I got to attend what felt like an exclusive event last night with Mysterious Galaxy interviewing Ben Riggs on his debut novel Slaying the Dragon: A Secret History of Dungeons and Dragons which is releasing today. This was such a fun and interesting conversation to listen to full of secrets and D&D talk.
Slaying the Dragon:A Secret History of Dungeons and Dragons is about the TSR company that rocketed Dungeons and Dragons to its success. It dives deep into why TSR started failing as a company and what happened for Wizards to buy the company. Riggs highlights many interviews in his work and mentions if he was told two different stories about one incident to make sure that he tells everyone’s story. Tom Thurman who was the person during this event interviewing Rigg described the book with high praise saying that it was not dry but very readable and that Riggs’s personality shines through.
I found Riggs to have a fun and quirky personality. He mentions that he could not interview Lorraine Williams because she refused. (Lorraine Williams was in control of TSR when it had failed). But he showed his optimism during this event that she may reach out to him and want to be interviewed because he had beautiful art of her made in his book. He did interview her brother though along with 50 plus others.
Riggs mentioned multiple times that he knows his success is all thanks to luck and timing. D&D is the most popular it has ever been in history. Stranger Things has been a help with that. He laughed and said that he did a local interview in his newspaper about his book and they did not put his picture on the article, but instead put Eddie’s picture from Stranger Things, which he is proud of. His favorite edition of D&D is the 2nd edition because that was the first one that he played and he sees the game as a cultural artifact.
Ben Riggs apparently has a podcast called Plot Points that has been up and running since 2013 where he takes a deep dive into role playing games including the influence and origins of those games. He was such a kind, gentle, and respectful person to listen to during this interview. Anyone could tell how deeply he cares about people and about games in general and how certain games have impacted culture.
I loved how much Riggs showed his love for creative geniuses in during this event and how much information he gave to everyone. I am excited to get his book and read his words. Thank you, Mysterious Galaxy for hosting him!
After a change of events, today I got to join in on a conversation with Elodie Harper with Mysterious Galaxy Bookstore. It was really cool hearing about her books, which I added to my wish list.
Elodie Harper has written two books so far out of a trilogy that she discussed during this interview. The two books are called The Wolf Den and The House with the Golden Door. The Wolf Den takes place in ancient Pompeii before the town was buried by volcanic ash. It tells of the story of a girl named Amara who is a slave and a prostitute in a well-known brothel. Harper wrote these books because she wanted to tell the stories of the brothel women without focusing on the sex work. She wanted to show that even the lowest born slaves can dream of new beginnings.
With the short time that Harper had during this interview, she discussed how she visited Pompeii with her best friend to research for this book. She described it as “the closest one can get to time travel” and explained how one can view the glassware, paintings, lamps, and marble countertops.
The host and Elodie Harper then went on to talk about Elektra by Jennifer Saint, who sadly was unable to join. Elektra is apparently told in the view of three characters who are each deeply affected by the war that is going on and who each have the power to influence it. The host and Harper complimented on how Saint was able to nail Greek tragedy in the book, how it felt fresh because she was able to dive into the gaps and motivations of the characters, and how well she was able to represent the gods and show how involved they are with the humans around them just like Saint did in her previous book Ariadne.
I appreciated this insightful interview, and although there were technical difficulties, I thought that they host and Elodie Harper handled it very well. Thank you Mysterious Galaxy!
Astoria Bookshop hosted a launch interview for Adrienne Tooley’s newest book Sofi and the Bone Song. This book is about a girl named Sofi who has trained very hard and is ready to inherit the title of music like her father has. In this world only certain people can play music and through years of training, Sofi found love in it and has made it a part of her identity, until she loses the title to a girl who had never played before.
Tooley said that the idea came to her from her want to know what it would be like in the life of a bard mixed with her life, since Tooley is big into music. Tooley even used to write music and music is how she met her wife.
Apparently, according to the interviewer Allison Saft, there are many really cool magick systems in this book. Tooley explained how one of the magick systems were created just to make Sofi angry. Sofi is a perfectionist much like the author who after writing the first draft of this book and sending it to her editor, didn’t like how many questions the editor had, so she started it all over and wrote it again.
It was cute hearing how this book is a rivals to lovers book between Sofi and the girl who took her title, and it was interesting to hear the author talk about why she chose to stay in one point of view for this book. The reasoning was because she wanted to focus on Sofi’s story and she thought that having the other girl’s point of view also would be too much of a distraction from what she was wanting to get across.
It was easy to tell in this interview how much work that Adrienne Tooley puts into her books. I hope that this book is enjoyed world-wide.
I got to listen V.E. Schwab talk with Melissa Albert about her newest book Gallant hosted by Kepler’s Literary Foundation! It was such an interesting conversation to listen to because V.E. Schwab is such an interesting person who is very self-aware.
A few really cool things about the book Gallant before getting into V.E. Schwab is that it apparently has Coraline vibes according to Melissa Albert. The main character is nonverbal. It is also partly told in illustrations that we were shown during the interview also, which look very interesting! The chat was very active during this interview and someone had said that when the purpose behind the illustrations become clear that it gives the reader goosebumps. Also, the book is for younger children, teens, and adults. Meaning it can be experienced in a variety of different ways depending on the reader’s age! She wanted to write an ageless book where each age can come away with something different. But this book did take her five years to write because she could not figure out what was beyond the wall in the novel.
This amazing person, meaning V.E. Schwab, gave us a look into her life. When writing novels, she has so many ideas, but they need time to seep. Some of her books have taken 10-15 years to seep in her mind while she slowly adds ideas to them throughout the years. When she writes, the first character she makes is usually the setting.
