This is a Worldbuilders blog.
Time for another interview folks, this one with Brent Weeks author of the Night Angel Trilogy.
Heya Brent. Let's say you're at a party and you meet someone you wanted to impress. What sort of things about your writing career would you casually drop into the conversation to prove that you're awesome?
Oh, I'd definitely drop the NY Times bestselling author bit, though with a self-deprecatory asterisk.
Yeah. That carries a ridiculous amount of weight. A couple months after I hit the Times, an editor at Penguin asked me, "How do you like your new first name?"
I gave her a dumb look.
She said, "You're not Pat Rothfuss anymore. Now you're New-York-Times-bestselling-author-Pat Rothfuss."
And it was totally true. That's how everyone introduced me at conventions for almost a year.
What's your asterisk, by the way?
There are more NY Times lists than people think. There's a fiction hardcover list, a fiction mass-market paperback list, non-fiction lists, self-help lists, and children's lists. The list goes to 35, but due to... well, heck, I dunno, the cost of paper? the lists that get printed go only to 20.
I was on the list for 3 weeks, but I topped out at 29. One publisher who I gave a blurb to said, "Oh, we only count authors who hit the printed list as NY Times bestsellers." Oh. I feel snobbed on.
Thus: Hi, my name is New-York-Times-bestselling-author-but-only-on-the-internet Brent Weeks.
Oh man... you're only on the extended list? Good lord, why I am I even bothering to talk to you?
I kid, I kid...
If you had to pick your favorite book of all time, what would it be?
The Name of the Wind?
Ahh... That's why I'm talking to you. You've got me all blushy. Seriously though. What would your favorite be?
The monstrous compendium of Calvin & Hobbes.
Good choice. You're relatively new to the publishing world. How often do you check your amazon sales rank?
Oh, hells, busted. I used to check it all the time. Then I found this service that would do the dirty work for me...free. Check out titlez.com. Then I would check that sucker every couple of days. But I can proudly say that I've been Amazon sober for several months--with only a teeny little bit of backsliding.
What's the most shameful self-promotional thing you've ever done?
I joined Twitter? No, wait, I've done worse than that. I made some Stormtroopers pose with my books.
How about you?
Oh man. I don't know if it's the *most* shameful, but I have a bad habit of sending copies of my book to anyone I think might be remotely interested in it. Bloggers. Webcomic artists. Other authors. Everyone.
When The Name of the Wind was first published, I shotgunned books at least a hundred books out there, desperately hoping someone would read it, like it, and tell their friends.
What's your revision process like? How many drafts do you go through? What's the biggest cut you've ever made to a manuscript?
I cut the first thirty thousand words of The Way of Shadows. Then, much later, my agent told me to cut ten thousand words from Shadow's Edge. I went through seven hundred pages with a red pen, hacking out everything that wasn't necessary, and cut twenty thousand words. (Possibly a hundred pages, depending on spacing.)
I actually like revising. When you finish the first draft, a novel's such a rough stone, flawed and ugly, with only little glimmers of what it could be. Revising makes it a polished stone, flawed and ugly, with medium-sized glimmers of what it could be.
We sound pretty similar there. I actually cut the first chapter of Name of the Wind before we published it. It was cool worldbuilding, but it slowed the book down too much.
How about this? We take both of our cut beginnings, polish them up, then find a few other authors and start an anthology. How does that sound to you?
Man, I dunno. I mean, you HAVE a reputation to crap on. Me? If I sink any lower, I'll be the William Shatner of epic fantasy.
No... hold on a minute. I think this is a workable idea. If we got a few other authors who were willing to kick in their discarded chapters, it would be a cool collection that would give a peek into the creative process. It would show some of the behind-the-scenes worldbuilding we do that never makes it into the finished product.
Hell, we could call the anthology Worldbuilders. Then maybe donate some of the money it makes to next year's fundraiser...
C'mon. Say you'll do it. Remember: "The good of the many outweighs the good of the few..."
After computer switches and computer crashes... Man, I have no idea where that chunk is. Believe me, I'm all about cashing in for work I've already done, and giving proceeds to charity sounds good, too, but even if I found it... there's polishing a raw gem, and there's polishing poo. No matter how long you do the latter, it ain't gonna shine.
Maybe it isn't as bad as I remember. If I find it, I'll let you know.
I'll hold you to that. I like this idea....
What's the most hurtful thing someone has ever said in a review of your book?
It wasn't a review, but on a forum, someone posted a topic of "Brent Weeks raped Robert Jordan." That was pretty cool, especially because RJ was pretty much a hero of mine.
Will you tell me yours?
I think it might have been the Amazon reviewer who said all my female characters were whores or June Cleaver clones. That stung a bit.
If you could punch one literary figure in the face, who would it be?
Hold it, you never said you were going to ask about Twilight. Bollocks to Team Edward. Come here, you shiny pansy! Oh, um... I mean, not gonna go there.
Author D. H. Lawrence confessed that he enjoyed climbing mulberry trees while naked. Do you have any little rituals that help you write?
He did that first? Ah, man... You're telling me I have to come up with a new zany writer quirk for people to share about me?
I'm afraid so. You don't want people starting a forum thread titled: Brent Weeks raped DH Lawrence.
Seriously though. No little quirks about your writing process? No little superstitions or foibles?
I have these three balls, labeled 1000, 1500, and 2000. I juggle them in increasingly difficult patterns until I drop one. Whichever one I drop is the number of words I have to write that day.
I also make up lies to tell on the internet.
I recently made a joke about "transition putty" on my blog. That being, of course, what we writers buy at Home Depot to smooth out our rough transitions.
If you could have some sort of handyman tool like that, something like Plot Spackle or a Character Level. What would it be?
So you're the guy who's buying up all the transition putty? They keep telling me it's back ordered!
I do love !Vivify! brand Character Resurrection Screws. I had this guy who kept falling off my plot by dying, and a few of those suckers put him right back in place. I also have six--nope, nope--seven Plot Hole Shovels. I might need more...
Thanks again for agreeing to the interview. And for all the lovely swag you've donated to the fundraiser. You're a champ.
* * *
As you'll see below, Brent really went above and beyond in his donation, sending along a bunch of different signed versions of his Night Angel Trilogy. Ready for them all? Here we go....
- Two boxed sets of the Night Angel trilogy. Signed by the Author.
- Two sets of The Way of Shadows, Shadow's Edge and Beyond the Shadows. Signed by the Author.
- Two hardcover collections of the Entire Night Angel trilogy. Signed by the Author.
- An ARC of The Way of Shadows. Signed by the Author.
- Two sets of the audio books The Way of Shadows and Shadow's Edge. Signed by the Author.
As you can see, Brent Weeks is one of those fancy lads who have already finished their trilogy. Three books, no waiting. Unlike some slackers out there...
A lot of folks have been raving about his books, but I'll just stick to Terry Brooks when he says: "I was mesmerized from start to finish. Unforgettable characters, a plot that kept me guessing, non-stop action and the kind of in-depth storytelling that makes me admire a writer's work."
Remember folks, the fundraiser is over on January 15th. Until then, for every 10 dollars you donate to Heifer International, you get a chance to win these books and hundreds of others like them.
I'm matching 50% of all donations made. So the money you kick in goes farther if you donate before the 15th. So why not head over to my page at Team Heifer and chip in. Trust me. You'll feel great afterward.
Or, if you want to go back to the main page for Worldbuilders to read the details and see all the cool prizes, you can click HERE.
With thanks to our sponsor, Subterranean Press.