ASK ME ANYTHING / FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
An updated Q&A list comprised of 'Ask Me Anything' events held on Reddit.
WARNING: MAY CONTAIN SPOILERS
Terry Goodkind AMA - September 18th 2019
QUESTION: Were Richard's personal morals/ethics inspired by your own?
Sure. In many ways, Richard is my alter ego.
QUESTION: Who were the real Richard and Kahlan that inspired you to write Wizard’s First Rule?
There were no such people. I created them both. I wanted them to be the kind of people I look up to.
QUESTION: And when you decided to kill off ********* did you always envision having *** die the way he did, or did you want him to die in a blaze of Wizard’s Fire?
I always disliked the cliché of a “heroic” or “meaningful” death. It’s been done to death. (Pun intended.) I believe in heroic and meaningful lives. Death is rarely heroic, except for things such as a soldier in battle saving his buddies, or a mother who runs into a burning house to save her children. But that’s rare. Death is almost always tragically sorrowful and usually unexpected. I wanted his death to be the way death is in real life, the way death suddenly and unexpectedly changes everything. A drunk driver hits a family as they are going to the store. The mother and three children are killed. That’s real life. It is not heroic. A person dying a slow death from disease is agonizing. That’s death in real life. I wanted ****'s death, because his life was so meaningful, to be rather pointless and tragic. Just like real life. I don’t want to glorify death. I want to glorify life.
QUESTION: Where do you find your inspiration for your stories and what is your favorite way to write? (Do you prefer pen and paper over a computer? Do you like to sit on your porch with a cup of coffee, etc.?)
For me, inspiration is entirely internal. I was born a writer. It’s in me. I guess you could say I came with it pre-packaged in my brain. I write from my need to write, not from inspiration. I have dyslexia, so I have difficulty with technicalities of writing, such as spelling. So, for me, a computer is invaluable. I always write on my computer, at my desk and never anywhere else. I write seven days a week. Some people thrive in a busy environment. I thrive in solitude.
Timo van B
QUESTION: Some readers say that reading the world you created, the stories of Richard and Kahlan, or even one specific event in the series changed the way they see life. Being its creator, to what extent has this happened to you?
I guess the event that most changed my life was having WIZARD'S FIRST RULE accepted by my agent. Everything was different after that. But as far as what scene in the series changing my life, it doesn’t really happen like that for me because these stories come from within me. They are already part of me. They have to be in order for me to be true to the characters when I write their stories. I have to know them in my own mind so that I can tell their story. They did not come into my life, externally, the way they do for a reader. So, for that reason, they can’t change me. They are me. That is not to say that certain scenes weren’t deeply emotional for me to write.
I think my characters touch people because they touch me. After all, I spend my life with them. I am beyond gratified by all the stories I’ve heard of how the books have changed people’s lives for the better. Those stories are humbling. In truth I’m just a simple guy who loves to write stories. When they touch people’s hearts, well, that’s just the best possible thing I can imagine. It makes all the hard work more than worth it. It often keeps me going when I feel overwhelmed.
QUESTION: What has been your favorite book to write so far? Do you have a least favorite?
I loved writing them all, so I don’t have a least favorite. They are all my children, so to speak. But as far as which one I actually enjoyed writing the most, hands down, that would be THE GIRL IN THE MOON. Without a doubt the most enjoyable writing experience I’ve ever had. That book is Terry Goodkind unleashed.
QUESTION: Do you ever come back to Omaha?
No, I’m afraid I never do. I’m home writing all the time, seven days a week, including holidays. If I were to travel, I couldn’t write. A few weekends a year I get to drive a race car, otherwise, I’m always working.
Q Which is your favorite book?
My favorite book is THE GIRL IN THE MOON, in part because I had a blast writing it and I love Angela’s spirit, but at other times there are others that are my favorite. For example, it was a wonderful experience writing THE SKY PEOPLE because it allowed me to explore a different kind of story, and that book is a treasure to me. It was like a vacation for my brain. I hope you will read it! And, of course, I loved writing the Children of D’Hara.
Q Does it come naturally, or do you really have to try hard?
Writing is the hardest thing I’ve ever done, and because of that, the most gratifying and eternally absorbing.
Q Do you ever read your own books?
I do read my own books, many times, actually, because they must be edited and proofread, etc. When I get the page proofs that’s the first time I get to sit back and read the book all at once, the way readers will experience it.
QUESTION: Everyone always talks about how great a host you’ve been in the past at your signings. Will you ever do more? Would be quite the opportunity to meet the man behind the universe that has reached so many. Thanks.
I always have a great time meeting readers. Everyone is always incredibly kind, and I hear many humbling stories. It truly is amazing. Many times, I have been brought to tears by the stories readers share with me. It’s both an emotional and rewarding doing events. I don’t have any events planned right now. I have books to write and doing events takes a lot more time than you might think. I’m a slow writer so I have to keep working at it. Events also breaks up the flow of writing. It takes me a long time to “go behind the curtain” and get into the book I’m working on so that I’m there in that world in order to see it, feel it, smell it, hear it. When I take time away for anything, such as events or travel, it pulls me out from that world and then it takes quite a lot of effort to get back into the rhythm of the world and the story, to get back behind the curtain. That delays books and cuts down on the stories I’m able to write. Any time I’m away my current story haunts me.
QUESTION: Will there be audio versions of each episode in THE CHILDREN OF D’HARA series?
The audio editions of THE CHILDREN OF D’HARA are being done by Recorded Books. They are also doing the audio editions of TROUBLE’S CHILD, CRAZY WANDA, and THE SKY PEOPLE. I’m thrilled that Recorded Books always does a wonderful job.
It is worth noting at this point that all of my books are available in print, eBook, and audio. Most are also available in a wide variety of foreign countries.
QUESTION: How many books will there be in the Nicci Chronicles series?
The Nicci Chronicles is 4 books in total. Tor, the publisher, told me that there was not enough reader support, so they were dropping the series and they wanted me to wrap up the story in book 4. Therefore, HEART OF BLACK ICE, the fourth book, is the concluding book of the series. Since no publisher is interested in doing more, these are the only four there will ever be in that series.
