Returning to Valdemar with Mercedes Lackey and Larry Dixon

BUILDING a BETTER WORLD:

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In this interview, Mercedes Lackey and her husband & collaborator Larry Dixon talk about their creative processes and what it’s like to have built such an amazing world.Have you heard? Mercedes Lackey has released a new Valdemar novel, “Beyond”, which is set before the kingdom was created. With over 3000 years of in-world history and over 140 books, the Valdemar stories are some of the most beloved in fantasy. One trilogy, “The Last Herald-Mage”, has been optioned for a TV show. In this interview, Mercedes Lackey and her husband & collaborator Larry Dixon talk about their creative processes and what it’s like to have built such an amazing world.

You can also find exclusive Valdemar-themed stickers and window clings in the Worldbuilders Market – with more products on the way!

Gray: It is my great pleasure as the executive director of Worldbuilders, to talk with Mercedes Lackey and Larry Dixon here, I’ll let everyone guess which one is which. Worldbuilders has been a good friend  with Larry for a while now. And I think this is the first time that Misty has been on our particular  airwaves. Airwaves, we don’t have airwaves anymore, do we? We have fiber now. Um, yeah,

Misty:  I don’t heckle, I don’t heckle Patrick when he’s on Twitch, so there you go. 

Gray: Wow. You are nicer than I am. That… 

Misty: I’m nicer than Larry. 

Larry: I’m the designated heckler.

Gray: Part of the reason why I really wanted to get both of you on here and talking is because,  as of the time of this recording, tomorrow, Misty, you’re coming out with a new book, The Beyond. And,  this is a return to Valdemar, which I was just reading in your FAQ that, there was a question there. Somebody said, “Well, are you still gonna write them?”, and you’re like, “No, I think that’s about done”, but yet here you are. And believe me, people are happy about this. I mean, your whole spectrum of Valdemar, that goes over 3000 years of history there. 

Misty: Yeah, there’s a lot.

Gray: I mean, that’s…  And you didn’t do it like cheap and do it in one book like Tolkien did. I mean you, what, 47 books, is that right? Forty…? 

Misty: Uh, it’s somewhere in the high forties for the Valdemar books. 

Gray: There’s a lot of questions that you could ask about this. I think maybe the one that I kind of want to know is, when you started writing that first book, did you have any idea that, that you would, you know, that it was going to be this far expanding and that you would go this far into it? 

Misty: I actually planned from the beginning that I could expand it for as long as I cared to keep writing it. It means what I did was I started small and I did like a nautilus. I just kept making one chamber at a time and let it expand that way. 

Larry: As a writer, she’s a mollusk.

Misty:  I am. 

Gray:  That is so much better than, uh, it feels like if you could make it grow and make it go one chamber at a time, that does give it room to change as well as opposed to being held in. 

Misty: Yeah. And  the expansion is both in place, in geographic place and in time. So I planted in some stuff that I could come back to later, and whether it was a reference to a creature that is not often seen in the current setting, or if it’s a reference to something in legend. But that’s what I did. I would plan a few things, but I would concentrate on the chamber that I was in at the time, making it all pretty and polished and pearly and stuff. 

Gray: Were there any particular chambers that, surprised you or startled you or sort of took off with a mind of their own? 

Misty: Well, not so much chambers as characters. Characters sometimes do that. 

Larry: Firesong. 

Misty: Yeah. Firesong was just supposed to be a walk on. 

Gray: Oops. 

Misty: Here. I am delivering the whatever it is, the MacGuffin, and I will be on my way. Wrong. 

Larry: Yeah. He  wound up going, ‘I’m too fabulous for this one appearance’, but he’s been in like nine books, I think? 

Misty: Yeah, something like that. 

Gray: Ah, you know, well, when a character becomes a ham, what are you going to do, right?

Larry: He totally is, oh yeah. But he’s been a great experience in character development too. He went from being a very self-centered glam rocker  to really

Misty:  Being Bruce Springsteen. 

Larry: Bruce, yeah, Springsteen.

Gray: The alternate states with Bruce Springsteen that hangs out with presidents and things like that? 

Misty: Yeah. 

Larry: Yeah. Springsteen, man, you could do worse. 

Misty: He started out as the, as a… 

Larry: Cheap Bowie?

Misty:  I think more like The Edge.

Larry: Oh, okay. That’s fair. 

Misty: Or maybe uh… glamrock, I’m trying to think of some glam rockers. 

Larry: Alice Cooper. 

Misty: Oh no. Flock of seagulls. He started out as all three of the Flock of Seagulls. 

Larry: Ok, yeah, he was pretty “flocking” good. 

Misty: Yeah, and he had the hair. 

Larry: That’s so true. 

Misty: So, yeah, he started out as Flock of Seagulls and ended up being Bruce Springsteen.

