Published on October 2nd, 2013 | by Admin
Terry Goodkind Interview … beyond The Third Kingdom
Welcome to Impulse Gamer Terry and thanks for 20 years of amazing novels!
Thank you for the invite. The last 20 years has been a fantastic journey for me as well. It’s great to be here, too, because I’ve always thought that games and books have a deep connection. In many ways both feed that basic human need for heroes and our desire to live up to the things they represent, to meet amazing people and incredible villains, to go meet a challenge and against all odds triumph. Stories and games often share a love of adventure, and especially that draw of challenges.
You’ve probably been asked this before but what made you become a writer?
I think I was born a writer. Stories have always been part of my life, my constant companions, my inner landscape. It’s part of who I am. I’ve always been a fan of and great admirer of story tellers and I always loved books. I came to a point in my life where it wasn’t enough to carry those characters and their stories around inside me and I had to write them down. Stories have been with us since the dawn of time. A good story speaks to those things we all share about life, helps put them into context, and gives them meaning. A good story touches what it is to be human. It has always been my dream, ever since I was little, to touch that tradition and in some way share stories and bring enjoyment and wonder to people.
Where did your inspirations come from?
Those internal journeys that become stories come from within. They have to. They are the sum total of my beliefs, the things that matter to me about life—expressed through characters facing challenges that in may ways represent the challenges we all face. I believe that to be a good storyteller you need to be a good observer of life and in turn those observations become essential parts of the characters. It helps them to ring true. My time living as a painter, a wood carver, metal and stone worker, luthier (violin maker), and so much more all contribute texture to my books. Every walk through the woods, every person I’ve ever had the pleasure or displeasure of meeting, every gain and loss I’ve had in life—all of it becomes part of what helps me tell those stories that come from within.
What do you do in your down time when you’re not writing?
On the rare occasions when I’m not writing, I am usually at a racetrack driving a Radical SR8 SM 500. I have a racing team (Rahl Racing). We won the 2011 Unlimited Series Championship as well as a number of subsequent points races and even an Endurance Race. Radicals are built by Radical Sportscars in Peterborough, England. Radicals hold the Nürburgring record lap time (6:48) as world’s fastest production car. They are brutally fast, competitive race cars. Racing is my comfort place. When I’m in the cockpit of a race car, the rest of the world fades away and I become 100% focused on just one thing: the challenge of getting around the track as quickly as possible. Some people do yoga, I do race cars. (Laughs.) Beyond that, I spend time with my wife Jeri and our animals Zimmer (a Schutzhund Three German Shepherd), our Kitty, koi fish, and a natural preserve of wild things that roam around our property.
Have you seen any good films lately and if so what?
Many. OBLIVION is a near perfect film. I am such a sucker for a love story, particularly one that is intellectually stimulating and expressive about how two people love and care for one another. Too many movies try to express this incredibly deep emotion with a obligatory sex scene. OBLIVION made me believe in the sincerity of the characters. It was powerful and beautifully told without relying on fake energy. Good soundtrack and beautiful visuals too. I am really looking forward to RUSH (Formula 1 movie about James Hunt and Niki Lauda).
Who’s your favourite author?
Ayn Rand. There is a lot I could write about her and her work, but I would prefer if people would simply pick up one of her books and see if they find what I did. There are a great many other authors I’ve enjoyed throughout my life—too many to name—from just about every genre. The incredible variety of wonderful authors and great books is a treasure for all of us. There is something out there for everyone. Life is short. I encourage people to find a book they like, leave their world and worries behind for a bit, and take a journey into that author’s world. When you do that, you are connecting with that rich history of storytelling that has come down to us through the ages, as well as connecting with things within yourself.
The First Confessor The Legend of Magda Searus was a brilliant insight into the world and ancient history of Richard and Kahlan, what made you decide to visit these characters centuries upon centuries before your two main protagonists even existed?
I’ve always wanted to tell Magda’s story. It is the beginning of everything and it’s the bedrock upon which Richard and Kahlan will eventually build and reshape their world. It is the foundation and genesis for nearly everything that comes after in that world. Not telling Magda’s story would have left Richard and Kahlan forever incomplete. They simply could not exist without Magda’s life and sacrifice. I see the things in my imagination that readers haven’t had a chance to see yet, and I want to bring them those stories. That’s how THE FIRST CONFESSOR came to be told.
