Margaret Weis is a New York Times bestselling fantasy author. Along with Tracy Hickman, she was one of the original creators of theDragonlance game world. Her writing credits include Darksword, Rose of the Prophet, Star of the Guardians, DeathGate, Dragonvarld, Sovereign Stone, Dragonships, and the Dragon Brigade among many others. Needless to say we were really excited when she agreed to talk to WritingForums.com. A special thanks goes out to the WF members who contributed questions. Enjoy!
AdamDavidBoe asks: When did you first realize you were meant to be a writer?
I was a storyteller before I could write. When I was in kindergarten, my teacher put me in front of the class, and I told stories to the kids during rest time. In ninth grade, my teacher flunked me on a paper because she said I’d plagiarized it. No ninth grader could have written it. But I wanted to be an artist and that was my major in college until one day in Freshman English, my professor kept me after class. She told me that if I wasn’t majoring in writing, I should be. It was like the scene in the Blues Brothers movie where the sky opens up and the sunshine streams down and Jake realizes he has to put the band back together. I knew then and there I wanted to be a writer.
InstituteMan asks: I’ve read you were born in Missouri. What is it about the Kansas City metropolitan area that produces such great writers?
Haha! I think people in other parts of the country might disagree! That part of the country also produced a lot of outlaws. Maybe not a coincidence.
Kyle R asks: What would you say is your biggest obstacle in life—and how do you deal with it?
Obstacles seem to change from moment to moment. Right now it is trying to understand my new heroine. Just can’t figure her out yet.
Kyle R asks: What are you most conscious of while writing?
The music of the words!
Your sort of ‘fell’ into writing Dragonlance when the author who was hired didn’t work out. What had been your writing experience up until that point?
I’d been writing for ten years before that. I’d write a novel, send it to my agent, then write another. They were all rejected, but I kept writing because that is what I loved to do most in the world. Eventually I received a contract to write a biography of Frank and Jesse James for young people. I was on top of the world! Meanwhile, through practice, my writing kept improving.
Which authors have inspired you the most?
That’s a big list! Charles Dickens, Mary Renault, Chaim Potok, Jane Austen, Alexander Dumas, Rex Stout, among many others.
What are you reading right now?
Under Enemy Sails by S. Thomas Russell.
astroannie asks: What was your favorite book at the time you began writing?
That would have been in college in the 1960s, so that would have been Lord of the Rings. Read those books when the word spread from campus to campus.
How much time do you spend each week on writing vs. the running Margaret Weis productions?
I write mornings, every morning including holidays and weekends. I have a great staff that runs MWP. Writing is and has always been my full-time job.
What has been your most satisfying achievement thus far in your career?
The book I’m currently writing.
How do you think you’ve evolved creatively?
I hope I’ve improved at my craft and that I keep improving!
What advice do you have for new writers?
This sounds flippant, but it was the advice I received from a great writer, Gary Paulsen, and I’ve always remembered it and passed it on. “Keep reading. Keep writing. Keep your day job.”
TJ1985 asks: Do you feel that not reading extensively in the fantasy genre has allowed you to have a fresher take on the genre?
I’m not sure about that. All I know is that I need to hear my own voice in my head.
InstituteMan asks: Was it hard to break into the fantasy genre as a female author? Especially when you started, it seemed like a fairly male dominated field.
Quite honestly, I never thought about it! I simply wrote what I loved to write.
Which of your books is your personal favorite? Explain.
That’s like asking a mother which child is her favorite. I love them all for different reasons. Star of the Guardians because I worked for ten years on that series. Dragonlance because it introduced me to so many opportunities and wonderful people. Dragon Brigade because it’s been so much fun to write. Deathgate because of Tracy’s amazing magic system and the four different worlds.
Which of your characters is your personal favorite? Explain.
Again, favorite child. Raistlin, of course, because I understood him so well. Maigrey because she is the person I want to be someday.
InstituteMan asks: What was the collaborative process like for the Dragonlance books that sucked up so much of my time when I was young? To be clear, they’re brilliant books (I even gave them to my fantasy fan kid), but good lord did they ever consume me for a few years back in the day.
That’s a really long story. This is the short version: Tracy and I were working on the DL project at TSR, Inc. He was the one who had come up with the original idea and the first three characters: Tanis, Laurana and Kitiara. He was working on the D&D adventure modules, and I was book editor, assigned to develop the plot line for the books. We became convinced that we should be the authors because we loved the story so much. I did the writing and Tracy read what I had written, adding material of his own. I then rewrote in my style because it was important to us that the book have one voice.
Charlaux asks: When you wrote the Dragonlance Chronicles, was there any one scene that occurred to you first? And if so, how did you use it as a starting point?
The first scenario was the codependent relationship between Raistlin and Caramon and Raistlin’s Test in the Tower of High Sorcery. Based on that, I wrote the short story, “The Test of the Twins,” that was published in Dragon magazine.
InstituteMan asks: How are the Dragonlance Chronicles holding up for a new generation? I read them as they were released, and my daughter discovered them and fell in love with them few years ago. Is this a book series that is being passed down from one generation to the next?
It would seem so! I hear from new fans all the time!
InstituteMan asks: When did the concept of a second series focusing on the twins develop?
Tracy and I had the idea for that one as we were writing the first.
InstituteMan asks: Related to the question about the second series, how did your relationship with the Dragonlance characters change over the course of the series? Did your favorites become less interesting, and did secondary characters become more interesting to you during the writing process?
Our problem with the first series was that there were too many characters! We learned our lesson and were able to focus on those who had a major role to play.
astroannie asks: Do you believe that there is a decline in reading among youth? If so, what do you think can be done to encourage reading in this demographic?
I think young people have a lot more choices of how to spend their time than we did. When I was young, it was either read or play softball. But I still find lots of young people who love to read.
What are you working on now? When will it be available?
Tracy and I just finished the fourth and final book of the Dragonships series. Doom of the Dragon will be published in January 2016 by Tor books. Robert Krammes and I are now working on a sequel to the Dragon Brigade series. Dragon Corsairs is the title. Not sure when the first book, Spymaster, will come out.
For someone new to your books, what do you suggest they read first?
Probably Dragonlance. That seems to be a good beginning.
How can we discover more about you and you work?
I have a Facebook page. You can read about me and my work and my flyball racing!