Larry:  Just for the official record, that’s not all his hair. He does do weaves, so… 

Gray: Well, now it’s cannon. One of the questions that, someone brought up in the chat on Discord was that, fantasy books that have been published, you know, relatively recently, and you know, our  founder is guilty of this as many are, they just are these giant tomes. You know, gigantic books. Whereas,  you know, when I was first starting to read paperbacks, you know, you could get a paperback, you can actually fit it in your back pocket. You know, things like that. As you’ve seen  this tendency towards these giant tomes become the norm, as opposed to the rare occasion, do you think that has an effect on storytelling or why are people deciding to pack it all into one big book instead of several smaller ones? 

Misty: It’s no longer the norm. Editors are pushing back on that and they’re cutting you off at… if it’s your first book, they’re going to cut you off at about 125, 150. 

Larry: Thousand words. 

Misty: Thousand words. 

Gray: Yeah. 

Misty: And editors, editors, and publishers are both pushing back on that hard. 

Gray: So are they thinking it’s a, was a mistake or what is the reasoning behind that?

Misty: Well, it, for one thing it takes authors a whole hell of a lot longer to finish the damn things. 

Larry: And mechanically speaking, it’s expensive to print a very thick book. 

Misty: Yeah, they have to, if you go over 200,000, you either have to consider shrinking the print, or you have to take… now, this is for paperback. Hardbacks, it’s not so much the case becuase you’ve got simply more real estate to work with been a hard back and same goes for a trade paperback. But in a paperback, if you go over 200,000 words, you have to look at either shrinking the typeface, which makes it hard for people to read or you have to rent time on a special machine at the bindery that can take the extra signatures and that that machine is always running. So that can impact your publishing schedule too. 

Larry: Yeah. Signature binder is a lot like a super computer used to be. You rent time slices on it. 

Misty: Yeah.

Gray:  Ah. 

Larry: It’s very special. And, you know, that’s funny that that would come up because that’s part of the, part of the secret, if you will, for success, as a writer. In our case, we’ve researched every element of producing a book, including the type setting and the binding and everything else. And we’re very fortunate when we’re at a trade show or something, and we can meet the typesetters and tell them they did well. And they’re just like, “Nobody thinks of us.” And we’re like, No, thank you. Yes. And, uh, and we get to nerd out over kerning. “Ah, your descenders!” Anyway. Um, okay. I’ll speak for myself. I won’t say we on this.

Misty:  Alright. 

Larry: I think that what we write is serial pulp fiction. It’s just that our episodes come in a full book form. And it takes three books to tell the whole story. Now we could save them all up and make one giant fat book, but we don’t want to keep readers hanging that long. 

Misty: I just don’t want to have to sit there and look at that same book for that long.

Larry:  Yeah, variety is pretty important. 

Misty: I don’t. 

Larry: Yeah.

Misty: That’s one reason why I write as many different things as I do is because I need a break from stuff.  

Gray: Now that’s, that’s an interesting question with that. I mean, cause you do it, it’s just astonishing. I was going through your bibliography before this I’m just like, I thought I had a good idea of how much you written. I was wrong. I get… 

Misty: I’m pushing around about 142 books right now. 

Gray: I mean, it is amazing, and… Is there, like, I have a couple of questions about this. The first one is, is there one that like, is there a genre or a type of book that you’re like, oh boy, I have to write this book. This is going to be hard, and this is going to be difficult, so I’m going to write this other book first because it’ll be a rest. Or I just got done writing this really hard book, so now I get to write this fun book, cause this is the one I like. Is there any kind of like difference in that or are they all about the same? 

Misty: Actually, since I’m generally working on four books at the same time at any one time, I kind of get that kind of rest period between books doing that. 

Larry: Speaking as a designer, I found that when I would start to bog on a project, it wasn’t that I necessarily needed a rest, it’s that I needed a change in mindset. So I was able to be very productive in the studio by having a dozen projects, one laid out per table. And when I started to bog on one, I’d take a moment, get myself a beverage, shift to another table. And that’s kind of how Misty and I work together is, we’ll have, you know, some books that are romps. There are some that are very serious. There are some that have heavy continuity and we’re able to divide what we enjoy doing. Certainly with the Valdemar stuff, I wind up being a continuity checker, and then I can, you know, Misty will sometimes ask me, “And who was the cousin of so-and-so?”, And I like, “Oh, I’ll get you that they had a…” 

Misty: Yeah. And then we go to the fan wiki. 

Larry: Yeah. 

Gray: Yeah. 

Larry: That’s a treat, I’ll tell you guys right now that having fans… 

Misty: Thank you, thank you, fans. 

Larry: Yes, having fans that document everything that we’ve ever done is the best thing in the world. 

Misty: Yeah.

Gray:  How bad or good an idea is it to write a novel, such as say, Mage Wars, with your partner?

