Dear readers and visitors to this on-line discussion:
Because answering questions online is a slow process (Brian reads them to me over the phone and then types out my answers on the website), it limits not only the number of questions I can answer, but also how completely I can address them. So, I asked Brian to select some questions beforehand and forward them to me so that I could have the opportunity to answer more reader questions and do so in a more thorough manner.
Here is a selection of god/important/interesting/insulting questions.
Q from "Captain Meiffert:" Terry, if you do not have access to the Internet, then how would you know if the administrators of the website in your name conduct themselves in a manner that you would approve?
A: It isn't as difficult as it seems. I've met Brian a number of times. I've had dinner with him. I've taken him on a hike through the woods in the rain (he was a good sport about it). I've talked to him on 1he phone many times. He understands my views and they fit with how he wants his site to run. He has faxed me things when he would like my opinion. When he has concerns, he contacts me to insure that he has my opinions. He is handling things in a way that I would approve. I have had many discussions with him.
Visitors to his site don't generally know the depth of background he has into why I do things in a particular way and my reasoning. He also keeps me informed about the general nature of what people are saying, what they're curious about and also about the nature of complaints about him and my writing. I've had reports from friends, who do visit the site, confirming not only what Brian has told me, but that the site is conducted in the way Brian has led me to believe. When he has been at my house, he has brought his computer and not only showed me some of the site but wanted me to ask to see anything I was curious about.
Brian, who is a fan and runs this page on his own time, at his own expense, is a responsible adult who handles many thorny issues and personalities in a mature and intelligent manner. I know this because I've had friends either tell me about what he has put on his page, including answers to hostile visitors, or given me small excerpts from
the page to show me how well he handles a wide variety of issues. In all of this, everything I've seen or heard has been consistent with what Brian tells me in person, on the phone, or in faxes; he has proven to me that he is a man of his word.
So you see, it isn't as hard as it seems.
Q from "Oba:" Have you ever thought to do another short story (novel-T.G.), like Debt of Bones, maybe dealing with some of the events that are touched upon In Kola's journal?
A: I have thought about this, along with a great number of other areas I would like to explore, not only within the series, but outside. There are many factors involved and I'm always appraising what I want to write, how I want to write it, and when I would like to write it. In general, though, the main books of the series are my primary concern and while these other issues are of interest, they are minor in relation to how much thought I put into the broader scope of the story I'm telling through the major novels which I intend for now to be the centerpiece of my work.
Q from Captain Meiffer1: Terry, to what extent do external factors such as financial issues, publisher deadlines, and fan expectations influence what you write and how quickly you write?
A: This is a really good question because I don't think that most readers have the foggiest understanding of what underlying factors influence the books they read. There's a great deal of misconception about writing. Authors do not exist in a vacuum in which they create "art." They are people who: in general, need to make a living. Publishers, also, are in business not only to make a living for those who work there but also to make a return on their investment. I think that there is too little understanding of how important it is for publishers to earn a profit. Publishers are not charities nor should they be; they must pay the rent and meet the payroll. The ideal situation is when a publisher can be proud of what they publish and make money doing it. This is the situation with my publisher, Tor. I honestly believe they're proud to publish not only Robert Jordan and Terry Goodkind, but all the rest of their line. Don't forget, these are people who for the most part are drawn to work there.
But there are practical considerations involved. Most people don't have any inkling of the role the deal has played in famous books, what is written, and how long it takes. After FAITH OF THE FALLEN I had before me a number of options. Tor made me an offer which insured that I could concentrate on continuing to write books in the Sword of Truth series. The deal thus shaped what I will write.
When an author is just starting out, or is selling modest numbers, he has much less control, although publishers- Tor anyway- usually try hard to publish a book as the author wishes. Sometimes, though, publishers feel the need to exert control, especially with new writers, who don't have any business experience. For instance, when I wrote Wizard's First Rule, I was unknown. My editor wanted me to take out the first rule as readers would be insulted and hate the book. He wanted me to substitute the explanation of why people would believe a lie, for the rule itself. I used the explanation of the rule in most cases in order to satisfy my publisher, through my editor. But I would not remove the first instance of the rule being stated. My editor grudgingly went along, since I had met him part way by removing repetitions of the rule and replacing it with the explanation, instead. Readers don't know how much effort I had to put into keeping the rule, as written, in the book. Had my editor been more forceful at exerting the publisher's authority, it might well have been cut. For all authors there are many such battles and often the implications are larger, such as book length, plot lines, and delivery dates. I'm pleased to say, though, that with minor exception, Tor has never interfered with what I write; they have encouraged me to write my stories the way I feel they need to be written. More than that, They have made it clear to me that they are proud to publish my books, not just because they are marketable and make money, but also because they are highly original, worthwhile, and influential.
Because not only the publisher but the booksellers, too, are in business and must pay the rent, there are time considerations. A publisher announces the publication of a big best-selling book and bookstores plan shelf space. If the author fails to deliver a manuscript in time, and as a result the publisher does not come through with the book, it causes huge problems for the bookstores, which cause everyone trouble. This happens sometimes, but it's in everyone's interest to do their best to avoid such gigantic problems. The higher the numbers involved, the more important it becomes, so there is pressure, but there is pressure in any work.
One of the other factors is that the fantasy genre is very regimented, with strict rules with regard to plot and content. I break those rules, but I break them with clear philosophical reasoning behind what I do. Tor allows me the freedom to write my books in my way, not because they think I'm a swell guy, but because they believe in what I'm doing and because I've proven myself. This is not to say that they aren't sometimes nervous about the things I do, because I do break the rules, but because I sell a lot of books they tend to give me extraordinary freedom to write the story I want to tell.
One of the basic concessions I made in the very beginning was allowing my books to be published as fantasy in the first place. I was well aware that the reality of publishing is that everything has to be slotted in categories. From certain standpoints, I dislike my books being published as fantasy, yet I recognize the reality of the marketplace and know that there is little choice. I believe in dealing with reality not railing against it to accomplish my goals, so I knew from the beginning that it would be published as fantasy.
Different categories attract different audiences. Fantasy, generally, is read, far more often than other genres, by adolescents and thus not taken seriously by the rest of the literary world. I write for adults. I do not write for an adolescent audience. That makes me oddly out of place in fantasy.
