I’ve never had him wiggling on literal hooks. Have I?
I’m pretty sure I haven’t.
adds to checklist
Yesterday, Jim Butcher participated in one of the infamous Reddit AMAs. This is always an exciting event. Who better to do an interview than fans? We know the material backward and forward, inside and out, and we’re not there to ask stupid questions. A lot of great material came out of the AMA, but if there is one thing I’ve found about Reddit AMAs it’s that not everyone is willing or able to read the Reddit interface. This is why I decided to write up everything Dresden-related that we found out, organized by category.
I’m not obsessive.
Without further ado:
Seidmadr: What’s the progress on Peace Talks? I’m not trying to rush you here, but it’s fun to know how things are going along.
Jim Butcher: Should have it ready by the end of the year. This one has been a real roller coaster in my personal life.
onetwo_three: Will you make the Peace Talks dead line you mentioned of October first?
Jim Butcher: Nah, it’s been bumped to January 1. It’s been a hell of a year.
Nicolasmilioni: AlternaHarry from Mirror Mirror, is his magic different from the harry we already know?
Jim Butcher: Mirror universe Harry is different by one choice. One. And everything else just follows after that.
Plastgeek: In the past, you’ve said that the events that happened in Changes were supposed to happen in book 10 of the series. You have also indicated that the Denarians show up in books numbered in multiples of five. So if Changes had ocurred as planned, how would the Nickelheads have factored into what went down?
Jim Butcher: I said that? Are you sure? I couldn’t have. Well maybe I did.
Scanning back on it, if the Denarians had been involved, Harry would probably have had to lean more toward Lasciel as his get-out-of-paralysis-free card, and Nicodemus as his new best frenemy rather than Mab, in order to make the whole thing work out. He would have instantly come into conflict with Sanya, as well, over the possession of the Swords, and maybe with Murphy as well. Molly would have had to make a really horrible choice at that point, and probably would have walked out of it even more guilty and more ready to destroy herself after Harry’s shooting. She probably would have wound up a Denarian herself.
Wow, that’s a dark story. Who would come up with something like that? What’s wrong with you?
Ilwrath: Just how hard is it to make those Warden swords that have fallen out of use since Lucio was reembodied?
Jim Butcher: Super hard to make a Warden sword. You need a person who is capable of both highly powerful and extremely complex and subtle magic who is /also/ a swordsmith, able to take the weapon from ore to finished product with his or her own hands. That is a rare confluence of talent, especially since most of the people who have the first two don’t really have the time to come up with the third, or to spend their time in the forge making such swords happen.
Seidmadr: Your ghouls seem to be quite heavily inspired by Lovecraft, same with the Fomor and the Outsiders… Are there any other major Lovecraftian inspirations? Do you consider yourself a Lovecraftian writer?
Jim Butcher: No, I consider myself a writer who played way too much Call of Cthulhu. :) I actually just finished a short story where Molly, in her first mission for the Court as the Winter Lady, pits herself (and Warden Ramirez) against a Cult of the Sleeper. :)
HalcyonKnight: Vadderung is Santa Claus, is he also St Nicholas?
Jim Butcher: And Father Christmas and Sinterklaas and a variety of others. But in our modern era, a lot of people wear multiple hats on the job.
Mab and Titania
onetwo_three: Is Nic older than Mab?
Jim Butcher: He is.
Ostergard: I was talking with a friend about the faerie courts, and since we live in Australia, we were both wondering what the explanation is for the seasons being reversed in the southern hemisphere. Does Titania take a vacation down south for Christmas? Or is there a seperate pair of courts for the south?
Jim Butcher: Oh, no, they’ll just rotate interests. Mab has more power in the southern winter, Titania in the southern summer. Though, as fundamentally northern-hemisphere, basically Western European beings, they don’t have the kind of absolute reign there that they enjoy in other parts of the world, and their relationships there consist more of strong alliances and consensus influence among a much larger population of Wyld fae.
onetwo_three: Aurora, Maeves and Sarissas father was an austrian composer. Even though austria is very old, is it reasonable to assume that they were conceived between 1500 and 1900.
Jim Butcher: It is.
