Old WoJ pulled from Laura K. Hamilton Yahoo email list

Forum member Kevin Rose  Pointed out that there are nearly 700 posts by “longshot” on the LKH yahoo group.  Jim has mentioned at signings that this is where the discussion that inspired the idea for Maggie (I.E. a plot relevant BDSM scene in a book) was conceived *wink wink nudge nudge* in this list, but I couldn’t find it 🙁

Many of these posts are relevant to the Anita Blake universe, which is where Jim drew a lot of his inspiration but is not the same thing as the Dresden Files universe.

You have to sign up to access the posts, but it wasn’t terribly hard for me.  (maybe because I have a yahoo login already?)

Forum member knnn and I went through all 694 posts made by “longshotauthor” looking for stuff related to the Dresden Files (the codex Alera not having been published yet) which are quoted below.  Any re-postings are likely to be in reverse chronological order.

I found all kinds of fun reads that aren’t pertinent, so if you read these outtakes, and haven’t gotten enough, you will probably enjoy going through them yourself. -Serack

Re: LKH: Why Jim deserves that

Posted by longshotauthor Sat Jan 25, 2003 7:04 pm

>>It’s next best thing after LKH and Jim! (pokes him) :)
>Ow, hey. What did I do to deserve that? :)
>I think you get a dig in the ribs for ‘Ronald Reuel’ (hope I’m spelling it
>right). Nice old gent, eh, fluent in Elvish I daresay. Looks most at home
>in an old tweed jacket…
>Any relation to John Ronald Reuel Tolkien of the recent eleventy-first

I’m sure it’s just one of those freaky coincidences. Tweed-clad old
smiling ‘creator of worlds of imagination’ Ronald Reuel, Summer Knight of
the Seelie Court does not look a thing like Tolkein.

Or, uh. Well he does, yeah.

On advice of legal council, I claim the right of the fifth amendment not to
testify against myself… ;)

>By the way, I’ve bought and read your books, enjoyed them thoroughly, and
>look forward to the next. I do hope Harry’s life improves!

Hey, how much worse could it GET?



Re: LKH: Charlaine Harris and Anne Rice

Posted by longshotauthor  Fri Nov 22, 2002 10:36 am

> > One more suggestion. There is a series of books in “The Dresden
> > Files” by Jim Butcher – that are the most “Hamilton-esque” books
> > I’ve read to date.
> >
>TQ: Considering the different trends in series quality that might not
>be a very big compliment to Jim. His books have gotten better with
>each new issue, where as LKH’s have never improved and have of late
>been getting worse.

I am very flattered by TQ’s compliments on my work (thank you, Teleran!),
but “better” and “worse” is pretty subjective. Laurell is writing the
books she wants to write, and read, just like any other writer. She just
has a different idea of what makes a good book than I do, which is only
natural. She also has a very different approach, in terms of writing style
and mindset than I do. It’s only natural that we get different results.

I don’t mind having the Dresden books compared to the Anita
books. Because, gosh, they start off with darn near exactly the same
premise. I borrowed things left and right from the Anita series, in terms
of using many of the same raw materials. Heck, Lieutenant Murphy could BE
Anita, only with a badge, no powers, and a bottle of peroxide. I borrowed
nifty ideas from Buffy, X-Files, Scooby Doo, and I’m sure I have used all
sorts of things that I haven’t yet realized are borrowed.

I really loved the palette Laurell was working with, so I took the same
colors of paint and set out to produce my own work with them. My goal
wasn’t to discover new colors of paint, but to put them together in a
different way than anyone else. I feel confident that I’ve more or less
done that.

I used to give my English professors heart attacks when they would ask
everyone what their goals were as a writer. Some people would say “self
discovery.” Others would say something like, “Personal insight and growth.”

I always said, “I want to hold up a yardstick to the shelf at Barnes and
Noble and see my books run off either end.” Judging by the faces of my
profs and fellow students, it was an appalling goal. And, judging by my
own mercenary yardstick, Laurell’s books are still quite a bit better than
mine. ;)

The important thing is that the readers have fun reading. It’s an
entertainment industry, and that’s pretty much the point. I’m still fairly
new to this writing thing, and I still have a lot to learn. It’s why my
books have had a pretty steep improvement curve. Eventually, I will be
more competent, but I imagine the kind of books I turn out will still be
way different than Laurell’s work.

Which is as it should be. :)


YAABI’s and the Editing Process

Posted by longshotauthor  Wed Oct 16, 2002 7:41 am

> > Is this just one of those Oosp I forgot that I had the car
>killed 5 pages back and lets just skip on ahead and hope noone
>spots this little goof?>>
>That’s a YAABI (Yet Another Anita Blake Inconsistency.) It’s one
>of the earlier ones, though if you read through the scene in
>Laughing Corpse in Dominga’s house, she moves without getting
>That YAABI has been attributed to editing–the scene in which
>Anita rents a car was cut for space, according to inside sources
>whose identity I cannot clearly recall.

After only working on five books with an editor, I *SO* believe in the
power of editing to screw up the details. :)

Not that the editor screws anything up, per se, but the editing process is
enough to drive anyone insane, much less someone with an eye for details,
for the simple reason that it gets hard to track what the hell is actually
happening in any given chapter of the book.

When you’re the reader of a book, you have a certain advantage over the
writer. You get to read one version of the book, the one that “counts,”
and if the writer has done their job well, you get a nice, sharp, clear
mental image as your initial impression of the story, scene, or chapter.

When you’re the WRITER though, it’s a lot more screwed up than
that. Here’s why:

When you first think of the scene, you have it in your head. You have to
keep track of all the major dramatic events, of what you’ve described to
the reader, of what the characters are thinking and doing with regards to
the overall story and OH YEAH you also have to keep track of all their
blocking–whether they are standing, sitting, suspended from a St. Andrew’s
Cross, what have you. And that’s just the first pass through.

After that, you go back through, cleaning it up and rewriting it, getting
it set out pretty firmly in your mind. The first copy of the story is
done, yay!

And then the editor gets it.

