2007 and earlier transcripts from audio/video WoJ sources

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.

This page is where I am putting the transcripts from 2007 and earlier.

2006 Buzzy Multimedia Interview (youtube, well edited) Blampira
2007 FictionRight Interview with JB and his wife Shannon (audio) Blampira
2007 Dragon Page interview audio Blampira
2007 Cinemafreaks interview of JB and Fred Hicks Audio (interview starts at 31:45)

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.

2006 Buzzy Multimedia Interview
Transcription by Blampira

*Terry Bane introduces herself and Jim Butcher for the Buzzy Media Interview*

Terry:  Okay, I just wanna say I finished reading Proven Guilty just a while ago and I have a real quick question before the serious interview:  “Justin’s behind everything, isn’t he?”
Jim:  Justin’s dead…look, look…he’s dead, he’s dead.

Terry:  Dead, dead?
Jim:  He’s dead!

Terry:  Very dead?
Jim:  D-E-D dead.

Terry:  Are you ever gonna change your answer, dead?
Jim:  Dead.

Terry:  Alright:
Jim:  *rolleyes*

Terry:  What was your reaction when you heard that James Marsters, better known as Spike of the Buffy and Angel series was going to be the voice for your books?
Jim:  When I first heard that they’d confirmed it, I was on the phone and I pretty much jumped up and down and said “Yay!”  I did a Snoopy dance, and then learned later that at my age you really oughta stretch out before you do a Snoopy dance.

Terry:  Do you like the way he’s doing the voices and giving different personalities to the characters.
Jim:  Oh yeah, he does it really well, I really have enjoyed it.

Terry:  Awesome.  What characters, if any, did you pull on from personal people in your life, like for instance is how close are Frost and Mouse to each other?
Jim:  Oh, uh, my dog Frost is exactly like Mouse if Frost was huge and uh, really secure.  Frost is far tinier and he’s totally insecure and uh, he’s paranoid about everything, and he’s soft and fuzzy and useless in a fight, but other than that, he and Mouse are, uh, exactly the same thing.

Terry:  How do you flesh out a story, what’s your writing process?
Jim:  Normally I know where I want…normally I can see what I want the story climax to be ahead of time, so I know more or less where I’m going.  Normally I have three or four things that I want to be sure I hit before I get to the story climax, and then there’s usually a bunch of little moments that get thrown in that I want, “Oh, I wanna make sure I get that moment in”…You know, I wanna make sure I get that..the guage okay between Thomas and Harry, because that’s the only explanation that possibly makes sense from an outside observer.  Once I know all those things, then I’ll also have a general idea of what the plot will be and I’ll start figuring out what characters do I need, which of the on going cast will be best suited to showing up and helping.  Then after that I can design any new characters I need to get going and then start writing.

Terry:   Now, this January, the Dresden Files made it to SciFi channel as a TV series, did you get to visit the set and take a look around?
Jim:  Yes, I did.  In Toronto.  It was extremely interesting.  Although I will say that the movie business has got to be one of the most boring businesses to actually work in, in the whole world.  Because everytime they film something they have to film it, then they film it again, and then they film it again.  And then they move all the cameras around…

Terry:  Like three times, maybe… *smiles*
Jim:  And they film it again and again and again.  Yeah, like three times maybe.  And I was there in schedule for like six hours and I got to see them make about 45 seconds of movie.  It’s like “Oh my goodness, I can’t even imagine!”  So it was really interesting to get go see, everybody was really nice, I got to meet several of the actors, and the crew and producers and so on, and they just seemed like a really great bunch.

Terry:  Who do you read, when you’re not writing?
Jim:  Oh, well actually, I have to read while I am writing in order to keep things going, I read all the time.  Robert B. Parker is one of my favorite authors.  I really love Glen Cook’s writing.  Lois Bujold.  I still go back to the classics…I read Tolkien and David Edding’s ‘The Belgariad’.  I go back and read ‘The Chronicles of Narnia’ and Lloyd Alexander’s ‘Prydain’ books.  I still go back to those.  I loved a lot of the military-esque efforts out these days, John Ringo, David Weber, E.E. Knight.  I’ve had a good time reading all those authors and I keep up with new authors as well, it’s always great to find somebody.  The Naomi Novik’s ‘Temeraire’ series, for example, is totally wonderful, I’ve really enjoyed those.

Terry:  What do you hope your readers take away from your books?
Jim:  Well, I should probably have loftier goals, I should probably be striving for the betterment of the human condition, but mostly I want them to get done reading the book and go “That was great!  Where’s the next one?”  I want people to read my stuff and have a good time reading.  I want them to get to the end of the book and go “Wow, that was a really fun ride”.  I want folks to be able to escape into my fantasy world and to play the little movie in their head while their reading it and that’s pretty much what I’m looking for.  I mean, I know I’m writing popcorn, but I’m trying to write the best popcorn that there is.

Terry:  Oh, it’s awesome, I read them.  Honestly, when your books come out, if they came out at the same time as Harry Potter, I would automatically go to your book first.  I think your books are just a bigger world, a richer world to me.
Jim:  Are you kidding?!  I’d buy Harry Potter.

Terry:  I seriously relate to the characters better.  No, not me, seriously, I’m not just saying it.  I just…honest to god truth.  Where do you see your writing going in the future…like are there more Harry books coming up?  Are you going to finish up the fantasy series?
Jim:  IF they let me, I’ll write about 20 books in the Dresden Files and then finish it up with a big ole’ Apocalytptic Trilogy.  Who doesn’t love apocalytic trilogies?  And I’ve got another 3 books in my fantasy series that I’m doing right now.  I’ve got a science fiction series that I’m itching to write.  I’m still developing enough personal management skill to do three books a year, hopefully one day I’ll be able to do that.  Right now it isn’t working.  And I’ve also got a number of fantasy series, a got a pretty big epic fantasy series I want to write when I feel I’m a good enough writer to do it.  So, hopefully I can write a truly epic series.  The Dresden Files started out as a class project and now it’s this huge thing, it’s my main success.  I kinda stumbled over it by accident, almost, so I’ve just been a little bit lucky and worked pretty hard.  Hopefully, I’ll just continue to work as hard as I can and maybe get a little bit lucky and keep going into the future.

