Lev Grossman

Lev Grossman

Author of The Magician's series

THIS CHAT HAPPENED ON August 26, 2015

Discussion

Lev Grossman
Lev Grossman@leverus · author
Hi everyone. Lev Grossman here. I'm the author of the Magicians trilogy -- The Magicians, The Magician King, and The Magician's Land. They've been called Harry Potter for adults, which actually isn't a completely terrible description, though there's a lot of Narnia in there too. They're about smart, complicated people learning how to do magic, discovering magic lands, and making very poor life choices. All three books were New York Times bestsellers. My publicist would probably want me to add that The Magician's Land went to #1. The Magicians trilogy is being turned into a TV series on Syfy—the first season is currently filming in Vancouver. I'm also a journalist: I've written a lot of essays and features for magazines and newspapers. Since 2002 I've worked for Time magazine, where I'm the book critic. Ask me anything
Lev Grossman
Lev Grossman@leverus · author
I haven't visited the set yet, but I've seen pictures of the Physical Kids' Cottage, and I want to hang out there. It's like a library with a full bar.
Brendan O'Neil
Brendan O'Neil@brendan_o · Professional emailer at Robin
@leverus what book(s) do you find yourself recommending most often? Excluding your own of course :)
Lev Grossman
Lev Grossman@leverus · author
@brendan_o I recommend Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell relentlessly. It's not cool anymore, now that it's a TV show, but I do it anyway. What else? Mrs. Dalloway, which is still my pick for greatest novel of the 20th century. At Swim-Two-Birds, by Flann O'Brien. Anything by Joe Abercrombie, but especially The Heroes. And all the Fafhrd and the Grey Mouser books, by Fritz Leiber, which aren't in print anymore but really should be. Maybe we can bring them back.
Matthew DeCara
Matthew DeCara@wombatprez
@leverus Whenever I get asked to recommend a book, I almost always give the same two recommendations, Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell and The Magicians, so that's delightful to hear. Thoughts on the Strange & Norrell TV show?
Lejla Bajgoric
Lejla Bajgoric@lejlahunts · Intern, Product Hunt
@leverus What’s your next project look like?
Lev Grossman
Lev Grossman@leverus · author
@lejlahunts And then I figured out that you could reply to questions directly. re: my next project, I really want to talk about it, since it's pretty much all I think about right now, but I can't be too specific, because we haven't even sold it to a publisher yet. It's fantasy, but it's a very different branch of the fantasy family from The Magicians. I can tell you that I'm doing a mountain of research, which is new for me. Usually I just make it all up.
Michael Ewon
Michael Ewon@bonersniper · Accountnat
@leverus So how many years do you think before the public gets to see it?
Lev Grossman
Lev Grossman@leverus · author
@bonersniper I'm guessing it'll be out in 2017. If all goes according to plan. Which of course it always does. I'm sure bits of it will come out before then though. I leak like a sieve.
Jamie Pierson
Jamie Pierson@the_fillorian · Bookmobile Driver
@leverus I haven't seen anything about Josh with regards to the TV show . If he’s gone, what was behind the decision to cut his character? Also, who is Dr. Jennifer London?
Lev Grossman
Lev Grossman@leverus · author
@the_fillorian As far as I know, there is no Josh in the TV show. I've never asked why not, but now I'm curious. He was mostly a comic character in the books, and I can tell you that the show is extremely funny. I think all the other characters got funnier to compensate.
Jamie Pierson
Jamie Pierson@the_fillorian · Bookmobile Driver
@leverus I am especially curious with regards to his role in the second book, assuming the show gets that far.
Jamie Pierson
Jamie Pierson@the_fillorian · Bookmobile Driver
@leverus Dr Jennifer London? She's listed on the IMDb page for the show. Is she part of Julia's story?
Lev Grossman
Lev Grossman@leverus · author
This live-chat business has a definite 1997-ish vibe about it, but I'm going to roll with it.
ʕ•ᴥ•ʔ
ʕ•ᴥ•ʔ@thoughtbox · web developer
Why did you agree to a live chat on ProductHunt? It seems like a ... different choice for an author
Lev Grossman
Lev Grossman@leverus · author
@thoughtbox All the other authors were doing it? I don't know. I can't say I gave it a lot of thought, and I don't have a very solid grasp of what ProductHunt is. But it sounded fun. I like AMAs.
Lev Grossman
Lev Grossman@leverus · author
@Russ About the TV show, I'm happy with the progress. It's been a learning curve, I'll admit. It was a shock when other people started putting words in my characters' mouths. I'm not used to collaborating -- novel-writing is a soloist's medium. But I'm really enjoying it coming together. It turns out there are people out there who are better at writing my characters than I am.
Veronica Belmont
Veronica Belmont@veronica · Destroyer of Worlds (and PM at Disco)
Hey Lev! Thanks for being a guest on Sword & Laser in the past! How much input have you been able to have creatively over the show?
Lev Grossman
Lev Grossman@leverus · author
