Thru August

I’m back from Celebration V in Orlando. Texas may be hot, but at least the humidity doesn’t make it feel like I took a shower when I cross the street. Seriously – they need to move this conference to May or October.

Gave two panels on Star Wars: The Old Republic; signed a couple hundred copies of my books, had drinks with a few hundred fans – all in all it was a great time. My only regret – I didn’t get to meet Jon Stewart when he came to interview George Lucas. I tried, but I guess my contributions don’t quite rank up there with VIP status in the Star Wars universe. Sigh.

Despite that, I had a great time. This was my first visit to Celebration, but I think I’ll be going back again. It’s the closest I’ll ever come to being a rock star. Seriously – the Star Wars fans are crazy! (In a good way.) Wish I’d taken more pictures at the event, but I have a few shots I’ll try to post on the website for the next update – I’m always amazed at the creativity of the SW fan base.

I really enjoyed meeting everyone as well. Star Wars basically spans 3 full generations; it’s amazing to know I’m part of something that enduring. Going to the show really made me feel privileged to be where I am, and I want to thank all the fans who showed up. It was great meeting everyone, and I hope to do it again next year!

There are a few interviews and updates posted from the trip. First, a video interview with me on Ask a Jedi. The folks over at Darth Hater have posted a collection of interviews and live blogs fromCelebration V and the SWTOR showing at GamesCom in Germany.

A lot of new updates over at BioWare’s official Old Republic website, including some cool fan contributions. And be sure to check out the concept art done by Arnie Jorgensen and Clint Young live during our panels at Celebration V. Amazing stuff, considering it was all done in under an hour.

Also, there are some rumors going around about my next novel. Yes, once again I’ve set aside Children of Fire to work on something for Random House/Del Rey. (Hey – they pay me up front, and I just can’t turn the $$$ down.)

I can’t comment on what I’m working on yet – we’ll be making an official press release soon. But it’s not Mass Effect and it’s not another Bane novel. So, make of that what you will. (Or just look on the web if you want to try and track down the rumors.)

Okay, that’s about it. I’m off to try and catch up on all my e-mails, and sometime in the next couple updates you are going to see BIG CHANGES to this website. (No, I’m not becoming a pay site. Don’t worry… you’ll like it.)


August 10, 2010

I’m back from celebrating my birthday with friends and family up in Canada. As you might suspect, this has put me a little behind on my e-mails, so be patient if you’re waiting for a reply.

It also looks like I’m a day late with my update. No big surprise there. But at least I have some AWESOME news to report.

Mass Effect: Retribution debuted at #29 on the New York Times bestseller list!

This is the first Mass Effect novel to hit the bestseller list, so I’m very excited. I’ll try to limit my ALL CAPS SHOUTING, but I’m pretty stoked. Seeing the Bane novels hit the bestseller list was great, but with a Star Wars title it’s almost expected. For Mass Effect, it feels like we’re breaking new ground. And that’s way cool.

Speaking of way cool – okay, maybe not cool; let’s call it “geek chic” – I’ve finalized my schedule forCelebration V in Orlando. Here are my events and appearances:

Book Signing:

Friday, August 13 11am-12pm at the Random House booth


Friday, August 13: 2-3pm at the Digital Stage Valencia A

Saturday, August 14: 4-5 pm at the Digital Stage Valencia A

Meet and Greet:

Friday, August 13: 5-7pm at the Hoth Bar in the Convention Center

Saturday, August 14: 5-7pm at the Hoth Bar in the Convention Center

If my schedule changes, I will post updates on my Twitter account.

Hope to see you there. (And if anyone can score me tickets to the live stage of Jon Stewart’s interview with George Lucas, fire me an e-mail!)


July 26, 2010

Comic Con 2010 is in the books. I laughed; I cried; I ate too much. I also got to meet some of the fans, sign a couple hundred copies of my books, and participate in a panel on multi-player story.

If you didn’t get a chance to see our panel, you can check it out HERE. I’m the pudgy kid in the middle. We also announced that we will have space combat in SWTOR.

I also did an interview with Darth Hater. It’s a good interview, but it was transcribed almost word for word and at times I sound like a bit of a rambling idiot. (That’s why I prefer e-mail interviews; I’m a WRITER, not a TALKER.) Still, some interesting stuff.

So what’s next on the agenda for me? Well, Mass Effect: Retribution goes on sale TOMORROW! Go now! Buy it. BUY IT!