Don’t get me wrong, the editor isn’t evil. But the editor’s job is to look
at the script and apply all of their experience and creative ability to it
to help the author make that story as dramatically satisfying and
stylistically proficient as possible. This means that the editor reads a
scene that you thought was great, points out a big error in story logic or
some other problem that has to be addressed, and sends it back to you with
suggestions on what to do.

Sometimes, a vast and evil assembly of entitites known as the Evil Gods of
Publishing takes possession of the editor’s typing fingers and makes the
editor tell you to cut 50 pages from the final manuscript, asks you to
expand on the story or to add in a scene or two. Very rarely, the evil god
makes the editor ask you to do all of the above, and then laughs in
sadistic glee as the drool dribbles off your chin.

Anyway, you take another pass through the scene, with changes and
alterations and snips of the extra material, and then you try to read it
and make sure it still makes sense. The character who died in the original
version of the scene is now instead a possible romantic interest, two rabid
bull elephants are now tearing down the wall of the house and your sunny
day has turned into a raging blizzard, but yeah, okay, it looks like
everything sticks together. You work as hard as you can for your editor
(and to appease the Evil Gods of Publishing) and you get (what is for you)
the fourth version of that scene out: the rough scene, the edited scene,
the editor’s suggestions for the scene, and then the rewritten scene.

You send it back to the editor. The editor sends it to the printer to get
proofs done and sends them to you for a final look-over. You read version
FIVE of that scene, where the the printer has accidentally changed the
possible romantic interest to a possible semantic interest, and the rabid
bull elephants are now rapid butt elephants.

But hey, you’re a professional and you deal. You go through marking
changes and send it back to the publisher, and now you’ve read *thunder
sound effects* SIX, SIX VERSIONS OF THAT SCENE AH-AH-AH-AH! Your editor
has also read that many versions, but they haven’t made as much of an
impression, because your editor has been getting six versions of about 50
other books. And that’s if you write with minimal re-writing. If you’re
the kind of writer that combs over scenes five or six times, you may have
seen a dozen or more versions.

Anyway. A geological epoch later, the book hits the shelves, you read it,
and find out that you stuck a note to the door with a tack in one chapter,
and with tape in the next. At this point, you make bibble-bibble-bibble
sounds with your lips and your index finger, and get on with your life,
because the next manuscript is due the day after tomorrow.

Years later, you’re an author with 10 books out, and at a conservative
estimate you’ve seen about 60 different versions of your novels over the
course of 10 years. You’ve written a Magellanic cloud of small details,
and you could film ‘The Editor Who Went Up A Pile of Discarded Rough Draft
Paper and Came Down A Mountain’ in your back yard. I don’t care how
professional, careful, or obsessive-compulsive you are. Some of the little
things are gonna slip. :)

Bibble bibble bibble,



Re: LKH: slightly OT: To Jim 

Posted by longshotauthor  Tue Oct 1, 2002 6:15 pm

>You’re probably sick of getting letters like this,
>but I see others are giving you pats on the back,
>so I just wanted to say this.

My ego has officially passed the Blue Whale as the largest animal on the
planet, and I need all the kinds of letters like that I can get. Otherwise
it starts looking at me funny.

>My son is 13. He’s a pretty bright boy, but like
>many young boys he’s not really into reading,
>so when his reading teacher at school required
>the kids to read 1/2 hour a day I looked really
>hard at books to see what he might like. He’s
>really into fantasy, so I had him try your series.
>That was at the start of the school year. Now
>he’s almost done with the 3rd book. Good thing
>I just bought the 4th. I am grateful to you!

I’m really glad I could make getting the reading habit more fun for your
boy! My own son is 10 now, and he had a similar experience with the Harry
Potter books. :)

>PS: My daughter and I love your books as
>well, and now have all of them (so far).

Wow, that is extremely flattering. :) Fair warning though: for various
reasons the sex scenes in book 5 get quite a bit more explicit. Not crude,
or at least I HOPE not crude, but more explicit. You might want to use
that as an excuse to grab the book before either of the kids so you can
pre-approve it. :)


OT: Blatant Self Promotion!

Posted by longshotauthor  Sat Aug 24, 2002 8:46 pm

Hey all!

Just wanted to let everyone know that many of the folks who pre-ordered the
fourth Dresden book, Summer Knight, have had their orders shipped. At
least a couple of people have already gotten the book at their local
bookstores, though the official release date is not until September 3.

For those reading the Dresden Files, enjoy the book! Feel free to send me
questions, comments or complaints! :)

For those who aren’t reading the Dresden Files, you probably should. If
you keep on denying yourself fine literature like this, sooner or later
you’re going to show up in Jeopardy or Win Ben Stein’s Money and they’ll
ask a question about Harry’s osteosnarky sidekick, Bob, and where will you
be? Feeling awful ignorant. That’s where.

So, for your own good people. I don’t want you to feel bad. Go read the
book. Get it from the library if you don’t want to chance the money, and
can wait in the line, but read the book. I want you to make Ben and/or
Alex feel stupid. It will have given my life purpose and meaning. ;)


Editor’s note:  This came true.

http://www.j-archive.com/showgame.php?game_id=1844  (search for dresden)

The Role of Editors, Writers, and Deadlines

Posted by longshotauthor  Sat May 18, 2002 10:58 am

>Have you guys ever stopped and think maybe it’s not
>all the authors fault. Just maybe the editors or
>publishers had the last say in how the book is
>written. If the editors and publishers had a problem
>with the book they would never had published or edited
>it or released it until they likes what they read.

Well. My experience is minimal compared to many others (Dallas, I’d really
appreciate hearing your take on this), but editors aren’t in the business
of releasing works of art, painstakingly honed to their finest edge.
Editors have to organize and put deadlines on a crowd of creative types.
They have to get original work from them, and polish that work to the best
finish they can within the time limit allotted. They’d have an easier time
riding herd on a few thousand cats.

In any case, the editors I’ve worked with don’t have the time or energy to
produce the highest quality work they can. They are forced to settle for
‘best possible.’ And frankly, if the author doesn’t want to
whole-heartedly cooperate with the editing staff, there isn’t really time
for the editors to do all that much about it.

