The beginning of the author chat delves into his origin story as a writer: how he grew interested in writing in the first place, how he was mentored in graduate school, and how the Dresden Files came out of trying to prove his instructor wrong by doing everything she told him to do. He discusses how he never set out to write urban fantasy, he didn’t want to write urban fantasy.
EASTERCON: “I’m seeing new subseries in the Dresden Files develop over the years. You’ve got the continuing subplot with the Black Council, the White Court and Black Court – though the Red Court has been thoroughly resolved – and you have the Denarians, and then you’ve got Mab’s scheming. And – it’s really coming into view the cross-cultural, cross-mythological, and then there’s sort of Cthulhu lurking in the shadows. Was this deliberate, did you set out to design it this way, all these interlocking playgrounds as it were, or is this sort of an emerging property of the thing?”
JIM BUTCHER: “Oh, pretty much the emerging property, except one thing I had planned, I knew that every fifth book I wanted to have the Denarians show up. So they were scheduled for books 5, 10, 15, and 20. Yeah, it’s really that simple.”
EASTERCON: “Do you often have major new factions appearing?”
JB: “Well, yeah, to a degree. Kind of – the most popular bad guys of the series are only just now starting to show up. The Fomor, we’ve been seeing bits and pieces of those in the last few novels, and even more closely followed in the short stories that have been out lately. You get the closest glimpse of them in John Marcone’s story, which is called Even Hand, which is one of my favorite short stories because God, that is a scary guy. A lot of what I’ve been doing, a lot of the writing I did in the early series, I was very good about trying to set up for the end of the series. I remember wondering to myself – am I ever going to be able to write the end of the series? I’m having fun. I love getting to pay off things that I’ve been laying out for a long time. The one I’m working on now, this one is Peace Talks. Basically all the member nations of the Unseelie Accords are gathering together. I’m sure everything will go smoothly, then afterwards they’ll all go down to the bar together and sing some songs.”
They spoke a lot of the Codex Alera, and how it sprung out of a bet Butcher made with someone who was wrong on the internet. An interesting thing to not: If he returns to Alera, it would be to cover the adventures of the first Cursor class after Tavi becomes First Lord.
EASTERCON: “You talk about the twenty book arc for the world – what about the character arc? Do you have an outline of what those characters are learning through that journey?”
JB: “The character arcs that I had in mind are – were – for very objective stuff. This character is going to have to grow this much in order to face this amount of danger or risk. That was mostly centered around Harry. But how they got to that point was not scripted very closely. Personality wise, I didn’t script it very well at all because at that point I wasn’t capable of keeping track of that as a writer. That’s something I’ve been learning as I’m going on. One other thing I specifically did not do, was I did not script Harry’s love life. I wanted that to be something that was organic and part of the books. As it turns out, the people you love can have some minor effects on the rest of your life. I don’t know if Harry will get a happy ending in that sense. That’s something I’m telling myself.”
EASTERCON: “After you complete Dresden Files, do you see yourself writing more stories within that sort of setting, some of the other characters, slightly spinning off and expanding?”
JB: “I’ve got one spin-off series in mind at the moment. It stars a character we’ve already met. I’m not gonna tell you who. Then I’ve got a young adult series my sister and I are sketching out now, it’s gonna be Maggie going to St. Mark’s Academy for the Gifted and Talented with Mouse. It showed up in one of the Bigfoot series. It’s a school where a bunch of supernatural beings send their kids to school together.”