Purifying Fire author Q&A

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Hi, everyone. Laura Resnick here, author of THE PURIFYING FIRE.

I saw a post somewhere on the "Flavor & Storylines" BB saying it would be nice if some of the book authors or game creators would participate. I assume that the creators don't participate much because they work incredibly long hours and probably want a little TIME OF THEIR OWN when they get off work. As a writer, I didn't participate (until today) because I know very little about MAGIC or Wizards of the Coast beyond my tiny participation in same, as the author of one sole book, whereas the fans I see posting here seem very knowledgeable.

But I thought I'd pop in and say hello. Subsequent posts will attempt to answer a few questions I've sene in my lurking. (Yes, we lurk. Sorry about that.)

LauraR
http://www.LauraResnick.com
Publication format:

In answer to questions I've seen here about format: THE PURIFYING FIRE has been published in trade paperback format, which is the large-sized paperback (similar to non-fiction, literary fiction, and--here's a twist--erotica novels). Cover price $14.95, but I've seen it steeply discounted for Barnes & Noble members (under $9, I believe).

AGENTS OF ARTIFICE by my friend Ari Marmell was released in hardcover, and will be reissued in paperback later on, though I don't know if they're planning that as a trade paperback or as a mass market paperback (the smaller size, typical of most commercial fiction releases).

Why any publisher chooses various formats has a lot to do with distribution, the collapse of mmpb distribution, the consolidation of distributors, the increases in paper and shipping costs, decreases in orders, the squeezing-out of the traditional jobber markets for commercial fiction, and other things that aren't really that interesting unless your full-time income depends on it.

With turmoil in the market, a lot of publishers are experimenting with different formats to figure out what works best with their audiences. Consequently, in recent years, I (as a writer) have been put in hardcover, taken out of hardcover, put in trade paperback, taken out of trade paperback, put in mass market, taken out of mass market, and will not be terribly surprised if one of my subsequent contracts calls for me to stand in the village square and recite my books aloud.

In any case, what publishers want is for readers to get exactly the format THEY want. And what publishers are most capable of hearing is the sound of your coins clinking in the cash register when you purchase the format that you best like to buy.

LauraR
http://www.LauraResnick.com
If I were ever to get a book published, I would stay away from the internet for a few months. People say nasty thinks on the internet. You are brave, m'lady.
Evil doesn't always triumph. - Ajani Goldmane
Chandra promo card with book?

I have no idea. I didn't know they do that. (Do they do that?)

If so, how cool!

I do know that Wizards of the Coast is doing a fair bit of cool viral marketing that I'm impressed by and that my writing friends envy!

- They set me up on an "internet blog tour" to answer questions about the book
- They're sending me to Gen Con ("the world's biggest gaming convention," according to the con's website) to sign books for the book's best audience, i.e. gamers
- THE PURIFYING FIRE is a downloadable desktop
- THE PURIFYING FIRE is an iGoogle theme (how cool is THAT!)
- Through a licensing deal with Jones Soda, there's a limited-edition set of soft drinks based on MAGIC's Planeswalkers, including a red soda called "The Purifying Fire" with Chandra (looking a tad psychotic) on the label; this set also features a blue drink called "Illusion Indusion" that has the cover of AGENTS OF ARTIFICE on it
- Certain contents of THE PURIFYING FIRE relate to the upcoming new release set of the game, a deck/pack called ZENDIKAR
- A character I created for THE PURIFYING FIRE will be made into a card and become part of the game (more about that in subsequent post)


Keep in mind, most publishers simply print a book and toss it out there on the bookstands to sink or swim. And thus most books sink. My writer friends who are watching this experience with me keeping saying, "Wow. Those Wizards of the Coast people actually want to SELL their books! Isn't this amazing?" Because so many of us have worked with publishers who seem determined to keep the books they publish a dirty secret.

LauraR
http://www.LauraResnick.com
If I were ever to get a book published, I would stay away from the internet for a few months. People say nasty thinks on the internet. You are brave, m'lady.

