The Dragonlance Nexus

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Margaret Weis and Tracy Hickman: Dragons of a Fallen Sun

Saturday, December 03, 2005

Featuring authors Tracy Hickman and Margaret Weis, Tues. February 22, 2000.

WizO_Ruffle: Welcome Tracy Hickman and Margaret Weis! We are very glad to have you here tonight. Why don't you start off before we open it up to questions?

Tracy Hickman: Well, welcome to our little online chat session. We are especially excited, of course, because of the new War of Souls novel coming out March 14. The most exciting thing about it will be that we can actually talk about what is in the book. We have gotten quite adept at tap dancing these last few months.

Margaret Weis: Let's answer questions! There seem to be a lot!

WizO_Ruffle: Sounds good. Here we go!

Flyingout: Will the Death Gate cycle ever continue? It was an interesting premise (with more than a little crossover).

Tracy Hickman: We loved doing the Death Gate . . . but it was long. There are certainly many adventures that could happen there, but we have no plans to continue it at this time. We have many other worlds to explore first—like the exciting War of Souls world, of course. And a new trilogy coming out soon, called Sovereign Stone.

MLMartin: I belong to that small group of Dragonlance fans that actually likes the Fifth Age. Will War of Souls pick up on the plot threads and ideas of the Age of Mortals, or is the primary focus going to be on "older" Dragonlance elements?

Tracy Hickman: War of Souls takes place in the Fifth Age.

Talinthas: Why did you guys act so negatively toward the Fifth Age during its inception? I think that some of the products released since then (notably Rise of the Titans and the Dragonlance 15th anniversary classics edition) have been some of the best Dragonlance products since the Taladas boxed set and—dare I say it—Legends. What is your hope for the Fifth Age, post War of Souls?

Tracy Hickman: We originally had a different idea as to the direction of the Fifth Age. But our vision of the Fifth Age now is very exciting for us. War of Souls, I think, takes the Fifth Age in a very exciting direction.

Margaret Weis: I hope the Fifth Age keeps right on going.

Wizo Arkana: This is a little off-topic here, but I was just wondering if you two would be at Gen Con this year.

Margaret Weis: We always go to Gen Con! It's my favorite convention!

Tracy Hickman: I certainly will be there. I've been at every Gen Con for the last fifteen years.

Tavin Springfingers: At the Ecomcon, Mr. Hickman alluded to a power shift among certain races on Krynn. He stated that minotaurs would return to the forefront. How will dwarves, elves, and kender be affected?

Tracy Hickman: They will be effected radically.

Margaret Weis: Or not.

Tracy Hickman: I think that clears it up nicely.

Flyingout: I got out of touch with the Dragonlance explosion. Now I don't know where to start. What big storyline books follow the original trilogy?

Margaret Weis: You can start with War of Souls without having read another Dragonlance book.

Witaly: Could we expect to see your new book in Russia?

Margaret Weis: I'd love to see a Russian translation. It depends on the rights to the book.

Tracy Hickman: Actually, I understand that some of our books sent to Russia have "vanished" in transit. I wonder if the postal service is enjoying them.

WizO_Ruffle: Some people have been asking for some background on the new book. Anything you can share with us?

Tracy Hickman: War of Souls takes place in the Fifth Age of Krynn, following the Chaos Wars. It is a time when magic is in decline and the gods have abandoned the world. The book begins with a great storm and the introduction of Mina, a most mysterious character. There will be new characters to love . . . and old characters to meet again. We are more excited about this story than we can say.

Talinthas: How will mysticism and sorcery be handled in War of Souls?

Tracy Hickman: The questions of what has happened to the magic and the healing arts are very much central issues in War of Souls. The answer to both will, I believe, astonish you.

Jennabean: I heard that Tass was edited out of the new book. Why is that? Will he be anywhere in the series?

Margaret Weis: I don't know where you heard that, but it's not true. You can't just edit out a kender! Though lots of people probably wish you could! [smiles]

Tavin Springfingers: Will there continue to be SAGA support for Dragonlance after 3rd Edition comes out? Or will Stan be mourning the loss of his pet project? [smiles]

Tracy Hickman: That, of course, is largely up to TSR and the Wizards people in charge. It is no secret, I suppose, that I am a fan of AD&D and have little interest in the SAGA system. My concern at this point is how to get any game support for Dragonlance from this point forward. Dragonlance was a game world from the beginning . . . experimental and cutting edge. I would like to see it be so again.

Margaret Weis: Now, if you want a really good roleplaying system, check out Sovereign Stone at .

Tracy Hickman: [laughs] Absolutely!

The Chronicler: How did you guys get into writing, and do you have any tips for those that would like to but procrastinate?