After that, it’s back up to Canada to visit some family for the early part of August. And then I’m going to Celebration V in Orlando August 12-15. I don’t have all the info for my appearances yet, but I’ll hopefully be posting them on my next update and on my Twitter account.


July 19, 2010

Last update before Comic Con in San Diego. Here are the confirmed dates and times I’ll be around:

Thursday, July 22nd

7:30 – 9:30 pm

Hanging  at the Random House party at Jolt n’ Joes.

Friday, July 23rd

1:00 – 2:00 pm

Star Wars Day: Beyond Solo: Crafting the Multiplayer Story in Star Wars: The Old Republic

Join me, James Ohlen and Alex Freed (both also of BioWare) as we discuss the trials and tribulations of writing the multi-player story for this incredible MMO.

Room 7AB: Get there early – seating may be limited!

4:00 – 5:00 pm

I’ll be signing copies of my books at the Random House/Del Rey booth (1514) in the main Exhibit Hall. There will be advance copies of Mass Effect: Retribution on sale, along with other titles.

5:00 – 7:00 pm

BioWare Meet the Devs

Join me and other BioWare folk at Dick’s Last Resort for drinks, snacks and oh-so-witty repartee.

7:00 pm – 12:00 am

Getting funky at the WOWIO Comic Cruise down by the marina.

Saturday, July 24th

10:00 – 11:00 am

Another round of book signings at the Star Wars pavilion by the Random House/Del Rey booth (1514) in the main Exhibit Hall. Rumor is they may have some free giveaways for REAL Star Wars fans… though you didn’t hear it from me.

That’s it for my scheduled appearances. If anything else comes up last minute I’ll post it on my Twitteraccount.

I’m very interested to see how these signings go. The only other time I did author signings at a show like this was back at GenCon 2000. Unfortunately, none of my books had come out yet (though they were available for advance purchase). This was back in my Forgotten Realms days, before KOTOR and Darth Bane and Mass Effect. The turnout was… underwhelming. Let’s just say I could count the number of books I signed on my fingers, and still be able to pick both nostrils at the same time.

Hopefully things will be a little more spry this time around. So if you’re a BioWare fan, or a Star Wars fan, or you just want to make a hard working author feel good, come by one of my scheduled appearances with a book, game, poster, napkin or body part you want signed.

And if you see me at the show, come up and say hi. I don’t bite (unless I’m hungry… which I usually am). I’ll even sign things outside the appointed times for a very reasonable rate – FREE!

Hope to see you there! I’ll be back next week with a Comic Con recap, as well as an update onCelebration V in Orlando.


July 6, 2010

Okay, I’m a day late with the update. But in my defense, it was the Fourth of July weekend. It took me a while to recover. Plus, I’m a degenerate procrastinator. Deal with it.

However, the wait is worth it, because I have an update on my appearances at Comic Con in San Diego.  I will be speaking on a BioWare/Lucas Arts panel on Friday from 1-2 pm. I’m also going to be signing books at the Random House booth from 4-5 pm on Friday. (We’re trying to get some advance copies of Mass Effect: Retribution, but it’s not a sure thing yet.)

I’m not the only BioWare personality speaking at Comic Con. James Ohlen, the brilliant mind behind the Baldur’s Gate series and KOTOR will also be there, along with Alex Freed, one of the senior (and talented) writers working on the SWTOR team.

All the details (which hall we’re in, etc.) will be posted HERE on the official Comic Con website in about a week . We don’t have any other OFFICAL scheduled events (that I know of), but we might have a little unofficial “meet the fans” party on Friday night somewhere. I’ll try to post details here if I get them before my next update, otherwise I’ll send the info out on my Twitter account.

If you can’t make it down to Comic Con, maybe you can catch me on the other coast at Celebration V in Orlando. I still don’t have all the details, but it looks like I’ll be doing a couple panels and maybe a couple book signings there, too.

And remember - Mass Effect: Retribution comes out on July 27! The Illusive Man is back… and this time he’s PISSED!

Only one more update before Comic Con. Hope to see you there!


June 21, 2010

A little late with the update. Let’s just say I’m still recovering from Vegas. To summarize my trip: played like a total donkey at the poker tables, but was up big for 3 straight days at craps and blackjack. Unfortunately it was a 5 day trip. Vegas always wins in the end.

I was hoping to have details on my appearances at both Comic Con in San Diego and Celebration Vin Orlando. Unfortunately we’re still working the details out. I will do a special EMERGENCY UPDATE when if I get the details before the next scheduled update. Sign up with my Twitter account if you want to be alerted to special updates.