However, when one door closes, another opens. With that series ended, it gave me the time to start another series that I’ve always wanted to write.
Thus, CHILDREN OF D’HARA was born. . . .
QUESTION: Do you have plans for a sequel to ever come of THE LAW OF NINES and if so, will you strengthen the ties to the world of Richard and Kahlan?
The children of D’Hara, while not a sequel, is that connection of THE LAW OF NINES to the world of Richard and Kahlan. By the end of the final episode, INTO DARKNESS, you will come to understand THE LAW OF NINES in a larger context. A lot of pieces of the puzzle come together in the Children of D’Hara. I think you will be astounded, thrilled, surprised, and pleased. It has been exciting for me to write about those links.
I’m gratified that readers are finally beginning to discover THE LAW OF NINES and finding out for themselves what a really cool story it is. For those who have read it, the Children of D’Hara will finally reveal things you have long wondered about. It answers a lot of questions and reveals things you can’t even imagine!
THE LAW OF NINES is still available, so if you haven’t read it yet, do so now and discover what a terrific story it is, both as a stand-alone novel, and for its connection to Richard and Kahlan’s world.
QUESTION: How long do you spend writing?
Other than a couple weekends a year that I take off to go to the track and drive a race car, I write seven days a week, including holidays. For me, writing requires my full attention, all of the time. I think about the story when I lie in bed at night. I think about it when I wake up in the morning. I think about it every bit of time in between. For me, writing takes place in my mind. It isn’t accomplished at the keyboard, so it’s hard to say where one part leaves off and the other part takes over. Even when I’m at the keyboard, I will do things like run an errand and while I’m out my brain will be working on the story and I continually think of things I need to be sure are in there so that the story is clear and flows.
QUESTION: Will you be doing any book signings? I’d love to come get a signed book.
I love to have the opportunity to meet fans and sign their books. It’s always a great time and lots of fun for everyone. I have the best fans in the world. But no events are planned for the near future. I have books to write! Beyond that, we will just have to see how things work out. Maybe when my next big book comes out. But, basically, I’m a slow writer and I have to keep my nose to the grindstone.
QUESTION: How do you pronounce the main character’s name?
To better understand the pronunciation, let’s break it down into it’s two syllables: Rich-ard. The first syllable is pronounced the way you would pronounce the word for a wealthy person. The second syllable is pronounced either “erd” or “ard.” Put them together and you have Richard. There you have it. Or did you mean the other main character, Kahlan?? ;)
QUESTION: Favorite color shirt?
Black. Nice and tactical.
QUESTION: As you write each of your stories do you mostly know, in your mind, the beginning middle and ending, or do you let the story unfold as you write? In other words, do you, knowing each and every character as you do, allow them to live and breath and react as you know they would carrying the story in a direction you might not originally thought it would?
That never happens. I know the whole story — beginning, middle, and end. I never let characters run off and do their own thing. I could never write that way. Chaos is not a plan and for me the results would be disappointing. The books always turn out as I had intended, but that’s not to say that I envision ahead of time all the little details, nuances and emotions of every single scene. And, sometimes I have to expand on a plot point as I go along to tell the story in a logical way.
QUESTION: How do you celebrate finishing a manuscript? Do you take a vacation? Do you dive into the next one? How long do you give yourself to recuperate in between projects?
When I finish a manuscript, I get very depressed. I hate being thrown out of the world. It’s a horrible feeling to no longer be able to go there every day and be with my imaginary friends. The only antidote is to mope about for a while and then get right into the next one.
QUESTION: If you were asked by someone who had not yet read your work, why read it, how would you respond?
When I was in school, I was assigned intimidating books that I couldn’t relate to. As a consequence, I thought “reading” meant being bored to death. For this reason, I try my best to write entertaining books that are easy to read and not at all intimidating. I don’t want to get between readers and the story. I don’t want people to even notice the author. I simply want them to have a great time. So, for a great time, call Terry.
QUESTION: Mr. Goodkind, you are my hero! I named my cat after Zedd, he is one of my favorite characters. What was your inspiration for Zedds character?
Great name for an inscrutable cat! I envisioned Zedd as a source of knowledge when it was needed, but also a character who was surprised and astonished by many of the things Richard did and discovered. In a way he gave Richard a yardstick against which to measure himself. He was someone Richard could turn to for advice, support, and comfort. I also wanted him to be a bit quirky and funny. We should all be so lucky as to have a Zedd in our own lives.
QUESTION: Can you please tell us Zedds daughters, Richards mother’s name, or is it a huge secret for a later reveal?
QUESTION: Have you considered or have plans for running for political offices? We really need good leaders.
I already have enough people who dislike what I say. I don’t need more. Although, as some of you have pointed out, I do sometimes repeat myself, so maybe I would be good at it!
QUESTION: Where would your dream vacation destination be? Wanted to ask something besides book questions
As far as I’m concerned, “vacation” is a dirty word. I dislike the very concept of a personal vacation. I love writing more than anything else in the world, so “vacation,” to me, is more like “being forced away from what you love.”
QUESTION: What is your favorite movie &/or television series?
There are so many that I like! OBLIVION, GALAXY QUEST, ENEMY OF THE STATE, RESIDENT EVIL: THE FINAL CHAPTER, JACK REACHER, JOHN WICK, KING ARTHUR (Guy Ritchie), LOGAN LUCKY, and of course FIREFLY... Gosh, with so many great movies and TV shows that I really love it’s hard to name them all. Any recommendations?
QUESTION: Would you ever consider re-releasing all the sword of truth books as a collector’s hardback for those of us who like displaying and collecting?
We are in the process of working with Tor to get them to re-release the Sword of Truth series with new editions. If it happens, I hope it will be a spectacular re-release of the entire SWORD OF TRUTH series. But getting publishers to do anything is something like trying to turn an aircraft carrier. We will just have to wait and see what happens.
I would also like to have special collector editions, but there are more obstacles that you could imagine for that to happen. It’s a great idea, though, so maybe someday it will happen.