Not really. The worst things I've ever seen people say about me on the internet are practically love letters compared to the things a number of my various editors and agents have said to me over the years. This is a rough business.

(For the record, that's not an allusion to WotC, where everyone has been very polite to me.)

LauraR
http://www.LauraResnick.com
Will Gideon be a gaming card?

I believe so.

That's not official, since I'm not a WotC employee, let alone part of any decision-making processes there. And I hope I'm not breaking confidence or giving the game away by mentioning it.

Here's what little I know: When they signed me, WotC said that they'd like me to create a conflicted love-interest for Chandra. They gave me 2-3 specific specs they'd like me to include, which I'm not mentioning here, since that would be a spoiler for anyone who hasn't read the book; but if you're read the book, you know the main surprises that unfold about Gideon, so you probably can guess what those specs were.

Subsequently, WotC liked Gideon enough that they told me they were going to turn him into a gaming card. I have since seen a first-draft of the card, but was told there will be a number of changes to it. So I don't know what the final card will look like, and I forgot to ask which release set he'll be in. Obviously, none of the I've seen or heard is a GUARANTEE he'll be a card in the game, but it sounds like it will happen.

LauraR
http://www.LauraResnick.com
Awesome!
Evil doesn't always triumph. - Ajani Goldmane
Do you need to read AGENTS OF ARTIFICE or any other books before reading THE PURIFYING FIRE?

Since -I- hadn't read any other MAGIC books before writing THE PURIFYING FIRE, I'll go out on a limb here and say: NO.

The idea of the Planeswalkers series, as conveyed to me when I was signed to do this book, is that it's a series of books featuring (wait for it!) the game's various individual Planeswalkers as protagonists. I had the impression that subsequent or later storylines -may- eventually relate to each other more; but this first Chandra book is definitely a stand-alone storyline introducing her as a fictional character in narrative form for the first time.

In the manner of spin-offs and stories set in the same world, there are cross-references within the books that hopefully make reading all of them a richer individual experience. But SO FAR, at any rate, they're plotted as stand-alone tales.

RE something I saw on this chatboard about a timeline--the creators of WotC (and fans) may be placing PURIFYING FIRE within a timeline, but if so, it's one that I don't know about. (I'd also never heard of ALARA UNBROKEN until a few weeks ago, and I don't know its contents.)

Additionally, whether or not Chandra Nalaar is a "third oldwalker" is a complete mystery to me, since it's a phrase I'd never heard before reading this chatboard the other day. This is not to say she -is- or is -not-; as an overall character who exists in multiple media, Chandra's ultimate fate is decided by the creators at WotC, not by mw. I can only guarantee there are no hints one way or the other in THE PURIFYING FIRE about whether she's a "third oldwalker," since this concept is unfamiliar to the book's author, i.e. me!

LauraR
http://www.LauraResnick.com
Oh, what a twist. WotC actually doing something to promote authors and their books. Nice to see that.
And welcome on boards LauraR.

I'd honestly love to read your book, but since they are not in the fat packs anymore, many people around the world were cut off from Magic fiction.

As for the Chandra card, I don't think it comes with the book. They would say something already if that were true.

Also, will you be getting another Maigc novel?

Um... for some reason you site doesn't work?
Dear God. In less than one hour, you've contributed more toward author-fan communication than we've seen in the past four years. Thanks?
Hi Laura, I just ordered Purifying Fire along with AoA yesterday. Can't wait for them to get in based on all the positive reviews.

How long did it take you to write the novel? And how much background information did Wizards present you? And How strict were they in where they wanted the storyline to go?

I guess I'll just be blunt and ask... How much about Magic: The Gathering did you know about or was prepped on before writing?
Yeah, the background infromation is an interesting one. I'd also like to know, how much Wizard Creative Teem guided you and/or changed what you wrote to fit it into the larger picture. I mean did they told you to change something, because of plots in other books? Did they check your book in this angle at all?
Oh, what a twist. WotC actually doing something to promote authors and their books. Nice to see that.
And welcome on boards LauraR.