(This of course could lead to a loss of future work with those editors, but
as long as an author is hauling in the big bucks, they have the power to do
more or less whatever they really want to. Many writers probably continue
to cooperate whole heartedly with their editors–but they could also choose
to do something else.)

>Since the book was published maybe the editor and
>publishers loved it. See what I’m saying. Book
>writting is a two way street. A writer only does what
>their editors or publisher say to do or what they
>think the general public wants. So you can’t blame
>Mrs. Hamilton for her writting she did however changed
>publishing companies and from what I hear they all
>have different standards and point of views of how
>books should be written.

It’s true that different houses have different ideals of what they want
their books to be, but unless I’m mistaken, Laurell is still working with
the same editorial staff at Ace. The hardbacks are being published through
Berkeley (of which Ace is a division) but I’m pretty sure she’s working
with the same staff.

In any case, my point is that unless the editor deletes and rewrites
sections of the manuscript on their own (which I have heard has happened
before), the author is the overwhelming influence on any given manuscript.
Even if the editor tells you to do some stuff that is a huge pain and that
you don’t agree with, there is a /lot/ of room for wriggling. I’ve had to
face some heavy rewrites once, and though it was a lot of work and a real
challenge to my flexibility, I was able to give the editor what they wanted
without losing anything I wanted in the manuscript.

(Okay, except for a little fight scene and a lame one-liner about
Hemingway’s “A Farewell to Arms.” For anyone who is curious, Harry had a
fight with one of Bianca’s vampire goons in “Grave Peril.” The goon
punched through the hood of the _Beetle_ to destroy the car’s engine, and
didn’t realize that the VW keeps the engine in the trunk. His arm got suck
and Harry ran him over with the car until it tore out at the shoulder.
Harry made a joke about Hemingway, and spent the rest of the book driving
him into a psychotic frenzy by calling him ‘lefty.’ I would have wanted to
keep that. Darn evil editors! ;) )

My own publishing dates got changed from every 9 months to once a year
because Roc was altering their schedule to a 1-year rotation instead of a
9-month rotation. I also know that time pressures can really have an
effect on the way things come out in a book (he said, looking nervously at
the calandar). I’d really love to know the inside dirt on why all kinds of
books get their publishing dates pushed around, but I’m about as tactful as
a main battle tank, so it’s probably just as well for me that I don’t. ;)

Off to do yard work and then another chapter!


dEAR jIM AND FRIENDS, i JUST REALIZED WITH mURPHY AND THE other woman…….well, a question for Jim: Should we start a petition that Harry, Murphy, all the cops, Bob, all the vampires, everybody else in Chicago, DO NOT ALL END UP HAVING SEX WITH HARRY, particularly at the same time. (The sorority that Bob started the riot in does not count.)

Best, Skippy, who has CAPS LOCK troubel.

Ahahahahahahah. I think the mere thought of Harry and, let’s say, Carmichael would have both characters bolting to the gun range for a few hours of practice followed by a shower. Of Lysol. Or maybe they’d both just turn away at exactly the same time and whip out combs. But then, I think pretty much the same thing would happen between Harry and Murphy, at the point in the series you guys have gotten to read to so far. ;)

Besides, for Harry to get regular sweet luvvin, I would have to like him or something. Unfortunately, I dearly love the character and for his OWN GOOD I have to make his life as uncomfortably, embarrassingly terrible as I possibly can. ;) Don’t worry. Harry will get what’s coming to him in the end. But the end is a pretty good ways off.



It was a great book. And I really liked Ferro. Are we going to see more of him?? 

Well, you don’t drop an insult to one of the world’s last dragons like that and expect him to forget it. Ferro’s not really the sort to go hunting for particular insects that have annoyed them, but God help Harry if he should show up on the dragon’s radar at any point in the next fifteen or twenty THOUSAND years. >:)



Jim, the books just keep getting better and better….”Grave Peril” is wonderful….witty….plus a million other praise ridden adjectives. 

The best of which is ‘worth paying for’. ;) No, wait, don’t look! My mercenary soul is showing!

When is book 4 due out??? I am not terribly patient. 

Uh, let me think. I believe it is not due out until next April or May.  They’re supposed to roll out at 9 month intervals.

Book 4, btw, is titled “Summer Knight” and is all about how Harry gets suckered into working for Queen Mab. The queen of the wicked faeries makes a fairly spooky client. I mean, how do you send the bill?



So, Jim, any plans for a tour for Grave Peril? San Antonio is a really lovely city. A bit warm this time of year, but it’s nice & shady on the riverwalk, & there’s plenty of a/c.

Ahahahah, tour, right. Those are for serious authors, not newbies like me.  Maybe in fifteen or twenty years, I too will be a serious author, but for now I’m the author that is mostly remembered by the editorial staff for sending in chocolate with new manuscripts. :)

Besides, I’m not sure they could pay me enough to hit the great Southwest in August, now that I have experienced summer here in the colonies. People were complaining about 85 degrees. I was too busy thinking ‘Wow, it isn’t a HUNDRED and five!’

You *know* we’d all show up! 🙂 Er, what kind of chocolate?

I default to Godiva, Ghiradelli (sp?) or Dove Dark, but I usually try to find something out of the ordinary. (I live about an hour from Hershey, PA, and let me tell you. I was at the Hershey Theme Park the day the Lillith Tour was in town at the fair grounds next door, and all single men out there missed out. There must have been four girls there for every guy and all of them walking around in a haze of chocolate fumes.)

Let’s see, last time I found these Hershey’s Pot O’ Gold sticks that were individually wrapped things about the size of cigarettes. Coffee wrapped
up in chocolate, evil within evil, what’s not to love. :)



What ties to Witchcraft do you have if any?or is it just through writing?

Actually, if I was going to claim to be anything, I would probably say I was a laid-back version of a fundamentalist Christian, though I wouldn’t want to do a disservice to Christianity in general by associating myself with it. ;)

My only real tie to witchcraft was being cursed by an Amazon Jungle Witch Doctor on a missionary trip to the Rio de Janeiro area of Brazil when I was 18. He was draped in living snakes and everything, and a deadly poisonous spider crawled into my bunk that very night. I dodged it with my superhuman (or at least, caffeine-ridden teenager) reflexes and killed it, but it was too late for me. The curse had fallen and I was married in under a year. ;)

True story. All the magic in the Dresden books, though, is based on various stuff I’ve drawn from Llewellyn’s books and other research I’ve done, plus a healthy dose of Anime and Marvel Comics. :)



I gave you some free advertising at MidSouthCon by wearing a Dresden Files T-Shirt one day!
Love the books!

