Jim Butcher, author of The Dresden Files, the Codex Alera series, and the upcoming “steam opera” trilogy The Cinder Spires, held court on Reddit last week, answering questions and teasing some of the drama that will be found in his upcoming (15th!) Harry Dresden book, Skin Game. There was also talk of kickstarting an event in which Butcher would “benchpress Patrick Rothfuss,” who, being “mostly beard” is eminently benchpressable. We will obviously update immediately if this even comes to pass.
We pulled some of our favorite moments out for you!
Redditor GelidLord thanked Butcher for getting Catholicism right in his books, and asked two questions: first, about his sources for the religious references, and then asked how the series has affected Butcher’s life, for instance “since you spend probably a bunch of time writing from Harry’s perspective, do you occasionally catch yourself thinking about your life in a way he would, or dreaming about his problems?”
Butcher: My main source for faith based stuff is mostly the Bible, and a childhood with a much, much higher than median exposure to theological thought. The most major way the series has affected me is that it’s let me spend my life doing work that I genuinely love. Well, most of the time I love it, sometimes it torments me, but mostly I love it. That, all by itself, has made a profound difference in the way I look at the world. Everybody should get to make a living with their passion. It’s amazing. I doubt I have Harry’s perspective on many things in my real life. I do dream about his problems from time to time, or at least occasionally my dreams become his problems. That’s sort of nice, too. Recurring nightmare? Pass it off to Dresden, let him deal with it.
Iamtheowlman asked “Are the new short stories (such as “Bombshells”) going to be released in an anthology like Side Jobs?”
Butcher: “They will, as soon as I have enough stories for a second anthology. I was going to call it More Jobs, but [redditor] Loweeel suggested Brief Cases as a title, and that’s too good to not use.” (Loweeel responded by saying he can “die a happy man” once the series is complete.)
Kypieo asked a question about Molly, specifically: “How will she cope with the new bomb that was dropped on her?”
Butcher: “Oh, she was really ripped up by it. She’s got at least as much a self-martyr complex as Harry does, and she was not going easy on herself after doing that. As far as how she copes, you’ll see a little of it in the next book, but more in book 16.”
TheProudBrit asked “what do you think people will love the most about Cinder Spires?”
Butcher: “I’d like to think it would be the world building or the character depictions or the use of the story elements to create a satisfying dramatic catharsis. But it won’t be any of those things. It will be the cats.”
domino7: “What would happen to someone who spends a year or more in the nevernever, eating nevernever food, breathing nevernever air, then returns to the real world? Do they get sick/die as all the ectoplasmic stuff in their bodies turns to goo, or does it metaphysically become one with them?”
Butcher: “They get sick and die. That’s why you shouldn’t eat Faerie Food. After, what is it, seven years or so, you’ve completely replaced the cells in your body with new cells. If they all come from faerie food, you just glorp to the floor. I think there might be some brain left.”
Porn_Extra had a question about the books being structured around multiples of five, and asked if that meant the “Denarians will cause the events that end the series.”
Butcher: “What, the Denarians appearing on multiples of five? Did you check your math on that one? I’m sure that’s not right. That would indicate a pattern and some kind of plan, and everyone knows I’m making this stuff up as I go.”
longooglite asked, “how much stronger does the Winter Mantle make Harry? Can he go toe-to-toe with a Denarian? With Cowl?”
Butcher: “You’ll have to wait and see. But only until May 27th, at which point at least half of your question will be answered.”
Gonah asked, “What has been your absolute favorite scene to write?”
Butcher: “The last scene of Changes. I was giggling maniacally the entire time.”
Nicolasmilioni asked, “How does a Faerie gain power? How would a weak goblin become like the Erlking? Or a weak gruff become like the eldest gruff?”
Butcher: “Time, effort, and will. Keep an eye on Toot-toot.”
Deusmalusest also came in with a question about the Erlking: “Is The Erlking a mantle in the same way as the other Fae titles? I know he’s referred to as Herne at one point in Cold Days, so that got me thinking, considering that he’s also (if I remember correctly) the Summer King.”
Butcher: ”There is no such thing as a Summer King in the Dresden Files faerie cosmology. Mab and Titania need a King like a fish needs a bicycle. There are a ton of independent rulers of the Wyld, though, much like the Erlking, who is a member of the Winter Court more or less as a sign of courtesy and respect. They will occasionally make alliances (and dalliances) with the great rulers of the Sidhe.”
Blackwyrm asked if Butcher has a “favorite underused character.”
Butcher: “The great part of creative work is that if I have a character I want to do more with, I up and do more with him. Auctor non curat, man.” Which, as another redditor, priscellie, explained, was ‘dog Latin’ for “Author Don’t Care.” Creative inspiration from the Honey Badger, folks.
EndlessKng: “If someone owes a being with a mantle a favor (say someone owed Lloyd a favor), and that mantle passes to someone before the favor was called in (to, say, a certain Chicago Wizard), does the person who receives the mantle get the favor? Also, if a unique denizen of Faerie akin to Cat Sith were to die, does it have a mantle that passes on? Would the next-eldest malk be able to get more powerful?”
Butcher: Depends of the nature of the mantle. Not all of them are all about obligation, the way the Faerie mantles are. But as far as Faerie mantles go, yes. If you owed Maeve a favor when Maeve was the Winter Lady, you don’t get out of your debt just because there’s a new Winter Lady in town. Molly is the one who is going to collect now. The mantle of Eldest is an important one in Faerie, and yes, it would pass on should its bearer perish.”
When asked who he’s reading right now, Butcher replied: “Eric Flint and David Weber’s latest release. After that, the Powder Mage trilogy.”
Asked about his influences, Butcher replied, “The Temeraire series by Naomi Novik; The Belgariad by David (and Leigh) Eddings; The Lord of the Rings by some guy; Fafhrd and the Grey Mouser stories by Fritz Leiber; most anything by Brandon Sanderson; The Black Company by Glen Cook; and a load of others that aren’t coming to mind right now.”
Insertcleverphrase asked for Butcher’s favorite book, which is Dean Koontz’ Watchers, and his favorite pie, which is cake.
EbonDeath asked him to name the best book Butcher read in the last year and he replied, “Words of Radiance. Damn you, Sanderson. That was epic.”
If you want to read more of the hilarious AMA, you can find it here!