As it happens with any great character I think background is really important, so briefly, because I know you've talked about this a million times, how did you first become interested in fantasy and when did you realized, okay I want to do this for a living?
So, unlike a lot of writers, I didn't enjoy books when I was young. I had a teacher, eighth grade, her name was Ms. Reader, this is true, and she knew that I was goofing off a little too much in my literature class. So, she took me to the back of her room, where there were a whole bunch of old books, paperbacks, that a hundred students had read, and she said, "You need to read one of these and report back to me, because I know you're not doing your readings for class." So I browsed through these reluctantly, and I eventually settled on one that looked pretty cool. It was Dragonsbane, by Barbara Hambly, with this gorgeous Michael Whelan cover. It had a dragon. It had a cool looking guy. It had a pretty girl; that was more important. I thought I'd give it a try. I was fourteen, so... I loved this book.
This book changed everything. I fell in love with the fantasy genre. From this, I discovered Anne McCaffrey, who was the other fantasy author my school library had, and over that summer after my eighth grade year, I read everything I could get my hands on--Terry Brooks, David Eddings, a lot of Melanie Rawn--and just absolutely fell in love. And these books meant something to me, there was a powerful emotion to them, and I thought, "I have to learn how to do this."
And about when you sort of decided you wanted to do this, it was around that age as well?
I would say it was maybe a year later that I started writing my own book, my first one. It was terribly, absolutely terrible. It was a bad combination of Dragonlance and Tad Williams, but I loved the process of writing it. And I was a teenager, so I didn't know it was bad, I just loved doing it.
I actually went to college my first year as a chemist, which you can see maybe coming out in my books a little bit if you've read some of them and seen the magic, but I did not like the busy work of chemistry, right? While I loved the thoughts and ideas, the actual sitting down and figuring how many atoms are in a table or whatever, I hated, and I always contrasted that with the writing where I loved the busy work. I could sit down and work on a story, and forget that four or five hours had passed. That was a really good sign to me for writing, and a really bad sign for chemistry.