Tuesday, March 5, 2013, 11:34 AM
I've been listening to Plague of Spells
, as most excellently narrated by John Pruden. (Audible.com link to Plague of Spells)
I completely forgot that I modeled Lucky the guard dog after my dog Hektor! What a nice surprise.
Monday, June 4, 2012, 1:45 PM
I've got a novel coming out tomorrow. Here's some insight on where a few of the ideas in Spinner of Lies originate.
I used to wonder where authors got their ideas, and how they turned those ideas into a story stretching 80,000 words or more. Then I became an author, and through brute experience, learned it myself. Save up funny ideas and odd thoughts, and when the time comes to convert ideas into a story, set daily deadlines. Sounds easy, right? Let’s pry that apart a little bit.
Ideas are seeds, which you can collect against later need. Ideas can come to you any time, but usually seem to do so while you’re watching TV, taking a shower, talking to a friend with a funny story, exercising on the treadmill, or sometimes even while you’re trying to brainstorm interesting ideas. It doesn’t really matter when or why--if the idea makes you think, “Cool!” then it’s an idea worth saving.
When you’ve got time (preferably during a week away from your day job), plant those idea-seeds, tend them as they grow into an outline, and see what blossoms. If you plant enough seeds in the same place, you’ll end up with a garden.
But here’s the thing. Sometime while your garden is growing and you’re laying down the paving stones, chapter by chapter, you’ll suddenly see a connection you hadn’t planned for, hadn’t anticipated, and hadn’t even realized you needed. It’ll rise out of the ground like the foundation of an ancient ruin that’s been there all along. You’ll marvel at its beauty and symmetry, and wonder how you could be so lucky.
Of course, good luck isn’t usually random happenstance like some people imagine. Luck is actually the ability to first recognize and then take advantage of opportunities that come your way, in life and in writing. A writer “lucky” enough to find hidden connections between characters, events, and plot is actually a writer willing to take chances on exploring opportunities (or experiences) that fall into his or her lap.
And thus I come to my inspirations for Spinner of Lies. The character of Demascus was already part of a story arc introduced in the preceding novel, Sword of the Gods. That said, unexpected elements in the novel drove the story forward in entirely unforeseen ways, great and small. Those elements include the water-pipe lounge, Madri, the angel relic Fossil, and the drow who tries to steal the arambarium “motherlode.”
Another unexpected element were the Whispering Children, as most awfully personified in the novel by the Necromancer. Here’s how this particular idea-seed came to me.
My friend Torah and I went to see a Picasso exhibit. We didn’t have any experience with Picasso’s paintings, and we were excited to see his work. The museum was packed with others who apparently felt the same. All of us were excited to see “one of the greatest and most influential artists of the 20th century.”
But a creeping sensation grew with each new section of the exhibition we visited: I didn’t like these paintings. Each piece was a brick of oppression and unease that taken all together built an ugly edifice. My disquiet culminated when we entered a long room dominated by several cubist-style portraits. They looked to me like pieces of shattered corpses randomly sewn together in a mockery of life. I hated them.*
As we left the museum and discussed our reactions, it hit me: What if paintings like the ones we’d just seen were so terrible, not because an artist was able to manifest ugly emotions on canvas, but because (when translated to the realm of magic where Spinner of Lies unfolds) such paintings were prisons of individual demigods, trapped in their own portraits, each one revealing the aspect of the caught entity?
Who might have the power to trap demigods in paintings, and why would they do so? Would the paintings grant any special powers or pose any particular dangers to those who viewed them? If such paintings existed, who’d collect them? Maybe they’d be scattered, except for a few special curators who knew to look for them and gather them in secret, so that when treated properly, these paintings would be like tutors for those with the fortitude to listen to their horrid whispers:
“... [The painting] could just barely be described as a face. The multitude of shattered portraits, jammed together to form a single entity abiding in apparent unceasing agony, met her gaze with mismatched eyes. Its gaping mouth was like a wound. The frozen vista of paint snared the visage in cruel brush strokes.”
So that’s the story. The exhibition and my reactions to it were the inspiration for the Whispering Children. The incorporation of the idea changed the novel by creating completely new opportunities for the characters to explore. Plot arcs sprouted in the “garden” of my outline and draft that I hadn’t previously anticipated, rippling through the entire narrative.
Spinner of Lies on the Wizards product page
*I acknowledge my reaction might be due to the museum’s choice of pieces; I’m not unaware of the importance of Picasso, but these particular paintings were not my favorite. On the other hand, I know Picasso’s body of work is vast, and the museum only could show a fraction. A different exhibit could strike me completely differently (and, who knows, perhaps spark a whole different idea in a future novel).
