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 2009.
2009 Barnes & Noble Interview (audio) derek
*2009 Turn Coat Release Party Interview youtube vid
2009 Jim telling story about his dog in Chicago derek
2009 Dayton Book Signing Q&A youtube video
Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3 | Part 4
*2009 Kansas City Public Library Q&A (Audio)
*2009 Mr. Media Radio Interview (Audio)
*2009 Whisper radio interview audio (interview starts at 49:40)
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.
Steve Bertrand: It’s Meet the Writers on barnesandnoble.com, I’m Steve Bertrand. So, how about that Harry Dresden? He’s back in Turn Coat. Jim Butcher, the author of a pretty interesting character and some fascinating stories, and he joins us now. Jim Butcher, welcome.
Jim Butcher: Thank you.
Steve Bertrand: I want to talk about this guy, Dresden, but let’s start with geography. You live in Missouri, right? Is it Independence, Missouri?
Jim Butcher: Independence, Missouri, first —
Steve Bertrand: Little Harry Truman in you?
Jim Butcher: Yeah, I went to Truman High School, in fact.
Steve Bertrand: Does geography sort of inform at all what you write or the way you write?
Jim Butcher: Yeah, I mean, generally speaking, yeah. I started off my reading career as a fantasy fan. And if you read a lot of fantasy, you got to have the map to go along with it, and I’ve been sadly disappointing my own fans by not including a map in my fantasy series. But, yeah, I mean, especially when I get to looking right here around Chicago, I will pick a lot of my settings based upon geography.
Steve Bertrand: Dresden lives in Chicago?
Jim Butcher: Indeed he does.
Steve Bertrand: How did you figure on that?
Jim Butcher: My writing teacher made me pick Chicago instead of Kansas City.
Steve Bertrand: Is that right?
Jim Butcher: Yeah. The first book was originally a class project. It was originally set in Kansas City, and she looked at it and said, ‘Well, this is a genre fiction novel writing class and you are already walking close enough to Laurel Hamilton’s toes that you don’t need to set your book in Missouri, too.’
Steve Bertrand: I see. More geography.
Jim Butcher: Yeah. So, she said, ‘Pick somewhere else.’ And I said, ‘Where?’ And she said, ‘Anywhere, it doesn’t matter.’ And there was a globe on her desk and there were only four American cities marked on the globe. And I didn’t want to do New York because Spiderman’s got that all sewn up. And I didn’t want to do D.C. because then you would have to write politics and that gets rid of half of your audience right away. And then the other city was Los Angeles and I didn’t want to write about Los Angeles, it’s a Hollywood thing. So, Chicago was left. I said, ‘How about Chicago?’ and she said, ‘Yeah, that’ll be fine.’ So, I lucked into picking Chicago.
Steve Bertrand: And so here we are in Chicago, and as I read it, I recognize different spots and neighborhoods and all of that. But how much research do you do into the location when it comes to writing the story? Because the story’s not so much about location.
Jim Butcher: Right. The story itself isn’t so much about it, but it does provide the backdrop for when I want to pick a good scene. And the answer is I do more research every book. Especially as I pick up more readers in Chicago and I get in touch with them. There have been several area type message boards where fans have gotten together and said, ‘Hey, can this under city thing that Jim is proposing in his books — it’s complete crap, isn’t it?’ And they went out and researched it, they’re like, ‘Actually, no, not complete. There’s actually all of these parts of the city where you can go down under a manhole and there’s old city Chicago there.’ But, yeah, there’s all kinds of cool tunnels under the city and I just kind of proposed that where the actual, real tunnels stop, that’s where the freaky, monster filled underworld starts, so….
Steve Bertrand: You mentioned New York City and Spiderman. Compare and contrast — let me give you an essay question — compare and contrast Peter Parker to Harry Dresden.
Jim Butcher: Oh, Peter Parker actually gets to have flash moments of cool, at least he’s got the Spiderman costume he can get into. But Peter Parker and Harry Dresden are very similar because Peter Parker was one of the characters who inspired me when I was putting Harry Dresden together, one of the main characters, in fact. Poor Pete, you know, all the superheroes would do something big in New York, and after it was all over, everybody would be flying home in their jets, or their fantastic cars or under their own power. And poor Peter, he doesn’t have a costume made out of unstable molecules. He’s got the one he made at home. And it’s all shredded and he’s got a paper bag over his head to maintain his secret identity. And he’s like, ‘Can somebody loan me cab fare so I can get back home?’ ‘Oh, I’ll give you a ride.’ ‘I kind of have this secret identity where I want it to be secret, so I don’t want your ride.’ And the Invisible Woman would be like, ‘Oh, Reed, give him cab fare.’ And that’s the kind of down on his luck but yet not stopping what he’s doing kind of thing that I wanted to do with Dresden.
Steve Bertrand: Endearing, right? They’re endearing.
