Urban Fantasy: Threat or Menace? - The Story Board Ep. 1




Uploaded by geekandsundry on 07.08.2012

Transcript:

PATRICK ROTHFUSS: Well, hello there, everybody.
This is a Geek and Sundry production, the Tuesday night
Live Hangouts.
My name is Pat Rothfuss.
And this is the first of the Hangouts.
We are The Story Board.

Today we're going to be talking about urban fantasy.
And our guests are the fabulous Jim Butcher, who is
dressed for the occasion, live from the deep woods, and
graciously taking time out from his LARP.

Jim, as everyone knows, is author of the fabulous
"Dresden Files" books, which if you know anything about
urban fantasy you know what they are.
Next we have Emma Bull, who is author of "War of the Oaks,"
which is arguably the very first urban fantasy written
that is identified as urban fantasy, who is very much on
the forefront of the genre and hung with the cool folks that
kind of broke that wave.
She also is nominated for the Nebula, the Hugo, the World
Fantasy Award, which is pretty much the trifecta, and proves
her awesome to no small degree.

Lastly, we have Diana Rowland.
And she writes--
now which one would you like me to throw out as your front
liner here?
DIANA ROWLAND: Well, the first series is my "Demon Summoner"
series that started with "Mark of the Demon."
PATRICK ROTHFUSS: "The Mark of the Demon."
DIANA ROWLAND: But then there's also the "White Trash
Zombie" series.
PATRICK ROTHFUSS: Which is quite possibly the best title
and the best cover I've seen in several years.
DIANA ROWLAND: I love them.
PATRICK ROTHFUSS: And she is all over in the genre.
She's very knowledgeable and has worked a spread of jobs
that are urban, let's say that.
She has been a police officer.
And you also worked in--
DIANA ROWLAND: Yeah, I worked in a morgue.
PATRICK ROTHFUSS: In a morgue.
DIANA ROWLAND: Yeah, I was a street cop, a detective, did
crime scene, worked in a morgue, have been
elbow-deep in bodies.
I've done a lot of weird crap.

EMMA BULL: And best author bio on back flap ever.
DIANA ROWLAND: I know, right?
PATRICK ROTHFUSS: And so she has a wealth of experience she
brings to the table here, and it makes her
books remarkably gritty.
And so with no further ado, let's just jump right in and
start talking about urban fantasy.
And I just want to throw it open to you guys.

Let's start with the first question.
What really qualifies something as urban fantasy, in
your opinion?

EMMA BULL: Well, it's got to take place in a city.
DIANA ROWLAND: Well, I think in the real world.
EMMA BULL: Yeah.
DIANA ROWLAND: Maybe not necessarily the
city but real world.
EMMA BULL: I'm not even certain that I would insist on
real world so much as that there's got be a presence of
the city as a real factor in the story.
When I talk about urban fantasy, I even include Fritz
Leiber's "Lankhmar," because there's so much of a feeling
of this can only happen in that urban fantasy setting, in
that city where these things go on.
And I want the city to be a character, the idea that
people are in this very specific place, and that it
changes the story.
PATRICK ROTHFUSS: So you wouldn't even say it had to be
set in the real world?
EMMA BULL: I wouldn't.
But then I'm weird.
DIANA ROWLAND: See, I'm going to disagree.
I think that the term urban fantasy is not
really accurate anymore.
And most of what's in the genre now is stuff that's set
basically in something similar to the real world with that
little bit of twist.
You have your monsters, your vampires, your demons, that
sort of thing.
And I think that's one of the appeals of it is it's very
accessible.
People can pick up a book and go, OK, this is
basically my neighbor.
Oh, and that weird guy, he's weird because he's a monster.
And that's why it's become so accessible and popular.
It's a very easy, escapist sort of thing.
EMMA BULL: Well, and I think it gives an extra feeling to
the fantasy element.
It validates it.
It says, all right.
You believe me about New York.
You believe me about Central Park.
Central Park is demonstrably--
that's Central Park.
We've all seen it in movies and TV.
And then I give you a zombie.
And you have to believe me, because I was good on
Central Park, man.
That was true.

PATRICK ROTHFUSS: How about you, Jim?
Do you think the city is the essential thing, or the real
world is the essential thing, or is it kind of a horse a
piece you figure?
JIM BUTCHER: I think, for me, the real thing that we're
doing as writers is we're taking a lot of these old
stories that have been with us for hundreds of
years, in some cases.
And I think a lot of what we're doing is just sort of
bringing them into our world.
Whether or not we're actually setting it in a particular
city, or involving it in a particular city, I think we're
taking these old nightmares and these old bogeymen and
sort of bringing them up to date a little bit in terms of
putting them in an environment that is something a little
more similar to what most of us are used to.
All the old stories are set in the forest for a reason.
It's a dark scary place out there in the woods, he said
from his cabinet in the woods.
But these days there aren't nearly as many people who are
familiar with that woodsy setting,
as 95% of the people--
the audience for those stories--
would have been a few hundred years ago.
So I think now when we're putting the vampires in the
cities, we're putting werewolves in the cities,
we're just sort of making it a little bit more accessible and
a little bit more friendly to a wider audience, because
there's more and more people that are living there.
EMMA BULL: And Delia Sherman said several years ago at a
Forth Street Fantasy Convention the city is the new
forest and that people have the same kind of relationship
that they used to with the forest.
Around the corner anything could happen, around the
corner is danger is mystery is those people that you don't
know very well.
Whereas--
DIANA ROWLAND: And it's also--
EMMA BULL: Go ahead.
DIANA ROWLAND: I'm sorry.
I was going to say that it's also the community.
Like you said before, the forest, the village, that's
your family community, in the city's community.
Most of my stuff is set in basically small towns.
But still it's that community and the people you know who
you think you know, but maybe you don't know as well as you
think you knew them.
PATRICK ROTHFUSS: And I think that is really interesting.
It used to be back in the day, even as early as just a couple
hundred years ago, the wilderness, it was wild.
The forest was the dangerous place.
It was the place where you did not have control.
But now are any of us really scared when we go camping,
barring being somewhere with ferocious wild animals?
And even then it's something we can kind of laugh off.
But the wildness--
EMMA BULL: Ask any ranger in Yellowstone just how not
scared people are and how much they should be.
But they're not.
PATRICK ROTHFUSS: It's lost a lot of its magic.
Whereas any substantially big town, it has all of the
unknown and mystery and fear and potential wildness that
probably the Black Forest used to have.
DIANA ROWLAND: Yeah.
Are you scared to walk down the dark alley or scared to
walk through the dark forest?
PATRICK ROTHFUSS: Yeah.
DIANA ROWLAND: Yeah.
The dark alley.
No.
PATRICK ROTHFUSS: And I think truthfully maybe when urban
fancy was starting off, like most genres, it starts off
with kind of a tight definition where
it is of the city.
That's why it's called urban fantasy.
But then, I think, pretty quickly definitions get really
tangled up.
They get muddied up with marketing strategies.
There's the big debate.
What's urban fantasy?
And what's paranormal romance?
How much do those two things really
overlap in the Venn diagram?
And ultimately I don't think most people care.
It's all just one big fuzzily defined thing that we slap
urban fantasy on at this point.
But here's the thing, I'm pretty sure that urban
fantasy, as a general rule of thumb, outsells traditional
fantasy at this point by a factor of two-to-one.
DIANA ROWLAND: A lot.
Yeah.
EMMA BULL: Dude, seriously?
PATRICK ROTHFUSS: Well, we're not talking about bestsellers.
Martin obviously--
EMMA BULL: Well, yeah.
Because I'm thinking about George Martin, and I'm
thinking of "Name of the Wind," et cetera, et cetera,
and going oh, no.
DIANA ROWLAND: But the number of different authors, though.
If you think of the number of different authors, I could
rattle off 20 or 30 urban fantasy authors right now who
do pretty well, and many of them "New York Times." But I
could probably only rattle off right now, who are selling
well, maybe three or four epic fantasy.
EMMA BULL: Yeah.
People who are doing epic fantasy, not as much now.
Yeah, good point.
PATRICK ROTHFUSS: Yeah.
And so people seem more accepting of it,
hungrier for it.
Publishers seem a little bit more willing to publish it.
And this is interesting for a genre that kind of didn't
exist as a force a couple of--
EMMA BULL: Like, as of the mid-'80s.
PATRICK ROTHFUSS: Yeah.
So did this just happen as a phenomenon?
Or what sort of psychological need is this filling?
Why do people dig it so much?
Why did it catch on like a house on fire?
DIANA ROWLAND: Well, I think it goes back to the it's an
easy escape.
And in the past couple of decades, well, especially the
past decade, we've had a lot of really crappy crap.
I'm trying to control my language.
EMMA BULL: A lot of stuff that wants escaping from.
DIANA ROWLAND: Yeah, exactly.
And it is.
It started out with Anne Rice and Emma's books.
And yeah, it's grown from that.
And people have read some and have liked it, and it's gone
from there.
Carrie Vaughn and Kim Harrison really paved the way also.
And then it went from there.
And of course the publishers see that, hey, these books
really sell, so we're going to do more.
Plus there's a lot of crossover with the paranormal
romance crowd.
Lots of crossover from the paranormal romance crowd.
EMMA BULL: For a certain amount of historical
perspective, one of the things that was happening at the time
that contemporary fantasy got started up, which was
basically Charles de Lint and me and Megan Lindholm's
"Wizard of the Pigeons," a couple other books that were
really kind of the precursors, we were coming out of a time
when horror was a lot more popular.
The category horror was a lot more popular than fantasy or
science fiction.

