Shared authorship in Empire Series

originally posted by Reading_fox

I wanted to put this post there, but as there are no posts to start with there is no add new thread option so I'll try here:

What proportion of the work did Janny do compared to Feist? How does it work? email chapters back and forth? or agree to write seperate characters and merge the plots at the end?

Reading fox -

There is an Empire thread someplace but here is OK.

This was a real collaboration - Ray bothered me for about two years to get me to agree - which I am glad I did as this was a barrel of fun.

It went like this:

He had an idea for an opening scene (the very first scene) and the ending idea - for a story that would encompass all of the vast (and undesigned) political intrigue that occurred on the world of Kelewan - which was a complexity introduced as a plot device in his Magician series.

So…with the idea that this story would have a female character, LOTS of complicated and dastardly political intrigue - he asked me to collaborate based on having read my first novel, Sorcerer's Legacy.

When I caved in - we dug in - met at a World Fantasy Convention and spent a few hours in one afternoon, plot hatching…those ideas became what you read as Daughter of the Empire, and Servant of the Empire, intended to be one book.

We got together again and wrote chapter ONE, for Daughter, ended that chapter with a hair raising (literally) cliff hanger, and wrote an outline for the rest. Sold it.

Then proceeded to take the outline, pick areas we each wanted to draft, then SWAPPED those draft files electronically, and rewrote over them, several times. Until we had a whole book, and each of us had worked on all of it.

We quickly found Daughter had a mind of its own, and it wasn't gonna fit in one book. And about halfway thru the story, we also realized, No Way could the story end here, there would be a whole other nest of enemies stirred up by the Heroine's activities - so Mistress of the Empire was born.

We then re-contracted for the original idea to encompass two books, and added on the third.

And wrote them all the same way - each drafted portions of the outline, then swapped files again and again until the whole thing was one seamless story, and one weldedly seamless style.

We had our moments where one wanted the plotting This way, and the other That, and each time that happened, we came up with a third way that was far better!

So I'd say the work, the plotting, the drafting, and the polishing was a 50/50 endeavor.

He had not yet made the best seller list, with his early riftwar books (Darkness at Sethanon was the one that really Hit) I had only my first paperback out, and was working on finishing Cycle of Fire - so at that point, we were both just getting started on our career tracks.

One thing we did, and I recommend to Anyone who wants to collaborate - we had a formal contractual agreement between the two of us that covered all the contingencies should we have had a falling out, or what would happen, say, if one or other of us wanted to continue to write with those characters - for instance, it was acknowledged up front that it was Ray's 'universe' we were working together and designing in, and that nothing could occur that would be out of line with his vision, with regard to dovetailing with his existing material - that was clearly acknowledged on paper. We had no falling out - and no clash of vision - but the paper agreement before we started defined exactly where responsibility would fall, in the event one of us failed to continue or finish.

The paper was never needed in our case - but many war stories I've heard from collaborative efforts could have been avoided with this simple farsight.

originally posted by HJ

The Empire books were the first of Janny's work that I read. I'm pretty sure I first read DoE in the late 1980s or maybe 1990ish. Not sure of the first publishing date without checking. I'll never ever forget the opening pages of Servant of the Empire, which I got in large paperback in the days when I used to wait for the smaller paperback because I couldn't afford the big one. For this book, I made an exception.

Talk about blown away. I was already, and still am, a big fan of Ray Feist but there was something about the Empire books, something un-Feist-like, deeper, more intriguing and more satisfying. That special something was what made me pursue Janny's solo works and I'm so glad I did. :smiley:

originally posted by Neil

I had read magician by Feist in '86/7? (Silverthorn or at least Darkness at Sethanon hadn't yet published in the UK). I think(?) stumbled on "daughter of the Empire" in my local library.

In 1992 I remember putting aside revision for my university finals exams to read "Mistress" (which by that point was essential reading).

originally posted by Reading_fox

Wow. That must have taken a lot more work - rewriting each others drafts.

Thanks for the explanation.

It's been noted about collaborations that - grin - you each do 75 percent of the work.

Yes. It is a longer process - but - worth it in the end, in my case, anyhow.

And I've got a lasting good friend in the bargain.

originally posted by Winter

Has Feist ever considered returning to Kelewan? Most of his books take place in Midkemia but I hear he's wrapping up work in that universe.

I was always a little surprised that he spent so much time there. Most of the authors I've read don't take too long to create sagas in new worlds but Feist has lingered in Midkemia a long time. A projected 30 Riftwar books (including the Empire Trilogy) with only one book (and one projected) in a new universe.

I wonder what makes some authors move from world to world with each book, and others linger long in the same one.

originally posted by Neil

Motivation likely comes from feeling that you hav a story to tell…a mountain is more a less a mountain in any world…Why create a new world when you can stay on one? Other cultures can always be found in other countries on your world…and I guess you rarely run out of space on a planet if you're determined to stay on it


Are there really 30 books? I have only read the first 9 I guess…I liked the first 3 very much.

originally posted by Winter

There aren't 30 yet, but he's signed on to write 7 more Riftwar books before finishing with that universe. That brings the grand total to a round 30. I only read the first few as well so I can't speak as to how inter-connected the various series are.

I guess I thought about one of Janny's posts where she said she had a few stand-alone ideas knocking around as well as ones pertaining to Athera. Most of the authors I've read have a few stand-alones or separate series besides their big one. The exceptions are the ones who are writing continuous series (aka Goodkind). Feist only has one stand-alone and his books are separate series, not a continuous one.

But then other authors string their worlds together, like Guy Gavriel Kay's various books often referring back to Fionavar. Or Stephen King connecting several of his books into the Dark Tower series.

originally posted by Reading_fox

Having finally got around to owning and reading copies of Empire, I can say the finished work is truelly seamless. I was expecting to at least detect a bit of who's segment was whos, but I can't not in the least.

Really great fun to read as well.

originally posted by joshua bruce law

R.E.Fs books are all in a timeline sequence. the first three books are direct sequels and then the two following are standalone but written about the next generation.

the krondor books are set before prince of the blood and the kings buccahneer (sp?). serpent war is set after these two and connected with the previous as well.

up till the end of the serpent war the characters who tie everything together remain the same, arutha, pug, and jimmy the hand. the end of serpent war ends this effectively with the deaths of jimmy and his wife whom is pugs adopted daughter.

The next two series are tied together with the focus going to pug and the conclave os shadows and much less interaction directly with the royal lines. pug is the character who connects all stories, because like with the fellowship and arithon his life is very extended.