Misty: Oh, it depends upon what kind of relationship you’ve got with your partner. 

Larry: Yes, I fear her, so… 

Misty: This is the way it should be. Basically, it’s either going to make your relationship better or much, much worse. There’s a lot of reasons for this. The primary one really is that somebody has got to be the boss. 

Larry: Mhm. 

Misty: And if  you don’t with agree, from the beginning who is going to be the boss, it’s going to be a knockdown drag out and you’re going to give up in disgust. There is also something that goes along with being the spouse of a writer, which goes along with always being the spouse of a writer, especially in a genre like science fiction and fantasy, where you’re doing a lot of conventions and a lot of public work. Generally, somebody ends up staying home, taking care of the pets and or kids. And the other one goes to the convention and gets all kinds of fan adulation. And… 

Larry: I know. Seventh book divorce?

Misty:  No, third book divorce. 

Larry: Third, right. 

Misty: If you become really popular really quickly, it’s third book divorce. 

Larry: Yeah. 

Misty: If you’re building to it, it’s generally fifth. The temptations are there and not to be sexist or anything, there are more temptations for a male writer than there are for a female writer. Uh, but nevertheless, besides those, those obvious temptations, there is a inobvious one of you go there and you get all these, all this adulation and you come home and you’re all full of the stories about how everyone said you were wonderful and there’s this at-home spouse  just seething. 

Larry: Yeah. It’s like, well, why am I not getting this kind of attention?

Misty: You spent the whole… You got to go to a wagyu steak house and you were fed a hundred dollar meal by a publisher. And… you got, your autograph line was three hours long, and everybody told you how fucking wonderful you are and you can’t even pick up your fucking own fucking spot. Yeah. 

Larry: It takes a very special blend for a married couple or a partnership to work creatively.

Misty:  L. Sprague and, uh, and Catherine had it. 

Larry: Oh yeah, the de Camps. 

Misty: The de Camps had it, absolutely. 

Larry: There aren’t a lot of…

Misty:  um, the Whelans have it. Um, let’s see, who else do I know? Oh, Katherine Kurtz and her husband have it. 

Larry: Yeah, and they’ve got a family.

Misty:  Absolutely solid.  It takes a very special, especially if it’s a female, that is the more prominent name rather than the male. And interestingly enough, I am writing about that thing because the current book I’m working on is The Silver Bullets with Annie Oakley. And Annie Oakley was the star and Frank, her husband, Frank, well, he’s certainly a competent shootist himself. More than competent, um, was her cheerleader, her business manager, her protector.All the things that, a high-powered talent needs, Frank was happy to sit back, not be mentioned and do that job for her. And it was a very interesting and unusual relationship, especially for the time. 

Larry: Yeah. I remember something that she said, I think I have this right, is that “I know the shot’s going to hit, so I just relax and make a show of it”.

Misty:  Sounds like something she might’ve done.

Larry:  Yeah.

Misty: The ego has got to go. The ego has got to go someplace else. 

Larry: Yeah. 

Misty: The ego just has got to go someplace else. I mean, it’s you can have your five minutes at a time, but after that, get your fucking ass back in the chair and get back to work. 

Larry: Yeah. We have a general rule, in fact, I call it rule one. If you want to work with us in any capacity, nobody involved should be a dick.

Misty: Yeah.

Larry:  We won’t be a dick to you, don’t be a dick to us.  

Misty: We’ll try. 

Larry: You know. 

Misty: I won’t, I won’t promise anything. Hud and I were yelling at cross purposes at each other earlier. 

Larry: Yeah. Hud’s our, uh, Hud’s our foreman and, uh, he’s, uh, an intense personality. We have a household of, uh… 

Misty: Weirdos. 

Larry:  Well, I, I was going to be charitable, uh… 

Misty: No, don’t be charitable, they’re weirdos. 

Larry: All disabled veterans. 

Misty: They’re all weirdos. 

Gray: Misty. You, you were writing about alternative relationships and queer relationships before it was cool. Like, um, you know, you were… 

Misty: Um… not exactly. 

Gray: How does it feel to see that, that kind of thing, you know, come out now, is it like, well, it’s about time or is it, you know, is it a disappointment or 

Misty: No, it’s mostly, it’s about time. 

Gray: Yeah?

Misty:  No, that’s actually, that’s not true. It’s about fucking time. 

Larry: Yeah, I mean, it’s always been bizarre to me that, let’s say fantasy science fiction, FSF, part of it’s base concept is learning about cultures or species or whatever that are alien. And yet you find some, the most close minded dick heads that are fantasy and science fiction fans. The… 

Misty: And writers. 

Larry: I mean, you could literally have somebody with a super exotic lifestyle living right next to you and you don’t know it. And they’ll… they’ll gripe about it online as a concept. And then just, Hey, how are you the following day to exactly the people that they were griping about earlier without knowing it. And I’m like, if you’re into fantasy and science fiction and embracing new ways of thought is part of why you’re into it, why don’t you just apply it more to your daily life? 

