The OF Blog: December 2003

Tuesday, December 30, 2003

Warren Ellis Interview

Since Keith's a lazy bastard who claims to have "no time to edit and post" this, I agreed to do with with great weariness and trepidation. Well, actually, I volunteered to post this because while it's short, it definitely is...interesting, to say the least. But first, a info bit that Keith wrote in his post about the parameters of this interview:

Okay, for all those websites that have been bugging me for
interviews all year, it's the end of the year and I feel like
tying off its bloody stump today, so here's the deal:

I'll answer a four-question interview for any website so long as
it reaches me within 12 hours of my sending this email. It's
about 11am GMT right now. The other condition is that I
won't answer any questions about late books (for the simple
reason that I'd be answering the same two or three questions
a dozen times or more) and will throw out the entirety of
any submission that includes such (for the simple reason
that stark stupidity should not be rewarded).

Send your filthy questions to me here at [ADDRESS].
And for God's sake, try to make them interesting or funny,
rather than the same bloody questions I always seem to have
to field...

-- W

With that in mind, here are the questions and answers:

In a message dated 12/29/03 10:32:55 PM GMT Standard Time, writes:

1) A lot of our readers are new to the graphic novel medium, or seeking a way to introduce friends to comics - what would you say are the Essentials? What works (both of yours, and of others), are simply the best (overall, and as introductions)?

Please: just go to I consult to
the site and it's been designed to serve that very purpose,
so that I don't have to answer this question ever day of
my life.

2) This next one is kinda traditional - You have 5 pet monkeys. What do you call them?

"Get," "Away," "From," "Me," and "Shiteyes."

3) Seeing as the email that you put out calling for interviews asked for questions you'd have fun answering - what is the single question you most wish you had been asked, and how would you have answered it?

Q: "Would you like to stop now, Warren?"

A: "Oh dear God yes."

4) What's your take on the growing number of webcomics - both those aping the traditional daily strip, and the rapidly rising set that seem to ape the conventions of larger comic book style story arcs?

Well, for every Justine Shaw and Patrick Farley, there seem to be about twenty people who don't have the faintest idea what they're doing. Which is about the same ratio as in print comics, really. I'm happy for there to be an absolute explosion in webcomics. The more there are, the more good work the ratio will allow.

Wednesday, December 10, 2003

David Wolverton Interview


David Farland (pseudonym of David Wolverton) was born in Oregon in 1957, and currently lives in Utah with his wife and five children. He has worked in a number of occupations: as a prison guard, missionary, business manager, technical writer, and pie maker. Currently, he is writing novels full-time. Since becomeing an author he has won numerous awards, been published over 38 books and been translated into as many as 17 languages, hit the New York Times Bestseller list half a dozen times under two different names, and worked on dozens of major multimedia tie-in projects which included such intellectual properties as Star Wars, The Mummy, Xena, and StarCraft. Currently he is continuing to work on writing his series The Runelords, as well as adapting the novel to movie format. In addition to this, Wolverton is working on "The Young Olympians" storyline, which will be used for an upcoming videogame, comic book, and young adult novel series. Several movie and television companies are currently vying for the rights to turn the story into a television series and a feature movie.

He loves the outdoors and counts fishing and camping among his favorite activities. He likes animals, and recently began raising purebred Irish Setters. In the next few years, he plans to start his own kennel.

For more detailed information on David Wolverton, check out his own biography found at

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The books:


The Runelords

  • The Sum of All Men

  • Brotherhood of the Wolf

  • Wizardborn

  • The Lair of Bones

  • Serpent Catch

  • Serpent Catch

  • Path of the Hero

  • Golden Queen

  • The Golden Queen

  • Beyond the Gate

  • Lords of the Seventh Swarm

  • Mummy Chronicles

  • The Mummy Chronicles

  • Revenge of the Scorpion King

  • Heart of the Pharoah

  • The Curse of the Nile

  • Flight of the Phoenix


    Star Wars

  • The Courtship of Princess Leia

  • Star Wars: Jedi Apprentice

  • The Rising Force

  • The Hidden Past (with Jude Watson)