You also caused some controversy amongst your fans (myself included) in deciding to publish The First Confessor as an e-book and audio book, what made you go down this path?
Just because I want to write a book and tell a story like the story of THE FIRST CONFESSOR, that doesn’t mean that in the practical world of publishing I can always do so. It’s a big investment for a publisher and they have many other factors to consider. Therefore, authors don’t always have the say they would like over how a book gets presented to readers. I wanted to tell this story my way, and present it with my vision.
Because this story was so important to me, I wanted not only to write it, but to be involved with every creative aspect of this book, from design and cover to the way it was promoted, its presentation, messaging, the talent for the audio book, the price, and its simultaneous world-wide on sale date. We announced the book and had it for sale to everyone, simultaneously, world-wide, within 90-days. These things are not controllable in traditional publishing. The only way for this book to come to life and to keep the vision intact was to self-publish.
With traditional publishing, all the creative and publishing details are decided by others. For a book as important as THE FIRST CONFESSOR, I just couldn’t allow these things to be turned over to people who would never devote the attention and care I knew the book deserved.
We made big waves doing things this way and it meant giving up a big advance and taking on a lot more work for myself than would have otherwise been required. But in the end it was worth it to be true to myself as an author, true to the characters, and true to fans who wanted to read a story from me that they had never imagined. I am able to give readers a book I was passionate about, presented with the highest quality imagery, and all at a great price.
I do understand the merits of e-books and audio books but my collector deep inside would love to own a copy of The First Confessor to sit next to your other novels. Will this ever happen?
Thank you, and I can certainly understand your perspective. I, too, love a printed books. Imagine how I feel not being able to put my own book on a shelf. But this book was a unique case of a very special story and it wasn’t possible to do a regular printed edition. I’m thrilled with what we accomplished and very proud of every aspect of the book.
The important thing is that the story now exists. I think the story itself is vastly more important than a format. The format is merely a delivery system for the story. Stories used to be told around a campfire, so we started the long tradition of storytelling without even having the printed word.
We were able to produce 300 Limited Edition Collector’s packages for fans. They were $300 each and we spent a great deal more money creating those packages that they were sold for. We never intended to make money on them. They were a labor of love for people who wanted something more and as our thanks for being such incredible fans. We were determined to give them something that no one else has ever done before. Quite honestly, we had no idea what the response was going to be. We were worried we’d have 300 very expensive, lovingly crafted packages sitting in a room with no one to buy them. We fretted over every aspect of the package content and design. My team poured their hearts and souls into building something truly special for me to offer. The end result is phenomenal and we sold out of the Collector Editions within 10 minutes of posting the listing online. The response was truly overwhelming.
We have something else in the works that will gratify book collectors. You might call it the ‘crown jewel’ of my work. We’re hard at work on it now and we won’t have anything to show for a while longer, but rest assured, we learned a lot from this first process and we have many more great things coming. I also wanted to say thank you to the readers who did purchase THE FIRST CONFESSOR. Your faith in and devotion to my books is incredibly inspiring. I cannot thank you enough for your support.
You named and shamed a pirate of your e-book which brings forth a huge problem with e-books, piracy. Given the electronic age, how can we stop this?
To clarify, we weren’t looking to shame anyone. A certain pirate was boasting on the internet about distributing THE FIRST CONFESSOR and being the first to offer my book for free. What we did was simply give him the exposure he seemed to so desperately want. So we publicly — very publicly — gave him that credit.
Piracy is such a multifaceted thing. While writing THE FIRST CONFESSOR, I asked my team to research piracy and find out what’s going on and what the issues are. I wanted to know why people pirate things, what I could do to stop that from happening and ultimately what it meant to me as an author in the long-run. Through this process, we learned a great deal about these things. The vast majority of piracy is not conducted by anarchists, political zealots, people who don’t want to pay for anything, or even outright thieves. What we found is that the majority of piracy is perpetrated by perfectly normal people who either (a) cannot get access to a product, (b) feel a lack of value or disagree with a price, or (c) it’s a public relations problem. In the end, we empathize with those concerns and we feel it is our job as Authors and Publishers to fix this. We need people to value books, feel like they are getting what they paid for and that they’re getting a great value for their hard earned money. That’s our problem to work on. So with THE FIRST CONFESSOR, we did that.
