Through it all you have maintained a moral and good soul

A couple of weeks ago, I packed up all my Runelords hardcovers and hauled them down to a signing in San Diego at Mysterious Galaxy, a pretty cool bookstore. (In case I haven't mentioned it before, that's where I get many of my books signed.) Not only was David Farland there, but he was accompanied by two first-time-published authors, John Brown and Larry Correia. I was a little dismayed to see such a small turnout, even smaller than for Ken Scholes and Kate Elliott. I recognized only three regulars. However, there was still a decent number of people there, and the small size made the gathering more intimate, like it was a group of friends in the comfort of someone's home. Well, maybe not quite that cozy. More like a group of people with common interests who see each other every now and then in the comfort of a pretty cool bookstore.

David Farland

John Brown

Larry Correia

I enjoy David Farland as a writer, but I think he's an even more amazing human being. Every time I hear him talk, I'm impressed. Everyone has such good things to say about him, and he seems like a humble kind of person. He's also talented, as a writer and a teacher. Both John Brown and Larry Correia said they had been in one of David Farland's classes. Incidentally, they named a few other published authors who had also taken his class: Brandon Sanderson, Stephenie Meyer, and Dan Wells.

All three authors did readings, and then there was an interesting and informative Q&A about their books:

David Farland's 8th Runelords novel, Chaosbound (which had a
sporty new cover by a new-to-the-series artist, and looked pretty cool)

John Brown's Servant of a Dark God (the first in a series)

Larry Correia's Monster Hunter International (ditto)

David Farland mentioned that a Runelords film is possible in the future; that's exciting, and I hope it all works out.

I had gone solely with the intent of buying Chaosbound and having David Farland sign my other books, but after hearing John Brown read from his book, I was impressed and intrigued enough to buy that one, too. I've added it to my to-be-read list. (Sigh!) He told us a very entertaining story about how he got the idea for his book. You can read it here.

I also bought the Monster Hunter book because, although it's not the kind of thing I usually read, it sounded funny and clever. And sort of annoying. Like the author.

At one point during the discussion, one of the regulars asked the authors if spiritual matters ever influenced how and what they wrote. All three stated that they were LDS, and then all three agreed that their religion per se doesn't have anything to do with what they write. However, John Brown said, one's spirituality will naturally influence what an author writes. (I tried to take notes on his and the others' remarks by entering them on my cell phone, but I don't know how good of a job I did because I was trying to be both quick and discrete so they wouldn't think I was texting people during their discussion, which would be really rude.) He also said that there has to be a moral core (I know he said "moral" but I'm not absolutely positive he said "core") to a story so that there's a balance to . . . to . . . to something. Yeah. Anyway, he said that's not always the case in every book, but when you're writing fantasy it pretty much is, because fantasy is about the struggle between good and evil. So there has to be some moral core-like thing to it. He also said there has to be at least one character - and it doesn't have to be the main character - who has this moral center-ish type thing so that a reader can sympathize with him or her. Yes! (I say that all the time. I mean, I say that there has to be at least one character I can sympathize with. I don't say "Yes!" all the time.)

David Farland added, among other things, that some people write to entertain, but that he wants his books to be more than that. He wants people to be somehow uplifted after reading his books, even though there may be grim stuff in there. In fact, he knows that he puts his characters through some pretty horrific things sometimes, but in the end there's a positive aspect to it. (I didn't say that as well as he did, but I think you get the idea.)

John Brown also mentioned that there were some places he wouldn't go because it just wasn't something he was interested in. For example, he said he would never write porn because he wasn't interested in porn. Larry Correia said that he wouldn't write porn, but only because he wouldn't be good at it. John Brown said, "You'd write porn?!" Correia said, "Yeah." And Brown said, "You're lying." And we all laughed.

I didn't have much of a chance to talk to the authors whilst I was having my books signed, because there was someone else there having things signed at the same time, and things were a little confusing. I hadn't thought of any clever things to say, though, so it all worked out for the best.

Bonus: David Farland gave a free Runelords mug to everyone.

Now that is pretty cool!


Shannon said...

I'm surprised at how many LDS fantasy authors there are. It's interesting...

Anonymous said...

Annoying? Ouch. :)

Found this via Google. Thanks for coming out.

And in my defense, no I wouldn't actually write porn. My wife would totally murder me.

Janeite42 said...

@Larry - which is what I find annoying: you wouldn't refuse to write it from your own sensibility.

I've read the first two chapters of Monster Hunter International and am liking the fast-paced action and sardonic humor. Quite an enjoyable blend. Only I'm surprised Owen didn't already know that regular bullets won't kill a werewolf.

Anonymous said...

Well, in his defense, it was kind of sudden, and not the kind of thing you would be able to spend a whole lot of time pondering on while something is trying to eat you.

On the porn thing, I was trying to be funny. No. I would not write porn. In all seriousness, I wouldn't do it because A. I don't like it. B. It isn't my thing. C. My personal moral beliefs. And C comes last because it honestly wouldn't come up, since me writing porn is pretty far down the list of things that I would think to insert into a book.

That said, as a writer who happens to be religious, John and I discussed this quite a bit after the Mysterious Galaxy, and the question came up again at the Poison Pen the next week. We keep getting asked how being LDS changes our writing. Honestly I just write what I find entertaining and what I think others would find entertaining, and at no point in time do I claim to speak for anyone other than myself.

Heck, I don't know. Do Catholics, Muslims, Buddhists, and Protestants get asked the same thing? When I write a character, I write what that character would do. The character isn't me. (as that would be a terribly boring book).

Janeite42 said...

I figured that was the case with Owen. I was kidding, too. Who expects to come across a werewolf at work?

Asking if religion "changes" what you write is kind of a weird question. It's an odd word choice, making it sound like you wrote one thing, and then went back and changed it to make it more LDS oriented or friendly or whatever.

I appreciate that you write the way you write. And thanks for responding. Not that you owe me any explanation, but I have officially changed my position and now consider you not annoying.

Jared and Megan said...

Wow, haha that's kind of awesome.

I too want to read these books - by all the authors mentioned. How many Runelord books are there now, anyway? I wonder if I'll ever get around to all these books, too.

Janeite42 said...

@Megan - There are 8 Runelords books (the 8th one was just recently published). David Farland says there will be 9 in all. I put all three books mentioned in this post on my to-be-read pile, because I'm trying to finish Eye of the World, but I've got caught up in Monster Hunter International. That's always the way it goes: I don't concentrate on things, so it takes me forever to finish them. I'll bring Monster Hunter at Christmas for you to read.

Jared said...

thanks mom. maybe I'll have made a better dent in my to-read pile by then.

oh, and this is Megan, not Jared.

Shannon said...

I think mr correia just earned his DTE badge in my book.

John Brown said...

Hey, I missed this one. So glad you enjoyed the MG event. We had a blast.

As for the morals of a story, the key thing is this. One of the chief effects we enjoy in stories is feeling suspense, rooting for someone engaged in a good cause, but whose chances of succeeding are not great. And then the final YES! or tragedy if they do or don't succeed.

However, for us to root for anyone, they MUST be engaged in some good cause for themselves of others. We all have different ways of defining what "good" is. But you cannot root for people who are doing despicable things, UNLESS they're trying to bring about some good that overrides their unsympathetic nature.

So one of the chief effects of fiction--rooting--is based on morality. The moral core each reader carries in them, whatever its specifics are. :)

Glad you tormented Larry a bit. He's fun to torment.