There have been many Harrys in my life. The real Harry Houdini and his Hollywood counterpart, Dirty Harry, Harry Anderson (aka Harry the Hat and Harry T. Stone), and more recently, Harry Potter. But the Harry I love far above the rest (please don’t tell the others) is the literary character Harry Dresden, professional wizard.
Yes, I said professional wizard. In author Jim Butcher‘s version of Chicago, everything is much the same… except Harry really is a wizard, magic does exist (though most people aren’t cognizant of it), and various otherworldly creatures (werewolves, and dinos, and fae – oh, my!) show up on a regular basis.
While the first book in the Dresden series was published in late 2000, I’m mortified to say I’d never heard of Jim Butcher before Skiffy… oops, SciFi… dang it, I mean SyFy, aired their interpretation of the books. To their credit, they cast Paul Blackthorne as Harry, so I forevermore have his voice in my head as I read. Lucky for me, because I don’t think my brain could handle the confusion of having James Marsters’ voice linked to Harry’s.
After my introduction to Dresden’s television world, I grabbed the paperbacks as fast as my bank account could muster. When I crashed physically and mentally this past summer (2014), I ordered the most recent paperback Cold Days and powered my way through the series from start to the (almost) current finish. I’m sadly lacking Skin Game (NO SPOILERS PRETTY PLEASE), but that’s something I hope to remedy in the very near future.
In a way, Jim Butcher is evil incarnate. He tells the tale of how he came up with the idea for the series thusly –
TRC: With Cold Days about to be released on November 27th, and being the 14th book in your popular Dresden Files series, can you tell us how you came up with the idea of Harry Dresden, a Wizard PI, and the entire world building of this series?
Jim: The Dresden Files started life as a class project in my Writing a Genre Fiction Novel class. In point of fact, it was my attempt to prove to my writing teacher how wrong she was about all this structured, story-craft nonsense she was trying to teach me about. You see, I knew about these things because I had a bachelor’s degree in English Literature with an emphasis in Creative Writing–whereas she merely had a master’s in journalism (and had published forty novels). So to prove her wrong, I set out to do absolutely everything she said exactly the way she said it–to be her good little writing monkey and show her exactly what horrible things resulted from such a restrictive, cookie-cutter approach to writing would create
And I wrote the first book of the Dresden Files.
Which showed her. Hah.
In many of his talks on writing, he also mentions that he returned to class two weeks later, with an entire outline of the twenty-something book series, including a three part story finale. Since that time, he hasn’t wavered from his original vision. Like anyone could do that without making a pact with Satan himself. *jealous eye roll*
After finishing my rereading marathon, I found myself spending the better part of two weeks, listening to a number of YouTube videos of his talks on writing (like this playlist – Writing – Jim Butcher by Carrie Bartkowiak). Because of his talks, I also discovered his LiveJournal posts on writing (yes, LiveJournal is still alive and kicking, and yes I have a cobweb covered profile there). Those posts and videos help kick my muse back into gear – it’s no coincidence I managed to blow through NaNoWriMo and NaBloPoMo soon after being inspired by Mr. Butcher and his partners in crime, such as Patrick Rothfuss and Laurell K. Hamilton.
I was even inspired to
procrastinate create a Facebook banner, combining Vlad‘s image with Butcher’s words –
“Magic comes from what is inside you. It is a part of you. You can’t weave together a spell that you don’t believe it. ~ Jim Butcher
So, thank you Dresden, thank you Paul Blackthorne, and a HUGE thank you to Jim Butcher – your uber cool world has
made me insanely jealous of your talent inspired me to create my own. I only hope it’s half as good as Harry’s.
Oh, and for the record – yes, this song played on an endless loop in my head while writing this entry. *grin*