We priced the ebook at the MSRP of $9.99 USD (cheaper than any other major release ebook) because that’s the price people feel is fair for a new ebook. And we agree. Then we went even further by offering the book at a promotional discount for the first few months. We also made the book available world-wide on the same launch day. Why should someone in Australia be forced to wait for content when it’s available somewhere else in the same format and same language, weeks or even months in advance? We worked hard to help people understand the value of the book. It takes me a year to write a novel. Then it takes a lot of work designing and creating the cover, transcoding manuscript to electronic formats, there are people like copyeditors who need to get paid. Marketing is another major expense. We were transparent about those things and proved that ebooks, in spite of being electronic, are not simply ‘free’. They are still expensive to make and it takes a lot of hard work and effort by a number of people simply to get them to market.
The most important thing I think we didn’t do was simply write-off piracy as a criminal act. We wanted to understand it and see what we could do about it from our end to make the book worth buying. We know most people are honest and want value received for what they pay. We believe it is our duty to make the book more attractive than a pirated copy. Ultimately, in spite of all of this work, someone still decided to steal that work and brag about causing us harm. So we gave that person full credit for the deed and put a spotlight on it. The public found their actions reprehensible and we let the community tell that part of the story.
With that said, do you plan to visit Magda and Merrit again?
You know, I have so many characters in my head, so many stories I want to tell, so many books I want to write . . . Readers are only aware of what they have seen so far, so it is natural for them to want more stories about those things they know, but I have an imagination full of stories and characters readers can’t yet imagine. Some of those stories might involve Magda again. It’s a big commitment to write a book and I have so many incredible books aching to come out.
Besides the obvious, are there any other parallels between Richard / Merrit and Kahlan / Magda?
Your latest novel, The Third Kingdom links to The First Confessor in some very powerful ways. Was this a planned storyline or something that just happened?
With the careful way in which I write, nothing just happens. There is a definite plan and I know where I’m going with each story. THE FIRST CONFESSOR is a keystone book that helps readers appreciate what happened within the world of the Sword of Truth and what is now happening to Richard and Kahlan after CONFESSOR and well into my newest book, THE THIRD KINGDOM. I’m fully committed to telling the story in full and to do that required finally revealing the beginning. And with that, now there can be an end.
What I also enjoyed about your latest novel was that you did not disadvantage readers who missed the e-book. How did you work that in?
My personal goal as a writer is to always tell a complete story. I don’t ever want a reader to feel like they’re outside the party. I want each of my books to feel complete from start to finish. That’s a tricky thing to balance. Too much inclusiveness and long-time readers get annoyed. They suggest I repeat things too often or spend more time than they’d like covering interweaving details from other books. If I don’t do enough of that, though, then new readers, readers who drifted away from the series for a while, or even readers who can’t remember it all, end up feeling lost. In the end, it’s my job as a writer to make my readers trust in me to take them through the story and to guide them along the way.
You’ve written some diabolical villains in the past from Drahken Rahl to Empire Jagang and the nefarious Lord Arc… who has been your favourite villain?
That question makes me smile because you have not yet seen just how diabolical Hannis Arc really is and I can’t wait to show you.
What was the biggest challenge in writing The Third Kingdom?
Returning to the traditional publishing world after my brief vacation with THE FIRST CONFESSOR. While it was a lot of work, it was a treat for a change to be able to have things done exactly how I envisioned them and wanted readers to see everything, instead of how a publisher wanted to do everything. It’s hard to turn control of all the details and the visual representation over to other people to do it their way. That said, I am very proud of THE THIRD KINGDOM and I know readers are going to love this story.
Sammie or Samantha is a new character that you introduced in your latest novel. Will she play an important character in the next novel as she has blossomed from apprentice to sorcereress?
In ways you cannot yet possibly imagine.
Who is your favourite character to write in the Richard and Kahlan novels?
It’s impossible to pick a favorite. It really is. A number of them, like Richard, Kahlan, Zedd and many others have been my close friends for 20 years now. I want to be true to each and every one of them, heroes and villains alike.
What about most difficult?
The biggest problem I have now is not writing the other stories I want to tell. Too many stories, too little time.
Are there any bits of you, your friends or family in the novels?
