terry-brooksFor many years the only chance a fan had of speaking to Terry was to meet him at tour events or conventions.

With the establishment of this website in 2000, Terry began accepting two questions from each fan per month. On the last day of the month, five questions are randomly drawn. Terry answers these five questions and they are posted monthly for your enjoyment.

Below are the questions selected last month and Terry’s answers! Enjoy!

Note: This section may contain spoilers!

Dear Readers,

Turns out Shawn is saving up these Ask Terry questions in groups so he can drop them on me all at once. Nice. But a truly dedicated author, like myself, doesn’t waver in the face of adversity. He simply powers on.

So to work:

Amberle Byrum writes: As a writer who is facing your work being turned into a large budget TV series as well as some of your work being turned into a movie, how do you feel about the way some writers allow their stories to be changed, adapted, and in some cases completely changed to the point of losing fans to suit directors and how they feel they can “sell” the story to the viewing audience? A perfect example of this would be George R. R. Martin and HBO’s Game of Thrones series. How much change are you willing to allow to the story to make it more “TV friendly”?

Terry Brooks replies: Since you bear the main character’s name in Elfstones, I will answer this question seriously. First off, I was not asked to make Elfstones TV friendly or sellable. I was told up front that while they wanted the entire series for adaptation, they would still consult with me and allow me to edit where I felt it was necessary. I, in turn, told them that I had some experience with adaptations working on Hook and Star Wars and that the latter had taught me the value of trusting the writer. In that situation, it was George Lucas telling me to do what I needed to make the movie work as a book as long as I didn’t compromise the main plotline and characters of the movie.

I did very much the same with The Shannara Chronicles with Al and Miles. I knew there would have to be changes because much of what appears in my books is narrative and interior monologue which doesn’t work in movies. I gave my blessing on new subplots and characters. I don’t think an adaptation in any form should be a paint-by-the-numbers experience. I think it should be new and different. So I was consulted all the way through about the changes they were making and in many instances I thought they were changes I might have made if I had considered them in the first place while writing the book. The result is exactly what I had hoped for. It is Elfstones told anew with additional material provided and new looks given.

I haven’t seen Game of Thrones, so it is hard for me to comment on how that turned out. But I am pleased with how The Shannara Chronicles turned out, and I think my working relationship with all of the principles is pretty terrific. Not everyone will like everything because that’s how life works. But most will. Hope you will be one.

Johnny Avram writes: In The Sword of Shannara, as the company nears the Hall of Kings, Allanon ponders that “he had learned more from the Shade (of Bremen) than the words of the prophecy” – the latter of which he reveals to the others, yet the former he keeps hidden as he does the secret of the Sword. What was this other secret that he learned from the Shade?

Terry Brooks replies: That the Miranda Lambert/Blake Shelton marriage would never work out. No? Well, how about this? The fans will answer this one. Get to it, readers!

Tosh Keller writes: Dear Terry, I’ve been wondering about the title, The Darkling Child, ever since I finished reading it. I was expecting the term “Darkling” to refer to species that was banished to life behind the Forbidding like the lover of Aleia Omarosian. Not that there had to be a “Darkling” in the book to justify the title, but could you explain the title to me?

Terry Brooks replies: The word “darkling” is used two different ways. In Wards of Faerie, the references to “the darkling boy” were references to his origins as the child of creatures considered dangerously different by the Elves. These were the creatures that would eventually be locked away in the Forbidding as “evil” but which would later be found to be an imperfect mix. “Darkling Child” in the Defenders refers to Reyn Frosch, who inherited the Wishsong magic and would struggle with it as he grew into manhood, all the while discovering how treacherous it could be and how having it would burden him.

Alex Brownie writes: Would the siren girl in your original idea for the second Shannara book, featuring the son of Menion Leah, have been a protagonist or an antagonist?

Terry Brooks replies: Whoa! I haven’t thought about that character in a long, long time. That was Lorelei, and she would have been a protagonist, even though possessing a powerful and quixotic magic. After that book was rejected and rewritten as Elfstones, I moved her to Heritage of Shannara, and she became Quickening.

Nick Braden writes: I have seen the roll out of The Shannara Chronicles and am excited to see the Elfstones come to life. However Allanon is not what I expected. He looks more like a warrior than a druid. No robes. No cowled hood. His head is shaved instead of having long hair. And the actor doesn’t look old enough. Is there any reason this route was chosen when designing what he would look like on the screen?

Terry Brooks replies: Lots of good reasons, Nick. Let’s start by going back to the book. In Elfstones, Allanon is on the cusp of middle-age, appearing to be in his late 30’s or so, whatever that is after the Druid sleep. He is not old. He is referred to as old near the end, when his struggles have aged and wearied him and he goes off to engage in the Druid Sleep. Yes, the Darrell Sweet drawings do picture him as quite old. But that’s artistic license at work. The TV show chose to go for a presence rather than a look, and I think Manu Bennett is exactly right for the role. When he is on screen you cannot look away from him. He has a power about him that transcends size. I love the rune scars and the partially shaved head. When you see the opening episode, you will understand why. Remember, this an adaptation (see question #1 above). All the artists who worked on the early Shannara books went for a Tolkienesque appearance for Allanon. I didn’t mind it, but I think the TV show rendition is closer to my own take.

This concern over changing the look of the characters and what-not will surely be echoed in other ways when viewers who are long time readers see the characters reimagined. Someone the other day said to me, “But Wil looks so young.” Well, Wil and Amberle and Eretria are all teens. You have to allow for such changes. You can picture the characters in the books in a more personal way, and that’s fine. But in the TV show, everyone will see them the same way. More of a shared experience, and that’s what adaptation is about.

So that’s if for the moment. Shawn is probably working up Ask Terry questions for July by now, and they will probably all be about the TV show. But my job is done for Season One, and I am back to work writing.

See you soon somewhere,

Please completely fill in the form below and send the two questions you want to ask Terry this month.

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Written by Shawn Speakman
I am the long-time friend and webmaster for Terry Brooks as well as the author of The Dark Thorn, an urban/epic fantasy hybrid novel Terry calls "a fine tale by a talented writer." Join me on Facebook and Twitter (@shawnspeakman)!