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BlizzCon 2010: WoW Insider interviews author Richard A. Knaak

Anne Stickney

Not only did we get an interview with Christie Golden here at BlizzCon 2010, we also met up with Richard A. Knaak, author of the World of Warcraft novel Stormrage. Richard sat down with us for a few questions about his work on Stormrage, his work with Blizzard, and his views on the often vocal fan reactions, both positive and negative.

WoW Insider: Richard, thank you for joining us, it's great to meet you! Obviously you did Stormrage earlier this year -- how closely did you work with Blizzard on the book?

Richard A. Knaak
: Everything was back and forth with them. I've been very fortunate from the beginning to work with a group of really fantastic people and I've been able to immerse myself in the game. Mick Neilson, who's the publishing lead right now and Evelyn the lore mistress, between those two especially every one of my questions would be answered quickly and efficiently, with a lot of graphics in case there was something that wasn't visible for me to see on the game.

They sent you screenshots?

I get lots of screenshots -- I see lots of things you won't be able to see for awhile! There's other people like James who works with Mick, he's one of the top publishing people too. And of course Chris [Metzen] has been there from the beginning -- he basically grew up reading my Dragonlance work, that's fantastic to me. Everyone's been great at Blizzard.

The book Stormrage covers a lot of material originally introduced in World of Warcraft. Did you play through the game?

I had been through elements of it, but there were so many things they kept coming to me with that were new. I've been well immersed in it. And god, the graphics get better and better all the time. It's been really fun. And I do as they ask of me for the storylines. So if something disgruntles someone about how the outcome of the story is, you can know that this was discussed thoroughly with myself and the people at Blizzard. They felt that these were the directions to go with things. I know that people would have liked to see more of the Emerald Dream in the game -- I myself was begging for it! They were very happy with how the novel turned out and how it explained quite a bit of what they wanted to do, which I'm very grateful for. They asked me to bring certain characters into the situation that I had not considered they would want to be using, but once they asked about them I said "Okay, that makes perfect sense." They wanted people to recognize a lot of what was going on.

Stormrage overall has been one of the most in-depth experiences yet. Although that will obviously change as time goes on, because every time the new stuff comes out -- I mean Cataclysm, let's face it, everything you knew is no longer what you knew – so there's going to be quite a bit of fun going back to places that are not quite the same anymore.

So far your focus has mostly been on Alliance -- you've had Broxigar, you've had Thura and of course all the tauren druids. Would you like to write more from the Horde perspective?

Oh I enjoy both sides -- if you've noticed the manga series, I have Trag, the first tauren deathknight as he turned out to be. I was very happy to see him in game -- I love Rhonin and Vereesa and all those characters but I've always had this thing for minotaurs. And when I came up with Trag for the second volume of the Sunwell Trilogy, I couldn't let go of him!

He shows up in Warcraft Legends later!

That's the thing -- I told them I needed to do another story and I told them what I wanted to do and they were fascinated by that. Tauren alone is a reason for me to do horde. I play a tauren, they're my favorites. I do like a lot of the more traditional aspects of the orcs. Broxigar was a terrific character for me, he was my creation and he just took on a life of his own. He had that essence about him, I was surprised at how much I got out of him. And when it came for him to do what he had to do at the end of War of the Ancients, it just made perfect sense that he be doing it.

Speaking of Thura -- she's Broxigar's niece. Who's her father?

That's something that we haven't fully -- we can't answer that right now. That was decided.

Was that deliberately omitted?

That was deliberately omitted, yes. But that doesn't mean you'll see something about it -- I think it was more omitted because we may decide to do something or we may not decide to do something. Unfortunately we have to leave a lot of things open, we can't put anything in stone. Unless it's a statue of Broxigar!

We heard that in Cataclysm there's going to be a Caverns of Time: War of the Ancients instance. How do you feel about that -- are they going to bring in characters from your books?

I would certainly enjoy anything that reflects back on the storyline that I did. So if anybody shows up, be it Malfurion or Tyrande or characters like Shandris or Jarod Shadowsong, if any of them would show up in there, I'd be very happy about that.

The War of the Ancients trilogy was a huge undertaking that covered a major war in Warcraft history. Would you like to cover the original War of the Shifting Sands with Fandral and his son?

There is nothing that I have on hand in that direction, but yeah, the Shifting Sands was always a really fun time. Blizzard is usually the one who comes and says we've got an idea that we'd like to propose to you, we'd like you to write about this. Sometimes I'll suggest things to them, and we'll go back and forth on it. It's really a two way process that works very well -- and let's face it, most everything they suggest is something that's certainly going to be of interest to most people.
There were several references to the Stormrage novel in The Shattering. Did you and Christie talk back and forth about that?

I believe she read my book and the people at Blizzard helped her with it. She's so busy with things and I'm so busy with stuff -- if there's any questions she would have, I'd be happy to answer them and vice versa, but with people like Evelyn and the other people at Blizzard that know the background better than anybody, I think she's in safe hands. I'm sure they send her any relevant material or the book if she needed it. I get material all the time from them.

Fan reaction to you is notoriously polarized.

I've noticed that!

What do you say to that? What do you think about that?

First of all, A.) you're not going to please everybody. B.) I've had to do some things that they haven't necessarily liked, even if it wasn't necessarily my decision on that. C.) I seem to be enjoyed by the majority of the fans. I'm sorry that some people don't like what I do -- I know some people don't like what Christie or Aaron Rosenberg or others have done. I'm doing what Blizzard asked me to do and I'm trying to do it the best I can, for the most part I think I've done well with it. Some people make judgments based on things that are totally irrelevant to the book. And there's people who seem to think I've never played the game, which I did. I just tell them "When you're writing the books, you have to write the books!" So you can't go in the game as often as they do.

When you're writing about the game, you step away from playing it.

You have to! I'm a freelancer, we aren't paid to do this 24 hours a day unfortunately. Although I'd love to!

Thank you for your time Richard!

BlizzCon 2010 is upon us! WoW Insider has all the latest news and information. We're bringing you liveblogging of the WoW panels, interviews with WoW celebrities and attendees and of course, lots of pictures of people in costumes. It's all here at WoW Insider!

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