The simple truth is, most adolescents do not yet have the intellectual capacity to understand the totality of the important human themes I'm writing about. At that age, I didn't either. These readers enjoy the story and grasp the concepts on a simplistic level, and I'm pleased about that, but they are not yet able to comprehend the larger issues about which I am writing. As I continue writing more novels, and more successful novels I'm able to include more complex ideas into my work the deals thus influenced the writing.
This is important, for the purpose of this discussion, because it strikes at the core theme of THE PILLARS OF CREATION: the conflict of primacy of consciousness versus primacy of existence. Since this is a vital philosophical division, I need to explain, In part, its importance.
A child is born without knowledge. He is a clean slate. A child learns by using his senses to perceive his environment. His mother rings the bells hanging over his crib; he sees her push a ball and roll it across the floor. He learns that his rattle makes noise when he shakes it. When he shakes one of his blocks, and it doesn't rattle, he may cry because he wants it to make the "rattle" sound he likes to hear, but it won't make the sound. He wants his ball to float up into the air the way a balloon does, but it will not conform to his wishes and so he screams and throws a fit, This viewpoint is called primacy of consciousness; he expects the world to heed his wishes because he wishes it. As he grows up, he comes to discover that each thing that exists acts according to its nature - the law of identity. A ball rolls, a tree will not. His dog will not give birth to kittens. It gets dark when the sun sets and will not rise to suit him; He is using his senses to discover truths about reality so that he can survive. He learns, for example, not to put his hand in fire.
This is called primacy of existence - things are what they are. Everything obeys the laws of identity. A chair will not cook dinner. A car will not fly. The lawn will not sprout bacon. Through the primacy of existence, we learn what is true about existence.
Later, he begins to learn concepts by first grouping things. A chair can be made in a variety of styles-the tall chairs at the breakfast bar. The skinny dining room chairs, the fat living room chairs, all have things in common even though they are different. He is able, when he sees a Victorian chair for the first time, to put it into the category "chair" because he has learned basic rules of integration that allow him to include new discoveries in abstract concepts. As he learns, he is able to incorporate things into broader-or narrower-categories; the chairs are part of a larger category: furniture, The categories can be narrowed by specific criteria: desk chairs; blue chairs; wooden chairs.
All knowledge about the world comes from the world itself. Before a child can distinguish objects, he must first perceive them, which is the axiomatic concept existence, followed by grasping the next axiom, identity. He then is able to make the next important step: the laws of identity.
All that he learns, now, and for the rest of his life, is ultimately reducible back down to sensory data. No matter how complex, all knowledge is based on this. By combining abstractions we form concepts. At the same time he is beginning to learn to apply the laws of identity to entities, he is being given other conflicting information. When the dog dies and he asks what happens to it, he is told that it goes to doggie heaven where it will be happy playing with other dogs. He is told Santa will come from the North Pole and give him gifts if he is a good boy. He is told that when good people die, they go to another life-a better life, Absent proof, he is told he must have faith, and believe. He is told to pray for what he wants - to wish for things. In school he may be taught that nature, as a surrogate god, is "good" and that just as in any religion, man is a tainted destroyer (the concept of original sin) of the "good." The higher in school he goes. The more he is encouraged to view reality as that which he can envision, and that his senses are a barbaric, crude, limited, and outdated.
The primacy of consciousness may still hold sway on his young mind. He is still an adolescent and the line between reality and wishful thinking is very murky. In this fanciful, wishful way of thinking, magic is still possible. More than possible, it is desirable, because magic is the way in which people shape reality to their wishes. That is what he is often told he must do, yet nothing else seems to be effective; existents stubbornly remain true to their identity, defying his mental pushing and contorting.
Books about magic are a strong lure because they seem to provide a concrete way for wishes to be made real. Many people believe in magic because it reinforces primacy of consciousness. For others, it's simply attractive because it's one of the many items offered at the vast, poisoned buffet of wishful thinking called mysticism. These readers
become agitated when some author (me) doesn't play by their rules and provide them with the formulaic fluff they want so they can continue their daydreaming unfettered. Once again reality rebuffs them.
Holding onto primacy of consciousness creates continuing, growing, and endless emotional turmoil because the price is constant war with reality, with the law of identity: a thing is what it is and behaves accordingly. Wishes are forever left unanswered. Praying for world peace seems a sacred goal but proves not only an endless task but a pointless one as well because the world will not conform to even the most earnest wishful thinking, despite how many candles people light. The world of reality becomes a hostile environment that will not behave as he believes it morally should. Asking deities, or the dead, or the hand of fate for deliverance from problems never seems to work. The excuse is always some mystical vagary, some ever-shifting equation. The person doing the wishful thinking is thus constantly frustrated at trying to rewrite the nature of reality; it simply won't work, even though he is constantly told that it will. This is the
core of the issue that leads so many people to do such horrific things to other people. Collectivist societies create an environment in which the official view is at odds with reality. They dismiss the value of life and of the individual and place all importance on some unworkable ideal they've dreamed up, substituting the "good" of society for god. They blame the people when it doesn't work, or shoot them when they try to leave the country. Such willful self-delusion leads those who hold to the primacy of consciousness to fly airliners into buildings because they believe god wants them to.
Primacy of consciousness is one of the main reasons for the popularity of fantasy books among children. Such books provide a concrete experience in which "magic" works. It feeds their wishful hope to harness reality and force it to obey. This is the reason I do not believe that writing fantasy for fantasy's sake is valid. It feeds the primacy of consciousness delusion, contributing fuel to the flames of people's endless war with reality.
Does all this mean that I don't like the fantasy genre, or think it's in some way an inferior genre? Not in the least. I think fantasy can be wonderfully rich and rewarding.
We are beings who must use our consciousness to imagine things, guided by our learning of the truth of reality, in order to create what is possible. We imagine machines that can fly, and use the laws of identity to create an airplane, to make our goals happen. When we want to fly somewhere, we get on a plane and place our lives in the hands of the laws of identity, of reality; we do not beseech some swami to go into a twitching trance at the end of the runway and commune with the dead in order to levitate the airplane. Imagination and creativity are part of our consciousness, part of they way humans survive. Fantasy stories can help us see truth. Truth is life.
