Interview with Author Jean Rabe

Today I have the pleasure of interviewing Jean Rabe about her latest novel, Black Heart of the Dragon God! I met Jean a few years ago at FlatCon and can honestly say that she is an amazing writer, cunning gamer, and sincere animal-lover.

While your most recent works have been modern mysteries, you’re no stranger to fantasy. How many D&D novels have you written?

A bunch. My first was Red Magic, a Harper’s book, it came out in 1991 … yeah, a good while back. I wrote two pick-a-path novels after that, also set in the D&D realms, then moved to Dragonlance, where I wrote three trilogies and three standalones. So … fifteen!

What is the weirdest thing you learned while writing this novel?

That female mountain goats have horns. I don’t suppose that’s a weird thing … but it was something I hadn’t known.

Did your experience writing Dragonlance novels prepare you for this project?

Certainly. I was a news reporter before I wrote fiction, and so I started with a tight style and used complete sentences. It took Bill Larson, the editor of Red Magic, to get me to relax. He insisted I sit and listen to strangers in cafes and in the park. “People do not talk in complete sentences.” At least not all the time. So I followed his advice, and my dialog got better and better. I still sit and listen to people in the park and in cafes, always with a notebook in hand.

Patrick McGilligan, who edited my Dragonlance novels, taught me to “take time with magic.” He said magic is awesome and amazing, and when you use it, draw it out with imagery. So I never had a character cast a magic missile spell. I had a character who concentrated, thrust out his arm and extended his fingers, felt his skin itch and warm, and then watched as darts of hot, bright light shot forth.

Brian Thomsen, who ran the book department for a while, and who later edited my novels for Tor, taught me to limit magic. The fewer characters able to cast it, the less magic in your world, the more special and wondrous the magic you employ comes across.

So writing Forgotten Realms and Dragonlance gave me better preparation for my own fiction, including Black Heart of the Dragon God.

What sets your protagonist, Goranth, apart?

He’s a musclebound former pirate who is wildly strong, wholly embraces life … and yet has a soft side and is willing to stick his neck out for strangers. He loves wealth, but he’s not greedy about it; he only wants his share.

Where would he land on the pineapple on pizza debate?

Never pineapple on pizza. Just meat.

Have you and Craig Martelle worked together before?

Craig edited an anthology called Metamorphosis Alpha 3: A Generation Ship Catastrophe Survived (Chronicles from the Warden). Here’s the link. I had a story in it; robots that went deadly nuts. Craig emailed me and asked why we hadn’t written anything together. I had a sword & sorcery novel outline in my computer that I’d not gotten around to writing. I sent it to him, asked if he was interested. I had such great fun writing with him. It turned into Black Heart of the Dragon God. We hope to get another Goranth the Mighty book out by summer’s end.

How does the sword & sorcery genre differ from high fantasy?

Hmmmmmmmm. I think sword & sorcery can be high fantasy, but not all high fantasy can be considered sword & sorcery. To me, a good sword & sorcery yarn is gritty, magic is limited, the main character is big and bold, and there is a good amount of blood. A lot of sword fights. I think high fantasy can be more polite and more politically complex. But … that’s just my take.

Could Goranth defeat Eleanor Roosevelt in a thumb wrestling match?

No. Goranth the Mighty would not participate in a thumb-wrestling match. Thumb wrestling is for children and drunkards.

Who is your cover artist?

Ain’t he great? Goranth’s artist is Didier Graffet, a French painter who specializes in fantasy and steampunk.

What was the most difficult part of writing this novel?

The death scenes. I love to kill characters. I think it makes the struggle or goal or prize more costly and feel more real when you off characters. Hopefully it gives readers a bit of a “gut punch.” But I also hate to kill characters … saying goodbye to someone you crafted.

Where can B3 readers purchase a copy of Black Heart of the Dragon God?

It goes on sale January 25th. It is available for pre-order now in ebook form. Paperbacks can be ordered on the twenty-fifth. I think people will want a paper copy because of the gorgeous Didier cover. Here’s the link.

An old friend gave us an awesome blurb/review. I feel compelled to share:

Ed Greenwood, Internationally Bestselling creator of Forgotten Realms had this to say…What if Conan wasn’t a grim loner, but a stalwart in a band who banter, bicker, and brawl their way through life? Then he’d be one of the heroes in Black Heart of the Dragon God. Real people, in the heart of adventure. This tale plunges you into their midst, to see and smell and feel what they do–as they change the world. And they’re good company; I can’t wait for sequels! Dangerous company, though. They start by hunting dragons…

My web page: www.jeanrabe.com

I am on Twitter

My Amazon author page

I have a newsletter filled with tidbits about weird news items, pics of my dogs, discussions of upcoming books, reviews of things I’m reading, and writing advice. You can subscribe here.



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