Woo hoo, thank you again! :) I’m working on a big scene in the middle of book four now. I spent about two hours yesterday pacing the aisles of my local Wal Mart, taking notes on where something ten feet tall and ridiculously strong might hide and pick up obscenely heavy things to throw, where there might be several high iron-content steel items available, and taking an estimate of how many innocent passers-by might be around. :)

Well, (licks to pack in apology) not a dog, for sure. ;) I love the wise-cracks Bob comes up with and love the hassel he gives Harry.

Bob is the voice of my inner madman. :)

Definitely, Bob is one of the best supporting characters. With a memory like Bob’s and a cat like Mister, what more could you want?

Everyone keeps asking me what Mister’s special powers are. I’ve decided that Mister has the following supernatural abilities:

1) Mister has the power to be supremely unconcerned with anything that isn’t a) threatening his life, b) good to play with, c) good to eat, or d) a female cat in season.

2) Mister has the unholy power to leave bits of dead animals in spots you would never expect them to be until the bare skin of your foot has actually
brushed them.

3) Mister has the freakish capability of vanishing for days at a time, then to make /you/ feel guilty that he’s hungry when he gets home.

4) Finally, Mister is able to invert the belief structure of a dog. When you feed, shelter, and show affection to a dog, the dog decides that you must be a god and worthy of worship. When you feed, shelter, and show affection to Mister, Mister decides that HE must be a god, and worthy of worship.

I have also read both of your other books and they were great. A whole new side of vamps.  Thanks.

Thank you! :) I get to do more with vampires starting in book 3, but I had fun making up a my own take on them.


Just keep in mind that Martina and I say that Jim is a man of a thousand faces. He never quite looks the same in two photos. I think it’s a Dresden Effect on the cameras or something. I have seen the Dresden Effect in action. I actually managed to meet Jim at a convention, but the photo of the two of us didn’t take… all the photos were double exposed, but that particular one didn’t even show up on the negative. ::insert Twilight Zone music::

*sigh* Chris, Chris, Chris. I thought you had better sense than to talk about such things openly.  Of course I’ll have to kill you.



(this was a general LKH forum thread question)

Which kind of were-creature would you be?

Okay, I’ve been giving this some thought. And while the werewolf is cool and all, I am about as pack-oriented as your average wolverine. And while that whole feline sexy werepanther thing is really appealing, I generally regard cats as the spokespecies for Neitzsche’s take on animals, and I am nearly as feline as your average baluga whale. Werebear would be all right, I guess, but I generally like children too much to be a very good male bear, who kills them on sight. I can’t do wererat either, because rats tend to eat sparingly from multiple sources as a survival technique, while I would probably go extinct if Burger King went out of business.

My wife, of course, would roll her eyes and tell me that as I was already a PIG I should not even be wasting my time considering this question.

I have decided to be the list’s only wereBADGER. I mostly just live in my hole, come out every once in a while to do things while being surly and snarly, and I’ll take your freaking leg off if you try to mess with my hole or one of the things behind me that needs protecting.

Werebadger Jim. That’s me.

“Badgers? We don’t need no steenkeen badgers.”

Michelle, some of us did some beta reading for Jim early on, so we have read more than one of the Harry Dresden Novels.

Yep. There were several people I pestered into reading the books before they’d actually sold, and who provided some useful feedback for me while I was putting them together. Chris has already read Fool Moon (though the title might change), the second book of the Dresden Files, and Knightmare (again, title subject to change) the third book of the Dresden Files. She took that quote from book 3. :)


(Relevance Disclaimer–The Dresden Files are heavily influenced by the Anita books, which were the books that made me want to be a professional writer to begin with. I read Guilty Pleasures and thought ‘man that book was fun to read. I’ll bet it was fun to write! *I* want to be Laurell Hamilton when I grow up!‘)

Discussion about vampires (Red (South America), White, Black, Jade (china), Africa, Malaysia.  That’s six. ):

Also keep in mind that Christianized (then Stokerized) vampires changed from what they originally were: literal animated corpses that emerged from the grave to feed on the life forces (not necessarily blood) of the living.  Fangs are a Stokerism, for example–vampires were considered to be nighttime visitors who were never seen, but who would appear in the dreams of the victims. The victims would grow weaker and weaker, usually developing respiratory problems, and if the vampire was not found they would eventually perish.

(This changed from being called ‘vampires’ to being called ‘consumption’ eventually, but the root of the word, ie ‘consume’ is kind of amusing, in a dark way. Even if it wasn’t a supernatural horror eating people alive any more, it was something /else/ eating them alive, and that’s the only word they could really call it.)

Vampire folklore stretched up into the early 1700s in New England (cf, Mercy Brown) but vampire folklore was fairly narrow and fairly unknown in Western Europe and the Americas, until Stoker’s book was published. then they were still obscure, while Stoker’s book fell flat on its face, until a play began to popularize the image of the vampire as a sex object and all of a sudden it caught on in Victorian England.

Well, after that, you can’t have enough kinds of stakes, holy objects, symbols, hexes, curses, crosses, or nubile virgins to make the audience happy, and lots of variants developed. Always favorite for killing vampires was beheading and dismemberment (or as Buffy would call it, “Slice and dice, cool.”), which you have to admit is a pretty darn good way to kill /anything/.

In any case, if you actually go out and dig into vampire lore, it’s tough to find much before Stokerism swept the vampire world. There’s more Hammer films than pre-1800s books on vampires, at least that are popularly available. Montague Summers (a rather creepy guy himself) compiled what he claimed was a collection of accounts from various priests in the Church who had battled the Undead from not too long after the death of Christ. It makes for interesting reading, though it has more in common with Ghost stories or Demon possession stories than the conventionally accepted vampire.