  • On My Way to Paradise

  • A Very Strange Trip


  • L. Ron Hubbard Presents Writers of the Future

  • L Ron Hubbard Presents Writers of the Future Volume X

  • L Ron Hubbard Presents Writers of the Future Volume XI

  • L Ron Hubbard Presents Writers of the Future Volume XIV


  • Peter S Beagle's Immortal Unicorn

  • Tales of the Bounty Hunters

  • Peter S Beagle's Immortal Unicorn 2

  • War of the Worlds: Global Dispatches

  • Christmas Forever

  • David Copperfield's Tales of the Impossible

  • Tales from Jabba's Palace

  • Tales from the Mos Eisley Cantina

  • Return to Avalon

  • Year's Best SF 2


  • My Favorite Christmas

  • A Free Quarren in the Palace: Tessek's Tale

  • In the Teeth of Glory

  • The Sand Tender: The Hammerhead's Tale

  • The Stone Mother's Curse

  • We Blazed

  • After a Lean Winter (Nebula nominee)

  • Payback: The Tale of Dengar

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    Synopsis – Runelords: The Sum of All Men (The Runelords, Book One)

    The very Earth is in pain. Its wounds must be healed. There must arise a new king: the Earth King must be reborn. Only then will humanity have a chance to survive.

    Young Prince Gabon Val Orden of Mystarria is traveling in disguise on a journey to ask for the hand of the lovely Princess Iome of Sylvarresta when he and his warrior bodyguard spot a pair of assassins who have set their sights on the princess's father. The pair races to warn the king of the impending danger and realizes that more than the royal family is at risk--the very fate of the Earth is in jeopardy.

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    First of all, let me say that we at Other Fantasy welcome you and greatly appreciate that you are taking time out of an extremely busy schedule for us. You are an author who we are all greatly interested in hearing from - thank you for giving us this opportunity!

    You're more than welcome.

    1. First of all, could you share with us the basics of you and writing? How much do you write on the average day? Do you set yourself a target that you set out to achieve for the day, or the week, or even the year?

    I don't write every day. That would be too exhausting. I like to give my stories time to grow. By that I mean that I spend months thinking about characters, possible conflicts, new plot lines, and so on. I use some ideas, and throw many others away. I set high goals for myself. Before I write a novel, I very consciously say to myself: I want every scene to be vitally important, and to do three or more things. I want to my reader to become immersed in each scene, to smell the air, feel the chill, visualize the landscape, become lost. I want my characters to feel more alive than the reader's closest friends. I may set as many as a hundred specific goals for a novel. Often times, I may refer to some other work as an example of what I'd like to accomplish. For instance, I may say, "I want this battle to be more engaging than Tolkien's battle for Helm's Deep."

    When I'm ready, I begin to write quickly. I work long days--twelve to sixteen hours, and I need to have time to concentrate, so that dozens of plot lines, images, and themes can be interlaced.

    Nothing is sacred. My openings are especially tough to come by, and I may throw away the opening hundred pages a dozen times, rewriting, consolidating the things that I like, discarding the rest. I try to write at least twenty pages per day. I usually meet that goal pretty easily with six hours of work. The middle of a novel speeds up for me, and the endings come very fast. I've written as much as 80 pages in a single day, and kept them all.

    Beyond that, I like to think about long-term projects. I have some ideas that have been fermenting for years.

    2. When publishing, a commonly accepted fact is that good editing leads to good results. How much of your writing do you personally edit out after completion, in general? How much and what sort of things does your editor usually edit out?

    I edit out anything that I don't think works. I'd say that on an average book the opening hundred pages have been thrown out six times. The middles have been worked through three or four times, and the endings have been rewritten once or twice. Once I've done that, it goes to my editor. I've had books that go through with almost no changes, and I've had some that have required me to rewrite as much as 1/3 of the book.

    3. This must be a cliché and obligatory question by now, but: which authors have had the largest influence on your writing when you were starting your career?

    Reading is a feast. Some stories are roast beef, heavy and satisfying. Others are tarts, light and sweet. I like a lot of authors for many different reasons. My favorites in fantasy and science fiction include Shakespeare, Tolkien, Orson Scott Card, Borges, Gabriel Garcia Maquez, and Lucius Shepard. But there are hundreds of other authors that I've learned from, and many are not in the genre.

    4. Do you keep up with what other authors in the genre you are putting out, or do you tend to read material from outside of the genre on your own time? Are there any authors that you are particularly fond of at the moment?

    To tell the truth, I try to keep up, but in the past year I've been a bit overwhelmed by some family issues, and haven't been reading.