Terry:  Alright.  Which character do you think, in the Dresden series, is the hardest one for you to write.  Like who’s the hardest mind to get in and out of?
Jim:  Oooh, good question!  The hardest to get into is almost always Murphy.  Karrin Murphy, you know, is a female cop, and it’s a very different person than I am.  I’m not especially feminine, perhaps you can tell…*gestures to his beard*…and she was always the most difficult for me to get into her head.  The person who’s the most difficult to get out of though is Bob the Skull, because once I unleash the snark, the inner demon of snark that is Bob the Skull, it’s awfully difficult to get my lips under control, you know, after I get done with it.  “Maybe I really should be saying that out loud and in public?  Oh yeah, I better reel back on Bob.”  It’s always awkward.

Terry:  And um, real fast, we heard that Sharon, your wife, has a book coming out next year?
Jim:  Shannon, my wife.  Yes, indeed.

Terry:  Okay, do you wanna give us a name and release date, a little information about that?
Jim:  Her first book is called “No Regrets”, it’ll be out in February.  It is a romance/suspense book, it’s concerning a brave woman being pursued by terrorists because she’s the only one smart enough to unlock this information they need, and a Delta Forces operative who’s trying to protect her.  I really think she’s going to be bigger in romance than I am in fantasy, she’s a brave woman and a very talented writer.

Terry:  Excellent, excellent.  And last question, just for fun.  Does Harry dress left or right?
Jim:  Oh, uh…it depends.  Before or after his left hand got horribly burned?  You know, I mean, since then…uh…right.  ;)

*Interview wraps up with a thank you to Jim for taking the time to talk*

2007 FictionRight Interview with JB and his wife Shannon
Transcription by Blampira
Had to split this interview into Part 1 & Part 2, due to 20,000 character restriction… -Blampira

Part 1

*FictionRight.coms intro of Alan Lickiss interviewing Jim & Shannon Butcher @ the Pike’s Peak Writers Workshop*

Alan:  Rather than giving a lot of introduction in my words I’d like to hear from their own words:  ‘Who is Jim Butcher’ & ‘Who is Shannon Butcher’?
Jim:  Do we have to answer in third person?  Can we say I?  Okay.  I haven’t yet reached a point where I can talk about myself in third person.  I’m a gaming nerd who started writing and eventually after about 10 years of trying finally got sold.  Now I put out a series of books called the Dresden Files and there’s a tv show on SciFi, and I have another series…a more standard fantasy series, it’s out now.  And I did a Spider Man book too which was enormous fun, so I think I’ve got what, like 11 books out now?  Something like that…

Shannon:  Lots.

Jim:  Yeah, many books, several books, with more coming.  So I’m busy working and people seem to be having a good time and that’s pretty much what I do.

Shannon:  And I’m Shannon Butcher.  I write romantic suspense for Warner which is now Grand Central Publishing.  I was an engineer, always wanted to be an engineer, and writing was kinda this detour that was unexpected, but wonderfully fun, and you know Jim taught me the craft and then I kinda figured out that writing was a lot like legos and I always liked legos.  So now I play with writing.

Alan:  Thank you.  You mentioned, Shannon, that Jim got you writing.  Can you tell us how that went about?
Shannon:  Well, uh, he would be looking at a scene or something and pounding his head against the wall saying “This just isn’t right.”  And I’d read and go “it looks good to me” and so he’s like, “no, you just don’t know what your’e doing” and I’m like, “well, okay, teach me” ya know?  If I don’t know what I’m doing, tell me what to do.  And so he started teaching me writing craft so that I could help him when he got stuck or whatever and eventually it just got to the point where it finally dawned on me that “I” could do this.  And so I turned the craft around, instead of doing what Jim does, the fantasy and urban fantasy and all that, I write romance because that’s what I dig.

Alan:  Came to the darkside, huh?
Shannon:  Yeah.

Alan:  And Jim, you mentioned you were a nerd that started writing.  What caused you to start writing?
Jim:  Oh, uh.  I suppose a couple different things.  My senior year in high school I was…this is kind of emblematic of me as a kid…I was cool enough to be skipping class, but I was skipping class to go to the library.  And so I happened to be in the library and Margaret Weis came in and was doing a talk at school and I hadn’t known she was gonna be there, but I was skipping class in the library anyway, so why not?  And I listened to her talk and thought, this whole writer thing might be a good time.  And I eventually, uh, when I turned 19, I wrote my first novel and it was terrible.  That’s alright, I didn’t know it at the time.  Then I started taking some other classes, I was going to the University of Oklahoma and I started taking some of the professional writing courses that were in their journalism department, you know, that were actually taught by novelists who had many novels to their credit.  Eventually, I started listening to those people and when I did I finally wrote a pretty decent book.  That was 7 or 8 novels later though.  So, you know, I’ve got a whole bunch of books that are uh, I’ve heard them called ‘drawer books’ & ‘garage books’ but I can’t find mine on purpose.  I suppose if I go raid some old hard drives that are in my computer morgue I might be able to find them, but I don’t know anybody I dislike enough to make read those books.  Anyway, I kept writing and writing and eventually got my work up to a publishable level and wound up going to a convention not unlike this one, only in Missouri, and hooked up with an agent there and she sold my stuff.  And that’s pretty much how I got started.  It took me about 10 years, though, from the time I wrote my first novel to the time that I actually sold something.  So I’m kinda the little author that could.

Alan:  Well, I think a lot of authors go through that same experience, you don’t see the overnight successes that people think you see.  Someone has a novel come out and it goes really big but it’s been 10 years in the making.  A lot of times….
Jim:  Yeah, exactly.  I think this year was the first year, if you count all the years from when I started writing, this year was the first year I’ve actually broken minimum wage.  So, yeah, it took a while to get set up.