Internationally, creatures that sap the lifeforce or drink the blood are entrenched firmly in darn near everyone’s folklore. The Malaysian version of the vampire is like some enormous hair mosquito that attacks infants in their coffins, and is a sort of spiritual hit man for hostile gods, delivering death and disease at their instruction. China has some odd vampires, but then their ghost legends blend pretty well into the whole ‘dead drawing life from the living’ concept, as much of their ancestor-worship-custom taps into some of the same beliefs. Africa has vampires, though they are often identified with snakes, and in South America vampires were lined up with vampire bats (duh) and with a couple of different nasty old gods and monsters that I found. It’s a really interesting, if time consuming bit of research, but rewarding in the long run.

As much as we’d rather pretend it’s an antiquity, the vampire as we see generally is a fairly recent invention, rivaled by very few modern monster myths. Aliens, Bigfoots, and maybe the Immortals, from Highlander, are just about the only thing with a mythos that is at all comparable in volume or following. I gleefully mutated vampires for my own books (they come in 47 flavors, like Baskin Robbins) and I would heartily encourage other writers to swirl freely from the melting pot and to not feel overly hidebound by ‘what everyone knows’. Laurell’s innovations with vampires (such as Human Servants and the Marks) are formalizations of vague happenings in earlier movies, and a neat area to choose to explore (though I am WAY more fond of what she has done to build a plausible lycanthrope society).

Sheesh, I babble. Hurry up dinner, and finish heating up. :)



(Yo Jim!, now that your first book is out when will we see book two?)

Book Two, _Fool Moon_, just went into line editing (which means it’s mostly finished). I’ll have artwork in another month or so, and it will hit the shelves next January (lousy sales month, but what can you do).  The third book in the series, title to be determined, will be out the following October, with one book every nine months after that (assuming the series doesn’t crash and burn!).



Just curious if there really is a Lake Providence, or if it’s a renamed New Buffalo or one of those little places. I can remember driving past them on I-94 on the way to points west, (I grew up in western Michigan) but they were too far south to daytrip to from home.

Nah, just made up. There are several things that got tossed into Dresden books that are real-ish but not quite. :)


Discussion about the real Vlad.  Not sure how much info this gives us, but is amusing.

As far as I can tell it’s a reference to Dracula, which means “The son of the Dragon”. Vlad Tepes (the real one) ‘s father was known as the Dragon. and that is where it originally came from.

It might also refer to Vlad’s father himself, who was also not a cheerful, happy guy (since Vlad’s name means, literally, ‘the little dragon’). But I don’t think he got the good press agent and groupies Vlad managed. ;)

Vlad Tepish is an awfully interesting figure in history, though not horribly vampiric. In his own land, he is considered something of a national hero and powerful military leader, rather than as one of the triumverate of movie monsters primeval. He fought a guerrila warfare-based plan of battle against… heck, I forget which Empire it was. Turkey?  There was a Sultan in it somewhere. In any case, he was Eastern Christendom’s first and last line of defense against the heathen empires of the East, and he was the ruler of a comparatively tiny country on the border of a large and powerful nation.

Vlad successfully filled the power vacuum his father had left behind when he took the reins of the country (by betraying and murdering every rival noble in it, inviting them to a feast and then locking them inside it while he burned them all alive). Vlad took up a campaign of agression, guerilla tactics, and intense psychological warfare so effective that he is probably literally one of the key figures of history from that era, staving off a lifetime of assaults by eastern powers and helping the Byzantine empire to keep from falling.

But he paid for his success in blood. Unable to risk domestic dissension, Vlad had a simple domestic policy: Anyone who broke the law was impaled. Murderers, petty thieves, it didn’t matter. If you broke the law, they spit you on a pike (there were a number of pike-spitting variants) and put it in the ground, leaving you hanging up in the air until you died.

At one point, when (I think it was) a carpenter made a cabinet that had particularly pleased Vlad, he saw the man’s threadbare clothing and asked to see his wife. When she was brought to him, Vlad had her impaled while the man had dinner with him. Vlad then turned to another woman, said ‘You are now this man’s wife. See to it that he is better treated.’ Then married them while wife #1 was still shrieking out her life on the pike a few yards away.

But hey. It cut down on crime. :) At one point, one of Vlad’s nobles asserted that a virgin draped in gold could walk from one side of the country to the other in total safety. As a test of his people’s loyalty, Vlad would sometimes put a gold cup near the well at the center of town.  When he would come back for it the next day, it would be there, untouched.

And if it wasn’t, the town got impaled.

Vlad treated the Turks even worse. When a messenger forgot to take off his hat, Vlad asked him if it was nailed to his skull–at which point, his thugs nailed it to the man’s skull. Rather than following the common practice of taking and ransoming prisoners, Vlad simply impaled them. At one point, when Vlad’s forces had defeated the vanguard of a Turk army being led by the Sultan himself, Vlad impaled more than thirty /thousand/ enemy soldiers, leaving them hanging along the road towards his lands, on either side of the road. They stretched out, according to Turkish records, as far as the eye could see on either side of the road and forward, and the road stank of the rotting bodies and was haunted by the groans of those not
yet dead.

Reportedly, the Sultan rode less than an hour before the quote: “What kind of a monster is he?” was historically attributed to him. He took his army
and went home.

Eventually, though, word of Vlad’s seeming insanity and atrocities reached the Christian nations he was defending, and he was decried by pretty much everyone. After fifteen or twenty years, he fell from power, was locked into a tower cell, and eventually died of pneumonia or something. Stock in impaling-pike manufacturers plummeted.

Vlad is buried at a shrine maintained in honor of his memory in Romania today. Legend would have it that his grave is empty, and that his bloodthirsty ghost still occasionally walks the land, looking for wandering travellers to lift up on pikes, and watering the mountains of his beloved Romania with the blood of her enemies.

(Our Mad Bibliographer will doubtless correct me on the little details–I /think/ it was the Turks, there was definitely a Sultan in there somewhere–but that’s the history of the man as I remember, and it’s reasonably accurate to what has been recorded.)

So. Enjoy your breakfasts, everyone. ;)



List of suggested gumshoe-type reading

War of the Oaks and Finder, by Emma Bull.

