Ask Terry Brooks: September Post


brooks-terryEvery month for more than ten years, bestselling author Terry Brooks has accepted questions from his fans via his website and answered five of them.

In that spirit, I thought it would be fun to post his questions and answers here, broadening the scope of questions that come into his website. Below you will find his answers from questions sent into the website in August 2011, but if you have any questions for him—about his work or craft of writing—visit his website HERE and Ask Terry Brooks!


Dear Readers,

Just about to set off for Dragon Con and the East Coast when I will be touring with Measure of the Magic for the next couple of weeks. But I wanted to get this one last piece of business out of the way first. While gone, check in at the website for Judine’s Touring With Terry, consisting of blogs and pix of what we encounter as we follow the path of Irene without doing anywhere near as much damage, I hope.

As for these pesky ASK TERRY questions, let’s have a look:

Quentin A Ogura: There are many objects, settings, and themes that are used in the Shannara series Four Lands that have also been incorporated into video games. Airships, magic, and magical creatures of various races are what have made games such as the Final Fantasy series so popular. Having the similarities, and all the resources contained in your novels, would there be a chance of letting a game development company get a hold of your work and seeing if they could create a worthy (to your standards) product?

Terry Brooks replies: Absolutely, Quentin. But to date there has been little interest in the US, and we have not found a European outlet that we were satisfied with. So, nothing is happening on this front. I think it’s a little odd, but gaming is not my thing, so I don’t pay a lot of attention to what’s going on with that segment of fantasy entertainment. Maybe one day we will hear from a company that is serious about putting something together and actually able to fund doing so.

Anonymous writes: How about a complete map of the Shannara world, complete with all locations mentioned to date?

Terry Brooks replies: Hey, how about one? I will be announcing at DragonCon for (essentially) the first time that with the start of the new Shannara series in 2012, we will include an expanded, up-to-date map of the Four Lands that will cover two complete pages of the next book. We have our artist (I believe Russ Charpentier will be signing on) and our plans for this, so just be patient another few months. I expect that not only will there be maps in the book, but that you will be able to purchase a poster sized one online at the website, as well. Stay tuned.

Matthew Macomber writes: How confusing is it for you to keep things straight when working in two Shannara timelines that you are trying to connect?

Terry Brooks replies: Very confusing sometimes. I use my old books and World of Shannara guide as references (along with your favorite Web Druid, Shawn) together with my own notes to try to keep things straight. Even so, I often find myself drifting away on timelines that don’t work with the rest of the story and I have to go back and straighten it all out. But I have always had that problem, right back to when I wrote Sword of Shannara. Can’t seem to get better at it, I’m afraid.

Anonymous writes: How do you come up with all those interesting names?

Terry Brooks replies: Who is this Anonymous guy anyway, and why does he get two questions? Or she. Anyway, I know the answer to this one. I keep a list of names I find during my travels to other countries and odd places in the US. I find them on store fronts, street signs, maps and post-it notes at signings. I find them in phone books and lists of names and the odd document from out of other times. I keep an eye open and when I see one I like (found 2 last night at UBooks) I write them down. Later, when I set up the story for a book, I go to my list to get started with naming characters. Often the names are hybrids or combinations or abbreviations and the like. It just depends on how they sound given the nature of the character, creature or place.

Tom Maguire writes: I remember you once said (in another Ask Terry letter) that you had a rule about killing off major characters: don’t do so without a reason. So, what was your reason for killing off one of the main characters in The Measure of the Magic? I don’t want to spoil the novel for others, but I had figured this character was going to survive by the end. It never even crossed my mind that this character wouldn’t survive. In fact, I felt the rest of the story almost lost meaning once the character was dead. So, why did you kill this particular character off and how did it serve the story?

Terry Brooks replies: Tom, you just made my case for me. It is true about the rule regarding the killing off of major characters. There has to be a reason for it. In the case in point, I didn’t want anyone to see it coming. I also wanted to demonstrate the randomness of death. And I also wanted to to show what happens when someone takes one too many chances in situations where taking chances can be fatal. All these factors are applicable to what I did in Measure. But there is another reason, and it has to do with future books in the prehistory, so I can’t talk about it. Trust me, you will see.

Okay, I quit. I have get ready to be presentable and maybe even cogent at my various events. See you all again mid-September when life returns to normal and we start looking ahead to a very, very exciting 2012 & 2013. I kid you not.

Yours in authordom,
Terry Brooks