R. A. Salvatore quit his day job in 1990 to fully embrace his love affair with fantasy. Many of us fantasy nerds are glad he did! Although he scarcely needs an introduction, Salvatore is a New York Times Bestselling Author, selling over ten million copies of his books worldwide in numerous languages. From The Crystal Shard in 1988, where we first met Drizzt Do’Urden, to his latest Homecoming Series, Salvatore has gifted fans like myself with fantastical content for nearly three decades.
Hey Bob. Thank you for agreeing to this interview. I seriously want to talk about your books, but I cannot skim over the fact that you were a bouncer when writing Echoes of the Fourth Magic. Any great stories you can share from the job?
I was a very good bouncer because I was able to talk people out of trouble. In the 5 years I worked in the clubs, I only had a few altercations. The most notable one came via a wedding party from South Boston, where a bunch of too-drunk guys decided the event would be more memorable if they tore the club down. They were all rolling around with each other at first, pretending to fight – and only when I began to separate the two up near the main bar did I realize that they were just setting me up.
I wound up slammed against the bar, one guy headlocking me, the other holding my right arm. I have this thing: I HATE anything on my neck. I hate wearing a tie. I hate having a tight, high-collar shirt. I cannot bear to wear a turtleneck. Pure frenzy and panic took over and I pulled that right hand free, coming around with a hook that broke the guy’s jaw and put him on top of the bar – so I just pushed him the rest of the way over. Even as I managed to tie up his friend over the bar, I saw the bartender, this tiny young woman, calmly walk over, undo and remove her sandal, and begin to kick the half-conscious guy in the face.
It took us the better part of an hour to finally get the fighters out of the club, the front of which was, by then, lined with police cars. My partner that night decided to do something stupid, and I stupidly joined him, the two of us charging out to take on these twenty-to-thirty drunken guys. Yes, we were about to die. I don’t even know what happened, but in the blink of an eye, I was handcuffed and sitting in the back of a police car, and Lee, the other bouncer, was cuffed beside me.
We were screaming at the cops, while they were screaming at the wedding party to get in their cars and leave. When they finally dispersed the troublemakers, we were still screaming at them in disbelief that we were the ones being arrested.
Cop told me to shut up. I argued. He laughed at me, told me to shut up, then politely reminded me that we were outnumbered ten-to-one and would have died. Then he asked us where we wanted to get dinner. Yup, the cops took us out for burgers, then dropped us back at the club.
That is one hell of a story! Admittedly, curiosity got the better of me. I had yet to read an interview where you talked about that job. In all seriousness, though, you recently released the paperback of Archmage in the Homecoming Series. The paperbacks for the second and third books in the series, Maestro and Hero, are due later this year. Of course, several readers have already finished the full series. Knowing how Hero ends, what will come next for the legendary Drizzt?
Perhaps you saw the announcement by now, but Timeless, a new Drizzt book from Harper-Collins (with the blessing and help of Wizards of the Coast) comes out this September. It took months and teams of lawyers to make this happen, but we all stuck with it and got it done. So, while I’m thrilled to be back in the world of Corona (DemonWars) with a brand-new series, The Coven, I am also back writing Drizzt.
Shameless plug here for Child of a Mad God, which came out in February. I’m very excited about this one, and very satisfied that I accomplished what I wanted to do in this novel. I think it’s among the best things I’ve ever done.
I hope we can review Child of a Mad God here on Fantasy-Faction. Can you tell us a few things about it without spoiling anything?
Child of a Mad God is a completely new series and area of the world. A reader need not read anything before it – in fact, I like the idea of someone being introduced to DemonWars via this novel. The events unfolding in this series will probably circle back to the end of Immortalis in the original DemonWars series, but no need to start with those for this book.
The thing I like the most about the new series is probably the main character. Aoleyn is a badass.
Changing gears, I must address how outspoken you are on social media, especially regarding politics. Personally, your intellect and honesty regarding serious, real-life issues has only deepened my appreciation for your writing. If so, how do you incorporate these types of personal views into your novels?
They’re all in there, of course, but not in any preachy way. It amazes me how many conservative-minded people think Drizzt is a conservative and how many liberal-minded people think he’s a liberal. I like that. People are complicated, and so are most issues. As Mencken said, “For every complex problem, there is an answer that is clear, simple, and wrong.”
All I try to do in my novels is get people to ask themselves questions. They can find their own answers.
All I try to do on social media is to reference source material. I truly loathe deceptive pundits.