Louisthe: Are all Red Court and Black Court vampires evil? I ask that because I want to play the Dresden Files RPG with my friends and I wanted to create a character that was a RC Vampire, that still has a sense of honor and goodness, like Angel and Spike. The Red Court are my favorites! Is such a character possible in the Dresdenverse?
Jim Butcher: This is a pretty huge question and depends a lot on how you view the world.
Red Court vampires, by definition, to become a vampire, have to murder someone else to become what they are. They have to end another person’s life to satisfy a desire that does not /need/ to be satisfied in order for them to continue living. Every single one of them makes a choice to sate that desire rather than allow another human being to live–the Fellowship of St. Giles proves that.
(Of course, there are shades of grey involved–a half-vampire who was kept starving and without water in a basement for three days before they were thrown a mortal has a much more difficult time making a clear-headed choice than a half-vampire who was restrained yet cared for by a group of religiously fanatic monks at a Fellowship stronghold, but there’s still a choice being made.)
That could, by some people, be considered a working definition of evil. Sometimes unfortunate, sometimes understandable as to how someone could make that choice, but evil nonetheless.
Black Court Vamps are a different story. They’re actually tainted by something hideous and unworldly. They are driven to kill to survive. They don’t really have a lot of choice about it. They enjoy being what they are, and doing what they do. They can be sad that they don’t have someone who loves them, or upset that the world has passed them by and has changed on them, but at the end of the day, they’re basically black-hearts who occasionally pull out a few of the tattered remains of their humanity, fail to fit back into them like they used to, and get maudlin about their glory days when they could watch the sun rise.
HalcyonKnight: How are Black Court Master Vampires made/elevated? Elders?
Jim Butcher: Mainly by growing more powerful by feeding on more lives. The more you kill, the stronger you are, as a Black Court vamp. Also by demonstrating that you can beat the stuffing out of your rivals. They’re very much a Darwinian society of might-makes-right.
But most of the old ones worked out that you can’t just go on killing sprees to farm XP. You’re helpless a large portion of every day, and the food will come find you and end you. So they wait for good opportunities for that kind of thing. Wars, famines, and plagues are awesome for leveling up.
Ilwrath: Would Butters be able to repel a black Court vampire with Polka music?
Jim Butcher: Butters could not repel a Black Court Vampire with polka music, though he could potentially scorch the crap out of one with a Kosher hot dog on the right day.
Halaku Armor: Question if you don’t mind, sir. While we know (or think we know) the current status of Lasciel, is Lash’s story over?
Jim Butcher: Bonea is Lash’s little girl. Lasciel wasn’t Lash, specifically, but you don’t get to be a fallen angel without having a certain amount of irrational egotism and pride. And we’ve well established that Dresden committed the worst sin possible in Lasciel’s eyes–he wounded her pride. >:)
You really think a being like that is going to let it end there?
DaedelusMinion: So Dresden has been going from regular Wizard to semi-immortal over the course of the last few books- when you first started writing Dresden, did you ever imagine him to be this strong later on or was it just something that happened as you wrote the books?
Jim Butcher: Oh, he’s been leveling up since the very first short story I wrote him in, “Restoration of Faith.”
And yeah, he’s doing what I meant him to do from the get-go. :) We’ve got a ways to go yet, even now.
Though technically, he’s nowhere close to immortal. He’s a lot more formidable than he was when he got started, but honestly, most of the older wizards have got their own crazy background of powerups which they do not advertise. Listens-To-Wind’s shapeshifting isn’t purely a matter of wizardly skill (though his healing abilities are), for example.
But here’s the key thing about people of power in the Dresden universe (and in the real world): the truly dangerous folks do not advertise. Not ever. They have no need to show off, and constantly displaying how scary they are would be counter to their own interests. You generally only find out that that little old lady is a spooky-bizarro master of wing-chun when you actually break into her house and try to hurt her granddaughter. Or that the quiet little guy with the receding hairline and glasses is a former Navy Seal when you grab his wife and try to drag her into an alley.
All the senior wizards have got something up their sleeve, and every single one of them is hiding it from all the others. If they don’t know about it, they can’t plan for it, and the “knowledge is power” wizard crowd is all about planning for things.