I'd honestly love to read your book, but since they are not in the fat packs anymore, many people around the world were cut off from Magic fiction.

As for the Chandra card, I don't think it comes with the book. They would say something already if that were true.

Also, will you be getting another Maigc novel?

Um... for some reason you site doesn't work?

I don't know what a "fat pack" is... but as a courtesy to me, could we call them VOLUPTUOUS packs? Or Pleasingly Plump packs?

Don't know if I'll be getting another MAGIC novel. I'd like to. It was fun--and it's REALLY fun to see my bookcover on iGoogle and my title on Jones Soda! But it depends on WotC's schedule, on their plans for the series, on their plans for Chandra, and on whether they invite me back (as someone who'd never before written media tie-in fiction, I think I was something of an experiment for WotC), and also on my schedule--I write original-fiction fantasy for Tor Books and for DAW Books, which keeps me busy.

And... I just tested the link by clicking on it, and it took me straight to my website, so I don't know why it's not working for you. Maybe trying trying www.LauraResnick.com directly into you browser?
Hi Laura, before you say anything else, I think you should check your non-disclosure agreement with WotC... talking about the probable Gideon card might get you in trouble, and the comments I've seen about your book are all positive, and asking for more books by you.

PS. Expect your Gideon post to be all over MtG rumor sites within the hour.
And welcome on boards LauraR.

Thanks!
I don't know what a "fat pack" is... but as a courtesy to me, could we call them VOLUPTUOUS packs? Or Pleasingly Plump packs?

Sorry, it's official name :embarrass
These are packs coming out with every set. They used to contain things like some boosters with Magic cards, box for cads, 20-side die for counting life and a book...

Some time ago, they changed the policy for books and removed them from the packs. Here is more info on them.

And these packs were available all around the world as any other products that contained cards.
Magic books however, were not, and for many people it was the only source to get and read them.
In fact, the only reason I was buying them, was to get the book. Since removed them, and included just some sample chapters instead... eh

And btw, you might want to check that wiki sometime, in search for some Magic info. Especially storylines.
http://wiki.mtgsalvation.com/article/Main_Page

Don't know if I'll be getting another MAGIC novel. I'd like to. It was fun--and it's REALLY fun to see my bookcover on iGoogle and my title on Jones Soda! But it depends on WotC's schedule, on their plans for the series, on their plans for Chandra, and on whether they invite me back (as someone who'd never before written media tie-in fiction, I think I was something of an experiment for WotC), and also on my schedule--I write original-fiction fantasy for Tor Books and for DAW Books, which keeps me busy.

I see. IF you get the next contract, do you consider reading some of the recent Magic books, especially Agents of Artifice and Alara Unbroken?
Or maybe you are considering to read them anyway, to see more about the charaters that interacted/will interact with Chandra?

And... I just tested the link by clicking on it, and it took me straight to my website, so I don't know why it's not working for you. Maybe trying trying www.LauraResnick.com directly into you browser?

Dunno. Trying to enter it, but I get blank page...
This one works though.

May I ask what books are your favorite? Among Fantasy, and/or s-f.

Ok, I should shut up now. Otherwise Eid won't have any questions left for the podcast ;)
Hi Laura, before you say anything else, I think you should check your non-disclosure agreement with WotC... talking about the probable Gideon card might get you in trouble, and the comments I've seen about your book are all positive, and asking for more books by you.

PS. Expect your Gideon post to be all over MtG rumor sites within the hour.

I answered a similar question about a possible Gideon card on the blog tour that WotC set up for me last week, where the PR people were also reading my answers (not to censor me, but to see how the "tour" they'd arranged was going). So hopefully I'm not violating my confidentiality clause.

