May 6th, 2009

Where I Write

I feel I've been a bit remiss in telling stories from the Where I Write photo project, which has me traveling across the country photographing fantasy and science fiction authors in the places where they work.

This is a dispatch from Wisconsin.

Margaret Weis has written something like fifty books, most of them Dragonlance novels -- the genre that defined TSR and TSR defined. Though oddly enough, Margaret Weis says she doesn't really understand how to play Dungeons and Dragons, "I never know which dice to roll," she says. (And she tells a marvelous story about moving from copy editor to best-selling author in the span of a single weekend.) She lives not far from Lake Geneva, the old headquarters of TSR, in a beautiful space. (When silveringridd and I were driving out to her house, we saw a bar-b-q grill on fire in someone's back yard on the shore of the lake. Lindsay tried desperately to grab a photo, but it was gone before she got the camera up. This is only funny because it was smoke on the water on the Lake Geneva shore. Sing it as you must. )

Margaret, (who is so successful that has it's own Margaret Weis Store) lives in a beautiful, huge, barn, surrounded by fantasy art, wilderness, and dogs.

A detail from this painting graced the cover of her New York Times bestselling book Firesea. I loved her house. It was opulent and livable at the same time, which, I think, is rare. It has open spaces, and quiet seclusions (and a huge wrap around porch) -- it's a house that invites itself to having company in large numbers, and seclusion at whim.

But what do you do when you've hit the New York Times bestseller list over and over again? When three quarters of all the kids in America have at least one of your books what else is there?

Well, apart from writing the books that have made her famous, Margaret Weis trains champion dogs. After doing her Where I Write portrait, silveringridd and I spent a day with Margaret and her flyball team watching the dogs jump over hurdles, catch balls, and perform feats of agility. It was a stupefyingly wonderful day. That's Margaret's dog, Joey, showing everyone else how it's done. He is an amazingly graceful animal.

And Margaret, on the flyball team, is completely anonymous. Nobody knows who she is, apart from that she's the coach who wants her dogs to win. She doesn't talk about Dragonlance, conventions, or autographs, she doesn't brag, she just talks about dogs.

That may be the thing that I love most about Margaret Weis (and there are many things to love). Not that she created Krynn and Ansalon, invented Flint Fireforge, Tanis and Sturm Brightblade, and knows their histories, but rather that she cheered and clapped like a Beatles fangirl when Buddy the boston terrier caught the ball and made the third hurdle for the first time.

I realize every day that I'm so lucky to be where I am, and so grateful for the opportunity to be able to do the things that I'm doing, meeting the people that I meet, seeing the things that I see. It really is the best life I can imagine. It's built upon a foundation of stupefyingly hard work, but the rewards are so very much worth it.

I hope your lives are all marvelous today.

More dispatches to follow.
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