QUESTION: How many times did you face rejection trying to get your first novel published?
My story is unusual in that I was never rejected. I submitted WIZARD’S FIRST RULE, the first thing I had ever written, to the best agent in the country, he loved the book and wanted to represent me, he submitted the book to three publishers, they all wanted it, and it was finally sold at auction ten weeks after I had finished the book. This story is an example of why you can’t really use one author’s experience as a guide. Good books get published via many different routes. I believe that a good book will almost always find a way to publication.
QUESTION: So, I've a question that I've wanted to ask for years. It's pretty specific but seeing my name you may understand why I'm asking. It's about the names of two of the Mord-Sith who accompanied Rikka to Aydindril. If I'm not wrong, they're mentioned again in Faith of the Fallen (both were killed by the Imperial Order Army and their heads and Agiels were displayed on pikes). Their names are Solvig and Galina. The question is, where did you get the inspiration for both names? I mean, usually naming characters has an inspiration in real life, and I'd like to know which one was behind this one. :) Thanks!
Since my books are character driven, names are critically important to me. They rarely come from anyone in my life. Finding the right name is almost always very difficult for me. I have a way I want the name to fit the mood of the books, the overall naming convention of the series, as well as the nature of the character. The name has to feel right to me. They almost never come to me right away and are perfect. Most of the time I work very long and hard at finding the exact right name. If it’s an important character I usually research the meaning and origin of the name to make sure it fits. It has to feel right to me. When a name makes me antsy, I know it’s not right and I keep looking until I find that one right name.
QUESTION: Do Richard and Kahlan ever get their happily ever after?
Read the Children of D’Hara and find out!
QUESTION: Hi Terry, my question is: How did you come up with Wizard’s First Rule?
I didn’t. I came up with Kahlan, and then Richard. They brought their story with them. I finally sat down to write it and I haven’t stopped since.
QUESTION: While I am a reading, I find myself entering the characters. I see parts of me in so many of them. As you write are you leading the characters lives of as though you are them or do, they lead you? I see my daughter in Rachel and my dad (her grandfather in Chase). I would love to know how their lives turned out.
I love developing characters. I give them realistic qualities, fears, hopes, strengths, and weaknesses that we all have. I always try to write them the way people really are. To write the story, you have to write from the point of view of one of the characters. I try my best to be true to them, to who they are and what they believe. Because of that they feel real to me, as if I’m really there with them. To me, they are my friends and I get to spend a great deal of time with them. I am the luckiest guy in the world!
QUESTION: I've read a lot about how to write a fantasy novel, character development, world setting, etc. My question is, given the sheer volume of information an author has to produce to build a world and set of characters from scratch what's an effective method to employ so as not to become overwhelmed with such a monumental task?
I feel I was born an author. To me those things aren’t difficult. It simply flows out naturally as I’m telling the story. As for the sheer volume of plot elements and subplots necessary to keep in track of, I keep it all in my head. Because I have dyslexia, I made up stories from as young as I can remember, but I never wrote them down because I have so much trouble with spelling and punctuation. So, I grew up keeping stories in my head, developing them in my head, expanding the threads of plotlines and subplots in my head. It just comes naturally to me to have it all gathered together in my mind. I never find it an overwhelming or a monumental task. But then again, I never read any books on how to write fantasy novels, so I didn’t have that burden weighing me down.
QUESTION: Do you read the works of any other writers of Fantasy? If so what authors or series are your favourite?
I wish I had more time to read. On the rare occasions when I take the time to read, I really like Dean Koontz.
QUESTION: What drew you to to writing the graphic sexual violence scenes in your novel The Girl in the Moon? Personally, I never finished that novel because of how upset I was over that scene, which prompted me to wonder: would you ever consider putting a warning at the beginning of your novels for like myself, who get "triggered" by such scenes?
Not everyone likes every book, so I certainly know what you mean. I often wish there would be warnings on all kinds of books: “Warning, this book will bore you to tears.” “Warning, the author constantly shows off, using lots of big words that you will not understand.” “Warning, the ending of this book makes no sense.” “Warning, this book treats you like a child.” “Warning, long, confusing list of obscure characters. You will need to take notes.” I certainly agree with your point that “THE GIRL IN THE MOON contains graphic violence and it’s not for everyone.”
But I’m sure that you would agree with me that we should not minimize or trivialize the terrible impact of sexual violence against women.
To truly show light, you must set it against darkness. In this book, you see the true-life nature of darkness. I firmly believed that I had to tell Angela’s story in a realistic way in order to be true to her.
But if a scene is too intense for you, I can certainly understand with that. I have an easy solution. Simply skip ahead a few pages.
I feel sad that you stopped there and didn’t go on to learn what strength Angela finds in herself to overcome what was done to her and how she went on to change the world. I hope that someday you will simply skip ahead and finish the book. I hope you will be happy you did, and that you will come to better understand why I wrote it the way I did.
This is Angela’s story, told through her eyes, in her world, with the reality of what she sees and goes through. It doesn’t take the easy way out by glossing over hard truths. I felt it would be an injustice to turn a blind eye to what happened, leaving people who then don’t see the reality of it to think “she was probably asking for it.”
Not everyone likes every book. If I try to write it for one kind of person, it turns off another kind of person.
I wrote Angela’s story her way and with the honesty of what sexual violence really means. I felt deeply that I had to be true to her. Simple as that.
QUESTION: Have you considered writing about racing? Maybe a fast-paced thriller?
I was able to use my racing knowledge of car control and how to drive fast into the chase scene in THE GIRL IN THE MOON. That was fun! I might do it again.
QUESTION: Mr. Goodkind, In your 3rd and 6th books of Sword of Truth your portrayal of the Imperial Order paints a picture of what appears to be an authoritarian socialist state. Is your rhetoric meant to make a statement against socialism in general, or specifically against communism? Additionally (I hope it’s ok to ask two in the same submission), Blood of the Fold was published in the 90s, when LGBTQ acceptance was not as prevalent as it is now. When you introduced us to Berdine, were you nervous about how your readers at the time might react to a book that featured a lesbian character? And because of society’s slightly less hostile attitude towards homosexuality in females, did you feel more comfortable bringing in the topic of a committed, loving relationship between members of the same sex with women rather than with male characters (again in terms of your audience’s reception)? Thank you for giving me the opportunity to ask you these questions.
