How Fantasy Author Brent Weeks Makes Space for His Readers’ Opinions

“Things on my mind,” Brent Weeks shared in his latest Reddit AMA on r/fantasy: “how much polonium is in the Ramen noodles I’m eating, the interactions of low-level fame with social media (i.e. the reasons I lurk instead of post), and how much I should be packing for book tour.”

The tour is for The Blood Mirror, published earlier this week, the fourth (of five) novel in his Lightbringer fantasy series. While much of the AMA focused on the chromaturgy, or color magic, that makes up the Lightbringer series’ magic system, one Redditor latched on to the lurking comment. Weeks’ answer was the kind of gem you find in AMAs: a short primer on making space for the opinions of readers and fans while still engaging in the art and in the fantasy community.

“You really don’t have to lurk,” Redditor wishforagiraffe commented as an aside in their question. “We like everyone here.” Weeks responded:

The lurking is for a few reasons. It’s a sad part of becoming a pro that it takes away some of your ability to just be a fan, and it takes away your ability to just be a normal person who gets to have feelings publicly. As a fan and reader, there’s stuff I love (I can talk about that) and hate in the genre (I can’t talk about that unless I want to be That Guy). Even friends of mine have stuff in their books that irks me. Critiquing that either makes me look like a jerk (if we’re equals), a bully (if I’m more successful), or as a wannabe trying to make my name by punching up (if I’m less successful than the critiqued writer). On the other hand, when just fans are talking, jumping in to that conversation throws a big wet blanket on the whole party. If someone says my work sucks, even if I say something totally professional like, “I’m sorry that didn’t work for you.” Then it still alters the conversation fundamentally and takes away a place for fans to talk about Art. Now, I certainly wish fans would always be respectful of the humanity of the creators of what they love and hate, but that’s way too much to ask on the internet.

Weeks describes himself as a “longtime lurker and guy who still wonders how long it’s okay to display flair” (that being his r/fantasy Best of 2012 Winner flair)—but remains acutely aware of the discussion surrounding his work and how it becomes contextualized on a larger scale. This is present in another fascinating answer he gave, to the usual question about the likelihood of his work being adapted for film or television:

mrrickles: Also, please PLEASE tell me that with the success of Game of Thrones, with the respect and love they had with the source material to stick to the story, that you’re considering seeking opportunities to turn Lightbringer into a TV series. Once you’re done, is that something you’d be excited to look into? I really think there’s far too much to your stories to be condensed into a 2-hour-or-so movie, so television seems ideal to me.

BW: I hit the Nine Kings question above, but the TV/movie question is linked. I actually was getting a ton of emails from producers and “producers” recently—all due to Game of Thrones, I’m sure. Other writers have jumped to Hollywood, too, with varying success. I told them all I wasn’t selling right now. (Sure, if Spielberg came knocking, I’d answer the door.) It’s mostly because of the time thing, and keeping the main thing the main thing. But it’s also because of my two properties here, I see Night Angel as far more filmable, and I have more Night Angel stories to tell myself that I think are far more filmable than the first trilogy. I mean, the first book starts with some awful, awful child abuse that I wrote never intending to SEE. Reading about it is different. So I plan to wait. Probably until after I write at least one more Night Angel book.

Weeks will continue to hit up the AMA during his book tour this week; he’ll be answering the most upvoted questions first, so get yours in, and think of good ones!

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