With the arrival today of the third book in the Neverwinter Saga, Charon’s Claw, I got the chance to have the ever-popular author R.A. Salvatore answer a few questions. As you may know, he is one of my favorite authors and I never miss a chance to pick his brain regarding his novels and other works. I hope you find his responses as interesting as I did.
Note the spoiler near the end, however.
Geeks Of Doom: For long-time readers, how would you describe the shift in the way Drizzt acts in this series versus the way he was with the old Companions of the Hall? I felt it was a subtle movement maybe towards the average Drow persona of indifference (at times) and less of the do-gooder attitude we have all grown to know.
R.A. Salvatore: Drizzt is surrounded by cynicism, and maybe it’s wearing off on him. Worse, given the losses he’s suffered and the grief he’s experiencing… well, couple all of that with a world that’s grown darker and angrier and you have a formerly optimistic Drow who’s wondering if his morale code is no more than a sick joke. He adhered to what was right and just, despite great personal sacrifice, and for what? That’s the question he can’t shake.
Geeks Of Doom: Drizzt’s companions in this series are very different than in past novels, what influence do you feel this has had on the way he is perceived (both in the Forgotten Realms setting and by the reader)?
R.A. Salvatore: The whole point of this series was to test the heart of Drizzt – to honestly test it, for I didn’t know the answer, even in writing through this particular book. Think of the friend in high school who falls in with the wrong crowd, or a dear friend who is engaged to someone you know is terribly bad for him or her. The question, of course, is whether that friend will be pulled down into the gutter, or whether he’ll lift his friends or fiancée up to the light. That was the question of the Neverwinter Saga – the explosions, the cataclysm, all that, was just dressing.
Geeks Of Doom: A lot of folks have mentioned that they loved that a certain character (Artemis Entreri) had returned. Since his skills and abilities are so similar to Drizzt and it seems that the assassin brings out the more noble aspects of Drizzt, what was your primary reason for bringing him into this series?
R.A. Salvatore: Artemis Entreri came aboard at the end of “The Crystal Shard” as a hook for another book. I didn’t know anything about him. As I went forward, I came to realize that he was who Drizzt might have become had Drizzt remained in Menzoberranzan. Entreri views the surface world with the same cynicism and distaste Drizzt held for his homeland. Why is he back? Because he was the perfect vehicle to “school” Drizzt in this series and because many readers, and I, simply weren’t done with him.
They need answers, and so do I.
Geeks Of Doom: Charon’s Claw has a completely different tempo than Gauntlgrym and Neverwinter, it felt like some of the earlier books as far as the flow and rhythm of your writing. Was there purpose to the change or was it happenstance?
R.A. Salvatore: The chaos, the tempo – all of that fits the story. I don’t over-think it, truly. I just let the story carry me along. I agree with your assessment, but honestly, I hadn’t even thought of that until I read your question.
As I sort that out, it occurs to me that Drizzt in the early books behaved very much like someone with nothing to lose. Then, of course, with his friends becoming dear friends, he changed. He had a lot to lose. But now? Not so much. So here we are, at a breakneck speed, reckless and running for the tornado.
Geeks Of Doom: This is a question I ask every time, but it gets asked of me whenever your name comes up: Any movement on a movie adaptation of your creations?
R.A. Salvatore: Nothing worth talking about. There is interest, at Hasbro (they own it) and in Hollywood. But I’ve been around long enough to understand the long journey between interest and an actual movie
Geeks Of Doom: What can we expect to see from our favorite Drow ranger in the future?
R.A. Salvatore: Why him? I have several more books under contract with Wizards of the Coast, but those are Forgotten Realms novels. Will they involve Drizzt? Will he even be alive for them? I’m not telling, and mostly because I just don’t know.
With that said, I do hope to let Drizzt find out the biggest answer of all: was Innovindil’s advice to him good or not?
Geeks Of Doom: On another note, several people have inquired about more collaborative books with your son. When we spoke last, you had said the original ones were being reproduced in a slightly different format. Can we expect more from the father/son duo? Even though they were aimed at young adults and WotC didn’t push them too hard, they did sell superbly well at the Waldenbooks that I managed back then.
R.A. Salvatore: Geno and I have done a 5-book comic starring Drizzt and Dahlia, called Neverwinter Tales and published by IDW. I loved working with them and we’re thinking of doing more – perhaps many more.
As for that first collaboration, “The Stone of Tymora,” is coming out in October. Yes, this was billed as a young adult book, but then, perhaps all of the Drizzt books could be called that. They are certainly appropriate for that age group. Simply put, “The Stone of Tymore” is a Drizzt trilogy, and adds to the “Legend of Drizzt” as surely as any other book in the series. I’m even referring to it as I go along, as I do with all of my realms’ books.
Geeks Of Doom: When I spoke to you last year regarding Neverwinter, you had some specific scenes that you loved…ones that stood out to you as the author. Are there any particular parts that you would speak to in Charon’s Claw?
R.A. Salvatore: Oh yeah. The fight on the bridge in Neverwinter is one of my favorite of all time (because of the internal, mental battle). And the climax – the willing sacrifice, the willingness to facilitate that sacrifice in another.
So many things happened during the writing of this book that surprised me, and that’s always a good thing. I didn’t know who Amber was, for example, but now I do. What a pleasant surprise!
Geeks Of Doom: Anything you would like to talk to regarding other things you have worked on, such as comic adaptations, video games, etc?
R.A. Salvatore: Well, one thing that I’m thrilled about is that Graphic Audio is continuing with DemonWars, by putting out “The Highwayman,” one of my favorite books ever, in their unique “movie in your mind” audio format. It’s awesome.
Of course, there is a video tie-in to this series, but I don’t know much about it, although I’m certainly looking forward to playing Neverwinter Nights 3!
Other than that, there’s not much going on, given the collapse of 38 Studios. Of that, I can only say that I’m heartbroken, truly. The world of Amalur’s lore and history was deep and really fun to play with, and now I can’t – heck, it’s all in bankruptcy court and I can’t even talk about it!
Geeks Of Doom: What would you like to stress or bring to the attention of our readers?
R.A. Salvatore: There’s a lot going on with the Realms right now, particularly with a new edition of the game coming soon. And of course, that means trouble and adventure for Drizzt and my other characters… In that spirit, I’m throwing all of my creative energy into the Realms at this time, both feet in. Wizards of the Coast is like family to me and we all need to get this right. And so we will.
A big thanks to Mr. Salvatore for taking time from his busy schedule to indulge a longtime fanboy. I think I can speak for the masses when I say we hope to see many more books from him in the future. That said, pick up Charon’s Claw starting today, Tuesday, August 7, 2012 at bookstores everywhere – it’s available in hardcover and for Kindle.