Old school email list WoJ’s

So before there was an official Jim Butcher forum, (some time back in the stone age I think) there was the official “McAnallys Mailing List”.  This was long before I got involved in the fandom, but some of the long time fans still have these old emails saved, and have shared them with me and I’ve archived them here

These were provided by forum member Amber

From: Jim Butcher
To: McAnally’s Pub <mcanallys@jim-butcher.com>
Sent: Fri, July 2, 2004 11:05:52 AM
Subject: Re: [mcanallys] Coupla questions

> First, I was wondering if any of you have read the Southern Vampire Series
> by Charlaue ine Harris….about a vamp named Bill & his (human) girlfriend,
> Sookie???? If so, let me know what you think…..

I likes em. :)  I haven’t bought the new one in hardback, but when it goes back to paper I’ll be in the store to get it.

> Second, a friend of mine has a question for Jim……she wants to know if
> Susan is modeled (looks) after anyone in his immediate circle of
> friends/family……..for some reason she has it in her head that Susan may look  like Mrs.
> B…………

Mrs. B is a curvy, pale, ice-eyed, red-haired craft goddess with a stunning mane of gorgeous hair that falls to below her waist.  She can, at need, Valkyrie out, pick up a spear and go berserkergang on the medieval nerf-weapon battlefield.  She far prefers, though, to make the world a more orderly and (especially) prettier place, by pursuing a number of crafty passions ranging from crosstitch to restoring antique furniture.  In my opinion, she hardly needs to pursue the crafts, since she makes the world more orderly and (especially) prettier by gracing it with her presence, but she takes such joy in it that I don’t mind.

So no, Susan isn’t modeled off of my angel, physically.  But we’ve been together for our entire adult lives, and pretty much every female character I write draws something from one facet or another of Shannon’s personality.  Especially when the female character is gonna do any kissing.  There’s no better kisser on the whole damned planet.

Susan’s physical appearance was inspired by Elisa Masa, a character from the Gargoyles cartoon series.


From: Jim Butcher
Date: Wed, Oct 13, 2004 at 1:56 PM
Subject: Re: [mcanallys] languages DF is available?
To: , McAnally’s Pub <mcanallys@jim-butcher.com>

> So far, it hasn’t been sold in French or German, though Russian, Polish and
> now it looks like Chinese versions will exist as well.  I’d be more than
> happy to sell French/German/Italian/Farsi/Japanese/Atlantean language
> rights to any publisher who would pony up the cash. :)

*has visions of the Dresden Files published in Klingon*

I find it funny that Chinese versions would come out before French or
German- do they just usually pick up English books, or have they not
been blessed with the series at all?

Well, the books are up for sale.  It isn’t as though my English publisher sends word to their sister corporation overseas to add me to their publishing list or something.  My agent is in place, the books are listed as for-sale at various publisher-type conventions and then it’s up to the foreign-language publishers to approach us independently to say ‘hey we want to publish you in language Y.’  Just haven’t had any French or German publishers interested as yet. :)


From: Jim Butcher
Date: Thu, Oct 14, 2004 at 2:31 PM
Subject: Re: Re: [mcanallys] Harry and Alien?!
To: McAnally’s Pub <mcanallys@jim-butcher.com>

At 04:27 PM 10/14/2004 -0400, you wrote:

> Suggestion below:
> >>>
> S
> P
> O
> I
> L
> E
> R
> Hi there!
> wondering how he did it. I mean is he able to keep control of his powers and
> emotions through the whole length of a movie? Isn’t that nearly
> impossible? Or  if it
> is possible to control himself for so long… how can he

Two words – One hyphenated, the other not:

Drive-In Theater.

Exactly. :)  Though since the war with the Red Court started, that’s a little bit dicier than Harry would like for most movies.  But only most.  Lord of the Rings got him to drive several counties over to a clandestine drive-in movie night real early in the season.  He can do indoor movies, though if they’re any GOOD his emotional reactions tend to cause problems, so he usually only gets to see the lousy ones all the way through, so he rarely goes indoors.

Also keep in mind that it hasn’t been like that for him his whole life.  Before his powers started manifesting during adolescence, he had no issues with electronics and gadgets.  He has fond memories of B-17 Bomber on Intellivision. :)


From: Jim Butcher
Date: Thu, Oct 28, 2004 at 12:25 AM
Subject: Re: [mcanallys] storm front question
To: McAnally’s Pub <mcanallys@jim-butcher.com>

No free will ever?  Or no free will to disobey when commanded?  I don’t know that it’s possible to have intellect without will.  Well, then again, most of us have to make decisions about what is true, and what isn’t, or what to remember and forget – but a spirit of intellect is mostly just a talking library, right?  A storehouse.  Although, Bob seems to also understand what he knows…  I’m getting over my head.