Misty: Yeah. That the golden rule could really  be boiled down to don’t be a dick. 

Larry: Yeah, don’t be a dick. You were going to talk about the writers before you, right? 

Misty: Oh, I was just going to mention, I mean, there was Sam Delany, there was Marion Zimmer Bradley. There was a bunch of other people that were doing… Theodore Sturgeon, for God’s sake!

Larry:  Yeah.

Misty:  In uh… in The World Well Lost. Damn near wrecked his career over a gay story. 

Larry: Yeah. 

Misty: Because he insisted uh, he wasn’t going to change it. 

Larry: Yeah.

Misty:  And it took him a while to sell it. Now it’s just an, actually it’s available online in many places. Just look up Theodore Sturgeon, The World Well Lost. And it’s a beautiful story and it will make you, it will make you sob. 

Larry: Yeah. Ted Sturgeon was just an amazing short story writer. 

Misty: Ted Sturgeon was THE short story writer. I think even good old curmudgeon Harlan would have agreed with that. 

Larry: You know, it’s funny you say that because I always think of Ted sturgeon as the other half of Harlan. 

Misty: Yeah, he kind of is. 

Gray: When you talk about the idea that you like to put your characters, not just through the amazing, wonderful, oh my God, I’m flying on the back of a horse or whatever, but also the…

Misty:  You’ve got to drop a mountain on them on a regular basis.

Gray:  Yeah,  or, you know, you tripped over a rock or there’s some, you know, the sewers plugged up or, you know, the different,  the day to day life things. How do you, do you decide how a character is going to develop as they’re as they go along or do they, do you kind of, do you see qualities come out in them that are surprising to you? 

Misty: Well, at this point, I pretty much know what a character is when I start the book, because that’s all been percolating in the background as I’ve been working on books previous to it.

Larry:  We’ve got a lot of practice.

Misty: Yeah. A hundred and forty two, hundred forty three, hundred forty five books worth of practice. 

Larry: You know, there’s actually a joke about that: when’s the next Mercedes Lackey book out? Check your watch. 

Gray: Larry, you gave us a bit of a preview into the idea of what kind of,  a writing schedule. Misty and you were under during this…  for Beyond to get out on time.

Larry: Oh, yeah. 

Gray: And I looked at that and I thought, you know,  that sounds kind of like what it’s like the first, the week before we have an event, and you’re talking about doing this for a few months. 

Misty:  Oh, it was about one month. 

Gray: Does it feel daunting still to see that kind of a schedule and sit down in your chair and… 

Misty: Oh, I’m fucking tired. 

Larry: It wasn’t a pressure, it was more like, no, this is, this book is going to matter to some people it’s going to make them feel a lot better. And, uh, and we can do this. 

Gray: Can you tell us what a writing schedule looks like for you? 

Misty: Basically, I’ve got a lot of shit to get out of the way before I get to the writing.

Larry: Yeah. 

Misty: I’ve got the birds to feed, I’ve got whatever messages the cats have made to clean up.

Larry: That often, that can be, ‘wow, that furniture wasn’t there last night’. Yeah. 

Misty: And I’ve got a ton of email to take care of. And I regularly comment on Quora. 

Larry: Quora.com, yeah. 

Misty: I regularly do a lot of answers on Quora and when that was all cleared out of the way. And the Quora stuff actually gets my writing sort of kickstarted. But anyway, when all that’s cleared out of the way and all the online petitions are signed and all the emails are answered, then I get to work and I work until about… six or seven in the morning?

Larry:  The secret to a successful creatives marriage: separate buildings. Misty, and I we’ve been together for 30 some years now. And we get on each other’s nerves. 

Misty: You really get on my nerves. 

Larry: I really do. I mean, I’m, well-practiced. We make seeing each other an event. So I’ll work in the studio and Misty will work in the main house. And then at midnight, we get together for a couple of hours and we’ll just have a great time visiting with each other. 

Misty: And then I get back to work.

Larry:  And then I get back to work.

Misty: And my schedule is not time so much as word count. 

Gray: Oh, okay.  

Misty: I need to make a minimum word count, even if that word count takes hours. Usually it doesn’t, but there have been a couple of times when… the first chapter, just took days and days and days and days to write. Cause I was rewriting it and rewriting it and rewriting it. 