While I was in Vegas, BioWare was making a big splash at E3. We premiered the new HOPEcinematic trailer, as well as some videos showing armor progression and player ships. Oh, and we won some awards. In fact, we won so many awards I can’t link them all. But don’t worry – they’re all listed on Google if you’re interested.

And don’t forget – we’re just over a month away from the release of the third book in my Mass Effect trilogy. Mass Effect: Retribution comes out: July 27 – available for pre-order now.

Okay, that’s it for this update. Hopefully I’ll have details about Comic Con and Celebration V soon.


June 10, 2010

Quick update tonight. Lot’s of interesting things to pass along before I leave for Vegas to play a little poker in the WSOP!

First, as I mentioned on my Twitter account, I’m going to be making an appearance at both Comic Con in San Diego and Celebration V in Orlando. I haven’t worked out all the details yet, but I’ll be at both events on behalf of BioWare and to promote my own Darth Bane and Mass Effect books. Once I know exact times and locations for my appearances I’ll fire an update on my Twitter account and post it here on my official News site.

Also, in case you didn’t know, E3 – the Electronic Entertainment Expo – is next week in LA. This is a HUGE deal in the gaming industry, and while I won’t be there BioWare certainly will. Click on the link for the Star Wars MMO if you want some sneak peeks at what we’ve got planned.

Okay, that’s it for this update. Now I’m off to win my fortune in Vegas. Because nobody ever loses money in Sin City, right?


June 01, 2010

Ah, June. When the temperature in Austin goes from “Damn, it’s hot” to “Jesus Christ, my skin’s on fire!”. Won’t stop me from hitting the golf course, though.

So what’s new in the world of Drew? Well, my parents are visiting from Canada, and so far they’re having a great time. I’m lucky enough to get along well with my family, so it’s always nice when they come down to see us. (Now, if we could just convince them to come here for Christmas instead of us having to go back to Edmonton in December.)

Their visit has slowed me down a little on my writing, but I’ve managed to finish the 10 chapters (out of roughly 30) of Children of fire. To be honest, though, the beginning and ending were already mostly written. It’s the middle bit that needs work; I know where the book starts and ends, but getting from the former to the latter isn’t always easy. Still hope to have it done by my birthday, though.

That’s also the same time Mass Effect: Retribution comes out: July 27 – available for pre-order now. And speaking of Mass Effect, we just had an official update on the status of the Mass Effect Movie.

One thing you’ll notice if you click on the link is that I’m not writing the script for the film. That may surprise people, but it’s understandable – this is a big budget picture, and when people are investing this much money into a project they want a proven name. I have exactly zero produced screenplays, so it only makes sense for someone with a solid track record to pick up the ball and run with it. Personally, I’m very excited to see what they come up with, and I’m going to use all my powers to try and get a sneak peek at the script. (Shh… don’t tell anyone!)

But Mass Effect isn’t the only thing I’m excited about. We’re working on a little game called Star Wars: The Old Republic right now. Here’s an interesting interview with James Ohlen for those who want to know more about the Companion Characters for the MMO. For those who don’t know, James Ohlen was one of the driving forces behind KOTOR, and he’s taking a similar role on SW:TOR.

Speaking of KOTOR, IGN released a list of the best Star Wars games ever made. Click on the link and you’ll see KOTOR finished pretty high on the list. It’s a great honor, but I honestly believe SW:TOR will do even better.

Okay, that’s about it. Could be some more interesting Star Wars related news coming in the next week or so. I’ll fire an update on Twitter if I’m able to say anything more about it.


May 17, 2010

Okay, this is my last update in my rant of things I don’t like in fantasy literature. Not sure if this has been interesting to anybody else out there, but it’s been very therapeutic for me. And remember – you can follow me on Twitter if you want to know when I’m giving updates, if and when I’ll be doing signings, appearances, etc.

Alright, time to rant!

There are two kinds of protagonists in fantasy novels that piss me off. The first is what I’ll call “the observer”. He (or she) kind of goes along for the ride, but really it’s everyone else in the book that’s cool. Wizards and knights and warriors surround this character and do all the heavy lifting. Typically, this kind of protagonist has a “good heart”, and they’re usually some kind of “chosen one”, though far too often there isn’t really anything that special about them.

If you’re the heir to a throne/power/talisman, that doesn’t justify making you the hero in my book. It’s not enough. You have to earn it. The actions of the “hero” have to advance the story. If shit just happens around him and he just survives until the end through no real fault of his own, I don’t want to read it.