Well, I don’t want to hand out too much outside the context of an actual story.  But within the context of the Dresden books, Bob isn’t, like, an actual mortal person.

Mortals are the ones who have free will, the ability to choose what they’re doing, to choose between right and wrong.  Without getting too thickly into the underlying philosophy, that’s the thing that separates, for example, mankind from the angels–the angels didn’t get the same kind of choice about their existance, and what they would do with it.  Mortals get the chance to make all kinds of decisions, and can change their minds, well, at will.  Other creatures, though they may look like people, don’t get the same range of choices about who and what they will be.

Mab, for example, is Mab.  She /can’t/ show up and suddenly be merciful, generous, patient and kind.  It would never so much as occur to her to do so, because it isn’t a fundamental part of her nature, and she /can’t/ choose to change it.  She simply isn’t capable.  She doesn’t have free will in the same way that people do.  It’s related to the difference between having a soul and not having a soul, as well.  Without a soul, you aren’t free to choose how you will shape that soul.  You just stay what you are.

But that’s getting way off the subject of Bob.  I mean, don’t you think that if he had totally free will, he’d be out of the skull all the time, hitching rides in people’s heads on their way into strip bars or something?  There’s a reason he obeys Harry, and it’s not purely because Harry offers him shelter from a gruesome demise. It’s a part of who and what he is.

Another question: Does Bob know everything all the time, or just know when he is asked a question?  Can he ask himself questions? (wouldn’t that involve will?)

He doesn’t know everything.  He knows a LOT.  There’s a difference.  He’s been alive for centuries and worked with a lot of different wizards, and he remembers absolutely everything he is exposed to.  He’s an enormous source of information and practical experience, not a conduit to infinite knowledge.  He’s got limits.  He can ask himself questions and attempt to extrapolate answers based upon what he knows, or by asking other spirits for answers, or by venturing out and seeking the answers himself, but he doesn’t just pull knowledge out of nowhere.  He just LIKES having it, and getting more of it.  That’s what he is.  He’s innocent (more or less) of the whole question of good and evil.  His existance is focused on questions and answers, upon simply acquiring the knowledge, and that’s that.

Which is not to say that he could never become anything more.  Especially if he hangs around with mortals a lot.  Mortals, in their own possession of free will, have a tendancy to influence beings who don’t have it, in one way or another.  I suppose it’s entirely possible, for example, that too much association with mortals are what changed Aurora, former Summer Lady, and gave her a determination to destroy the natural order in an effort to change its very nature–for the better, true, but it would never even have occurred to any of the other Queens, Mothers or Lady that such a thing might be, until it had already happened.  It isn’t in their nature.

But perhaps I’ve said too much.  I’ll shut up now. :)



From: Jim Butcher <longshot@jim-butcher.com>
To: mcanallys@iago.net
Date: Mon, 26 Dec 2005 20:44:51 -0600
Subject: [mcanallys] On the Set
Okay then!

First of all, let me tell you this outright:  Canada is not the USA.

I know.  It’s such a shock.

We get on so well, you’d think they’d be just like us, but they aren’t.  It’s like walking in and finding out that your college roomie wears pink silk panties.  (Unless you happen to have been a girl at college, in which case that’s to be expected.) It isn’t threatening, but it IS sort of odd.

Anyway.  It’s weird there, or at least in Toronto.  It’s clean.  You can walk around the darkened streets after midnight without being unduly worried about getting Wayned by some mugger, if the number of women walking around alone after midnight was any indication.  They have enough plow trucks to handle the snow.  Oklahoma City gets four inches of snow and everything stops for at least a day, or until it turns 90 degrees, whichever comes first–they only have ONE snow truck.  Toronto has 3500.  That’s a 350,000% increase over Oklahoma.  When you buy something at the grocery store, you can see racks and racks of cigarettes behind the counter, and every single one of them has a picture of someone’s dissected blackened lungs or a picture of a smoker in the terminal stages of lung cancer or something.  It’s as though they think the cigarettes are BAD for you.

And then there’s the metric system.  Don’t even get me started.


But then, travel is supposed to broaden the mind.  And I didn’t get cursed by a witch doctor while there, so it’s up on Brazil already.  Sorry, Brazil.  I know my good opinion is of paramount importance to each and every one of you, but I have standards.  My planes all took off and landed with fully functioning electronics and hydraulics, and WITHOUT me being so sick that I didn’t really care if we crashed, so it’s up on Mexico.  Sorry, Mexico.  Brazil might buy you a round at the bar if you sit next to them.  Misery, company.

Okay, on to the set.

