Child of Fire, and it’s actually available for $0.99 if you get the electronic version. So, you should go out and secure that because he’s a good writer.
There’s a new guy named Benedict Jacka whose first book is coming out shortly, sometime I think late this year or early next year. It’s called Fated. Keep an eye out for that guy. He’s good. His name is Benedict Jacka. He’s coming out from Roc. And the editor sent me the book and gave me a synopsis of it. I went, ‘*snort* Okay, synopsis.’ And started reading and was like, ‘Oh, oh, oh! This is cool!’ And really, he’s one of the best writers I’ve read in a awhile. Let’s see.
I recently reread The Deed of Paksenarrion again, which is a twenty year old book from TOR. I’m not even sure it’s in print at the moment but she just went back to the world and started writing again as if she hadn’t stopped. And I went, ‘Okay, three months is one thing. A twenty year break between book three and book four seems a little extreme to me,’ but I’m just happy she’s back to writing in that world again now because it’s alot of fun. Let me think. Who else?
I’ve been reading a lot of Brandon Sanderson lately. Brandon Sanderson and I have very similar ideas and kind of philosophy when it comes to putting together fantasy worlds that actually make sense and where things happen for a good reason and there’s very little of just the pure mysticism happening in the background, the inexplicable things. You can get it when it’s all done. You can see how it’s all put together when it’s finished and I really love Brandon’s work for that.
Pat Rothfuss’s new book — yeah, I did meet Pat at Comic-Con. Pat is the nicest guy. There’s a video of him riding an electronic bull at one of the local clubs which is hilarious. You should see it. But Pat takes himself almost as seriously as I do, so we get got along great when we sat down and started talking. But yeah, I read his first book and I’ve been saving his most recent book. I’ve been holding it out as a carrot, saying you can read it in your spare time when you’re on tour, you know, when you’re in the airport or on air planes and stuff when you’re touring, and that’ll be your prize for getting all this work done. Okay. And then I was getting set to start the first leg of tour at Comic-Con and I pack up a bag and went, ‘Great, I can take Wise Man’s Fear with me. Ow. That thing’s huge.’ So it was like, ‘Okay, where’s my iPad. I’m getting this electronic,’ because while I do own the low tech version, which I’ll be happy that I have when EMP’s go off and the zombie apocalypse begins because you’ll be able to defend yourself with the books. An iPad, that won’t drop even a little zombie. A copy of The Name of the Wind, somebody’s gonna go down. But Pat Rothfuss is another person I enjoy tremendously.
There are many other authors. I dug the Harry Potter books, I don’t care what anybody says. The Percy Jackson books were extremely well written. I know those were young adult books. I don’t care. They were cool. But those are just some examples there.
What genre would you like to work in that I haven’t yet just due to contracts or time?
I’ve still got a science fiction series that is sort of Men in Black meets X-Men on the moon. I had to go through — it was one of these things that I really researched, that I got inaudible for no good reason, and I had to go through two hundred years of future history just basically in order to be able to call my group of good guys U.S. Marshals. You know, I had to figure out how we could get there and still able to call them that. But that’s an actual science fiction series, although it’s really more space opera than science fiction.
Actual science fiction at this point looks so weird in the future. I’ve actually stopped and started researching for actual where we’re going, reading some actual futurists and so on. There’s some spooky stuff coming along and it’s…I don’t know if I can have fun writing about that. I mostly want to have a good time.
The good part is though, the positive part, is that people are gonna be people. I don’t care what year we are. We’ve been pretty solid in terms of what sorts of behaviours we’d expect, so I can have a good time with that no matter where we go. But that would be fun.
And I think some superhero books might be fun. I think my superheroes would probably have a good time, wind up using their powers for a bunch of things that nobody ever really thought about before.
….Dresden probably have a good time, wind up using their powers for a bunch of things that nobody ever really thought about before. I’ve only seen that because I’ve been watching the Avengers on Netflix, the animated series of the Avengers on Netflix. It’s actually pretty cool. I’ve been figuring out what everybody’s actual superpower is, on the show. For example, the Wasp, where she can shrink down to fly and shoot stingers at people and so on, her actual superpower is not shrinking, flying and shooting the yellow [unintelligible] people, her actual superpower is “I am just annoying enough that you cannot ignore me no matter how mighty you are, I am just annoying enough that you can’t not pay attention to me, that’s my job. That’s my superpower in the story.”
You’ve put harry Dresden through so much, and he’s suffered through so much, after Changes, where can you possibly go from there?
[Jim lets out a maniacal/evil giggle] You haven’t read the new one yet, have you? Get to the end of the new one, that’ll give you an idea. And we’ll see what happens after this. I just finally go the first sentence of the next book written, which is always the hardest part, after that, everything’s easy. By the time I got to the first sentence of Book 14, it was like, “Ah, that encapsulates the whole deal!”, and we’ll have a good time playing that out.
Do you figure out the end of the story before you start writing the beginning?
When I’m smart. When I’m smart, I do exactly that. When I’m not smart, I sort of wonder what’s going to happen. Normally, I know what the end is going to be, I usually know a big, flashy, high special effects budget sort of scene that’s going to be in the middle, I know about half-a-dozen one-liners that I want to use, and small bit scenes that I want to use, and then, that’s enough for me to get started. I did not do as much pre-planning on Ghost Story, probably because I wanted it to have more of a nebulous feel to it, I wanted the story to have something that seemed kind of misty around the edges than a normal Dresden Files story would be because that was sort of the setting that we were in, and partly because I was an idiot, and just didn’t get it done, and maybe next time I’ll remember to shut up and listen to my writing teacher and write my outline before I start my story. You would think I would get that by now.
Did Dresden lose domain over Demonreach when he died?
Have you gotten to the end of the book? Ok. You read the book, I’ve already answered that one.
Does Harry…ok, Marvel or DC?
Marvel, and here’s why: I’ve never been a Superman fan. I’ve never liked that guy. Now, that said, I’ve been more impressed with how they’ve handled Supes lately, because it seems like they finally understand, “Wait a minute, not everybody likes Captain Perfect flying around over there!” Did you ever see the Marvel-DC crossover of the Superman-Spiderman team up? Superman and Spiderman teamed up together, which makes sense because Peter Parker is a photographer and Clark Kent’s a reporter. And the bad guys blew up some kind of computer, and Spiderman’s like, “Oh, man, they blew up the computer, we’re going to have to do all kids of legwork to try to figure out…” and Superman, before Spiderman is done with his sentence, reassembles the computer that’s been blasted into tiny pieces, puts it back together, and then starts accessing the information on it, and Spiderman actually looks at the computer, and looks at Superman, and then asks, “Why am I here?” and that’s actually written into the book, and I admire the Spiderman writers who were handling that. That was really interesting, that they were able to pick up on that at the time. Actually, DC sent me an email and said, “Hey, would you like to a guest stint on Batman or Superman, because we would love to have you.” And I said, “That would be fantastic, but I don’t know the story well enough for the people who love them.” And I could show up and just sort of write a thing, but that wouldn’t be the same thing as someone who loves the story showing up to play with it, so I wouldn’t do that. Spiderman, though, yeah. This one more day stuff, no. We can do better than that for Spiderman.
How many books do you plan on writing?
The Dresden Files books’ll be about twenty-ish of the case books, like we’ve had so far, it could be a little bit more, it could be a little bit less, depending on whether my kid goes to graduate school, and then we’ll have a big, old apocalyptic trilogy to cap it all off. Because who doesn’t love apocalyptic trilogies?! It’s my sisters’ fault. The first movie I remember them taking me to see was Star Wars, and yeah. Blame them, not me.