Does this mean that I expect people to understand all this when they read my books? No. It only means that I must understand it in order to write the kind of fantasy which is realistic so that when thinking people read my books, they realize that the story rings true. It gives them a rush of excitement to see a realistic fantasy story. It means that in this way even though this is fantasy, they can make connections to their own metaphors and abstractions help us grasp concepts. For example, saying "a dark bruise" is not as vivid as "a bruise the color of an over-ripe plum." This is how concepts in the books, through abstraction, make the issues of truth more clear in our own lives.
This is part of what I mean when I say that fantasy is valid when used to illustrate important human themes. THE PILLARS OF CREATION is an example of this.
When I say that the theme of the book is a conflict of primacy, what do I mean? The series is about Truth and the proper, or valid, methods to discover Truth. In the book, Oba is a product of wishful thinking. He thinks that the world should conform to his wishes he believes in the primacy of consciousness. Jennsen uses her perceptions of reality in order to learn the truth. This is the micro issue of the conflict, but there is also a macro issue involved, and that is the conflict of these two views within the series as a whole. One clue I will add is this: Just because Richard uses magic, that by no means indicates that Richard is a practitioner of the primacy of consciousness. Within Richard's world, magic is a metaphysical fact. Richard acts consistently with the primacy of existence, in regards to magic, because for him, in his world, magic does exist and behaves according to the laws of its identity, (This is the reason people, rightly so, are always so picky that magic be consistent-they grasp the importance of the laws of identity.) Like us with many things in our world, there is much Richard does not know about it, but, like in our world, it behaves consistent with its reality in order to learn and discover truth.
Now, go back and think about the meaning of magic not working on Jennsen and how it fits into all this. I have a very clear reason for everything I write. While I'm writing these complex themes, I take a dim view of simplistic bromides thrown out by people not yet old enough to have a clue what they're really reading, nor the intellect to discuss the issues rationally, much less intelligently.
I have all these philosophical threads I'm weaving together, trying to remain consistent with the nature of truth in our world, tie it into the story I'm writing, illustrate important issues in a positive way that's an entertaining read but will have substance that will stand the test of time, and someone asks, "what's Gratch doing now?" This misses the point.
Please do not confuse what I say about my writing as arrogance. I strive for excellence, to do the very best I can do. I'm proud of what I've accomplished. Reasoned confidence in one's self is not arrogance.
I'm confident about what I do because I have well reasoned philosophy behind it. I act for sound reasons and with clear intent. I do not graze at the buffet of trendy, politically correct, regurgitated platitudes posing as wisdom, loosely assembled to resemble moral philosophy. Such notions are all still primacy of consciousness-wishful thinking. I always try to act in consistent accord with the primacy of existence. Recognizing reality for what it is is not arrogance, but simple understanding of basic truths.
Another reason I do like writing fantasy is that, because it is perceived as adolescent fiction, it's ignored by the greater publishing world. This allows me to get away with doing as I wish and reaching readers who do get it. Because fantasy is ignored, it provides nearly the only outlet for valuable stories about the kinds of people I wish to use as heroes and the important themes I wish to write about. The repressive politically correct way to write contemporary fiction is to write heroes as fatally flawed and to provide the reader with an unpleasant view of life in order to conform
to the prevailing (primacy of consciousness) view that reality is a bitter substitute for wishful thinking and imaginary ideals.
I work to insure that, to the best of my ability, everything I write is philosophically consistent with Truth. Most fantasy panders to adolescent demands for magic for the sake of magic, gratuitous video game like death and destruction, dragons just for the sake of dragons, and a high sword fight-per page count.
For intelligent readers, regardless of age, who welcome my way of writing, I'm honored to have you along for the ride. For thoughtful younger readers, fantasy, if done properly, can not only provide worthwhile heroes but help them to understand the nature of reality through stories that illustrate the primacy of existence, which ultimately leads them toward achieving goals by being in harmony with reality. In this way, I use fantasy the way we use our imagination to help us accomplish real goals in 1he real world.
As far as I know, I am the only author writing this kind of fantasy, I think it's important, meaningful, and will stand the test of time.
Whew. that one was long, wasn't it!?
Q from "Gai' Shain:" Terry, do you feel any apprehension or nervousness with Tor for the new book deal? By this, I mean are you at all fearful that you will not be able to complete 3 more books?
A: No. I have confidence because I know what I'm doing. I understand how I do what I do, I understand what I need to do, the reasons for it, and how to go about it. Some writers think they must get "inspiration" and then, and only then, can they write. They pace back and forth, waiting for some otherworldly sign to stir them to write. A person, who isn't thinking clearly, because they live in a murky mix of reality and mystical imaginings, waiting for some otherworldly force to guide his hand, can easily become intimidated by the task. I don't suffer from that problem.
Don't get me wrong; I'm not saying it's easy - it isn't. It requires intense thought, but thought is life. Writing is a lot of hard work - the hardest work I've ever done - and a lot of long hours. But for me the work is a joy. Writing is my bliss.
Q from "John Gault:" Forgive me if this is too personal, but I am curious to know. You obviously don't have to answer if you don't want to. Do you believe In God (or any deity), Mr. Goodkind? As a fellow follower of Ayn Rand and a long time atheist, I have much respect for how you integrated objectivism into your works, especially FAITH OF THE
FALLEN, I just wanted to see how consistent you actually are. Thank you for your time.
A: The foundation of my philosophy, Objectivism, is consistency with reality, which is how we can know Truth. I am therefore completely consistent with the laws of identity which are reducible to three basic axioms: existence, identity, and consciousness. As I have just discussed to a small degree, I adhere to the primacy of existence -it's provable. I do not pick and choose my philosophy from the astonishing variety of airy goodies offered at the banquet of primacy of consciousness, where any whim or wish is equally worthy of consideration.
