Updated Mon, Sep 26, 2011 by Saia
The latest World of Warcraft novel, Wolfheart, is now hitting bookstores everywhere. Focusing on a turf war between the Night Elves and the Orcs, the book sees the return of some much loved characters including Jarod Shadowsong and his sister Maiev, as well as a closer look into the mind of Varian Wrynn and his relationship with the Worgen of Gilneas. Last week, we sat down to talk to it's author, fantasy writer Richard A. Knaak about the writing process, what it's like to work with Blizzard's loremasters and how he feels about his losing one of his favourite characters.
Ten Ton Hammer: So how did you start about writing World of Warcraft books for Blizzard?
Richard A Knaak: In the beginning they actually approached me; I’d written several things in the past, including for a series called Dragonlance and they were very familiar with my work, especially The Legend of Huma. Apparently, several of the people at Blizzard had grown up reading my work and so, basically, I’d raised my own employers! They asked me if I’d be willing to do some novels in the worlds that they were working with, Warcraft and Diablo. I went and took a look at those worlds and they were so rich in depth and I was happy to do something in them. Ever since then we’ve had a really good experience with each other.
Ten Ton Hammer: Do you pitch an idea to them or do they come to you?
Richard: What happens is, usually, they will pick a subject that they want to write about that’s going to be important to the game and they’ll ask me if it’s something I’d be interested in and it usually is. They give me a notion of what they’re looking for and then I come back with a synopsis that expands on all of that. Then they go through it and will pick up on things that I’ve done and say “Yes, we want to expand on those.” They’ll also suggest other things which come up from what they’ve seen and this’ll go back and forth a few times until we hammer out a synopsis that we both feel very, very happy about. There are about three or four people who I normally deal with on that end, who are very good and dedicated to the storylines.
Ten Ton Hammer: Would you say Blizzard give you free reign then?
Richard: I would say for a work for hire situation, which is what this is, I’d say they give me very good reign. I always like to stay true to what they want and we have an excellent lore staff but things do get missed now and then, you can’t help that. But they try to be very careful with things and stay on top of it at all times. Sometimes there are changes which have to be made because the game has expanded so much from Orcs and Humans. Sometimes there are routes they want to go but didn’t realise they wanted to originally so we do what we can to make sure everything fits together and flows nicely.
Ten Ton Hammer: So how long did it take you to write Wolfheart?
Richard: I’m usually working on a couple of different projects at the same time because, obviously, it’s going to take them quite a bit of time, especially when I have to pass things through them. If I had to condense it down, probably anywhere from four to eight months, while I’m working on other things at the same time. Then there’s the editing process that they do as well. Blizzard are very particular and they’ve actually found little things, even towards the end of the editing process. So, all the way to the very end we’re adjusting things and tweaking for people’s enjoyment.