Pez dispensers and Dramamine By Kirsten Akens
Sometimes nicknames have nothing to do with a person, and sometimes there's a specific reason for them. Knowing the odds of getting published were about a million to one, author Jim Butcher selected the moniker "Longshot" in the early '90s.
Ten years later, though he refuses to change the name, Butcher is a New York Times bestselling author with two fantasy series, The Dresden Files and Codex Alera. In January, the SciFi Channel developed The Dresden Files, a new TV show, which just wrapped up season one.
Earlier this month, the Independent phoned Butcher at his Missouri home to chat about writing, professional wizard Harry Blackstone Copperfield Dresden, the television show and his signing tour for the April release, White Night.
Indy: A few weeks ago, I was at Barnes & Noble, and they couldn't keep your books on the shelf. How would you say the new SciFi series has changed your life?
JB: It's changed things for the audience. ... It's really exposed the books to an enormous new audience. I have yet to see the difference it has made. But, yeah, there was a significant increase in sales after the first episode. So far, it hasn't done me anything but good.
Indy: How many more Dresden books do you have in the works?
JB: I'm planning on 20 casebooks. ... And I'll cap it all off with a big apocalyptic trilogy. 'Cause who doesn't love apocalyptic trilogies?
Indy: How long will that take you?
JB: I was working on chapter two of book 10 when you called. [The publishers] seem content to do one book a year.
Indy: People say picking favorite books is like picking favorite children. You only have one child do you have a favorite Dresden book?
JB: Dead Beat. I'd been waiting about four years [to write it], since I'd first seen the special on the History Channel on Tyrannosaurus Sue. ... Who hasn't wanted to stomp around town on a T-Rex?
Indy: Writers almost always infuse their writing with their own characteristics. How is Harry most like you and least like you?
JB: Harry's probably most like me in terms of, he's not a terribly advanced adult human being. He's kind of a big kid. That's what he shares most in common with me. I also seem to be a grownup who hasn't made it too far.
I'm sitting here and can see spare art from several of my covers tacked up on the wall with tacks. I can see my Bob the Skull Pez dispenser. An Obi-Wan Kenobi figure on one shelf. There's a sword on the wall. I'm a big kid.
Least like me? Probably in terms of his personal self-discipline. ... He's got self-control. I would love to be more like that. If somebody dropped Dresden's powers on me, I'd look more like one of the villains.
Indy: Talk a little about your Codex Alera series.
JB: Codex Alera is much more standard fantasy. It's swords-and-horses fantasy. As a kid, that's what I was reading. Codex Alera is, sort of, I, Claudius meets Pokemon.
Indy: How does it feel to have two writers in the family, now that [your wife] Shannon has a book out?
JB: I'm of the opinion that she's going to be more successful at romance than I've been at fantasy, given time. I'm just proud to death of her. ... [When the publishers were first designing her cover] they had this gothy cover ... then they replaced it with mostly naked people. So I knew someone liked her.
Indy: What are you reading currently?
JB: Lois Bujold. I want to have her children, professionally speaking. She doesn't write fast enough. ... And I just started writing Dresden again, so I'll probably give Robert B. Parker's Spenser series a read again.
Indy: Your tour starts next week. What do the next couple of months look like for you?
JB: You know, I'm not even looking past the tour. I'm going to be home about six days in April, total. I travel terribly. I'm one of those people who gets motion-sick when they play first-person shooter video games. I'm taking it one dose of Dramamine at a time.
Booksigning with Jim Butcher, Shannon Butcher, Mary Jo Putney and Barbara Samuel
Barnes & Noble Booksellers, 1565 Briargate Blvd.
Thursday, April 19, 7 p.m.
For more information, call 266-9960.
"The World According to Jim Butcher," Pikes Peak Writers Conference keynote presentation by Jim Butcher
Colorado Springs Marriott, 5580 Tech Center Drive
Saturday, April 21, 7:30 p.m.
Tickets: $45, includes dinner; call 531-5723 for ticket availability and reservations.