    5. Many of our readers are aspiring fantasy / Sci-Fi writers. What tips would you give them for submitting a work that's more likely to be accepted?

    Gauge yourself against the best in the business. Look at what you're writing, and ask yourself honestly, "What am I adding to the genre?" "What am I doing that's new, exciting, and different?" If you can't think of anything, you have to try harder.

    I especially believe that you have to dig inside of yourself and discover what you as a person have to bring to the genre. To some degree, that requires you to live a life, to ponder it, and to come up with some original thought. If you're not willing to do that (and most people retreat from life, from strange, exotic, or dangerous experiences), then you should look for a job in fast food.

    6. When you start a novel, do you know the ending already, or do you let it come naturally from the story as you write?

    Sometimes I have an inkling of the ending, but to tell the truth, I almost never use the ending that I originally anticipated.

    7. Do you think being a parent impacts your writing? Do you seek the opinions of your children of the books as you write them, or are they your biggest critics?

    Being a parent has its impact, all right. It's tough to write with children sitting on your lap. It's also tough to write when your teenagers are doing drugs or attempting suicide.

    My children have just started reading my books. I don't use them as critics yet, but often they are inspiration. For example, a few years back, I got a helium balloon for my five-year-old. He lost it a few minutes later, and as we watched it drift off toward infinity, he asked, "Dad, whose job is it to collect all of the balloons that get lost?" Immediately I knew that I had to write a story about "The Balloon Catcher."

    8. What advice would you give to a young and aspiring writer? Also, similarly, what advice would you give to would be world-builders?

    For young and aspiring writers, don't think that this is a job for lazy people. If you're not a self-starter; if you're not passionate about this work, don't get involved. If you are passionate about it, then nothing that I say will dissuade you anyway.

    As for would-be worldbuilders, I think that we learn to build worlds by studying the ones around you. There are a lot of worlds around you. I recently went to Turkistan, China, and Tasmania. Each was a very different world. But there are levels within those - differences in culture, say between the Chinese in Turkistan and the Turks or the Russians. And there are differences in economy and social structure. And there are hundreds of eras that you can set your stories in, in any given

    So I study all of the sciences to some degree, and I study a great deal in the anthropological, political, and philosophical arenas.

    9. What did you find the most challenging aspect of writing RUNELORDS? Was it the vast scientific background to the Reavers, human interactions and relationships, or something else?

    Seriously, the most difficult thing to do when writing a fantasy is to keep the magic levels in balance, so that no one character overpowers all others. A similar difficulty is maintaining focus on the characters when magical elements want to take center stage.

    10. How did you come up with the idea for the Runelords series? Did it just “come to you” so-to-speak, or was it a gradual progression of ideas?

    If you look at mathematicians, you'll find that for many of them, the idea just came to them, almost as if by revelation, after pondering a problem for weeks or months or years. That's how I felt it. I knew what I wanted to do with my magic system, but couldn't come up with it. When it hit me, I understood the general concept, but what surprised me is how the specifics of the system fell so neatly into place, and added so many possibilities for the story.

    To tell the truth, I was driving with a friend in Scotland, when I experienced a full-sensory hallucination, in which a young woman whispered to me, "Shhhh! Beware, a runelord is coming." I couldn't understand why she was so pale, so frightened, until I saw the Runelord ride over the crest of the hill, and saw the brands burned into his own flesh, and that of the horse. Then I recognized how terrifying this man was, and that he could tear me apart as easily as if I were tissue paper.

    So, it came in a vision. But I believe that what really happens is that for some of us, the right side of the brain, the creative part of the mind, is far more powerful than the logical side. And when we concentrate hard enough, we can cause that part of the mind to think independently, until it solves our problem. So when the solution is triggered, it feels almost as if the ideas are flowing from outside of us, rather than being derived from internal argument and reasoning. Thus, the creative side of the brain, rather than whispering, "Hey, Dave, what do you think of this idea?" gives me a full-sensory hallucination.

    11. Your website,, is similar to the one here at in-that there is a discussion forum where your fans passionately discuss the Runelords series. How often do you look at it, and what do you think of the attitudes expressed there? How valuable a tool is this for interacting with your fans?

    You know, I don't go on very often. It's not that I don't like to, it's just that I feel guilty talking to people when I have so many other things to do.