Interestingly, the reason why she is so obsessed with death is because she is an only child who was so scared to lose her parents because her dad was diabetic. It made her feel powerless toward death and become overwhelmingly aware of it. Since she still scares easily, she likes to write scary stories because she is the god of those worlds and won’t be caught unaware of what will happen or what is going on.
Also, although she is very well known and has found success in many areas now, it was not like that at first. She published her first novel in 2011 called The Near Witch but it went out of print 18 months later. It wasn’t until 6 years after that, that it was brought back out again and became a bestseller. So, she was not an instant best seller. She had many small successes and many down times at the beginning, but then worked her way up.
Thank you so much Kepler’s Literary Foundation for this insightful event!
I got to listen to an author that I am finding interest in, Nnedi Okorafor, as she was interviewed by Wanuri Kahiu during a virtual event hosted by Powell’s Books. I had chosen to listen into this event because I thought her new upcoming book Akata Woman sounded very intriguing, but after having listened to her conversation, I now want to buy all of her books just because she was such a cool person to listen to with the coolest experiences!
Nnedi Okorafor has apparently written lots of books and even a graphic novel. Her book Akata Witch was named in the list of The Top 100 Fantasy Books of All Time. She is a Nigerian-Amercian writer who writes fantasy and science fiction for children and adults. Okorafor expressed during this interview her never ending gratitude to her cover artist and designer Greg Ruth. It was really cool to listen to how they work together to design her covers. She said how she believes that each cover he does gets better and better because the process to design them becomes so much more in-depth when discussing her characters with him.
Her newest book Akata Woman is the third book about a girl named Sunny. Okorafor explained how in each book she has written Sunny continues to become more intriguing to her in her growth and independence, so much so that she feels like the books are starting to write themselves. In the third book with Sunny Akata Woman, which Okorafor said will not be the last, something she did not even expect to happen happened when all the pieces started falling together. Just listening to her talk about writing in general, you could hear the passion for the craft in her voice and you could tell how much she cares for and loves her characters. Well, except for Phoenix in one of her other books. Although that may be a favorite character to some, like Wanuri Kahiu, Okorafor said that Phoenix always felt very mean to her and that Phoenix would even be in her dreams when she was writing her book telling her to get up because she wasn’t done talking yet.
Nnedi Okorafor apparently writes the books that she writes because of the experiences that she had in Nigeria growing up. I loved hearing her stories and how fun and full of wonder her childhood was! Apparently, she started going to Nigeria when she was seven-years-old and during her trips she would have to take in things as they were without any context. For example, the masquerades who she had and has become obsessed with, would chase her in the dark throughout the streets sometimes and she didn’t know what was going on. She would listen into the meetings that the village had to try to hear the drama and gossip. She even caught a painted grasshopper that she thought was something out of a fantasy, although it may have been common to her people there. It is so amazing that she got to experience true wonderment.
The fact that Okorafor’s childhood comes out in her books and the things that she writes, is more than enough to make me want to read her books. I personally cannot wait to read one of them to get to experience the same kind of astonishment mixed with admiration that she had through her characters!
Tonight I got to listen to a new author for me during an event with Collected Works Bookstore & Coffeehouse as they interviewed Heather M. Herrman for her book launch of The Corpse Queen. It was an interesting interview and I enjoyed hearing Herrman’s journey in writing The Corpse Queen.
One of my favorite parts of writing as an unpublished author is all the research, and I love to hear other authors say that it is also their favorite part. Apparently Herrman had to do a lot of research for this book since she wrote this book not knowing the jobs or the places that she was writing about. It makes me very curious to see later how she pulled all her research into her story and if she was able to make it believable. I am also very very interested to read about grave-robbers since from the interview it sounded like a portion of the book will be centered around some historical facts about grave-robbing.
They also talked about characters in general. Herrman stated that her main character Molly was one that she always pictured being the main character, but who kept blocking her from really getting to know her as a character in the writing process. I thought that was very interesting, relatable, and may even show how stubborn Molly is in the heart of her character. Herrman also had said that many of her characters ended up taking different paths than she had expected, which is something I have heard many authors go through. The interviewer also brought up the fact that one of Herrman’s bad guys was a very great character because they were not just bad to be bad but had motive. Those are my favorite types of characters, so I found that to be such a great compliment to Herrman!
From the thoughts and discussions about editing, it sounds like it is always a bitter sweet gift for published authors when they have professional editors to give them an expert’s advice on making their books closer to perfect. Authors discussing parts of their editing process always calms my nerves and I appreciate hearing how much a manuscript can change. Herrman apparently had to change a decent part of her manuscript because she had a lot of focus on Molly and what had happened to her before the story, but the editors wanted her to focus more on the grave-robbing and autonomy aspects of the story. I cannot wait to see if, for myself as a reader, focusing on those aspects more so in the story works to draw me in more.
I loved hearing Heather M. Herrman’s passion when it came to death and how beautiful it is to her. She made very great points that death should be honored and that it is just a way of life. She was stating that at a time death was more talkable and approachable in a sense, but that now it feels untouchable and uncomfortable to talk or think about with many people. She said that her book is definitely scary and about death, but that it is focused more on life and living to claim your life. To Herrman horror is hopeful. She says she wants to find the meaning of life, what makes humans tick, and wants to get the point across that a body is just a body. There is more to death than sadness and a beauty to the spirit.
The interviewer ended the interview with a cute game of Would You Rather with Heather M. Herrman about her book. It is always interesting to hear an interview like this one tonight and how the writing process was for the author. After hearing all of this I am excited to see how it all came together. I can’t wait to read it!