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Jean Rabe: Downfall

Monday, December 05, 2005

Chat with Jean Rabe on her upcoming book, Downfall, from May 23, 2000.

WizO_Unicorn: Welcome everyone to our Wizards Profiles chat! Tonight our featured guest is author Jean Rabe. In Downfall, her long-awaited sequel to the best-selling Dragons of a New Age trilogy, Hero of the Heart Dhamon Grimwulf has sunk to a life of crime and squalor while the dragon overlords strengthen their hold over the land. Now Dhamon must find the will to redeem or lose himself forever! Jean, do you have some opening remarks for us?

Jean_Rabe: I'm excited about the release of my new book. It's my first hardcover. It's got a great cover. I'm working on the sequel now, my second draft. I'm having lots of fun with it. It's called Betrayal.

Talinthas: I just wanted to say that I loved Downfall and the Dragons of a New Age trilogy. One thing I have always wondered was why Eve of the Maelstrom ended the way it did?

Jean_Rabe: I ended Eve sort of "open ended," as mine was the first of the Fifth Age material. I didn't want to lock future writers into something, and I didn't want to do something to theme world that would be going against the designers of the Fifth Age rules. Too, I liked the "open-ended" feel because of all the possibilities. I liked the notion of there being questions for readers and other writers to answer. However, I very much liked Khellendros getting bigger, badder, and more powerful. He was my favorite dragon in the trilogy.

Henchmannumber1: Where did you get your inspiration for this book?

Jean_Rabe: For Dhamon? It just kind of came to me. I needed a change in the character. I needed lots of action. And I sat out on my deck, staring at the goldfish pond, and mulling over the possibilities. I have minors in Geology and Geography, so I threw in stuff about the mountain, the ruins, and the Vale of Chaos. Oh, and I based Fetch on a friend of mine.

Galwylin: Hello, Jean. I loved your last trilogy. It was about time Dragonlance got some new heroes. My question concerns an old one, though. Why kill Goldmoon and then bring her back with what seemed no reason at all?

Jean_Rabe: Goldmoon is a wonderful character who has been through a lot. She goes through more changes in Margaret's and Tracy's Dragons of a Fallen Sun book. Great book. You'll see more in the future.

guest40: Hi, Jean. You said you were working on the sequel to Downfall. Has any release date been set?

Jean_Rabe: Yep. About one year from now.

MLMartin: A question about your article in More Leaves from the Inn of the Last Home about the Dragon Overlords. You refer to them having come to Krynn, not just to Ansalon. Should we take this as confirmation that the Great Dragons are extraplanetary or extraplanar beings?

Jean_Rabe: Well, I don't want to reveal things that would be considered spoilers. Let's just say that the Great Dragons were not native to Krynn.

Grimbough: Will the Dragon Overlords play a bigger role in the next book of the Dhamon Saga?

Jean_Rabe: I love dragons. So you have to figure I've got an Overlord involved in the book. I really do love using dragons.

Rohan_Tolstrup: I understand that Goldmoon was never supposed to be killed. How did it eventuate that she was?

Jean_Rabe: Goldmoon wasn't really killed. She was fading away, like someone who is critically injured. She wasn't afraid of death, and in fact was looking forward to seeing Riverwind. So she wasn't fighting for life. There was only a little spark there and Riverwind helped her realize it wasn't her time.

Talinthas: In the Dhamon Saga, will we see titans?

Jean_Rabe: Titans? Nope.

Galwylin: I haven't read Downfall yet. I know if focuses on Dhamon so are there any plans to revisit the other characters along with the threads left open in the original trilogy such as Feril's decision to go against Frost?

Jean_Rabe: Yep. I'm going to revisit some of my characters. Rig and Fiona are in Downfall. I plan to put someone else back in the next book.

Talinthas: What is your feel on the way Krynn is going now with the War of Souls trilogy? Will your book be a part of that story line?

Jean_Rabe: I can't give it all away -- my editor would scold me. I talk with Margaret on and off, so I know what she and Tracy are doing. I plan to at least make references to what is going on in War of some of that will affect what goes on in my books.

Talinthas: When does Downfall take place?

Jean_Rabe: Downfall takes place just shy of four months after the end of my first trilogy. The heroes have split up and went their own ways. Dhamon has fallen in with some new and interesting folks.

Rohan_Tolstrup: Which authors have influenced you the most?