I remember distinctly the moment I discovered the epistemological difference in primacy of existence and consciousness. I was a little kid sitting at my desk in the front row, having asked what I thought was a reasoned question aimed at discovering proof in order to see how what I was being told could be rectified through logic and analysis. Sister Superior, having taken over the class for the day, stood towering over me, hands on her hips, her head-to-toe black robes making her look like death's messenger, her fiery glower burning down at me. She straightened a bit and carefully twined her fingers together as if preparing to deliver a pronouncement based on a profound law. "One does not question faith, Mr. Goodkind, "she said. "You cannot subject faith to analysis or evaluation. Questioning faith is evil. If you question, even in your private thoughts, you are inviting the devil into your heart and you will spend eternity in ####. If you want to have any hope to get to heaven, then you must believe without question and not allow your wandering mind to think about how it is possible for these truths to be true. It is for God to know and decide how things are. Man is sinful and does not have God's infinite wisdom, so we are not able to understand Him. It is our duty and obligation to simply believe."
I had always been afraid of Sister Superior. At that moment I came to understand what a monster she truly was. There were other sisters who were happy, or joyful, or earnest, or bitter in their blind beliefs. Sister Superior was the enforcer of faith who visited my class from time to time, always with great fanfare and ruthless authority-that was why I had asked her the question. The sisters who so ruled my life are the basis of the Sisters of the Light and the Sisters of the Dark. Sister Superior was the source of some of the color I gave to some of the Sisters, as well as Brother Narev.
Like you, Mr. Gault (love the screen name), I do not engage in war with reality, nor do I swill the intoxicating, but poison brew of faith. Because I embrace reality (truth), I therefore embrace life; it is the most precious thing there is. If a person thinks they're going to some imaginary future life, then they are wasting the only one they really do have, while they wait for the tooth fairy, or the Easter bunny, or leprechauns, or the voice of the dead, or the fates, or the gods of this or that to deliver them from a spiteful reality which refuses to yield to their earnest whims and wishes.
Allegiance to truth allows no excursions into the quicksand of baseless beliefs. no matter what moral high ground they lay claim to by virtue of the fact that they proclaim it as true. This includes all whim worshipping, whether it be collectivism, religion, or the new age witch doctors, such as the global warming zealots that preach the same old dark ages forecasts of calamity and death. Every one of these faiths functions the same and has the same thing to offer. They all use half-truths and isolated out-of-context facts aimed at connecting wild imaginings to reality. Death is their faith's whip. Whether it be a witch doctor warning of evil spirits, or shamans warning of the gods casting suffering down at those who anger them, or the ranting global warming fanatics who offer visions of biblical destruction for man's evil ways. They all offer the same vision of man as evil, with death if he does not "repent," and also, by the way, give these mystical chieftains the power to rule our lives in order to "save" us from ourselves. I, instead, believe in a philosophy that embraces life.
This is not to say that I don't understand how or why people hold such religious beliefs, or think that they are bad people for doing so. Most are simply attempting to do the right thing and get along. I have dear friends who are deeply religious and I know that they are trying to live moral lives and do right by others. They would never ever harm anyone. I like them no less for their beliefs. What religion is offering, and by this I mean everything from collectivism, new age, earth worship, witch doctors, psychics, alchemy, reincarnation, alternate universe advocates and to all other more traditional religions, is a primitive form of philosophy. Man is a being who must use his ability to think as a means to survive. Philosophy gives man a framework to understand reality in order to survive. Religion is an attempt to understand the world around us. I don't think that is evil. I only think that their conclusions are misguided.
The problem with any of these beliefs is that they offer no reality check. Without a way to verify, against reality, any claim, then all claims have equal validity. This gives people a blank check to do anything. Religion grants people the counterfeit moral right to any belief or any act in the name of God. The history of mankind is littered with mountains of corpses of those slaughtered in the name of God. Without a provable philosophy, founded and verifiable by the reality of existence, there is no restraint on any of these crimes, except another equally whimsical belief. There is no difference in the philosophical foundation of the beliefs of Mother Teresa and Bin Laden. Each can claim the same moral certitude and offer the same proof: their own primacy of consciousness. What they think they know, because they wish to believe it, is true in their minds because they wish it to be true. They smugly place the proof in another world, safely out of reach. As I said in one of the books, no army has ever marched into battle without thinking that the Creator is on their side. Religion gives man free reign to dream up whatever they wish and to use any comet sighting as absolute confirmation of their beliefs.
Q from "Blademaster"' Mr. Goodkind, your books have been mainly focused on the characters and their adventures, but the last two have taken on a philosophical aspect. What Is the reason, if any, for your change from having whispered slightly in the story beforehand, and preached strongly now. Was it the lack of interpretation from your readers?
A: The question was asked before about how a book deal influences my writing. This is another aspect of that issue. In large part because of the huge investments they must make, publishers do not like to take chances. They like to publish what was successful before. My agent tells me that what I'm doing is what he has sometimes seen with authors who have high standards for themselves; after their career is established, they then reach for new heights, stretch the boundaries, and write their masterworks. Despite how good a publisher might think FAITH OF THE FALLEN is, a new author would likely have had no chance of ever getting it published; it's just too revolutionary. The book made my publisher very nervous and they therefore played down the really great aspects of the book, instead advertising it as a rather trite fantasy quest novel - which it definitely is not. Because word had spread among readers hungry for thoughtful, philosophically sound, meaningful novels, the book was a huge success. Tor was thrilled and greatly relieved that the book was such a success.
I write to please myself. Now that I'm established, I can better do that, and my publisher is more at ease with it. Just look at the original cover of WIZARD'S FIRST RULE compared to FAITH or PILLARS, and you can clearly see how far I have pushed the definition of fantasy.
Q from "The Prophet:" You, like all authors, have to deal with a certain level of criticism. Do people giving negative feedback affect you in any way? I know if I had worked long and hard to produce a piece of writing it would bother me a great deal, so how do you handle such frustrations if any?
A: I think this issue first needs to be put into perspective. Some thoughtful and reasoned criticism is persuasive. I take those kinds of issues into consideration, judging if my reasoning for doing something was valid. Writing is a process of making continual choices. Man is distinguished by his ability to think and make choices. Because we have free will, we can make mistakes in our thinking and choices. I try to learn from every book how to write the next one better. I sometimes must concede that a criticism had validity. Often I disagree, but only for sound reasons.
