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ZAM Interview with Richard Knaak
21/04/2010 à 19:18
Cody Bye, the Director of Content of ZAM, has just interviewed
, one of the most famous writers of novels and short stories for not only World of Warcraft, but a number of other fictional worlds. Knaak's "Blizzard" bibliography includes novels like
(the latest official Warcraft novel on the market), 3 standalone Diablo novels,
The Sin War
War of the Ancients
trilogy, as well as 2 standalone novels other than
. In addition to those, he has an impressive number of Dragonlance, Dragonrealm, Conan, individual novels... not to mention his short fiction pieces and the manga.
Sadly, this interview didn't quench my thirst for lore (could anything?), but it was an interesting read nonetheless. The interview is after the break!
: To start, you’ve written multiple novels in worlds that have already been conceived; known intellectual properties that already have a background. How is writing in the Warcraft lore different than the other properties that you’ve worked on? What are your favorite parts?
The unique thing about Warcraft – and in particular World of Warcraft – is the depth that exists in the lore. It’s larger than almost any other licensed world that I’ve dealt with. They all have some depth, but I can’t think of anything that’s more immense than Warcraft.
So, in that regard, it really feels like you have a history of a world to write about, and it gets more complex and intricate with each passing day. And that’s evident even in the previews that we’ve been releasing lately, there’s just so much there. I’ve worked with Dragonlance, Conan, Beastmaster, and while they all have their own history, nothing compares to this.
There’s always something interesting to see. If you think you know one element of the world, there’s always another aspect going on in the background that remains unseen.
: Is that more challenging? You have an entire world to choose from when selecting a storyline for your books, rather than a handful of important characters...
Usually, Blizzard will ask me to write about a certain subject or state that they’d like to see a book about a particular element of their setting. They’ll then send me some basic concepts about the story, and then I’ll send my own notions back to them, and at that point we’ll start delving into more details and finally come up with a synopsis based on our trading of ideas. Again, we do some more rounds of brainstorming and eventually we come up with a concept that we all like.
: With Cataclysm coming out soon – and I know you’re not allowed to talk about future books – but is that exciting from your point-of-view? The world is changing drastically, so it will certainly effect the stories that you write from here on out…
Certainly! There will be so many differences; from the physical world itself to the new character races to alterations in plot direction. They may not be remaking the world, but they’re coming up with something that will give them more avenues to explore while still staying true to Azeroth and its past.
But it’s extremely exciting, I’m already coming up with ideas in my head on how I can write about particular new things that I’ve seen that are coming out of this.
: Tell us a bit about your most recent World of Warcraft novel, Stormrage. What would you tell someone that knew nothing about the book, but maybe knew a bit about Warcraft?
Stormrage mainly focuses on Malfurion Stormrage, the great archdruid, and what’s been happening with him since we saw him last. One aspect of this is taking a look at where he’s disappeared to and what is going on in the “Emerald Dream,” the realm where the druids go to when they’re in certain forms and is also the realm that the green dragons watch over. The story focuses on this and how what’s going on there affects not only Malfurion but the entirety of Azeroth.
You’ll be seeing a lot of characters that you’ll recognize from the game, along with characters from other books. All of them have to play their part in this story, but the main crux is all about Malfurion and what he has to do to defeat this menace.
: Does the book touch on Illidan at all?
There is one aspect of that in the novel, but this is really Malfurion’s book. I suspect that Blizzard will want to dedicate a full novel to Illidan if they ever choose to go down that path.
: Do you actually play World of Warcraft?
: So give me some details…
I can’t reveal much, but I will say that I do play more Alliance than Horde, although I do like Tauren. Mages and paladins are some of my favorite classes, and I tend towards Humans and Night Elves for my race. On top of that, I’m also really looking forward to the Worgen when they come out… I’ve always loved werewolves.
I play as much as I can, but I have to finish the books I’m working on and I have to finish the manga as well, so my characters do level up a bit slower than most other players. But I do play as much as I can, and I feel like you really have to play the game to know and understand the world that you’re writing about.
: What other projects are you working on?
I’ve got a few things, most of which I can’t speak about for one reason or another, but I did just have the first volume of my Dragonrealm series re-released, and those are the books that got me started so that was a nice boon. On top of that, the next three books are getting re-released in the second volume in the set, so hopefully they’ll continue to sell well.
Before the second volume of Dragonrealm is released, you will see two new World of Warcraft mangas released, one will be Warcraft: Mage which explores what it means to be a mage, and the first volume of Warcraft: Shadow Wing (Warcraft: Dragons of Outland) is also coming out soon, and you’ll definitely be seeing a lot of things concerning nether dragons and that sort of thing.
There’s so much that I can’t talk about, and I wish I could!
: So how’d you get started? Did you originally begin doing licensed books? Or did you have your own published works before you started with licensed books?
Actually, my first finished manuscript was in the Dragonrealm series. I also had a partial of another book done, and I did have some nice bites on them, but not enough to get them sold. But in the meantime, I realized that the people who originally published Dragonlance and D&D, TSR, were located in Lake Geneva, Wisc., and it was only about an hour and a half away. So I drove up there.
I literally walked off the street to talk with them… you can’t really do that anymore. I asked to speak with the editor, and the editor came and took a look at some of the writing samples I’d brought with me. I contacted them after a couple weeks, and although they liked my writing style, they were only publishing Dragonlance novels at the time. So they asked me to submit some ideas for the short story collections that they were going to run in the Dragonlance world, and so I came up with four ideas and they were sold on three out of four of them. I ended up in three out of four of the short story collections and would have had the fourth story in the collections, but they actually asked me to write a novel before I could get to work on the last story.
The rest really just snowballed after that. I’ve now written over 40 novels and a dozen short pieces.
: Thanks so much for your time, Richard. I hope we can talk again soon!
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