Alan:  But it sounds like for both of you…is that you’ve started out with novels, that you didn’t go the short story route?
Jim:  No, no.  There’s really no…there’s so much less of a market for short stories than there used to be…and it really wasn’t what I wanted to write.  I’m not very good at writing short stories, they’re almost a totally different medium than novels.

Alan:  They are?
Jim:  Well, you have to do everything in a novel that you do in a short story only you have to do it in much less space.  So you know, I think it’s like trying to learn to dance ballet in a closet.  You know, it’s a much different thing, much different situation.  I’m sure there are some good closet ballet dancers but uh, you know, I don’t know of any.  And I know that I didn’t want to try it.  But in any case, I went straight with novels and started from there.  It took a long time to write, I mean, it’s not so much of an investment when you’re learning to write short stories and you write a terrible short story and you go on to the next one and you learn.  Perhaps that would be the smarter thing and then I wouldn’t have 8 books that I want nobody to ever see ever again.

Alan:  What you said is very true, they’re two different entities, novels and short stories, and if you really want to write novels even though you can hone your craft faster on a short story, you learn to write something different.
Jim:  It’s true, it’s a different set up.

Alan:  What were your influences, who did you like to read when you were getting started?
Shannon:  Julie Garwood was the person who made me believe romances rocked.  I mean, I’d always scoffed at them.  I started out reading historical romances and then, when I changed over to contemporary romantic suspense, um, a lot of Linda Howard and Elizabeth Lowell, yeah, I love their writing.  That’s when I got excited and thought “This is what I want to do”.

Jim:  Me personally, one of the writers that was very influential when I got started was Laurel K Hamilton.  I got done reading ‘Guilty Pleasures’ the year it was released in ’93 and said “Wow, this author really had a lot of fun writing this book”.  It wasn’t until years later that I actually tried writing something that was sorta in the same vein, I was only writing “swords and horses fantasy” as I always like to call it, that’s what I want to write “swords and horses fantasy”.  So, authors in that genre that I loved reading were Tolkien and David Eddings, Lloyd Alexander’s “Prydain” novels which were actually young adult novels but are still very good books.  “The Chronicles of Narnia” of course, by CS Lewis, and then kinda the bigger books that are out like, um, Elfstones, the Shannara books.  Robert Jordan’s books, which I read for a while – until it became to much of a history lesson to catch up on the last book, you know, the last 5 books when he released the new one, it had been 5 years since I’ve looked at them.  But those were the authors I was looking at when I was getting started.

Alan:  How about now, do you have anyone that you favor, that you like to read because you maybe learn something of their works, from reading their works, or…?
Jim:  Actually, the authors that I love to read now are the ones good enough that I can get into their book and their story without breaking them down.  It gets really hard to try and enjoy a book when you’re doing a lot of thinking about of “well, how’s the author doing that, let me see, let me take apart how they made this happen” and I much prefer to read a book that is actually a good enough story that I don’t … that I can get out of professional thinking mode.

Shannon:  You don’t see the strings attached.

Jim:  Yeah, yes, it’s watching the production from the audience versus seeing it from backstage, and if I’ve gotta watch a book from the wings I don’t have as much fun as the people who’re sitting out front.  So I much prefer those others, like um, Lois Bujold does that for me a lot.  I, uh, professionally speaking, I wanna have Lois’s babies.  And then, I think to pick up new authors, Naomi Novik, I’ve really enjoyed lately.  Robert B Parker of the Spenser novels, I have to reread those at least once a year…those are probably the 3 big ones lately.  I always forget somebody who’s really important and then kick myself later, but that just happens every time, so…

Alan:  How about you, Shannon, in the realm of romantic suspense?
Shannon:  Oh, in romantic suspense I love Suzanne Brockmann and Tara Janzen and Cindy Gerard are some of my favorites.  I’m also getting into paranormal romance and there I really love JR Ward and Sherrilyn Kenyon and Christine Feehan, some of her stuff is just awesome, so…those are some of the books that I hold as rewards to myself for getting my work done.

Alan:  Ah, a treat for when you get to a point that you’ve done?
Shannon:  Yes, exactly.

Alan:  Are you like Jim that you like to be able to not see the strings?
Shannon:  Oh, absolutely.  If the book isn’t crafted well enough, or if it’s not necessarily my favorite flavor, then I spend too much time thinking about how they wrote it, rather than just enjoying it.

Alan:  You referred to those ‘second-read’ books, you read it the first time and really enjoyed it but you have to read it again to see “how’d they do that?”
Shannon:  Yeah, “how did they do it?”  Right.

Jim:  Exactly.

Alan:  What is your favorite part about writing?  There’s this whole huge process that goes into this, what do you like the most?
Shannon:  Typing “The End!”  *laughs*

Alan:  Cashing the checks… *laughs*
Jim:  Yeah, getting ready to type out “the end” is a great pleasure,  Planning the book out is a great pleasure for me, I like to put ideas together, and there are many ideas in the books that I get to look forward to, “Oooo, I’ve been looking forward to writing this scene for ‘X’ number of years”, You know in Dead Beat where Harry gets to ride around on a zombie Tyrannosaurus and “Oh!  I’ve been waiting for years to write thatscene with the T Rex”.  Well, you know, I really think…how many of us don’t know at least one building that would be better for the introduction of a T Rex through the lobby, you know?  Perhaps even an entire campus?  But yeah, I like planning out the big scenes, the ones that I’m looking forward too, the one-liners I’ve been looking forward to delivering in print for a while.  That’s really kinda my favorite part is actually getting to do those bits that I’ve been wanting to do for a long time.

Shannon:  I really like the first draft, you know.  To just…I kinda go psycho when I’m writing the first draft and I do it 12-16 hour a day, every day, until it’s done.  I love that kind of…living in that creative world, you know, where my brain is all being on the right hand side and happy.  That’s probably my favorite part.  And then there’s revisions…Dun, dun, dun…

Jim:  Dun, dun, dun…

Alan:  I’m curious, how much you work – you write in different realms, how much do you help
each other out with plot or revisions, cause you’re one of those rare married couples who both write.