As far as criticism from critics, such as magazine or newspaper critics, I get pretty terrible reviews -that is the price of writing truth- which chafes at their pet dogmas. Worse yet, I'm a bestseller. Critics delight in trashing best selling authors. They prefer touting books no one has ever heard of because it gives them the illusion of having discovered talent. A best selling author has already been discovered by everyone else. It’s the very predictable and transparent game they play. Literary critics often have all the integrity of East Block Olympic ice-skating judges. If I get a particularly bad review that says cruel and hurtful things, I go for a ride in my Ferrari and then I feel much better .
However, I suspect that your question about criticism has more to do with the tiny but vocal crowd on the internet who are as offensive as slugs on the birthday cake. I've heard, from various sources, some of these complaints. Most are so idiotic that they could only have be been written by children pretending to be adults. They enjoy the sound of their own voice, so to speak. The internet allows them to maintain a mirage of knowledge. Thus, they howl in indignation when books like mine sprinkle the salt of truth on their slimy delusions of self-importance.
Life is precious. Rational human beings do not persist at doing something that they find unpleasant. If you slam your fingers in a car door, you try very hard not to do it again. Yet, there is a dogged group who claim to hate my books, who argue that I'm the worst writer ever to be published, and mulishly insist that I’m simply reading other
authors and gleefully running to my computer to copy all their ideas. These rants are pathetic and beneath serious comment. I advise everyone not to argue with these people--that's what they really want. They are not worth the valuable time of thinking individuals; ignore them.
The important question is, why would these people continue to read my books? If a normal, intelligent, rational individual reads a book and doesn't like it, they don't rush to a computer and start an on-line campaign to try to intimidate people into not reading the book, These "critics" pluck inconsequential trivia from my books and fabricate
an elaborate scheme from it, as if they have mental powers to divine what I'm thinking, or what my motives are. They obviously don't have the intellectual wherewithal to see the larger picture and grasp what I'm writing about. Unfortunately, on-line bookstores give these delusional misfits a forum to vomit up their undigested thoughts. These
people continue to hang around and read my books, even though they claim never to have read anything so painfully horrid. It's as if they keep slamming their fingers in a car door and scream about how much it hurts, and then do the same thing again and again. These people obviously have ulterior motives. As a substitute for earnest effort, they throw these little fits, flinging out doctrinaire clichés they've heard, acting out like little children who misbehave to get attention. There is nothing that would ever please them because their object is to be displeased. They seem to wallow in their unhappiness, living chaotic emotional lives where they mistake haphazard whim for reason and pointless whining for intellect.
This is one reason I dislike being published as fantasy. These noisy few just want their quota of sword fights and dragons, not serious important fiction. I seriously doubt that best selling authors of contemporary fiction -many of whom I outsell- have to endure this infestation of whiners pestering normal people.
For example, in a recent book by a great contemporary fiction author, Dean Koontz, he has a character named Caesar Zedd. I seriously doubt that his readers rush to the internet, buzzing "Dean Koontz stole the name Zedd from Terry Goodkind! Dean Koontz stole the name Zedd from Terry Goodkind!" Yet I'm sure that there are people on Robert Jordan (a fellow fantasy writer) sites howling that he stole "Westland" (I've heard this from fans of both our books) from me. Someday, I hope these people will grow up.
Q from '.LookN2yoursoul:" Mr. Goodkind, you have written a lot about death in books many, many gruesome scenes of violence and brutality and I would like to know if writing about such things desensitizes you in any way and that since you can write about death and taking a life so well. ..do you think that you have the capability to take a life?
A: If I wrote a book and the story was that Richard and Kahlan met, fell in love, and everyone was nice to them and no one was ever mean, it would be a pretty boring book. We need conflict in a story because in real life we must constantly work to overcome obstacles in order to achieve our goals. A book is a rewarding way to see goals we share realized. Since, as I have said, life is the most precious thing we have, you sometimes need to use strong contrast to show its value. In a painting, you must have dark in order to show light. By showing, for example, how tragic Warren's death was -killed by a worthless little thug- we graphically see how precious life is and how easily it can be lost. We see how easily it is wasted by those who hold no value of life, of the individual. The other reason I show violence so graphically is to avoid glamorizing it. The notion of war should not be about glory. This is the reason for the speech Kahlan gave the Galen recruits before they went off to do battle with the Order.
Humans have existed for hundreds of millions of years. The time scale involved is almost unimaginable. In all that vast period of time, I have come into the world and am alive - I exist. In the scope of existence, my life will be fleeting. But my lifetime, whatever its length, is the only life I will ever have. I won't be able to do it over, to come back time and time again. This is it. Because I understand how precious life is, I do not want to lose it. I do not want to die for some meaningless cause or at the hands of some human animal who does not value life-mine or his.
I am licensed to carry concealed weapons. If I had to kill a person in order to protect my life, or the life of my loved ones, I would do so. I don't want to, and I sincerely hope to avoid ever having to do such a thing, but I will not avoid it at all costs -not if the cost is my own life. In order to prevent being killed, would I take a life? You bet. And without a shred of remorse. When a person attempts to take a life, they forfeit all rights to theirs. Your life is the only life you will have. Rise up and live it.
Q from "Wisp:" I know this isn't a very specific question, but do you, Mr. Goodkind, have any particularly useful suggestions for aspiring fantasy novelists?
A: Anyone can learn much of the craft of writing from the many books on the subject. but I've come to believe that writers are, for the most part, born writers. I can't ever be a professional sports player - that's accepting reality. We are all who we are, no more, no less. I do not believe that the intellectual wherewithal which is critical to good writing can be taught. You either are a writer, or you are not. Writers are, for the most part, self-made. If you are born a writer, and you possess the will, you will do what you need to do in order to write.