Are there more short stories coming?
Yes, there are. Right now, I’m about two-thirds of the way done with the second of the Bigfoot trilogy of stories, which I’m having fun writing. Bigfoot’s the client. He comes to Harry, he’s got some problems with his kid, he can’t exactly walk into town and help, so Dresden gets hired and is on the job. The first one’s called B is for Bigfoot, and the kid’s in grade school. The next one is I Was a Teenage Bigfoot, and the kid’s in high school, and then Bigfoot On Campus, when he’s in college, so the three of those, and several of the short stories, and the one that didn’t make it into the anthology, Curses, will be in there, and any others that I write, because I still owe some short stories. I’ve got to start writing these things, man, they’re so hard. Writing a short story, you have to do everything in the short story that you’d do in a novel, except you have to do it in this much space. It’s like trying to have a knife fight in a phone booth.
Have you decided in a title for the next book?
Book 14 is going to be titled Cold Days. Which will make more sense after you’ve written Book 13.
Where does Curses fit in the timeline?
I’ll have to find it. I think it’s between Dead Beat and Proven Guilty. I’ll have to check my notes to be sure though. I can never keep this stuff straight. I’ll go check on Wikipedia and…seriously! You people keep much better track of this stuff than I possibly could, because by the time you read it, you just have that one version of the book to be read, whereas to me, I’ve got eleven slightly different versions that strongly resemble the one version, that are all the drafts that I write, and then I’ve got all the versions that could have been, that I decided not to use for one reason or another, in my head, and it gets hard to keep them straight, after a while. We’re thirteen books in, I’ve got a couple of hundred slightly different Dresden Files in my head, it’s hard to keep mentally highlighting which one is the actual canon. Which is why I go to Wikipedia. For crying out loud, if I didn’t have that I don’t know what I’d do. How many children do Michael and Charity have again? Look it up. Oh, right, ok. What color were the different panels of Harry’s car, again?
At what point did you realize that Charity had had her own experience with the magical world, and had been a practitioner in the past, and at what point did I know that Molly was going to be Harry’s apprentice?
The answer to that is: when they appeared. I knew that Charity just couldn’t stand Dresden, and I had to have a good reason for her to really not stand him and really, the best reason that anyone could possibly have for not liking somebody is because they remind them of themselves, something they hate in themselves. So I thought that was just perfect. And then I gave her all kinds of good, rational reasons on top of that to not like him. “You get my husband arrested, and in trouble, and beat up!” Ok, well, good point. As far as Molly goes, I knew she was going to be Harry’s apprentice by the end of the first book she showed up in. No, not the end of that one. By the end of Death Masks. By the time she was sitting there with the Knight of the Cross, prank-calling the grocery stores with him, just to play around with his head, you know, that was like, “She’s not going to get away from being Dresden’s apprentice at this point.”
Are you a Game of Thrones fan?
I like the TV show. Because I like Tyrion effing Lannister. He’s a great character. But as far as the actual story goes, I’m upset with it, because for a fantasy novel, it has so little fantasy. I can’t get involved in it, it’s all this politics and backstabbing and people, it’s like “I’ve got people like this that are running my country right now. [unintelligible]” You get to the end of the first season of the HBO series, and it’s like, we’ve had one girl who didn’t burn her hands when she should have, and a zombie. And that was it. Give me a higher budget. I need things getting to explode when you do something to them. At least True Blood level of supernatural coolness.
Can you explain the significance of the dagger that Lea gets and is it the same dagger that Harry uses on Lloyd in Changes?
I’ll answer the second part of that first, which is: no, it was not the same dagger. He uses one of Medea’s knives in Changes. And that dagger [transcriber note: I think the dagger he’s referring to here is Lea’s dagger, not the one that killed Slate—see the rest of his answer below, which implies that Lea’s dagger is younger. Medea is ancient Greek and thus predates Morgan Le Fay.] That dagger–did this even go into the books? Maybe not–originally belonged to Morgan Le Fay, like, the original Morgan Le Fay, that was her personal athame, her ritual knife. Which is a big deal. As far as the significance of what it did, I’m still being coy about that. It’s going to come into play later on. Suffice to say that an older and wickeder dagger was needed by Mab for such things as she used in the last book.
Maggie LeFay, Morgan LeFay, is that a generational name, are they related?
No, the “LeFay” is something that gets added as an honorific in the wizarding community, it’s one of those kind of mixed names that you give somebody that is sort of a name that she’s earned, so it’s a bit of status, and it also means you’re insane. Which everybody thought Harry’s mom was, being a big-time explorer of Ways and hanging out with Faeries and generally kind of doing things that most wizards considered to be pretty crazily, stupidly dangerous. When you’re somebody who can live for three or four hundred years as long as nothing goes wrong, you tend to be a little conservative, really, you get a lot of benefit from that. And certainly, in Maggie’s case, she was bucking the trend, and we’ll probably get into a little bit more of why she was doing that later in the books.
What happened in Minnesota? You’ve got something…Harry went up to Minnesota because someone saw something in a lake. WHAT HAPPENED?! [transcriber note: HEAR, HEAR!]
Uh, I’ll get there. That’ll probably be one of the short stories. That was when I didn’t really plan for all those mentions of between book things, and things that had gone before, and so on. I had originally planned those out so that I could write short stores if I wanted, I had actually thought about doing that as a graphic novel, but they wanted something a little bit different, and to go after the Fool Moon graphic novels, so I write them all new story after them. Which is actually cool enough that I should have made it a novella or a book or something myself, I almost feel bad I’m giving this one to the graphic novel, but that’s ok. It’ll be a good story.
At the end of Dead Bead, Harry threatens Mavra, says that he understands how to use necromancy against the Black Court, and then the last thing that Harry says to Lash is that they need to talk about Outsiders and how they relate to the Black Court. Are the Black Court more than just a court of vampires? Do they have more metaphysical significance?
Long question, what it amounts to is do the Black Court of vampires have more significance that just being corpse-y vampires? Are they tied in somehow with the over story of what’s going on. And the answer to that is: I’m a really lazy writer. And if I could possibly use something more than once, or use it for more than one purpose, I will. And I’ll leave it there.
Is Thomas going to be wielding Amoracchius?
I’m not sure, actually, where those are going to fall out. There are several different places where I could put them. And all of them would be fun, and I’m just trying to figure out which ones are going to be the most fun.
You’ve mentioned several times that marriages are used to seal pacts and alliances, will Harry be forced into a marriage, and will it be with Lara [Raith]?
What makes you think that Harry hasn’t been forced into a marriage already? I mean, the whole thing with Mab, come on. Read more book. Read the most recent one, and see if that doesn’t give you more answers. Certainly, he’s in it deep with Mab at the moment, because there’ll be none of this, “He’s going to get out of this because he was technically dead”—no, it’s too easy.
You mentioned you’re working on another fantasy/sci-fi project, can you tell us anything about it?
I’m having way too much fun with it. It is influenced by the Black Company novels by Glenn Cook, also excellent fantasy, if you’ve never read them. It’s called the Fortress trilogy and I think it’s going to be the prequel trilogy to my epicepicfantasyepic, but it’s so epic, it’s a prequel trilogy. That’s always been my dream, to write a huge, huge swords-and-horses fantasy, and we’ll start off by writing a prequel trilogy for a warm-up and we’ll see what happens.
Here is BeaverCreek Part 1 [and the first question of part 2, which continues from part 1.] I left out things like audience laughter/applause etc. I’ll work on more tomorrow:
BEAVERCREEK SIGNING 7-29-2011 PART 1
[Questions will be all in caps – Jim’s answers will have normal punctuation.]
