Sorry, I was a teacher, so I don’t actually believe that Mr. Hornswobble wanted ME to analyze my book and present it to class. Points for trying, though.

Unfortunately, due to the sheer volume of these requests: no. I can’t. I just don’t have time to do student interviews and keep writing at a pace that lets me actually turn my books in (somewhat) on time. I want to help out people whenever I can, but my Main Thing is writing. I have lots of other interests, but I have to keep writing the Main Thing. I have to protect it, and that means I have to protect my time. That means I have to say no to things that alone aren’t that big of a drain, but together with a lot of similar things DO become a drain. Sorry!

Due mostly to time restrictions (see the previous) and partly due to lawyers, I can’t read your book or story. In my opinion, writers aren’t even the best people to HAVE read your story. First, we tend to like our own way of doing things in stories, and secondly, writers tend to make decisions in our own writing intuitively rather than analytically. Editors and agents make better analysts, in my experience. I know, it’s hard to get feedback from them, too! I remember that frustration. But that still doesn’t make me the best person to relieve that frustration for you.

It’s very difficult. It generally takes a long time, and there’s a lot of disappointment. First, write a great book. Then rewrite it until it’s absolutely stunning. Then rewrite the beginning until the first five pages suck every single reader in. If you write mind-shattering endings or brilliant middles but your beginning is rough, no one will ever see them. Believe me, the beginning is the hardest part for me. Do the work.

Next, what helped me was reading a number of books like Writing the Breakout Novel  by Donald Maass. Disclosure: he’s now my agent, but I thought the book was excellent long before I met him. Do the stuff in those books, even if it hurts, even if it means you have a lot more work to do.

Then, I recommend saving up and going to a writer’s conference. Yes, this is hard if you’re poor. I almost DIDN’T go to the conference where I met my now-agent because it cost $350 and it was a big stretch for me. Go. But go prepared.

Prepare a two-sentence pitch. Q: “What’s your book about?” A: “A planet-killing asteroid is hurtling toward Earth, and only a rowdy bunch of misfit deep-core oil drillers can fly into space to place the nuke to destroy it.” Your pitch has to be fairly accurate, and totally interesting. Sure, YOUR book has nuances that won’t be captured in a two sentence pitch. Deal. Then have a two minute pitch, in case the agent says, “Wow, sounds interesting, tell me more.” You’ll be super nervous when you give your pitch. That’s okay. Agents and editors are used to people being super nervous when they give their pitch.

They’ll probably say, “Sounds interesting. Send me a few pages.” Send them a few pages with a cover letter that says, “Hey, I met you at X, and you said my novel sounded interesting.” Other folks on the internet can tell you about the rest of the cover letter.

You’ve already polished your first few pages like I told you, right? So send it to them. Then get ready to wait. It took me nine months from when I met my agent and he said, “Send me a few pages,” to when he signed me. Then it took two years to sell The Way of Shadows…which went on to become a NY Times Best-Seller. Go figure.

Google this, though, and find out other people’s advice on pitching and querying, though. I did it unsuccessfully many times, and only successfully once.

Here’s what I’ve said to some people who’ve emailed me about this. Because this answer is so darn good, I’m reposting it here:

My problem as a writer is not coming up with ideas; it’s finding the time to write all the stories for the ideas I already have. I do indeed have future plans for Midcyru, and some of them may be something along the lines of a couple of your ideas (because, you know what? I put foreshadowing in the first Night Angel books on purpose). But I don’t co-write; it’s just not how I work, and I don’t take ideas from fans.

There was one horrible situation in which a writer, who did frequently correspond with fans about her ideas, ended up getting sued by one of them and having to share all the profits of a book that she had apparently done all the work for, but a fan had had a similar idea. So I think you’ll find that all writers now are very leery of even talking about future ideas with fans.

So I’m delighted that the stories I’ve told are living on in your head, and that you’re exploring some of those things with your own imagination, but I’m already exploring those too, and I have a lot of big, long-term plans for this world. So thanks so much for your interest, and I wish you all the best.