I’d rather read a story focused on the “cool” characters who make a difference in the world, not the “everyman” who just happens to stumble into some destiny. Why the hell would I want to read a book about an “everyman”? I’m an everyman. I’m not that interesting.

I want to read a book about exceptional characters. Not perfect. Not flawless. Not invulnerable. But exceptional. They need to be different from the average Joe in some way besides some indefinable feeling that they don’t belong. And they need to do significant things – even if it’s the wrong things.

So, obviously I don’t like “passive” or “observer” protagonists. But even worse than the do nothing everyman is the primary protagonist who actively rejects their uniqueness. You know who I’m talking about. These characters have some special gift/power/ability, but they sit around moping and whining. “I don’t want the responsibility, I want to be an ordinary person, wah-wah!” I cannot express how much I loathe and despise these characters.

I read fantasy as an escape from mundane life. The last thing I want to read about is a character with some amazing talent that tries to reject it so he can have the boring life I’m trying to escape from! Seriously, nobody is like that! If you have an advantage – something that makes you superior to “ordinary” folks – you’re going to use it!

Is it too much to ask to make these characters act like a reasonable person? When they refuse to use their power (for good or evil) because they have some deep seeded emotional fear of their own destiny, I’m done. Spare me the Freudian bullshit, stop being a pussy, and seize the moment.

Or at least try to seize the moment. Obviously there will be mistakes, failures and set-backs. Obviously the characters will stumble, fall and bite off more than they can chew; this is what makes a plot interesting. But I want them to at least try. When a character lets something undesirable (for the character) happen because they’re “afraid” to use their special power/ability/item, I can’t relate. That’s an author taking a cheap cop-out and ignoring basic human nature because they can’t think of a better way to do it. And I see it WAY too often.

Whew… didn’t realize I was so bitter. Feels good to get this out. I guess that’s the end of my rant. So, uh… these are all things you won’t see in Children of Fire. So what will you see? Cool characters doing cool stuff against cool opposition. Multiple points of view. Important characters getting killed off sometimes. A plot that actually progresses, develops and has interesting action and events. Because that’s what story is to me: interesting characters doing interesting things in conflict with other interesting characters. And not everyone makes it out alive.

Hopefully this intrigues you as a reader. Based on the reaction to my Mass Effect and Star Wars: Darth Bane novels, I think there is an audience for this style of fantasy novel. More importantly, it’s the kind of novel I want to read… so I figure I’ll just write it myself.

Okay, that’s it for this little series of updates. Next time I’ll be back with my old style of updates: some Mass Effect or Star Wars news, some book or video game updates, some sports, Magic, poker or golf chat. Same old same old.


May 10, 2010

Today I am sad. The Spurs were swept 4-0 by the Phoenix Suns. You can point to a lot of reasons (missed FT, turnovers, poor 3-pt defense) but the simple fact is the Suns played better. The Spurs couldn’t get stops when it mattered, and the Suns could.

So, congrats to Phoenix. And make room – I’m jumping on the Suns bandwagon by virtue of my Canadian connection with Steve Nash.

But that’s probably not why most of you are here. As I’ve mentioned on my Twitter page: ( I’m posting a series of rants about what I DON’T like in fantasy novels. The purpose of this is to give you a better idea of what you can expect when I finish my own fantasy project, Children of Fire.

I’ve had some people ask for more info about Children of Fire, but I can’t say too much at this point. It’s what I would call “classic sword and sorcery” fantasy, though I like to think I’ll have a few fresh twists on the genre.

I’m shooting to have the manuscript done by end of July (hopefully in time for my birthday!), and then I’m going to start shopping it around to some agents. Once I find an agent, he/she will pass it on to various publishers. So it probably won’t hit the shelves until mid-2011 at the earliest.

But I can guarantee this much: when it does come out, it will NOT be written in the first person. I’ve noticed that a lot of fantasy/sci-fi novels written in the last 30 years tend to use first person narrators. I’ll tell you why this doesn’t work for me. First, it limits your perspectives to that of a single character. I prefer to have multiple points of view so you get “all sides” of a story. This also allows me to have a farther reaching narrative. With first person narration, if the narrator isn’t around, you don’t get to hear about it. (Unless you hear about it second hand and after the fact, which is a PAINFULLY boring way to tell a story.)

You also only get a very biased view with a first person narrator, and while some authors use that bias as a tool, very few writers are skilled enough to pull it off properly. They’d be much better served by focusing on characters from both sides of a conflict to add complexity and depth to the simple good-bad dynamic.