Okay – how are you guys doing? [Laughter and applause]
Sorry about that – don’t kick me out – okay Sorry I get a […] ful standing out there as if Im a teacher or something and I never really liked those people – some of them – some of them were all right. One of my teachers in 4th grade actually had to bring a bookcase from home and put it in her office, because every time she caught me reading a book when i was supposed to be paying attention to her lesson she would take the book away and eventually she had no desk so she had to bring in a bookcase and put it in her office, so she had the entire […] series and every science fiction book ever. It’s like being in class and she’d be giving a lesson and well I already read the lesson and I got it so, why shouldn’t I read a book. I always felt she was being – In retrospect, I think she was very conflicted about that. Here’s this student not paying attention, but Im taking his BOOK away – that seems counterproductive to the education part. [Laughter]
Is it okay if we do like question and answer? Is that fine by you guys? Okay. But for it to work someone has to ask a question. Okay – here we go.
WHY DID YOU CUT YOUR HAIR?
Well I thought it was thematic – with the release of Changes when it came out – and I wanted to really shock my wife. So I left with the hair down to the middle of my back and the full I’ve-been-writing-for-three-months beard – that’s where my inspiration comes from. My muse lives in the beard. I went out with all that and got the hair down to the crew cut and had the beard taken off and came back in and waited for her to freak – and we had one of those conversations that goes on for 20 minutes where she doesn’t look up from what she’s doing to notice and finally I got tired of waiting for the bomb to drop and just sort of sat down and started watching TV and maybe 15 minutes later she’s like “Oh my God! If we hadn’t been talking I would have shot you. ” A charming woman is my lady.
ARE WE EVER GOING TO FIND OUT ABOUT KINCAID’S PAST?
Maybe a bit more – maybe not. I’m not sure how we’ll do that yet. I kind of have this vague project in mind of doing the Dresden Files universe version of the French and Indian War – which would be so much fun because it’s all the old folks on the Senior Council that are so angry at Harry for being a punky young wizard – that was when THEY were the punky young wizards. So that would be a really good time I think, but of course the danger in that is, Im going to have to learn about the French and Indian War. That’s one of those projects I could get into and then forget – Oh, wait a minute! Im supposed to be writing a book, aren’t I?
WHAT ARE THE CHANCES OF GETTING ME TO COME OUT AS A GUEST AND SITTING IN ON THE ROLE-PLAYING GAMES AT THE GAMING CONVENTIONS THAT THEY RUN?
Well let’s see. Getting me out there – Im not traveling next year – at all – in honor of the Mayan apocalypse. I figure maybe Im a little jaded because this is the seventh or eighth apocalypse Ive lived through. But if we’re all here in 2013 then I’ll resume my schedule and I try to go to at least one small con, one medium-sized con and one big con every year, because the small and medium-sized cons – even though I don’t get to see as many people – they have their own advantages too and I can actually hang out with folks and talk and stuff like that. And nobody says – “Jim – you’ve made this room into a fire hazard!” – like that guy in Atlanta.
I WAS ATTRACTED TO HARRY DRESDEN BY THE S-F SERIES. ARE YOU HAPPY WITH THE WAY IT TURNED OUT OR DO YOU REGRET THAT NOW BECAUSE OF THE CHANGES THEY MADE?
This fella was attracted to the books through the series on S-F . Was I happy with it or was I upset with the changes they made? I like to think of my cups as half full. There’s 3 kinds of people in the world – optimists who think the cup is half full, pessimists who think the cup is half empty and engineers who think the cup is overdesigned by 100 percent. But, I think, all in all, it could have been a lot worse. And I say that because I saw the first draft, the first treatment – which none of you saw if you laughed because there’s not enough brain bleach in all the world. But, all in all, it was okay. There were some things that I was really annoyed with at the time – what they did with Bob annoyed the hell out of me – but Terence Mann’s is a good actor and he’s a really nice guy in person and he had a gift – he [had me] sold on it by about episode 10. If the darned thing hadn’t stopped when it did, i think it could have gone on to bigger and better things. They were getting their stuff together production-wise and so on as they went along. But on the other hand it might be a good thing that it did stop because – you know – before they did anything completely squirrelly with it, like – you know maybe it’s a good thing it got cancelled – I don’t know.
But all in all it was a positive experience. I got to go up and do my Stan Lee appearance in the show – it was fun. Im in the background in Butters’ morgue somewhere, being one of his assistants . I don’t actually get to talk or anything – you have to join the guild to do that. Man, Im in too many guilds already.
YOU USE A LOT OF ‘M’ NAMES IN THE SERIES – MAB, MAX, MAEVE, MOLLY, MICHAEL ETC – IS THERE A REASON FOR THAT?
Uh, maybe, yeah [seems non-plussed] There’s no conscious reason for it although my beta readers – whenever I show up with a new character named with an ‘M’ , they’re like – “Another ‘M’ name! Another “M” name! It’s like – Oh come on! Get used to it. Mmmmm – can’t say mmmmmmm without “M” .
But no – no conscious reason. Some of them were pre-named for me though. Mab was pre-named for me. I didn’t name her. The archangel Michael was pre-named for me. Same thing. I feel the case has been overstated – the case in favor of too many ‘M’ names.
WHEN CORPSETAKER TOOK A BODY – LIKE LUCCHIO’S BODY – DID THEY RESET THE AGES?
No, the bodies are just suits. And Lucchio’s original suit was more worn out than the new one that she got, and that’s the only difference.
DID YOU ALWAYS INTEND TO INTRODUCE MOUSE OR DID MISTER JUST NOT DEVELOP INTO THE COMPANION THAT YOU WANTED?
Mister is a cat and cats do not develop into anything. And I feel that to do anything like that would have been to betray the very nature of cats and they might declare war on me if that happened. I swear to God Im eventually going to write this theme-park universe that I run my game in, where the cats have opposable thumbs – and yeah you don’t want to mess with a cat with opposable thumbs. They have opposable thumbs and matches so – better treat them with respect or there’s gonna be some trouble.
But yeah – Mouse was created as Dresden’s enemies were getting tougher and tougher – and it seemed like it would be a simpler and simpler solution to kill him in his sleep. So I wanted to be sure that he had a real solid protection […..] for him so that was one of the reasons Mouse kind of got sent his way in terms of the author sending him his way. But I really like the way he [grew up?] and Mister – Mister’s gonna be mighty no matter what – I mean, he’s a cat. He’s not a special cat or anything. He’s a CAT. How much better could he be? At least that’s his perspective.
ARE WE GOING TO HEAR MORE ABOUT MR FERROFAX?
Yeah – later in the series. Im fundamentally lazy as a writer and I don’t like to introduce things that Im not going to use and I like to re-use things whenever I can. And I think it makes a better story that way too. But mostly, Im lazy.
WHEN YOU STARTED WRITING I REMEMBER YOU SAYING ONCE THAT YOU WERE TAKING A WRITING CLASS AND YOUR TEACHER SAID – ‘WELL JUST TRY THIS FORMULA’ – AND YOU FOUGHT AGAINST IT OR SOMETHING AND THEN WHEN YOU FINALLY DID USE THE FORMULA OR WHATEVER SHE WAS TEACHING YOU TO – IT WAS SUCCESSFUL – IS THAT RIGHT?
A course in the University of Oklahoma’s College of Journalism called Writing a Genre Fiction Novel, and what the course was, was that over the semester you wrote a novel, and it was a pass/fail course kind of thing. If you did not finish your novel that semester, you did not pass. And Debbie had been working with me – Debbie [Chester?] was a teacher – and she had been working with me for several years trying to convince me of some very common sense things about story telling and I was not listening to her because I had a degree in English literature, whereas she had merely published 40 novels.