Larry: Yeah, there’ve been several books where you’ve just said, Larry, can you kick this off? And I’ll start in. And then you edit that out and play something better, but it’s a way to get started. I’m not… 

Misty: One of the perenial questions on Quora. “What university should I go to, to get my MFA so I can write novels?” Don’t. Don’t. Why in God’s name would you spend, would you get out a loan for between 30 and a hundred thousand dollars that you’re never going to pay off because you’re going to be spending the rest of your life either. Less than minimum wage adjunct or asking would you like fries with that? Take your money, go to welding school, go to electrician school, go to HVAC school, go to auto repair school. Nine months, max, and you’re going to be pulling down really nice bucks. It isn’t gonna eat up all your brainpower, and you can work, you can write in your spare time, which is what, 95% of all the people who are publishing books out there are doing. 

Larry: Well, I’ll tell you there were some major names… 

Misty: Writing in their spare time. 

Larry: Yeah, there are some major names in the history of fantasy and science fiction… 

Misty: Glen Cook!

Larry:  Yeah. 

Misty: For God’s sake, Glenn Cook worked on a, until he retired and he worked on a… assembly line in Detroit. And he wrote all of his books on post-it notes in between when one frame left his hands and the next frame came along. 

Larry: Yep. He had little index cards, as I recall, that he would write on.

Misty:  Colleges are overpriced these days for what you’re getting out of them. 

Larry: I will go with that. Yeah. The, uh, everything that you need to become a professional writer, you can learn on your own.

Misty:  Yep.

Larry: It just takes doing it. 

Misty: Yep. A million million bad words, like Ray Bradbury said. 

Larry: Yeah, that was… 

Misty: Every writer has a million bad words and you just have to write until they’re all gone. 

Larry: She told me that when I was bogging down on a short story. You’re just working on your first million, it’s fine. 

Gray:  A lot of people say, you know, writers write and writers read. 

Misty: That’s true. 

Gray: Any, other particular things that you wish you had known about at the beginning of your writing career that,  was also important besides the reading and writing?

Misty: Things I wish I had known about…

Larry:  I’m going to go back to what I said before, that what your writing isn’t precious. 

Misty: Well, I got most of the bad habits I might’ve had cut off in the bud because C. J. Cherryh was my mentor. Uh, so they, they never even raised… the weed killer got them before they ever raised their head above the surface of the earth.

Gray: So, so finding a good mentor could be one of the things that would be a nice thing.

Misty:  Yeah. If you can find one, if you can find one. Now it does tend to be that in the science fiction and fantasy field, people are very happy to be people’s mentors. 

Larry: Yeah. 

Misty: Don’t ask me. I’ve already got all the people I can handle now, thank you. 

Larry: We’re doing the best we can. 

Misty: Find someone else.

Larry:  But I will say  in fantasy, sci-fi, and in gaming, you will find that the people are, that are successful now want you to be successful. 

Misty: And they’re, it’s not universal, of course there are dicks everywhere, but, I would say. Probably 75% of the successful people in gaming and science fiction and fantasy writing are perfectly happy to help, give you a hand along. 

Larry: Yeah, because when it comes down to it, we’re fans too.

Gray: Oh, Larry. I know of course that you do  D&D gaming and stuff. Um, I was also reading that,  Misty, you like to game as well, but is it online? 

Misty: Oh, I… I play D&D. Oh my God. 

Gray: Oh!

Misty:  I was one of the early D&D players. 

Gray: That doesn’t surprise me at all. 

Misty:  Back when it was, one poor little me at a sausage fest. 

Larry: Yep. And I go back to pre-D&D, so ’70s.

Misty: I go back to almost pre-D&D, I was, I was playing Castle Greyhawk. 

Larry: Oh, well… 

Gray: Oh! 

Misty: You know, mimeograph… 

Larry: Greyhawk level, yeah. 

Misty: Mimeographed booklets out of Lake Geneva, Wisconsin. Yeah, so…

Larry:  I was in the third Blackmoor campaign. 

Misty: So I go back.

Gray: So does it make you feel happy to see all these, like this tremendous blossoming? 

Misty: God, it’s amazing. I never in a million years dreamed that that was going to be the case.

 The whole field is now mainstream, so it’s… 

Gray: Mhm. 

Misty: But I also, I also play predominantly, I played one game and that’s City of Heroes. I love City of Heroes and I’m so glad it was managed to be revived because I missed that game so much. I, some of my best friends came out of it, and.. 

Larry: Including the developers. I mean… Yeah, we even got… We got along great with them. 

Misty: We got to be friends with some of the developers 

Larry: Hand on heart, I have seen fan art done just for the love of it that is better than any of us ever did professionally on our best day. 

Misty: Well it’s partly the tools. 

Larry: And it just makes the heart swell. It’s just like… 

Misty: It’s partly the tools that are available because you guys were working with immutable materials. 

Larry: Yeah. 

Misty: You could not change anything. Once that, once that was down on the oil painting, it was not going to get changed. Most of the time it’s not physical anymore. Most of the time now it’s digital. 

Larry: I had a sign next to my system that said computers help us do stupid things faster. 