I could never read fanfiction because there’s really only two possibilities: you write my characters and my world worse than I do, in which case it pains me, or you write it better than I do, in which case I give up writing and go live in a hermitage. Fan art is great. I love to see it. Wikis are awesome, too. At some point, my brain is going to explode with all the characters running around in it, and I’m going to need some reminders of who everyone is, who’s their cousin, and what their eye color and hair style is.

Oooh, well why didn’t you just ask?

I allow fan fiction licensed as derivative, noncommercial fiction under the Creative Commons. What does that mean?

1) You can’t make money from fanfic based on my work.

2) You need to post a disclaimer on your fic, like so: “The Black Prism/The Night Angel [whichever] is copyright Brent Weeks. This story is licensed under the Creative Commons as derivative, noncommercial fiction.” (See CC website to learn more about what that means:  For MY purposes, it means you can’t sue ME if someday I happen to write something similar. (Unlikely, and I would never do that on purpose, but I have to cover myself.)

3) I’m still not going to read your story. I’m too busy writing the next book, which is what you want, right?

(And a nod to the fantastic Jim Butcher, whose approach I’m mimicking here. Thanks for doing the legwork, Jim. Love those Dresden Files.)

As long as it falls under “fair use” (i.e., you’re not going to sell the RPG commercially or otherwise make any money from using it), we shouldn’t have a problem. See my response to the fanfic question above.

Sadly, I just don’t have time to compile an encyclopedia for other people’s use right now about the world of Midcyru or The Seven Satrapies. That may one day happen, but right now it’s an impossibility. I do have such things, but they’re fragmentary in nature, and full of spoilers of things I intend to do. It would require me to stop writing and take a few months to sort and compile all of what, honestly, is of interest to a limited number of fans. The novels are my main thing.

That said, there is a glossary and a character list in the new Night Angel Omnibus. For The Seven Satrapies, I’ve also compiled a glossary, character list, and appendix; they appear in Lightbringer books 2-5.

The indexes & glossaries are now posted here on the website as well, under the “Extras” tab. You’re welcome!

My email address is

For a few months, back when I was first published, I answered every single email. Pretty quickly, it put a serious squeeze on my writing time. And then it became a huge burden. I love getting emails. I love that my work makes people want to respond directly to me. And believe me, I get it. I remember the feeling of emailing an author and not hearing anything back. It sucked.

I make a concerted effort to connect with fans, and spend a lot of time doing so. You can find me on Twitter, on Facebook, I’ll update the news page here when there’s stuff to share, and I do live chats and video interviews from fans’ questions and the like. I also make personal appearances and go to a couple of conventions and do book tours. What I can’t do is answer even a fifth of my emails. I love getting them, and I do read them all. But I reply to few.

Because I’m a jerk.

That’s not a question.

Oh, man. No, please don’t send your books to me. First, I’d probably lose your book in my piles of stuff, and you’d never get it back, and then you’d be mad at me. Second, your book would probably get beat up in transit. From time to time, I will also offer bookplates , through my forum (and occasionally through special events on the main webpage) in limited quantities, first-come, first-serve, but always free.

Thanks for offering to send me a donation; that’s very kind of you.

Please don’t feel any obligation to send me money though; I try to write books that are so good people will buy the next one as soon as it comes out, even if the first book they read was from a used bookstore. 🙂

If you really want to buy something of mine once you’re done with Night Angel, I’d suggest just buying the first book in my Lightbringer series, The Black Prism, or buying the tenth anniversary hardcover Omnibus version of The Night Angel trilogy (coming out in September 2018) — it’s going to have some cool extras, including two deleted chapters, extensive glossary, and a character list.

Thanks for offering to send me a donation; that’s very kind of you.

Please don’t feel any obligation to send me money though; I try to write books that are so good people will buy the next one as soon as it comes out, even if the first book they read was from a used bookstore. 🙂

If you really want to buy something of mine once you’re done with Night Angel, I’d suggest just buying the first book in my Lightbringer series, The Black Prism, or buying the tenth anniversary hardcover Omnibus version of The Night Angel trilogy (coming out in September 2018) — it’s going to have some cool extras, including two deleted chapters, extensive glossary, and a character list.