In any case, as I said before, all I know is that there -may- be a Gideon card, but I don't know when or where, and I don't know what the final version will look like. (I would love to see it though, since Giden has a Really Cool Weapon in the book, if I do say so myself.)

Laura Resnick
http://www.LauraResnick.com
Then I guess its ok.

PS. Couldn't resist :p http://forums.mtgsalvation.com/showthread.php?t=171957
PS. Expect your Gideon post to be all over MtG rumor sites within the hour.

Self-fulfilling prophecy :P
How long did it take you to write the novel? And how much background information did Wizards present you? And How strict were they in where they wanted the storyline to go?

I guess I'll just be blunt and ask... How much about Magic: The Gathering did you know about or was prepped on before writing?

Hi, there.

The novel had an incredibly fast arc, appearing on the stands less than a year after WotC initially approached me to discuss the possibility of my writing a book. (In my regular publishing career, a book appears on the stands a year after I -finish- and -deliver- it. So this was a very different experience.) And I gather that this sort of (INSANE!) pace isn't at all unusual in the gaming industry. Which probably explains why you seldom see MAGIC creators on these chatboards--they work RIDICULOUSLY long hours! (I do, too... but I'm playing hookey today.) And because I have (happily, given what the market is like) a busy career, I couldn't even start work on the WotC book until after finishing a book of my own for another publisher. So for -me-, I wrote the book very fast--less than 3 months, I think, after getting final approval of the outline. (But for writers more accustomed to tie-in work than I am, that's not particularly fast. And around the time I was finishing the book, exhausted by the pace, I read a blog post by a writer who'd done a lot of TV tie-ins talking about writing some of his books in 3 weeks. Aiyeee!)

I talked a lot on the internet blog tour about the process. (Go to my website and link to the Planeswalkers page to access those interviews.) Short version: WotC provided an excellent writers guide that taught me a lot, sent me links to a bunch of specific things on the website that related to Chandra, met with me in a conference call, sent me a big set of cards, and so on, to help me get up to speed on MAGIC. And my editor was available at all times to answer my follow-up question, or to get one of the game designers to answer it.

WotC had a few ideas of things they wanted in the story, and I came up with a plot to suit those suggestions. I have no idea how strict they MIGHT have been with a loose cannon, but my own approach to this was: It's their world, their character, they'll own the copyright to the book, they'll have to deal with the long-range effects of whatever story points are established in the book, and I am just a hired gun being brought in to write this story; so my job, as I saw it, was to include all of their ideas and develop a plot that would dovetail as neatly as possible with their gazillion other project (other books, new game releases, etc.).

As already stated in some of my interviews, I was a complete stranger to MAGIC before WotC approached me. (They were looking for a good fantasy novelist, not a good gamer.) So there was a lot of learning to do in the early stages (and throughout the process, actually).

Laura Resnick
http://www.LauraResnick.com
Yeah, the background infromation is an interesting one. I'd also like to know, how much Wizard Creative Teem guided you and/or changed what you wrote to fit it into the larger picture. I mean did they told you to change something, because of plots in other books? Did they check your book in this angle at all?

I'd say we worked pretty closely on the continuity aspect. I was just writing one sole book in a huge multi-media scenario that includes other books, various editions of the game, webzines, and so on.

I viewed this project very much the way I would view writing for an existing TV series; my job was NOT to come in and stamp MY unique vision all over THEIR world and THEIR character. My job was to provide a good story that dovetailed well with how THEY viewed the character THEY had created in cards and webzines in the world and with the premises that THEY had created fand continue developing.

So I felt they gave me a lot of guidance to work with. And I readily accessed further guidance whenever I needed it.

LauraR
http://www.LauraResnick.com
I should add, btw, that my (I daresay) incredibly coopertive creative attitude on this project is not how I work most of the time.

But in media tie-in, you're working with someone else's creation, someone else' intellectual property. So, IMO, the rules are completely different.

When it comers to my own original work with traditional publishers, I'm incredibly possessive, stubborn, and controlling.