I understand why some authors want to have a first person narrator: it can build a very strong connection between the reader and that particular character. But it comes at the expense of other characters. Your readers better LOVE the narrator, or they aren’t going to enjoy the story. In contrast, a story told from multiple points of view doesn’t put all its eggs in one basket.

A good example of this is George R. R. Martin’s Song of Fire and Ice books. Most people have some characters they LOVE and some they’re not crazy about. Since each chapter is told from a different character’s perspective, you can tolerate a dozen or so pages of a character you don’t like as much because you know your favorite character will become the focus in another chapter or two. But with a first person narrator, if you don’t like the main character you’re stuck… which means you’ll either put the book down, or you won’t enjoy it as much as you could have.

Another issue I have with first person narration is that it typically tends to be in either flashback, memoir or diary form. This means the action isn’t “live” – events are over and being retold, rather than happening “in the moment”. This is a subtle thing, but it has some serious implications. I feel it takes away from the “urgency” of the story on some level.

It also implies that the narrator is going to live through all the adventures (there are some exceptions to this, but I’m talking in generalities). If you’re a fan of my books, you know I like to bump off “main” characters from time to time. It adds tension and keeps the reader guessing. I don’t do it that often, but you know in the back of your mind there’s a chance that some of the “heroes” of a book won’t live to see the end. I think that adds value to a story, and it gives the action a dramatic edge it wouldn’t otherwise possess.

Okay, this update is getting rather long so I’m going to wrap it up. Remember that these rants represent my opinions about writing in general. I have read some good first person material, but most of the time it doesn’t work.

Let’s sum this up with one last complaint that will set the table for next week’s critique. First person narration leads to narrative bias; to offset this, some writers make their narrator very neutral or very objective. They try to put them into an observer role, and let the action happen around them rather than have them be a driving force of the story. This leads to bland characters and often contributes to another pet peeve of mine – the “paralyzed” protagonist. More on this next week.

Remember - Mass Effect: Retribution comes out July 27; it’s available for pre-order now. And if you enjoy my rants on the state of fantasy literature, feel free to re-tweet them or mention them to anyone who might be interested.


May 3, 2010

Spring has officially “sprung” here in Austin. In other words, it’s hot. 90+ degrees this week, and I doubt it will cool off until October. Not that I’m complaining. I just need to find a way to keep the wasps from swarming around my swimming pool so I can enjoy the summer sun.

Speaking of the Sun(s), the Spurs start their playoff series with Phoenix tonight. They earned a tough win against Dallas, and I don’t think things will get any easier with Nash and company. Kind of bums me out, because if I wasn’t a Spurs fan I’d love Nash as a fellow Canadian. (Moose Power!!!) But I’m staying true to the Silver and Black. Go, Spurs, go!

But that’s not why you’re here. I promised to talk a little more about my fantasy novel. Or, to be precise, I promised to tell you what it’s *not*.  Let me start by saying I’m not a fan of “fat” fantasy. I can understand an epic story taking 3 or maybe even 4 thick novels. But once you start getting into 5 or more novels of 800+ pages, you’re just milking the cash cow.

Hey, I understand how it could happen. An author writes a few books, they become wildly popular and somebody dumps a truckload of money onto their lawn if they find a way to turn 3 books into 5. It’s win-win, right?

Except for the readers. I’ve read fantasy books where you slog through 100 pages and NOTHING HAPPENS!!! That pisses me off. If a writer has something to say, they should damn well say it. Don’t pile on a bunch of useless crap just to make the book thicker. It’s almost like writers feel the length of the book is a testament to their writing skill. Well, guess what – it’s not.

A common lament I’ve heard about my books is that they’re too short. Readers often say something like “the only thing I didn’t like was that I finished it too soon”. Well, I’m sorry to break it to you, but I consider that a compliment. Because I feel you still get the same amount of STORY in my 300 page novel as you do in a lot of 500 page novels that are padded out with pointless babbling.

I know my limits. I’m not spinning words into pure gold; I’m not redefining literature as we know it. I’m just telling an interesting story. A story centered around characters and plot. In other words, my characters DO stuff. I won’t give you a 10 page description of the afternoon journey down a woodland path with sun streaming through the leaves and reflecting off a bubbling brook. (Not unless there’s a gory ambush somewhere in there.) So, that’s my number one promise to you as a reader – if you take the time to read my books SHIT WILL HAPPEN! If nothing interesting is going on, I won’t waste your time.

And speaking of not wasting time, I’m going to stop this update right here. (Nice segue, no?)

Tune in next week for another couple pet peeves – first person voice and “paralyzed” main characters.


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