Gray: Misty, would you say the same thing… the same thing applies to the literary side of things? 

Misty: I would never be working today if there were not word processing. Because working on a typewriter is sheer hell. And I don’t know. And I suspect that’s the reason why there are so many people writing today is because the physical act of writing is so much easier. 

Larry: It is. 

Misty: The physical act of rewriting is immensely easier. 

Larry: Yes. 

Misty: So unfortunately, So many self-published authors don’t take advantage of that physical act of rewriting.

Gray: Little bit of shade there, I can hear that. 

Larry: I’m going to brag on Misty here because she won’t do it herself. Using the term machine is a little dehumanizing, but you know, saying Misty is a machine in this sense means that she is incredibly fast. She’s probably the fastest writer in the field. 

Misty: I’m pretty fast at recognizing when I’m writing crap, too. 

Larry: That’s true. 

Misty: Which is part of it. 

Gray: That feels like an even more valuable skill. 

Misty: A large part of it, in fact. 

Larry: One day Misty went in and she came out and she says, yeah, I’m done. Here you go handed over the pages and went to sleep. And I realized…

Misty: Yeah, one day, this was a 21 hour day. 

Larry: Yeah. She had written beginning to end forty two pages flawlessly. Every characterization was perfect. All the jokes hit home. 

Misty: It was the last chapter. That’s the easy one. 

Larry: Yeah, but my God, 42 pages. 

Misty: Last two chapters. 

Larry: No punctuation problems. The flow was great. And I like, um, you know, I know she’s my wife. I am going to defend her above all else, but holy shit, this is amazing! Who actually does this? 

Misty: Me. 

Larry: She did. 

Misty: I have not done that since because…

Larry:  It’s exhausting. 

Misty: I’m old and it’s exhausting and…

Gray:  Yeah.

Misty: Yeah. Why? 

Larry: Well, we’ve gotten rid of a lot of complications in our lives because…

Misty: I’m going, “Why am I doing this?” 

Larry: Yeah, it’s like, Oh, my God. Can we just hire someone to do this? 

Misty: And I told him, stop trying to fix something that you’re spending twice as much to fix it as it would, as you would to buy a new one, throw the thing out and go back to Twitter.

Larry: And Misty is like, okay, that should be thrown out. But that would make a great rat rod, Misty digs rat rods, she does drifting. She’s got a racing license. 

Gray: Is she excited about fast and furious nine coming out? 

Larry: They’re fun, actually they’re a lot of fun. 

Gray: Oh yeah. That was a totally serious question. I mean… 

Misty: They are absolute fantasy, nothing happens like that in the real world. Absolutely nothing. Zero.

Gray:  Yep. 

Larry: But that’s okay. 

Misty: Most of the stunts these days in those movies are no longer practicals. They’re CG, it doesn’t happen that way, explosions don’t do that. And I just take my little disbelief and I go hang it somewhere and I enjoy it. 

Larry: Yeah. There are two factors about  those movies too, which is if you don’t look at them as realistic and then think this is a car-themed superhero team… 

Misty: Mhm.

Gray:  Yeah. 

Larry: Then they’re great. And the second part is. There’s a spark in certain films where you can tell everyone loved being there.

Gray:  Right. 

Misty: And apparently Vin Diesel is a hoot to work with.

Larry: Massive nerd. I love the fact that it’s good to be a nerd now. 

Misty: Yeah, this is true. 

Larry: And I like the fact that it’s valued by so many people. 

Gray: Is there anything though that  you, as people who pioneered  the nerd culture, what would you tell the community now that, you know,  if you could get one thing through their head, what would you like to fix about the community?

Misty: I will channel Patton Oswalt with that. 

Larry: Oh, Patton. 

Misty: “Life is chaos. Be kind.”

Larry:  Yeah, it was his dear wife that said that, and that became his mantra. 

Misty: That is the word, the thing, and the infighting and  the trolling and all the rest of that crap… Just be kind. Remember there is somebody, there’s a real person on the other end of that screen. And you have no idea what you think as a joke or you knowis not a joke, is really going to hit somebody hard . 

Larry: Just being kind to a stranger. 

Misty: Just be kind. Want to be known as a funny man, make fun of yourself. 

Larry: Oh God, yeah. 

Misty: Look at all the greatest comic  comedians out there. They all very seldom went after the audience. I mean, Don Rickles was the only one who could get away with it.

Larry:  And everybody knew that’s what they’d get going into it. 

Misty: Yeah. 

Larry: Yeah. 

Gray: Mhm. 

Larry: And he was an adorable man. 

Misty: Yeah. But you want to be known as a funny man, make fun of yourself.

Larry:  Yeah. 

Misty: If you’re going to make a joke X-men fandom, make it about yourself. Look, who is one of the most beloved people, who are two of the most beloved people Hollywood? Patton Oswalt. 

