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R. A. Salvatore
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R. A. Salvatore   R. A. Salvatore is the New York Times best-selling author of the DemonWars trilogy and many of the Forgotton Realms novels, including the popular Legend of Drizzt series. He also wrote the first novel in the Star Wars: The New Jedi Order series called Vector Prime, as well as Star Wars episode 2: Attack of the Clones. With over 10 million books sold, R. A. Salvatore is one of the most popular fantasy authors in the world.

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This episode originally aired on 11/5/2009 with the following authors:
Note: The following interview has been transcribed from The Author Hour radio show. Please excuse any typos, spelling and gramatical errors.

Interview with R. A. Salvatore

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Bonus Question(s) that Didn't Air on the Live Radio Show

Note that you can also listen to this while you read it.

Matthew Peterson: Let me ask you just one quick bonus question, and this will be a really easy one for you. I hear youíre a big gamer. Whatís your favorite game that you like to play?

R. A. Salvatore: Right now Iím playing Warcraft.

Matthew Peterson: Warcraft, okay.

R. A. Salvatore: But you know, I worked for 38 Studios. With 38 Studios, weíre developing our own

Matthew Peterson: ORPG.

Matthew Peterson: Oh! Okay.

R. A. Salvatore: You didnít know that?

Matthew Peterson: I did not know that, no.

R. A. Salvatore: Yeah, about three years ago, Curt Schilling, the pitcher. . . Youíre in Arizona, you must know Curt Schilling.

Matthew Peterson: Oh, yeah.

R. A. Salvatore: He called me up. He lives about an hour from me apparently. He called me up, said I was his favorite author, asked me to come in and create a world for his massive multiplayer online role playing game.

Matthew Peterson: Oh, youíre kidding me.

R. A. Salvatore: And we went and picked some office space and we went and poached designers and artists and engineers from all over the best studios: Sony, EA, Midway. And Curt created 38 Studios, and I created a world for him.

Matthew Peterson: Wow! Thatís pretty cool!

R. A. Salvatore: Pretty exciting stuff.

Matthew Peterson: Yeah!

R. A. Salvatore: But right now Iím still into Warcraft.

Matthew Peterson: Yeah, World of Warcraft is huge. You know, thereís a lot of them that are pretty big, but World of Warcraft, I think is the biggest one, isnít it?

R. A. Salvatore: Oh yeah. By far.

Matthew Peterson: Yeah, yeah.

R. A. Salvatore: I was a big EverQuest player for a lot of years. I enjoyed the mass MORG. You know, the bigger experience online. EverQuest I still think is the best world Iíve seen. EverQuest, the dungeons, the world, the societies, the set up. . . were really quite brilliant. I think the best Iíve seen in a game. But the mechanics of the game are just clunky and old, they donít work.

Matthew Peterson: Yeah.

R. A. Salvatore: Back then they couldnít have people hitting 18 buttons when theyíre in a battle because between dial-up and just the server/client connections just werenít strong enough. So, they were very limited on what they could do. And of course Warcraft has a lot more you can do.

Matthew Peterson: Oh, yeah.

R. A. Salvatore: So itís hard to play Warcraft where youíre mashing all these buttons and, you know, trying to manage 23 different spells and then go back to EverQuest where you push auto attack and watch your guy fight.

Matthew Peterson: [laughs] Yeah.

R. A. Salvatore: If they were ever to take EverQuest and update it to World of Warcraft mechanics, Iíd be back in that world.

Matthew Peterson: You know, Iíve never played, well, Iíve seen World of WarCraft quite a lot, but Iíve actually never got a character. I used to have people that were always saying, ďCome on, come on, get in there.Ē Well, the problem is if I get in there . . . [laughs]

R. A. Salvatore: You can lose yourself.

Matthew Peterson: Yeah. I know. Itís like I will be . . . I WILL be in there. [laughs]

R. A. Salvatore: You know Blizzard did a magnificent job on that game. They really did.

Matthew Peterson: Yeah, they did.

R. A. Salvatore: The world is beautiful. The game play is so smooth, just so smooth. They did a really nice job. I donít know why it took off so much bigger than all the others, but I donít know why Harry Potter took off so much bigger than say Brian Jacques. Some things just happen.

Matthew Peterson: Yeah.

R. A. Salvatore: But it did and kudos. And I had a lot of friends over at Blizzard, so Iím thrilled for their success. Plus I think having a fantasy based game kind of go main stream, which that one did, is really good for the genre. Good for my writing.

Matthew Peterson: Oh, yeah. Itís right down your aisle. I mean for the books that youíre writing, itís just right down there.