Aye, Karumba. Travel. I love to travel, but I love to write more. Every year, I’ve got only 52 weeks to write. Take a vacation, I’m down to 50. Do a book tour, I’m down to 48. Travel to a professional conference or two, 46. Research, more weeks. I get to factor in a couple of weeks of being stuck, too. Always happens. And then I have to decide how many conventions to go to. I tend to work on the research and the reading and the business that goes into writing even while I travel, but I can’t write while I travel:  it requires too much concentration and dedicated time. All this to say, the life of a professional writer can very quickly crowd out his time to write. Once I let that happen, I’m really shooting myself in the foot. So I have to choose what I can NOT do. Most of the above are non-negotiable. (I’d love to trade in those weeks of being stuck, believe me.) And that’s even if cost were no object, haha. So, more weeks on the road equals less pages. Sometimes I’m willing to make the tradeoff–like when I got invited to Paris!–but I try not to stack those big time commitments up in the same year. I love to meet fans; I really do. But my biggest professional commitment is to write books for you. Simple as that.

I’ve got a page HERE about my upcoming events. Now that I’ve finished my book tour for The Blood Mirror, it will be a while before I have other appearances to announce. But as soon I as I have a new event to announce, you’ll hear about on the main page HERE.

If you’re a book reviewer, with a legitimate website, then send me your name and website information. Then I’ll pass on your contact info to the publicity department at Orbit, so they’ll (maybe!) get you an ARC and handle things from there.

If you’re a bookseller who hand-sells a lot of my work/other fantasy authors work, then the publicity department might also get you an ARC. But again, we need proof of who you are, so send me your contact information and where you work!

I’ve got a post about that HERE.

First, totally flattering! But not only am I not a master in my own eyes, but at this point in my career, so much of what I do is instinctive, that I don’t know that I could even explain it to someone else. Every writer has to strike a balance somewhere between the intuitive and the analytical, and right now, a lot of what I do is really intuitive. And that’s a good thing, because if you actually had to make conscious choices about every tiny little thing in a novel, you’d go absolutely stark raving mad. But it also makes writers often bad teachers. About fifteen years ago (!) I taught a creative writing class to high school seniors, and I thought that it would be awesome, because I love teaching and I love writing. So teaching writing should have been a breeze, right? It wasn’t. Actually, the class kind of sucked. I could point to a student’s story and say, “This one sucks. This one’s ok. And this one has some really genius things in it.” But I was much worse at telling them why, or beyond that, how to fix it if it wasn’t so hot. So, for your own good, I’m going to turn you down on the apprenticeship idea.

I might, on the other hand, have some openings for minions! That is, after I take over the world. Just saying.

Maybe October of 2008, right when The Way of Shadows was first published. I had to decide whether I would write more books set in the Night Angel world or if I was going to do something entirely new. Two things tipped me toward doing something new: I didn’t want to get trapped writing books in one world for my whole career, and I wanted to try to stretch myself creatively.

The Night Angel world is, at first blush, fairly standard European medieval. The benefit of that was that I could throw readers into the story at high speed. You’ve been to worlds like this before, so it’s not confusing. We can focus on story and character, without the boring stuff. Then as I moved into Shadow’s Edge and Beyond the Shadows, I introduced lots of other cultures and revealed more of the complexity of the world.

With Lightbringer, I thought I was up for the challenge of introducing an entirely new world, new rules, new characters, new magic–all while keeping the story moving fast. I also wanted to do something that you’d never seen before. Making up everything new was a significant challenge, though. It was harder than I thought it would be, but I’m really happy that I did it.

Though I can’t give you a huge amount of information on the satrapies right now, as I’m busy working on the final book in the series, I can tell you that The Blinding Knife, The Broken Eye, and The Blood Mirror each have a map of the Seven Satrapies, a glossary, a character list, and an appendix, all of which should help answer these questions.

Yes and no. An early cover got leaked onto the internet.  I thought it did some things well, but I didn’t love it. Basically, if you looked at that cover, you knew that this new book had been written by me. So if you were a casual reader who enjoyed the Night Angel books, but didn’t remember my name, if you saw that book, you’d be visually reminded. There were a couple of negatives: it looked like it was the same series, which it’s not. And because the Night Angel books have done so well, and because their covers were so different when they came out, other publishers have started doing covers that are very similar. So where the Night Books were so strikingly different in 2009, now they’re not. I also didn’t like the fact that the cover wasn’t accurate to the way magic works in this new world–which no one at Orbit could have known, because none of them had seen the book yet.

