Check out TG’s latest comments in a Q&A thread over at the Goodkind forums.
A few favourites……
(the bold emphasis in the answers is mine by the way)
1.Answering a reader query about maps in his books;
“While my novels contain secondary fantasy elements, they aren’t primarily fantasy books and for that reason the vast majority of my readers are not exclusively fantasy readers but general fiction readers. Maps appeal chiefly to fantasy fans, not general fiction readers. If it wouldn’t cause a number of heart attacks at my publisher I would have the maps pulled out of my novels once and for all.“
That’s right, a series of books about a magical Sword of Truth and its wielder, the born wizard Richard Rahl and his love, the magical Confessor Kahlan Amnell, as well as a supporting cast of witches, dark lords, more wizards, dragons, and countless other magical creatures, magical devices, and magical deus ex machina…… nothing primarily fantasy about those books. Nope. A few secondary fantasy elements, but nothing else worth mentioning.
Move along now.
2. A second readers asks about how he got published, and whether his manuscript needed much editing after being accepted;
“After I finished WIZARD’S FIRST RULE I wrote to the best agent in the country. My query letter aroused his curiosity and he asked to see the manuscript. He thought it was the most remarkable manuscript of the decade and at once accepted me as a client.“
I just vomited a little.
Please note, this is a relatively straightforward question but of course Goodkind can’t resist the opportunity to waffle on about minor details whilst using unnecessarily long analogies to labour home his point. Further quotes from this answer;
Words of wisdom regarding an agent’s professional career;
“An agent’s professional career is in some ways a journey searching for that one remarkable discovery, like a miner searching for that one big ore strike. Agents see endless tons of worthless rock. If you are that writer a good agent will spot you like a shimmering gold nugget on barren ground.”
Beautiful. Just beautiful.
Advice about how to meet those exacting standards agents have for manuscripts;
“However, a piece of plastic polished to a high luster will never be worth a diamond in the rough. Any publisher would take the diamond in the rough because they know that with a little work a rough diamond can be made into something extremely valuable, while a hunk of plastic will always be a hunk of plastic, no matter how shiny it is; it can never be more than an imitation diamond.”
Several paragraphs of waffle later he finally comes onto the second part of the question;
“With my first book there was more initial editing than there is today simply because it was the first book I’d ever written. Still, that editing only consisted of untangling sentences for clarity. The story itself was sound, it simply needed housekeeping. My copy editor (the editor who edits for all the technical aspects) tells me that my manuscripts are now some of the cleanest she has ever seen.“
And finally, Terry finished off the answer with some insights into the book business;
“A good book will usually get published, one way or another. The problem is that there really aren’t very many good books.“
Apparently he said that last bit without any irony whatsoever.
3. Someone asks about the direction his stories have taken, and whether he had it all planned out from the start.
“As I approached the end I started thinking about the bigger picture, about what would happen next. Once I got into the following books [after Wizard’s First Rule] I always knew the major story arc, the conflicts, the themes that drove the story, and how I would carry the series through to the resolution, but along the way I loved expanding on compelling stories that would help define the characters and the themes, much like fascinating places one decides to stop at on a long journey.”
This answer just confused me. I mean, has he decided to lie outright? Even a…a…. mentally handicapped goldfish would be able to tell the differences between the central theme, as TG likes to call it, of Soul OF The Fire and the preceding 4 books.
Its blatantly obvious that he decided to make the series Ayn Rand propaganda from book 5 onwards. There’s no way he could have known the major story arc from the beginning. The Imperial Order, Richard Rahl’s current great adversary, didn’t even come into prominence till book 3. Books 1 and 2, and most of book 3, were all about the fight between the good guys and the Keeper of the Underworld, who, incidentally, happens to be yet another cliched fantasy dark lord.
After book 5 though, the Keeper is largely sidelined while the Imperial Order becomes more and more important to the story.
Anyway, moving on……
4. A reader asks about TG’s typical writing process. Does he have lots of drafts and corrections? Does he need to completely rewrite themes and events of his books to “clean up” events and not leave loose ends hanging by? Is there anything he would have written differently and has he found himself painted into a corner with how the series has progressed?
(Oh man oh man…… TG really starts flying off the handle from this question onwards…..)
“I know that what you describe is a common belief and there is truth to it for many writers, but I personally find it horrifying to even contemplate such a writing process. It in no way describes the manner in which I work.”
But…. but…. Mr. Goodkind, I don’t understand! I’m confused and helpless! Could you explain that point any further? Perhaps with…. oh I don’t know…. an unnecessarily long analogy?
“What you describe is an author creating action without cause, events without meaning. At its root, such a work is an expression of confusion and helplessness. In a good novel the theme is the abstract, the plot the concretes that explain that abstract. They are inseparable.“
Ah…. much better. Thanks.