Jim Butcher: Yeah, yeah. They’re the kind of guys who — it’s, like, you know, I’d would ask him over to my place for a barbecue because he’s funny and nice. A lot of heroes are the kind of people you just wouldn’t want to associate with in your actual life.
Steve Bertrand: Right.
Jim Butcher: I also wanted Dresden to be the kind of guy that’s like, ‘Hey, you want to go to a ball game?’ ‘Yeah.’ I wanted him to be that kind of character.
Steve Bertrand: What’s his relationship with women?
Jim Butcher: Unfortunate, mostly. My general writing theory for Dresden is never give him a break, so even if he does get the girl for a bit, there’s almost always something that goes terribly wrong at some point in his life.
Steve Bertrand: But he seems to be very comfortable with women.
Jim Butcher: More or less…
Steve Bertrand: Don’t you — I mean, I think so.
Jim Butcher: Yeah, yeah, I think he is in some ways, in some ways he’s still just kind of an awkward nerd. It kind of depends. If it’s some supernaturally hot, sexy chick who can kill you, literally kill you with a kiss, he’s comfortable with that. He knows how to deal with that. If it’s an actual girl who’s hanging out around him, someone like Lt. Murphy from the Chicago P.D., that gets a little bit more awkward for him.
Steve Bertrand: So, maybe it’s almost the inverse of what you would expect, what you would think would be typical. Right?
Jim Butcher: Yeah, he’s much more comfortable with soul destroying things from beyond than he is —
Steve Bertrand: I mean, I’ve never been with a woman who could kill me with a kiss, but I think I might be a little intimidated if I were.
Jim Butcher: Yeah, yeah, exactly. But, for Harry, the monsters, that’s just what he does. That’s work week.
Steve Bertrand: You were talking earlier about when you came up with Dresden, and it was in a class, right?
Jim Butcher: Right.
Steve Bertrand: And there’s a story you’ve told, I’m trying to remember, but basically you kind of gave in. And I don’t know if this is about this story or not, but the teacher was saying, ‘Do this and do this,’ and you just thought it was the wrong thing and finally said, ‘I’ll prove it to you how it doesn’t work.’ Tell me that.
Jim Butcher: Well, I’d been getting very good advice from Debbie Chester for several years and I’d written several terrible novels. And I wanted to prove to her — she kept hammering on these same points over and over and I wanted to prove to her how wrong she was. And I knew she was wrong because i have an English Literature Degree.
Steve Bertrand: And you’ve written four very unsuccessful novels at this point.
Jim Butcher: Yes, whereas she had merely published forty novels. And so one semester I just said, ‘You know what, I’m just going to do everything you say. I’m going to fill in all your papers. I’m going to do all these little outlines, all these little worksheets before I get started, and you’ll see what terrible stuff comes out of it.’ And that was when I wrote the first book of The Dresden Files.
Steve Bertrand: Things have turned out for both of you, then.
Jim Butcher: Yeah, yeah.
Steve Bertrand: What was it like when you held a book that you’d published?
Jim Butcher: It was like when you go to the amusement park and you get your picture taken, and then they put it on a gag headline newspaper. When I first got the books, it was that exact feeling, like this was some sort of gag gift that I got from an amusement park somewhere. It was very — it was kind of an unreal thing. It was like I was looking at it going, ‘Well, I know this isn’t actually real…’ but it was.
Steve Bertrand: Turns out it was.
Jim Butcher: Yeah, as it turns out.
Steve Bertrand: When did it sink in?
Jim Butcher: I don’t know that it has.
Steve Bertrand: Really?
Jim Butcher: Yeah, I mean —
Steve Bertrand: I mean, you’re an industry now, right?
Jim Butcher: Uh, I guess, yeah. I’m even a corporation. I don’t know how that happened, but at one point my wife came to me and told me, “We need to do this,” and I said, “Okay.” So, now I’m a corporation.
Steve Bertrand: So how do you keep all of the balls in the air and maintain your writing, as well? I mean, it’s all about writing, I suppose, but it seems to me like you’d be pulled in many different directions, too.
Jim Butcher: Yeah. There’s a whole bunch of the professional side of the business now that isn’t writing that I’ve got to keep track of. What I try and do is — I have kind of an odd work schedule. And when I’m awake during the day, I’ll try and take care of the non-writing part of the business, and then after everybody goes to sleep, that’s when I do the actual writing. I start around ten o’clock. You know, if you try and write during the day when there are other people in the house around, it’s ‘Honey, you need to eat something,’ this and ‘Dad, I love you,’ that and you can’t be expected to work under those conditions.
Steve Bertrand: I want to talk to you about your dad, too, because — and I’ve asked you this before, but it’s really a great quote. You said of your dad, “He was not really anyone who’d gone out and conquered worlds, but he was the sort of guy who would show up and if your world was shaking, he’d settle it down again.”
Jim Butcher: Yeah.
Steve Bertrand: Which I think is a great thing for any dad to aspire to. Right? Tell me of his influence on you?