The Splatterpunks had made a really big--
pardon me--
splash.
And I think an awful lot of the attraction of contemporary
fantasy was being able to pull in that thing that the horror
writers were already doing, which was saying, dude, this
in your basement right now.
DIANA ROWLAND: And a lot of stuff that's written now I
think would be--
EMMA BULL: --and that feeling of immediacy.
DIANA ROWLAND: --classified as horror.
EMMA BULL: Yeah.
But just that feeling that there's that immediacy, that
feeling of, all right, yes.
You know I'm lying to you.
Of course I'm lying to you.
I'm a fiction writer.
But that what I'm saying to you has this kind of little
gloss of, oh, yeah, but this could be true.
Because this is happening in the convenience store down the
street, isn't it, really?
You know it is.
You just looked away at the wrong minute.
And you can do so much with that, with the readers'
expectations and so much luring people in and saying,
come on, buy my world view.
Come on, do this.
PATRICK ROTHFUSS: Well, and Jim, I know in your books at
one point Harry is trying to sell someone on the fact that,
yes, this is all real.
It's what I've come to think up as the Buffy gambit.
JIM BUTCHER: Right.
PATRICK ROTHFUSS: Where, yes, it exists.
But people don't know about it because they don't want to
think about it.
They don't want to believe it.
And then Harry lays down some facts.
And honestly, the first time I read it I'm
like, wow, that's true.
Wow, that's true.
Wow, that's true.
EMMA BULL: Yeah.
PATRICK ROTHFUSS: But then it wasn't until the second or
third time I read that book where you quoted the
statistics for the number of people that go missing every
year in the US and how that was representational for,
like, a herd of prey animals suffering
predation in the wild.
JIM BUTCHER: Yeah.
In the Serengeti, yeah.
PATRICK ROTHFUSS: Yeah.
Now I hate to ask this question.
You can say no.
You can not answer it, if you want.
But were those statistics real?
Or did you make those up for the book?
JIM BUTCHER: No.
They're real.
PATRICK ROTHFUSS: That's great.
JIM BUTCHER: I think they lie.
But they're real.
PATRICK ROTHFUSS: And so it was--
I wish I had them written down--
given that there is 300 million people in the US, this
many go missing every year, and it directly correlates to
this predation factor.
And the fact that I almost would have liked it better if
it wasn't real, because you sold it so well.
But that's the great thing about this urban fantasy is
you can find these things in the real world and use them
like nails to just build the story.
EMMA BULL: Yeah.
One of the things like that I absolutely loved in a kind of
horrible, ghoulish way was when they were finding all of
the shoes with the feet in them in the Pacific Northwest.
And it was always like a running shoe.
And they managed to match up two of the running shoes.
And it's like, oh, god.
They wash ashore, running shoes with
someone's foot in them.
And oh, god, they're so horrible, mutilating killer.
OK.
I can so use that.
I'm sorry.
I'm a fantasy writer.
JIM BUTCHER: Oh, yeah.
EMMA BULL: Excellent.
I apologize to anybody who might be missing someone and
it was their shoe.
But it's the way our minds work.
It really is.
I'm sorry.
PATRICK ROTHFUSS: We're kind of scavengers.
We're mythic scavengers.
We pull these things out of the public consciousness and
then build them into our stories.
DIANA ROWLAND: Well, that's how I got the idea for the
White Trash Zombie series.
Part of my job was to take the brains out of
the bodies for autopsy.
And you don't put the brain back in the head after the
autopsy's done.
It goes into this big bag with organs.
And it's like, wow, this is a real waste.

JIM BUTCHER: I better write a book about this.
DIANA ROWLAND: I should write a book about that.
JIM BUTCHER: Yeah.
EMMA BULL: In vampire fiction you have blood banks.
And in zombie fiction, well, you know, they take the brains
out at the--
DIANA ROWLAND: He works in a morgue.
EMMA BULL: --the autopsy, and, uh, yeah.
And brains.
Brains.
PATRICK ROTHFUSS: You'd have a blood bank but you'd have a
brain trust, I think.
EMMA BULL: Oh.
JIM BUTCHER: Oh.
EMMA BULL: Ah, oh.
PATRICK ROTHFUSS: Oh, yeah.
And I've just brought down the whole tone of the Hangout.
EMMA BULL: Dude.
I wanted also to mention, as far as contemporary fantasy
goes, we were talking about using facts to bolster our
fiction, our fabulous lives.
And I'm thinking one of the guys who does that better than
anybody else is Tim Powers.
PATRICK ROTHFUSS: Yeah.
DIANA ROWLAND: Oh, yes.
PATRICK ROTHFUSS: Absolutely.
DIANA ROWLAND: God.
EMMA BULL: You read Tim Powers'
"Last Call" where he's--
DIANA ROWLAND: I love that book.
EMMA BULL: --talking about Vegas.
And you think, OK, now it all makes sense.
Or worst of all--
I did an English major in college.
And one of the things that I studied was the English
Romantic poets.
So when I read "The Stress of her Regard," I'm reading about
Byron, and Shelley, and Keats, and basically art vampires.
It was so cool.
And I'm thinking, OK, that could be true.
That could explain so much about Keats.
Oh my god, he's figured it out.
No, stop it.
No.
DIANA ROWLAND: When I read "Last Call," I was actually
working at a casino.
I was a pit boss in a casino at the time.
It was like, yes.
EMMA BULL: Excellent.
DIANA ROWLAND: It made perfect sense.
I totally bought it.
PATRICK ROTHFUSS: I agree.
I think Tim Powers--
He has a superpower, effectively.
DIANA ROWLAND: Yeah.
PATRICK ROTHFUSS: And I think it's in no place better than
in "Declare"--
EMMA BULL: Yes.
PATRICK ROTHFUSS: --where he starts giving you this
information and giving you this information.
You're like, OK, I know about that.
Oh, yeah, Shakespeare.
OK.
The Old Testament and the Bible, all right.
Yeah, that's historic knowledge.
And then suddenly you realize that you're kind of nodding
and smiling.
And you're like, yeah, that makes sense that there are
djinn in the world, and these supernatural forces are like
the totem spirits of different-- and you're like,
whoa, whoa.
EMMA BULL: And tying it all into Cold War spycraft.
And you're saying, oh, wait, that's absolutely real.
I know that.
I read about that.
PATRICK ROTHFUSS: Yeah.
And then I'm like, hold on.
When did I start agreeing with bullshit?
Sorry.
Yeah.
I knew I wouldn't make it the whole hour without cussing.
DIANA ROWLAND: I wasn't the first.
Yay.
EMMA BULL: Hey.
You can say that on TV now.
PATRICK ROTHFUSS: Oh, good.
We're saved.
EMMA BULL: Yeah.
PATRICK ROTHFUSS: But I was along with him.
Yes, this makes perfect sense.
Obviously, obviously.
And then you're like, well, except it doesn't.
At what point--
And the thing is some authors do it pretty well in chunks.
You get like four steps.
And then you go back and you're like, OK, between two
and three this was obviously the disconnect.
But with Powers it's like this infinite shade of gray between
the absolutely real and the absolutely unreal.
And he takes you along so that you almost can't refute his
conclusions.
He's amazing.
He's amazing.
One of the things I'll say to agree with you, Emma, I think
that one of the major draws of urban fantasy is--
Well, here's my guess.
Because we don't have--
we?
Y'all.
I don't do urban fantasy yet.
In epic fantasy or third world fantasy we have to spend a lot
of time establishing our worlds.
And so there's a real danger of us kind of really becoming
too impressed with ourselves and spending a lot of time
really building these elaborate castles in the sky.
Whereas y'all get to say, OK, Minneapolis.
And then you get on with the story, which is
the important thing.
And maybe even more important, I think it gives you way more
opportunity to focus on character.
And character, ultimately it's more interesting if it's done
well than world-building.
And I think that might be one of the big selling points of
urban fantasy is you get to save your time a little bit.
EMMA BULL: You can see me over here, and we're over here
going [MAKING DISAGREEMENT NOISES].

PATRICK ROTHFUSS: You don't think?
You don't think?
EMMA BULL: Well, no, no.
DIANA ROWLAND: You're talking about
basically describing, OK?
It's like, OK, you don't have to describe the castles and
the scenery and all that stuff.
But even if I said New Orleans, I still have to
describe the river and the smell of it and the guy
panhandling and the other guy playing musical for busking.
You still have to do the same amount of setting the scene,
because your setting is a character too, basically,
especially, I think, in urban fantasy as well, whether it's
in the city, or in a country, or anything.
But one of the things about urban fantasy is they tend to
be smaller books, shorter books, just genre convention.
And so you kind of have to get down to business more quickly.
And so you do have to dive right in and just give the
most important details, I think, and get into the
characters.
But, yeah, I do agree.
I think the characters are the most appealing
aspect in urban fantasy.
EMMA BULL: Yeah.
DIANA ROWLAND: Because it is an escapist thing.
People want to go in it and escape and say, OK, this could
happen to me.
Yes, this could totally be me.
EMMA BULL: But there are ways in which the
setting becomes a character.
The setting affects the characters.
I'm with you that if you're setting a book in New Orleans
not everyone has been to New Orleans.
The closest we have to a universal setting in the US is
New York and Los Angeles, because everyone has seen them
in movies and television.
And everyone thinks they know what Los
Angeles looks like, say.
But I used to live in Los Angeles.
And if I'm setting a book in Los Angeles, I'm going to tell
you the stuff that makes it the real Los Angeles, that's
not the one in the movies, that's got the stuff like, OK,
I'm walking down the sidewalk and there's a weed growing up
through the cracks in the pavement, the way weeds do
when there's pavement.
Except this one's a palm tree.

It's the stuff that you don't see, and the stuff that
everybody who lives in Los Angeles is going, yep, yeah.
That's the real thing.
And it's going to make it the kind of otherwhere that people
read fiction for.
And I think everybody who writes fiction, to a certain
extent, they have to do world-building.
Because you do have to make it that real place that your
character lives in, because it's
important to the character.
Harry Dresden lives in Chicago.
And he lives in Chicago.
It's important to him that he lives in Chicago, which is why
he's the wizard who guards it.
So I think you have to do the world-building.
I think you have to build the castle and the river around
the castle.
PATRICK ROTHFUSS: I think you're right.
It's probably an issue for me.
It's a grass is greener thing.
EMMA BULL: Ah.
PATRICK ROTHFUSS: So that's where I fell into that trap
where I'm like, oh, man.
He just gets to get an atlas to Chicago and he
can look stuff up.
JIM BUTCHER: I don't know.
EMMA BULL: Rand McNally.
JIM BUTCHER: I think I'm with Pat on this one.
Because I've written some epic fantasy.
EMMA BULL: Arm wrestle.
Arm wrestle.
JIM BUTCHER: I've done some urban fantasy, too.
OK.
Let's go.
Right now.
EMMA BULL: Oh, OK.

JIM BUTCHER: But yeah, to a certain degree when you're
writing the epic fantasy versus the urban fantasy you
don't have to explain.
You can say we're at a coffee shop.
And there's all these understood conventions of the
coffee shop that everybody knows because
they've been to one.
They know that it's going to smell like coffee on account
of it's a coffee shop, and that it's going to have
electricity, and that there's going to be a
barista or a baristo.
And that's something we all know.
But when you set it in some freaky fantasy world, all of a
sudden you've got to explain things,
how things are different.
When you're in Pat's book and you're in the bar where all
the musicians are hanging out and performing, there are
conventions and there are understood notions that go
along with that that he has to share with you.
Because if you're not somebody who's hung out in a jazz bar
or something like that, you might not know.

I really think that when you get digging into that fantasy
stuff, even when you're basing it very strongly on historical
stuff, which most of the good epic fantasy has its roots in,
in strong historical research, I think it really changes it.
Because you've got to stop and be thinking of
these different things.
Whereas if I'm writing an animated T-Rex down Michigan
Avenue in Chicago, then, OK, I've got an animated T-Rex,
and I can focus on the damage and so on.
Because you've got an idea what that's
going to look like.
That's already kind of in our heads.
DIANA ROWLAND: No.
I totally see your point.
Basically, I can say my character got into her car and
drove into the city, stopped at the bank, and then went to
the post office.
And I don't have to explain any of that.
That's all I have to do.
So I see exactly what you're saying there.
JIM BUTCHER: Right.
EMMA BULL: Yeah.

I think we're talking about the same things
to different degrees.
PATRICK ROTHFUSS: I think you're right.
I think we all get to take different [INAUDIBLE]
EMMA BULL: Yeah.
That you get to say, OK, yes, coffee shop, barista.
And then you get to do the thing where you say and the
barista had those plugs that you have the really big ear
and the half blue hair.
So it's that particular barista.
But even so, you're working within the framework of the
real world, and there are things you don't have to deal
with, like science fiction doing the, OK, well, we're
going to explain to you all about the
blah, blah, blah drive.
Whereas most people, as you say, they drive their car.
They don't stop and tell you about the
internal combustion engine.
PATRICK ROTHFUSS: Right.
EMMA BULL: They just drive the car.
PATRICK ROTHFUSS: Right.
EMMA BULL: Anyway.
Yeah.
So I think it's kind of a matter of degree.
PATRICK ROTHFUSS: One way where I think you guys
definitely get to trump us is with sex.
Because in urban fantasy, y'all get to have sex.
And it's actually expected, let alone the fact that people
don't raise an eyebrow at it.
Whereas in my world, which you could take several ways--

EMMA BULL: Let's try that again.
PATRICK ROTHFUSS: --if you write sex in epic fantasy,
it's like you've walked into the Royal Society wearing
nothing but a trench coat and a pair of boxers.
People are like, oh, oh, sex in epic fantasy.
Oh.
Oh.
DIANA ROWLAND: OK.
Have you read "Game of Thrones?"
PATRICK ROTHFUSS: There's a little sex in there.
But honestly, y'all have written books
with sex in it, right?
DIANA ROWLAND: Yes.
EMMA BULL: Right.
JIM BUTCHER: Yes and no.
DIANA ROWLAND: Chapter three, first book.
PATRICK ROTHFUSS: Have people sent you a lot of email or
really said, oh, I was really disappointed that you had all
that sex in the book?
DIANA ROWLAND: I did not have any sex in my last book.
And I received more email about that.
It's like, uh, we were really hoping that she'd get it on
with the guy.
What the heck?
EMMA BULL: Where was the hot?
We miss the hot.
DIANA ROWLAND: Yeah.
Yeah.
There is an expectation of sex.
And I think part of it is because there is such a
crossover between the paranormal romance crowd too.
And urban fantasy is different from paranormal romance.
In romance the story is about the romance.
They expect to have a happily-ever-after.
But you can still have sex and romantic
elements in urban fantasy.
And yeah, there is a certain expectation of it.
But you can throw twists in there, too.
You don't have to have her end up with the guy that she
sleeps with.
EMMA BULL: I'm just really sad that there isn't an
expectation of sex in epic fantasy.
DIANA ROWLAND: I agree.
PATRICK ROTHFUSS: Absolutely the opposite.
I catch a ton of flak for the sex that I had
in my second book.
And it's a little weird.
Somebody, he goes, my daughter really
enjoyed your first book.
But now I know she'll never be reading your second one as
long as I have anything to say about it.
Because it's just all the filth and the sex.
And I'm like, you realize that Kvothe kills like 40 people in
the second book, right?
JIM BUTCHER: That's fine.
Yeah.
PATRICK ROTHFUSS: And nobody ever says, Jesus, Rothfuss,
this is really creepy.
He's kind of like borderline sociopath.
EMMA BULL: Psycho!
PATRICK ROTHFUSS: But oh my god, consensual sex with
another adult.
Oh my god.
EMMA BULL: No!
No.
PATRICK ROTHFUSS: Call the pope.
And Jim, in yours you're not bashful about the sex.
And you've got plenty of the sexy.
But Harry isn't getting some like all the time.
Do you feel pressure to put more sex in the books?
JIM BUTCHER: I get pressure to put more sex in the books.
I don't think I've really felt pressure to put more in.
I've got a reputation as somebody who enjoys his
readers' torment.
Because it's mostly true.

But yeah, I've never really felt a need to add more in.
I kind of like the idea of it being
significant to the story.
So when you actually see something like that happening
I want it to really have something that is involving it
in the story somehow beyond just, oh, and they got it on.
Otherwise, if it's not something that's going to have
some consequence, if it's not something that's going to be
more deeply involved with the story later, then we can just
cue the bom-chicka-wow-wow music and close scene there.
EMMA BULL: So it's not enough to do it just
to annoy the skull?
JIM BUTCHER: No, no.
No, definitely not.
EMMA BULL: Who is my favorite character.
I'm sorry.
JIM BUTCHER: Oh, thank you.
EMMA BULL: As much as I love the other characters, man,
totally awesome.
JIM BUTCHER: Oh, yeah.
My inner puerile 14-year-old is your favorite character.
EMMA BULL: Yes.
Yes.
DIANA ROWLAND: Well, like you said about consequence, it has
to have consequences and has to mean
something to the story.
JIM BUTCHER: Right.
DIANA ROWLAND: And sex has all sorts of consequences.
So it's a fun thing to play with sometimes.
EMMA BULL: So to speak, as it were.
Somebody had to say it.
Come on.
PATRICK ROTHFUSS: And even if it's not, in my opinion,
essential to the story, we all fight that fight.
Because there some things we want to put, and we go, well,
is this essential to the story?
EMMA BULL: Yeah.
But it's really fun.
PATRICK ROTHFUSS: Yeah.
We're not slaves to the story.
We need room for some beautiful digression.
DIANA ROWLAND: It's character development.
Developing characters.
PATRICK ROTHFUSS: And ultimately sex is important to
the characters.
Whereas sex is rarely important to plot.
You know?
With probably very notable exceptions.
But just the fact that Harry isn't into doing it with all
manner of hot fairy chicks is really character-true to him.
And it kind of underlines certain parts of his
personality that wouldn't get to shine out otherwise.

JIM BUTCHER: I don't know.
I think Dresden is into almost doing it a whole bunch.
PATRICK ROTHFUSS: Well--
JIM BUTCHER: At the end of the day.
PATRICK ROTHFUSS: --he is a guy.
JIM BUTCHER: Yeah.
PATRICK ROTHFUSS: So before we throw things open to
questions, which we will be doing towards the end here,
here's a question.
Do you think that it's possible--
and this is my pet theory--
that urban fantasy is actually filling the same niche in our
literary field, or in the human psychological need for
stories, that fairy tales used to fill?
And by fairytale--
it doesn't look like it on the surface, but
let me clarify here.
In my opinion, a fairytale is something it doesn't have to
have fairies.
It doesn't have to be a children's story.
All of those are misapprehensions of what a
true fairytale.
A fairytale is a story set in the real world where something
other, something magical intrudes into the real world,
whether it be a genie in a lamp, whether it be an actual
fairy, whether it be an old woman in the woods who grants
wishes, whether it be a witch in the words.
These are all the old fairytale stories.
And if you look at that as the mechanism that makes a lot of
these old fairy tales work, where I think they're very
psychologically satisfying because, like you mentioned
earlier, Emma, you get the real world
with all of its trueness.
And then you get this magical world with all of its
wonderment.
And when you combine those two worlds your story suddenly
feels very true and very realistic.
But at the same time it gains a certain delight and awe from
the intrusion of the magic into this real world.
DIANA ROWLAND: I think you could make an argument that
it's the same kind of structure and
same kind of framework.
But it seems also most fairy tales were also moral fables.
And I know I ain't writing no moral fables.
PATRICK ROTHFUSS: They were turned into
moral fables by people.
But the original raw stories were just stories.
And some of them had certainly ethical undertones.
But those were more like cultural beliefs rather than
like a didactic thing that was tacked on at the end.
EMMA BULL: I could even go further than that, Pat.
Beyond saying that they are the contemporary equivalent of
fairy tales, I go so far as to say they're the contemporary
equivalent of the stories from mythology.
PATRICK ROTHFUSS: Contemporary myth.
EMMA BULL: These are ways in which we explain our world,
not so much scientifically as metaphorically.
These are ways that we make metaphors about other people,
about the world we live in, about the things that hurt us
and frighten us and that fascinate us.
JIM BUTCHER: Stop being deep.

EMMA BULL: Ah.
JIM BUTCHER: Don't make me go--
EMMA BULL: Come on, Butcher, come on.
You can be deep.
JIM BUTCHER: --think about these things.
EMMA BULL: You can be deep.
You know perfectly well.
I've seen him do it.
I've seen him.
Anyway.
PATRICK ROTHFUSS: Actually I think that there's a good
argument for that, where zombies have been
increasingly popular.
And I've heard in those late night conversations with some
of my geeky friends people are saying, well, it used to be
vampires were hot for these reasons.
But now zombies are hot because zombies kind of
represent this big hopeless apocalyptic thing.
DIANA ROWLAND: Vampires aren't scary anymore.
Vampires have ceased to be scary.
That's a big problem.
And so they found a new monster.
Yeah, it's the new scary thing now is zombie.
The vampires, they're not scary anymore
PATRICK ROTHFUSS: No, I'm going the other way where it
used to be vampires might have been scary because ultimately
it was people that were scary.
But these days people aren't scary.
What's scary is global warming, is corporate policy.
EMMA BULL: A slow, relentless force that just keeps coming.
PATRICK ROTHFUSS: A non-human force, something which you
cannot fight and cannot triumph against.
You can only kind of endure.
And that's every zombie apocalypse movie or book that
you've ever run into.
And I think that's how a lot of people feel these days.
EMMA BULL: OK.
I got deep.
Pat got depressing.
I think we have to get Pat now.
DIANA ROWLAND: Well, my next book is "White Trash Zombie
Apocalypse." So that's not deep.
PATRICK ROTHFUSS: OK.
EMMA BULL: And not depressing.
JIM BUTCHER: I want to put in a word for the
human spirit here.
And I'm going to say that in the zombie apocalypse it's not
the zombies I'm worried about.
It's the other survivors.
Those are the guys who are going to get you.
PATRICK ROTHFUSS: Well, and I think, again, to go back to
what you said, I think these people in the zombie
apocalypse valiantly striving to survive,
there's your theme.
It's like things can be utterly awful and hopeless,
but you still fight.
And there's your ray of sunshine in that kind of bleak
world where we are people because we fight.
DIANA ROWLAND: And it's true, though.
After Katrina, there were people who had
neighborhood feuds.
And those feuds disappeared.
Everyone banded together, and they got shit done.
Pat said shit already.
So I'm going to assume that's allowable.
PATRICK ROTHFUSS: [INAUDIBLE].
EMMA BULL: Yeah.
And that was one of the really moving things to see.

New Orleans was this really great example of, look, we
have more important stuff to do.
DIANA ROWLAND: Yeah.
But it was the apocalypse.
Looking from the inside, it was the apocalypse.
EMMA BULL: Oh my god, yes.
DIANA ROWLAND: We had no contact with the outside
world, no food, no water, all that.
So that was a taste of the apocalypse.
And yeah, people do do heinous and terrible things, but they
also do really some amazing, awesome things, too.
EMMA BULL: Yeah.
DIANA ROWLAND: So it was a really interesting view,
without the zombies part.
Except for the fact that we didn't have coffee.
PATRICK ROTHFUSS: OK.
Before we jump into questions, I want to ask you guys,
because you're all good at what you do, can you share a
tip or a trick or two in terms of urban fantasy,
how you do it well?
Or alternately, something that you've seen done and it's kind
of like a habit that's cropped up in the genre and you wish
people would stop doing it?
Without maybe naming names, right?
No need to pick a fight with anybody in the genre.
But things that either you think are great and really
effective tools in your toolbox, or things that you
think maybe people should leave by the wayside.