With the Imperial Order, I was writing about the overarching philosophy of collectivism that has been with mankind almost from the beginning and has always been in conflict with the individual. I think that makes great fodder for dramatic stories. Faith of the Fallen shows those two opposing philosophies extrapolated. Conflict is what stories are all about. Richard believes it the power of the individual. That is why the theme of the book is “Your life is yours alone. Rise up and live it.”
As far as Berdine, I didn’t give any thought at all about how anyone would react to her being a lesbian. When I’m writing, I’m writing the story for myself. I am the only audience for my stories. I rarely even give a thought to the fact that others will eventually read what I’m writing. In this case I was simply being true to Berdine. That was what mattered to me. It is her, the way she is, simple as that. I always do my best to be true to the characters. The series is, after all, called the Sword of Truth. I named it that for a reason: I wanted to write truthfully about people. There are always going to be some people who don’t like something. It’s a fool’s errand to try to please everyone.
QUESTION: How many stories have you got ready in your head right now?
I have lots of stories I would like to write, but I have one in particular that I’m really excited about. I’ve already started work on it.
QUESTION: Where/how do I go about getting some of this spice soup I keep hearing about?
We should post the recipe on my website again. I'll have my staff do that. Staff! Staff! To the gates!
QUESTION: Does pineapple belong on pizza?
Absolutely... (Why) Not.
QUESTION: Hi, Terry! My question(s) for you: Stephen King commented in a memoir that his books often write themselves and he's just along for the ride. He said his books often don't go the direction he had in mind and he's just as surprised at the outcome as the reader is. Does this same concept hold true for Sword of Truth? Or did you have Richard and Kahlan's story mapped out from start to finish in your mind? Do you have any events in the (main) series that you wish you'd done differently or just flat-out don't like looking back at it now? Anything you might have done differently? And lastly: Hope all is well with you and thank you for taking the time to chat with us!
I’ve heard that about Stephen King, that his books write themselves and he is just along for the ride and he doesn’t know where they are going or where they will end up. Sounds like fun! But in truth, every author has their own way of writing. For me, I’m very deliberate with every book I write. I map out the story in my head before I write it. I know exactly where I’m going. That’s not to say that opportunities don’t come along to expand on something that happens. For example, I may think that there is going to be a scene in which Richard has to fight someone. I know how it starts, the general intensity, who gets hurt, how badly, and the outcome, but I may not envision ahead of time that he throws the enemy over a table during that fight and hits him with a stuffed moose. That kind of thing happens organically as I write. You might say I envision the bones and once the entire skeleton is complete then a lot of the writing is adding flesh to the bones.
As far as regrets, none. I intended to write everything I wrote and I’m happy with what the way it came out. The one regret I do sometimes have is that I didn’t write certain things better, or with more clarity, or repeat myself less in certain places. I’m my own worst critic so I’m never satisfied and I’m always trying as hard as I can to always do better.
QUESTION: Can you talk about writing The Sky People? I really enjoy your novellas but this one stands out by being entirely new while others are connected to larger series. How different is your approach in writing a singular story vs part of a series? Are you planning any other stand-alone novellas (or novels)? Thank you for doing this and best wishes to you and yours.
It's not really any different at all. A story is a story is a story. But it is invigorating to write about something new.
The reason most of my books are connected to a series is because that is what publishers tell me to write. If I want to be published and pay my bills, I have to write what publishers want. But publishers are only responding to reader behavior. The flip side is that at least it gives me the opportunity to do the thing I love most: writing.
The problem with this is that an author gets locked into a series. People pigeon-hole an author and think “Well, he wrote that series, which I absolutely love, so that must be all he can do. If I want to read something different, I will go to a different author.” Why? That’s nuts.
That creates a terribly frustrating situation for authors and stifles creativity. People love the author, love his books, and love his writing style, but for some reason they think that they probably wouldn’t like anything else the author writes. So, the sales of everything but that series (Richard and Kahlan for example) don’t do well because people refuse to try something different from an author they absolutely love. It makes no sense. The result is that publishers know this and are therefore very reluctant to publish anything else by a beloved author. They only want one thing from an author —more of the same — because readers only want one thing from an author — more of the same. All the wonderful, creative stories an author would otherwise love to write, never get written, and for readers variety dwindles.
I was burning to tell the story of THE SKY PEOPLE, so when I was between assignments, I just had to write it. It was such a great story screaming in my head to get out, and one of the most fun stories I’ve ever written. Because publishers didn’t want to buy it (because it’s not about Richard and Kahlan), I had to self-publish it. It’s an ebook and also available in paperback. Disappointingly, readers have not supported it because even though they love my writing, they won’t try anything different from me. If readers don’t support authors, then that forces them to only write series books because that’s mostly the only kind of books people will buy from that author. In the end, it is readers, through their purchases, that tell publishers what kind of books to publish.
I would love to write more stories like THE SKY PEOPLE, but it will basically have to be in my free time and self-published and earn no money because my “fans” won’t support me with anything but Richard and Kahlan books. If readers would try it and make it a huge success, then publishers would want me to write more about it. So, if you want to read more about that story, tell your friends and family to buy it! Recommendation from friends and family remain the best sales tool.
As much fun as I had writing it, it ends up being a throwaway for me because few people will try it. Very depressing for an author. Ultimately, I have little free time to do things like THE SKY PEOPLE, which don’t earn me a return on my time. So, if you like something, not just from me but from any author, you need to support those books and authors who write different things, recommend them to friends and family, and review them well so that others will also want to try them. I can only write what readers will buy.
