Friday, January 25, 2013

I Love RA Salvatore and his writing

(As some of you may have noticed, "I Love..." is coming a week early instead of my regular author interview. There has been a lot of technical difficulties this week, but rest assured, there will be an interview next week on Sit. Write. Bleed.)

I remember where I was when I first discovered RA Salvatore:

I had been visiting my best friend, David Pepose (of the Newsarama Peposes, hoity-toit), in St. Louis, MO and it was getting near the time for me to get back on a plane and fly back to North Carolina where my family had recently moved. In the mad dash to find me a late birthday present, David's father Jay drove us to a Borders and basically told me to get in there and find something quickly. As I was a big fan of Borders, I kinda knew my way around any section of the store (yet they never hired me), and I made a beeline for fantasy. There I picked up three books of a series I had my eye on back in North Carolina.

Those books where Homeland, Exile, and Sojourn, all three parts of "The Dark Elf Trilogy":

These were the exact covers I had.
I cannot adequately describe how wonderful those books were when I first read them, and every Drizzt novel that has come out since has equally pleased me as well. They contain everything I want in a fantasy, even as a soon-to-be twenty seven year old writer trying to make his name in the world: a dark but redeeming hero, a group of distinct companions, and villains  that are larger than life. I go on a journey with Drizzt that I've rarely gone on with a few other characters, those being Conan (Robert E. Howard), Lukien the Bronze Knight (John Marco), Bilbo Baggins (you effin' know who came up with Bilbo), Sabriel (Garth Nix), and of course Croaker (Glen Cook.) But among them Drizzt ranks the highest, and out of those other heroes I listed, he is the one I put my own characters against when I write and is the measuring stick on how I judge heroes other writers come up with--and let me assure, there are some damned good heroes out there. David Gemmell and Jon Sprunk aren't anyone to sneeze at, folks. Druss and Caim are up there too.

What makes Drizzt so damned special is that he simply is. He is someone who is good simply because that is how he is. All my favorite characters are simply who they are, and I think that is what drew me to the dark elf. Growing up not feeling like you are a part of something but still trying to be a decent (or even good) person is something I struggled with, and it helped that Salvatore wrote that kind of character. I can say without a shadow of a doubt that without Drizzt, I wouldn't be as well-adjusted today as I hope I am. Not only is the dark elf brave, he is kind, he is giving, and he loves. He is a true hero in my book.

It also helps that RA Salvatore is a hell of a writer, whether he is going on an adventure with Drizzt, saving with the world with Cadderly, or taking the Highwayman out for a stroll. Salvatore has everything in his writing that I think Howard had and that Marco, Cook, and Nix have-- real human characters, great action and pacing, along with an ability to make each and every player distinct with their own voice. Salvatore's style, while verbose at times, lends itself to the best of fantasy, and if I may, I would put Drizzt with Sword and Sorcery and alongside Conan any day. There no writer who is as influential to my own work then RA Salvatore-- passion, great technical skills (especially in the area of writing combat), and the ability to grab a reader is everything I want to be able to do when I finally grow up as a writer. That and he's fun, and we can always use more fun in the genre.

But what really impresses me about Salvatore is how he treats his fans. He (and from what I hear, Brandon Sanderson) are more than awesome when it comes to the people that make the industry move. I know this personally, as I have gotten to email Salvatore a few times and ask him questions, and he has always gotten back to me. I also got to meet RA Salvatore at the recent Dragon*Con in Atlanta, and again, nothing but absolute kindness. He even signed my copy of Homeland, which was one of the key books that drove me to write.

See! See! He signed it.

You may not know this at home, but I do not have a lot of heroes in my personal life: My father is my hero, my grandfather was that as well, and my only real icons in sports and entertainment are Wanderlei Silva and Stone Cold Steve Austin. I have a TON of literary heroes, writers who have left an indelible mark upon me both as a person and as a writer. Salvatore is at the top of that heap-- and it is very cool to meet your hero and find out they are even better than you thought they were.

I hope you enjoyed this installment of "I Love..." and if you did, please click the Google+1 on the right of this page or follow me @JayRequard on Twitter. I will be back next week with a new author interview!

Stay safe!

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