Both urban fantasies, both pretty darn interesting and fun. A little hard to get hold of. War of the Oaks is about a battle going on in Faerie that spills over into the mortal world.  Finder is more of a mystery featuring a central character who has the magical ability to find anything that’s lost–which leads him into trouble during a murder investigation.

Bridge of Birds, by Barry Hughart.

Also a gumshoe fantasy, but set in Ancient China That Never Was. Li Kao, who has a slight flaw in his character, and his esteemed client Number Ten Ox set out to rescue the children of Ox’s village, getting entangled in subtle plots of the Celestial Beings themselves.

The Case of the Toxic Spell Dump, by Harry Turtledove.

HT is best known for his alternate-history books, but this one is also pure gumshoe fantasy.  I forget his central character’s name, but he works for the Environmental Protection Agency, and is investigating the apparent illicit disposal of magical waste which is contributing to the bizarre happenings around the city. The series replaces technology with faith-based magic, where all the world’s major religious systems became the basis for their technologies, so that you have the Roman-Catholic nations, the Aztec nations, etc. The central character is Jewish, and has a handle on some of the more obscure and difficult-to-argue-with magics around. The scene that sticks in my head is when a vampire hit man shows up to take him out, confident that he is protected from crosses and holy water. The hero whips out a carved rod of some kind and cuts loose with ‘the fire that destroyed Sodom and Gammorah.’ Do you feel lucky, punk? Fun stuff. :)

Many of the Vlad Taltos books by Steven Brust also fall into this category–Vlad himself is a nifty sleuth character, though he tends to kill people more often than most.

The Spirit Ring by Lois McMaster Bujold.

(all hail Lois) is a really fun fantasy, though her SF major hero, Miles Vorkosigan, is her real centerpiece. Several of Miles’ adventures also embrace a gumshoe format, and Miles winds up getting in way over his head as well.

Oh, and the Harry Potter books (which need no support or introduction or anything like it) are also very groovy, and spend a lot of time making Harry play gumshoe.

Some of Dean Koontz’s work (I’m thinking Watchers and Nightfall) both have that modern-setting fantasy feel to them.

The Kinsey Milhone books (A is for, B is for, C is for, etc) by Sue Grafton are what Anita would be if she didn’t live in preterworld or have lots of funky powers. Kinsey comes across in a very similar fashion, and was one of the first heroine sleuths to start hitting it big. She has that same sense of humor–but she gets laid a lot more. Hmmmm, maybe /that’s/ the big difference between her and Anita… ;) But drop in some beasties and the series would be close to the same.

Anything by Dashiel Hammet, who was just a masterful writer of the genre in general. (_The Maltese Falcon_ and _The Thin Man_ are the titles that the most people recognize.) Even several decades after his death, the books are still quite excellent and move quickly.

Anyway, there’s the stuff that I’ve come across that hits some of the same mental itchy spots, between Anita books. :)



The “Bob story”.  I would be interested in finding out what the theme song for the Dresden Anime would be…

I really like Bob. Who was the inspiration for him or will you tell?

Bob is partly an in-joke between myself and my writing sensei, Debbie Chester, and partly one too many late-night viewings of the animated movie,
The Last Unicorn, when my kid had strep throat and couldn’t sleep. 8)

The in-joke is that when I started putting the book together, Debbie told me that I had to be careful not to have a character who was a ‘talking head’–IE, someone who was there just to give information and had no other purpose, was generally just a cardboard cutout character whose job was to dispense plot information and then vamoose. So I put together Bob as a literal talking head just to be a wiseass, and made him obstinate enough to be almost more trouble than help. She got a kick out of it when she read his first scene. ;)

The actual interior-image that I have for Bob comes from that skull on the opening sequence of the original Scooby-Doo shows (the ones with the freaky seventies music videos during the middle of a chase) and from the talking skull in King Haggard’s basement in The Last Unicorn (who was voiced by Rene ‘Odo’ Auberjonois).

I think in my head, the Dresden Files are an anime cartoon. One of the more seriously-drawn ones, rather than one of the truly campy ones. There’s one song on a CD that I have that just /is/ the opening credits of an Anime Dresden. :) I don’t really expect to ever see anything of the kind, but it’s a nice little mood setter daydream.



The effect of film cannisters on magic circles. 

It takes a couple of ingredients to break a magic circle: A free-willed being has to act upon it (IE, no beasties from the nevernever–it would have to be at least partially human), and the material has to be actual material from our own reality, and not temporary matter from the Nevernever.

So, for example, a summoned demon might be able to pass you a Nevernever-based magic sword, or a similar pen to sign a contract in your own blood–but don’t offer it a glass of tea. Bob was able to toss Harry a potion through the circle, but doing so did not shatter it, because though the potion was actual matter, Bob isn’t a mortal being. The frog demon spat acid at Harry and Susan, but it spattered and fell apart at the edge of the circle, being neither real nor motivated by a mortal.



Does anyone on this list play EverQuest? Just a question of Curiousity.


I’ve quit twenty three times already.


Discussion about Anita taking up new martial arts (someone later calls him out regarding his facts regarding Krav Maga).  In any case, this looks like an inspiration for Murphy.

I’m also glad to see she’s moved to a more combat oriented martial art for anita…

Yeah, it’s good that she’s branching out in martial arts. Judo is a perfectly respectable art, but it was developed more for competition than for self defense, and the odds that she is in a Judo dojo that stresses self defense applications of the art are fairly low. Kenpo (there are about a million flavors) is much more traditional an art, and having Anita focus on joint strikes makes her a much more (realistically) capable opponent in hand to hand. If the only self defense move you ever learn involves kicking someone in the knees, that’s a pretty darn handy move to have.

If Anita had time to be a full time martial artist, she would be best off in something like Aikido. I’ve seen an aikido black belt about Anita’s size take on three men over six feet tall in a simulated parking-lot mugging. They had the men jump her from different directions every time, and the woman was able, in six out of six simulations, to escape being grappled and held, usually inflicting enough pain on her attackers that the practice dummies had to get a breather between demonstrations. That kind of skill, though, isn’t attained by classes three nights a week. It takes years of dedication and constant practice to get to that level.