Orbit chewed it over, and knew by the time that cover was leaked that they wanted to do something new. And I have to say, I really appreciate that willingness they have to take risks and try things that are new. A lot of places would just say, “It worked before, we aren’t changing it.”

UPDATE: Check out the NEW new cover for The Black Prism HERE. Both the Black Prism and The Blinding Knife are being re-released in trade paperback format in summer 2013, and this edition will feature the new cover for The Black Prism.

The (updated) short answer is: five. Here’s the longer answer (a direct quote from my interview with Fantasy Book Addict): “The truth is, I always had envisioned Night Angel as three books, and it had three very clear stopping points. Lightbringer has always been more problematic. From the very beginning I thought it had enough conflict for four books, but I was going to try to wrestle it down to three. In some ways, I think you can see that wrestling–and losing!–taking place even in the length of the books. Where the Night Angel books were 150,000 to 170,000 words, Black Prism was 215,000 and The Blinding Knife is 235,000. I realized that if I were to try to finish this series in one more book, it was going to be over 400,000 words. Maybe well over that. So as I was laying out scenes for that last book, the question for me varied between “What can I cut?” and “Is there a good enough stopping point in the middle to have this be two satisfying books?” In working through it, there was too much good stuff that I didn’t want to cut, and I did find a satisfactory stopping place, so I pulled the trigger and said, “This will be four.” I’m lucky enough that Orbit was totally cool with that. Both they and I are also looking forward very much to returning to The Night Angel universe, which I’ll be doing after I finish Lightbringer.”

The Burning White is available in hardcover, audiobook, and e-book now! Thank you, everyone, for your support in making it happen.


Maybe, someday, is the answer. Soon, no. There’s a big difference, I’ve seen, between recognizing a great game,  being a great gamer, and creating a great game. It requires the same amount of dedication to make a great game as it does to make a great novel. For me, I’ve decided to focus on my novels; they’re my Main Thing. I love games, but I don’t want to take a year—or five!—to figure out how to be a game designer who can then make my own games. At the same time, I don’t want to license my work out to someone who makes a terrible game. So someday I hope there will be a perfect storm of circumstances where I get to work a little bit—not so much that I get distracted from writing—with a super talented, skilled game designer who has the budget and will do it well. But that day isn’t yet, and I’m not going hunting for that yet. So someday I hope, but not anytime super soon.

The short answer is similar to the previous question: maybe, but not anytime soon. I’m focusing on my novels for now; they are the Main Thing.

A television (or even film) series of Lightbringer could be awesome, if done with the right creative team. At the moment, I don’t have any offers on the table for a television series — and even if I signed a contract, the odds of Hollywood actually making the series are very slim. But if I ever do receive (and accept) an offer for a TV series, I’ll be sure to announce it on all my social media and web site.

Yes and no. As I’ve detailed elsewhere, I do plan to write at least one more book set in Midcyru once I finish writing The Lightbringer Series. And I may well write some more novellas about Durzo (other than Perfect Shadow), though I can’t guarantee that. Kylar will probably be a side character. I may change my mind some day, but right now, I think he’s done the most interesting internal growth that he’s going to do. And externally, he’s so tough now, he’d have to kill continents to have a challenge. There ARE ways to get around that, but so far all the ones I can imagine are lame. I won’t write a lame book (well, not on purpose), not even if it means I get to spend time with characters I love. (UPDATE: I’ve been having ideas with Kylar in them that I’m happier with than I was before… but no promises. There are a lot of criteria my story ideas need to satisfy, including that they don’t break my plans for Midcyru.)

Actually, it was a live model. I saw earlier versions that were straight up photos, and some of the measurements did get played with afterward when they started doing some more intensive Photoshopping to make it look more like a painting–and do little things like take the creases out of his hood. (Yep, someone had a real hood that he wore that had obviously been sitting folded in a drawer somewhere.)