Wednesday, January 18, 2012, 9:41 AM
As promised, a minor point but one of potential interest to D&D players who've played multiple editions of the game. Can holy and radiant damage both live in the same game
? (Another way to put it: can we get by with just the one and not feel like we're missing something?)
Thursday, November 3, 2011, 5:29 PM
The Co-host of Planetary Radio's Bruce Betts is running Keep on the Shadowfell (A D&D adventure I wrote with +Mike Mearls
) which he mentions at end of the podcast (check it out here
). The episode also features a "real" Tatooine. What's not to love? Science, sci-fi, and fantasy, all in one radio program :-)
Wednesday, June 8, 2011, 12:59 PM
Sword of the Gods includes a scene where the characters Demascus and Chant (and Riltana) discover a portal to a mysterious destination. Demascus knows his enemy Kalkan has recently fled through the portal.
When Chant and Demascus decide to follow Kalkan, they find a strange new place—the lost necropolis of Khalusk.
The backdrop article I've written provides an excerpt from the novel, some background history, context, and a bit of game mechanics for Khalusk. You can use the information to inspire a few D&D game encounters, or use it as the basis of a longer adventure set in one of the lost places of the Forgotten Realms® setting.
Wednesday, March 30, 2011, 1:36 PM
Taking a cue from Paul S. Kemp, I'm doing an e-signing for my novel Sword of the Gods.
So if you’re interested in a signed softcover first edition of Sword of the Gods, read on!
If you live in the United States, Paypal $17USD to me (my paypal account is bruce at brucecordell dot com). The $17USD covers the cost of the book, tax, and priority mail shipping via the USPS. Include your address and any personalization instructions (if you provide none, I’ll make something up). After that, I'll get it out to you as soon as I can, though please don't expect overnight!
I have several copies of the book on hand right now, so the first dozen or so participants should have their copies pretty quickly. After I get through those, I’ll have to order additional copies (so the process of getting signed copies out will take a few days longer at that point).
If you live outside the US and are interested in one or more copies, email me at the email above and tell me your address. I’ll let you know what the total cost of the book and shipping will be and you can decide if you want to proceed (international shipping costs can be prohibitive, according to Paul's blog, from which I'm cribbing much of the format here--Thanks Paul!).
Friday, December 17, 2010, 5:03 PM
They raced up the dungeon stairs, torches in hand, wondering what else could go wrong. When the oddly metallic "mummy" named Munafik appeared at the top, with his "golem" X-1 at his shoulder, the players reacted like any party of adventurers--they attacked!
They'd been scrounging around the "tomb" for a few days. They'd already accidentally awakened an avatar of an ancient war god with the awkward name of "Orbital Planetbuster Laser."
Friday, September 24, 2010, 11:13 AM
I recently posted something on my personal blog I imagine has just as much relevance here, or at least on the WOTC Novels Book Club page, which is where I talk about writing my latest novel outline.
Wednesday, August 11, 2010, 10:04 AM
I attended Gen Con this year as a civilian, in the sense that I wasn't required to show up for any official Wizards function. Despite that, I was super excited to sit on the panels of several D&D seminars, such as the Forgotten Realms seminar, the Gamma World seminar, and several others.
But since I attended Gen Con on my own and since I'm also an FR author, I am able to treat the trip as a business expense. For instance, I joined fellow FR authors on a couple different occasions for various author-related events, and was able to hobnob with the likes of R. A. Salvatore, Ed Greenwood, Richard Lee Byers, Jaleigh Johnson, and Erik Scott di Bie.
I'm not certain how much authorial wisdom was distributed, but it was certainly very nice to swap stories of both Faerûn and the real world face to face.
Wait, I did garner one piece of wisdom: if Bob Salvatore is playing a thief in your game of D&D, watch your backpack.*
*As Larry Elmore learned in the celebrity game of D&D that Chris Perkins DMed.
Wednesday, June 9, 2010, 2:56 PM
Wouldn't it be cool if we could interact with our favorite novel characters in real life? Well, short of a schizoid break or some sort or reality rip that seems rather unlikely, all things considered, I bring you the next best thing:
Follow and interact with Raidon Kane on Twitter. Raidon is the character appearing in four of my D&D novels. Experience events inside his head as events draw toward the finale in the Key of Stars!
You can find the Twitter feed here; just hit the FOLLOW button: