A Conversation with R.A. Salvatore
How did you come up with the idea for The Ancient and The Saga of the First King series?
The idea of DemonWars was to first write a large scope series outlining the world itself - the magic system, the church and social structures, the races, the monsters – then go back and tell more personal stories within that framework. I’m exploring the history of the world with this newest series. When did the main kingdom, Honce, transition from feudalism to a united kingdom? How painful was that transition, and what heroes emerged to allow it? In other words, I’m telling the DemonWars’ “Arthur” story here.
The storyline involves the character from an earlier work of yours, The Highwayman. How are these two novels related?
The Ancient picks up right where The Highwayman left off. In that first book, I created a character who has surprised me at every turn. He’s a complicated fellow, and I want to explore his psyche as he makes some personal transitions. In The Highwayman, I found the main character to be deeply flawed – not necessarily through any fault of his own, given the extreme circumstances of his climb to notoriety. Now comes the real test for him, however. He has developed these skills, these powers, so how will he use them?
Should readers start with The Highwayman?
Nearly all of my series are designed so that you can jump in anywhere. For the original seven DemonWars novels, I strongly suggest that the reader read them in order. But you can read The Highwayman without having read those, and you can read The Ancient without having read any of the previous DemonWars novels. I’m betting that if you read The Ancient, you’ll want to go back and read The Highwayman, and if you find the world intriguing, you’ll go from there to the DemonWars series that started it all.
What’s next in the Saga? Any sneak peaks at future installments?
Since I’m outlining it right now, no. Well, I will say that I’m hoping to name it The Dame (I say “hoping” because I’m sure I’ll be fighting with editors and marketing folks on the title, as always!) and it will involve the whole of Honce, from the current warring lairds to the rise of a new player.
The Saga of the First King is scheduled to include four books. Is there any chance that there might be more?
Actually, it’s three books, the fourth being the re-release of The Highwayman. After that, I am fairly confident I’ll want to remain in the DemonWars setting, but who knows? If someone had told me in 1988 that I’d still be writing about Drizzt Do’Urden well into the 21st century, I’d have laughed at him. Now I just shrug and let the writing take me where it wants me to go, and that’s in no small part up to the readers.
Will there be any other new books and/or series that involve worlds or characters from previous series?
More Dark Elf books, to be sure. Those, DemonWars, and my work with 38 Studios seem to be keeping me quite busy of late, but there are other ones out there I’d like to pick up again, like Crimson Shadow (I miss Oliver!) and Spearwielders. And while there are some other stories I want to tell, I doubt I’ll create another fantasy world. But again, who knows?
You mentioned that you are involved with a new gaming company, 38 Studios. Any chance of The Ancient storyline being developed for this format?
There’s always a chance of that, but right now, 38 has a laser focus on the one big thing we’re trying to do very, very well. I’d tell you more, but….I won’t tell you more!
What are you currently working on?
I just finished The Pirate King, the next Drizzt book, coming out in September. I’m also consulting on the SPOOKS comics (the first issue blew off the shelves) and working on one other project that hasn’t been announced. I’m very excited about that one, because I’m working with one of my sons. In a few years, I expect to hear readers telling me that he’s the better writer. That will be one of the proudest and happiest days of my life.