So one semester I decided to prove her wrong. I decided I was going to prove her wrong by being maliciously co-operative with her. I was going to be her good little writing zombie. I was going to fill out all her little worksheets and build all these little structures and do these character sheets and outlines – and then she would see what awful, cookie-cutter pablum crap came out of that kind of process. And I wrote Storm Front. You know, which showed her – clearly. Im one of these guys who’s been fortunate enough for his stupid mistakes to have worked out well. Stupidity has been my ally so far so I try not to feel too smart because it might jeopardize my success.
Transcribed by Starshine
BEAVERCREEK PART 2
[Sorry – there were some things on here that I could not get. Especially the author’s last names and the last question. Maybe somebody else can listen and suggest something?]
BEAVERCREEK SIGNING – PART 2
[Question was at end of part 1]
A course in the University of Oklahoma’s College of Journalism called Writing a Genre Fiction Novel, and what the course was, was that over the semester you wrote a novel, and it was a pass/fail course kind of thing. If you did not finish your novel that semester, you did not pass. And Debbie had been working with me – Debbie [Chester?] was a teacher – and she had been working with me for several years trying to convince me of some very common sense things about story telling and I was not listening to her because I had a degree in English literature, whereas she had merely published 40 novels.
So one semester I decided to prove her wrong. I decided I was going to prove her wrong by being maliciously co-operative with her. I was going to be her good little writing zombie. I was going to fill out all her little worksheets and build all these little structures and do these character sheets and outlines – and then she would see what awful, cookie-cutter pablum crap came out of that kind of process. And I wrote Storm Front. You know, which showed her – clearly. Im one of these guys who’s been fortunate enough for his stupid mistakes to have worked out well. Stupidity has been my ally so far so I try not to feel too smart because it might jeopardize my success.
WHO DO YOU DRAW INSPIRATION FROM? WHAT NEW AUTHORS OUT THERE ARE YOU READING?
One of the most recent guys that came out is Harry [Powley?] His first book is called Child of Fire and it’s a really excellent book. His world that he set up is just so dark and nasty – I love it. There’s a new author that isn’t published yet that I got to read a manuscript for because they were hoping for a quote and I gave them them the best quote I’ve ever given anybody – his name is Benedict [jacker?] and the book is called Faded – and it’s just marvelous. I love it. And not only because he mentions Harry Dresden indirectly on like the first page. Or not purely because of that but it’s also extremely well done and a very clever book.
Lets see – [Scal —] I read [Scal–] . I read [….] and [Hagen?] for being able to write this beautiful poetic passages and then switch instantly to the gritty, pulpy action prose – I hate that guy! He’s really nice though.
Recently I’ve been reading [Brandon Chanderson?] I finished Way of Kings this morning on the plane. I thought it was a wonderful book. I hope I can do happy fantasy that good at some point.
Robert E Parker of course – the late Robert Parker. The Spencer series I loved. Pretty much everything he’s written Ive read it and loved it. There’s always people that I forget to mention that are on there whenever anybody asks this question. Guys like E E Knight. I loved his Vampire Earth series. Cause that was a story that should not work. Space vampires. It should not work! But yet he makes it work – and very well. It’s a great job with what he does.
Naomi Novik [?] I love the [….] books. I was a Harry Potter fan. I liked the books. And there’s others – Im just not remembering them at the moment.
IN ONE OF YOUR EARLIER BOOKS YOU MAKE A VERY [BRIEF] REFERENCE TO THE JADE COURT. WILL THEY EVER COME INTO PLAY?
Oh maybe. Will the Jade Court ever come into play? Maybe. Probably not until the BAT finale, being as they are isolationists and by definition they don’t get involved in stuff. So, if anything like that was to happen, Dresden would have to go get involved with them and it’s hard enough to research Chicago, but to research CHINA?? I don’t know – that seems to go against my basic laziness principle.
ARE WE GOING TO GET MORE ON MOUSE – HIS ORIGINS AND WHERE HE CAME FROM?
Yeah, we are. As Dresden works it out eventually, but it’s going to take a while. Also note that Dresden did not necessarily rescue ALL the puppies that got stolen.
THERE WERE SEVERAL MENTIONS OF THE VARIOUS SPECIES IN CODEX ALERA THAT WERE APPARENTLY WIPED OUT. ARE YOU GOING TO GO INTO ANY NOVELS THAT EXPAND ON THAT?
I don’t have any plans for it right now. Basically – the basic story is – the Romans showed up and there were all these other races that were on this world – Aleris – I always thought of it as the end of the dump shoot for the Bermuda Triangle of the galaxy. And the Romans basically had a very rigid kill or be killed mindset – and they was really good at killing. And even more so after they got Furies [?] so there were a lot of people that got crushed by the Romans and that was where the story came from, but if I do go back to Alera, it will probably be a couple of generations down the line where you can see the effects that have happened because of what everybody’s been doing in the original series. It’ll be a much [clean? lean?] healthier place when we go back, so – but I don’t know when we’ll do that.
WHY DID [ARTHUR KILL THE ………..] CHARACTER?
[A lot of laughter and applause – I couldn’t hear the question well and Jim didn’t repeat it]
Because we do not survive upon our royalty payments, but upon your pain.
[more laughter and even more applause]
We feast upon you.
I don’t know if anybody went to [Woodstock?] at Comicon this year. There was a whole skit about exactly that. [ Amy? ………] was performed by Wil Wheaton and Alicia [Days?] Buy the video – Im sure it’s out on video.
I WAS WONDERING – IS IT MORE LIKELY THAT WE SEE ANOTHER DRESDEN FILES BOOK OR ONE OF THE MYRIAD OTHER PROJECTS THAT YOU’RE THINKING OF NEXT?
I don’t know. The only one I’ve got contracted right now is the next Dresden book. I’m working on another fantasy right now. I don’t know if it’ll get done in time for me cause Im going to have to stop by Christmas and start working on the next Dresden. But as far as I know it’ll be Dresden – that is subject to change without notice – and if I do get a contract, then I’ll announce it on my site so folks can know that it’s on the way.
I INTRODUCED THE NOVELS TO MY FIANCEE WHO IMMEDIATELY CONSUMED ALL OF THEM [IN THE SPACE OF A WEEK?] AND AT THE END OF IT SHE LOOKED AT ME AND SHE SAID “I REALLY LOVE THESE NOVELS BUT – WHY IN THE COVER ART DOES HE WEAR A HAT?
What’s with Dresden’s hat in the cover art is the question – the answer to that is the art department thought it was a good idea. They thought it was the perfect visual shorthand for wizard detective – he’s got a wizard staff and he’s got a detective fedora – wizard/detective right there. So that’s what they wanted and that’s what they got. And they said – Jim, you approve of this -right?!?! [Laughter]
Yeah – it’s gorgeous – it’s the best cover ever .
[book company] Good! Im glad you said that.
IS EBENEZAR GOING TO FIND OUT THAT HE HAS OTHER GRANDCHILDREN SOMEWHERE?
[singsong voice] – Im not gonna tell you.
I can’t. I mean – I cant – that’s future stuff. We’ll get to lots and lots of things. I had to chant – Im not gonna tell you – so many times last night in Atlanta – it was kind of fun actually.
ARE THRE ANY PLANS FOR A DRESDEN VIDEO GAME IN THE FUTURE?
There are always plans, but in the media business you can never be sure about anything until the check clears, so there are talks going on right now – we’ll have to see what happens. But I’d like it – I think they should do an [MMOR] PG – that would be awesome. Except I think I could probably get membership for free .
