Monday, April 07, 2003
We sit down with Richard Knaak to talk about The Legend of Huma, the upcoming Minotaur Wars series, and the definition of honor.
Dragonlance.com: Tell us about yourself. How did you get involved in writing Dragonlance novels?
Richard Knaak: I had submitted some material to other publishers and had gotten good feedback but no sales. I was reminded that there was a company publishing games and fantasy novels only about 2 hours away (I lived near Chicago). Taking some of my best writing samples, I drove up to Lake Geneva and literally walked through the front door into the industry. I spoke with the book editor, who took my writing samples and said I should check back with him in two weeks. I did and was offered a chance to be in all three Tales collections. On the strength of my honorable characters in two of those, I was asked if I would be interested in writing the story of the first hero to use the Dragonlances...Huma.
The rest is history, I guess.
Dragonlance.com: When writing THE LEGEND OF HUMA, you had the challenge of writing the story of one of the greatest legends in all of Dragonlance history. How did you approach this task? Was it daunting?
Knaak: I wanted him to be human, not some godkiller hero. I wanted him young, uncertain but clearly capable, a person who rises above himself to do what must be done regardless of the consequences. The task was daunting, because I knew that everyone who read the trilogies would know who he was, but I tried not to think of that. My mission was to stay true to what Margaret and Tracy had done, but add to the depth and history of the Dragonlance saga. I am very proud of THE LEGEND OF HUMA.
Dragonlance.com: How did the character of Kaz come about? Does he have any influence in your upcoming Minotaur Wars series?
Knaak: Those who've read my second short story, "Definitions of Honor", know that I used a minotaur and a knight together there. I have always been fascinated by the Greek myth concerning the minotaur and when I saw them in Dragonlance, I could not avoid using them. They were described as honorable characters despite being 'villains' and so I wanted to compare and contrast the honor systems of their kind and the knighthood. When I began writing Huma, I needed another character to travel alongside him, but didn't want another knight. Thus was born Kaz. When I started with him, I didn't expect him to be the beginning of something bigger.
He has no influence in the series, although he is mentioned. This series revolves around a new cast of characters, some honorable, some not, and some in the gray between.
Dragonlance.com: Tell us about the Minotaur Wars series. Will this series be about the minotaurs of the Blood Sea or will they be from the Minotaur League of Taladas?
Knaak: This is the empire as you've never seen it. Taladas is not touched, but I give you a pretty good idea of the expanse and situation of the Blood Sea minotaurs. You will see how infighting and rebellion lead to decisions that will, by the end of the trilogy, affect the future of much of Krynn.
Dragonlance.com: What is the release date for the first book in the series, Night of Blood? Will this series be hardback or paperback?
Knaak: The first book is a June release, which likely means anywhere from the end of May to the middle of June. It is a hardcover series and is the next step after War of Souls.
Dragonlance.com: Will we be seeing any familiar faces in the Minotaur Wars series, such as Aryx, Galdar, or Dalamar?
Knaak: As mentioned, these are all new characters...with the exception of one who disappears after the first chapter.
Dragonlance.com: What is your drive behind using minotaurs so frequently?
Knaak: I find them the most fascinating part of the Dragonlance world, a combination of ancient Rome, feudalism, and more. They have the potential to be so many things and I now have the opportunity to show some of that potential now.
Dragonlance.com: Beyond minotaurs and knights, what are your favorite > parts of the world of Krynn?
Knaak: The draconians, definitely. Also wizardry.
Dragonlance.com: Do you have any interest in writing a story concerning the minotaurs of Taladas?
Knaak: If offered, I would be interested.
Dragonlance.com: Honor is a recurring theme within your writing. How do you define honor?
Knaak: As above, the will to do what must be done regardless of the possible consequences to oneself. However, this also means living by a code of ethics, too, a much harder thing to do at the same time.
Dragonlance.com: How is honor different for the Knights of Solamnia, > the Knights of Takhisis, and the minotaurs?
Knaak: The Solamnic knights have made honor very regimented, whereas the minotaurs have a more basic structure of honor. Both lapse often, but try to live by their respective rules. The Knights of Takhisis seemed to use honor as more of a mask, discarding it whenever convenient. A few KoT will die for their cause, but most have become little more than thugs.
Dragonlance.com: Have you been approached by Sovereign Press on doing a d20 Dragonlance sourcebook on minotaurs? If not, will you be doing any other writing for Sovereign Press?
Knaak: In the new DL sourcebook, you'll find a section on characters relevant to the future of Krynn. Among those are several related to my series. The bios were written by me at the request of Margaret and I was happy to oblige. I believe the book will be out around the time my first novel is.
Editor's Note: The DLCS release date is in August, although some copies should be available at GenCon.
Dragonlance.com: Are you a gamer? If so, what do you like to play?
Knaak: I used to game, but writing is my career and my life. I play games related to my work, such as Warcraft or Diablo or some DL related stuff, but only in tiny bits. Writing takes up the time.
Dragonlance.com: Are you scheduled to make any appearances any time soon? One fan was especially curious to know if you would be appearing in Portugal.
Knaak: Wizards should be announcing some signings in the near future and I'll post them and others on my website as time permits. Those who sign up for my mailing list will also get announcements. I'll be at GenCon Indy, I believe.
Nothing overseas at this time, although that could always change. Portugal would be nice. Sorry that nothing is set so far.
Dragonlance.com: What other projects do you currently have in the works?
Knaak: I've finished the first novel in my Warcraft trilogy, WAR OF THE ANCIENTS, which is a must read for fans of the games. Blizzard is very high on the first one, which is called, THE WELL OF ETERNITY. I'm due to write my third Diablo novel after that and I'm also adapting the Korean manga series, RAGNAROK. Slowly but surely I'm also getting all six DRAGONREALM stories done for my on-line subscription series.
Knaak: Check out my website at http://www.sff.net/people/knaak for further details as they come, to preorder my hardcover, or to join my mailing list by e-mailing me.
Dragonlance.com: Thanks for speaking with us today.
Knaak: I appreciate the opportunity!