Monday, August 8, 2011

The Meeting of a Lifetime: R.A. Salvatore

I went to Gencon this year with two goals in mind: 
 1) to have some fun with my friends and 
2) to try to market my novel to anyone that would listen! 

There was an unexpected surprise, however, when I found out that my favorite author, Mr. R. A. Salvatore, would be there as well! I had signed a copy of my novel for him specifically as a gift. This was because I had gotten advice from him via email and he was kind enough to respond and always in a timely, polite and generous manner. This alone was special to me, but meeting him in person was going to be even better!

I was lucky enough to run into him and his wife on Friday at the ‘Neverwinter’ booth for Wizards of the Coast and handed him my novel personally. He was gracious enough to accept it and my buddy Nick snapped a pic! 

I was in heaven, needless to say. I was able to speak with him for five minutes and he asked if I was going to his Seminar @ the Marriot and I responded with a ‘well, I don’t have tickets for it,’ answer and he advised me to go anyway. It was Saturday and I had two games scheduled to play, but this was my hero, so I blew them off! 

I instead went to a book signing where he joked with me asking if I ‘wanted a book.’ I replied 'sure' and he said, ‘You gave me a book, it’s only fair I give you one,’ or something along those lines (I am paraphrasing). He gifted me a paperback copy of The Ghost King and signed it with the words: “Fellow Author, Eh?” Again, I was beaming! I said I’d see him @ 4pm for his Seminar and off I went.

It was a two hour session of back and forth with him telling stories about Drizz’t and the gang, his work on The Demon Wars series and The Highwayman series as well and the better part of the time was spent doing Q & A. I asked him which character he liked most to write about in the Forgotten Realms series and he answered with: “It’s gotta’ be Drizz’t.” I felt silly after asking the question not thinking that it would be so obvious an answer, seeing that I love Artemis Entreri! He went on to tell quite a few stories and answer tons of fan questions, never making anyone sound silly for having asked a lame question, etc. He told two stories about how two troops’ lives were saved when his book stopped a bullet from hitting the target when instead the bullet was stopped by one of his books! Really crazy stuff, right!? His books literally saved their lives! He claims to have pictures of the books as well sent directly from the troops in question! 

He also spoke about how his characters were what kept fans interested and how important this was in order to establish himself as a successful author. This was the exact answer that I claimed when asked what made my book different from all the rest of the fantasy out there. I believed that my characters, with their many flaws and relatable personalities, will be what make my work stand out (if I can get enough people to read it!) It is both reassuring and uplifting to hear my favorite author echo those opinions.

At the end of the Q & A, he told the famous ‘Wubba-Wubba’ story which I had heard before from the previous year’s Gencon on a podcast. It is hysterical and worth the five minutes. Check that out here - WUBBA-WUBBA.

So, on the day went. I got something to eat at my new local pub, Loughmiller’s Pub & Eatery. There I planned to go to a ‘Meet & Mingle with author R.A. Salvatore at Scotty’s Brewhouse a few blocks from the convention from 8pm to 10 pm. So, naturally, I had to go to this, too.

I got there just as Mr. Salvatore and his wife were arriving and I noted that Ed Greenwood was there, too! The creator of the Forgotten Realms! Bonus! I went in the back and sat at a seat with a guy I had just met named Mike that worked for an online interview place called “With Special Guest” where he was waiting to get interviews with the authors there. Yes, I said authors, as in plural. Thirty minutes in, I was sitting there thinking 'I am not going to get to talk to anyone here’ and was about to leave when Mike said “Why don’t you stay until 9pm,” and I did. I am glad that I did.  “With Special Guest’ site can be found here: With Special Guest. After that chat, my night turned around.

I was able to speak with Mike briefly about Nick Titano’s Battle Maps website and plug them a bit - INFERNAL TITANS as well as talk to him about my own project. (You probably know about that as you are at my blog site….)

I was able to meet Erik Scott De Bie, who’s body of work was quite long and who’s latest work is called ‘Shadowbane’ for the Forgotten Realms (release date of September 2011), his site is here: ERIK SCOTT DE BIE. All of Erik’s work can be found there under: ‘Bibliography’.

I also had the pleasure of meeting Erin M. Evans, an author and editor and who is responsible for ‘The God Catcher’ and has another Forgotten Realms novel coming out called ‘Brimstone Angels’ about two tieflings. Her site is here: ERIN M. EVANS.

The two of them humored me as I excitedly gushed about my project, showing them my prototype copy of my novel and they told me a little bit about themselves and their current projects as well. I eagerly listened and gobbled up the information.

Later, I got a chance to get a signature from Elminster/Forgotten Realms creator, Ed Greenwood, but he was eating and I did not want to bother him for long, lest he smite me down with the might of Elminster!

I also met Scott’s (former?) editor, Susan Morris or ‘Serious Pixie’, but did not get to spend much time speaking with her.

I spent the rest of the night listening and interacting on and off with Mr. Salvatore about life, politics, fantasy and even baseball. We talked about the real possibility of how my Phillies would be meeting his Red Sox in a World Series slugfest and he said that was what Curt Schilling predicted as well.  I also had the pleasure of speaking to his wife, Diane, who was so kind and gave me some advice about marketing and conventions and other things. She was extremely gracious and too nice for words! 

I have to tell you, meeting Bob Salvatore in person was a dream come true. Hearing him speak and learning what he went through as a struggling author gave me hope and inspiration to keep writing. I will persevere and weather the storms to come, the doubt and criticism that will no doubt follow me (as it follows anyone trying to be creative), and I will focus on the positive. 

This memory will help guide me through the journey and help me reach my goals. And that is because my goals have changed after listening to his words. Like Mr. Salvatore, I know that when I am gone, I will at least have something to leave behind for my family. If I go no further, I will at least have written and published something to hand down for generations. I have, at the very least, left something behind that is very near and dear to my heart: The Covenant of the Faceless Knights.

See you in Wothlondia! Cheers!

Please visit my HOME PAGE to enjoy an extended reading experience, see direct links to purchase Covenant of the Faceless Knights and to see what else Ashenclaw Studios, LLC has in store in the future!

All maps, names and content copyright Ashenclaw Studios, LLC 2011 unless otherwise noted.  


  1. I am so proud of you for all the time and hard work you have poured into your dream of becoming an author. You already are a champion to me,

  2. Great story, Gary! Salvatore seems like a really cool guy.

  3. Thanks, William! Yes, he and his wife were both very supportive people who obviously understand and respect the fact of who and what they are. They never once talked down to anyone or seemed to take their celebrity status too seriously.

    I will say that Mr. Salvatore was even cooler than I could have guessed and he really went out of his way that weekend to spend time with his fans.

  4. That was an awesome story. He is definitely one of my favorite authors, and I would probably make a fool of myself geeking out over him. Thanks for sharing this though.