[Question from audience – cannot hear it. Answer is another Im not gonna tell you and a lot of laughter. Tape ends.]
Transcribed by Starshine
BEAVERCREEK PART 3
[…….] although it would be easier to work aircraft carriers in if I did it like that. I mean, you know, a [little Hitler??]
IS MAGIC EVER REALLY GOING TO COME OUT OF THE CLOSET IN THE DRESDEN-VERSE?
Right here, because, as I said.
[My note – this doesn’t make sense to me – but I think something is missing in the transition from Pt 2 to Pt 3.]
I WAS JUST WONDERING – DO YOU HAVE ANY IDEA OF HOW MANY BOOKS OR MOVIES ARE GOING TO COME OUT [of your work?]
Total books in the DF series 20-ish of the case books – it could be a little bit more, it could be a little bit less, depending on whether or not my kid goes to grad school. And when I get done with the case books there’ll be a BAT as kind of a gap-fill thing.
THE MORE THE BETTER.
So YOU say, but when things go on past their expiration date you wind up with things like the last season of X-Files – you’ve got that zombie show, just sort of staggering on – it should have died, you know, a while ago [monster voice] AWESOMELY!
OVER THE COURSE OF A SERIES DURING THE CREATIVE PROCESS WHAT DO YOU FIND MOST OFTEN GETS LEFT ON THE CUTTING ROOM FLOOR?
I’ve got a pathological aversion to actually chopping stuff out once I”ve gotten it written – see above regarding lazy. The things that do get dropped out are mostly small bits and pieces – pieces of conversation that really weren’t relevant to what was going on – descriptions that just kind of rambled on and on too long when I could have done it in like a word and a half. That kind of thing.
Oh – actually – there are actually entire chapters that got scrapped once in a while where I realized – Oh wait a minute! I should have taken a left at Albuquerque and instead I got this chapter which was taking the book in completely the wrong direction so I delete it, and start over. I don’t think I actually saved very many of those though. Most of them – I look at them and go ooops! – don’t let anybody know you did it – they’ll think you’re cooler that way.
[WHAT IS YOUR SECRET AS A WRITER TO BEING SO GOOD, SO CLEAR?]
My secret to being so clear – I worked really, really hard to learn how to do it. I mean I wrote for like 9 years before I ever sold anything for any money at all. And I’ve got half a dozen novels that are so awful I would not have made Osama bin Laden read them.
Mostly the important thing as a writer that you have to learn is don’t get too overcomplicated with your language if you’re trying to make things clear. My belief as a writer is that if I’m doing my job right, the language should be transparent so that as the story’s going, you don’t even know you’re reading words – you’re kind of creating your own virtual reality as you go along. I like the transparent writer. I don’t like to do the wordplay thing – or at least not very often. Plus I’m not very good at it. [?Rathless? OOH Rathless?]
ON YOUR BIO YOU MENTION YOUR VICIOUS ATTACK DOG. IS THAT SARCASM OR IS HE REALLY A VICIOUS ATTACK DOG?
He is VICIOUS. He is the most vicious 20 pounds of Bichon Frisee – you have ever seen. 20 pounds of killer white fluff. I never said he was dangerous – I said he was vicious. And indeed he is. OTOH, he’s also saved my kid from a bear – so he’s worth it.
I can tell the bear story if you want. All right – at one point we were living out in kind of the middle of nowhere Pennsylvania. We were about half an hour out of state college -maybe a little bit further – kind of in Amish country. We were living in this long valley – it was like 22 miles long and there were like 3 houses and then Amish farms was the whole thing. Mountains and ridges all around – just gorgeous, but there was actual wildlife about.
Anyway,we’ve got this little dog and we make him sleep with the boy downstairs in his room which is right off the kitchen. And we put the baby gate up, the boy goes to bed and we put the dog in bed with the boy and they go to sleep and it’s adorable.
One night , at about 3 in the morning, the dog somehow manages to knock the baby gate over, climb up the stairs – which he’s never done before – he’s a puppy – and then he came to the side of the bed and he’s throwing a fit at me from the side of the bed [doggie fit noises] . And Im like – what is wrong with you? You’ve come to […..] aren’t you – that’s what it is. And so I take the dog back downstairs, all sleepy and grumpy to put him back in bed with the boy and I find that the boy has kicked all the covers off and he’s just lying in bed shuddering like that – he’s running like a 101 fever. And Im like – oh my gosh – take care of the kid and give him Tylenol and get him back to bed and he goes back to sleep again . And Im like – Good Dog! That was awesome! I picked him up, put him on the bed, he curled up next to the boy and went right to sleep. But wow! – okay! That’s pretty cool!.
A couple of weeks later, the same thing happens. I’m like – What is it Lassie? Did Timmy fall down the well again? And so I go downstairs, and the boy’s fine. And I kind of stop and look at the dog and say – It’s 2:30 in the morning – what do you think you’re doing? [More frantic dog noises] We had kind of this long, narrow house. And he goes about 10 feet down the kitchen and then stops and looks at me. And Im like – What? [More frantic dog noises] I walk over to him, he quiets down. Okay, that’s a little bizarre. So he goes another 10 feet and does the same thing. And another 10 feet, and another 10 feet, and we go all the way – up and down – the first floor of the house. We do this twice. And then after that he curls up in a ball and goes to sleep.
I’m like – Okay. You are officially crazy. I pick him up. I put him in bed. I go back to bed. The next morning I”m getting the kid up. I’m getting him off to school and – what you have to realize is – the main door to the house that we use was the kitchen door – and then immediately across from the kitchen door was the door to his room – okay, now this was a glass door. I open the door, cause I was gonna walk the kid out to the bus stop – and I stop and look and on the snow on the steps leading up to the door are bear prints about this big – pawprints. I kind of stopped and I look at those and I look down and I go outside and the pawprints go all the way around the house – twice. And I realized at that point that the dog had known the bear was out there . He came to get me, and then he made me pace the bear up and down the […..] – so that the bear would know I knew he was there. After that man – I looked at that dog and said – You are IN. All right. [ Laughter and applause]
Now whenever anybody gives me a hard time about having a little dog – “You need to have a big dog – like my german shepherd” – I go like – Did your german shepherd ever save your kid from a bear? Noooo. Well, that little dog DID!
ARE YOU STILL THINKING ABOUT DOING A MISTER/MOUSE/BOB SHORT STORY?
It has been suggested to me it might be fun – it’d be kind of like the DF version of [Funiculai??] which influenced me when I was small and impressionable and I think it probably got taken away by my teacher while I was [there too?].
HAVE YOU READ GEORGE MARTIN’S GAME OF THRONES AND THE SEQUELS AND WHAT DID YOU THINK OF THEM?
I read the first one probably – many,many moons ago – right after it first came out . I read it and went “ummmmm” – for fantasy, this is really low on fantasy – you know, you kind of go through the whole thing and you’ve got one person that doesn’t get burned by fire and a zombie. And it’s like – it’s a little lower than the fantasy intake that I want. I could probably go back and read them again. I might think they’re much better now. The Black Company books were like that for me. First time I read them Im like – whatever – and I went back 10 or 15 years later after I’d studied a lot of history and so on – and Im like – Oh my gosh! These are brilliant! And it’s just a matter of perspective I think and where you are. And maybe I’ll think Martin’s brilliant the next time I go back. I like the series though. Im all [..….] about the series.
SPEAKING ABOUT THE SERIES, AND I KNOW YOU’VE ALREADY TRIED IT WITH S-F, BUT WITH ALL THESE OTHER BOOK SERIES GOING TO HBO AND [ALLTHAT], HAVE YOU EVER CONSIDERED DOING THAT, OR MAYBE A MOVIE?