“The theme of CHAINFIRE, for example, is belief in one’s self. The plot is one man’s struggle to prove what he believes to be true when everyone else thinks he is wrong. The theme of NAKED EMPIRE is the existence of evil. The plot is the struggle to get men to recognize evil for what it is, fight for their own lives, and to deserve victory. The theme of FAITH OF THE FALLEN is the role of free will in man’s existence — the abstract concept of the importance of freedom to man’s existence. The plot is the battle for individual liberty in a altruistic-driven collectivist society. The concretes of Richard’s struggle (concretes? wtf?) make the abstract concept understandable and clear. (And because it is so clear it enrages those who want to cloud the issue so as to champion altruism; the naked hate they exhibit and vicious methods they use only go to prove the book’s point that altruism breeds force and brutality and produces only suffering.)“
Wait! No! Too long, too long!
Love the altruism quote by the way. Guess we finally know what’s wrong with our society these days. Its too much altruism.
“Imagine the impossibility of getting to the end of a book like that and then have to go back and do a “complete rewriting of themes.”
Yes…. just imagine. Faith Of The Fallen rewritten so that it doesn’t actually suck.
TG then waffles for a bit about an artist’s style. Afterwards;
“I would like to note that there are good authors who don’t always think their work through as thoroughly as I might.“
He says with his usual self-deprecating humility…..
5. In another question a reader asks how Goodkind reconciles the fact that Richard is royal by birthright and yet an advocate of democracy?
There are some priceless quotes in this answer. But in the interests of brevity I’ll just stick with the important points;
“As for Richard’s feelings on democracy, it would appear that you missed one of the books in the series: SOUL OF THE FIRE. In that book Richard learned that democracy does not make something right. People use democracy as a free-floating abstraction disconnected from reality. Democracy in and of itself is not necessarily good. Gang rape, after all, is democracy in action.“
That’s right. He compares democracy to gang rape.
6. Another reader asks about the similarity in name choices between TG and Robert Jordan.
“As for the Stone of Tears name, I found out after I’d written the book that Robert Jordan has a place in his books called the Stone of Tear. I don’t really know the meaning of the name in his books other than I think I recall that someone told me it was a building. The Stone of Tears in my book is a small stone from the underworld. The name is in some ways meant to embody all the tears for all those who have died. Other than a meaningless superficial similarity, there is no connection.“
Of course, he carefully stays away from the subject of how the Sisters of the Light and their attitude to male wizards are pretty much a carbon copy of Jordan’s Aes Sedai and their attitude to men who can channel. And how the Keeper of the Underworld is a pretty good imitation of the Dark One. And how the Baka Ban Mana are a good imitation of the Aiel. And countless more rip-offs from the Wheel of Time.
7. Someone asks about TG’s decision to write Pillars Of Creation around completely new characters.
TG waffles on a lot here so I’ll stick to just a few good quotes.
“I also wanted to do something that is extremely difficult: create a dual plot, in which those who have never read the series would have a completely different experience, with different worries and hopes, than readers who were familiar with the series.”
Please bear in mind, creating a dual plot is not extremely difficult. Authors like Steven Erikson and George RR Martin easily juggle plots that number in the double figures, with characters interwoven effortlessly between them.
“Readers are so starved for the value that Richard and Kahlan represent that they were unable to endure a story without them guiding the narrative.”
I just vomited some more.
8. A reader asks about how TG’s magic immune characters, (the pillars of creation) interact with magic. Apparently it doesn’t make sense. Oh teh noes!
Another long answer here, almost 1800 words! (Thank you, sweet sweet Word Count. Where would I be without you?) But his answer can basically be summarised here.
“I am now going to tell you something that probably no other fantasy writer would ever tell you: I’m making it up.”
Almost a thousand words (!) after that statement…..
“I hope that you will come to see that the magic in the books is a tool for telling a story and nothing more. Ultimately, it is not magic that is important, but what people do with that magic, how they use their unique abilities to meet challenges.”
Ok, so don’t sweat the magic. Its not important. Capeesh?
9. In the very next question, someone asks, “Are the pillars of creation [remember, the magic immune types] affected by Subtractive Magic?”
“This is a perfect example of what I’m talking about when I urge people not to skim the books, but to actually read them. Not a single person who is on these message boards arguing this point could possibly have read the books because various novels say a number of times, in a number of places, in a variety of ways, that pillars of Creation are affected by Subtractive Magic because Subtractive Magic is the magic of the underworld, of death itself. Pillars of Creation are mortal, they will die just the same as everyone else, so they are affected by death, and thus by Subtractive magic, the magic of the underworld, the magic of death, of non-existence.”
But…. but… but… you just said….. magic wasn’t important?
I swear to God, I’m not making this stuff up. Go check out the interview.
There’s plenty more quotable notables from TG in there, but its the Bank Holiday weekend over here in the UK and I have things to do. Until next time…..