Jim Butcher is one of my favourite authors. He’s most well known for The Dresden Files, a punchy mystery series that happens to involve wizards and various mythical creatures in modern day Chicago. Not only is it hilarious and well-written, it has gotten steadily better as the series has progressed to its current 15 book length.
The bet was actually centered around writing craft discussions being held on the then-new Del Rey Online Writers’ Workshop, I believe. The issue at hand was central story concepts. One side of the argument claimed that a good enough central premise would make a great book, even if you were a lousy writer. The other side contended that the central concept was far less important than the execution of the story, and that the most overused central concept in the world could have life breathed into by a skilled writer.
It raged back and forth in an ALL CAPITAL LETTERS FLAMEWAR between a bunch of unpublished writers, and finally some guy dared me to put my money where my mouth was, by letting him give me a cheesy central story concept, which I would then use in an original novel.
Me being an arrogant kid, I wrote him back saying, “Why don’t you give me TWO terrible ideas for a story, and I’ll use them BOTH.”
The core ideas he gave me were Lost Roman Legion and Pokémon… Thus was Alera formed.
Butcher definitely won. And now he’s obviously grown bored with only having one series on the go since Codex Alara was completed, since he recently published The Aeronaut’s Windlass, the first book in the Cinder Spires series, which he described in a Reddit AMA:
It’s called “The Cinder Spires” right now. It’s kinda League of Extraordinary Gentlemen meets Sherlock meets Hornblower. There are goggles and airships and steam power and bizarre crystal technology and talking cats, who are horrid little bullies.
I’ve started reading it and the description is apt. The cats are definitely assholes.