Tracy Hickman: Wow . . . there's a question. I got into writing because I loved to tell stories. I had to learn how to write because it was the best way to tell them. That, incidentally, was after I met Margaret. She inspired me to learn how to really write.

Margaret Weis: I majored in writing in college. Spent ten years after that working to be published. You need to keep reading. Keep writing. And keep your day job!

Zoren: Will we see a large party of characters (à la Heroes of the Lance), or will the book focus on one or two main characters?

Tracy Hickman: There will be a large cast, but we learned our lesson from Autumn Twilight. You just can't drag around ten or twelve people from place to place all at once and keep things interesting.

Margaret Weis: Oh, we got lots of characters!

Tracy Hickman: We do have a large cast in the new trilogy . . . and a lot of story for them to tell.

Margaret Weis: We just spread them out.

Tracy Hickman: No clumps of characters looking like a parade . . . interesting things happening all across Ansalon.

Jennabean: What is on your agenda besides War of Souls and Sovereign Stone?

Tracy Hickman: You mean besides two massive trilogies? [laughs] Well, my wife Laura and I are also writing screenplays in our spare time. We have one right now being shown about by Aron Eisenberg. I hope to write another this spring with my wife.

Margaret Weis: Don and I have finished a second book on Kang and his Draconians. But now we're mainly concentrating on those two series.

Pokespawn: I couldn't make it to the online convention, but I was wondering why Larry Elmore didn't do the new covers?

Margaret Weis: Larry Elmore is busy doing covers for Sovereign Stone.

Tracy Hickman: I hope to have Larry come to our fall online convention. I also hope to have the transcripts of those convention sessions online soon at my website: .

Tavin Springfingers: Will Taladas be playing a part in the War of Souls?

Tracy Hickman: Taladas is an interesting issue . . . . At this point, however, with the story we have to tell, Taladas does not enter into it.

Margaret Weis: No Taladas.

guest286: When is the new Kang book set in relation to the War of Souls?

Margaret Weis: Draconian Measures takes place at the very beginning of the Fifth Age, several months after the end of Doom Brigade.

MLMartin: A question for Mr. Hickman: in several spots (such as, if I remember correctly, your own web page), you've referred to Dragonlance "losing its compass." What exactly did you mean by that?

Margaret Weis: Caramon was always very careless with a compass.

Tracy Hickman: [laughs] And Tas never used one! I simply meant that for a time—during some of the difficult times TSR went through years ago—Dragonlance seemed to lose its original focus—its direction and purpose. Something that was essentially Dragonlance seemed to have been overlooked in the later products. I feel that, with the help of Peter Adkison and the spirit of creativity that we all share now in War of Souls, Dragonlance has regained its compass and its vision. I hope that helps.

Talinthas: What can you tell us that we don't already know from the snippets we've been handed out?

Tracy Hickman: Well, we could tell you an awful lot! But then someone at Wizards would have to hunt us down . . . and we like them too much to do it!

Margaret Weis: I'm snippeted out.

WizO_Ruffle: Any chance of an exclusive snippet for tonight?

Tracy Hickman: We're under a secrecy agreement until the book comes out. I'd love to give you all a great hint about this book tonight, but, like a hangover, I'd pay for it in the morning! But I'll do what I can. Margaret, can you think of anything we can give them tonight? Perhaps some of the characters in Fallen Sun?

Margaret Weis: We could name a few. Mina. Gerard. Silvanoshei. Tasslehoff. Palin. Jenna. Alhana. Gilthas. Laurana. Galdar. Goldmoon.

Tracy Hickman: Galdar is really cool! Love that minotaur!

Margaret Weis: Targonne. Yes, I like Galdar a lot.

Tracy Hickman: And poor Goldmoon!

WildChildDL: You say "something seemed to have been overlooked." What is that in reference to? Something in particular or a larger problem?

Tracy Hickman: It was, for me, an understanding of the foundations of Dragonlance . . . the ethics underlying the world. The world was originally built on these foundations . . . it was a large part of what made it work and still is today. When Margaret and I returned to TSR/Wizards to do War of Souls, we discussed these foundations with the designer group. They were understandably surprised—no one had ever communicated these ideas to them before. It has occasionally caused some rough road to be traveled, but we're now moving in the same direction again.

MLMartin: The sample chapter of Dragons of a Fallen Sun that's been released presents a geography of Neraka substantially different from that referred to in previous Fifth Age material, especially the (in my opinion, excellent) novel Legacy of Steel. How will such contradictions be accounted for?