Make sure that you have a clear understanding, in your own mind, of what it is you want to say, why you want to say it, and how you will illustrate it from beginning to end. Don't just wander off down some path without knowing where you're going or why you want to go there. Give readers a reason to want to go along for the tale. It shouldn't be meaningless. Writing is hard work, such work hard. While I do believe that there will always be room for good fantasy books, I think that the future of the fantasy genre, in general, is bleak. The number of published fantasy novels is down because the market will not support them; sales are down. The genre continues to do damage to itself by pandering to the outspoken hard core adolescent contingent. They are small in number but, especially since the advent of the internet, make the most noise, so they get noticed. They are unimaginative and want the same tired old thing from writers. Since they make noise and get noticed, they get what they want. The book deal preordains it. This damages the fantasy genre because it continues to drive away not only general fiction readers but the more thoughtful fantasy fans who get bored with the same old childish fluff. Readers of this web page probably aren't aware of it, but the majority of my readers are not fantasy readers. Most of my new readers come from general fiction readers, not the typical fantasy audience. This a triumph of my fans
spreading the word. My fans, and the good things they say about my work, not the fantasy advertising, have made me the success I am. I never forget that it's the readers who have supported me.
The other thing that worries me about the future of the fantasy genre is that there are now hugely successful fantasy movies out. Harry Potter and the Lord of the Rings. I think this could mark the first wave of fantasy movies. This worries me because movie producers are herd animals; they don't want to do anything new. By the time they
finally discover something, it's over. I give you Saturday Night Fever and disco, science fiction movies and science fiction books, as evidence. The movie industry generally discovers something after the trend is terminal.
I expect that the recent movie success of fantasy movies will spark producer interest in movie properties. They may become interested in my books, but I urge you not to be too excited about it because a movie could never duplicate the experience you have in reading the books. If a movie is ever made, most of my fans will discover, to their horror, that they hate it. The only reason I would sell the movie rights is because it gives a gigantic boost to book sales -witness Lord of the Rings- which would give me an opportunity to introduce the concepts in my books to those who have never heard of me.
Q from "Turgoz TenHammers;" If any of us wanted to do an amateur film (that would probably only waste money and not earn it) based on your books, would you allow it or would we have to buy rights and go through horrible legal matters? What are your feelings about this?
A: Anyone who wants to make a movie based on my books must buy the movie rights. The movie rights, along with all other rights we retain, are very valuable. Please do not make my agent have to send lawyers to your house.
Q: from "Ashael:" Dear Terry, you have in previous interviews declared that Ayn Rand has been a strong influence on you and your work. Rand's work is very debatable, to say the least, and an increase of her anti-socialist ideas is much felt in her later books. As I have read all books to date (excluding PoC), I felt my interest and enjoyment of the series is decreasing by my difficulty accepting the "Randroid" views pronounced In the later books (Sot and FotF). Aren't you afraid to alienate certain readers by integrating an increasing dosage of those ideals into the newer books?
A: This is a dangerous, devious, and disrespectful question. Therefore, I am going to take it apart piece by piece and answer every part of it so you may all see this question for what it really is. It is riddled with lies aimed at sneaking in, by bold implication, tired old dogma of the mystics disguised as authoritative evidence.
". ..and an increase at her anti- socialist ideas is much felt in her later books."
Did your socialist manifesto tell you this? It's telling you a lie. This part of the question is framed so as to give socialism moral validity it does not have. Ayn Rand held the same views throughout her life. She grew up in Russia after the communists took over. She hated what collectivism did to people, how it savaged the human soul and took lives by the millions. In 1926, at a party just before she was finally able to leave for America, a young Russian said to her "When you get there, tell them that Russia is a huge cemetery and that we are all dying." Her first book, WE THE LIVING. did just that. It put the lie to all forms of collectivism, unmasking it for the murdering debauched perversion it is. There were howls of protests from the socialists in America, Who were powerful at the time, after the book was published. Ayn Rand has been consistent in her philosophy throughout her life and throughout her work. In her later books, especially ATLAS SHRUGGED, she laid out in stunning finality the complete scope of her philosophy upon which all of her work was based. Decades after her death, her books still sell in the hundreds of thousands per year.
Another: "Her work was very debatable, to say the least."
Oh really? This is a devious and despicable attempt to discredit. Debatable by whom? By those who hold to the primacy of consciousness, apparently. This is a clear example of how people believe that just by saying something (primacy of consciousness) In that it will be true.
Ayn Rand's work did lift the wounded howls of the mystic brutes. To accept this rabid ranting as "debate" is no more sound than to accept the self-centered wishes of a murderer as legitimate justification. Brilliant beyond an contemporary thinker, people quickly lost their nerve to stand up and debate her philosophy; she could cut them to pieces with its demonstrable truth. The philosophy she developed stands on its own, because it is an objective view of reality, and provides truth to anyone who uses it.
Ayn Rand was patient, polite unless insulted, and endlessly interested in the importance of ideas, but she suffered no fools while I by no means claim to be her intellectual equal, in this, I would say we are much the same. Just to claim something is debatable does not give the claim credibility. In the mind of the person ruled by whim, anything is debatable because any wish is valid if they wish it. I recall being at my grandmother's house when we watched on television as men landed on the moon for the first time. My grandmother said that it wasn't true, the men hadn't really landed on the moon. She said that they had gone up in the air and come down on the other side of the world and only thought they were on the moon. I asked why she believed that. She smiled knowingly and said that God would not allow men to do such a thing, so He had tricked them. To my grandmother, this was a debate. I thought it was frustratingly cute. There is no way to debate with someone who is holding to irrational notions and is unwilling to consider provable evidence to the contrary. If they are unwilling to use their senses to discover truths of existence, then they have nothing left but the limits of their imagination. It is useless to try to discuss or debate with this kind of person.
Go read INTRODUCTION TO OBJECTIVISM EPISTEMOLOGY by Ayn Rand (epistemology is a science devoted to the discovery of the proper methods of acquiring and validating knowledge), or OBJECTIVISM: THE PHILOSOPHY OF AYN RAND by Dr. Leonard Peikoff, and then come back and tell me just what it is you think is debatable. I believe that Ayn Rand was the greatest philosophical thinker since Aristotle and very likely the most brilliant philosopher in the entire history of mankind. Ayn Rand is the first person in history to develop an entire philosophy that is applicable to all knowledge and in every aspect directly provable. For all practical purpose, it effectively ends all philosophical debate. But you go ahead, Ashael, you go find all the glaring and debatable holes in this woman's thinking and vast body of work, and let the rest of the world know what you've come up with. Everyone is waiting.