Shannon:  We swap…I mean, we talk about ideas over dinner and everything, but that’s…it use to be a lot more so, you know, Jim was helping me with my writing and he’d read it and was like, “Well, it was better but…” you know, but now, we’re both so busy there’s a lot less involvement between our writing than there used to be.

Jim:  Yeah.

Alan:  What she said?
Jim:  Yeah, what she said.  We kinda threw ideas back and forth sometimes when we were in the car or we’ll complain to one another about ‘how I can’t get this part to work right’ or ‘I can’t believe the editor wants me to change this’, but we don’t actually do a lot of the working together on books because we wanna stay married.

Shannon:  Yeah.  We wouldn’t know how to split the money in the divorce, so…

Jim:  Yeah, exactly.

Shannon:  It’s easier this way.

Jim:  Yep.


Alan:  I noticed Jim that on your website that you have a podcast, can you tell our listeners about that?
Jim:  Uh, well, it’s not my podcast, it’s Fred Hick’s podcast.  It’s called “The Butcher Block” and it’s about all things Jim Butcher.  It’s an unfortunately named podcast but Fred liked it so, you know, his call.  Fred is a good friend of mine from my college days and was a Harry Dresden fan years before the books were ever published.  He’s also the one, the owner of Evil Hat Games, who’s putting out the Dresden Files Role Playing Game.

Shannon:  Yay!

Jim:  Yeah, and so, Fred has the podcast that he runs and Fred is one of these guys who is just manic obsessive about everything he’s doing, so you know, every once in a while he’ll cycle around and this time out it’ll be the podcast he’ll be manic obsessive about and next time it’ll be back to the game manic obsessive, or back to the website – manic obsessive about that.  And he get’s a ferocious and fearsome amount of work done when he does that.  Lately, it’s the podcasts has been the new thing, so he’s put out several issues of the podcast with the (tv) show coming out and there’s been a big insurge of new fans, so he wanted to have something there that would be for all the folks that were new, something immediately available for them to kinda get into and listen to.  I’ve been on an issue or two talking about the show and he’s gone and talked to other folks and artists and some of his fellow gaming authors who are putting together the game … and so that’s “The Butcher Block” and you can find it at jim-butcher.com.

Alan:  We’ll be posting a link on our podcast website.
Jim:  Oh, cool.  Thank you.

2007 FictionRight Interview with JB and his wife Shannon…continued
Transcription by Blampira

Part 2

Alan:  Actually, ’cause you mentioned the show and I’m sure a lot of people are interested, I’m curious.  Did Hollywood come to you or did your agent seek them out?
Jim:  No, they came to me.  Morgan Gendel sent me an email and uh, Morgan Gendel, of course he was a writer who one a Hugo Award for the episode of StarTrek: The Next Generation where Picard gets zapped by the probe and lives a whole life on another planet and then wakes up ten minutes later on the Enterprise.  You know, he got a Hugo Award without blowing anything up and that’s impressive.  But he came, he was the one who said “hey, I wanna…I’d like to get this for a show, you know, I’d like to take out an option for that” and what I heard was “I would like to help pay for your family’s health care” and I said, “Okay, I’m down with that”.  So I sold him the option and he went and took it to Saturn Films and Lionsgate and they liked it, so they took it to SciFi and they finally sold it to SciFi and now it’s a tv show.  Yeah, mostly my participation in that was to be on the other end of the phone and go “Okay”.  I do that alot.

Alan:  So do you have any involvement with the tv show?
Jim:  Officially, no.  Unofficially, I get along really well with Robert Wolfe, I just kinda hit it off with Robert, so I helped him…when he was putting together the series bible, I was sending him information that I used as background for the books so he could use it as background for the show as well.  They were sending me scripts and I was sending back feedback and they actually made some changes based on my feedback, so you know, I actually participated.  I haven’t had, in some of the more recent stuff they’ve, I haven’t had as much work in but I was actually on the set for the pilot, I actually appeared in an episode of the show.  I play like Butter’s assistant, you know, help him carry in a coffin and open it up.  I don’t say anything.  I’m like Igor – but with no lines.

Alan: *laughs*  I’ll have to go back and look for that.
Jim:  Yeah, I’m there for like, it’s a second and a half that I’m on screen, but there I am.  Anyway, I think the most insidious thing I’ve done is I sent up free copies of my books to the cast and crew, so that’s sort of my viral input, you know, have everyone read the books and it stay there.

Alan:  Now, Jim’s way too calm about this and I have to ask Shannon…so how far off the floor was he when the deal went through and they started doing all this stuff?
Shannon:  You know, Jim is funny.  He responds to these wonderful things like movie options and tv shows and NY Times bestseller with this kind of ‘calm – shell-shocked – not really sure what to do about it – trying to absorb it’ kind of way, and he says “Let’s go to Burger King!” because that’s his celebration restaurant of choice.  *laughs*

Jim:  Yes, I celebrated all my small triumphs when I was trying to get out and when I was trying to become a writer.  You know, I’d get a manuscript done and say “Let’s go to Burger King” ’cause that’s what we could afford.  So now it’s like “Hey, you’ve got a tv show” / “Let’s go to Burger King” you know?  I’m a creature of habit.  I probably should have been bouncing up and down many of these times but it’s always just been so…

Shannon:  You’re too tired…

Jim:  Yeah, really, of late, it really has been.  “You’ve made the NY Times bestseller list, how’re you gonna celebrate?” / “I’m gonna go home and put on my jammies and not take them off all day, that’s how I’m going to celebrate.  I’m exhausted from this tour.”

Alan: Okay, I’d like to close up by asking about your current projects.  I know that your 9th Dresden book is out, it just came out in hardback, your Alera series you have your 4th book is coming out in December…and Shannon, you’ve got 3 novels from your…I didn’t notice if they were a series…?
Shannon:  Just two right now, the 1st one came out in February, it’s called “No Regrets”; the 2nd one comes out next February, it’s called “No Control”; and then I’m working on the proposal for the 3rd one which will be entitled “No Escape” but that one hasn’t been sold yet.  I’m also working on a paranormal romance series, which I’m really excited about.  It’ll be a lot more the kind of thing Jim’s fans reads but still very firmly routed in the whole romance genre, so I’m really excited about that, that’s gonna be a fantastic project.  Most fun I’ve ever had was writing that first book.

