In 2005, Terry wrote an Amazon Short titled Why I Write About Elves.
It was a short piece of non-fiction, where Terry talks about why he writes fantasy and why it’s important to do so. It is kind of an autobiography of sorts where he talks about how people view him once he has told them his profession—and what subject matter he writes.
When the Amazon Shorts program was discontinued, the rights for Why I Write About Elves returned to Terry. He decided to post it for free on this website, so fans can get his opinion on the fantasy genre and why it is important to keep such wondrous stories alive for everyone.
Here is the opening of Why I Write About Elves:
While traveling on airplanes I frequently pass the time working on notes for a manuscript or the manuscript itself. Frequently, a fellow passenger will notice and ask what I am doing. At this point, the conversation can go off in any number of directions, but the destination never changes. The exchange, though the words and their order will vary, always goes something
“What are you working on?” the other passenger will ask.
“I am a writer,” I answer.
“Oh. What do you write?”
“I write books, novels.”
“What sort of novels?” Or, my personal favorite, “Would you have written anything I might have read?”
Now at this point I have tried giving any number of responses, all of them intended to accomplish one thing—to describe in succinct fashion what I write. But whatever variation of the following I employ, it is never as successful as I would wish.
“I write fantasy,” I might say.
Or, “I write fantasy/adventure stories.”
Or, “I write stories about elves and magic.”
Sometimes I throw in J.R.R. Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings, even though only the books of the Shannara series are really Tolkienesque in form. Sometimes I mention Harry Potter, even though nothing I write is like J.K. Rowling’s work. I always hope that mention of Lord of the Rings or Harry Potter will be enough of an explanation, even though I ought to know by now that it rarely is and frequently just confuses people.
In any case, what happens next is that almost without fail I get one of the following three responses.
To read the entirety of Why I Write About Elves, click HERE!
19 responses to “Why I Write About Elves”
I for one am glad you are writing about Elves! More people need to open up their minds and use their imaginations. Maybe the world would be a more peaceful less stressful world.
I too love the elves, my only complaint is the characters that we come to love get killed. The love story of Simmian was wonderful in the making and heatbreaking in the end
Dear Mr. Brooks,
I just wanted to send you a quick thank you for writing the Shannara books. My brother Tim who passed five years ago always used to try to get me to read them when we were in our earlier 20’s. Of course who is going to listen to their older brother. Since his passing I have picked up the books and fallen in love with them. Reading your books is like the finial place where he and I can meet once again. I read the words he has read and I visit the places he has gone in your books. For this I am truly thankful. I hope you never stop writing.
Thank you for your time and attention,
That is very touching, i am sorry for your loss
I found quite interesting that the reasons you write about Elves, are almost the same as the reason we read about them. And the same looks you get are the same we get when we say, “I read fantasy.” When I get the blank stare, I try the, “You know, swords and magic and stuff?” line, but that doesn’t help much either.
As a side note, I always find it hard to borrow your books from my local library, as, for some reason, they are nearly always stolen by about the third loan…
I chanced upon your books in the school library just over a decade ago, and I’ve been reading on ever since. I’m most delighted when I find new stories from you in the local library after months or years of neglecting the library. I just finished reading wards of faerie, and loved it very much – as with the entire Shannara series. Can’t wait to get my hands on the second and third book! Looking forward to many more great stories from you!
I have almost all the Shannara Series. I just recently realized I did not have your lates releases. I hope to fix that soon. I also have all your Landover Series. At first I wasn’t sure about it, but as I got into it, I realized it was very good. The story of Shannara is much better, but Landover is interesting and funny. Do you have other series like Shannara. I have tried looking online, but it’s not as easy as it used to be.
Thank you for your love of elves, magic, and fantacy.
Thank you so much mr. Brooks, I have had the chance to start the Shannara series and i have definately been sucked into a whole new world where Elves, Dwarves and Trolls really do exsist and a place I can escape to with the stresses of high school. I have never read any books that i love as much as these ones. THANK YOU!!!!!!
I read Sword when it was first released in paperback back in the late 70s, about the same time that I became a police officer. Of course as a Tolkien fan I was hooked from the start and never failed to read all you wrote since then. After having spent 30 years wandering in the streets of my own Forbidding I wish to thank you for all of the joys of reading your works. There will always be monsters and there will always be heros to stand up against them. As I enter retirement it has been my honor to have served with some of those heros, and my joy at looking forward to many more years of wandering the world of Shannara.
Just a quick big thank you to Mr Brooks. I suffer from anxiety and depression and the books have helped immensly. It is so easy to get sucked into the stories and to escape from reality just for a little while. Once I pick up one of the books I can not stop until it is finished.I cannot wait until the release of witch wraith it is going to be amazing! Keep up the fantastic work, you are an inspiration. Thank you.
