Todd Kenreck: R.A. Salvatore has a brand new Drizzt novel out today called, Timeless. I got a chance to speak to him about the character and why this character has meant so much to so many people.
R.A. Salvatore: Because I think everybody feels like an outcast in high school, and I think, especially at that age, junior high, high school, college, when you're, when the world hasn't beaten you down yet, and you're an idealist, you can see so many things. Either in your, in your school, your church, your civic government, your state government and the federal government, and the world. You see so many things that look like they have a simple answer to do things better.
So that idealism kind of pushes back against all the injustice you see, and I think that's universal. I think even the captain of the football team can be a lonely person in high school. For me, I was the smallest kid in my ninth grade class, and for ... like the last one to go through puberty. For a boy, that's like really difficult sentence to live through. So I was bullied, and then I got bigger. I became a bouncer, mostly to beat up bullies.
Drizzt is kind of like that. He's see the world around him and thinks, "There's got to be something better."
Todd Kenreck: He was sort of an unintentional character, initially, right?
R.A. Salvatore: Well initially the book was ... I thought they wanted a sequel to Doug Niles, Darkwalker on Moonshae. So I used one of Doug's characters to introduce Wulfgar, who I thought was going to be my character, and then when I found out, no, they didn't want a sequel, not using Doug's characters, which made me very happy because I didn't want to use them, I thought it was going to be more like Dragonlance. We had the main characters and then spinning off to the sides, but no, the Realms is much bigger, obviously.
That's when I came up with Drizzt, off the top of my head. Under pressure, because my editor had to get to a marketing meeting, and needed a sidekick for Wulfgar, and I just shouted out a drow elf, a dark elf. She said, "A drow?" I'm like, "Yeah." Then I sat thinking, "Oh, a drow ranger. Yeah, that'll work." So I thought it was going to be about Wulfgar, but then I started writing the book, after I got the contract, and Drizzt is running across the tundra and he gets jumped by the yetis, and I knew right then. I knew, "Wait a minute, this is going to be about him. "
Maybe it's because I sensed that he's obviously the outcast. He's obviously the romantic, misunderstood hero, but he took over. He just took over.
R.A. Salvatore: I grew up in a town that looks very much like the town of the Sopranos. I'm an Italian kid and when I had to come up with a society that people from the outside would look at and think it was very evil, but you can't just be an evil society because then there'd only be one person left alive. So I actually read, The Godfather, again and used that as kind of a wide model for the dark elf city of Menzoberranzan.
I can tell you that for many years, and a lot of readers have agreed with me, I've said I really wanted to write a book about Zaknafein and Jarlaxle, but before Drizzt was born. How did they get to know each other? What was Menzoberranzan like? So I thought what I would do, with the new Drizzt book, is ... There are a lot of people who, either aren't caught up, because it's been going on for 30 years and 33 books for crying out loud, so there are a lot of people who's dropped off at different points, other people come in at different points. I wanted to write a Drizzt book that anyone could read. So you don't have to read any of the other Drizzt books to jump in with Timeless, this is a jumping on point, if you will or for people who aren't caught up, jump in.
So half the book takes place back before Drizzt was born, so I can reintroduce people to the dark elf city, through different eyes. Slightly different perspective on the dark elf city. Then the other half of the book picks up the story after Hero, the last book in the Legend of Drizzt, that WOTC published, and just goes a little bit forward with that. But again, you can jump right in, and that was my plan.
Todd Kenreck: Timeless is out today in bookstores everywhere. I'm Todd Kenreck, thank you for watching.