Hundreds of people involved, literally.  They were shooting scenes in Harry’s apartment while we were there, in a studio apartment with a loft.  For an apartment, it was pretty huge, and for Harry’s apartment it was positively cavernous, but see above re: HUNDREDS OF PEOPLE.  “Only” about thirty or forty were actually inside the apartment, but especially in the shots that had cameras panning and moving around, those thirty or forty people had to squeeze into the approximately two hundred cubic inches that weren’t actually in the shot.  They actually screamed things like, “We’re shooting, run and hide!” and “Everybody not necessary GET OUT INTO THE SNOW,” and “DAMMIT BUTCHER BUMPED INTO THE LIGHT SWITCH AGAIN!  SOMEONE PUT HIM IN A DIRECTORS CHAIR IN THE CORNER AND TELL HIM ITS BECAUSE WE LIKE HIM!”

Here’s something you might not know: making a movie is, like, BORING.  There is a phenomenal amount of work being done by a whole bunch of different people, things to coordinate, problems to solve, visiting authors to clean up after, and all of that means that you can’t shoot any faster than your slowest work area can get set up.  You spent a LOT of time waiting around, unless you’re the director or assistant director or producer, all of whom never have enough time to do everything they need to do.  And when they DO shoot a shot, they do it several times.  Then they move the cameras closer and do it again.  Then they move the cameras to closeups and do it AGAIN.  And THEN they turn the cameras to a different angle and do the whole process AGAIN.  We were on the set for maybe 8 hours total, and I think I saw them get maybe forty five seconds or so of movie filmed.

I got to meet several of the actors: Harry, Susan, Morgan, the toad demon.  They were awfully busy and had little time to hang out and chat.  But hey, I was bumbling through the middle of where THEY worked and not the other way around, so that’s cool.  Especially since they’d been shooting 18 hour days for two weeks.  The set doesn’t even get LUNCH until 6 pm.

(Which was actually really good.  I’ve been to catered banquets where the food wasn’t that good.)

I also got to meet Hans and Robert, writers/producers, and they were really great guys.  Much jocularity was had.  Robert says that movie crews are like armies: they work on their stomachs.  Which explains the good food.  Robert showed us all over the place: we got to see costumes, talk to stuntfolks, mooch bottled water, chat with special effects guys, and in general get a quick run through all of it.  I also got to see some of the dailies (the footage from the scenes they’d already filmed).  They were very nifty.

In speaking to Robert and Hans and dozens and dozens of other people, I realized something really neat: they care.  Over and over, I heard from the folks there: “most of the time we’re working, it’s just a job.  But on this set, everyone thinks we’re doing something really neat, and it shows in their work.”  Which was really exciting.  I mean, it’s amazing enough that I get to say “they’re making a movie of my book!”  But it’s looking like I’ll get to say, “they’re making a GOOD movie of my book!” which is far more rare.  Go go gadget internet alias. :)

Best for last, of course:  the movie itself.

I can’t tell you very much, cause that’s SciFi’s thing.  What I CAN tell you is that I /really/ dug how well the actors were working together and playing off each other.  Paul has this Harrison Ford-esque ability to display enormous amounts of character via expression alone, especially in his reactions to other actors and in subtle inflections on his lines.  He occasionally ad libs, does smartass well, is really funny, and everyone I spoke to about him told me what a nice guy he was.  I got to see him across from Susan and Murphy in some of their scenes, and they were really cool.  Morgan’s actor does a /really/ great job, too.  I think they’re gonna make this a fairly cool production, all in all.

I didn’t get to meet Murphy’s actor or Kirmani’s (who is replacing Carmichael) or Bianca’s, or Ancient Mai’s, but I hear very good things about them.  In the dailies I got to see both Murphy and Ancient Mai working.  She was wonderful playing across from Paul, and I have no idea how Mai’s actress (who weighs about 90 pounds) manages to radiate quite that much menace.  Very nifty.

I confess one major disappointment.  I did not get to meet Mister’s actor.  He was supposed to be on set that day, but shooting went kinda slow and he wasn’t needed.  They actually found a freaking 30 pound trained movie cat.  Ginger, just gorgeous, and frigging huge.  Apparently the cat only knew one trick: STAY.  But he was very good at that one.  Quite the filming trooper by all reports, as well, and easy to get along with.  That’s the kind of thing that cannot be overappreciated.

The script itself is very close to Storm Front’s–not identical by any means, but if I had written Storm Front the same way, I’d have been fine with it.  The script captures the spirit of the book pretty well, which is very groovy.  I’ve even been able to provide some feedback on the script, pointing out a few things that I thought could be stronger, and they actually listened to me.  See above, re: internet alias.

I have some pictures on my camera if I can get them off of it, though I’m not sure I can share any of the “on stage” pictures.  Have to talk to SciFi about that.  I’ll try to get some of them to Fred so he can make them available.  I got one of me holding Dresden’s hockey stick! :)