July Ask Terry Posted

Terry Brooks

For 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 from July 2020 and Terry’s answers! Enjoy!

Note: This section may contain spoilers!


Dear Readers,

Back again, just as promised. That’s right, you cannot get rid of me. I have to keep writing. I owe my soul to the company store. I bleed words on my computer and wait for the pain I know will come. Still, enough of that.

John Rumple writes: Philosophical question here regarding your approach to magic in your writing. In gaming, distinction is often made between high magic worlds (R.A. Salvatore’s worlds are an example – where it’s frequently encountered, usable by many) and low magic worlds (it’s rare, and usually unavailable to most – such as Shannara). I prefer your approach to magic as it keeps magic in the realm of the mysterious and wondrous. I’m NOT asking about midichlorians here… but my question is: From your overall perspective, does magic in the Shannara world ultimately originate as a quality of the world itself, or does it derive from beings whose presence causes such affects on items and people? Perhaps this is something you want left up to the reader’s imagination … but I see hints in your writing of a more personal ultimate source.

Terry Brooks replies: I think when I read your question that I wish I had your name. I love it! I want to be John Rumple. So cool. As for your question, maybe. Or sometimes. Or I don’t know, what do you think. Used to do that all the time, but I will give you a serious answer to a serious question. First, the Shannara magic is definitely low magic, as you describe it. Few have access and it is used sparingly and sometimes without realizing its consequences. It does come as a blood inheritance quite regularly but not dependably. It skips about as do our other characteristics from one generation to another. It is also frequently endemic the world itself or to a part of the lands. It resides in people and it resides in talismans and charms. Sometimes it can be gifted but mostly not. I like to keep readers on their toes about what to expect and I always, always use magic sparingly and with consideration for what it does to the user. Does this help?

Nate Weinand writes: What made you decide to publish Street Freaks with Grim Oak rather than Del Rey? If I am not mistaken, Street Freaks is your only book not published at Del Rey.

Terry Brooks replies: Except for a few short stories I did to honor another author after death or as a throwaway, you are correct. Del Rey is and will likely always be, my home. I have outlived or outlasted almost everyone I started with and I have worn out four different editors (Anne Groell has not thrown in the towel yet, but I can tell I am wearing her down). But Street Freaks was not a normal fantasy, and Del Rey was not particularly interested in publishing it. So it became an opportunity for me to try doing something different – very much the same way I have published all those special Shannara editions over the last fifteen years. Shawn Speakman, publisher of Grim Oak, is my Web Druid, after all.

Michael J.T.R. writes: I’m powering through what is only my first real reading of the series in preparation for The Last Druid, and am having a fantastic time with it. One particular element has me stumped, wondered if there was a greater explanation at play: Both Allanon (as a shade) and Walker make a big deal of recruiting members of the Ohmsford bloodline for the quests in Voyage, High Druid, and Dark Legacy. But since Wren Elessedil was of Ohmsford descent and is common ancestor to all the post-Heritage Elven royalty, wouldn’t her descendants meet the description? Couldn’t shake the funny image of Allanon telling Kyber Elessedil, “Make sure you get some of those Ohmsfords for this quest of yours,” and her telling him, “You know I’m part of that family too, right?”

Terry Brooks replies: True enough. I’ll leave it up to you and all readers to decide if an Ohmsford or an Elessedil would have a better chance of using magic given their histories.

Matthew writes: In your fantastic novelization of Star Wars: The Phantom Menace we get to meet Anakin Skywalker much earlier than we do in the movie and he has an encounter with a Tusken Raider that is quite heartbreaking when compared to the character’s experience with the Sand People in the next installment, Attack of the Clones. Was this foreshadowing that came from Lucas, or was it just really good luck that it turned out that way?

Terry Brooks replies:In preparation for writing Phantom Menace, I went down to Skywalker Ranch and spent some time with the people who were working there – particularly with books and Star Wars products – but also with George Lucas. We chatted about my approach and I asked him how much improvising I could do on the movie script. He was very generous and told me to write anything I wanted – mentioning both Sand People and Tusken Raiders but particularly Anakin. He wanted me to get more down about how Anakin was as a boy before he went to the Dark Side. So I wrote, I think, maybe three chapters of material that was new to the story. After all, the book is the book and the movie is the movie. I can do more with more space than the movie can. George encouraged this and liked everything new I wrote. So none of it was luck, and all of it was a very pleasant collaboration.

Jeb Holt writes: Since the remaining sets of Elfstones never make a reappearance have you ever put any thought into what the emerald, saffron and white stones functions are apart from defense? If so would you mind sharing?

Terry Brooks replies: Have given it little thought. Until I write these things, I don’t see the point. Reveals about magic are given attention on a need-to-know basis, and I never to that far. One day, maybe I will. But not just now.

Okay, now I have to get back to writing the sequel of Child of Light. I have one chapter left to write. Then I will spend the rest of the month editing it with Judine. After that? The sequel will be off to my editor.

Be safe, be well,

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