Jake Blackwell: First off, we just wanted to thank you for agreeing to do this with us! It is so gracious of you both to agree to do this for us here at the Nexus! We’re all super excited for the next book in the Dragonlance Destinies series: Dragons of Fate! I know I can’t wait to see what’s in store next for our favorite time-traveling kender!
Jake: Cort, from our Discord server, asks, “Destina is quite different from other Dragonlance characters that have come before her, I’m curious if there were any specific works or events that inspired her creation?”
Margaret Weis: Destina is interesting to me because she is a young woman who must suddenly cope with war, with death, with the loss of innocence. She loses the father she loves and the legacy he entrusted to her. She longs desperately to turn back time to make her life right again and, because this is a world of magic, she has the opportunity. Or so she thinks.
Tracy Hickman: We have always featured strong and interesting women in Dragonlance. Destina begins in an idyllic innocence which is quickly taken from her. Even so, I think it’s important to remember that her mother is also a strong figure whose example becomes a foundation on which eventually she must come to stand.
Jake: Gidi Black from Facebook asks, “With the recent growth of Kickstarters for deluxe editions of books, have you ever considered pursuing the rights to do fancy editions of some of the more popular Dragonlance books that were ever written?”
Margaret: Kickstarters sound like way too much work to me. I’d rather use my time writing new books!
Tracy: A bit of history here: Dragonlance novels started out as paperbacks in their first publication. The entire first trilogy was printed in paperback, pocket editions. It was only after the series became classics that anyone considered going back and making them as hardbacks. That’s completely backward from the normal methods of publishing. My experience with Kickstarter is that it sounds easy until I get in the middle of it.
Jake: Michelle Baviera on Facebook asks…”I know Dalamar was named after a fan, but I wanted to know how it was writing him again and what helped you develop his personality initially in Legends?”
Margaret: Dalamar was fascinating for me because he portrayed the loyalty of wizards—no matter their alignment—to the magic. He accepted the dangerous assignment to spy on Raistlin because the wizards feared the harm he would bring on them and on the world. But Dalamar ended up grudgingly admiring Raistlin as much as he feared him—conflicting emotions that Raistlin sees and exploits.
Tracy: Dalamar is both a contrast and a complement to Raistlin. They are diametrically opposed in so many ways and yet united in the magic.
Jake: Going back to Discord we have a question from user BangéNL. They ask, “What kind of music do you listen to? Who are your favorite poets, (one living, one dead)?”
Margaret: I like all sorts of music – Jim Morrison to Mozart. 🙂 I guess my favorite living poet is Michael Williams. I’d name T.S. Elliot as favorite dead poet.
Tracy: I create playlists of movie soundtrack music when I am about to write. I find that the music I listen to colors what I write and so I have to choose the music to support my vision. Soundtracks are nice because they are designed to be inspiring without being obtrusive. Otherwise, I also like a broad spectrum of music styles though I tend toward the Decemberists these days.
Jake: Ok, so I’m going to cheat and sneak in a question myself, RevJake! I’m a huge fan of the pantheon of Krynn and love how the wider pantheon gets used in the two Mina trilogies. Are there any of the gods that you think don’t get enough love in the sense of being used in the novels as a whole? How about from the fanbase?
Margaret: I’m not sure Chaos counts as a god, but it was fun exploring Chaos in the Dragonlance Destiny series. As Brother Kairn says, Chaos is a powerful force that is neither good nor evil, but simply is.
Tracy: There are probably some of the gods who are literally resting on their laurels but if they aren’t getting enough column inches in the press it’s their own fault.
Jake: Staying with topics that are near and dear to my heart, Algernon Orion on Facebook asks, “As a long time Sturm fan, I was really excited to see he will be making a comeback to the stories in Destinies: how excited were you to revive the character of Sturm Brightblade?”
Margaret: I truly loved the idea of Sturm and Raistlin having to encounter men they had always revered as heroes and find out they are far more complex than the myths. And because of the dire circumstances in which they find themselves, these two, who have disliked each other since childhood, must now find a way to trust each other and, finally, come to know each other.
Tracy: Sturm is so large in the lore of Dragonlance that people forget he was largely in a book and a half before he died. It has been an opportunity for me to get to know him better and beyond his noble end.
Jake: This question is a bit of an amalgamation of two questions that come from users Spigadang and Steve Almighty, both on Discord. They ask “Given how expansive the series eventually became, is there any story, character or other element you wish you’d have a chance to develop more or do a minor course correction on? If so, what would you revisit?”