    12. Do you ever let compassion for a character affect or influence plot development?

    Yes. I think that as we work, we tend to develop favorite characters, and there are times when I've created a character and decided to let him live, while I knew that others must die.

    13. Your works, especially RUNELORDS, are now constantly being compared to Tolkein, Jordan and Terry Goodkind. Do you these comparisons have affected your writing? Do you think there is any truth in them, or do you feel your styles are incomparable?

    I wasn't aware that I was being compared to them. I think that we each have different writing styles, but that we're all very interested in writing huge epics set in worlds that are fascinating, places where our readers want to be. So I'm glad to be in good company.

    14. If we could ask for an opinion, what did you think of The Phantom Menace, and then Attack Of The Clones?

    Let's not go there, please.

    15. How much do you work with the editors and other Star Wars authors for projects like Jedi Apprentice #1: The Rising Force and Star Wars Missions from Scholastic?

    Lucasfilm has some very good people who act as content editors, helping us authors to keep from stepping on one another's toes. Beyond that, each publisher hires editors who become experts in the Star Wars Universe, too. I think that if you're going to write in that universe, these people are great resources.

    But you can dig into it deeper--play with other authors' characters, read their books, and so on. I think that its important to mine for material. So I've read a number of books by the other Star Wars authors, and I've read through gaming manuals and through the Star Wars Encyclopedias.

    And I talk to other authors. Kevin Anderson, for example, has always been a big help in coordinating materials.

    16. How has working with the Star Wars Universe affected your career and your writing?

    It's been a big help. The money that I made by writing "Courtship" helped me get through a time that was very difficult not just for me, but for hundreds of other writers in the industry. And that money was used to free up time so that I could write my own works.

    But beyond that, there is a value in studying big franchises to see how they are created, what works, and what doesn't.

    17. Your Star Wars book, The Courtship of Princess Leia, introduced a lot of elements into the Star Wars Universe that are still used today, such as the Hapans and the Witches of Dathomir, and you've been listed in the "Acknowledgements" section of many other Star Wars writers since. Did you expect such a wide reception of your ideas when you wrote the book? What role have you/do you play in the Expanded Universe? Have you read the New Jedi Order up to this point, and if so, what do you think of the saga's new direction?

    When I was asked to write my first Star Wars book, Timothy Zahn had just finished his first novel in the series, and I had no idea how popular these would be.

    To tell the truth, I write what I want to write. I loved the first Star Wars movie. I saw it 37 times in the first six months that it came out.

    So I wrote the book because I thought it would be FUN. I haven't worried about it beyond that point. I've read a few Star Wars books, but I haven't been keeping up with all of them, and I didn't know that I had been mentioned in the credits on other books.

    That said, I've got to say this: In writing some of my little Star Wars Adventures books for Scholastic, I feel that I not only did some of my best work, I also had a wonderful time. It was great to work other people's characters to a large degree--to write about Dengar, or the Ghostling Children. It's kind of like going over to someone else's house, and playing with all of their neatest toys.

    And I'm delighted that others have thought that I built some fun toys, too.

    18. Finally, what’s next for David Wolverton/Farland?

    Currently I'm in the process of producing a movie based on the first Runelords book. That has been exhausting. I'm also starting a children's series, called "Of Mice and Magic," that I hope to turn into a franchise of animated films. And of course there is still the Runelords. Book number four ends the tale of Gaborn and Iome, so book five in essence acts as the start of a new series, as we dive into the tale of Gaborn's children. Quite frankly, I've been thinking about this series for several years now, and I'm very excited by the scenes and characters that are coming to me. I think that book five will be my best novel yet.

    Thank you one again for your time and we all wish you the best of luck and success in the future. In addition to this, we would like to extend our apologies for the amount of time it took to get this posted, but complications from the site going down and responsibilities in real life prevented the organization and posting of the interview. So once more,


    There are many people who I’m sure you’ll all join me in thanking for this Interview. First and foremost, there is of-course David Farland for the excellent answers.

    Next, we have our very own Greg (§ol), for setting up the Interview. It is because of him that the Interview occurred, and so many thanks to him.

    Then we have the people who helped actually write the Interview. ngallagher, Druid, CNRedDragon and Spoonman are the all-star cast of assistors this time.

    I hope you enjoyed it, folks!

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