JIM BUTCHER: I'll go ahead and share one of the things that I
used when I was writing the Dresden Files, which was a bit
of advice that I read in an essay by Mark Twain where he
was writing about writing fantasy.
And he's written many letters and many such things.
But what he advised was that you always have two parts real
to one part fantastic.
So for every wild thing you're writing, you need to tack it
down with two real things.
And that was always kind of my guideline as I went forward
with the Dresden Files, and that worked
really well for me.
DIANA ROWLAND: I'm writing that down.
EMMA BULL: Yeah.
That is a nice touch.
Yeah.
DIANA ROWLAND: I tell people to read the newspaper, look
around, and watch how people interact with each other.
And you take an everyday scenario and think, OK, if
something fantastic were to intrude in that what would
happen and what would the results be?
But just pay attention to the world around you.
Even boring jobs and boring scenarios or whatever can be
really cool if you think about how they could
be twisted a bit.
Most of my early stuff is based a lot on personal
experience, without the demon sex and stuff.
JIM BUTCHER: Oh, sure, you say that now.
EMMA BULL: That has nothing to do with personal experience.
Oh, no.
DIANA ROWLAND: I won't talk about my ex-husband.
EMMA BULL: Oh, jeez.
One of the things that Steve Brust and I always come back
to when we're talking about writing is the sentence "Point
of view solves everything." And I think, for me, the thing
that I would tell people is your story is coming from the
point of view of one the characters.
And when you choose that point of view you choose what story
you're going to tell the reader.
And when you're reading a book you're aware of who's telling
you the story, who's seeing the story.
Even in third person you're getting a sense of, OK, this
is guy who can see this.
And this guy can't necessarily see that thing over there.
So there's so much about the story that comes from whose
point of view it is that you can really mess with the
reader just by picking the right point of view.
It's the most excellent tool for messing with the reader.
And that's, I think, one of the things that
I would tell writers.
DIANA ROWLAND: That's a great point too, because a lot of
urban fantasy is told in first person.
EMMA BULL: Yeah.
DIANA ROWLAND: And so you got that unreliable narrator thing
going on sometimes, which is lots of fun.
EMMA BULL: Yeah.
They mean to be reliable most the time.
But no one is.
So, yeah.
DIANA ROWLAND: Sometimes their perceptions are
really, really off.
EMMA BULL: Yeah.
DIANA ROWLAND: Which is cool.
PATRICK ROTHFUSS: Well, I think you're right.
The first person or the narrow third person, again, it's one
of those things that you have almost as a standard in urban
fantasy that the opposite is true in
traditional or epic fantasy.

Well, you have Tolkien or Martin,
where you've got eight.
I don't know how many points of view Martin has.
DIANA ROWLAND: About 30.
PATRICK ROTHFUSS: Yeah.
And Martin can pull it off because he's
really good at his craft.
But I see a lot of novels sometimes, and I read them,
and I'm like, wow, man, you're not Martin.
Please don't have eight points of view in your story, because
that means, effectively, you're telling
eight stories at once.
And you have to be nigh-godlike in your powers as
a writer to pull that off.
EMMA BULL: And with every one of those characters who gets
to tell the story the reader has to invest in them.
And then the reader has to be prepared to let go of them,
reluctantly, when you switch points of view and get
invested in the new character.
And then the same thing happens again at the end of
the scene in which you let go of that character.
And after a while the reader goes, ah, screw it.
There's too many people at this cocktail party.
It's just too noisy in here.
PATRICK ROTHFUSS: Yeah.
EMMA BULL: So, yeah.
You have to be really good at it.
PATRICK ROTHFUSS: That's actually a great analogy.
I hate parties, you know?
Too many people, too much noise, too much to keep track.
Whereas I really enjoy a gathering.

EMMA BULL: Nice distinction.
PATRICK ROTHFUSS: The same thing is true with my books
where if it's a gathering of three or four, as we have
here, people, we can have a nice conversation.
But if I had eight people on the storyboard it would be
madness, and we don't really get to know anyone real well.
And that, I think, is where things fall
apart in some stories.
OK.
We're getting a little close to the end here, so I'm going
to go to questions.
We've got a bunch here.

Here we have a question.
How much real world research do you do in order to prepare
for writing a book?
And I know that's a remarkably slippery question even for me,
and I'm not writing in the real world.
How about you guys?
Any rule of thumb or example here?
DIANA ROWLAND: A lot.
A lot of my real world stuff is drawn from my personal
experiences.
But at the same time, the pathologist for St. Tammany
Parish is on my speed dial.
And every single book I'm texting him bizarre questions,
and he's just very used to it now.
Amazingly he hasn't filed a restraining order yet.
But people I used to work with.
And my husband is a prosecutor, assistant district
attorney, so he knows all sorts of people.
So lots and lots of phone calls, texts, emails, as far
as talking to judges.
Or the last book I finished was a probation officer.
So yeah, lots and lots because you want it to be realistic.
The real parts have to be realistic.
EMMA BULL: Yeah.
And the most wonderful people in the world are reference
librarians.
I call up reference librarians and I ask them anything, and
they say, very good, give me your phone number and I'll get
back to you.
And they go and they look it up.
And it doesn't matter how incredibly bizarre the
question is.
I once had to ask a reference librarian, OK, in "Peter Pan,"
when you bring back Tinkerbell, are
you supposed to clap?
Or are you supposed to say, I believe in fairies?
And the reference librarian, audibly not batting an
eyelash, said, hang on a second.
I'll check my files.
And I'll get back to you.
Give me your phone number.
It turns out the correct answer is both, by the way.
It was different in the book and the stage play.
So there you go.

I remember taking history classes in college and
thinking, oh, thank god I'm done with this.
I'm going to be a fiction writer.
I'll never have to look anything up again.
That trick so didn't work.

PATRICK ROTHFUSS: How about you, Jim?

JIM BUTCHER: There's a lot of research when you first start
writing and you've gotta learn something about, a lot of
times, police procedure, obviously.
Because normally there's blood on the walls and so on.
And the police get involved somewhere.
You've got to know a little bit about investigation.
You've got to know a little bit about trauma and what
injury does to a body, because you need to stay your guy and
beat him up with a baseball bat a few times.
EMMA BULL: Poor Harry.

JIM BUTCHER: He's got it coming.
You know he does.

But really, at least for me, you just form a habit of going
out and finding new stuff that you're learning.
And when you see something that goes by on TV on the
History Channel, it's like, oh, wait.
I might need to know something about this particular Greek
god in the future.
I'm going to watch this and keep it for your notes.
Or look at that.
I didn't realize that that skeleton they had at the
museum was actually a full T-Rex skeleton
with the actual bones.
And stuff like that, you just start collecting it.
And it's important that you start collecting it.
And then I've got this enormous junkyard running
around in my brain.
And I'll go through and I'll pick it for parts when I need
to write a new story.
EMMA BULL: Yep, exactly.
That's exactly what it feels like.
Yes.
JIM BUTCHER: Yeah.
PATRICK ROTHFUSS: I think that might be the winning analogy
of the show right there, the junkyard.
EMMA BULL: Yeah.
It's all up here, and it's in boxes and crates.
And it's dusty, and there are big piles.
And I remember--
DIANA ROWLAND: And there's rats.
And there's lots of rats.
EMMA BULL: There are rats.
But I guess I remember, dammit, that T-Rex is in there
some place.
Give me just another second.
And while you're looking up, you find that other thing that
you didn't know you have but you needed.
JIM BUTCHER: Yeah.
Oh, right, right.
That thing about the spear of destiny.
Oh, cool.
OK, we'll put that on this shelf.
EMMA BULL: And one of the great things that I love is
when I'm doing research and I find the thing that I didn't
need but I'm going to use it anyway
because it is so perfect.
One of those happened when I was researching "Territory,"
and I was researching the gunfight at the O.K. Corral
and all of the things that happen in Tombstone in 1881.
And there was just wonderful bit from one of the newspapers
that was about a disembodied arm that was found lying in
the streets, and nobody knew whose it was or
where it had come from.
And the newspaper is asking, and there has been no further
word on the disembodied arm lying in the street.
I'm going, I am so using that.