Jim:  She’s got a bent and twisted mind for the supernatural bad guy and I want to steal them and she won’t let me…

Shannon:  Nope, you can’t have them, they’re mine, mine, mine…

Jim:  Yep.

Alan:  *laughs*  Jim, any current projects that you’re currently working on, aside from the tour?
Jim:  Yeah, I just did my big multi-state tour, which I just got done with and which was very strange.  There were many hotels and airports and bookstores.  But I’ve got the next Dresden…uh, I’ve just got finished with the 4th Codex Alera book.  I’m working on the 10th Dresden book now and then I’ve got to get the 5th Codex Alera book done by December or so, so I’m kinda busy.  I’m also doing several short stories for some anthologies that I signed up for, so I’ve got that – like I did “The Big Fat Supernatural Wedding” anthology last year and it was so successful that they’re doing a follow-up called “The Big Fat Supernatural Honeymoon” anthology, so I’m working on that now.  And then after…there’s gonna be 6 Alera books and after I get the last Alera book done, then I’m gonna try my hand at some actual ‘science fiction’ science fiction, which should be fun.

Alan:  Excellent.
Shannon:  It’s an awesome book, we’ve read the first half or so and he’s left us hanging…

Jim:  Yeah, I had to stop.  I had to stop the book with my hero having ejected from his ship whose core was about to explode, with a bad guy chasing him, in a decaying orbit over the surface of the moon, with a solar flare coming on that would roast him…and he’s been there for like two years…you know, just because I had to stop to be working on other stuff and so everybody’s screaming at me like “Jim, hurry up and get him out of orbit!”

Shannon:  Yeah, I don’t even like science fiction and it’s awesome.  It’s very cool.

Alan:  Any last words you’d care to share with the listeners?
Shannon:  Uh…..No?!  *laughs*

Alan:  That’s good, that’s fine.  I know you’ve covered a lot of ground and I know sometimes you’ll do a lot of interviews but there’s always a question you want to get asked but no one ever asks you.
Shannon:  Right.

Jim:  Right.  Well for the folks who are reading, who are the aspiring writers, “Write, write, write!”  Sometimes it takes a long time to get in, it took me nearly 10 years.   I had to get all Captain Ahab about the whole thing.  Whatever it takes to keep yourself motivated, do it.  Get in there and keep going.  Writing is really one of those deals where you’re not really competing with the other established authors who’re out there, because the publishers have to put out new authors every year, because if they don’t they’ll run out of authors.  So really, you only have to compete with the other noobies.  It’s one of those situations where you and a friend are both running away from the bear and the friend says “We’re never gonna outrun the bear” and you say “I don’t have to outrun the bear, I just have to outrun you“.  And really, that’s the kind of situation new authors are in, so if you hang in there long enough, keep honing your skills long enough, eventually you’ll be better than the other noobies who are coming out that year.  So…hang in there.  Keep practicing.  Keep writing.

Shannon:  And the other benefit of writing a lot, which is kinda unexpected, is that you know, if you get rejected it doesn’t hurt nearly as much to get rejected on a book if you’ve got 3 more in the wings that you’re working on.  So that’s kind of a nice benefit to high quantities of output.

*Interview wraps up with Alan thanking Jim and Shannon*

2007 Dragon Page interview with JB  Part 1
Broken up into 2 parts due to character restriction…
Transcription by Blampira

*Intro to the Dragon Page podcast #260 with Jim Butcher*

Questions are by the podcast hosts:  Michael R. Mennenga, Summer Brooks, Brian Brown, Michael A. Stackpole, Evo Terra, and Tim Adamec

Q:  I actually have the knife and we’re gonna cut the duct tape and release the ropes right now.  We’ve stoled somebody, we kidnapped him from the book fair.  And it’s a great honor to have Jim Butcher in the studio with us.  Hey, Jim. 
Jim:  Hey, how ya doing?

Q:  Not too bad.  I hope the ride in the trunk wasn’t too uncomfortable?
Jim:  Nah, I took some Dramamine ahead of time, so…

Q:  Okay, good good.  We like to make our guests comfortable. *laughs and a bit of banter* So, Jim…you got a heck of a little series going and some really popular little books going…
Jim:  Apparently, yeah.

Q:  You gotta be pretty happy about that.
Jim:  Oh, I can’t complain, that’s for sure. *laughter*  Pressure’s on now, though.  I mean before, I was just writing my ‘dumb little sci-fi novels’ and now the editors are all like “so when’s your next NY Times bestselling book…?”  So no pressure, right…

Q:  Yeah, you were coasting before and now you gotta step up, right?
Jim:  Oh yeah, apparently.

Q:  We never…we talked before about Dresden Files, the tv series.  What was the inspiration that created the book that became the tv series.
Jim:  There were a couple of different things that inspired me.  First one I’d mention would probably be Laurel Hamilton’s “Anita Blake” series.  The first couple of books were out when I started writing and I really enjoyed the heck out of them.  Upon reading them, I just said to myself after reading the first couple, I was like “Wow, the author must have really had a good time writing this and must really have enjoyed themselves” you know, you could just kinda tell in the product that had come out.  So I thought that was a big influence.

The second influence was a movie produced by Gale Ann Hurd, it came out on HBO in ’90 or ’91 called ‘Cast a Deadly Spell’.  Yeah, it was an excellent movie, it was really well done.  I really enjoyed watching it and thought that the juxtaposition of the fantasy novel with the hardboiled detective novel, which was done very well there, I thought that had a lot of possibilities for the future.

And then I think I saw the two hour first episode of the first season of “Buffy” and just the part where Giles says “Well people tend to rationalize the things that they see that they can’t understand, and the things they can’t rationalize they tend to forget” and I thought ‘Oooo, that’s a great rationale, I’d love to play with that in a fiction story’.  So that’s what I did, I started writing my own.