Another good martial art for Anita would probably be Krav Maga. Krav Maga is fairly new, and was developed by Jewish soldiers training agents to get into and out of Nazi Germany. It has since been expanded by Israeli special forces, and is the only martial art that I know of which includes tactics such as drawing a gun, taking a gun away from an opponent, and disabling an opponent while wearing handcuffs. It is a very direct, powerful, and violent martial art. I mean, think about that. Among martial arts, it’s violent. It was designed to be quick to learn, easy to teach, and applicable to modern combat.

I don’t think it’s much on oneness of spirit or even much for defense.  It’s one of those arts with the philosophy of ‘hitting them once is good.  Hitting them fifty seven times on the way to the ground, and another thirty eight times once they’re there is better.’ Total offense, hard and merciless.

Which, well, fits Anita. :)


Some fae-related stuff:

Well, the Leanansidhe is a single specific bad faery that actually hung out on a specific rock on, I think, the Rhine. She was something somewhere between a siren, a vampire, and one of those drowning faeries like Jenny Greenteeth. She would offer inspiration to artistic types–poets, singers, painters, etc–in exchange for their blood, which she boiled in a big cauldron. Naturally, the folks being inspired would get hooked on her and eventually doom themselves, which explains why so many artistic types just seem to waste away.

The beansidhe is more commonly known as a banshee, with the save-versus-death-or-die scream of Dungeons and Dragons fame, but in actual legend is reputed to be a spirit that brings a forewarning of death to a specific bloodline to which it has an affinity.

Anyway: the daoine sidhe were a specific Celtic faery race, though my memory of the specifics is a little fuzzy. I know that they are supposed to have taken Ireland from a race of giants that inhabited the place before they got there–the Fomorians. They drove the giants into the sea, where they plotted plots and laid traps and whatnot, for the heroes of the daoine sidhe. If memory serves, they were generally the good guys, and sort of a sponsor/mentor race to mortal heroes.

(Who just finished a round of faery research for the fourth Dresden File)


To a certain extent, to say that any fairy was a “good” fairy was a bit of a stretch. I thought that humans were pretty freakin’ wary of ALL fairy becasue they had that “funky” sense of humor. The main difference was that some were more likely to hurt you than others (on purpose).

Terry Pratchett’s book Lords and Ladies represents fairy folk pretty much this way (and what a damn fine read, too!)
How about it Jim? You just did the research…

Yeah, fairly accurate. While some faeries did tend to be benevolent and generous, you always had to be careful to respond in a way that was considered polite and proper. To speak about the brownie that cleaned your house, for example, would drive it into a rage. Telling a faerie ‘thank you’ could potentially be an insult as could offering it food and drink–or /not/ offering it food and drink, depending. You couldn’t just /call/ a Faerie a Faerie–instead, you had to refer to them by one of a number of alternate names, like The Wee Folk or The Good People.

There is so much faerie lore in various nations’ histories that it would be an effort in futility to try to come up with a single codified set of faerie characteristics beyond this: faeries are tricky, powerful, and not to be trifled with. They behave in ways that seem irrational to mere mortals, and are easily angered or offended. Most mortals were happier /without/ having any faerie involvement, because things always seemed to get complicated when the faeries were around–and staying in their good graces seemed to be something of a crap shoot. With loaded dice.

A word on the Seelie and Unseelie Courts–it is an extreme simplification to label the pair of them simply ‘good’ and ‘evil’ faeries. They represent opposite extremes, certainly, but good and evil only partially take in what those extremes can be. Think of it more as a yin-yang thang than a good-evil thang. They oppose one another, but that opposition can be that of the earth to the sky, winter to summer, darkness to light, silence to

In other words, Faeries are at least as confusing as people. :)



Or is there a Rhine in Ireland, too?

DOH good point, I had my faeries confused. :) The Leanansidhe had a cave somewhere in Erin. But the bit with the cauldron and the blood and inspiring artists and poets and whatnot was correct, I’m sure. ;)

I’m pretty sure the Lorelei wasn’t an invention of the poet, just as the Eorlkoenig (or Erlking) wasn’t an invention of Schubert (?). More likely, it was a part of oral storytelling folklore that got brought into literature through the poem.



On a related topic, any theories on why the fey hate ‘cold iron’? There’s an explanation in a novel I’ll look up– something about having ties only to the earth and not the other elements. Sounds muddled, but it made sense when I read it. (Definitely must go look it up.)

Well, strictly speaking, in legend the faeries did not like iron of any sort–not just cold-forged, but /any/ iron or iron compound, including steel.  Common ways to use this to your advantage included driving nails into the threshold to keep faeries from crossing it, or hanging a horseshoe above the door “for luck”–also to keep out unwelcome faeries.

The deepest reasons for Faeries disliking steel are rooted in the conflict of nature versus civilization, wilderness versus farmland. Hunter-gatherer cultures (generally speaking) did not have the same advanced metalworking capabilities of agricultural societies. Iron was used in /everything/ you needed to run a farm. You used an iron plow, iron was used in building, iron was used in harness and tack, to make tools, to make weapons–everything.

Iron is a metal uniquely symbolic of mankind (or personkind if you’re the PC sort), and is used by nothing else in the same way. Many baneful creatures of folklore and legend loathed the kiss of cold iron (or cold steel) and some folklore holds that the presence of iron could keep a witch from casting baneful magic at a household or individual. Folklore from the late middle ages draws upon the image of the Crucifixion to provide substances baneful to creatures of darkness–the wood of the cross, which could be used to, among other things, stake vampires, and the nails that
pierced the Savior’s hands and feet (wrists and ankles, technically) which became a bane to mischievious or malign spirits of nature.

Even in today’s society, which draws further and further away from the ‘natural’ state at a geometric pace, iron is THE single most commonly used and available metal in the world. We use it for darn near everything, in one amount or another. Iron is the substance whose presence allowed us to develop from more primitive, dangerous cultures into larger and relatively safe ones. It’s the soul of civilization, of bringing humanity’s order to
the living chaos of nature.

Naturally no faerie worth the name would like it. :)


Some random tidbits:

I was just going to write “Where is Jim?

Lurking. :)

I haven’t seen any posts from him the last several days. I hope he is working on another Dresden book.