Tracy Hickman: Well, without tap dancing too much . . . . We understand that some of the novels, novellas, and game products have continuity errors and in some cases outright contradictions. This is a natural occurrence in a world as rich and complex as Dragonlance. We are rather philosophical about such apparent paradox. I believe that each author or designer has a unique view of this world we call Krynn. To my mind, each tells their version of a legend from that world—Margaret and I included among them. Some of these legends may be more factual than others, and I prefer to leave it to the readers as to which they accept as legend and which they take as fact.

Talinthas: Where do the great dragons come from? And please do not answer with "read and find out."

Margaret Weis: We worked with the game group when describing Neraka and tried to accommodate what had been previously written. Sorry, but we really can't say anything about the great dragons!

Tracy Hickman: Due to atomic testing in the Pacific after World War II, Gila monsters were mutated into . . . wait . . . sorry, Margaret's right! (They do remind me of Macy balloons, however . . . .)

Margaret Weis: I'm reminded of the young man who read Book Three of Chronicles and wrote to me asking me to tell him what happened in the first two!

Tavin Springfingers: A personal question from a writer who would like to perhaps become an author: when you have writer's block, what do you do to get over it?

Tracy Hickman: I think Margaret gets over writer's block by waiting a few minutes.

Margaret Weis: Writer's block, for me, means that the story isn't going well. I just plain don't like it. So I back up to where it started going wrong and rethink everything.

Tracy Hickman: I like Margaret's answer.

Margaret Weis: I've tossed out entire chapters! [laughs]

Tracy Hickman: When I get stuck, I usually go off and read something. My mind continues to work on the problem as I do. Margaret is right—it usually turns out that I've just got to back up and take a different approach.

Hemflit: In reference to Tracy's answer to the Neraka/contradictions question: with all due respect, readers are accustomed to taking anything written in normal novel form (not as a retold tale) as the reality of this fictional world. Don't you think that placing one of you authors as a "continuity director" would do much more than such a philosophical attitude?

Tracy Hickman: I prefer to think of my philosophical attitude as pragmatic. Placing one of us as a "continuity director" might help keep such contradictions to a minimum, but it would keep us from doing creative writing.

Margaret Weis: I never like to trample on an author's creative freedom. I want our authors to feel free to have fun in this world and to enjoy writing about it. I think readers get a better book that way. I've tried working in other shared worlds where the authors have no say over anything, and I don't believe that works. There may be a few contradictions, but I think we have a better product in the end.

Tracy Hickman: And, as Margaret points out, being continuity tsars would in some way stifle the world.

Talinthas: Will there actually be a gaming product anytime soon? I heard that Rise of the Titans was the end.

Tracy Hickman: A better story certainly. I am fighting to get more gaming product.

MLMartin: You say that you consider War of Souls one of the best works you've ever done for Dragonlance? How exactly do you rate your other works?

Margaret Weis: I always try to improve with every book. I hope that the next is better than this one.

Tracy Hickman: Last year, Margaret and I worked on the Annotated Dragonlance Chronicles. It was a unique opportunity for us to go back and read our original works, to look at them with a more experienced eye. We found that we still loved those original books. Our craft had grown since we wrote them. Our partnership had changed and matured over time. But the story remained fresh and full of wonder. This new book shows the craft that Margaret and I have developed over the years since Chronicles. The story is dynamic, exciting, and filled with wonder. I believe it resonates with everything that made Dragonlance powerful to begin with. And that's why I can't wait for you to join us in its pages.

WOTC Mel: Folks are requesting the best place they could get mail to the both of you. Any best route?

Margaret Weis: You can email me at .

Tracy Hickman: You can email me at or reach me through my website at . We'd love to hear from you.

WizO_Ruffle: Ah! I was just about to ask for the URLs for your web pages, too! [smiles]

Margaret Weis: Mine are , , and .

WizO_Ruffle: We leave the last word to you guys. What parting words of wisdom would you like to leave us with?

Margaret Weis: We hope you have as much fun reading War of Souls as we've had writing it!

Tracy Hickman: I want to leave with my thanks to all of you who have joined us on this wonderful journey.

Margaret Weis: Yes, thank you all for your support!

Tracy Hickman: You have made it all possible.

Margaret Weis: And, by the way, those of you who know Granak will be pleased to hear he has been promoted to Kang's bodyguard.

WizO_Ruffle: You and Don will have to come back and talk to us about that one, Margaret!

Margaret Weis: We'd love to!

WOTC Mel: Thanks to you both for joining us here, giving us a tidbit, and answering our questions.

Margaret Weis: Thank you, Ruffle and Mel and Ginger.

Tracy Hickman: Thanks! Glad to have come.

Margaret Weis: The book comes out in November.

WOTC Mel: Well, I may be talking with you again soon, then!

WizO_Ruffle: And thanks to all our guests for coming and giving such good questions!

Margaret Weis: Thank you! Good night all!

Tracy Hickman: Night all!