But we are coming up on the time when people are going to have their backs to the wall and we’re going to start seeing what they’ve got. And I’ve been looking forward to writing it for nearly twenty years. >:)
Devils_advocate36: Love the Dresden series and have to ask how you as an author deal with the inevitable power creep as the stories go? When your hero/villain is at the point where they are so powerful that it’s hard to right a situation where they can’t just overpower every normal mundane challenge how do you make the story relate able to your audience?
Jim Butcher: You deal with power creep by having the story have an end.
I’m one of those people who thinks that stories aren’t stories unless they end, and that a “neverending story” is kind of an oxymoron. Harry has what he needs to thrash and scream and wriggle on the hook against whatever foe he has facing him, and he’ll continue to have just enough power to get himself well and truly into deep trouble, all the way through.
But, I know what the end game is, where he’s going to wind up, and what he’s going to wind up doing. So it’s not hard to make sure that he grows at more or less the right pace.
Ilwrath: Did he officially name the spirit Bonnie?
Jim Butcher: He named her Bonea, an old Scot name meaning “beautiful.” Plus it has the word “bone” in it and she lives in a skull, and his sense of humor has never been exactly subtle.
Bonnie is her everyday nickname. :)
onetwo_three: Is it important, that Bonnie does not look like Molly?
Jim Butcher: Bonnie’s a spirit. If she wants to look like something, she could probably practice and look like basically whatever she wanted. Right now she looks like a cute little ball of light. But I suspect that she’d instinctively be more likely to make herself look like Maggie than Molly, if only because the two of them are in something vaguely like the same relation to Harry.
onetwo_three: Is Bonnie going to have free will like a human, or does she need to obey her sister every time Maggie picks her up? Is the answer somewhere in the middle?
Jim Butcher: She’s a spirit of intellect, just like Bob. Same rules. :)
Nicolasmilioni: Could a spirit of knowledge like Bob [or Bonnie] possess a powerful wizard, being able to use the vast knowledge of a spirit together with the magic of a mortal wizard?
Jim Butcher: Potentially–though wizards are notoriously difficult to possess, especially for any length of time. Evil Bob tried it on Dresden and couldn’t hold him even long enough to really get inside.
Seidmadr: Why does Bob [and Bonnie] have to obey whoever owns his skull? Is it because of the enchantments on the skull, or is it just that all spiritual entities must obey whoever controls their sanctum?
Jim Butcher: It’s the bargain Bob made to be who he is, basically. The skull is essentially his contract–shelter in exchange for service.
Nicolasmilioni: Is goodman grey able to steal magic from wizards like the first naagloshi we ever saw could?
Jim Butcher: He /can/, but it’s ruinously costly for him. The more you become something other than you are, the less of you is left over. He could, theoretically, get a gulp of Dresden’s blood and become Dresden, power and all–but, especially with such a powerful will in question, he would /be/ Dresden at that point. There wouldn’t be anything of /Grey/ left over to make decisions. It would basically be a form of suicide, only with a really hard-on-buildings corpse left over.
The Naagloshii themselves, as immortals, are immutable. Grey has free will.
-EG-: A) Was the New Madrid earthquake event Eb’s first act or job as Blackstaff?
B) Did Eb accidentally kill his wife during said event?
C) What was the reason for the event? What beings or circumstances were present/occurring in Eb’s backyard that required him to act?
Jim Butcher: Hmmm, let me think what I can share out.
Eb’s enemies got to his wife. That is, ultimately, why he hid his daughter and had little to do with her until she was grown and had shown that she had power. And, ultimately, why she wound up being a wild child and rebel and getting into a world of trouble that ultimately resulted in her death (but also Harry Dresden).
Drakul wasn’t a scion of anything! He was something entirely unhuman that got trapped in human form. Dracula was his half-human child, who naturally had enormous paternal issues, and wound up creating himself as the first Black Court Vampire in an effort to win his father’s approval.
It didn’t work out so well.
onetwo_three: You said before that Eb’s wife was mortal, but is Eb’s wife Harry’s grandmother?
Jim Butcher: She is.