Author Archive

The Warrior

The Warrior is a short story from my new Dresden Files anthology Side Jobs (originally in my novelette from Mean Streets). The story takes place between Small Favour and Turn Coat.

Once upon a time, when moving into a new neighborhood, I spent a few days meeting the new neighbors. Nothing big, just visits to say hello, introduce myself to the other family with children my son’s age, another family with a high-school-aged daughter who often babysat for the other families on the street, the usual sort of thing. I had a bunch of innocuous interactions with them that didn’t look like anything special – at the time. Fast-forward five years. Over the next few years, I came to learn that some of the most inane, unimportant little things I had done or said in that time had impacted several of my neighbors in enormous ways. Not necessarily good or bad, but significantly, and generally in a positive fashion, or so it seemed to me.

If I’d chosen different words to speak, or timed my actions only slightly differently, it might well have altered their lives – and if I hadn’t been paying close attention, I might not have realized it had happened at all. It was my first real-life lesson in the law of unintended consequences – and the basis of my belief that big, important things are built from small and commonplace things, and that even our little acts of petty, everyday good or evil have a cumulative effect on our world. A lot of religions make a distinction between light and darkness, and paint portraits of dramatic battles between their champions.

But maybe the ‘fight on the ground’ is a lot more common than we ever really think. It happens every day, and a lot of the time we might not even be aware that it’s going on – until five years later, I guess. Our smallest actions and choices matter. They tell us about who we are. That was the idea I tried to carry into The Warrior. That, and the idea that what seems like a good thing or a bad thing might not be either, seen from another point of view. Many readers were upset with Michael’s fate at the end of Small Favour – how horrible that a character who was basically so decent got handed such a horrible fate. But judge for yourself how tragic it was from his point of view …

It’s My Birthday, Too

It’s My Birthday, Too is a short story from my new Dresden Files anthology Side Jobs (originally in Many Bloody Returns, edited by Charlaine Harris). The story takes place between White Night and Small Favour.

I’ve met people who are sweeter and nicer and more likeable than Charlaine Harris – but I really can’t remember when. Every author I’ve ever talked with who knows Charlaine just couldn’t be happier about the success of her books and the HBO series True Blood. She’s that nice. I can’t even bring myself to be jealous. She’s that nice. So when she invited me to contribute, I said, ‘Heck, yeah!’

Using a birthday theme (since the book, originally, was supposed to be published on Vlad Dracula’s somethinghundredth birthday) was sort of a challenge. Birthdays are about families. Whether they’re a biological family or one that’s come together by choice, it’s your family who gathers to celebrate the anniversary of you. It’s kind of a profound thing, when you think about it.

But Dresden hadn’t ever really associated his birthday with that kind of joy – only with the knowledge that he’d never really had a family. So I decided to do a story about Harry coping with the unfamiliar role of being the guy celebrating the life of his half brother. I found a very good mall in Chicago that I could demolish with the usual Dresdenesque shenanigans, set the story against the backdrop of a vampire-ish LARP, and knocked this one out over the course of about three weeks.

Love Hurts

Love Hurts is a short story from my new Dresden Files anthology Side Jobs (originally in Songs of Love and Death, edited by George R. R. Martin and Gardner Dozois). It takes place between Turn Coat and Changes.

Gardner Dozois has a bunch of awards for his anthologies because he’s good at them, and I leapt at his invitation to contribute to the anthology he was working on with George R. R. Martin, originally titled Star-Crossed Lovers. Despite my enthusiasm, finding a starting point for a Dresden story was sort of a puzzler for me, since Harry Dresden might be in the top three Star-Influence-Free lovers in the whole contemporary-fantasy genre. How was I going to bring him into a story with a theme like that?

Answer: Get him into the thick of things next to Murphy when seemingly random love spells are running amok through the city. After that, all I had to do was apply his usual streak of luck and cackle madly to myself while typing. The title of the anthology changed to Songs of Love and Death after I had written the story, which is probably a good thing. Otherwise, I may have tried to find a way to fit a death-metal battle of the bands into the margins somewhere. No one deserves that.

Something Borrowed

Something Borrowed is a short story from my new Dresden Files anthology Side Jobs (originally in My Big Fat Supernatural Wedding, edited by P.N. Elrod). The story takes place between Dead Beat and Proven Guilty.

I wrote this for the very first anthology in which I’d ever been invited to participate. I’d met Pat Elrod at a convention and thought she was quite a cool person, and when she asked me to take part in her anthology, I was more than happy to do so.

When I wrote this story, I was thinking that the Alphas (a group of werewolves who often provide great backup for Harry at difficult moments) hadn’t gotten nearly enough stage time in the series thus far. It therefore seemed like a good opportunity to give them some more attention, while at the same time showing the progression of their lives since their college days, which I felt was best demonstrated by Billy and Georgia’s wedding.

Inane trivia: While I was in school writing the first three books of the Dresden Files, my wife, Shannon, watched Ally McBeal in the evenings, often while I was plunking away at a keyboard. I didn’t pay too much attention to the show, and it took me years to realize I had unconsciously named Billy and Georgia after those characters in Ally McBeal. Who knew? TV really does rot your brain!