While I try to retain a professional distance from those I interview, my inner fangirl was squealing big time when presented the opportunity to interview Terry Brooks. I remember reading Sword of Shannara in high school and it rocked my world. It was one of the first major fantasies I’d ever read at that point. I was ecstatic when I heard Shannara was becoming a TV series, and I admit to being surprised that the show went straight for the jugular with the plot of Elfstones of Shannara (hey, it’s been 40 years and *I’m* still not over Amberle). Aside from my teenage bias, the show is beautifully produced, the cinematography amazing, and the cast gives their all. Needless to say, I’m hooked.
Terry Brooks was born in Illinois, and spent a large part of his life living there. He earned his BA in English literature in 1966. He later obtained a law degree and was a practicing attorney before becoming a full-time author. Brooks had been writing since high school, writing mainly in the genres of science fiction, western, fiction, and nonfiction. While in college someone gave him a copy of Lord of the Rings, and Brooks’ course was set.
In addition to the numerous volumes of the Shannara saga, Brooks has written the Landover series (beginning with Magic Kingdom for Sale: Sold, which is definitely more humorous in tone), and the dark urban fantasy series Word and Void series (starting with Running With the Demon). He has written screen novelizations, including The Phantom Menace and Hook. No matter what you pick up by Brooks, you simply can’t go wrong. Don’t just take my word for it: he has written 23 New York Times bestsellers during his career, and has over 21 million copies of his books in print.
It is a doubt one of the greatest honors of my career to have interviewed Mr. Brooks. Without further ado, here’s the man in his own words:
Can you give fans a taste of what to expect from season 2?
Just a little taste. Season 2 picks up right where Season 1 left off, with finding out into whose hands Eretria has fallen into. We have our main characters back, some new settings for the action, and a new plot that does not appear in any of my books, but was conceived by our show-runners to further complicate the lives of Wil, Eretria and Allanon.
Can you tell us anything about the original characters introduced in Season 2? We caught a glimpse of Lyria in the trailer.
I can tell you they are very good, some entirely new and some familiar. We have Garet Jax (the Weapons Master) in fine fighting form, Cogline (the ex-Druid) still puttering around with science from the books. We have Lyria, daughter of Tamlin, queen of Leah, both new to the Shannara canon, and Mareth, a mysterious young girl with a big, big secret. Also, some seriously bad villains you will enjoy rooting against.
Which novel(s) is/are season 2 based upon, for those who wish to read along?
Since the story is new, we don’t have a specific book that will help us here, although a few of the plotlines might seem familiar from Sword and Wishsong. But Garet Jax and Cogline are from Wishsong, so that might be a good place to start.
Do you have a personal favorite Shannara novel? Which one and why?
I always answer this question the same way. Choosing a favorite book is like choosing a favorite child – it can only lead to trouble. As far as I can see, readers don’t agree on a favorite, either. They chose them from all over the place. Which is good for me. I want that diversity.
For fans new to the book series, where should they start reading?
Oh, I think Sword of Shannara or Elfstones of Shannara are as good as any. Mostly, my books are parts of historical sagas, and you can see how they run by looking in the front pages of any of them. Always best to choose something from the start of a set rather than beginning in the middle.
Season 1 ends with several big cliffhangers — what’s the state of the Four Lands when Season 2 picks back up?
It’s in big trouble. Eretria still believes Wil is alive and well and living in Arborlon with Amberle, and she’s moved on with a new love. Wil is studying medicine in Storlock, which is proving to be a problem. Allanon has discovered a new threat to the Four Lands, which requires Wil and later Eretria to come out of retirement. The Elves are a divided people with a splinter group of fantatics trying to bring down the establishment. And Bandon is now thoroughly a creature of the Warlock Lord, who is part of the Shannara canon.
What was the transition from MTV to Spike like?
Well, it made sense. Viacom is transitioning MTV away from scripted television, but season 1 of The Shannara Chronicles was a big hit and the average viewer was actually surprisingly older than MTV’s demographic, so Viacom moved us to their other network, Spike, which has an audience demographic better suited to our show and which is focussed on building up it’s scripted television line up.
How is Wil dealing with the loss of Amberle?
Poorly. As you will see early on it the new season.
What have been some of your influences and inspirations throughout the last 40 years?
How much time do we have here? Or space in which to write? I am a book guy, as I keep telling everyone. That’s my passion – reading. Every time I pick up a new book, I want to find something wonderful – story, characters, writing, ideas. Mostly, I am rewarded. I have had great editors and friends and supports in other writers and readers. I am inspired by all of them to keep working and to keep trying harder to create something memorable.
Do you have plans to attend any upcoming conventions? Do you think there will ever be specific Shannara cons?
Well, I do not aspire for Shannara to become a cult – just an enjoyable reading and viewing experience. So I could live without the Shannara cons. I will be attending a number of cons next year and also touring with a new book in June. But nothing has been set in stone as yet. In November of this year, I will be given a lifetime achievement award in fantasy writing at the World Fantasy Convention in San Antonio. Which is why I have to leave you here and go back to writing my 2 hour acceptance speech.
The Shannara Chronicles Season 2 will premiere on Spike on October 11th at 10 p.m. ET.