R. A. Salvatore: Oh, heck yeah! Heck yeah! I mean Everquest, the World of Warcraft, those games have stolen more from D&D and from authors like me [laughs]. I mean dark elves are huge in these games. Howíd that happen? Hmm?

Matthew Peterson: Yeah.

R. A. Salvatore: I think itís cool. I think itís great. You know we all stand on the shoulders that came before.

Matthew Peterson: Now, what character do you play? Do you play a . . .

R. A. Salvatore: Iím a dwarf.

Matthew Peterson: Youíre a dwarf. Okay.

R. A. Salvatore: Well, I was a blood elf. I was a human. I mean, Iíve got 80 different characters by this point. Iíve been playing since it came out.

Matthew Peterson: Yeah.

R. A. Salvatore: Right now my main character is a dwarf.

Matthew Peterson: A dwarf. Well, thatís cool.

R. A. Salvatore: Rruiner, with two Rís.

Extra Material That was Cut from the Show Because of Time Constraints

Note that you can also listen to this while you read it (you'll need to fast forward past the bonus questions).

R. A. Salvatore: [referring to the guests on this episode] Oh, Terry, Tracy and Margaret are all very, very dear friends of mine.

Matthew Peterson: Yeah.

R. A. Salvatore: I donít know Brandon. Iíve heard good things about him, but I donít know him.

Matthew Peterson: Yeah. Heís going to become really big, very soon now.

R. A. Salvatore: Yeah. As soon as that book hits, basically.

Matthew Peterson: Yeah. Yeah. Itís going to be interesting to see what happens.

R. A. Salvatore: It will be interesting, though, to see if it has an affect on him, or if itís the Star Wars phenomenon. ĎCause the Star Wars phenomenon is that it really doesnít change your readership, even when you have a . . . you know, I donít think I gained many readers or Terry [Brooks] or . . . when we did the Star Wars.

Matthew Peterson: Oh really?

R. A. Salvatore: Yeah, itís kind of weird the way that works.

Matthew Peterson: I guess Star Wars is kind of a mix between fantasy and science fiction, but I guess itís not high fantasy, and you write a lot of more epic and adventure fantasy. Thatís interesting though. You would think that . . . more readers. . . .

R. A. Salvatore: Yeah it was . . . we really watched that closely, all of us, when Del Rey got the license from Lucas Film and then Terry [Brooks] did the first novelization. I did the first Jedi Order book. Then I did the second novelization. Couple friends of mine, Matt Stover, Troy Denning, Elaine Cunningham, Greg Keyes, all did new Jedi Order books, and they were all new to the Star Wars universe and wondering if that was going to help their numbers elsewhere. And it really [was] minor.

Matthew Peterson: Very minor. Huh!

R. A. Salvatore: It was surprising.

* * * * * * * * * *

Matthew Peterson: Yeah. I saw that. Everyone calls it the DemonWars Trilogy, but then you have additional ones after that.

R. A. Salvatore: There are actually . . . there are three books, then a bridge book, and then a second trilogy. There are two trilogies, with one book in the middle, bringing it all together in the original DemonWars series.

Matthew Peterson: Do you plan on doing any more in that series?

R. A. Salvatore: I donít know if in that series, but I will go back to the world. A couple of years ago I went back to the world and I did a book called The Highwayman.

Matthew Peterson: Oh, okay.

R. A. Salvatore: And then I just signed with Tor Books and Iíve done a trilogy to follow up The Highwayman. In fact, The Dame came out in August. And I just finished the last book in the series, called The Bear, which will be out next year.

* * * * * * * * * *

Matthew Peterson: Now youíve really moved around. Youíve written fantasy. Youíve written the Star Wars. The newest books youíve written, they kind of go back to the epic fantasy. I havenít read the Ghost King. Tell us a little bit about that one, Ďcause thatís the latest one, and then also Shadowmask, that one also is coming out in November.

R. A. Salvatore: Well the new book for my Drizzt line, The Ghost King. These last three books have been called Transitions because the Forgotten Realms are changing. Theyíre changing the world dramatically to go alone with 4th Edition Dungeons and Dragons, which just came out. And thatís one of the problems with working in a shared world, especially one based on a game, is that it will go through incarnations and you have to kind of shoehorn in your stories. Either theyíre going to go along with it, or you go play in someone elseís sandbox, because itís not going to work. And so with Transition series, the job was to set up the characters who go forward into the new Forgotten Realm as the realm moves forward and to say goodbye to some people, unfortunately. The Ghost King was a tough book for me to write because Iíve been with these characters for a long, long time and I had to make some tough choices. But I think itís a good end and a new beginning all at the same time. And that was really what was presented to me in Transitions. In the second book, The Pirate King, for example, there was one city that they wanted to change dramatically in the new realms. And so I got to turn this kind of wild port into a complete free town pirate city and destroy a city, essentially, and kill some old familiar characters. [laughs]

Matthew Peterson: [laughs] They figured, letís give it to Bob.

