|Margaret Weis (continued)|
Margaret Weis: I think always. For me, at least, I really don't like to go back and read what I have written, because I always want to start over and rewrite it completely. I would love to do that with Chronicles. I would love to go back and rewrite Chronicles from the beginning and put in everything that was taken out.
At that point in time, TSR didn't think Dragonlance was going to sell, because nobody had ever heard of us as authors. Random House, the distributor, was telling us that it was not going to go anyplace, so they were going to publish just a few copies. They wanted us to make it really short, so they couldn't' charge very much for it. I'd say about a third of what we wrote was cut out.
I would like to go back and rewrite it, put back in what was taken out, rewrite it from the perspective of having become a better writer through the years, then to go back and correct some of the things. When I go back and read it now, I keep saying, "Oh my god, Raistlin's hissing all the time." I went back, I'd make Raistlin stop hissing.
Crescent Blues: You couldn't edit yourself.
Margaret Weis: No -- and I was supposed to be the editor on the project. Tracy and I were never supposed to have written the books. I was supposed to be the editor. When it became clear to us that the writer we had hired was not doing the job, Tracy and I said to each other, we are the people who know this story; we should be the ones to write the books.
We turned in five chapters that we wrote on a weekend, and our editor said, "You know, you're right. This is exactly what we're looking for." But that meant I couldn't be my own editor. Another editor had to edit me, and of course, we had our other jobs, so it was really something.
Crescent Blues: Editing yourself is the hardest job in the world.
Margaret Weis: Yes, exactly, and I don't like to do it. I rely on my editors too much to do that.
Crescent Blues: Is that how you keep internal continuity as you progress through your series?
Margaret Weis: Usually the editor will help you keep internal continuity. I think it was Star of the Guardian -- my editor at Bantam discovered that I had changed the heroine's hair color, inadvertently, in the second book in the series. The heroine started out as a brunette, but by the time I got to her in the second book, she had shifted into a blonde. The editor had been taking notes on the descriptions of the characters and wrote that unless she bleached her hair…
Crescent Blues: And then you'd have to explain how or why she bleached her hair.Margaret Weis: I told the editor it was OK. We could go back. The heroine was definitely a brunette. I don't know why I decided to change her.
Definitely, your editor helps you keep track of things like that, because you get so involved in the story, you can't think of all these things.Crescent Blues: Do you have plans for computer versions of your role-playing games?
Margaret Weis: Not at the moment. Of course, Dragonlance is owned by Hasbro. So that would be up to Hasbro Interactive. They own all the licenses, so I don't know what they're going to do. We've talked to some people about doing a computer version of Sovereign Stone in several different ways. That's still in the talking stage.
Crescent Blues: Do you have any rituals that you follow when you write?
Margaret Weis: I work every morning from a set time. I start work about 7:30 a.m. and end about 11-11:30 a.m. My schedule is so rigid. I'm a very schedule-organized person. I have to be scheduled.
The dogs actually know my schedule, and about 11 o'clock they know I'm getting ready to quit. We can go for a walk. In fact, when they hear the music at the end of The Today Show, my Labrador Retriever gets up, walks upstairs and sits down by the computer, because she knows that's where I'm headed next.
That's my schedule. I maintain it Christmas, New Years, no matter what the holiday, if I'm home.
Crescent Blues: But not at conventions.
Margaret Weis: Conventions are different. I don't do writing at the conventions, although lots of time, if we're flying, Don and I will use airplane time to think up plots or discuss whatever we're doing.
Crescent Blues: Do all the conventions ever run together?
Margaret Weis: We've actually had to limit ourselves with respect to the number of conventions we were doing, because it does get to be so time-consuming. We could probably do a convention every weekend if we wanted to.
People don't realize that no only do we lose time at the convention, I lose time the day before the convention, because I have to do the laundry and pack. Coming in the day after the convention, you're tired.
So, where we used to do a lot of small conventions, now we're pretty much limiting ourselves to just major conventions -- especially with the Dragonlance product [the d20 version of the role-playing game] coming out, because that's a whole other level of work. I'm the editor-in-charge of the Dragonlance project, so I'm writing in the morning and editing Dragonlance projects in the afternoon.
Crescent Blues: When you were growing up, did you know you were going to write fantasy?