Have I ever considered doing the DF for HBO or for a movie? I shall think about it. [Laughter]. I’m willing to forgive Hollywood for the first iteration of the DF and the Sorceror’s Apprentice. I’m just saying if you take the covers of the comic book and the [….] from Sorcerer’s Apprentice and put them next to each other – that’s all Im saying.
I think if it had been anyone other than Nick Cage….. [part 3 ends]
Transcribed by Starshine
BEAVERCREEK PART 4
[….] books at me when I was visiting the set – it was awesome!
AS AN AUTHOR IN YOUR BOOKS YOU’VE ALWAYS BEEN ABLE TO GRAB MY ATTENTION REALLY QUICKLY FROM PAGE ONE AND TO KEEP IT THERE ALL THE WAY THROUGH THE BOOK. IS THAT SOMETHING YOU’VE HAD TO WORK AT OR IS THAT SOMETHING THAT COMES NATURAL TO YOU?
I would like to tell you that – yes – I have worked out millions of secret ways – and I have formulas and excel spread sheets and so on to figure it out. But honestly, I think what it is, is it springs out of the way that I write because I write a chapter at a time and then I send the chapter off to my Beta readers and they let me know what’s going on in the chapter. And my personal goal is to make the beta readers scream by the end of the chapter that there’s not another chapter for them to read. And as a result I think that means that I’m setting the hook at the end of every chapter – cause nobody likes to stop just in the middle of a chapter. They’ll say – one more chapter. But if I make a good chapter interesting enough – [….] then they’ll keep reading. And – it was an accident. I’ve had a lot of those and a little bit of good luck.
ARE WE GOING TO FIND OUT MORE ABOUT BOB AND HIS RELATIONSHIP WITH MAB AND COMPANY ANYTIME?
Yeah – we’re gonna do a whole bunch of fairy stuff next book. The next book’s gonna be all about Winter court and Dresden showing up there.
ARE WE EVER GOING TO MEET LEFAY’S MOTHER?
As in Ebenezar’s wife? Well, not unless we go back and do the French and Indian War thing probably.
ARE WE GOING TO FIND OUT WHO SHE IS?
She was a mortal. She died somewhere around 1810 I think. I’ve got it all written down somewhere. Plus I can check Wikipedia. I often look at Wikipedia before I go somewhere else. Because you guys keep track of it way better than I do. I mean, by the time Im done with a book, I’ve seen 7 or 8 slightly different versions, and then maybe 2 or 3 versions that I chose not to write, so by the time you get to Book 13 of the series, that’s 13 times 12 – that many different versions of the book so it starts getting hard to do the book-keeping in my head with all of that – so I go to Wikipedia – which is great.
THERE’S A LOT OF OCCULT REFERENCES IN YOUR BOOKS. IS THAT SOMETHING THAT YOU ARE INTERESTED IN AND STUDY ON YOUR OWN OR IS THAT SOMETHING YOU JUST LOOKED UP FOR THE BOOKS?
By and large something I looked up. I still think it’s terribly interesting and it’s the kind of subject I would read up on anyway but for the most part, when I was building a magic system, I went out and bought several books from the metaphysical section of the local bookstore to figure out – kind of read about what people who actually believe – the people who actually incorporate it into their system of faith and see what they think about it and how things work, and then I tried to rip off all the best stuff from them for the DF and then throw in a few things that were dramatically cool.
AS FAR AS KILLING OFF HARRY DRESDEN, WAS THAT PRE-PLANNED FROM CLOSE TO THE BEGINNING OR WAS THAT A NATURAL PROGRESSION?
Sorry – Killing off Harry Dresden – was that pre-planned from the very beginning or was that just starting off in another direction? It’s key – a ghost solving his own murder in Book 13 – it’s not by accident. Yeah that was planned from the very beginning. I was very pleased that I finally got to write that part.
ANY TIME SOON – LIKE IN THE NEXT 2 BOOKS – ARE WE GIONG TO GET ANY MOVEMENT ON HARRY’S CONNECTION TO THE OUTSIDERS?
Yeah, probably pretty soon – I can’t keep putting it off much longer. Although it is fun to tease you. I eventually have to deliver or else it’s no good.
WHERE DID YOU GET THE INSPIRATION FOR BOB ?
The inspiration from Bob mostly came from me wanting to […] my teacher’s notes. I told her – after I’d written the first series of the DF – or the first chapter of the first book – she read the chapter and said – Well, I think you’ve done it! I said “What?!” She said this is sellable. I think this will sell. What are you planning for next? And I’m like uh -uh – he’s got to go talk to his – I’ve got to give him this assistant so that when the cops are around they’ll be the dummies that he can explain things to – cause that’s one of the principles of writing – it’s the joy of idiocy – you always keep one dummy around to ask questions and have things explained to him and that’s how you get the information to the reader in a more entertaining fashion.
So sometimes Murphy will be the dummy and then when there’s something that Dresden needs to know he can go to this more nerdy assistant and the assistant will be the dummy – errr – and he’ll be the dummy and the assistant will be the smart guy. And she’s [i e his teacher] like okay – that works. Just dont make him a talking head. [Laughter] Which is writing crap shorthand for a character that just shows up and dispenses information and then turns around and walks away. And the examples she always used for the talking head characters were the characters from the old bad b/w s-f movies who would show up and say – “As you know, Bob ..” Except, if Bob knows, why are you explaining it to him, you meathead!
So I had to make a literal talking head named Bob and she sort of read that and just looked up at me over her spectacles across the desk and said “You think you’re funny don’t you?”
DID CASSIUS’ DEATH CURSE GET RESOLVED?
Yeah – and that was also really something that was part of the factors that Dresden did not know about that was pushing him towards that decision to begin with. But that’s not something that he can tangibly factor in to what he’s experiencing at the time.
I REALLY ENJOYED YOUR DEPICTION OF THE FAE IN THE BOOKS. WHAT WAS YOUR FIRST ENCOUNTER WITH THEM […..]
I first ran into the Fae in terms of the Fae being the Sidhe and not just like Tinkerbelle or [….] when I was playing Amber-mush [?] in the early 90’s and I would mush like a theme and I could mush 11 characters simultaneously. Some of them had conversations with one another . But that was when my fingers still worked really well and I had really awesome typing speed. But that was when I first ran into the concept of the Sidhe and then I had to go and look them up and expand on them and learn more about them there.
NOT SO MUCH A QUESTION BUT I JUST WANTED TO THANK YOU FOR YOUR POSITIVE PORTRAYAL OF CHRISTIAN CHARACTERS BECAUSE THERE’S SO MANY BOOKS WHERE THEY TAKE CHRISTIAN CHARACTERS AND THEY MAKE THEM SO STEREOTYPICAL AND SO HYPERCRITICAL AND I REALLY APPRECIATE THAT VERY POSITIVE PORTRAYAL OF THE CHRISTIAN CHARACTERS WITH MICHAEL AND HIS FAMILY AND SO I JUST WANTED TO THANK YOU FOR THAT.
Oh – she likes the positive portrayal of Michael and his family as the Christian characters and you’re right – I mean most often if you’re going to have the Christian faith appearing in a book or a movie the guy who’s supposed to be embodying it is always either a hypocrite or a self-righteous moron. I wanted to try and write something that I thought was a little bit closer to the actual ideal. The people who actually do live up to that actual ideal aren’t the people who go around saying – Look! Im living up to the ideal – there’re too busy being it.
I WAS WONDERING IF MAC’S ALE WAS BASED ON A BEER YOU’VE HAD OR IF I SHOULD GET WITH MY BREWING BUDDIES AND START MAKING IT?