PATRICK ROTHFUSS: We've got another question here.

It's a question actually about what modern cities have the
best potential for fantastic scenarios.
EMMA BULL: Ooh.
Ooh.
Good question.
PATRICK ROTHFUSS: Yeah.
And I can't speak to that one, being that I make all my stuff
on my head.
EMMA BULL: I have a story.
I have a story.
PATRICK ROTHFUSS: OK.
EMMA BULL: OK.
I had just moved just a little while before this from
Minneapolis to Los Angeles.
And I was talking to a friend--
I was over at a friend's house for dinner-- and he was
saying, you know, you could set "War for the Oaks" in some
place like New York and obviously Minneapolis, but you
could never set it in Los Angeles because the veil isn't
thin enough here.
And I said, I'm sorry.
This is Los Angeles.
There is barely a veil here.
This is a town in which you walk out of your house and
your neighborhood may have been turned into a
film set at any time.
If the fey are coming anywhere in this country, oh my god,
they are all going to Los Angeles.
And this convinced me that, OK, I'm thinking pretty much
any town has the capacity for being this kind of setting
with its own character.
Dallas is not going to be the same kind of fantasy city as
New Orleans as Atlanta as Chicago, but they're all going
to have their own really cool fantasy character.
And ooh, I love the idea that any place can be this.
DIANA ROWLAND: I agree with you.
PATRICK ROTHFUSS: Why did you land on Chicago, Jim?

JIM BUTCHER: You don't know, do you?
OK.
Originally, the first book of the Dresden Files, I was
writing it for a class called Writing a Genre Fiction Novel,
and I had set the book in Kansas City.
PATRICK ROTHFUSS: Oh, really?
JIM BUTCHER: Well, I grew up in Kansas City.
That was the town I knew.
And my teacher told me, hey, really you're kind of walking
close enough to Laurell Hamilton's toes.
You don't need to set this one in Missouri.
EMMA BULL: Oh.
PATRICK ROTHFUSS: Wow.
JIM BUTCHER: And I said, oh, OK.
Well, where should I set it?
She's like just anywhere else.
Just not there.
There's a globe on her desk.
On the globe in the United States there's four cities
that are marked on the glove.
One of those is New York, and I don't want
to do New York because--
EMMA BULL: No, everybody does New York.
JIM BUTCHER: Yeah.
And the superheroes have got that all sewn up.
Know what I mean?
And I didn't want to do DC.
Because if you're going to write in DC, you've got to
write politics, and half your potential audience is gone
right away.
And Los Angeles was on there.
But I didn't want to do LA because the movies do LA, and
they've got all kinds of stuff going.
So the only other city left was Chicago.
I said, well, how about Chicago?
She said, that'll be fine.
I said, OK.

Have it changed by next week.
I'm like all right.
DIANA ROWLAND: That's awesome.
PATRICK ROTHFUSS: And so that's why it got done,
because I had to have it changed by the next week or I
wouldn't have gotten a good grade.
PATRICK ROTHFUSS: Wow.
EMMA BULL: And then you had to become a pocket expert on
Chicago to do this.
JIM BUTCHER: Yes.
And to start making contacts of people
that were in Chicago.
But this was when the internet was starting to get big.
So--
EMMA BULL: Thank god.
JIM BUTCHER: --I was able to do stuff like wake up in the
morning and say, hey, I need to know what the east wall of
Graceland Cemetery looks like.
Does anybody out here know?
And somebody would be like, oh, oh, yeah.
I drive by there on the way to work in the morning.
I'll take some pictures on my phone and email them to you.
I was just, OK, thank you.
DIANA ROWLAND: The internet hive mind is great for
research sometimes.
JIM BUTCHER: Oh yeah, definitely.
EMMA BULL: And my god, how did we ever do contemporary
fantasy or contemporary fiction at all without Google
Maps Street View?
DIANA ROWLAND: Google Maps, yes.
JIM BUTCHER: Oh, yeah.
Exactly.
EMMA BULL: Oh my god!
PATRICK ROTHFUSS: Yeah.
EMMA BULL: On "Shadow Unit," which is another contemporary
fiction that I'm doing now, which is a group project, and
it's set in the contemporary universe, I'm on Google Street
View all the time going, OK, do you turn right or left?
What happens?
It's like I drive down Google Street View looking at our
sets, because it takes place in cities all over America.
JIM BUTCHER: The sniper will have to take out that
streetlight right there.
EMMA BULL: Yes!
Yes!
JIM BUTCHER: Yeah, exactly.
EMMA BULL: Exactly!
PATRICK ROTHFUSS: You cheaters.
EMMA BULL: Hey!
DIANA ROWLAND: Just you wait.
Just you wait.
PATRICK ROTHFUSS: I'm jealous or bitter.

OK.
How about we have somebody saying, OK, we've
gone through vampires.
They're passe now.
We're in the middle of zombies.
EMMA BULL: Poor vampires.
PATRICK ROTHFUSS: Oh.
Yeah.
JIM BUTCHER: I think I remember somebody say
something about that, like all through the '80s and early
'90s vampires are done.
Vampires are done.
Vampires are done.
DIANA ROWLAND: Yeah.
They're not done.
EMMA BULL: It's hard to be done with vampires.
JIM BUTCHER: And yet--
Yeah.
I think that vampires are going to be just fine.
We need have no mercy or no pity for the poor vampire.
PATRICK ROTHFUSS: And we're in the thick of the zombies now.
EMMA BULL: Except there is one problem with zombies.
The dialogue is a problem.
DIANA ROWLAND: Not mine.
Not mine.
EMMA BULL: Yay.
That's true.
You've gotten past that.
DIANA ROWLAND: Yes, I have.
EMMA BULL: That is a comforting thing and suggest
that zombies have a lot more mileage in
them than we had thought.
DIANA ROWLAND: There's a lot of life left in zombies.
PATRICK ROTHFUSS: Well, here's a question, though.
EMMA BULL: Oh, god.
So to speak.
PATRICK ROTHFUSS: Here's the question,
what is the next thing?
We've got werewolves with Patricia Briggs.
We've had plenty of vampires, plenty of zombies of all
different flavors.
Where do we go next?
DIANA ROWLAND: I think that people are basically making up
their own superheroes or supernaturals
and stuff like that.
Even my demons, they're not demons from hell or
anything like that.
I just wanted some cool supernatural creatures.
I made them up.
Because I can do that.
JIM BUTCHER: Yeah.
PATRICK ROTHFUSS: Yeah.
EMMA BULL: Maybe we'll get a new renaissance in the classic
ghost story, which might be a good idea.
PATRICK ROTHFUSS: Oh, yeah.
DIANA ROWLAND: You never know.
PATRICK ROTHFUSS: Yeah.
Tad Williams is just about to launch into
his first urban fantasy.
EMMA BULL: Oh, cool.
PATRICK ROTHFUSS: Oh, I got a read of it.
And the main character is an angel.
EMMA BULL: Woah.
PATRICK ROTHFUSS: And it's called "The Dirty Streets of
Heaven." And I was looking at it, and I read it.
EMMA BULL: Neat.
PATRICK ROTHFUSS: It's absolutely brilliant.
It's so nice to read an urban fantasy now where it's not
trying to be another Harry Dresden.