"Randroid" is a direct insult aimed at discrediting the philosophy of Ayn Rand because that philosophy exposes all flawed thinking about the nature of knowledge. Ayn Rand gave the philosophy she developed the name "Objectivism" because it is an objective view of existence. She did not like her name used, such as 'Randian", when talking about philosophy because she took a sweeping look at philosophy across a vast time scale; it was not about her, but about truth.
Everyone needs philosophy to live. Some choose flawed philosophy. Even a murderer lives by a philosophy that he had to do it because the victim needed killing. It is up to us to use our minds to discover which way of thinking is true, and why it is true. Your life depends on it.
Every other philosophy offers a view of man as immoral, sinful, tainted, corrupt, with only other dimensions or worlds or lives or gods as the hope to save us from sure destruction, retribution, and punishment for our evil ways. Each requires man to adhere to laws from other worlds or from the imaginations of the special few who can interact with these mystical forces. Objectivism stands alone against such mysticism. Ayn Rand said: "My philosophy, in essence, is the concept of man as a heroic being, with his own happiness as the moral purpose of his life, with productive achievement as his noblest activity. and reason as his only absolute."
Lastly, "Aren't you afraid to alienate certain readers by integrating an increasing dosage of those ideals into the newer books?"
What readers? Socialists? Murderers? Pedophiles? Whiners? Well, yes, I suppose the light of truth will alienate those kinds of readers. Good. I encourage them to be alienated and to leave. I encourage all those who don't enjoy my books to go read something they do enjoy. Why would anyone spend their life reading something they don't enjoy? Because life has no value to them?
There are hundreds of thousands people who smile with pleasure when they read my books, but they never go on the internet to "share" their feelings. Instead, they go to friends and loved ones and tell them that they have to read my books, that finally there is someone writing stories with which they can identify. There are precious few other
places where thinking people can go for a coherent, uplifting view of life. Each one of my books is dedicated to the concept of embracing life. They use truth to do this, just as we must in real life. My later books, which contain the "increased dosage" you scold me for including, just so happen to have been huge bestsellers, with sales increasing by large margins over each previous book. Seems that those who like my way of writing sort of outnumber those few who are alienated and outnumbered not just by a few, but by hundreds of thousands.
You will have to excuse me if I don't intend to throw away my reasoned philosophy, success, and ever-growing number of fans to avoid offending the handful of noisy whiners. That would be treason not only to myself, but also to all those hundreds of thousands of readers who simply enjoy reading my books, along with a variety of other people's books. I realize that the vast majority of people who read my books enjoy them and wish me to continue telling stories that are fun to read as well as relevant to important issues they face in the real world. I deeply appreciate having these people read my books. I know that many young people read the books simply because they like a good fantasy story. I intend to keep giving them that, as well as works that they can read years later and enjoy even more.
I appreciate all the kind words of encouragement I receive from readers. Such sincerity does not go unnoticed. I also want to say that whenever I do a book signing, the bookstores always comment on how wonderful my fans are, that they are completely different from any other signings they have held. I think that thoughtful books attract thoughtful people.
Chen 12 Q: Terry, please explain the motivation behind the foreword/dedication at the beginning of PoC. Where were you on 9/11?
A: The motivation for the dedication was Truth. On 9/11 I was writing Pillars.
Q: from Nicci. Mr. Goodkind: I was wondering if you see a correlation between the deterioration of our society and the one you write about in the Old World? As in, do you see our society becoming the mass mess that the old world is under the Order?
A: Without question. As I explained at the beginning, everything I write is directly applicable to the real world.; I feel that is the only valid reason to write fantasy.
Q: from Captain_Zimmer. Mr. Goodkind, what is your main purpose for making these books? Obviously making money is one that we all need, and probably pleasure, but it feels to me your write for something deeper than those alone. (I know your books have affected me deeply in many positive ways in my life. Such as wanting to lead a better, more productive and honorable life.)
A: Please refer back to the answers to the previous questions. It is all there in detail.
Q: from Mrissy. Terry - Congratulations on your success and I hope that your series continues to have the support that is has now. I was wondering exactly why it is that you decided to move in a new direction with Pillars of Creation and follow a new character. Was it to set up the next book or was it for some other reason?
A: In order to understand the world better, and to understand the overall arc of the series, it is necessary to broaden the view so the readers can see more of the world and how that relates to the main characters. This allows us to have more insight into the epic events taking place. It also keeps the series fresh and makes it accessible to new readers. Most of all, it gives us a new perspective that helps illustrate important philosophical points that drive the series.
A: I don't agree. It is very clearly stated how little contact Jennsen had with anyone but her mother. With limited experience she suddenly had to deal with things with which she was completely unfamiliar. She had to work towards learning the truth as she went along. Given the lies and deception from those around her, I think she handled things intelligently in finally working out the truth. No immature person could have reached the conclusions she was finally able to reach.
Q: from shota Terry in the past you have said that you write about your characters, that you don’t build worlds- In POC you barely mention your original characters can you explain your decision?
This has been answered in a couple of the other questions. - Zedd
Q: from Jonab. Mr. Goodkind what if any are your thoughts on the need for service to your nation? in the U.S. we have a draft, and in the troubled times past have used it to increase and sustain our military endeavors. I feel that this is the reasoned price for the freedom, and for the right to live as you will...at least within the
confines of legislated morality. If you as a citizen and benefiting member of a society were called to war, would you answer that call?
A: The price of pacifism is slavery. I do not believe in slavery. Freedom can not exist if it is not defended. If someone is trying to kill you, then you must defend your life; The scale of the murder attempt is irrelevant.
Q: from Bbastante. I was wondering if many people have commented on your use of cypher as Richard’s foster last name since he would then become the seeker of truth. a cypher is someone who figures out the truth behind the lies. he decyphers lies or code and reveals the truth. I thought it was a great word play connection.
A: You are the first person who commented to me about it and I thought, as you, that many people would notice this. I am sure that many did, they simply haven't mentioned it to me. It was something I did with clear forethought.
Q: from chen12 What kind of research is involved? The Bible? Cookbooks? War?
A: Everything for books on horses to books on marble carving.
Q: from mystar. Terry did you have a hard time NOT bringing Richard and Kahlan into the POC sooner.