Q:  Wow.  That’s really cool.  So the question that was asked, “How many of these books are you going to put out?”
Jim:  I’m gonna do about 20 of the case books, like the ones we’ve seen so far.  And then when we get to the end I’m gonna cap the whole thing off with a big old apocalyptic trilogy because I saw Star Wars in my formative years.  *laughter*  And I don’t see how to get out of an apocalyptic trilogy at this point, so you know, “Why fight it?”  *more laughter*

Q:  That’s a great answer!  Were you prepared for the…let’s uh…shall we say, for the um…rapid growth of the rabid fan base?
Jim:  Um.  NO. *laughter*   No.  It was bizarre.  I actually showed up at DragonCon and it’s a very big convention, it’s in four different hotels, and so by the time I’d gotten a GPS system and a sherpa guide to show me to this room of this panel I was gonna be on, I was already 3 minutes late and there was this line of people in the hall and I’m like ‘Okay, great.  Not only am I gonna have to wait through this line to be able to get up to my room, for whatever panel these guys are at’.  So I got in line and started waiting and there was just this sorta silence that spread out from the back of the line and just started moving down the hall and I looked up from my program and there were all these people staring at me.  *laughter*

And the guy nearest me said “Are you Jim…you’re Jim Butcher!?”  And I’m like “Uh, yeah.  Are…are all you guys here to see me?” and they’re like “Yeah, the room’s full and they won’t let any more of us in.  The rest of us are kinda standing in the hall trying to hear.”  And it’s like “WOW!”  *laughter*  ‘That’s really flattering and totally strange.’  Yeah, it was very weird, a weird feeling.  And it’s just sorta been that kinda thing, only more so.

Q:  Has it really sunk in yet that this is just so popular and there are so many people out there that are just, you know, basically “I’m your biggest fan, man!” ?
Jim:  No, no.  Yeah, I live in denial.  I wanna stay there.  It’s comfortable there.

Q:  You like being regular people?
Jim:  I am regular people…bottom line, I’m still playing D & D every Friday night, so…great.

Q:  Awesome, great.  You’ve got a regular gaming group, huh?
Jim:  Yeah, absolutely, it’s with some of my buddies from high school, actually.

Q:  Cool, Do they ever make you be the DM basically and make you tell the story of…?
Jim:  Oh, yeah, yeah.  It’s either me or my good buddy Shawn who runs it and we just give each other headaches when we play.

Q:  Oh, well of course, that’s half the fun, is breaking that person’s plot and adventures ideas…taking a left turn on it, so…  I was wandering through, and like I said before, I was trying to ignore your panel because you were answering a lot of the questions I was going to ask today…
Jim:  I’m sorry.

Q:  No, that’s all right man, that’s all right.  Actually, there’s one of them that I want you to recount for me, we’ve been kind of fairly critical on the way the show has been presented on SciFi channel, we’re fairly verbal about that.  But you actually had an explanation for the reason why the shows are being run out of order and why they are being done the way, and presented the way they are…
Jim:  Oh, I’ve gotta a theory, I’ve got my strong theory.

Q:  Yes, and that kinda put a new twist on it for me.  Will you recount that for me?
Jim:  Yeah, my personal theory is that – I don’t know what anyone else has said – but from what I’ve seen on the show and from talking to some of the folks who’re up there, I think they aired the show in the order of whichever episode needed the least post-production first.  They didn’t even start filming until November 15th and they were gonna air the first episode Jan. 21, and yeah, they just had to slam those episodes through.  So they looked around and said “We’ve only got 3 episodes finished, which one are we gonna do?” — “Uh, I dunno…which one needs the least work?” — ” ‘Birds of a Feather’!” – “Right, ‘Birds of a Feather’, get that one on the air!  That one will be first.”  Nothing really to do with the overall story, but in terms of the realities of production.

Q:  I never looked at it that way, and now that you say that, that would make sense.  Because the first few shows were the ones to have the least amount of magic, least amount of special effects, least amount of anything that needed to be done for, other than just shooting the straight stock, so…
Jim:  Absolutely.

Q:  Hmmmm.  Wow.  That makes sense.  It makes a lot more sense but then it begs the question A) Why didn’t they start shooting sooner?, or B) Why didn’t they push back the air date later?
Jim:  Oh, well, ‘push back the air date’ – can’t have that, that would alter somebody’s schedule…

Q:  Well, of course, you have so much creative control over what’s happening. *laughter*
Jim:  Exactly!  That’s right.  I can call people on the phone and have them destroyed now.


Q:  Well, on the way up here you were telling me your hopes for season 2, could you recount that?
Jim:  Oh, yeah.  I’m hoping they do a season 2 and I was talking to Robert Wolfe on the set.  I was like “Hey, Robert, I might be interested in trying to do a script for this” and I’m sure Robert would just love to have another noobie on board in addition to the other stuff he was doing.  Script writing and novel writing being very different creatures, they really are.  But Robert’s like “Alright.  Well, you know what Jim?  IF we have a season 2 and IF they still have me on the show, then we’ll talk about it.”  So there was enough caveats there.  There’s a lot of caveats in Hollywood, I don’t know if anybody…

Q:  Yeah, hmm, yeah.  Imagine that?
Jim:  Yeah, so IF that happens, I’ll be able to pitch in more directly in the creative process.  If not, I’ll just have to rely upon the viral influence.  I actually sent copies of all my books to the cast and crew so they could all read it.  I even gave Paul a copy of the British versions.  I said “Here, it’s all spelled ‘aluminium’ so you won’t be threatened.”

Q:  *laughter*  Colour, with an extra ‘u’ in there.  It’s hard to believe that he’s British from his character he portrays, you know, in the way he does his craft.  Because I’ve even seen him in other things and of course you see him in this and he’s got a pretty good Chicago accent.
Jim:  Yeah, he does a pretty good job.

Q:  Wow!  That guy’s British?  Freaky.
Jim:  Yeah, I would just love to see Harry and Bob on the show get body-switched so we’d have the British guy doing the British accent and the American guy doing the American accent and they can make fun of each others flaws in their accents by duplicating them.