Unfortunately, because of this phenomenon, the only solution in the future when I want to write a different kind of book (which I’m doing now) is to find a different publisher who loves that particular book and is willing to build an audience of entirely new readers because the readers who love my Richard and Kahlan books refuse to try something different from me. That means that to write other books I want to write, I have to develop a different audience for those different books. I think that’s nuts, but that’s the way readers behave. I always read anything by an author I loved, but I’m a rare type of reader. I always love an author’s work because of his voice, his style, and his way of telling a story no matter what story he wanted to tell. But in the publishing world there are very few readers like me. Most readers refuse to try anything by a particular author that is not in the series they discovered. Crazy.
So, if you want to see more of these special, different stories from me (or any author) you need to try those books and support the author.
One of my goals as an author, is to become known for the variety of books I write. I sincerely appreciate those readers who support me by trying all the different kinds books I write. That allows me to be creative and discover new worlds.
QUESTION: What other things do you research when you write (other than names)? Do you usially do it when you’re making a story up in your head or while you write?
Whenever necessary, I do as much as I can, or as needed. I love going down rabbit holes and learning more about the things I'm writing about. Research is important if you want the story to ring true, whether it was writing about how statues were carved in hundreds of years ago for FAITH OF THE FALLEN, or how nuclear bombs are made for THE GIRL IN THE MOON. I always strive to make everything not only accurate but ring true.
QUESTION: Is your pup a GSD? Or Belgian Malinois? Best dogs in the world! You have a great looking dog. What's his name?
Zimmer is a male GSD.
QUESTION: Did you do worldbuilding for a long time prior to writing Wizard’s First Rule? —asking as an aspiring writer.
I think that when people ask a question about world building, it’s usually the only way they can express a deeper question about creating the story between the covers.
I lived life for a long time prior to writing that first book. That gave me a lot of experience. I don’t mean traveling the world, I mean living life, observing details of everything around you, from one sunset to another. How does the weather feel, smell, affect everything else, including people’s mood? Importantly, I observed how people act, how they behave in different situations. How does it feel to be betrayed by someone you trusted? How do people act when they don’t trust you? Why are some people scary and to be avoided, and others people some interesting that you want to get to know them? How do different people express emotions, anger, love, hopes, fears?
As I conceived the story, I never gave one moment’s thought to worldbuilding as such. I wouldn’t even know how to do that. Instead, I write about intriguing characters and their challenges. As I write, their world comes along with them. I think proper writing means that the characters paint the world around them. I started with Kahlan, and then Richard, and I thought about what kind of people they were. What where they like? What were their greatest fears? Why? What were their hopes and dreams? What were their lives like? How were they brought up and how did that shape them into the people they are? What things happened in their lives to bring them to this point at the start of the book? What drives them? What is the main conflict of the book? What things draw Richard and Kahlan together. What things keep them apart.
You will notice I didn’t mention buildings and roads and family trees. Deliberate worldbuilding simply isn’t the way I write. I wanted to fill that world with life like we all have all around us. I always want the characters to live and breathe. That is what makes people relate to the story: the characters, not the world as such.
Let me give you an example from a different book to show you what I mean. When I wrote THE GIRL IN THE MOON, did I think up a sleezy trailer park, a dive bar, a secluded house in the woods, and an abandoned industrial park to write about and then stick people in those places to make a book? Of course not. I thought of Angela Constantine, a girl born broken. I wanted to know why she thought of herself as born broken, what shaped her life as she was growing up to make her think of herself that way? How did she come to be who she is, what are her fears, her longings, the problems she must face? Finally, I considered what life-changing event comes into her life (the plot in the book) and how does she handle it, based on all the things developed about her up to that point. Is the trailer park an important element in “world building”? No. It was merely an influence in what shaped Angela. That part of the “world” grew from her.
But I do understand what people really mean is that they love the characters and thus are intrigued by their world. I think what you really mean by this question is how do you build the character’s world? Well, what you have to do is let the characters reveal their world. It all grows from the people you want to write about.
Who built the Wizard’s Keep and the Peoples Palace? Was the Keep built prior to the star shift? If the Keep is in the New World, why is it in the New World. Since the Keep in so old shouldn’t it be from the Old World? Is the Old and New World something that happened after the 1st star shift? Where was Orden harnessed originally? Was the Peoples Palace built over Regula? Where was Orden first used and did it cause the 1st star shift? Did Sulichan create the idea of the Keeper as part of his plan to return to the world of life since everything that went on during the series was part of his plant to “unite” the 3 kingdoms? Why was there only one mention of the Keeper in Magda Searus? What was the woman who came to Richard when he was named as a player for the boxes? What is the Temple of the Winds true purpose besides a magical warehouse? Why is there the wizard’s throne in the Temple of the Winds?
The novels are each a world and a story that exists entirely between the covers of the book. I included everything necessary to tell that story in each novel as well as the overall series while at the same time trying not to bore people with tedious details.
Consider for example the simple question, “Will Richard and Kahlan ever have children?” I’ve spent the last year working on the answer that single question.
Even though it is impossible to answer such questions, I do understand the entertainment in wondering!
QUESTION: Would you ever choose a fan to help write a continuation of the Richard and Kahlan saga? If so, please think of me. I have read all of the books and I have listened to them on audible every night for the last 10 years.
You are very kind, Glenda, and I very much appreciate your support and love of the series. Writing for me is a very personal journey. When I write, I’m telling myself a story. I don’t even share the stories with my wife until they are totally finished. Only when completely done am I ready to let other people see it. However, I would consider choosing a fan to use their name as a character name in one of the books. That would be fun! In the meantime, I hope you will give some of my other work a try. Lots of variety to choose from. Even though they are different, my contemporary novels for example, are still my voice and I know you would recognize it. No matter which genre the novel is, it is still me taking you on an emotional journey with remarkable characters.
QUESTION: What one character did you know you HAD to have in the novels, but had the most trouble relating to, and therefore had the most trouble writing about?
Characters are created to fulfil a specific purpose in telling the story. I don’t have any characters that I HAVE to write into a novel, and I don’t have previous characters walk across the stage and wave to readers. I use the characters that are necessary for telling the story. I have to be in their heads when I’m writing from their point of view in order for them to seem real to me as I write. Sometimes that’s a very scary place to be. The first time I ever had the frightening experience of being in a scary character’s mind as I wrote and was relating to them, was Denna. Let me tell you, that was an emotionally difficult experience because I could empathize with her, understand her, feel her rage, her lust, hate her, and love her—all at once.