And it kind of does its own thing, and its own entire
mythology, it was very original.
So I don't know of that's going to be
the next big thing.
But it's certainly one of the next really cool
things that I've seen.

Here we go.

EMMA BULL: Your nose is about to fall offscreen.
It's great.
PATRICK ROTHFUSS: Sorry.
I'm reading the questions here.
There's a question about magic, which
is a very good question.
But we just don't have enough time for it.
Let's close up by talking about a few of our favorite
books that either are urban fantasy or maybe should be
considered under this big umbrella of urban fantasy and
that maybe don't get enough attention for
one reason or another.
What are some of our favorites?
DIANA ROWLAND: I love all the Kevin Hearne Iron Druid
series, Iron Druid series by Kevin Hearne.
They're amazing.
Very good.
And Nicole Peeler's Jane True series, they're
excellent as well.
And MLN Hanover.
I don't think those get anywhere near the attention
that they deserve, The Black Sun's Daughter series.
PATRICK ROTHFUSS: Yeah.
The Iron Druid books.
DIANA ROWLAND: They're so good.
PATRICK ROTHFUSS: They are.
And dude writes fast, which I admire.
DIANA ROWLAND: Yeah.
EMMA BULL: I've got a shout out to the past.
One of the things that I love for contemporary fantasy and
urban fantasy that was contemporary fantasy at the
time is Thorne Smith.
He's the guy who wrote "Topper."
And probably my favorite of his is "Train in the Doorway,"
which happens in New York City and is about a guy who I think
he inherits a giant department store, and strange fantasy
things ensure.
Because it's got just amazing funny fantasy elements.
It's a really delightful book.
But Thorne Smith did contemporary fantasy pretty
much his entire career.
And it was ghosts and gods, as in "Night Life of the Gods."
And they're all set in the '20s and '30s, and they're
full of that kind of Jazz Age zip.
They're really fun.
DIANA ROWLAND: I'm writing this down.
PATRICK ROTHFUSS: We'll probably take a list of these
books and we'll post them up on the Geek and Sundry forums
for people to access, rather than try to scribble
everything down real quick here.
How about you, Jim?
Any favorites that you feel like don't get enough
attention out there?
JIM BUTCHER: I like Harry Connolly's
Twenty Palaces series.
PATRICK ROTHFUSS: Yeah.
DIANA ROWLAND: Yes.
JIM BUTCHER: They're a lot of fun.
And there's a new author named Benedict Jacka who just
started writing a series starring kind of a wizard
protagonist named Alex Verus that is
really quite excellent.
He's a really sharp guy.
He does some really great stuff.
He's one of those writers that I go read and go, oh, man.
I am going to have to up my game.

EMMA BULL: Darn those kids anyway.
JIM BUTCHER: Yeah, yeah.
Exactly.
They're so hungry.
EMMA BULL: By god, it makes me want to knock my cane on the
floor and say, oh, whipper-snappers.

PATRICK ROTHFUSS: I recently got to read an ARC of
"Libriomancer," by Jim Hines.
EMMA BULL: Oh.
People have been saying great things about that.
Yeah.
PATRICK ROTHFUSS: It's not out yet, but it's coming.
And the basic premise is so clever that I read it, and I'm
like, why has nobody done this before?
I'm not giving anything away, spoiler-wise, where it's
pretty much these are people that can do magic to
effectively pull things out of books, any book, anything.
EMMA BULL: Oh, boy.
PATRICK ROTHFUSS: And there's your basic premise.
And your brain can just go, oh, boy, what if you could
from any book?
And it's a brilliant idea, and the story is great.
Rather than deal with the new stuff, though, which it seems
like you guys have covered pretty well and I'm not as
turned into as I should be because I don't read as much
as I used to, but here's a few that I think it would have
been urban fantasy if urban fantasy existed back when they
were written, "Something Wicked This Way Comes."
JIM BUTCHER: Definitely.
EMMA BULL: Yeah.
PATRICK ROTHFUSS: Which is one of the most--
EMMA BULL: And a lot Bradbury, actually.
PATRICK ROTHFUSS: Pretty much.
Pretty much.
EMMA BULL: Contemporary fantasy was one of the things
that he was doing.
PATRICK ROTHFUSS: Yeah, pretty much all of Bradbury in one
flavor or another could fit under that.

Peter S. Beagle's very first book, "A Fine and Private
Place."
EMMA BULL: I was gonna mention that one.
Yeah.
PATRICK ROTHFUSS: Which is like ghosts in love.
EMMA BULL: In a cemetery.
PATRICK ROTHFUSS: In a cemetery.
And nowadays it would come out and it'd hit "The Times," and
everyone would be like, wow, what a fresh new
voice in the field.
Well, he was the fresh new voice in the field--
EMMA BULL: Yeah.
PATRICK ROTHFUSS: --back in the '60s with this book.
And it's a shame that people aren't picking that up and
reading it.
I don't think a lot of people would identify Neil Gaiman as
urban fantasy.
He's almost like a genre of his own.
But "Neverwhere."
EMMA BULL: Yeah.
PATRICK ROTHFUSS: "The Graveyard Book."
DIANA ROWLAND: "American Gods."
PATRICK ROTHFUSS: "American Gods."
EMMA BULL: "Anansi Boys."
PATRICK ROTHFUSS: Yeah.
EMMA BULL: "Anansi Boys" is very much contemporary
fantasy, yeah.
PATRICK ROTHFUSS: Even Sandman.
EMMA BULL: Very much Sandman.
PATRICK ROTHFUSS: Yeah.
Christopher Moore.
EMMA BULL: Ah, yeah.
PATRICK ROTHFUSS: I don't think he gets any love from
the urban fantasy community, even though he is.
It's urban and fantasy.
But I think he's so funny that they assume that if you write
funny you're somewhere else.
EMMA BULL: Ah!
Yeah, but he's playing the same game.
PATRICK ROTHFUSS: Yeah.
EMMA BULL: He's meddling with your reality, and it really is
the same principle.
PATRICK ROTHFUSS: Yeah.
And then there's just the classics, like "The Odyssey,"
"Midsummer Night's Dream." All of these things were set in
the current time period with an intermingling of magic.
And if you want to interpret the genre a certain way, I
think a lot of those classic pieces of literature would
probably fall under the umbrella of urban fantasy, in
my opinion at any rate.
And with that, I see that we're a little over our hour's
worth of time.
EMMA BULL: That's the way we are.
That's how we roll.
PATRICK ROTHFUSS: And for me to only go over by four
minutes shows remarkable restraint for me.
Thank you all so much for coming.
EMMA BULL: Thank you, Pat.
PATRICK ROTHFUSS: Aw.
And thanks everyone else for tuning in.
This is "The Story Board" with Geek and Sundry.
Thanks so much for coming.

And cut.