The Root of the Story

I’ve spent the past week at the Shakespeare Festival, in Ashland, Oregon. While there are many plays performed at the Shakespeare Festival that were *not* written by the Bard, my theater-going friends vastly prefer to see see Old Will’s creations.

That’s fine with me, even though I’ve seen most of the plays multiple times before. Seeing a new production gives me a chance to study the choices made by the director and the actors. I learn more about the language, more about the story.

And most of those stories have their roots in far older tales. Shakespeare plundered lots of sources for his plays — folktales, “histories” with dubious real-world accuracy, travel diaries of explorers, etc. In each case, he took those stories, and he made them his own, creating vibrant characters who speak with carefully-chosen words to convey a distinct moral lesson (or, in any case, an exploration […]

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On Writing: Book Identity, and Why I Didn’t Like THE HOBBIT Movie

On Friday night, I finally saw the new(ish) movie version of The Hobbit — the Peter Jackson version that came out earlier this year. I am a huge fan of The Lord of the Rings movies, despite their flaws, and I was looking forward to seeing what Jackson did with The Hobbit. To be honest, I have been excited about this movie since I first heard that it was being made, and my excitement only increased when I learned that the marvelous Martin Freeman would be playing Bilbo Baggins.

I am sad to say that I found the movie stunningly disappointing. Let me pause here to make clear that I am not a movie purist. I was fine with many of the decisions Jackson made in his retelling of LOTR, including those that strayed from the books as written by J.R.R. Tolkien. I do not believe that a movie director […]

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Books For Which I Am Thankful (An Early Thanksgiving Post)

My regular week off from MW coincides with Thanksgiving week, which is convenient, because I will be traveling with my daughter to look at colleges in NY and New England, so I wouldn’t really have time to post anyway. But that means that my Thanksgiving post comes a week early this year.

As always I am thankful for so much — I’m a very lucky man. I love my family, and they seem to love me back, which is always good thing. I enjoy my job, and have had a successful year, revolving around the release of THIEFTAKER, which has done well both commercially and critically. And I have friends and colleagues here at MW and elsewhere whom I respect and care about a great deal. Are there things I would like to improve in my life — in particular in my career? Of course. I’m not claiming that all […]

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On Writing: Characters to Love, Characters to Hate

I’ve been asked quite often why I never went back to write more books in my first series, the LonTobyn Chronicle. There are several reasons — I had other things I wanted to write, I had completed the story I set out to tell, I felt that I outgrew the worldbuilding — but probably the main reason is that I got bored with my lead characters, Jaryd and Alayna. They were both so . . . nice (and I say that with as much of a sneer as I can manage) that after a while I just wanted to slap them both. They were virtuous and kind, generous and wise beyond their years. Their faults were superficial, their magical powers the stuff of future legend. They were, in short, just the sort of people I would wind up hating in real life. By the end of the series, they seemed […]

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