Release Day Interview: Terry Brooks


The Measure of the Magic by Terry BrooksThe Measure of the Magic by Terry Brooks is the second and final part in the Legends of Shannara duology—and today it is published in fine bookstores everywhere!

For me, today is like Christmas.

I have been a fan of Terry Brooks’s work for more than two decades. I read fantasy because of him. I also work in the fantasy field because he took a chance on me so long ago. And even though I read his work earlier than most now—when he finishes a first draft I read at the same time his editor does—I still feel that magic on a release day. The magic takes me back when I didn’t work for Terry and I was at the bookstore when it opened. The magic runs rampant through the internet(s), where fan excitement hits a fever pitch. And the magic connects hundreds of thousands of Terry Brooks fans with one thought in mind:

Get the new book; read the new book.

In my opinion, The Measure of the Magic satisfyingly wraps up the story begun in Bearers of the Black Staff and leaves just enough questions at its end that leaves the imagination running. It also is one of two Terry Brooks books that made my eyes well up while reading it.

Don’t let the bald head and the scowl fool you. I’m a softy on the inside…

At any rate, I thought it important to ask Terry a few questions about the new book, why he writes the way he does, and what he’s working on right now.

Here is the interview with Terry Brooks:


Shawn Speakman: Bearers of the Black Staff, Book One in the Legends of Shannara duology, is now out in paperback. It is a perfect jumping on point for new readers. Why is it a great place to start with your work?

Terry Brooks: I write all of the Shannara books as part of an historical saga that spans several thousand years. So there are gaps in time between each set of books, and each set involves different periods of time with fresh stories and new characters. Bearers of the Black Staff is the first of a two book set, so readers are coming in at the beginning of a storyline that does not require prior knowledge of all the other books in order to enjoy this one.

SS: The Measure of the Magic, the second book in the same duology, publishes today! In it, you introduce readers to one of your best evil characters, the Ragpicker. Why did you choose to introduce this particular character in Book Two rather than in Bearers of the Black Staff?

TB: Glad you liked this latest villain. I thought it important to establish the characters and their problems in their closed away valley world before bringing in someone not only from the outside world but also from the past. Much of what is happening in this Shannara prehistory involves the efforts of the survivors of the Great Wars to escape their past. But we know you can’t do that. The past is always with us, or as one writer says, “The past isn’t ever really past.” Also, I wanted to create a series of impending catastrophe’s with this insular little world before dropping a demon into the mix.

SS: You are notorious for writing trilogies, yet this time out it is a two-book set. The fans are confused! Ha! From a craft of writing point of view, how did this happen?

TB: I’m getting old and running our of energy, maybe? Actually, the story pretty much dictates the length and the number of books. This particular tale didn’t require the usual three books. Two were sufficient to move ahead within the ten centuries I am trying to cover, still projected at about ten books. I am currently through five, so halfway there. I might do another two book set before closing things out.

SS: I believe your work in the last decade has been incredibly literary, even more so than your early work. In the subtexts of these stories, there is commentary about our own world and the hardships we are facing right now as a people. Talk a little bit about what happens when you take your every day life and sit in front of your keyboard?

TB: Usually, before I begin a book, I start with a subtext in mind. The principal story is the one that you are reading. But buried within that story are issues that relate to our own world and that trouble me in one way or another and that I think everyone should be thinking about. It doesn’t take anything away from the book if none of that catches your attention. But I think the stories that resonate with us are the ones that go deeper than the surface story. I don’t tell people what to think with any of this. But I do hope they might stop and wonder about how they feel and think about these things once in awhile. Good fantasy, I was taught by Lester del Rey, many years ago, closely mirrors life and feels possible given the parameters of the story. As a writer, you want the story to feel real to the readers.

SS: You are always a book or two ahead of your publishing schedule. What are you working on right now and what other projects do you plan on tackling in the future?

TB: I am in the midst of writing a trilogy in the future of Shannara. The time frame puts it about a hundred years after the close of the events in High Druid of Shannara. These books will publish in 2012 and 2013. More about this as things progress. I am also going to write a new book, a work of speculative fiction, but something unconnected to and entirely different than anything I have written before. Artistically, it’s time for this. I think readers will be pleased.

Terry Brooks reads from The Measure of the Magic – Part I

Terry Brooks reads from The Measure of the Magic – Part II

The Measure of the Magic by Terry Brooks is in fine bookstores today!