Absolutely. Stories are written from the sum total of one’s experience. Imagine, for a moment, being born into the world this very instant, without ever having experienced anyone or anything. With no friends or family, your mind is a blank in regard to human relationships. You’ve had no experience with a friend, loved anyone, or been loved by anyone. How would you write so much as a sentence about a character? How would you describe love, longing, betrayal, greed, revenge, hatred, without a baseline to go off of? You can’t create a love story if you’ve never actually experienced love at a variety of levels. Everything you write is dependent on what you have been exposed to—what you’ve seen, heard, done, or learned about from others. Those experiences, those people you’ve met and know, give a writer a well of knowledge from which to draw in order to help make characters ring true for readers.
I’m fascinated behind the mythology of the Mord Sith, will you revisit their history and origins? Or even a spin-off novel considering the conclusion of the final book?
At the moment, no.
The Law of Nines successfully bridged the gap of fantasy versus the thriller genre, do you have plans to revisit these characters again?
THE LAW OF NINES is misunderstood and was never meant to be a cross-over novel as it is sometimes interpreted to be. This is the fault of poor messaging completely out of this author’s control. That’s what happens when a publisher is in control. From the beginning I was very clear about what the book really was and how I wanted that book presented, but ‘marketing folks’ had their own ideas and against my wishes they insisted on tying THE LAW OF NINES to the Sword of Truth books. They thought it was a good idea. It wasn’t. THE LAW OF NINES is a contemporary thriller with only veiled nods for longtime readers eager to try my work in a different genre. They were in a way robbed of that full experience by such misleading messaging that planted mistaken notions in their heads. The relationship back to the Sword of Truth books was never intended to be anything more than a nod and a wink for fans.
With that said, could it be possible for Alex Rahl and Jax to ever meet Richard and Kahlan?
It’s a shame that Legend of the Seeker was not picked up for a third season. What were your favourite parts of this series and also your not-so favourite aspects?
Sam Raimi originally considered doing either a movie or a television series based on the books. I couldn’t fathom how a movie could be done. THE LORD OF THE RINGS is one book that spans three movies, each about three plus hours long. That’s around 10 hours of movie time for one book. Even WIZARD’S FIRST RULE, much less the Sword of Truth series, is simply too long to be compacted into a movie and I could not see how it could be done and still preserve the integrity of the story. So I suggested a television series be done instead. He loved the idea and we put together an outline for how the series would work. Everyone loved it, the show was purchased, the rights were secured, and things were on a great path.
Somewhere along the way the show was handed off from a very capable, series-adoring group of people and ended up in the palms of a team that didn’t want to tell stories from the books. They wanted to make their own show and they used LEGEND OF THE SEEKER as a vehicle for borrowing some ideas, mixing in their own, and then they put on a show. Within minutes of the first episode, fans knew something had gone terribly askew.
I will never understand the logic behind licensing a book series adored by millions of fans world-wide and then tossing all of them to the side. It meant a very expensive television show had to start with zero audience and the people who invested a lot of money thinking they were acquiring a beloved series, were in fact buying something different and starting out with a negative following. Inevitably, that proved too much for the show and it was cancelled.
I value the television series for bringing new fans to the books and I greatly appreciate the fan-community that sprung to life when the series was cancelled. Notably, the Save Our Seeker campaigners that have done so much for the television series and the books. I’m also happy that many people, mostly people who had never read the books, enjoyed the show, and that I had a part in bringing them some entertainment. There were also many wonderful people who worked on the show but who had no say in it and wished, like most of my readers, that the show would have stayed true to the story as written. I always appreciated and respected their hard work and dedication.
How can we help the campaign to get the network to pick up the series again?
The Save Our Seeker campaign is the hotspot for fans of the television series.
Can you give us a few scoops or exclusives of what we can expect in your next Richard and Kahlan novel? Or even your future books?
The book I am writing now is the sequel to THE THIRD KINGDOM. It will be available around the end of next Summer. But there’s a lot more in store for 2014…
Last but not least, The First Confessor saw the origin of The Sword of Truth. How did you come up with this brilliant idea?
The creation of the Sword of Truth is a parable for life. It is our journey, our struggle, our challenges. There is sacrifice, loss, destruction, pain, and ultimately, if you rise up and live, there can be triumph.
Once again Terry, thanks for 20 years of novels and all the best for the future!
Thank you so much for having me. It was a lot of fun! Thank you to everyone at Impulse Gamer and to all of your readers for taking the time. You can find more at www.TerryGoodkind.com or follow me via www.Facebook.com/terrygoodkind.