Jean_Rabe: I think Margaret and Tracy are tops on the list. Followed by Clive Cussler, Ed McBain, and Mary Higgins Clark. Oh, and I'm a big fan of Doug Niles and Mike Stackpole, too.

Galwylin: Was it a letdown for you that Weis and Hickman have Khellendros present in Dragons of a Fallen Sun when you had him disappearing into the Gray? I felt like whatever you had in mind for him got dropped and wasn't happy to see him apparently unchanged after such an event.

Jean_Rabe: Nope. Not a letdown at all. In fact, Margaret and I were discussing Khellendros just this morning. The Storm Over Krynn likes to move around.

Merrill_Stubing: Of all the things you've written, what is your personal favorite?

Jean_Rabe: Hmm. There were things I liked about The Silver Stair because I based the gnoll on my favorite old dog. However, I think my writing is better in Downfall. And it gave me a chance to be a little rougher.

New_Peril: You mentioned the cover of your new book. What's it like? Who's the artist? And how did you have to do with it?

Jean_Rabe: The artist...argh! I don't have the book at my desk. The cover is pink and purple (my favorite color) and has Dhamon in the center with a big gem on his neck. There's this nifty castle and...oh, just go get the book! And yes, I did have something to do with it -- I get to make cover suggestions.

Seluna_Starlight: What is your advice to someone that would like to write books for Wizards?

Jean_Rabe: First thing is just write. Everyday if you can. Write some "generic" fantasy stories and try to pitch them to Dragon Magazine. Don't sit down and write a Dragonlance book, as they are scheduled. However, nothing is stopping you from writing a book that would catch someone's attention. Or a short story. Dave Gross, the editor of Dragon Magazine, is a great judge of fiction. One more thing: There are some wonderful Internet writing resources. Check out the links for a starter.

AlexLouis: You left a lot of loose ends at the end of your Dragons of a New Age trilogy, such as the origin of the Shadow Dragon, and the nature of that wolf (who seems to be a scion). Will you be giving answers to these questions in your latest trilogy?

Jean_Rabe: The Shadow Dragon is an intriguing beastie, isn't he? I really don't want to give something away there. As for Groller and the "wolf," well, I have no plans to include him in this trilogy. However, I love the two characters and would like to do something with them in the future. It's sort of neat working with a "deaf" character. Gives you different challenges in describing things.

Grimbough: Can you tell us anything about the sequel to Downfall?

Jean_Rabe: I suppose I can tell you a little. Rig and Fiona are intent on going to Sable's realm to see if her brother really is dead and to see about any prisoners there. Dhamon, of course, clearly isn't interested in that. So, they'll go their own ways at least for a while. Maldred? Well, he's got connections to Bloten. But he is Dhamon's best buddy. So they'll be together for at least part of the time. And then there's Riki. Gee, I'm not sure how much I can talk about this.

Carmaen: I have a question regarding "Hero of the Heart". I've seen a few references to it, but don't recall seeing anything in Downfall about it. Was this some sort of honorary title?

Jean_Rabe: Honorary title? In part. Caramon and Goldmoon and company were referred to as the Heroes of the Lance. There is a line in Dragons of Summer Flame about the magic coming from inside you now. As in your heart. So Heroes of the Heart fits.

Talinthas: What is The Gray?

Jean_Rabe: The Gray is a realm mentioned in Dragonlance products, such as the Tales of the Lance boxed set. It is a misty realm between worlds where spirits drift. It is also the home to some critters, such as the Huldrefolk that teamed up with Khellendros in Day of the Tempest.

AlexLouis: Is the storm in Downfall related to the storm in Dragons of a Fallen Sun? And is the little girl in Downfall related to Mina?

Jean_Rabe: No and no. However, it is possible that the little girl in Downfall (who will be back, by the way) was responsible for the storm. She is not Mina or related in any way to Mina. The storm in Downfall is not the VERY BIG STORM in Fallen Sun. Mine was limited to the mountains and was intended to give the ogres a very hard time.

AlexLouis: Will hints of the One God be present in any of the future Dhamon novels?

Jean_Rabe: Hint. What a wonderful word. Not in book two.

AlexLouis: Are you coordinating your Dhamon trilogy with Weis and Hickman's War of Souls trilogy?

Jean_Rabe: Coordinating? Margaret and I talk, as I want to make sure that what I'm doing doesn't conflict with War of Souls. I'm staying away from places with lots going on, so Dhamon and his friends don't interfere. However, things in [those books] impact all of Krynn. So, by that token, I'm coordinating what I do.