R. A. Salvatore: Yeah, so itís a tough series, but itís a necessary series because of where the worldís going. And I think thereís some of the best dark elf books of all, especially this last one, and Iím not just saying that because itís the new book. This one really hit me hard. I think it worked pretty well. Now as far as Shadowmask goes, this series Iím writing with my son, Stone of Tymora series. The Stowaway came out last year, Shadowmask coming out in November, and heís finishing The Sentinel which will come out next year. Itís really his story. These books, theyíre Genoís story. Iíve been helping him through his story, kind of holding his hand, but each book Iíve been holding his hand a lot less Ďcause he hasnít needed it, heís found his own voice. My characters do appear in the books and Iíve written parts of the books, particularly the first one, second one not so much, third one not at all yet, but we havenít gotten to the editing process. So young adult book, the heroís a young adult, but I really think that Geno did an amazing job and I got to re-write some of my favorite scenes from some of my older books.

Matthew Peterson: Oh!

R. A. Salvatore: From a different perspective.

Matthew Peterson: Oh! Interesting.

R. A. Salvatore: This series takes place right around the time of The Halflings Gem, which goes back to the first trilogy I wrote for TSR, not even Wizards of the Coast back then.

Matthew Peterson: Many years ago.

R. A. Salvatore: Many years ago.

Matthew Peterson: Well that is interesting. I did not realize it was a young adult novel.

R. A. Salvatore: It is, and thatís what they wanted from me, but the truth of it is, this book resonates on many different levels. And I donít think that the adults who read the Drizzt books are going to see all that much of a difference.

Matthew Peterson: Yeah.

R. A. Salvatore: Maybe a little more action and a little less violence. Itís got the same pacing and the same flavor as the other Drizzt books.

Matthew Peterson: Well, Iíll definitely be looking out for it. I have a couple boys that are turning 10 years old and theyíre really looking for books to read.

R. A. Salvatore: Oh, itís very appropriate for that age. I think the target is 8-14.

Matthew Peterson: 8-14, okay, good!

* * * * * * * * * *

Matthew Peterson: Do you even know how many youíve written? I mean, do you keep a tally?

R. A. Salvatore: I figured this out the other day. Give me one second here, uh . . . .

Matthew Peterson: [laughs] You know youíve written a lot when you canít come up with it very quickly, how many books youíve written.

R. A. Salvatore: I think itís, um . . . 24 or 27, I think Iím missing a series. Something like that.

Matthew Peterson: Well, there are quite a few, and the most popular series that youíve written, The Legend of . . . now make sure I say it right, is it Drizzt? How do you say it?

R. A. Salvatore: I wouldnít tell you.

Matthew Peterson: You wouldnít tell me.

R. A. Salvatore: I like when people fight over the name; itís good marketing.

Matthew Peterson: Oh, I see. [laughs]

R. A. Salvatore: But yeah, that series is my most popular series.

Matthew Peterson: Oh, yeah. It definitely is. And thatís a very long series. Isnít there about 13 books in that series?

R. A. Salvatore: More.

Matthew Peterson: More than that?

R. A. Salvatore: Yeah.

* * * * * * * * * *

R. A. Salvatore: The DemonWars Trilogy, they call it, but itís actually a seven book series. [laughs] And now Iíve just written four more in that world.

Matthew Peterson: Now these books are not part of the Forgotten Realm, so youíve created your own new universe for these books.

R. A. Salvatore: Yeah, DemonWars is my world; itís my Forgotten Realms or my Shannara.

Matthew Peterson: Is there any part of these worlds that you kind of got some ideas from and kind of brought them into this world?

R. A. Salvatore: I didnít take any things from the realms and put it in the world. You know, I created my own magic system for the world, but itís basic medieval societies, with a twist that Iíve put on it.

Matthew Peterson: Yeah. And it is a very interesting magical system. Thatís one of the things, that as I speak with a lot of authors who write fantasy, theyíre always trying to make a twist, and make a different type of magical system.

. . .

R. A. Salvatore: And the magic system is defined right along those lines, within the church, and based on the gem stones. My magic uses monks, basically.

. . .

R. A. Salvatore: So, I did a lot of research. Gem stone magic is nothing new. You know, new age crystals, right?

Matthew Peterson: Yeah, yeah.

R. A. Salvatore: Even through history, stones, minerals, gem stones, all that, had reputed magical properties. So, I just did a lot of research and put it all together.

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