Talking shop with Erik Scott de Bie

What happens when a bunch of authors follow each other around Seattle, doing readings about the aliens behind urban legends in perfectly splendid coffee houses and bookstores? Well, a little shop talk before and after each event. Definitely. Since we haven't figured out how to bug the Wayward or other places, you can't just listen in. Oh...wait...we are writers. You can....if we just type up the questions and post them on our blogs.

Here's my e-version of a chat with Erik Scott de Bie, fellow Forgotten Realms author and contributor to Close Encounters of the Urban Kind. If you ever come to reading with both of us, he's the tallest one. Always.

You can also catch my answers to Nathan Crowder's questions over here. And Nathan's answers to Erik here. Again, if you come to one of our readings, Nathan's also taller than me and may be wearing a top hat.

I'm the gal with glasses yanking down the microphone after these two finishing scaring everyone silly. Really, 5' 5" is not short!!

And, yes, we all will be coming to a bookstore near you soon on June 12 -- if you happen to live near Third Place Books in Lake Forest Park.


OK, let's get the major questions aside first: how tall are you and how do you pronounce your last name? At least, this what everyone asks me after we do a reading together!

I am 6 foot 6.6 inches tall (yes, my height is the mark of the beast). And the little phrase I give people to remember my last name is "de Bie or not de Bie--that is the question!" (I would also have accepted "de Bie iz de Bomb" but please not Erik Debbie, or worse, "Debbie Erik--is she there?")

How did a sunny California guy who doesn't drink coffee end up in rainy caffeine-obsessed Seattle?

Like all great stories, that one is about a girl--specifically, my wife, who came up here for her masters in Music History from UW.

Your story in Close Encounters of the Urban Kind feels very personal, perhaps because you decided to write in first person. How much of Erik is in the narrator?
Heh. You mean, how much of an arrogant "King of the Country Road" was I back in high school? I think the "hero" of Racing Lights is the guy I *wanted to be* in high school: cool, rebellious, sort of a jerk with a sensitive side, a hot girlfriend, and a really fast car. But like all things we think we want, it doesn't necessarily pan out the way we think it's going to. (Which is rather close to the theme of said story.)

There are a lot of details in the story that I lifted from growing up in a small town in the valley: the relations between the white kids and the hispanic kids, the bleak vastness of the California night, what kids will do for fun when they've got no other options. Also, the setting is pretty much exactly my hometown.

So, really, somebody wrote to you and asked if Racing Lights was about the type of drag racing that was more drag than cars? Is there even such a thing?

I did indeed get this question, which I think was inspired by:'s_Drag_Race

I learn something new every day!

Speaking of which, last time we walked through a bookstore, you surprised me by pointing at a stack of Richelle Mead books (Georgina Kincaid series) and saying "That's my favorite paranormal romance author." Then I thought that there's always a strong current of romance, often doomed, in your fantasies. What up?
Way to sneak in the shout out there (not that best-selling Richelle really needs it)! I do rather like paranormal romance, though I'd *never* admit it publicly. So don't tell anyone! (shh!)

As for use of romantic themes in my writing, well, three reasons:
1) Romance, love, sex, etc., are real things that everyone deals with in one form or another, and it would breach the reader's suspension of disbelief to gloss over it entirely. As a guy, I find it hard to stick with a story that has no romantic component, because the characters--no matter how cool their special effects mumbo jumbo--start to feel flat to me. (For instance, in Pitch Black, Riddick *had* to have a thing with the scientist girl, because otherwise he would have been just a random psychopath--physically excellent, sure, but completely boring.)

2) Because we all struggle to meet romantic goals (#1), it's an avenue for helping my audience connect with my characters--how many of us stick with a book/movie/TV series just to see if the hero and heroine end up together at the end? (Again, the example of Riddick--without those connections he forges to other characters, what is he? A very effective robot.) It makes stories stronger, and makes them memorable. Sure, one might think Romeo and Juliet is inane, but gosh darn it, you remember it.

3) Finally, it just makes sense. My characters are hot. They attract each other's attention, and, well, see #1.

As for why it often seems doomed, it's really a function of the format of my books thus far--they're all stand-alones, written specifically without the explanation that you'll ever see these characters again. I want to have my characters go out at the top of their game, when they are most passionate and most awesome. It's like the Romeo and Juliet thing--people fall so deeply in love then end up consumed by it.

And there are plenty of other ways I want to handle romance between characters--I just need more space to do it. Like a trilogy, say.

What's your process for getting a story started? Characters first or plot?

It can go either way, but generally I start with characters--or, more specifically, characters in one particular scene. Duelists fighting atop a clock-tower. A dark avenger sweeping out into a courtyard full of archers. Sometimes I know who the characters are, and sometimes I don't.

When is the next Erik Scott de Bie coming out?

Well, we should all hope there's only one of me, but if you mean when's my next publication? I have several things currently in the pot, and at least one novel that hasn't yet been announced. Think next year! Check my blog for announcements:

On the non-literary end, I keep coming out with D&D game design stuff. I just finished writing my third of a sourcebook you should be seeing early 2011, as well as a few articles that will show up on D&D Insider.

And, finally, where can people find out more about your writing?
Zing! Check my blog's orientation:


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