Larry: Yeah, he’s great. 

Misty: And Ryan Reynolds. And what do they do? Nerds that make fun of themselves within the culture.

Larry:  Yeah. 

Gray: Yeah. I told Larry, on Saturday, my partner and I celebrated our seven year anniversary and we went to a Ryan Reynolds movie. We went to see, Hitman’s Wife’s Bodyguard. 

Larry: Yeah. 

Gray: Because we had loved the first one that they did together. So it was Salma Hayek… um, Salma Hayak, uh… 

Larry: She’s alwesome. 

Gray: Samuel L. Jackson and Ryan Reynolds, just having so much fun up there on the screen. 

Misty: Oh my God.

Larry: But again, Sam, Sam Jackson… Okay. I had a friend that did a scene with Sam Jackson and he said that  the guy was totally prepared, he knew all his lines and everything. Uh, very congenial to work. And he did blocking himself instead of having someone else step in. But when he came in, and he had his briefcase, and he opened up his briefcase to get the script out, there was a plate on the briefcase that said S L M F J. 

Gray: Nice. 

Larry: Samuel L motherfucking Jackson. And I thought just that little touch is so fun, you know, and a massive, a massive comics guy, you know?

Gray:  Nice. 

Larry:  Think it’s wonderful, you know, Henry Cavill paints his own Warhammer miniatures, and just things like that., I’m just like, Oh, my people. You’ve arrived. Because I used to design led miniatures for Grenadier. How’s that for taking it back? Oh yeah, that takes you back. The pseudo dragon miniature was my old PC, you know, that kind of thing. Um, and what would I tell people? What was the question again? Can you rephrase it exactly? 

Gray: Sort of like, you know, if I have a magic wand and I could wave it and. Everyone in the geek community would internalize this one thing. Just one thing. What would that thing be? What would you like them to internalize? 

Larry: Remember that you count, and so do they. A lot of times people will get into the fantasy or the gaming or something because they’re heart’s broken, it’s because something’s missing. And they’ll feel really down on themselves. Like they’re a failure or something. We are in a pretty unkind culture here in the U.S. Overall. I mean, every day is a quest to not be an asshole because being an asshole is so easy here. It becomes an act of rebellion to be kind. 

Gray: Tomorrow you’ll be partying all day because Beyond we’ll be out, and, uh… 

Misty: Uh, no. 

Gray: Isn’t that how that works? 

Larry: We’ll be getting up and fixing stuff and writing and… 

Misty: Tomorrow I will be getting up early, going to pay the mortgage, hopefully picking up a couple of tomato plants because I want to raise some tomatoes and feeding the birds. 

Larry: Oh, yeah. 

Misty: Cleaning up the cat crap. Maybe I’ll thaw a steak. That’s is, that’s about as far as it’s going to get is I may thaw a steak. 

Larry: If we’re really lucky she’ll cook it. But, I’ve seen rich and we ain’t it. I mean, fame does not equal rich, and we’re fortunate that people think well of us, but… 

Misty: And we can pay the bills, that’s the important part. 

Larry: Yeah. 

Gray: Where do you, where would you prefer people buy Beyond? Do you have like a favorite indie bookstore? 

Misty: I don’t care. 

Gray: Don’t care. 

Misty: I don’t care. Your favorite, your favorite bookstore, if you have one. If you don’t much, as I do not like putting more money into Jeff Bezos’ pocket, if there’s no other choice, get it from Amazon. 

Larry: But we prefer that you get it from small bookstores, cuz that’s awesome. 

Misty: You can certainly get it from Powell’s online. They’re fabulous. Since you’re up there in the Pacific Northwest, you know all about Powell’s bookstore. 

Gray:  Well, I do know about Powell’s, because I used to be, but we’re actually located in scenic Stevens Point, Wisconsin.

Larry: Yeah. 

Misty: Oh, okay. 

Larry: Yeah. You know, near road America.

Misty:  They’re running a marathon. Great race track. I’d recommend… Actually, we had one of the most remarkable experiences we ever did at Stevens Point. We were, I think, might’ve been on turn six. 

Larry: Oh, over at Road America?

Misty: Yeah. Somebody ran off the road. I don’t even remember who the drivers were involved, that were involved at this point, but somebody ran off the road and somebody followed the exact same line and came right up on the top of his car.

Larry:  They stacked. 

Misty: They stacked. 

Larry: Yeah. 

Gray: Huh, that’s interesting.

Misty: And you’re expecting, Oh my God, the guy underneath is crushed or killed or decapitated or nothing, or none of that. 

Larry: Yeah. And then you see the little arm come out of the racing suit going, Hey, I’m good,

Misty: There’s this little tiny slit, you know, underneath the…

Larry: The cars. 

Misty: But part of that is because they’re… if you’re not aware of how race parts work, you want to get rid of every point of turbulence you can. So the undercarriage of race cars is practically silk smooth. 