Q:  *laughter*  That’s great.  That would be funny.  That’s just an outtake, a one scene outtake that’s just begging to be made.  Shoot it on the side, put it on the DVD, everybody’d be happy.  Have you been to any of the production?  I mean, have you been on set, have you talked to any of the people?
Jim:  Oh, yes.  I was on set when they were actually filming the pilot and actually meeting folks and so on.  I was only there for about a day.  Then when they were filming one about Bob, when I went up this time, is when I actually appeared on the show.  I’m actually in the background in that scene, I’m one of Butter’s…one of the medical examiner’s assistants, you know.  I help him tote in a coffin and open it up, I’m basically Igor, but with no lines.

Q:  *laughter* I gotta look for that now…yeah.  I’m going, hmmm, yeah, I think I remember that episode.  Jim in the background.  I’m gonna have to pay closer attention to the background scene, because I remember that episode but I wasn’t paying attention to the background. 
Jim:  Well, I had the hair pulled back in the pony tail and it makes me a totally different person.  It’s called makeup.

Q:  So, are you…you are very happy with what they’ve done with your novelization…?
Jim:  I’m enjoying the show alot.  I mean, I started writing the books to begin with because they were the stories I wanted to read but no one was writing them, so I had to write them myself.  Now that the show’s on tv it’s like the stories are stories I like but I don’t have to do any work, and since I’ve got Tivo I don’t even have to be there on time, so…*laughter*  That’s having your cake and eating it too!

Q:  That’s true.  Now, you had mentioned wanting to do 20 stories…
Jim:  Uh, about 20 case books.  It could be 19, it could be 21 – depending on if my kid goes to graduate school.  *laughter*

Q:  How often are we gonna get these?
Jim:  Uh, once a year, it looks like for the near future.  Or faster.  Sometimes they’ll say “Alright, we wanna nudge it up, we wanna nudge the next book up 3 months” or something like that depending when they adjust their schedule, but…

Q:  Well…now when a series gets that large, there’s a lot of people who want to dip their toes in and do some spinoffs on there.  Are you cool with that, do you think there’s enough room in this world to kinda play around with the story and let other people, uh, play with your toys, so to speak?
Jim:  Well, possibly.  I guess I never really considered anybody would wanna do that.

Q:  Really?  I guess I can see that…
Jim:  I know folks have asked me about writing a collaberative book and it’s like, well, I don’t know anybody that I hate that much.


Q:  I think a series about the Wardens would be kinda cool, you know.  I’m thinking there’s so much in this universe where someone could take an aspect of this universe and run with it.  You know, take the ‘Ravens’…follow them around.  Or follow another one of the groups around and just build a whole new dove-tailed story or whole new line out of that.
Jim:  Very possible.  Hmmm, interesting.  See, now you’ve given me whole new ideas and I’m gonna go home and stew over them and add something else to my list of projects.

2007 Dragon Page interview with JB…continued
Transcription by Blampira

Part 2

Q:  I’m good at putting people on projects that they have no time for.  So Jim, let me jump in here and try and get this thing back to talking about ‘books’….remember guys “cover to cover” … Outside of the Dresden series you’ve also written Codex Alera.
Jim:  Yes, Codex Alera.

Q:  And uh, it’s not a secret that I am not a fan of the whole ‘fantasy’ genre.  I’ve said that on many occasions.  A year or so ago, a guy by the name of Daniel Emory contacted and said, “You keep saying you don’t like fantasy.  You’ve got to try this book I just read called ‘Furies of Calderon’ by Jim Butcher.  I think you’ll like it.”  Just so happened that that day, the book showed up in the studio.  So I sat down and I read it.  The whole friggin thing in about 6 hours.  Well done!  Well done!
Jim:  Aw, thank you.

Q:  ‘Cause I don’t like fantasy but I really liked that, and I think I know why.  You’ve got – at least – two different races of people, of humanoids or whatever, intelligent beasts in here.  Right?  I saw them a lot more as alien, versus a monster race and a human race.
Jim:  Well, yeah.

Q:  Is that the idea?
Jim:  Yeah, that’s really kinda what I was hoping for, so…

Q:  Hurray, I got it.  Yay!  Now, you’ve got to recount how that story came about because I was cracking up when you were saying that.
Jim:  Alright.  This starts off with a bad horror movie title called “I was an Internet Loudmouth”.  This was…I was an internet loudmouth,  I was one of these guys who always had lots of opinions and was happy to share them with any…with everyone.  ‘Let me just go ahead and lock the caps lock key, it’s gonna be there the rest of evening’ – tickatickatickaticka – while I was answering things.  And I was on several different writing lists and one of the discussions we were having involved the ‘sanctity of the idea versus the presentation of the creator’.  Which, you know, that was internet loudmouth talk for – ’cause we all had our English lit. degree so, you know, we couldn’t just say things in normal English ’cause that’s not impressive.

The idea was, on one side of the argument people were saying there’s some ideas that are so good, no matter how terrible a writer you are, that idea will stand and it will be something mighty and something very cool.  “Look at Jurassic Park!”  Well, okay.  I didn’t necessarily agree, okay that example was a little hard to fight sure, but I didn’t necessarily agree with the idea and I was the champion on the other side, because I was a loudmouth and I would take up arguments, just for the fun of being on the other side many times.  So I was the one championing the counter-idea that no matter how bad the idea is, that really the strength of the story comes from the presentation and the skill of the writer.  And that if you had a terrible idea you could take a good writer with good presentation and you could still make a good story.

And so the champion on the other side turns to me and says “Okay, put your time where your mouth is.  Let me give you a terrible idea and let me see you write something good out of it.”

And I said “No.  Why don’t you give me two terrible ideas and I’ll see what I can write out of it.”  *laughter*  ‘Cause being the loudmouth wasn’t good enough.

So the guy says “Alright, let me give you terrible ideas.  Here’s the first terrible idea:  lost Roman legion.  I am sick of lost Roman legions.  All of the lost Roman legions should have been found by now, I’ve seen that story way too many times, I’m tired of it.  That’s the first idea.”