I talked with Tim Holman, the head of Orbit, about this in depth, and he was very kind to involve me in cover concepts for my trilogy—which he didn’t have to do. His philosophy, and now mine, is to design a cover that lets the reader know in one glance what kind of book they’re looking at. You don’t like assassins? This isn’t the book for you. Of course, many seasoned fantasy readers love their old narrative covers, and may want to puzzle out the whole scene painted on the front, spine, and back of the book, so you lose points with them. And of course, part of me thinks, “But this series is about so much more than just an assassin!” But the cover’s purpose is merely to point the right people TO the book. Same goes for the back cover copy. Mine is very brief and focuses purely on the characters—because characterization is my great strength. I like to think I have other strengths, too, but if you try to convey that this book is great in every respect, you end up conveying nothing at all.

I have sold the movie rights, but those rights have since reverted to me. There are dozens of things that have to fall into place to go from here to there. To put it bluntly, there’s about a 2% chance now of it happening. If there is movement, I’ll let you know.

The novel I wrote in college had structural problems that will keep it from ever seeing the light of day. But the story wasn’t flawed–just the way I told it. There was a character in that story who showed up just for a couple of scenes and was totally scary. Inscrutable. Powerful. Operating by his own moral code, which he didn’t reveal to anyone.

When I realized I needed to abandon that book, I decided that instead of throwing away all of the work I did, I would use some of it. So I decided to figure out who that scary guy was. I moved to a new country (Cenaria), wound the clock backward by about 18 years, and examined that scary dude as a kid. That’s Azoth.

This was cool for me because I knew where Azoth was headed. But I also knew where the world was headed. So I could play around with some prophecies. I already knew the people who weren’t even born yet whom these prophecies would foretell. At the same time, by moving to another part of the world, I could invent new stuff.

As a gamer myself, I have dreamt of the cool things that could be done with my work. I am incredibly picky about which game studio I would let do such an idea, because I would want it to be a game that’s amazing and not just something that would put a few bucks in my pocket. So, honestly, I’m probably a ways from selling either Night Angel to a game studio.  But if the time does come, I will do everything in my power to make it top-notch.

As for a comic/manga/graphic novel: I can’t comment about this yet. UPDATE: Yen Press is publishing a graphic novel adaptation of The Way of Shadows, coming in 2014. For a few more details, go HERE. To see the character sketches go HERE. I’ll share more about the graphic novel as soon as I know more!

Perfect Shadow was available in a limited edition from Subterranean Press. That sold out. The original price was $45, and it’s a novella (17,000 word or 70-90 pages). Short, but written to reward re-reading, and I’m immensely proud of that little story. It is still available on Ebay, from what I’ve seen…

However, you can get it for cheap on your e-reader, or download a free e-reader to your computer (go HERE for more details), and then you can download the e-book version to read it on your screen.

UPDATE: You can now get a hardback copy of Perfect Shadow from your favorite bookstore. I’ve included a few links to sellers HERE.

See the above “fanfic” question — as long as what you’re writing falls under “fair use”, that’s fine with me. But if you’re trying to make this a commercial enterprise, then my answer is two-fold (again, me pilfering my own email to answer a question I’ve gotten and my answer):

Hey, I really appreciate all your enthusiasm for my work and that you love the material enough to want to engage with it in an artistic way. However, I’m afraid I have to clarify some things just in order to protect myself down the line. The film rights for the Night Angel Trilogy are not something I’m willing to give away for free. And though the laws get a little fuzzy, if some big name director wants to buy the rights from me, but his legal team tells him that the rights for the Night Angel Trilogy might get tied up in court, he may well pass. And that could cost me not only a bundle of money, but my chance at seeing my work on the screen.

If what you’re looking to do is a student project that’s educational rather than commercial in nature, as far as I know that’s totally cool. I believe that falls under “fair use”. However, if you’re hoping to make money from this — ever — then I can’t give you my permission for that. Even giving you my permission in an email would give you something that maybe you could sue me with down the road. (Because you could say that I had given you the rights to adapt the Night Angel Trilogy.) I don’t want to put a damper on your enthusiasm, and I’m not the kind of artist who’s going to go around suing everybody in sight, but I do have to protect myself and my own dreams of eventually seeing The Night Angel Trilogy make it to the big screen in a way that is both artistically and commercially viable.