Should we expect any more collaborations between yourself and your son, Geno? After the Stone of Tymora and the comic series, I suspect many fans are hoping to see future shared endeavors.
Geno is working with me on The Coven. While I’m doing the writing, Geno is helping me to outline, adding a ton of editorial comments, challenging me on everything I want to do, and then helping with the pre-edit before the books go to Chris Morgan at TOR.
He’s very busy at this time with a crazy two-year-old.
New authors are often told to avoid speaking on topics, like politics, especially on social media, or they will bury their career before starting. I was pleased when you were told to ‘stay in your lane and just write books’, and you cleverly replied the future of your children and grandchildren were more important than your brand. Can you expand on your rousing statement and any advice you would give new writers?
I don’t know that such advice is offered much anymore. Certainly, most of the authors I follow on social media are at least as outspoken as I am – most more. But I stand by my comment. If being a writer, some minor celebrity, means that I surrender my ability to scream at the crap I see in the world, then take my pen and leave the bullhorn.
Technology and 200 years of unfettered and unwitting planetary destruction have put us in a critical place. We have weapons that can reduce the world to ash, pollution that will grotesquely alter our entire way of life, with tremendous ecological and human cost, and robotics that will knock the second leg out of Capitalism. Land has already been rendered moot, since transportation is easy, power is available everywhere, and communication is ubiquitous all around the globe. Now, labor is becoming irrelevant. Self-driving cars, automated factories, self-checkout – these things will lead to Star Trek or Elysium.
I prefer Star Trek.
On the one hand, we’re on the cusp of freeing ourselves from menial tasks, on the cusp of incredible advances in medicine – both in life expectancy and in curing debilitating, even fatal, diseases – seeing the planet shrink down more and more to where the prospects of war can dwindle to nothingness.
On the other hand, we could be looking at, well, Elysium. I have grandkids. I like to look them in the eye.
Thanks for chatting, Bob. If ever I am in Massachusetts, dinner is on me! With your permission, I would like to leave your recommended reading order for readers who are just beginning the Forgotten Realms titles.
1. Homeland (1990)*
2. Exile (1990)*
3. Sojourn (1991)*
The Icewind Dale Trilogy*
4. The Crystal Shard (1988)*
5. Streams of Silver (1989)*
6. The Halfling’s Gem (1990)*
Stone of Tymora (out of print)
7. The Stowaway (2008)
8. The Shadowmask (November 2009)
9. The Sentinels (2010)
10. Canticle (1991)
11. In Sylvan Shadows (1992)
12. Night Masks (1992)
13. The Fallen Fortress (1993)
14. The Chaos Curse (1994)
Legacy of the Drow
15. The Legacy (1992)*
16. Starless Nights (1993)
17. Siege of Darkness (1994)
18. Passage to Dawn (1996)
Paths of Darkness
19. The Silent Blade (1998)
20. The Spine of the World (1999)
21. Sea of Swords (2001)
22. Servant of the Shard (2000)
23. Promise of the Witch-King (2005)
24. Road of the Patriarch (2006)
The Hunter’s Blades Trilogy
25. The Thousand Orcs (2002)
26. The Lone Drow (2003)
27. The Two Swords (2004)
28. The Orc King (September 2007)
29. The Pirate King (October 2008)
30. The Ghost King (October 2009)
The Neverwinter Saga
31. Gauntlgrym (October 2010)
32. Neverwinter (October 4, 2011)
33. Charon’s Claw (August 7, 2012)
34. The Last Threshold (March 5, 2013)
35. The Legend of Drizzt: Neverwinter Tales(August 30, 2016)**
36. The Legend of Drizzt: The Collected Stories (February 1, 2011)***
37. The Companions (August 6, 2013) – followed immediately by:
38. Cutter (December 17, 2013)**
39. Night of the Hunter (March 14, 2014)
40. Rise of the King (November 2014)
41. Vengeance of the Iron Dwarf (March 3, 2015)
42. Archmage (September 1, 2015)
43. Maestro (April 5, 2016)
44. Hero (October 25, 2016)
* These books are also available as graphic novels from IDW.
** These are graphic novels ONLY.
*** A collection of all the short stories written for these characters over the years, for anthologies or Dragon Magazine. It includes a new story that details the end of Wulfgar’s long life. The audiobook is narrated by Ice-T, Weird Al, Sean Astin, David Duchovney, Felicia Day, Wil Wheaton, and others.