SF & Fantasy

Ask Terry Brooks: May Edition


For many years the only chance a fan had of speaking to Terry was to meet him at tour events or conventions. Now with the establishment of this website, Terry will accept two questions from each fan per month. On the last day of the month, five questions will be randomly drawn. Terry will answer these five questions and they will be posted monthly for your enjoyment.

Below are the questions selected last month and Terry’s answers! Enjoy!

Note: This section may contain spoilers!

Dear Readers,

Spring is here, but so is the rain where I am these days in the Pacific NW. They told me it rained a lot, but I thought maybe that was just on other people. Turns out this is not so. Who knew? So I am sitting inside working on writing projects and watching the rain pour. Should be building an Ark.

But instead I am taking a break to answer the following:

Alex Brockhagen writes: Hi Terry, I know you hold auctions occasionally to have someone’s name immortalized in one of your forthcoming works, but I was wondering if you get inspiration for names from seeing fans on tour?

Terry Brooks replies: You know what, Alex? I do. I usually have readers write their names down on a slip of paper as they come through the line so I don’t have to spend time asking them how to spell them when we could be talking about something else. I see interesting names all the time, and I put them aside. I think I pretty much always ask them if they mind if I put them in the book as a Troll or a Gnome. They don’t. Goes to show how misguided they are. But I add them to names that come from other places and then draw on that store when it comes time to put a book together. Examples of a name you might recognize that came from people in line? Preia Starle in First King of Shannara.

Rustina Ellis writes: You pretty much told us where exactly Trolls came from. Will you be doing that with the Dwarves and Gnomes as well?

Terry Brooks replies: I will definitely be doing so with the Dwarves. Their entire history will be a part of the next book following Bearers of the Black Staff and Measure of the Magic, although I won’t be writing that book for awhile now. I haven’t decided how much I want to do with the Gnomes yet.

Casey Eby writes: Sir, I can’t help but notice the black staff of the Word knights bares a striking resemblance to the darkwand given to Pen by the tanequil in High Druid of Shannara. Though the darkwand seems to have different magical abilities than the staffs, I have to ask: Is the magic from the same source? Through all the Shannara books, magic always seems to be evolving down the generations. Was that the case here with the darkwand and the staffs?

Terry Brooks replies: All of the magic in the Shannara books has its source in the Word. Sometimes it appears as elemental magic, sometimes as manufactured magic (as in various talismans or weapons). But it all has that common thread. So while the staffs might come from different sources, their magic shares a commonality or origin and shares many of the same properties when implemented. It also evolves in many cases, frequently on a genetic basis. Generations pass usages of magic along the line, and while doing so the uses necessarily change for various reasons. So, yes, it is true here for the darkwand and the black staffs.

Anonymous writes: I have enjoyed your books since the first read in 1988: The Sword of Shannara. My favorite would have to be First King of Shannara. Do you have any desire to write about Allanon’s early life as he began his trials of learning to be a Druid and his relationship with the other races?

Terry Brooks replies: My plans at present for pre-history conclude with the appearance of Galaphile as the first Druid and the formation of the Druid Council at Paranor. But this is not to say I won’t do some additional writing along the way about the early period of the Shannara era. Right now, I have just finished a story about Allanon and his search for the last Shannara heir which will appear exclusively online in ebook format around the first of July.

Devin Reed writes: What do you do when you have started a book and gotten pretty far into it and you suddenly realize that it just isn’t working? Do you scrap it and start over again or do you try your best to save it?

Terry Brooks replies: This is a judgment call. I would never presume to tell another writer what to do in this situation without knowing both him or her and the work better. My own inclination is to start over when something isn’t working. I had to do that with my second book after writing 400 pages and accepting that it was too flawed. Periodically, I still have to do it, although only with sections of books these days. Guess I learned something. Anyway, it is part of the writer process, part of maturing as a writing. Another choice is to put it aside and go on with something else, then go back to it much later (months, at least) and see how it looks at that point.

Tracy Spilker writes: Since The Elfstones of Shannara, I’ve wondered about the early days in the time of Faerie, like when the first Ellcrys was created, or when the Elves regularly practiced magic. Will there ever be a book written about those times?

Terry Brooks replies: Stay tuned for some of this in the upcoming Wards of Faerie, due out this August, and in its sequels scheduled for publication in March 2013 and August 2013. A good deal of the background of those stories, which take place following the events of High Druid, concern a crucial period of time in Faerie. So see what you think about that.

Back to work writing! And watching it rain.

Take care of each other,

To ask your own questions of Terry Brooks, visit his website at www.terrybrooks.net!


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