QUESTION: Does writing energize or exhaust you?
A. Both. Often in the same day.
Q. Did you ever consider writing under a pseudonym?
A. No. It was always my most sacred dream to be a novelist. I’m proud of my books, and I want my name on them.
Q. What is the best money you ever spent as a writer?
A. On an older Mac computer that is totally off the grid. It enables me to use the most useful writing programs that no longer exist or are no longer as easy to use. New machines use new programs that have degenerated into useless monstrosities. My older Mac runs clean and simple software and that helps me write without getting in my way or frustrating me.
Q. What is the most difficult thing about writing characters from the opposite sex?
A. I think of the opposite sex as human beings who have many of the same basic hopes and dreams in life as well as the same wide range of character traits as men. I actually gravitate to writing female characters. I think that’s because in some way they are more complex and nuanced. That’s tremendous fun to write.
Q. Do you Google yourself?
A. God no! Never! Not once! I want to preserve my sanity for as long as I can.
Q. Where there any countries or places that you have visited or wanted to visit that inspired the settings in the SoT world?
A. I don’t like travel, and so I don’t. I only travel in my mind. Inspiration comes internally, not externally.
Q. Which character in the SoT series was the most challenging to create? And Why?
A. Characters are created organically to tell the story. I love creating characters. It comes naturally for me. What is hard is what I sometimes have to do to them . . .
Q. Are any characters based on real people you know?
A. Richard is the character I aspire the most to be like. On occasion I use bits or parts, of people I know. I did that with Chase and Victor in FotF. I couldn’t write either one the way the real guy is, or everyone would think they were too over the top. But I mostly build a character to tell the story, not to use people I know. Chase and Victor just happened to fit what I needed. Most of the characters are entirely made up by me.
Q. Which scene or chapter in the SoT series is your favorite? Why?
A. My favorite scene is in FAITH OF THE FALLEN, when Nicci pulls of the cover from Richard’s statue and then collapses “In pure joy.” That was the emotional nexus of everything I had been trying to accomplish, and when it came together it brought me to tears and I couldn’t go on for a couple hours. I just wanted to live in that moment.
Q. Which scene, character, or plotline in the SoT series changed the most from the first draft to published book?
A. None. Not one. I don’t do drafts. I write the book, beginning to end, period. Nothing is ever revised or changed or deleted. (Other than fixing tangled sentences and such.) What you read is exactly what I write, as I wrote it. The Children of D’Hara novellas are a perfect example of that. I can’t go back and change anything because the previous episodes are already in print! That’s a great demonstration of the importance of knowing precisely what I was going to write. It’s not a draft. I can’t go back to change anything, not one sentence, because most of it is already in print. So, I had to be darn sure of what I was are doing or I would end up in a lot of trouble!
Q. Do you prefer writing in silence to music?
A. I wrote some of my books without any music whatsoever. Others I have listened music. But when I do listen to music the list is usually very short, maybe half a dozen songs at the very most in order to keep continuity of mood, and there have been some books I’ve written while listening to the same song continually, over and over on a loop while I write. While I am sure this sounds very weird to most people, the reason is that if a certain song fits an emotional drive for a particular book, then for me that song acts as a kind of metronome of mood that keeps me flowing in that emotional state and I just don’t want to come out of it.
QUESTION: What is the air velocity of an unladen swallow? Hopefully this made you smile. Love your work.
Well, actually, the velocity of the air going past the swallow depends on if it the air passing over or under its wings to create lift. It’s called the Bernoulli’s law. The air going over the top of the wing has to accelerate to meet at the rear of the wing with the air that went a shorter distance under the wing, otherwise, at the back of the wing it would create a vacuum in midair. As the speed on top of the wing increases, there is a decrease in pressure, creating lift (Bernoulli’s Law.) The load the sparrow can lift depends on the shape and size of its wings. Unladen would create no problems for a sparrow. Race cars use the Bernoulli effect by placing a wing upside down, compared to way it is on a bird’s wing, in order to create downforce—it pushes down rather than up. In a race car, downforce is glorious. In a swallow, the faster air creates lift and allows it to fly. Also glorious, I think. And yes, the question definitely made me smile.
QUESTION: If you could tell your younger writing self anything, what would it be?
Nothing, really. It’s been a fun journey and I wouldn’t really have wanted to change that journey. Back then if I knew how incredibly difficult the writing business is, I would probably never have submitted Wizard’s First Rule to my agent in the first place. Sometimes, ignorance is a necessary secret ingredient for a grand adventure to work. Sometimes you have to do what is in your gut despite the obstacles. Writing was always there, in me, all along. I didn’t need any advice from the future me.
QUESTION: Has your experience writing in different genres presented any unique problems or opportunities that surprised you? Do you have any thoughts related to your experience writing in more than one genre that you would like to share?
I love telling stories of all kinds. I guess I’m rather unique in that I don’t really think in terms of genres. I like them all. Certain stores simply lend themselves to certain genres. I love to write in a fantasy setting, but I love other genres as well. It’s fun for me to write different kinds of books. I want to be known as an author who tells great stories in a number of genres.
I have no trouble at all switching genres because those kinds of fences don’t exist in my mind. That said, it’s easier to write in a contemporary setting because I don’t have to keep lots of modern and contemporary words out of the narrative. It would, after all, sound pretty dumb if I said that Richard’s sword moved as if it was turbocharged. See what I mean? Using a modern word could easily take readers out of the experience so I’m very careful about that. Words help create the right setting and mood for particular genres.
QUESTION: What is your favorite food?
There is a difference between my favorite food and what I usually eat. I eat low carb. Writing requires me to sit a tremendous amount of the time. So, most of the time I eat healthy low carb natural foods and I do High Intensity Interval Training as well as weight training in order to stay healthy. Very rarely, I will have some of my favorite foods, like pizza or carrot cake. Life without the occasional piece of carrot cake would just be silly.