Larry: Yeah, very flat.

Misty:  And there’s nothing to get hung up on. And the roll cage… 

Larry: He just skated right up. 

Misty: The roll cage is robust enough to support another… 

Gray: An entire car, yeah. 

Larry: You bet. 

Misty: Two whole cars. And he just skated right up. And there was a skid mark on the top of the guy underneath’s the helmet. 

Larry: Yeah. And I’m like, well, you retire that, but you put it in a display case. 

Gray: Yeah. 

Misty: No kidding.

Larry: You don’t want to reuse a helmet. 

Gray: There’s the auction item for you. 

Larry: Misty and I have, uh, we flag, well, we did anyway 

Misty: Before COVID.

Larry:  Before COVID hit, our hobby is of flagging Formula 1. We’re the people at the corner with the flag, mostly IMSA.

Misty: Mostly IMSA and mostly, uh… 

Larry: World Endurance Championship. 

Misty: World Endurance Championship. 

Larry: Yeah. Some of the best racing you can ever find is WEC and IMSA. The cars look like star ships, you know, all the people are fun. Um, and..

Misty:  There are fewer assholes. 

Larry: Well… 

Misty: In racing. There is so much ego, there is always assholes. 

Larry: Yeah. 

Gray: What is a person or author or creator that you think is an up and comer that you would, you think people should look at? And Misty, get to think of the, I had him go first, so you get the extra time to see if there’s somebody you can think of. 

Larry: Up and comers? It’s kind of hard to call people that have won multiple Hugos and Nebulas up and comers, but,  I’ll say Kingfisher, for sure. She’s fantastic. That’s Ursula Vernon. Um, Keith Baker. You know, don’t… he’s a great game designer, but don’t doubt him as a writer. Erik Scott De Bie, of course, he’s a sweetie too. 

Gray: How about you, Misty? 

Misty: Well, this is where I confess that most of my reading these days is not in the field. 

Larry: Yeah. 

Misty: Most of my reading is research. 

Larry: Same here. 

Misty: So I’m just not familiar with most of the… most of the writers these days, although I will say, I certainly did enjoy Ready Player One a whole bunch. 

Gray: Ah. 

Larry: Mhm. 

Misty: In fact, I I’ve enjoyed all of his books, so far. 

Larry: Well in comics. Now we both keep up with comics and there are some great writers there.

Misty:  No I don’t.

Larry:   Well, you love Gail. 

Misty: I love Gail Simone. 

Larry: Yeah. 

Gray: Well, who doesn’t? 

Misty: She’s not exactly… She’s not exactly an up and comer. 

Larry: Yeah. 

Misty: She’s an already, she’s a force of nature. 

Larry: She is! 

Gray: Are you, are you excited about the Red Sonya reboot?

Larry:  Oh hell yeah. 

Misty: Oh God yes. 

Gray: Which apparently will be with her storyline. 

Larry: Oh yeah. Yeah, that’s going to be wonderful, actually. Uh, there are a lot of people on the… 

Gray: Fingers crossed. 

Larry: On the production team that I have great confidence in.  Speaking of production and all, we’re closely associated with Zombie Orpheus Entertainment. I’m executive producer there,  and The Fantasy Network. And they are setting up the high flight arts website for you’ll be able to get merch from us and signed stuff. 

Gray: Ah, yes. 

Larry: Yeah. 

Gray: You know, you’ve, you’ve said you mentioned the Annie Oakley one. Um, what are your next projects Misty? 

Misty: Uh, currently working on the third Silence book, Annie Oakley book, another book for Tor. Wer’e waiting to hear something from Tor about the fourth Elvenbane book, because I have a… I have a protégé that I want to do that fourth Elvenbane book with.

Larry: Old, old friend of mine. 

Misty: Old, old friend of ours. And.. 

Larry: Yeah, we’re also working on development on Griffin of Light, which is the next current timeline Valdemar book. 

Whenever I first met Pat, we chatted quite a bit and then he mentioned Heifer. 

Misty: I literally was contributing to the second or third annual Christmas drive they did. 

Larry: Yeah. And so, we found about Worldbuilders that it’s like, they built a charity for the nerds like us? This is the best! There are people in the world that are far less fortunate than we are. And what may be a relatively small kindness from us can change the life of a village there. And that to me is what makes Worldbuilders so amazing, is when you get the strangest people, the weirdest nerds, the greatest geeks, you know, and they can look like anybody, they can have any preference in the world, they can have any gender identity. And we can come together and tell here’s our mouth and here’s our money. We’re going to make the world better… and actually do it. That’s what we love about Worldbuilders. 

Gray: I really appreciate you taking the time this evening for us this morning for you to do this. 

Larry: Delighted. 

Misty: Well, thank you!