Jim Butcher: My dad was the kind of guy who really didn’t have a lot to say. He never really had a lot to tell me about what kind of person I should be. He was the kind of guy who would show me what kind of person I should be by being that way. But he was the one in the family who everyone in the family would go to when they needed help, in the extended family, whoever it was. When he retired, my sisters actually set up a parade in front of the house where we had three different marching bands, and fifty cars, and several squad cars from the local police force went by the house in a parade. You know, they snuck in all these people in from out of town to do it. And Dad wound up going out and dancing with the drum major from the Twenty Third Street Marching Cobras. And he was, he was a solid man. When I was sixteen, I went up into the attic. And I was digging around in a box I hadn’t seen before and I pull out this old army jacket. I take it down to my dad and I’m like, ‘Hey, whats this? And what’s this winged dagger patch on it and everything?’ And it turns out Dad was Signal Corps for Army Rangers during Korea, and I’d never known about it. He was like, ‘Yeah, here, let me show you.’ And he shows me how he was qualified on every infantry weapon that the Army had, on all the British infantry weapons and on the Russian infantry weapons. ‘Yeah, I was the knife fighting and unarmed combat instructor for my platoon,’ and I’d never even known he was in the service. ‘And here’s my picture of me meeting General Eisenhower,’ and so on, he shows me all this stuff. I’m just sitting here being amazed by it. I mean, my dad was Rambo and I never knew.
Steve Bertrand: And he just did it.
Jim Butcher: Yeah. He’d never chatted about it or anything.
Steve Bertrand: Does that have an impact on how you are as a dad or how you are as a writer?
Jim Butcher: Oh, absolutely. I mean, a lot of my characters — Dad was the kind of guy that showed me that the people who are really formidable and really dangerous have no need to talk about it. They’re the kind of folks who are quiet. They don’t need to get out and brag. And in the Dresden Files, you can usually tell the really tough characters, because they’re the ones who don’t need to puff out their chests. They don’t need to come on strong. They’re just doing whatever they’re doing. So, that’s been a very good effect for The Dresden Files, for me, for being able to convey ‘This is somebody who’s truly dangerous and competent.’
Steve Bertrand: Well, it’s all worked out pretty well for you.
Jim Butcher: Yeah, yeah. I don’t know how that happened.
Steve Bertrand: As you continue to prove your teacher wrong, year after year after year, book after book after book.
Jim Butcher: Evidently. I actually wrote her a letter that says — for her students, to hand out, that says, “Dear students, Shut up and do what Debbie tells you to do. If somebody had told me that, I would have saved about five years of breaking into the industry, so let me do you a favor.”
Steve Bertrand: Yeah, but maybe that suffering made you better in another way.
Jim Butcher: Oh, more than likely it did. I probably needed to have some sense knocked into me.
Steve Bertrand: The latest book is Turn Coat. Jim Butcher, it was nice to talk to you.
Jim Butcher: Alright, thank you.
Steve Bertrand: I’m Steve Bertrand. This is Meet the Writers on barnesandnoble.com.
Jim Butcher: Okay, she’s figuring out what we’ve got going here, but I can tell about the story of how my Bichon saved my son from a bear if you like.
We used to live in rural Pennsylvania, and my kid slept in a bedroom on the ground floor. And one winter, apparently, there was an issue — the dog had gotten me up in the middle of the night a couple of times for no reason.
And so, one night he had gotten me up in the middle of the night — one night he’d gotten me up in the middle of the night and — all upset — led me downstairs, and I find the kid down there with 102 fever, shaking and he’s kicked all of his covers off. And I’m like, ‘Okay, good dog! That’s a very dog thing to do. That’s very Lassie of you. Well done.’ And got the kid covered up, and the dog curled up with him and went to sleep, and there’s no problem. The dog always slept with the kid.
Well, a couple nights later, he shows up again having gotten over a baby gate through a shut door. I don’t know how. Only, he’s upset again. I go down again and the kid’s fine.
And so the dog walks over to the kitchen door, which is right opposite the kid’s room, and whining and making noise until I walk over there with him. And then he starts walking down the house, and every 10 feet or so he’ll stop and whine until I come up with him. So he walks up and down, like, twice doing this and I’m, like, ‘Okay, dog, you’re insane.’ You know, he does that then curls up and goes to sleep. I’m, like, ‘Dog, you are crazy,’ and I went back to bed.
And the next day I was out walking my kid out to the bus stop and there was a fresh snow on ground and bear tracks on the steps leading up to the house where the bear had been standing looking in the glass window wondering if there was any food in there. And then the tracks went all the way around the house twice, and the dog had made me keep pace with bear inside the house so that the bear would know that I knew it was there.
I mean, now granted, that is not sailing into combat with the bear, but that was using his noggin. “Good dog!”
But that’s how a Bichon Frise saved my son from a bear.
Jim Butcher: Well, yeah, but it all happens at my expense, so….
[00:02:00 end of story, host awarding prizes]