I was fortunate enough to be able to interview Margaret Weis, the author/coauthor of DRAGON CORSAIRS, the Darksword trilogy, and the Deathgate Cycle, among other novels. She is also the author/coauthor of many Dragonlance books, including the trilogies that started it all: the Chronicles and the Legends, which I love so very much. You could say that Margaret Weis is a literary hero of mine.
Witty and Sarcastic Bookclub: Hello Ms. Weis (May I call you Margaret?) Before I get to the questions, I want to thank you for being willing to chat a little bit about Dragonlance. I am beyond thrilled!
Witty and Sarcastic Bookclub: I am under the impression that the genesis of Dragonlance involved the idea of a world where dragons play a large role. I would definitely say that Dragonlance fits the bill! Can you give me a little bit of detail about the early days of Dragonlance, and how that concept became the Chronicles?
Margaret Weis: “Dragonlance was created by Tracy and Laura Hickman as they were driving from Utah to Wisconsin to go to work for TSR. They wanted a world where knights rode on dragons and they created the first three characters: Tanis, Laurana and Kitiara. When Tracy came to TSR, he described the concept to management and they put him in charge of creating the game. They wanted novels to go with it. I was hired to edit the novels. When I began working with the team, I fell in love with the world and decided that Tracy and I should write the books.”
W&B: I read somewhere that you wrote most (all?) of the books’ fight scenes. My question here is twofold: is that the case? And how did you and Tracy decide who took point on which parts of the novels?
Margaret Weis: “I do the writing and Tracy does the story telling and world building. And answers my innumerable questions!”
W&S: Are there any characters that are “yours” alone? And do any of the characters share your personality traits in any way?
Margaret Weis: “Raistlin was a character that I knew and understood. Tracy was always a fan of Tanis’s. Par-Salian says there is a little of Raistlin in all of us.:)”
W&S: I credit Raistlin with my ongoing love of morally complicated characters. He could be incredibly cruel (especially to Caramon) but was also capable of extreme compassion (as with Bupu). How did you go about writing such a complex and nuanced character?
Margaret Weis: “I knew Raistlin so well. He was very real to me. I understood him and the co-dependent relationship he had with his brother. As Par-Salian says, there’s a little Raistlin in all of us.”
W&S: One of the many wonderful things about Dragonlance, particularly the earlier books, are the barriers that were broken. Dragons of Autumn Twilight mentions Tanis “recognizing the signs of a dark depression that sometimes overwhelmed the knight”, [Sturm]. Sturm was the first character I read about in the fantasy genre who struggled with mental illness, which was hugely significant to me. There are also many instances of discrimination mentioned throughout. Were these deliberate choices and, if so, what was the reasoning behind them?
Margaret Weis: “We wanted to talk about racial discrimination in a way that would be nonthreatening to our readers. As for Sturm and depression, we wrote about him as we felt he would feel, given everything he had undergone.”
W&S: Many people (myself included) cite Dragonlance as their gateway to fantasy. Its impact hasn’t lessened at all over the years. What do you think it is about Dragonlance and the world of Krynn that continue to draw people in?
Margaret Weis: “I think it’s because the books are about middle-class people, not kings or princes or princesses. Our characters had to work for a living. They are ordinary people, drawn into extraordinary situations.”
W&S: Dovetailing off my previous question a bit: I personally find the characters so well-developed and relatable, that rereading the Dragonlance Chronicles feels a lot like coming home. Throughout the books, especially Dragons of Autumn Twilight, there are examples of events that the companions have experienced together that are mentioned in passing, like shared reminiscences. It really cements that sense of people who know each other very well. Was it difficult to convey that sort of relationship? And did you know going in that many of these mentioned instances would often become storylines in other books as the series grew?
Margaret Weis: “We rather hoped they wouldn’t become storylines! We wanted to leave them mysterious and intriguing. But the books sold so well that fans wanted more.”
W&S: The world-building is astounding. How were you and Tracy able to craft a world that is bigger even than what the reader is shown, as well as hint at places that are visited later on?
Margaret Weis: “The world-building credit goes to the DL design team. They needed a world large enough and detailed enough to accommodate twelve adventure modules.”
W&S: Dragonlance is deservedly beloved. What do you think has contributed to its place among fantasy greats?
Margaret Weis: “I’m not sure. We just wanted to tell a story.:)”
W&S: Did you have a favorite part to write?
Margaret Weis: “No, not really. I love writing!”
W&S: How do you feel about returning to the world of Krynn? Is there anything you’d like to say regarding the upcoming releases?
Margaret Weis: “Wonderful returning. And, no, I’m not permitted to talk about it.”
W&S: Are there any authors that you love or that have influenced you in some way?
Margaret Weis: “So many it’s hard to list them! Charles Dickens (particularly Bleak House), Jane Austen, Chaim Potok, Mary Renault, Rex Stout, Alexander Dumas. The list goes on!”
W&S: Finally, I have a bit of funny question. I was concerned that I would be so star-struck that I would only be able to come up with ridiculous questions, such as “Do you prefer waffles or pancakes?” So, now I have to ask. Are you a waffle or pancake person?
Margaret Weis: “Waffles.:)”
About the author:
Margaret Weis was born and raised in Independence, Missouri. She attended the University of Missouri, Columbia, graduating in 1970 with a BA degree in Literature and Creative Writing. In 1983, she moved to Lake Geneva, Wisconsin, to take a job as book editor at TSR, Inc., producers of the DUNGEONS & DRAGONS® role-playing game.
At TSR, Weis became part of the DRAGONLANCE® design team. Created by Tracy Hickman, the Dragonlance world has continued to intrigue fans of both the novel and the game for generations. Hickman and Weis wrote the first of many fantasy novels, the DRAGONLANCE CHRONICLES, which are still in print after almost thirty years. The books have sold over twenty-five million copies worldwide. They are thrilled to be writing a new trilogy under the DRAGONLANCE CLASSIC masthead. Watch for the first book in the series to be released in 2022!
Weis is the author/co-author of several other New York Times best-selling series, including DARKSWORD, ROSE OF THE PROHET, STAR OF THE GUARDIANS, THE DEATHGATE CYCLE, and DRAGONSHIPS. Weis and her daughter, Lizz, have written two paranormal romance novels, WARRIOR ANGEL and REBEL ANGEL, published by HarperCollins. She and co-author, Robert Krammes created two trilogies – THE DRAGON BRIGADE and DRAGON CORSAIRS…be sure to check them out!
Wisconsin is home where Weis lives with her dogs, Tika, Clancy the Hooligan and Joey the Thug. They all enjoy competing in tournaments with their team, the Barkbarians.