I don’t drink – like at all. My family line has way too high a cross-enrollment in alcoholics anonymous and state prisons. So it’s one of those things – like -no, I think I’d better stay away from that and so I have. So I have to rely on my friends who actually do appreciate it to be able to tell me – no, you’ve got to write about it like this – Oh, okay. I can do that.
DO YOU PLAY WARHAMMER?
Like the online version?
END OF PART 4
Transcribed by Starshine
BEAVERCREEK PART 5
I’ve got whole armies painted up. I can field a bunch of different armies – if my son hadn’t lost all my models by now. He likes the game too, so – and the poor kid, he grew up in a family surrounded by all my nerdy friends – he had no chance.
ARE YOU EVER GOING TO EXPLAIN HOW MAC GOT HIS PUB TO BE ACCORDED NEUTRAL GROUND?
Well, he filled out the paperwork and there was a $40 fee – yeah, we’ll get into that at some point.
DID YOU ACTUALLY WRITE CODEX ALERA ON A BET?
Indeed. This was before I had gotten published and I was on several different writing groups on the internet, and there were all these discussions that went on constantly – and these were discussions that went on constantly because these were the kinds of arguments that pretty much you hit the reply button, then your caps lock, then start typing.
And I was a little loud-mouthed kid on the internet at the time with all the other loud-mouthed kids on the internet and there was a big argument that came up over the concept of the sacred idea vs the creator’s presentation. The idea behind the sacred idea is that if you’ve got a good enough idea you can sell a book that’s wildly successful even if you write terribly and the example they held up to embody that was Jurassic Park. Their example not mine.
Whereas I was on the other side of the argument that said that you could take the oldest, tiredest, worst idea in the entire world and if you had a good enough writer writing it and handling it, he could make it fresh and new and create something new out of that, that was still valuable. I mean, how many versions of Romeo and Juliet have you seen – it’s unreal.
So the discussion went on back and forth and finally this guy said – You know what? Why don’t you just put your money where your mouth is ? Why don’t you just let me give you a bad idea and see if YOU can write a series out of it? And being the nerdy kid I was at the time, I said – No, Ive got a better idea. Why don’t you give me TWO terrible ideas and I’ll use them BOTH.
That’ll learn me to keep my mouth shut. So the kid says – All right. First terrible idea – lost Roman legion. I am so sick of lost Roman legions stories. All lost Roman legions should have been found by now!
So the lost Roman legion was the first idea. So I said – Okay. What’s number 2? And he said – Pokymon! So I went and researched it. I went and researched the lost Roman legion. They usually mean the 9th Hibernia Legion when they talk about that. It was the Legion that disappeared while marching in friendly territory – and, marching through a thunderstorm – and never marched out. And to my way of thinking probably that territory wasn’t quite so friendly. But on the other hand, what if they went somewhere else? Okay, where did they go? Land of Pokymon – obviously!
So I went and researched Pokymon – which is itself a fusion of two ideas, one of which is the Shinto religion with the idea that within all natural things there is a vital spirit of life called a Kami and if you’ve got like a little pebble there’s a little teeny kami and if you’ve got a great big mountain, there’s a great big kami inside it – and you’d better respect it. And you should respect the pebble too, but if you don’t – what’s it gonna do – it’s a pebble. It’s really limited in terms of how it can harm you.
And for Pokymon they took that idea and they fused it with professional wrestling. So I said – okay. You know what? Let’s take that Shinto idea and use that and I’ll infuse the natural things in the Pokymon world with these spirits and the lost Roman legion will show up there, and I mixed it together and I gave them a couple of thousand years to have a complete apocalypse on their planet, and then form a society, and started growing and kind of documented everything that happened and then said – Okay. This is point where I’m going to start. And I started writing it with a boy on a farm because that’s where fantasy starts. Not my rule – that’s just how it started.
And started writing that. And then as I got into it, I was like – ooh – this is actually a really good story – I like it – I think I could do something with it . And I said – You know what? Im not going to put this up on the list because that’s [tantamount?] to publishing it and it could cause me a headache selling it later, so Im just going to keep this. And I’m not actually going to put that up there, and the guy sent me an email back, and said like – hamf! In other words, I won.
[And now I can go] yeah – you won – sure.
WHY DOES MORT NOT INFLUENCE TECHNOLOGY THE WAY HARRY DOES?
Mort is not nearly so powerful or disruptive or conflicted as Dresden is. Mort is very comfortable with being a coward. He’s totally at peace with that – which is one of the reasons why – one of the things that causes the whole magical haywire thing is the fact that human beings in general are very conflicted creatures. And that sort of tends to put off – with their baser nature conflicting with the better angels of their nature kind of puts off the interference that causes all the trouble around them. It wasn’t always shorting out technology. 100 years ago – or 200 years ago – it was making milk go sour. Before that you got weird spots on your body. That sort of thing changes as you go along – the rules of magic are always changing.
And it also means – like if it’s a fairy magician – someone like Lea – she could play Nintendo all day if she wants to – because she’s not conflicted at all about her nature. “No – I’ll turn you into a dog. Really – it’ll be good for you”.
THE OTHER BOOK THAT YOU TALKED ABOUT WRITING AFTER DRESDEN – WOULD THAT BE PART OF A WHOLE OTHER 26 OR 27 BOOK OR -?
Oh – the other book that I was talking about writing? It is a – the way I see it in my head now – it’s a trilogy that is actually a threefold trilogy for my epic, epic fantasy epic that Im going to write some day. It’s so epic that it has to be a threefold trilogy – or maybe it wont be that epic – but I’ll end up writing it eventually – when I grow up.
IS IT SET IN ALERA?
No it’s not in Alera – we’re going off to somewhere else. It’s very heavily influenced by the Black Company – and we’ll run with it from there. It’s sort of set in the days immediately after the end of the Giant Apocalyptic Fantasy War, which didn’t really end spectacularly well because [the Euros??? ] there blew it. And while we’re not quite as apocalyptic as a [Brandon Sanderson?] novel – he’s happy to write novels where the end of the world came and now you’ve got to live through it – it’s not quite that bad – but it is exploring a little bit different [feelings?] than we normally see. There wont be any marching to Mt Doom. It’ll be more like how do we put the world back together after these idiots shattered it.
DO YOU REALLY BELIEVE IT IS POSSIBLE TO BE BOTH A STAR WARS AND A STAR TREK FAN AT THE SAME TIME?
Probably – but really – nobody’s equal. You can’t tell me anybody is – Oh SW and ST – I like them both. Unless it’s like my wife who doesn’t care for either of them. I mean, she’ll watch ’em for me, but she’s always got to make fun of ’em.
YOU KNOW SOMETIMES PEOPLE WILL SAY – ARE YOU GOING TO DO THIS WITH THE CHARACTERS? AND YOU SAY -IM NOT GOING TO TELL YOU. BUT INSIDE, ARE YOU SOMETIMES THINKING – YEAH, I THINK I WILL, NOW THAT THEY SAID THAT. DO YOU EVER GET YOUR IDEAS THAT WAY?
Do I ever think to myself – hmmm – and actually take inspiration from that? My lawyer told me to tell you – no. But – the fact of the matter is – is that if you did touch off a good idea in my head, yeah I’ll use it. I want to write the best story I can. Occasionally people have asked me stuff and I went – haaaa – I almost DO have to do that – I’ve got to get Dresden in a giant bunny costume somehow. That’d be awesome!
