Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Tracy Hickman and Margaret Weis on Geekerati Tonight

On January 6th of this year, Tor-Forge published the first novel in an exciting new series by Margaret Weis and Tracy Hickman. The book, Bones of the Dragon, is the first in a saga inspired in part by Viking Sagas. It is a tale where the acts of men will determine the fate of gods. Weis and Hickman will be visiting the Geekerati BlogTalkRadio show tonight at 7pm Pacific to discuss this new series, the Dragonlance Saga, writing for gaming, writing for hire vs. writing for ownership, and the challenges of co-authoring works.

In 1984, Tracy Hickman was a game designer at TSR and Margaret Weis was a book editor at the same company. Both had been assigned to work on different aspects of a new product line for TSR entitled Dragonlance. Tracy was hard at work trying to, as he put it, "corale resources in the company to produce a little dream called Dragonlance." Margaret was to edit a book related to the product. It would be the first gaming related novel and TSR wanted success. So they set a couple criteria regarding the selection of who would author the book. According to Hickman, "it had to be a recognizable name author with an established audience and, second, he had to work for very little money on a project he could not own."

Though an initial author was selected to write the Dragonlance book, it was Hickman and Weis who eventually took the reins and ran with the project. What a project it became! Not only did the Dragonlance Saga create the genre of gaming related fiction, but it has spawned a library of over 190 novels, a couple of lines of comic books, and an animated film. All of this on top of the vast treasure trove of gaming material created in the Dragonlance Universe. 2009 marks the 25th anniversary of the setting and Cinerati can't help but believe that Wizards of the Coast, TSR's successor company, have some gaming surprise planned for later this year.

Hickman and Weis have written about a score of novels in the Dragonlance setting, but they have also written another score of novels completely unrelated to the Dragonlance Saga. From the Arabian Nights inspired Rose of the Prophet series to the post-apocalyptic Death Gate Cycle fantasy series. In support of their Darksword quadrology, they wrote a paperback sized role playing game entitled Darksword Adventures. The book was released in 1988 and it signaled the end, by publishers, of attempts to create mass market paperback market for role playing games. Prior to Darksword Adventures, Corgi had published the excellent Dragon Warriors paperback role playing game (a wonderful new version of the game is being published by Magnum Opus Press) and a paperback edition of Tunnels and Trolls as well as several of that game's solo adventures, and Puffin had published the Advanced Fighting Fantasy Role Playing Game as a follow up to its own Fighting Fantasy Gamebooks.

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