In fact, I finished up with my part of book 2 this week. (It comes out in January.) I also got the letter from the editor for book 3, listing all the changes they want made. They want me to expand the story while cutting the overall length by about fifteen thousand words. All I can think is, “Would you like me to part the Red Sea with that?” :)

I’m also slowly but steadily turning out the raw manuscript for the fourth book in the series. :)

In any case, I’m still reading the list on and off, and don’t worry. If I feel that the world needs the benefit of my oh-so-infallible wisdom on something, I’m almost certain that I won’t be able to stop from shooting my mouth off. :)



Is this [Fool Moon] going to be hard cover?

Oh I WISH. :) You make so much more money on hardcover novels that it isn’t even at all a little bit funny. :) I mean, like the difference between ‘I have to work a job to support my writing habit’ and ‘I retire to a cottage in the country.’ :)

But no, no hardcover book deals loom anywhere in my future, as far as I can tell.



I would like to thank who ever recommended Storm Front. It was very good. It was awesome. It was really cool.

Well the book might be passable, and some people may have had some good early reviews of the second book, but the author is a certifiable wacko.
I find it difficult to believe that this man is allowed to walk around in clothes that aren’t straitjackets, much less actually be encouraged to engage in mass communications on a national scale. From everything I can tell about him, he needs professional help, maybe some supervised
observation, and some kind of prescription medication–not a royalty check.



It’s totally okay to have opinions. That’s exactly what several people (who have already read the book) are doing–offering their opinions. I’m pretty sure they aren’t doing it to offend anyone, either, though you never can tell with Chris Ely. The woman is vicious. ;)

Speaking as a writer, I would LOVE it if hundreds of people across the world were engaged in discussion about my work–arguing points of interest, passionately defending arguments, and occasionally bursting into cyberpyrotechnics. :) Remember the old PR truism–no publicity is bad publicity.  Even if thousands of people start screaming “THIS BOOK WILL CAUSE THE EARTH TO IMPLODE” it would only boost sales.

In any case, just posting my humble opinion. Let’s everyone be polite, play fair, and argue ourselves into a stupor. ;)


The most incestuous and horniest gods I’ve EVER come across….

Okay, of all the list mail to read after coming back from vacation, I immediately pick the one with ‘incest’ in the subject line. This would worry me if I was the introspective sort. :)

To add to that, the Norse pantheon were no slackers when it came to demented sex, either. Bearing in mind that most modern English translations of the Norse Eddas originated in Victorian England, it isn’t difficult to see how much of the sexual content got edited down: but here are some highlights.

–Loki transforms himself into a female horse, in order to seduce the magically powerful horse of a Giant contractor who is building the walls of Asgard. Loki lures off and frolics with the Giant’s horse, causing him to default on the contract so that Odin doesn’t have to pay him. Furthermore, Loki gets preggers by the arrangement, and gives birth to Odin’s famous eight-legged steed, Slepnir.

–Odin ‘weds’ the nine daughters of the sea who all give birth to Heimdall, guardian of the Bifrost Bridge. (In general, substitute ‘bedded’ for ‘wedded’ throughout most English translations of Norse mythology, to get a better picture of what’s going on.)

–Freya (not Frigga Odinswife), in order to get back her spiffy golden necklace, ‘kisses’ each svartalf (troll/dwarf) craftsman in Svartalfheim.  I think we can safely expect the goddess of amourous love and fertility to have done more than go to first base. :) (Loki later accuses her of ‘wedding’ every God in Asgard, including the women, and every mortal she can fit into her schedule as well.)

–Thor engaged in a bit of cross dressing, disguising himself as Freya (who every Giant and demon and dark elf wanted to ‘wed’, apparently), or in some versions I’ve read, of Sif, in order to sneak into a Giant stronghold to recover his hammer, Mjolnir. He went as far as to show up in a wedding
gown–veiled, of course. Even so, it sorta makes you wonder just how feminine those female Asgardians could have looked…

–Thor was wed to his sister Sif, Odin was wed to his sister as well, there are a lot of interesting conjectures about Freya, her brother Frey, and his ‘magic sword,’ and generally speaking everyone in Asgard had an affair with everyone else at one point or another.

Anyway, hope everyone had a nice holiday weekend. :)



That couple in Jim’s book, “Storm Front” used sex for power, but it was a couple rather than three or more.

Well, actually it was six (or seven) in the pre-book stuff, but since the wizard running that particular power-generating gang started murdering its members (no pun intended), attendence had dropped by the time Harry actually came face to face. :)

There will always be people who regard sex as a means to an end (as opposed to dedicated hedonists like me, who consider it an ends in itself. ;) ).



Appearance: before or after losing the glamor? An Ash quote comes to mind “You got real ugly.”

…it had a bat-like face, horrid and ugly, the head too big for its body.  Gaping, hungry jaws. Its shoulders were hunched, powerful, and membranous wings stretched between the joints of its almost skeletal arms. Flabby black breasts hung before it, spilled out of the black dress that no longer did anything to make it look more feminine. Its eyes were wide, black, and staring, and a kind of leathery, slimy hide covered its flesh, like an inner tube lathered with Vaseline…

Powers: unknown, but enough to scare Harry who does things like float elevators on wind at the drop of a hat with a minor charm bracelet.

Their ability to mask themselves could potentially be used to look like someone else–or /you/, for that matter. They also have narcotic saliva that renders a victim passive while the vamp feeds, and is addictive and habit-forming, to boot. They get the standard vampire package of ‘stronger and faster than you,’ and Harry harbors some suspicions that looking one of them in the eyes could be bad for him and way bad for someone without his
kind of mental defenses.

That’s only the Red Court’s vampires, though, and they’re just one of the vampire factions. They just happen to be the first ones Harry makes want to kill him. ;) The White Court, Black Court, and Jade Court are way different.

/shamelessselfpromotion off


…. and that’s a wrap.  I didn’t go past 2001/01/01 (except to glance at things), so that is technically still virgin territory.  Also, it’s obvious from the context that the LKH board was hosted elsewhere before moving to Yahoo.  I don’t know if we can ever find those older archives.  The few links I pursued didn’t go anywhere active. -knnn