A: Sure. I love writing about Richard and Kahlan and it was hard to have the story focused elsewhere for so long., but I also felt their presence because the book, in essence, was about who Richard really is. It was as if I felt his presence in the shadows.
Q: from Shaidodog. A question about book 7; for some reason, when Jennsen saves Jagang's life, I felt a strange sense of elation, not that the war was being prolonged, but because a human life had been saved. On the other hand, I was aware, when I read that scene, of all the atrocities for which Jagang is responsible. Do you believe that there is a place for compassion for people like Jagang, as individuals?
Q: from Ghengis Terry, I have noticed that most, if not all, of the Wizard's Rules are philosophical concepts or theories. I was wondering if these were researched before hand or are you a student of philosophy?
A: Please refer back to the beginning questions. It is all answered there.
Q: from Oba_the_Oaf Mr. Goodkind, how is it that Oba lapsed into evil almost immediately despite his good-natured appearance in the beginning?
A: The premise of this question is in error. The very first thing we see of Oba is him tormenting a chicken for pleasure. Oba is consistently deluded from the first. He is only good-natured when he gets his way and his way is irrationally self-centered. He tries to appear good-natured towards his mother because he fears her, but it is obvious what he really thinks of her. You may be misinterpreting his simplistic thinking as good-natured, but it is clearly not good-natured. It is twisted by deluded outlook.
Q: from LTT In WFR, after Richard lost his temper in the first encounter with the mud people. Kahlan commented on Richard's lack of patience. Richard corrected her stating that he had a great deal of patience but little tolerance. In your eyes, what is the difference between the two?
A; Patience is required when someone is earnestly trying to understand to learn. It sometimes takes quite awhile to explain complex but important issues; for example the long beginning of this chat. I am patient about explaining things when I have reason to believe that the people I am speaking with are worth my effort and earnestly want to know something or to learn. If however they are not interested in exchange of ideas, but try to bully me with irrational or dangerous concepts, then I have not tolerance. Have patience for those who earn it or deserve it. I have no tolerance, for example, of those who wish to bring harm to others. One does not have patience for a murderer ,for example. One has should have no tolerance for that.
Q: from shota At times it seems that the speech of the characters isn’t really how people speak in real life. For example Jennson's ending speech about loving oneself. The concept was great, I just felt real people don’t talk that way. Do you try to write as people speak or just what you want them to say?
A: Dialogue in writing is a simulation real speech that requires complex reductions of ideas to words that sound real to the reader, even though no one really speaks that way in real life. Dialogue has to flow emotionally. All dialogue takes liberty with they way people speak in order not to be boring. Dialogue helps us grasp things because it is a way of being in peoples heads when they grasp it. It is also a way of expressing the most important themes of a book. I do understand your point though and it is a continual effort to work at keeping dialogue real when writing. There is always a fine line when writing dialogue
that makes it sound real but still gets the point across. However, because of the groundwork carefully laid throughout the book I believe it's legitimate to use dialogue to deliver the vital final points of the story. It is a stylized way of expressing ideas, but I think that if you write the book correctly, then I think the characters have not only earned the right to make their point as clearly as possible, but they must.
Q: from Oba_the_Oaf Do you still experience as much joy in writing the Pillars of Creation as you did when you wrote Wizard's First rule or any of your other novel's for that matter?
A: I love writing just as much. there are some things now that make writing more fun and some things that makes more anxiety, but those are minor side issues. The writing itself is immensely satisfying.
Q: from Oba_the_Oaf Did you plan out the concept of a "hole in the world" from beginning of Temple of the Winds (when Richard’s sister "Lindie" was mentioned) or was that idea created just in Pillars of Creation?
A: I've know for along time what issues I needed to bring up and what needed to happen in the series in order to help carry it towards the eventual conclusion. The way writing works is your subconscious works out the complex assignments you consciously pose for yourself. When I first created Richard's sister, I knew I wanted her to eventually play a pivotal role and that I wanted her to become an ally then another sibling enemy. When the time came to write Pillars I was able to bring into my conscious mind resolutions to the plot questions I had long ago posed to myself. I was finally ready with answers and used the opportunity to advance the important elements of the overall story line, while at the same time putting it into a framework of a face paced adventure tale.
Q: from Denna_1 Which of your characters has been your favorite to write about so far, with the exception of Richard and Kahlan?
A: I enjoy writing them all. It's sometimes more fun at certain places with each character. Sometimes it is more difficult to write about them. For example, I really enjoyed writing about Warren, but it was torture for me to write about his death. This happens with all the characters to an extent. It is not so simple an issue that I can answer it simply naming one character. I would have to frame it more in the terms of enjoying writing specific scenes with specific characters.
Q: from sephiroth I heard you studied serial killers to get in to the mind of your character Oba. Although the scene is vividly accurate and correct do you not feel you made your character almost to disturbing?
A: I think that it is important for people to understand the true dimensions of monsters, least they allow themselves and society to fall prey to them. The author of one of the books I used as research was John Douglas. The real FBI Profiler was played by an actor in Silence of the Lambs. The actor said that he was opposed to the death penalty. John Douglas sat him down and had him listen to actually tape recording made by two serial killers as they tortured to death two teenage girls, begging for their lives in the back of a van. The actor wept with the horror of hearing the real thing and said that he would never again oppose the death penalty. I am writing about the real world. It must be real.
Q: from ThEkEePeR In SotF, Kahlan sounded out Richard's opinion on having a child, but that is not the same as consulting him on the decision to have an abortion. Terry, do you feel that it was right for Kahlan to plan an abortion without letting Richard know first? (Notwithstanding the fact that she changed her mind at the last moment.)
A: Kahlan was wrong not to tell him. She let other life and death issues and her worry for Richard cloud her judgement. It was a very understandable mistake, but because she is the woman she is, she was able to choose to do the right thing in the end. They are decisions we must all make in life, they are not always easy or clear-cut while in the heat of battle so to speak. Because Kahlan embraces a valid philosophy of life, she chose life when she had to. Such is the stuff stories are made of.
And now a closing statement from Terry:
I would like to thank Brian for all of his hard work in putting this chat together, and thank everyone who shared his or her time with me. It has been an honor to have the opportunity to clarify a number of points. Thank you all for coming. We will speak again.