You are hereMargaret Weis
At GenCon this year, Big Iron Vault was fortunate enough to meet up with the legendary (although she would never admit to it) Margaret Weis. Need less to say, our resident girl gamer was very excited. Following that fortunate meeting, we followed up with her for a short interview. And it went something like this ...
Hello Margaret, you certainly require no introduction! Your contributions to fantasy literature have certainly been immense. Can you talk a little about how you got into fantasy literature during your time in college?
I was in college in the late 1960s. This was a time of activisim on college campuses. Students from all over the US were in contact with each other and because we didn't have Facebook or the internet, students tended to travel from one campus to another, mostly by hitchhiking or in those brightly painted buses that have become a symbol of the era. When students in California began reading a little-known series of books known as the Lord of the Rings, they took those paperbacks (the authorized paperback, of course!) with them on their journeys. Word spread from campus to campus and that's how I first heard about the series. I love those books not only for the fact that they introduced me to a wonderful world of the imagination, but because they bring back some great memories!
It is a little known fact that you started by writing children’s books and biographies. What were those early years like for you as a brand new editor and writer?
I was a single mom, newly divorced, working my day job and pursuing my love for writing at the same time. There were in those days (early 80s) publishers that speciailized in producing children's books aimed mainly for the school market. My late agent, Ray Peekner, acquired such work for many of his writers. You had to be willing to write about anything under the sun in a grade-school vocabulary level. That work taught me the discipline of words.
It seems to us that a big turning point in your career was your beginnings with TSR as a book editor. How did that role come about? And how did you feel about it at that time?
I was so excited! Ray Peekner, my agent, lived in Milwaukee. The editor of the book department, Jean Black, knew Ray and happened to mention to him she was looking for a book editor who was also a writer. Ray told her about me and said that I was interested in TSR and had actually applied for a job there as a game editor. Jean found my application, called me to come up for an interview. I got the job the same day! I borrowed money from my parents, packed up the kids and the cats and moved to Lake Geneva.
Some would say that Dragonlance is one of the most influential trilogies ever written in the fantasy genre. What spawned the original idea for Dragonlance? (Sorry you must get this question a lot!)
Tracy Hickman came up with the idea as he and his wife, Laura, were driving across country from Utah to Wisconsin to take a job with TSR.
How did you meet Tracy Hickman? What were some your first impressions?
When I arrived at TSR, Jean told me that one of my jobs would to turn the new game world known as Dragonlance into an outline for three adult novels. I was assigned to Tracy's team and that's where I first met him and the rest of the DL team. I heard him tell the story and I felt I belonged in this world.
Both your names are enshrined in fantasy writing lore. How was it really like working with Tracy Hickman?
I remember lots of laughter.:)
Post TSR was a very productive time in your career including works like Darksword and Star of the Guardians. We believe that it was around this time that life took a bit of an unfortunate twist.
I was diagnosed with breast cancer in 1993 during work on the Deathgate cycle. It was certainly scary at the time, but I received so much love and support from my friends and family, doctors and nurses, my editors and fans that the experience proved to be a blessing. Going through a major illness really changes your life. Every birthday becomes a true celebration.
Do you mind talking a little about your experience as a cancer survivor? And how you were able to overcome adversity during this time?
My writing helped me a lot. I was working on the last book in the Deathgate cycle and I was able for a time each day to forget the chemo and enter another world--a world in which I had control! One of the biggest problem with cancer patients is that they feel they have lost control over their own bodies. Having control over something--even if it's an imaginary world--was a big help.
What kind of advice would you give to someone who is going through major hardship today?
The advice my ex-husband gave me: Soldier on.
Thousands of aspiring writers look up to persons like yourself and dream of achieving the same level of fame – what sort of advice would you give to these aspiring authors?
Keep reading. Keep writing. Keep your day job.
If an unpublished writer wanted to break into the business how should he/she do it?
I recommend Stephen King's book "On Writing". He gives excellent advice.
In recent years Margaret Weis Productions has released some fantastic RPGs. Starting with Serenity – which we here at BIV thoroughly enjoy! This endeavour has grown to include Supernatural and lately Smallville. Why these TV series for a RPG? What made your gravitate to these cult hits?
We like to work on TV shows we like! We look for shows that have several strong central characters (as opposed to just one hero and a sidekick, for example). We encouage role playing as well as dice rolling!
Jessica wants to me to run you through the gauntlet! (Ed Greenwood had a lot of fun with this)
Sam or Dean Winchester? Who’s hotter?
I'll go with Captain Reynolds!
Tanis or Raistlin as a life partner?
I'd stay single.
Who do you want to be rescued by Superman or Batman?
Wonder Woman! (Did I mention my daughter and I wrote a Wonder Woman graphic novel?)
What do you prefer Fine dining or Bacon & Eggs?
Fine dining! With wine!
Would you rather have Dinner with friends or a time alone to read?
Dinner with friends talking about books we are reading.
What will Margaret Weis be doing after the next 5 years?
Writing! Racing my dogs in flyball! Imshallah! (God willing!)