Margaret: I like to look ahead, not behind. I’m currently working on a new series featuring one of the minor characters we meet in Dragons of Fate, Alice Ranniker. I’m just writing for my own pleasure now. We’ll see what comes of it.
Tracy: I’m looking forward to Margaret’s amazing tale of Alice!
Jake: Back on Facebook we got a longer three-part question from Chris Androu:
“Margaret mentioned in a prior interview that this was a story they needed to tell. Could she and Tracy elaborate on the reason they were compelled to write this trilogy and its importance to them.”
“The first book was excellent and very well received by the fans, but some felt Tasslehoff’s behavior seemed out of character from past novels. Was his ignorance about Destina/Mary Merryweather being the same person a side effect from the charm person spell or another reason?”
Margaret: Tasslehoff is under the influence of the charm spell, and also he’s affected by the Gray Gem of Gargath. Because these experiences are new and different and exciting and they are leading to wonderful adventures, he’s quite happy to go where they are taking him. We know Tas loves being magicked.
Tracy: I’ve long ago given up on trying to determine what is ‘normal’ for a kender! The one thing you can count on with the kender is that they will always surprise you.
Jake: “Prior canon had the Greygem located either on the Isle of Gargath or among the Irda. Was the location of Greygem being in Thorbardin at the start of Book One done for story convenience, or will that location be explained and tie into past novels?
Margaret: The Graygem of Gargath goes where it wants to go when it wants to go and who’s going to tell it that it can’t?
Tracy: Not me, Margaret. Surely not me!
Jake: Heading back over to Discord, user Alloran asks, “I remember reading interviews where you were asked about whether this trilogy was meant to either reboot the Dragonlance timeline or (at least move it away from the 5th Age future), and that you clarified that that wasn’t the goal with these books (correct me if I’m wrong). What were your actual reasons for setting the new trilogy where you did in the timeline, rather than pushing the post-War Of Souls timeline forward?”
Margaret: The River of Time flows where it will. I don’t feel the need to say more.
Tracy: Best to leave this answer until the river has run a bit further down its course.
Jake: Staying with Discord user Helena asks, “You’ve been writing together for 40+ years. Has the process been different for this late trilogy? Any things which have remained the same?”
Margaret: We first collaborated on Dragons of Autumn Twilight when we were both working at TSR. Tracy was the world builder, game designer, idea person. I was the writer. Seems to work for us.:)
Tracy: It occurs to me as I ponder this question that I was about twenty-five years old at the time when we wrote our first books together. I’ll be sixty-eight later this year. I think it’s a bit late to try to improve on our system. If it isn’t broken, best not to fix it.
Jake: And our last fan question comes from ‘David (dj) Johnson, VES’ on Discord who asks, “Since we last had a Dragonlance book from you two, Television programming has advanced quite a bit. Game of Thrones, Wheel of Time and other presentations of medieval adventure and spectacle. Are you fans of any of these, and what if any impact have they had on your writing in the new trilogy.”
Margaret: I don’t read fantasy books, nor do I watch fantasy shows. I need to hear my own voice in my head.
Tracy: I’ve never watched Game of Thrones or ‘The Witcher’ although I really like the ‘Witcher: Old World’ board game and the big Game of Thrones board game as well. I feel much the same way as Margaret. In my case, when I start reading or watching other people’s fantasy I find myself wanting to fix it. That’s not a very relaxing way to enjoy a series.
Jake: Ok, so not a question per se, but did you have any non-spoiler teases you wanted to drop for Dragons of Fate before it comes out?
Margaret: Dragons of Fate is one of my all-time favorite DL books. It was fun (and heart-wrenching) to write.
Tracy: We always write very strong second acts. You can expect an exciting and troubled journey!
Jake: Thanks so much for taking the time to answer some fan questions. I know you have a super, super busy schedule right now with the book releasing next week and then the events at Gen-Con at the end of that same week! We here at the Nexus cannot thank you enough for agreeing to be part of this AMA and hope we can have you back again to discuss Dragons of Fate before Dragons of Eternity!
Margaret: A big thank you to the DL Nexus for its continuing support of Dragonlance down through the years. These books were written for you and all our friends!
Tracy: I have a vague recollection of helping get the Nexus established in those early days. It’s wonderful to feel the love and support from such dedicated travelers in Krynn.
Jake: That wraps up this AMA! Stick around the Nexus for more great content!