Rohan_Tolstrup: The ending of Day of the Tempest is actually commonly considered the high point of the trilogy. Why change it, and why the "you are still needed" explanation which was so controversial?

Jean_Rabe: I don't think controversy is bad. I think it's good to stir things up. And, yes, Day of the Tempest was my favorite of the three.

Grimbough: In Downfall, the little girl who steals Rig's glaive is very interesting. Any comments about this character?

Jean_Rabe: I had a lot of fun designing this character. She's certainly more than she seems. A whole lot more will be revealed in the second book. I'm definitely having fun with it!

Galwylin: Off of Dragonlance for a bit. When are you going to do another Forgotten Realms novel? Say a sequel to Red Magic?

Jean_Rabe: Red Magic was my first book, and I'm very fond of it. However, I've grown to love Dragonlance and hope to stay in this world for awhile. I did two short stories based on my characters in Red Magic. They were in Realms of Magic and Realms of Infamy.

Kageshijin: Hi Jean! You might remember me from the author reception at Gen Con. I was talking to Janet Pack and she mentioned you two had something outside of Dragonlance in the works. What sort of non-Dragonlance material are you working on?

Jean_Rabe: Hi, of course I remember you! Janet and I in our copious free time are trying to do a near-future thriller set in Australia. Got a few chapters done already. And I do various short stories touching on WWI and WWII when I get the chance.

Rohan_Tolstrup: If you could change anything, what would it be?

Jean_Rabe: Anything? I'd like to change tons of things with the world. With me? I'd have liked to start writing fiction earlier. So many things I want to write about, you know? And I think I would have bought a convertible earlier in life.

guest40: Without giving us any specific spoilers, are we going to see more light shed on the situation between Khellendros and his attempts to reclaim Kit in the trilogy?

Jean_Rabe: Not in my trilogy. I'm focusing on Dhamon (and Dhamon wants to avoid dragons).

Grimbough: How long does it take you on average to write a novel?

Jean_Rabe: Two to three months.

Talinthas: Will the Shadow Dragon come back? He was awesome.

Jean_Rabe: I really liked the shadow dragon. I want to bring him back. How's that for an answer?

Grimbough: Do you plan to write any more novels in the Dragonlance world after you finish up the Dhamon Saga?

Jean_Rabe: I would love to write more.

New_Peril: You've given us some hints about where some of your ideas for characters come from. Are there any other examples in your books in which you've drawn on real experiences as ideas for fiction?

Jean_Rabe: I used to be a newspaper reporter -- I covered courts, crime, assorted disasters, and such. It once rained so hard in Evansville, Indiana, that a little girl was swept into the storm sewer and swept away. So, I recalled that with part of my underground scene in Downfall. I've been in caves in Missouri. So I use that.

Wurm_Hunter: Where is a good place for beginners to start?

Jean_Rabe: I started by writing in high school, entering essay contests. In college, I got a job on the college paper. I wrote short stories in my spare time and collected rejection slips -- lots of them. I suggest pick a genre you like: science fiction, fantasy, mystery. Go to one of the big bookstores and look in the reference section for "writing advice" books. There are tons -- just look them over to get good ones. Then submit! Don't be discouraged with rejection slips. It took me lots of stories and proposals before I got my first novel accepted.

Grimbough: Fetch was a great character, any regrets on killing him off?

Jean_Rabe: Oh yeah. I hated killing Fetch. But, there is no threat if characters cannot die. Fetch pushed the envelope once too often and busted it open. I was sad to see him go.

Grimbough: Was the character Rikali inspired by the late Kitiara?

Jean_Rabe: Nope. Riki was inspired by a woman I saw walking around a game convention. Lots of make—up; flirty, bubbly. Then, I coupled the character with my parrot Rio. Riki was the result.

Yob_Evets: Will the gnoll from The Silver Stair make a reappearance? Or maybe his tribe?

Jean_Rabe: I would love to use Orvago again. And if I'm presented the opportunity, he'll pop up. I like gnolls. I've used them several times in my D&D game.

WizO_Unicorn: That's the end of our time for tonight, folks! Jean, do you have any closing remarks for us?

Jean_Rabe: Tomorrow I leave for a book signing tour in the Midwest. Then it's back to work on the sequel to Downfall. I've enjoyed chatting with everyone tonight. I'll have to do one of these chats again, now that I've got the hang of it.

WizO_Unicorn: Great, Jean! We'd love to have you back.