TheOneRing.Net: How did you get started as an author?
Terry Brooks: I have been writing stories since I was ten. Really, I just kept doing it until I got it right. It took me a long time to find a voice and a type of fiction that I was comfortable with. I was luckier than most. I published my first novel on the second submission, which was a recommendation from my first submission, so that's about as much luck as you can expect.
TORN: Who are your major influences? When did you decide you wanted to be an author?
TB: Other writers influenced me from the time I started and still influence me now. The nature of the influence has changed. In the beginning, a new writer tries to be like those already published. Later, you just try to do something that measures up. I am inspired all the time by other books, but mostly those by writers writing in areas I don't write in myself. You might think i would read only fantasy, but i don't. With fantasy, all I do is critique other writers and think how I would have done it better. Not good.
TORN: What do you think the impact of J.R.R. Tolkiens work had on modern Fantasy?
TB: I don't know if we can measure Tolkien's impact. Every writer of modern fantasy was influenced by Tolkien to some degree. He was the premiere fantasy writer of the last century, and all of us writing today owe him a huge debt.
TORN: What book or books did you most enjoy writing and why?
TB: Why don't you just ask me to choose between my children while you're at it? The truth is, I just enjoy writing and whatever book I am writing at the time is my favorite. The process is everything with me. When a book is done, no matter how much I loved it once, it belongs to the readers and not to me any more.
TORN: What character of yours mostly reflects Terry Brooks?
TB: Ben Holiday. An ex-lawyer with a bad attitude about law and a need for another life. He finds it in magic and a strange new world. That's what writing is, and that's where I got the idea for the story.
TORN: Does fan feedback ever influence the way you write sequels? Or do you just bite the bullet and write what you want?
Fan feedback never influences me. For one thing, I am always a book or two ahead of the readers, so they are usually too late with their suggestions. For another, I am aggressively independent. I listen to my editor, but that's all.
TORN: What type of hours do you keep as a writer? When does your daily writing schedule start? Do you enjoy writing more during the morning or during the night?
TB: These days, I write mostly in the morning and early afternoon. It was different when I had small children living at home and was still practicing law. But now, I find I have most of my creative energy early in the day.
TORN: After watching the Lord of the Rings Preview trailer, what are your thoughts? Do you think the movies will be successful?
TB: I saw the stills presentation as well as the trailer for the new movie. Both are incredible. But I have seen incredible trailers before followed by lousy movies, so I'm not holding my breath. Like everyone else, I want the movie to succeed and be wonderful. But I write fantasy, I don't live it.
TORN: What literary character do you like most and why? This can be any character from a book.
TB: Rupert of Hentzau from Prisoner of Zenda and Long John Silver from Treasure Island. I have a soft spot for rogues and reprobates who do the right thing in the end.
TORN: How do you think the internet helps writers and their work? Do you enjoy hearing from fans?
TB: The internet is useful to writers mostly in a marketing and promotional way. It gets our name out quicker and faster and farther than other types of communication. I like hearing from the fans, and I will answer snail mail with a letter, but I don't keep a chat line open on the web or spend time with Email.
TORN: What other authors do you enjoy? Any other books out there you think fantasy fans would enjoy? Who are some of your favorites?
TB: I read Cormac McCarthy, Steven Pressfield, Paul Watkins, Robert Crais, and T. Jefferson Parker among others. I recommend the fantasy of Tolkien, Peter Beagle, Stephen Donaldson, David Eddings, Anne McCaffrey, and Bob Salvatore as a good starting point for anyone. I read a lot, but mostly outside the field. I hesitate to recommend other books because everyone's tastes are different. Read the new Philip Pullman when it comes out, The Amber Spyglass. Read anything, but turn off the TV.
TORN: Where do you see the Fantasy genre in the future?
I see fantasy seeping into other forms of fiction at an increasingly noticeable rate. It is happening already in mainstream books. I think fantasy's place in reading is secure. I think it will grow in new ways. The form is too adaptable and universal not to expand further still.
TORN: If someone asked "who is Terry Brooks?" how would you answer that question? What makes Terry Brooks tick?
TB: I'm a solid, workmanlike writer, plain and simple. I'm a storyteller with a love of adventure. That's what I am and who I am.
TORN: What can us fans expect from you in the future? Any future projects you really excited about?
TB: I am at work on five new Shannara books, the first of which, THE VOYAGE OF THE JERLE SHANNARA: ILSE WITCH, comes out in September. I also just sold movie rights to Magic Kingdom for Sale to Twentieth Century Fox, a deal that has been knocking around for ten years.
TORN: How does success impact you as a writer? How has your life changed with your success?
TB: Got an hour? That's a tough question. Success lets me write full time, but it also carries some baggage. The expectations are altogether different once you've been published, especially if your first book is a bestseller. I've written seventeen. Everyone expects me to write seventeen more, all bestsellers, all wonderful. That's pressure. But I'd rather have it that way than the other.
TORN: Any advice for aspiring writers?
TB: My standard ten word formula for success as a writer goes like this - Read, Read, Read; Outline, Outline, Outline; Write, Write, Write; Repeat. I have a writer friend who says that on a scale of one to one hundred, talent ranks about 63. Number one is luck. Number two is perseverance. You have to work hard, be patient, and want it bad enough to keep sticking your head in the ringer.
TORN: Which Tolkien character was your favorite and why?
TB: Frodo. I know this guy. There is a little of Frodo in all of us, a fellow who is just trying to do the right thing, fallible, but resolute.
TORN: Which of Tolkiens books did you enjoy most?
TB: Well, gosh. Any of them?
TORN: How old were you when you first read lord of the rings?
TB: I read The Lord of the Rings when I was twenty-one. I had never heard of it. A girlfriend gave me a copy as a present. It was a life transforming experience.
TORN: What moment in Lord of the Rings was your favorite and why?
TB: The first page and the last. You figure it out.