LauraR
http://www.LauraResnick.com
Ashtok,

If I wrote another Planeswalker novel someday, I'd definitely be interested in reading the backlist. Apart from that, though, I'm not going to read any MAGIC novels, and if you could see the stacks and stacks of books-to-be-read around my home, you'd understand why.

For my next four under-contract novels with DAW and Tor, I've got 6 huge stacks of research books. Then for an on-spec project, I've got two stacks. I've also got a four fun-reading piles. including books by several of my closest friends (2 of which books have been awaiting reading for more than a year) and by my own father (2 more of which he gave me this weekend).

So a book has to be semi-urgent to get into my reading stacks.

As for my favorite books... on the "Books and Films" page of my website, I recommend books I've read and liked over the past year or so. I recently posted the fourth update of this page. But, as stated in some of the blog interviews I recently did for THE PURIFYING FIRE, I rarely read sf/f--only because when I pick up an sf/f novel at the end of a long day's work... I feel like I'm STILL working, instead of relaxing. Too much of a busman's holiday, I guess.

LauraR
http://www.LauraResnick.com
Ashtok,

If I wrote another Planeswalker novel someday, I'd definitely be interested in reading the backlist. Apart from that, though, I'm not going to read any MAGIC novels, and if you could see the stacks and stacks of books-to-be-read around my home, you'd understand why.
...

I do understand, believe me ;)
I have like 100 - 120 unread books lying around and fighting for my attention And the pile is constantly growing...
It might be less than in your case, but it's overwhelming me already, and I see where it's heading...
I don't even have place enough to keep all of 'em anymore.
Anyway, thanks for all the answeres.
I hope you won't go away from the forum fast.
Thanks for the answers. You just stopping by has done more to get me interested in checking out the novel then anything else.
Comics Magic #$%! - a sfw blog (at least, there's no nudity!) The blazekite is a simple concept, really - just a vehicular application of dragscoop ionics and electropropulsion magnetronics. Idiot.
Ashtok,

Writers love meeting people like you, who are such book fanatics that they've run out of places to put their books.

(Partly because if no one buys books, writers can't eat, and we really really LIKE to eat. And partly because we tend to spend every spare cent of our own on books, so we can relate to someone else with a Book Habit.)

LauraR
http://www.LauraResnick.com
...and consider that my father almost set the whole damn house in fire today...
...put soup on a gas-stove, in hurry forgot 'bout it and went out to work...
...I woke up coughing in a house dense of smoke...

a nightmare almost coming alive...
Eeeeeek!


Thank goodness you're evidently all right now.

LauraR
http://www.LauraResnick.com
Damn, Mort. Everything cool now?
Uh, I'll get back to this thread after I've read Purifying Fire (I really don't want spoilers) but, Laura (it is okay to call you Laura, I hope), thank you thank you thank you for joining up with us. We've been talking about something like this happening for a long, long time.
I walked across a bridge and almost right past a suicide/ You could say I'm a hero depending on the light that you put me in/ What changed her mind was when I took the time to tell her 'bout you and me/ She heard my tale and climbed off the rail and then she tried to push me in/
Eeeeeek!


Thank goodness you're evidently all right now.

LauraR
http://www.LauraResnick.com

Damn, Mort. Everything cool now?

Yeah, thanks - I'm ok, save for the headache I got for most of the day. Although the house still smells as hell... which is possibly good, because othersiwe I probably wouldn't even woke up.

Most importantly though, my books are safe ;)
Yeah, thanks - I'm ok, save for the headache I got for most of the day. Although the house still smells as hell... which is possibly good, because othersiwe I probably wouldn't even woke up.

Most importantly though, my books are safe ;)

Probably going OT, but nice to hear you're fine and dandy. That is some rather sheety event that happened with you there.
Great to see you here Laura. I appear to be the only one on the board right now that's finished your book. Kidding, kidding. I know of another two or three people.