Truth be told, Terry Brooks doesn’t write about elves – he writes about demons. Almost all of his works include demons where many of them don’t include elves. Perhaps in our current world, that’s appropriate. Perhaps it’s important for us to see how devious, deceitful and dangerous the demons in our lives can be. We all love stories about good triumphing over evil. It gives us hope that we too might overcome the adversities, challenges and set-backs in our own life – our personal demons. He also portrays the reality that there will be casualties along the way. Without fail, Terry Brooks’ stories introduce us to characters who we are compelled to fall in love with only to have some of the characters we care most about die along the way. Somehow, by the end of each book, he brings us to a place of acceptance, understanding, growth and peace about the journey. It’s rarely a Hollywood ending, but that’s what makes the stories richer, deeper and more “real” to us. Thank you Terry for your stories and the reflections they give us.
Dear Mr. Brooks
When I was about the age of 10 my father saw me reading and offered my The Sword of Shannara. My whole view of reading changed when I read that book. I used to think of books as boring and lame but you showed my the fantasy world in all of its glory. I have read many of your books since then and you are one of my favorite authors.
Your ever adoring fan,
P.S. Keep on writing, I’m always waiting for more of your books.
I have been a TB fan since the mid eighties since I picked up the Elfstones in 84, I didn’t know there was the Sword at the time. Tho I have read most of the series except for the current two and making sure to keep up with having them all. I have ready other books by other authors but I always came back to Terry’s books. His style of writing is soo well to understand and the characters all seem like family to me. And them being ‘elves’ makes it feel more personal. Seeing each generation come out is like seeing old friends and hearing about the crazy things that has happened in their lives. And I think we all have some elven spirit in us. I love sci-fi/fantasy, but seemed to be pulled towards the fantasy aspect and the world it creates.
Being a published writer, tho not for books. I understand Terry’s situation when trying to explain it to people. People who don’t normally read sci-fi/fantasy, as I have seen, have a hard time grasping the concepts out there. Tho I have never read Tolkien, and some people might think I’m odd for not to. Just never really got into the series. Tho love what the movie industry has created to inspire others. But trying to get some to understand the genre is hard to do but after the references of Dungeons & Dragons or Dragonlance or Tolkien, that blank stare softens to slight acknowledgement to help pave the way for the rest.
Terry have given me the best years of reading for my $$ and know what he has next will be great. The Shannara series from what I have seen is the longest one running, next to Robert Jordan’s Wheel of Time. And each set of books have keep us on the edge waiting for the next one to draw us back into the world. Great Work Terry!
Dear Mr. Brooks,
I can only say how much I wish I had been one of those seated next to you on an airplane. Your books have given me and my family many hours over many years of pleasure, relaxation, and abstraction. I believe my children were around 10 years old when I first introduced them to your Landover novels, I am not dismissing them as children’s novels but praising them as highly accessible, and just good fun. My kids both grew up to be voracious readers, and abstract thinkers.
Thank you so much for your books, and sharing your ideas with us, in a format that allows us to escape from preconceptions.
Dear Mr. Brooks,
The Sword of Shannara was the very first fantasy book I ever read. It captivated me. You started me off on reading fantasy books and I am forever grateful. You, though, are my favorite author. I am so saddened that you will be stopping the Shannara series. My ex husband used to tease me about reading Shanana books. Both my boys know the name Shannara. One of them reads World of Warcraft off and on. You have brought so much pleasure to my life. Thank You So Much!!! May God Bless You!
As many of the people have commented, I, too, grew up with the original Shannara books – Sword, Stones, and Wishsong. I read the Wishsong first in the late ’80s, and I was hooked. After I was done with them, I read them again. The books were my escape in middle school, high school and college. I ordered original hardbacks a few years ago so my children, when they are old enough, can start reading them. I’m sure they will love them just as I did and still do.
When I was younger, I loved to write and create my own characters, plots, and worlds. My overactive imagination consumed me. I found out in the last couple of years that I long for those days. I now am a lawyer going on 11 years, and I’m beginning to get back into fantasy writing, partly to escape my present reality, partly because I feel energized on so many different levels. But after you have been away for so long, it can be a truly frightening undertaking, especially after being in the trenches of such an adversarial and reason-driven profession for so long. I also understand that you were a lawyer once as well. I realize you are consumed with what you do. I would love to connect sometime and hear your story about when you first started out to see if it is similar to mine. Thanks for writing this article. You inspire me.
Hello, I started to read your books when I was 15 years old. I red all the shannara chronicals
You opend a door inside, you let me discover a world which was mine too. I just believe in elven and magic. I don’t care if others will think that I m crazy…I just believe, I know…
I love you work and dedication to ur 4 lands for me the word and the void series and how it links with Genesis of Shannara was and is epic these 2 series are by far your best but it seems there is a story missing in there I might b wrong it’s just a feeling still I remember saying that 20 something years ago and u made it real with Genesis and legends Great work your my most favourite author thank you
Actually the conversation with my mates was I bet word and void happened before the sword my mates always shot me down and told me I was overreaching thanks again for proving them wrong for me even if it was 20-25 years later 🙂