Margaret Weis: Fantasy wasn't even an option. I was born in 1948, so I grew up a child of the 'Fifties, but I was always a storyteller, even before I could read. My kindergarten teacher would set me in front of the class, and I would tell stories to the children while they lay on their little blankets, and she would do paperwork. That and the fact that I loved to read were the reasons I became a writer.
I read [J.R.R.] Tolkien in the Sixties when that whole phenomenon swept across the country with the hippies and everything else. Of course, I loved it. We all did. But after Tolkien, there wasn't much else out there. So I read Tolkien, and that was it. I didn't read anything else. I went back to the classics. I'm a big fan of Dickens and Jane Austen, and that was pretty much what I read.
Then I saw Star Wars, and I just loved it. Here, to me, was fantasy in outer space -- galactic fantasy. So I went looking for something like that to read, and there wasn't anything out there. There was science fiction, but I didn't like that. It was much too science-oriented.
My agent at the time told me, you should write what you like to read. I thought that was pretty neat. So I wrote a galactic fantasy which turned into Star of the Guardian. But it was ten years from when I started writing it to when it was actually published. That came after Dragonlance. By that time we'd hit the bestseller lists, and publishers were saying, "Oh, do you have anything? We'll take anything."
"Well, I've got this galactic thing that I've been working on."
"Sure. Sure. We'd love to see it."
I got out the manuscript, and it was horrible. Eight years had passed since I looked at it, and I hadn't realized how bad it was. So, I said, "You can't have it yet." I had to rewrite it completely.
Crescent Blues: How hard was it moving from the world of Dragonlance to the worlds of Star of the Guardian and coming back out?
Margaret Weis: Because I'd been thinking about the world of Star of the Guardian for so long, it was really very easy to jump back into it. I couldn't do it now. But at that time, it had still been in my mind. So it was easy to go back.
People ask me if I'm ever going to go back and do any more Star of the Guardians, but I was at a certain place in my life, and I can't go back to that place in my life, so I don't think I could bring the same feeling to it.
Crescent Blues: How do you think the classics have influenced the way you write?
Margaret Weis: [Charles] Dickens for characterization. I go to Dickens to study how he gave us people that have lived for so many years in our minds. We all know them. You just say "scrooge," and the word conjures up the image of Scrooge. Even if you've never seen the movies. If you read Dickens, his descriptions and the way he used characters and how he wrote his characters -- I study him.
Alexandre Dumas -- The Three Musketeers. I loved the Musketeer books as a girl. Dumas for adventure and blending humor with tension.
Jane Austen -- I think her women. Everyone says, "Oh, well, she's a romance writer." Austen's women are so… They think and feel like women. I think that's what she brought to us through the centuries -- you can really empathize with her women, and they are strong in their societies. Even the heroines who are kind of weak have their own inner strength. The way they're dealing with their society and the situations that they're brought -- I think that's what fascinates us about Jane Austin. We really can feel and empathize with here heroines.
Crescent Blues: Especially ones like Emma who are trying to run everybody's lives.
Margaret Weis: Yes. I love Lizzie. She's my favorite. I named my daughter Elizabeth for Elizabeth Bennett.
Crescent Blues: You and Tracy came up through the gaming industry. Other people you've worked with like Douglas Niles and Michael Stackpole are now making names for themselves in fantasy and science fiction. Why do you think that role-playing games have been such a fertile developing ground for writers?
Margaret Weis: The main reason is when you're involved in games you have to be able to create a good, solid world. That, to me, is what is important in fantasy. You have to have a world that is very real and believable and that operates on laws and principles, especially magic.
Magic has to have laws, because you cannot let it run rampant. You can't let your mage be able to do everything. A game automatically puts limits on magic. Your mages have restrictions. Either they get very tired if they cast a spell, or there are other things that happen to them. I think it was [Aldous] Huxley who said, "Even wizards must suffer." And that is one thing that a game environment does. A game environment provides a world. It provides maps. It provides cities, races and laws that you have to follow.
Crescent Blues: Anything you'd like to add?
Margaret Weis: Dragonlance has been optioned for a movie by Silver Creek Pictures. I can't say anything more, but Wizards of the Coast will post more information as it becomes available.
Click here to learn more about Margaret Weis's early days at TSR.
Click here to learn more about Dragonlance.
Jean Marie Ward