So I hope you have a ton of fun with this, and if your work falls under fair use to the best of your knowledge, go ahead and have fun with it. But if you’re looking to me to give you an option on this material, or any kind of official imprimatur, I can’t give it.

I’ve got a glossary in the new Night Angel Trilogy Omnibus to answer just that sort of question! You can check that out HERE. I’ve also got the glossary available to read online HERE. But, since I’m feeling merciful: GUY-ur

My updated answer: yes! Orbit is publishing a special Night Angel 10th Anniversary Hardcover Omnibus, set to be released September 2018. It’s pretty awesome. We’ll have a cover to show you soon.

Everywhere. Nowhere. If there’s one part of writing that’s truly mysterious, it’s this. Plus, I get thousands of ideas. I get ideas from history–say when I read about the Medicis and their messed up family or when I read about Constantine, or…whatever. The trick is to sift out the good ideas: the ones that I will stay excited about for years, and that I can write well with my present experience, passion, wisdom, and knowhow. (Or that I can research within an acceptable amount of time.)

For example, I’d love to write a novel about the Thuggee of India who (probably) assassinated tens or hundreds of thousands of travelers over three hundred years as a form of religious devotion–and as their job. Sweet, I’m interested in assassins. I can write dialogue. I can write good action sequences, conflicted characters, different systems of morality. I can envision some characters on different sides, a great love story, a framing story from before the British internment and at the trial of the strangler who confessed (in real life) to murdering something like 962 people. But… I’ve never even visited India. There’s a bunch of conflicting scholarship about the Thuggee, with newer scholars alleging that the British exaggerated the threat to justify their own presence in India, and basically ethnically cleansed an entire people who were probably innocent because they were racists. Eww-kay, can I become an authority on India and the Thuggee enough to pick out fact from fiction? Oh, and preferably, if I could do that before I run out of money and starve, that would be awesome. Hmm. Nope.

So, good idea, but not a good idea for me. This happens All The Time. It’s part of the job. Writers have ideas. Lots of them. Too many to capture in a single lifetime.

Yes. I keep them in my back pocket so they squish every time I sit down.

Um, yuck… seriously, dude.
Write what you’re passionate about. I wouldn’t model your hero on yourself, though some people do that–but I would give her some traits that hook into your own deepest fears: Am I ever going to find someone special? If you really knew me, would you like me? Am I ever going to amount to anything? Am I ever going to get out of this town/this relationship? What if there is something under the bed/in the closet/in the dark? What if I never achieve my dream? What if my boyfriend dies? What if my girlfriend found out about X?

If you put one of those big questions at the core of your character, if your plot starts to wander, you can go back to that central thing–hit it from another direction, make it worse–and you’ll find your book is practically writing itself. Well, not really. It’s still work, but it will help focus you.
There’s a thousand other great writing tips, but generally, do what works for you. Try different things and keep doing whatever it is that helps you get words on the page.
If you want more information on writing advice, check out the special section on my webpage HERE devoted exclusively to writing advice.

I recommend Walmart. Nah, seriously, every writer you talk to is an exception to the rule. I did some things that were dumb in my own career, and a thing or two that was dumb that turned out to be brilliant. So should I counsel you to do things the (dumb) way that I did them so your odds can be even lower? My advice isn’t groundbreaking: read, then count the cost, then write what you love, and write as honestly and passionately as you can, study writers that you love–as in, take out a pen and circle things that they do that worked for you and figure out why–and then hang on. If you can hone your craft, and throw away novels that won’t sell (sorry, the selling part matters), and you can handle disappointment for five to ten years (or, sadly, forever), then this is the job for you. Of course, if you just HAVE TO WRITE and you can’t be discouraged or dissuaded, then it’s simple: write.
I’ve written some more about getting into the publishing business HERE.

Nope. Of course, I can’t help but use things that I learn from real people, but I never just pick up Uncle Bob and see what he’d do if faced with murderous hordes from the north.

I started my first novel at 13. I started another novel in college.

No problem — I can always use more suggestions for updating the writing advice pages (though I don’t have enough time to answer all of them)! So just shoot me an email at, put “Writing Advice Suggestion” in your Subject Line, and I’ll add it to the list of suggested topics for a future Writing Advice post.