Let me just say that is was very well written. You did an excellent job dealing with a character like Chandra, which I'm sure isn't the easiest thing to do. Gideon was a particularly well written person, and he fulfilled his role in spades. It'll be interesting to see what WotC does with him.

Hmmm... lemme think, questions....

Who was your favorite character to write in the book and why?

Did you like any cards you found so much that you put their spell into the book?

I want to include myself in the ashtok/laura book club, but I read 3-4 books a week so I don't have a ton of them sitting around unread. Quite the opposite, I'm always hungry for new books and not finding enough to read! I'm a big fan of your Dad (say hi to him for me) and I'll probably check out other books that you've written to feed my habit (I call it THE BEAST.)

I can completely understand the possessiveness of dealing with your characters/world in someone else's hands. I can empathize to a degree.
I enjoyed seeing Chandra's character actually grow. The plane with Velrav was a very interesting excursion and I like the idea of that blood magic. Did Wizards give you a page count, or was the length entirely up to you?
I think most freelance writers work on page count. It would explain why most Magic books hover around the 350 page mark.
RE this evening's questions, which I answer with the good cheer of one who has recently eaten a FABULOUS Greek dinner:

Yes, the contract included a length-range. This is a standard feature of publishing contracts, because publishers like to have some idea up front of what they'll be getting, since book length is a crucial factor in production (the whole process of turning a manuscript into a published book). And in a series--particularly a series written by multiple authors--book length is also a factor in continuity; it might seem disorienting, for example, if one Planeswalker novel was a leaflet and the next was a treekiller.


My favorite character to write was probably Velrav, mostly because I really enjoy writing off-the-wall characters.


I did use MAGIC cards a lot for story elements. The cards are really creative and varied and fun (and there's a lot of terrific art there, and I find art inspiring), so that was a particularly fun part of working on the book. And since the cards are part of the Multiverse, I felt that the more I could incorporate things from the cards into the book, the more MAGIC-like the book would be. I can't remember specifically now which cards I used, but certainly various creatures that appear in the book were drawn from the cards.

LauraR
http://www.LauraResnick.com
AGENTS OF ARTIFICE by my friend Ari Marmell was released in hardcover, and will be reissued in paperback later on, though I don't know if they're planning that as a trade paperback or as a mass market paperback (the smaller size, typical of most commercial fiction releases).

Well, if Amazon is to be believed, it's mass market--or at least, it's going out at $7.99, hence my assumption about format.

And Ashtok, glad to hear you came out of everything okay.
Ari Marmell aka Mouseferatu --Rodent of the Dark www.mouseferatu.com Twitter Facebook
Ah ha! There's Ari Marmell, author of the first Planeswalker book, AGENTS OF ARTIFICE.
Ah ha! There's Ari Marmell, author of the first Planeswalker book, AGENTS OF ARTIFICE.

Yeah, well, I figured if you could stop lurking, I oughta give it a shot. ;)
Ari Marmell aka Mouseferatu --Rodent of the Dark www.mouseferatu.com Twitter Facebook
And now I've found Ari's bloodied corpse! What have you people done to this writer?

Everything they said about fans on chatboards was true!

Hang on... what's that menacing crowd I see approaching with pitchforks, torches, and a deck of MAGIC cards?

Wait! No! Don't hurt me! I'm only a writer! Don't---- AGH!

Tell Mom I love her....

Actually your novel and Ari's novel have been very well received by the people on these forums, as long as your name isnt Doug, your corpse shant be bloodied....for the moment. If thats any comfort.

I really enjoyed Ari's book, I cant wait until his next one. I'm sure you'll keep up the trend. I'm still waiting for my copy of The Purifying Fire to arrive....darn overseas orders! Takes a long time to get here. But I'm sure I will enjoy your novel
98% of people use statistics in their sigs, or have used them in the past. If you are one of the 2% that haven't or don't, place this into your signature. New Magic Forums, Im'a let you finish, but the old Magic Forums were one of the greatest boards of all time!
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