Every week or so, I’ll pester one of my creative colleagues with five questions about his or her work. Most of these folks are friends, a few are secret enemies, and one has been blackmailing me for years.
To most people reading this blog, R.A. Salvatore needs no introduction—but I won’t let that stop me.
Bob and I run into each other at conventions now and then, where he’s always friendly and personable, the epitome of the “regular guy.” It never occurred to me that he’d be anything else, at least not until I was touring U.S. military bases in Germany to promote Dragon magazine and the then-upcoming 3rd edition D&D. While mentioning upcoming Forgotten Realms novels, I referred to R.A. Salvatore by his first name. That elicited a gasp from one of the attendees.
“You call him ‘Bob’?” said a young soldier.
“Did you ask permission first?”
Maybe I should have led with “Mr. Salvatore,” since the Drizzt novels had already made him a big deal by the time I joined TSR. Still, I knew Bob was a gamer, and the minute you hear his voice on the phone, you know you’re dealing with an unpretentious guy. It wasn’t scary to ask him for a story for Dragon, even after I had to go through his agent on the standard contract (an unusual occurrence at Dragon), but even the agent didn’t make things difficult. It was all easy, regular-guy stuff.
Bob’s Forgotten Realms novels are a big deal, his fans legion and adoring. So maybe I did hesitate before asking him to do a Creative Colleagues interview. I shouldn’t have worried. Not only did he reply right away, but he answered all the questions, not just the five I’d asked him to pick.
Thus, to preview the eventual full interview and draw some eyes to this page before several other worthy authors make their appearance, I’ll drop a sample question in now and then. Here are two.
As an avid gamer and prolific author, in what ways do you find tabletop roleplaying inspirational to your fiction? In what ways do you find it a completely different creative pursuit?
I try to keep my gaming and my writing separate, but little bits of the game scenarios inevitably bleed in. Usually it’s just anecdotes that happen in the gaming sessions—funny stories, clever remarks, that sort of thing.
Many gamers imagine themselves writing novels based on their characters one day. What advice or warnings would you offer them?
Typically, characters played in games are a collection of idiosyncrasies more than an actual human being. And that’s the most important ingredient in writing a story: the readers have to connect with the character on a human level (even if that character is a dark elf or dwarf or whatever). Drizzt wasn’t ever a character I played in a game, but he could have been—again, that’s just a starting point, however.
Come back next week for a chat with Realms author Erin Evans, whose latest novel, Fire in the Blood, is coming soon.