QUESTION: Have you ever read/ What is your opinion on/ the author Piers Anthony and his works? btw, I love your novels. they stand the test of time.
A long, long time ago, back when I actually had time to read, I used to really like him. Thank you for including me in the books you love to read!
QUESTION: Terry I live in a world severe spinal cord damage leaves me with some mobility but more pain than I can describe. I have read my entire life. Tens of thousands of books. I am on my 5th journey through the entire series. So, thank you for more than you know. I wish to be an author as well. My character is a female with power of character and complexity yet she as simple as Khalan. My daughter is my muse. I want her from this world to a world like D'Hara. I believe people would love this story how do I get noticed.
It sincerely makes me sad to hear that you have to live with such pain and physical difficulty. I wish you the very best and hope that you can find some relief. As far as writing, my advice is simple. Love writing the story if you hope to have others love it too. If you write what you think people will want to read, that usually comes across as insincere. Very few people ever have their books get noticed, so it’s imperative that you first and foremost enjoy doing it for yourself. I hope that the pleasure of writing takes you away from some of your pain, Richard, and I wish you the very best with your writing.
QUESTION: I met a woman at the Mall of the Bluffs in Council Bluffs Iowa. She said she grew up next to your wife's family. She also said you were from Omaha. Are these both true?
Yes, I grew up in Omaha. My wife grew up on a farm near Red Oak Iowa. I don’t know who this woman was, so I can’t vouch for the truth of her living next to my wife’s family.
QUESTION: What historical figures, if any, did you draw from in the creation of Jagang and his ideology?
I draw from the broadest sweeps of history, rather than specific ideologies along the way in the slow swing of that historical pendulum. Individual ideologies that are presented as a new way are actually derived from a larger philosophical belief. There is nothing unique about them. Rather than historical figures, I get the ideologies for the books from those larger philosophical concepts, such as the struggle between individualism and collectivism.
QUESTION: hello dear terry i really love your books. they help me out in a bad time of my life. thank you so much. i am from switzerland and read the books in german so when the nicci chronicles and the children of d'hara came out of german do you know ? another question is whenever i read your books it feels soo truth and i think kahlan and richard are living in your world. can it be? also i wanna ask if you make a second series which is really like the books? i like to see legend of the seeker but its to less and not like your great books, they change so much things. thank you for answer and may the good souls protect you :)
Hi Aline. The books are translated into a few dozen different languages, German included. It takes time to translate books. I don’t know exactly when the German editions will be out, but I know the German publisher is in the process of translating my books, as they have done all along, so keep an eye out for them. As far as the books feeling like real life, thank you! I try to write about the same kinds of things we all face in our lives. I’m not writing about a world; I’m writing about people who face the same kinds of difficulties and challenges we all face. Love, betrayal, desire, hopes, fears, dreams, etc. To me, my characters are real. Thank you so much for your kind words. I'm thrilled you enjoy the books.
QUESTION: Komen er nog meer Nederlandse boeken van u? Wil there be more dutch books for us ? I love it al of the series i have read them in a day. even my kids love them
Yes, definitely, there will be Dutch books. The Dutch publisher does a wonderful job and they are in the process of translating them. They have published all my books and hope they will continue to do so.
QUESTION: Are there hidden messages or secrets in your books that few people, if anyone catch onto? Maybe a small seemingly insignificant piece of information that was a big deal for future books etc.
(The author smiles.)
QUESTION: Hey! So, my question is: how do you stay motivated when you have hit writers block? And how do you over come writers block?
I'm not the best person to ask because I don’t really get writer's block. I have a story to tell and sometimes I need to give some thought as to how best to tell it. Thinking about the story is not writers’ block as such. Thinking things through is a part of the writing process. Of course, you must know your characters intimately, and you must know the story ahead of time—beginning, middle, and end. If you expect the story to write itself, or don’t know where it’s going or why, then you are in for a whole lot of writer’s block.
QUESTION: Are you a dog cat person?
My dog adores me, and my cat tolerates me. I love them both.
QUESTION: I am curious to know, perhaps it's just a coincidence, but I have noticed that in every sword of truth or Richard and kahlan book there is at least one reference to, if not directly referring to cats. Is that intentional, and am I correct in saying there is, if not a cat, a cat analogy in all the books? I always keep an eye out for them.
Much like our world, cats and dogs are a part of the environment for the world of Richard and Kahlan. Cats as mousers and dogs for protection and security have been integral to human civilization from the earliest of times. In some primitive cultures, they are still invaluable assets. In modern civilizations we view them more as companions or extensions of families. I think you've got cats on the brain. That's ok, many of us do! In fact, I have one on my lap right now!
QUESTION: What is your writing process like? How are you able to concentrate? Do you write everyday, or do you wait until something inspires you? Thank you for your brilliant stories! I'm a big fan!
I get up every day (yes, everyday) and go to my desk and start working. I eat at my desk. When it’s time to go to bed, I stop working. It’s just something that’s in me. It’s what I love to do. I can’t wait to get to it every day. I have many stories that I dearly want to tell. So many books, so little time.
QUESTION: How do you find the perfect beginning to your novels?
I like to start out by throwing people into the middle of trouble. Lots of trouble.
QUESTION: What music inspired you during Wizard's First Rule?
I occasionally listen to music while writing now, but I didn't in the beginning. When I was first starting to write, I preferred silence. I often still do.
QUESTION: What are your views on religion? I understand you are an objectivist, but I believe you could have different views than the views of Ayn Rand herself. After all there are many modern objectivists who disagree with some of the things she believed. I understand if you don't want to answer this question since it is quite controversial.
Religion is pre-packaged philosophy. Some people treat philosophy (and religion) as if it were a smorgasbord in which you pick your favorite things, the easy things, the things that don’t interfere with how you want to live your live. I take my philosophy straight up. At its core, it is based on the nature of reality and reason.
QUESTION: Why did you leave Maine?
Many reasons, but mostly it was time to move on. Maine holds and will always hold a special place in my heart.
