Interviewed by Michael McHenry
Margaret Weis discusses her Dragon Corsairs series, adapting Star of the Guardian to the big screen, and her experience in creating Dragonlance, one of the most famous and iconic campaign settings of all time for the Dungeons and Dragons game system.
Margaret Weis is the co-creator of Dragonlance: one of the most famous and iconic campaign settings in the D&D universe. She is also the author of the Star of the Guardians series, and co-author, with Robert Krammes, of the Dragon Corsairs series based on the world first introduced in Dragon Brigade.
If you could go back to your initial days with Project Overlord, what advice would you give yourself?
That you are going to be in for hell of a ride!
As far as author quirks, is there anything you personally have that helps you stay “in the zone” before or during a writing session?
No, not really. I always start writing at 7:30 am and I write all morning until about 11:30 am. Afternoons I walk the dogs, think about what I wrote that day and decide where to go tomorrow.
Do you have any hobbies that help contribute to your creativity when writing? Also, tell us a little about what Flyball is and why you do this.
Well, I’m not sure racing my dogs actually inspires me, although Dragon Brigade features a dog one of my teammates owned named Bandit. Flyball is a relay race for dogs. You can Google it and find all sorts of video. The sport is loud (lots of barking!), fast-paced, exciting and gives me a chance to spend a weekend at a tournament, eating junk food, hanging out with my friends and my dogs.
New writers in all genres typically have difficulty with something that they are trying to overcome in order to be successful (balancing jobs and writing, fear of rejection, writers block, etc.). Do you have any advice for jumping the hurdles that might stand in their way? Any personal experiences you’d like to share?
If you are a writer you will write, because that is what you love to do most in the world. When I started, I had my day job. For years, I wrote at nights and on weekends. I can always write, so writer’s block for me is when I know the book isn’t going well, but I can’t figure out why. Generally this means going to back to where the book starts going wrong, tossing out everything I’ve written after that, rethinking and starting again.
In the past you did an interview with R.A. Salvatore and you mentioned that gamers want to be the hero but readers want to learn about the world the heroes are set in. Can you elaborate a little as to why it is important to experience the depth that reading the story over playing it is much more desirable?
I’m not sure one or the other is more desirable. I think each experience can enhance the other. I love watching Firefly and I love playing Jayne in the RPG. I love writing Dragonlance and I have lots of fun playing Tasslehoff in a game.
Everyone loves and respects Raistlin Majere’s character in the Dragonlance series. What advice would Raistlin give to the new generation of writers with regards to what makes a good ally and a good villain?
Raistlin would first say that he is not a villain. He is far more complex. He would then say, with a smile, that he understands us. He sees the darkness within all of us and he knows that we understand him. And finally, that we must acknowledge the darkness before we can find redemption.
What is your most memorable experience when attending a gaming or writers convention?
My most memorable was attending a book signing on an army base. A young man came up to the table in a wheel chair to have a book autographed. He insisted on standing up to shake our hands. He then handed us a medal, the Silver Star. He said he wanted Tracy and me to have it because twelve men were alive today because of Sturm.
He told us his story. He was leading a troop of soldiers in Afghanistan when he was ambushed. He was hit by gunfire and badly wounded. His men were coming behind him and he needed to warn them about the ambush. He thought to himself, “I must do what Sturm would do.” He managed to drag himself to his feet and warned his men, as he faced more gunfire.
Tracy and I were in tears when he told us. We said we were so grateful, but we could not accept the medal. He insisted and finally Tracy said he would keep the medal in trust for the soldier’s family. I still get teary when I think of this.
What did you read when you were growing up?
Everything from The Three Musketeers to Little Women, Sherlock Holmes to We Have Always Lived in the Castle (Shirley Jackson). My mother and father were avid readers. We went to the library every Saturday, spent the afternoon there.
What is the most wonderful place you’ve visited on Earth?
I love the ocean. No matter where.
Do you have a favorite moment or era in world history?
I love reading about British naval warfare during the Napoleonic wars.
All of your fans know that you worked with Tracy Hickman in Dragonlance. How did your teamwork help make the series a success?
Tracy is a great storyteller. We complemented each other and we respected each other. Still do!
People these days constantly say they don’t have time to read anything or they make the comment that they will “just wait until the movie comes out.” Any thoughts as to why people should crack open a new story?
I make time to read. I read every day and that is one of my favorite parts of the day. I would be lost without reading! As an author, I learn something about my craft from every author that I read. I read all sorts of genres, from historical novels to mysteries, David Copperfield to Horatio Hornblower. The only genre I don’t read is fantasy, because I need to hear my own voice in my head.
Are you currently working on or creating any new stories that you’d like to tease your fans with?
My coauthor, Robert Krammes, and I are working on the second in the Dragon Corsairs series that takes place in the world introduced in Dragon Brigade. The first book, Spymaster, comes out next year. Captain Kate is the Dragon Corsair, along with her dragon partner, Dalgren. Sir Henry Wallace, featured in the first series, returns as the Spymaster. This series features pirates, a pretender to the throne, a secret conspiracy, a criminal overlord, assassins, flying ships, murder and magic.
You’ve recently began adapting Star of the Guardians to the big screen. How do you feel about this endeavor? As far as story elements, what concept or plot are you most excited about seeing developed?
This project has been so much fun! What I have really enjoyed is that this is a prequel, exploring what happened at the beginning of Sagan’s and Maigrey’s relationship, how they fell in love and the tragedy that drives them apart. Hoping to write prequel novels to go with it, though that’s in the future.
You can read more about the life and times of Margaret Weis, as well as her ongoing projects, at www.margaretweis.com.