[VERY LONG QUESTION – TOO FAR FROM THE MIKE FOR ME TO GET – SOMETHING ABOUT THE COLORING OF THE FAIRIES/FAIRY COURTS – and unfortunately Jim didn’t repeat it]
Yeah but she can make her hair and her eyes any color she wants to. The question here is that the Leansidhe nature seems to conflict with that of Summer – or with that of Winter – and she seems to be much more Summer-y, since she wears lots of reds and greens and so on.
[FURTHER QUESTION FROM SAME GUY – SOMETHING ABOUT HARRY AND THE GARDEN]
No spoilers! – I’m sure there are some people here who haven’t read the book.
END OF PART 5
Transcribed by Starshine
BEAVERCREEK Part 6
They’re not elementals. They’re not divided along the lines of – specifically – of the classical elements. They’re more about the elemental portions of the soul, which – okay, that’s getting really technical and highfaluting. But the point is, Lea drains people’s blood and drinks it, and that was how she made her bones in the fairy world. She’s an actual legendary figure, where bards and poets and painters and so on would come to her and seek her inspiration. And she was kind of this vampire-muse – that was the original Leansidhe – that’s her original story. And in the DF universe that was how she made her bones, that’s how she impressed big Mab. It was like – oh wow – you took these guys who were out there just seeking to create something beautiful and yet increased your dark and evil power – Well done!
HOW DO YOU SET UP YOUR WORK SCHEDULE?
That would imply that I know how to use a schedule and have some kind of circadian rhythm. Yeah – I don’t dance. I don’t even have circadian rhythm. But generally speaking, I’ll get up in the morning around 11 or 12. I’ll spend the day taking care of business stuff that needs to be taken care of – you know the regular house stuff that needs to be taken care of, maybe go to the gym, evening I’ll be hanging out with Shannon [….] or we’ll do stuff in the evening. She’ll go to be around 9:30 or 10 and then I’ll settle down to write. And I will write from whenever she goes to bed until 5, 6 7 in the morning – whenever I’m done – as long as Im not playing too many video games – and then she gets up – and I’ll go to bed and she’ll get up not too long after that, and then she gets to do HER writing while the house is quiet. So we’re not ever walking into one another because three dimensions were not enough to keep us far enough away while we were working so we had to be apart in time as well. But so far it’s worked out. We haven’t stabbed each other in the eyes with pencils like we almost did in high school.
ARE WE GOING TO BE INTRODUCED MORE TO THE OBLIVION WARS AND IS GOD HIMSELF GOING TO EVENTUALLY STEP IN?
Well there are sort of these archangels and holy swords running around. I sort of do regard that as some kind of intervention myself. As far as more Oblivion Wars stuff, not a whole lot. It’s not really tied into Harry. It’s one of those things that has been going on for a long, long time in the background. I always knew it was going on – but Dresden could not play that one – that’s the kind of war you have to fight with discipline and Dresden can’t keep his mouth shut to save his life – like literally he cant’t keep his mouth shut save his life.
ARE THERE ANY CHARACTERS THAT YOU’VE CREATED THAT YOU THOUGHT WOULD GO SOMEPLACE AND THEN AFTER THE BOOK WAS PUBLISHED YOU TRIED TO BRING THEM BACK AND YOU JUST – IT DIDINT PAN OUT THE WAY YOU WANTED IT TO OR YOU DECIDED NOT TO INTRODUCE THEM AGAIN?
Are there ever any characters that I introduced with broader designs in mind that after the book was over when I went back to try and dig them out again it just didn’t work. Have I ever done that? No. I have problems in the opposite direction where I create a character that’s supposed to show up for one scene and that’s all he’s supposed to be there for but he winds up being cool enough that I end up using him again and again and again because I just can’t get rid of him. That’s what happened to Butters. He was supposed to be just a one-shot scene guy and by the time I got done with him I’m like – this little geek is cool. I need to have him around more. But no, so far we’re doing okay in terms of, when I need to bring a character back, it’s okay, I can do that. It works so far.
I SAW ANOTHER QUESTION YOU WERE ASKED AT A DIFFERENT SIGNING WHERE YOU MENTION THAT THE BLACKSTAFF CAME FROM SOMEBODY […..CELTIC MYTHOLOGY…………..IS HE LIKE HUNTING DOWN………….]
Im not gonna tell you – is the answer to that question. It’s more fun to find out as we go along. There’s a little bit of a revelation about the Blackstaff’s origin – it really was something I mentioned somewhere else – like at a convention or something – and told folks – Yeah. The Blackstaff, it came from somewhere. It’s not just something that came out of Ebenezar’s yard. And the original owner of the Blackstaff is quite perturbed that he no longer has it – he, she, it no longer has it, so that will come into play eventually.
WHAT IS YOUR FAVORITE BOOK IN THE DRESDEN FILES?
Dead Beats. […….] dinosaurs. I was ready for like 6 years to write that. You can only put that stuff off for so long without going crazy.
ROWLING SAID THE […] WHERE HARRY DIES WAS ONE OF THE TOUGHEST CHAPTERS SHE’D EVER WRITTEN. HAVE YOU EVER HAD A CHAPTER LIKE THAT?
Heck no. I love those scenes. I love that. That’s one of my favorite things to work on. The hard chapters for me are the ones where anybody really is trying to sit down and figure something out, and there’s not a lot of dialogue and not a lot of action. Cause if I cant [live off?] somebody or punch them in the face I hardly know what to do with myself. At least as a writer.
WHAT’S YOUR FAVORITE PART ABOUT GOING TO CONVENTIONS?
Meeting you guys and talking and having people laugh, getting the sign table for the books – that’s fun. I’m an awful traveller. I travel so badly I actually have to buy one of those big bottles of dramomine to come with me. The best part about conventions is getting to actually sit out and meet people. And like people going Yay! when you walk into a room – that doesn’t hurt either. I only say this like once a year – or at conventions or maybe at bookstores sometimes – and the rest of the time I just go home and mow the lawn but – it’s kind of fun, I have to say.
WAS IT HARDER TO GET YOURSELF OR THE PUBLISHER TO DELAY GHOST STORY?
Well it wasn’t hard to convince the publisher because on the day it was supposed to be delivered I was still about 12 chapters short of the end. They simply couldn’t have done it – there was no book there. Convincing myself that I needed to admit that I needed more time – that was harder. But I had a lot of things that I had to pull together and the story hadn’t gelled yet in my mind – to figure out what was going on in the end – and when it finally did, it was like – Aha! Now I got it! It actually came in early from the second deadline, but – you know – that’s almost like being on time.
HOW DID YOU END UP DOING THE SPIDERMAN BOOK AND WOULD YOU EVER DO ONE AGAIN?
I went to [Dragon?] – com and the original editor of the Dresden Files, Jen Heddle [?] was there, and she had moved positions – was working in Pocket – and said “We’re publishing some Spiderman books and I wanted to see if you wanted to write –. And she got about that far before I said – YES!! I want to write a Spiderman book.” i don’t think I could play poker very well or negotiate anything at all. Everyone reads Spiderman – what are you crazy? She’s like – Oh the money isn’t bad. I WANT TO WRITE SPIDERMAN!!! Okay – these days, I don’t think I could do another one, my schedule is so busy – although that could probably change in the future. Cause I love the heroes that I grew up with when I was a kid. You can put the Rhino on Aunt May’s couch drinking tea – awesome!
Okay – last question.
WHAT WOULD YOU BE DOING IF YOU WERENT A WRITER?
I would probably still be working tech support somewhere. It was a fun job. I worked at an internet tech support company and I was the all night guy. It was a great experience. I was actually good at doing the job. I was the guy who could always piece together something to keep the system up until morning so I didn’t have to get people out of bed – that’s why they gave me the night shift. So I’d probably be doing that and liking it.
Okay guys – thank you very much for putting up with me.