QUESTION: Besides your editor(s) and publisher, do you have a dedicated group of pre-readers who offer constructive feedback on the storyline(s) of your work?
Dear God no, never. What you read is what I write and the way I write it. It’s all me. Publishers do have a team of people who address technicalities such as proofreading for typos and such, but the story is all mine and mine alone.
QUESTION: Mr.Goodkind, First I would like to start off by saying from the bottom of my heart, thank you for creating the most amazing series I've ever had the pleasure to read. My question is this. Did you play dungeons and dragons or have a large fantasy influence young man, and if you did I'like to game with you, I bet you would be a lot of fun.
I never played Dungeons & Dragons. I was an artist and kind of a loner, so most of the time I was often focused on drawing and painting while I had stories running around in my head.
QUESTION: No question, just a thank you for letting me believe there is still good out there in my younger days. Even though it was in books.
There is still good in the world. A lot of it. Sometimes it’s hard to find it it. Hasn’t it always been that way? Thank you for writing, Petra.
QUESTION: As a writer do you have any cosplay or prop from the show, legend of the seeker tv Series to this day ? Also Do you still have Communication with the original crew like Bridget regan and etc.
I have leather pouch with a jacket inside that is a pretty cool memento from the TV series. This was made before they changed the name of the show to LOTS. (The show was originally titled WIZARD’S FIRST RULE.) I have never spoken to any of the actors. At Comic-Con I did get to meet some of the producers. But after Disney bought the property, they didn’t allow me to be involved in any way. It showed.
QUESTION: Please settle a long-held debate between myself and a friend. Is Gratch pronounced like “scratch” or like “watch.” Thank you, love the series!!!
I say it more like scratch.
QUESTION: Why is Zed such a badass?
Wisdom is always powerful.
QUOTE: Sir!. I would love to watch you drive at Spring Mountain again. Am I permitted to know when you might be coming out? You graciously let me accompany you a few years ago - I made it 2 laps before I gave you a Thumbs Down!
Hi Stephen. I'm thrilled you enjoyed the ride. My new cars are single seater Wolf. Much faster but no ride-alongs, I'm afraid. It sure was fun getting to take you and a few other people around the track that day. Good memories!
QUESTION: Was Wizards First Rule the first novel you wrote and tried to get published? I've heard we all have four or five crappy books in us before we write a good one. I was curious if I should practice with short stories to sharpen my writing skills before sending my novel to publishers. My story idea is too cool to waste if my writing can't do it justice.
Yes, WFR was my first book. I thought about it for a year as I was finishing building our home in Maine before I was finally able to sit down to write it. But from a very young age I continually made up stories in my head. WIZARD’S FIRST RULE was the first one I ever wrote down. Growing up, those stories in my head were my practice, I guess you could say. I don’t think it’s so much that you have to write four or five bad books before you can write a good one, as it is a matter of getting experience in life with age. There is a lot to be said for getting some life behind you before you try to write a book. Imagine if an eight-year-old asked you if they were old enough to write a novel. What would you tell them?
QUESTION: What is your favorite alcoholic beverage?
I don't drink alcohol. Never did. Oh wait!—I take a drink of Champagne from the bottle after spraying it on fellow drivers whenever I win a race. But other than those few instances, I prefer my brain to always be unimpaired by anything.
QUESTION: So sorry I forgot to add this to my last one, I would love to get a tattoo of Gratch any chance I could get a more detailed description to take to my tattooer to draw out? Thank you in advanced if you can!
I'm not so sure about that idea...
QUESTION: Why are you doing novellas for THE CHILDREN OF D’HARA? These are too short! I want a big book!
Publishing is an agonizingly slow and ponderous process. When I write a book it’s almost three years before it’s finally on store shelves and you can read it. So, I came up with the idea of breaking the story into a series of novellas as I wrote it.
It was really exciting doing it that way because for the first time it let people read along with me as I was writing the story. But that meant it, obviously, had to unfolded in a series of episodes, or novellas, as I was writing it.
If people only want to read a big book, that’s entirely understandable, but it means waiting for the world of publishing to come out with that big book sometime much later.
Eventually, THE CHILDREN OF D’HARA will come out as that one big, fat book many people want, because this story is, after all, one big, fat story. It’s up to readers which they prefer. People could come along with me as I was writing it or wait until the end of 2020 or 2021 until the single big, fat book finally comes out.
I thought it was a cool idea and it would be a fun process to let readers into the story right as I was writing it. But because there has been nothing but complaining about only wanting a big book, I will likely never do this again. I will have to go back to the years-long publishing process to grind out the next book. I think that’s sad.
QUESTION: What would you do for a Klondike Bar?
Sugar is poison.
QUESTION: Your book, faith of the fallen really drove home for me the idea that even in the worst of all circumstances we can always do something to improve our lives. Is the idea that there is always a solution what you meant this book to show? Also thank you either way, this belief has always improved my life and helped me through hard times.
Yes, that is one of the themes of the book and something that I believe it. I think there are always ways, even if it’s a small thing, to improve your life. I always try to show how my main characters face and overcome challenges. Having them face gigantic challenges energized people to face the things in their lives. I’m so happy to hear that it has helped you to get through hard times. This, to me, is the most noble purpose of a novel. I feel that I have to write stories that uplift people and give them hope that things can be made better. After all, the theme of the book and the whole series is “Your life is your own. Rise up and live it.”
QUESTION: How did you write, did you dictate?
I write on a computer. Apple variety.
QUESTION:: Have you ever considered writing more about Baraccus? He's one of the most interesting characters to me, but he's so shrouded in mystery and I desire to know more! Thank you for all that you do your books mean the world to me.
I’m very glad to hear that you enjoyed the books. If enough readers influence publishers by buying an author’s books, then anything is possible. Strong reader support is what motivates publishers to want a book from an author—any author.
QUESTION: Can we have a hint of what "the thing in the very beginning that no one has caught or mentioned" is?
No hint is needed; it’s obvious.
QUESTION: Terry Goodkind, sir, whatever did happen to the hairdo?