I said “Okay, lost Roman legion.  Fine.  What’s the next one?”

And he said “Pokémon!”

*BIG round of laughter*

Jim:  Which, uh, I was familiar with Pokémon at the time – not because it had any particular appeal to myself – but because I had a seven year old kid and, you know, I just wanted to be a good father.  Which is why I had to teach him that dad’s Mr. Mime deck would totally overcome his Charm Andrew deck every week. *laughter*  “You cannot defeat Mr. Mime and his invisible wall!”

And so I went and did research, I broke down the ideas behind it.  And I looked at the lost Roman legion, it was the 9th Hibernia legion.  I said ‘okay, who’s in this legion?’ and it was about half of these cosmopolitan Roman city types and about half German mercenaries.  And so ‘who else would be with them?’  Well a bunch of support staff, so I got some basic numbers of who would be there in support of the legion, and then ‘what about camp followers?’  Well, depending on how many of the legion guys had common law wives and families following along and there’d be other people there to sell things to the Legionnaires, who were regularly paid – which was odd in the ancient world.  So I said “Okay, this is who we’ve got and we’re going to take them and we’re going to drop them off in this fantasy world, ’cause I’m writing fantasy, ’cause that’s what I do.

Okay.  Let me look at Pokémon over here.  Pokémon is basically, it’s the meeting of two ideas and that is the Shinto religion and professional wrestling.  Pokémon is a literalization of the Shinto religion, the belief that in all natural things there’s a spirit of divine – a kami – inside it, and that a great big mountain has a great big kami and you’d better respect it; and a tiny pebble has a little tiny kami and you probably should respect it, but if you don’t then what’s it gonna do?  It’s a pebble.  So I said, “Okay, let’s take that literalization and I’ll take that, that can be my fantasy world.”

And then I said “Okay, we need a good name for ’em, I gotta get a good name” and the movie that was in the background while I was scribbling these ideas down was ‘Big Trouble in Little China’.  We get to the scene where the old Chinese guy is talking and one of them says “All movement in the universe is caused by tension of positive and negative furies”.  And I went, “Oooooo ‘Furies’!  That’s great!”  So I grabbed it and I named my elemental spirits “Furies” and I set up my fantasy world and tossed the lost Roman legion into it and gave them a thousand years to develop a society and off we go.  We’re off and running.

Q:  Wow.  Oh wow. *laughter*  I just sat there and went “Oh my god, that’s awesome.”  Cool.
Jim:  Yeah…and if you’ve read the books it puts a different take on things once you mention Pokémon.  “Brutus, I choose you”.


Q:  You know we’ve had this running idea about “Highlanders and Harleys”.  Yeah, that’s true, we were talking about kilts and motorcycles…that was the last one.  Yes, the lost MacLeod clan on Harleys, in kilts.  So, there’s a running idea for you, you know, run for it…more bad ideas.  Jim’s like, I want a good idea now, please.
Jim:  No, I keep coming up with new ones, I just hope I live long enough to write them all.  But I’ve got another…I’ve got 3 Furies books out, I’ve just finished book 4, I’m gonna do 6 in the series total.  Then after that I’ll start on some actual science fiction, and that will be fun.

Q:  Give us a run-down, where you gonna be in the next few months coming up?  With projects in the works and all that fun crap?
Jim:  Oh, I’ve been on tour, they’ve been flying me everywhere and so it’s like airport, hotel, bookstore, hotel, airport and just repeat that every day.  It’s been fun, I’ve been gone for like 2 weeks.  I got to stop over at home to grab some fresh laundry one night and then back out again.  I’m back home tomorrow and then I’m off to the Pike’s Peak Writers Convention where I’ll be next weekend.  And then I’ll be at the Romantic Times Book convention, along with my wife.  I think they actually wanted me for a couple of panels, too, but my wife is a romance author now and she tells me I have to behave or she’s going to pay cover models to dance with me and they don’t have girl cover models at those conventions, so…

Q:  Fabio!
Jim:  Yeah.  Exactly.  Well, the real bad part about that is that I would have to dance.  To be the guy there, okay, yeah I’d have personal issues, but that’s not as bad as the dancing.  That’s gonna be my major appearances for the rest of this month, you can stop by my website for my appearances calendar.  But then after that, I’ve gotta start busting on the next Dresden book, I’ve gotta have that done by June 1st, so…

Q:  Huh?  What?  Wait, hold on…St…start?  By June…?  You…your…you’re at least started, right?! {note:  the post date of this podcast was April 30}
Jim:  I’m on chapter 5, yeah.

Q:  Wow! *laughter, jokes*  I’ve got a rough outline of it, uh, got an extension’.
Jim:     Actually, I’ve got a good story about that from the Furies books, the third book, Cursor’s Fury.  The cover is this gorgeous cover of these two lions made out of water and they’re leaping out of this river on this guy in Legionnaires’ armor.  To get the cover, my editor calls me and she says “Hey, we need a scene from the book we can do, to make a really good cover.”  Cause you know, the book was due in a month.

And I looked at her and said “Jim, you can’t tell her that you’re on chapter 3”. *laughter*  So I said, “Okay, just do the cover with this uh…with these two lions made out of water jumping up out of a river and a guy in Legionaire standard and armor and do that.”

And they were like “Ooooo, that’s fantastic, that’ll be a really great cover” and she ran off to do her editor’s stuff and I sat there for like two weeks thinking to myself as I wrote, “How am I going to fit this into the book?”  But it actually worked out really well, and it came out with a great cover, so I kinda did the same thing for the next one…and so…hopefully it’ll do well for that one too.


Q:  Have you found that you’ve written enough of these now that you can just kinda scrawl them out without much effort or at least without as much effort as the first ones?
Jim:  No.  As soon as I get over-confident like that I write myself into a corner, so it’s one of those things where the smarter I am the more I plan out ahead of time and that kinda leaves me a little less time thinking “how in the world am I gonna get him out of this” and a little more time thinking about the nuances and the grace touch, grace notes and so on.