@veronica Hi Veronica! I don't know if I ever thanked you, and Sword & Laser generally, for having me on. It meant a lot to me. And to the books -- I think a lot of people found them through you guys. I've had what feels to me like a lot of input on the show. At least, I've written a lot of 10,000-word emails to the creators about it, and they're doing a very good impression of having read them. Obvs I don't have anything to say about set design and things like that, and I have no real actual decision-making power. But I see all the words: season arcs, episode outlines, every episode script ... they've been super-generous, considering that they don't have to show me any of that stuff, and I nitpick it all relentlessly and annoyingly.
Michael Ewon
Michael Ewon@bonersniper · Accountnat
@leverus Please tell me there are talks of having you cameo in The Magicians. It has to happen. Stephen King and Stan Lee do it all the time >_>
Jamie Pierson
Jamie Pierson@the_fillorian · Bookmobile Driver
@bonersniper Yes!!! Maybe as the butler, what was his name? Chambers?
Michael Ewon
Michael Ewon@bonersniper · Accountnat
@the_fillorian OR miscellaneous professor in the background. Or crack house junkie #7
Samuel Mont-Blinn
Samuel Mont-Blinn@montsamu · Cognitive software analyst, IBM Watson
@bonersniper or "string quartet cellist"
Michael Ewon
Michael Ewon@bonersniper · Accountnat
@montsamu you just killed me. I am dead.
Lev Grossman
Lev Grossman@leverus · author
@bonersniper I'm pretty sure it's going to happen. I read for the role of 'naked river nymph,' but I dunno, there was a lot of competition.
ʕ•ᴥ•ʔ
ʕ•ᴥ•ʔ@thoughtbox · web developer
I must say, the inclusion of Harry Potter, Narnia and other real-world references/send-ups greatly enhanced my enjoyment/attachment to the characters and the world. Ernest Cline seems to be the other popular author whose work acknowledges other fictions — but isn't it odd that the barrier between the cultural history of fictional worlds and our own is so solid? Why don't more authors include that sort of thing in their work? (Realizing this might be an unfair question since you did break that barrier, feel free to flip it — why did you do so in such an explicit fashion?)
Lev Grossman
Lev Grossman@leverus · author
@thoughtbox Whoops, I skipped over this first time. This was kind of a pet peeve of mine, that no character in any fantasy novel ever (with the exception maybe of Don Quixote) seemed to ever have actually read a fantasy novel. You can't kid me that Harry Potter spent 12 years in a closet and didn't read a hell of a lot of Piers Anthony. I get why people don't like to touch that kind of thing -- it can lead you to cutesy self-referential metafiction pretty fast. And believe me I cut a _lot_ of references out of The Magicians before I felt like I'd found a balance. But consuming fictions is such a huge part of what people do all day, I just couldn't see writing a novel that had anything to do with contemporary life that wasn't saturated with other fictions.
Alex Livingston
Alex Livingston@galaxyalex
In a D&D session played by current authors, what class would you take? and who would be on the dream squad?
Lev Grossman
Lev Grossman@leverus · author
@galaxyalex Honestly I'm drawn to the melee side of things. Fighter, fighter/thief maybe. (Can you still be a fighter/thief? I'm still stuck in 1st edition.) Spellcasters require too much resource management. I'm must not that detail-oriented. Dream squad? It's tricky, because good novelists don't necessarily make good D&D players ... I would recruit Susanna Clarke if at all possible. And David Shafer. Also my brother.
Michael Ewon
Michael Ewon@bonersniper · Accountnat
@leverus Austin has designed games, I've seen you review a few. Opinion on gaming? A Magicians game?!
Lev Grossman
Lev Grossman@leverus · author
@bonersniper I love gaming. I used to play all the time. My former hardcore gaming self would be disgusted at my sad dilettante gaming, which mostly happens on my phone ... I just don't have time anymore.
Lev Grossman
Lev Grossman@leverus · author
@bonersniper That said I dunno if I could countenance a Magicians game. It would probably be like huge amounts of memorization and puzzle-solving, then after every level you do a shot. Which isn't my scene at all. I go in for hyperviolent twitch gaming. Sad but true.
Michael Ewon
Michael Ewon@bonersniper · Accountnat
@leverus what can we do to best support the books/show/graphic novel? Letters to our senators?
Michael Ewon
Michael Ewon@bonersniper · Accountnat
@Leverus with the show coming that opens the door for merchandising (outside of cafe press). What would be your ideal Magicians Merch??
Lev Grossman
Lev Grossman@leverus · author
And ... then it was 4:00. And I've gotta go. These novels don't write themselves. Or they do, but I have to at least pretend to be supervising. Thank you everybody for posting, that was excellent, and if there's any outstanding urgent issues, you can always hunt me down elsewhere online.
Russ Frushtick
Russ Frushtick@russfrushtick
@leverus Are you so far happy with the progress the tv show for The Magicians has made?
Lev Grossman
Lev Grossman@leverus · author
Hi everyone.
Samuel Mont-Blinn
Samuel Mont-Blinn@montsamu · Cognitive software analyst, IBM Watson
@leverus I'm late to the party, but, hi!
Michael Ewon
Michael Ewon@bonersniper · Accountnat
@leverus What are your hopes for The Magicians now that your work on the series is "over"
Lev Grossman
Lev Grossman@leverus · author
@bonersniper You know what I want to see? A Magicians graphic novel. There was going to be one, and then something weird happened and it went away. But I'm still hoping for that.
Michael Ewon
Michael Ewon@bonersniper · Accountnat
@leverus What is your favorite swear word? (Swear phrase is also acceptable, and encouraged)
Lev Grossman
Lev Grossman@leverus · author
@bonersniper fuck. but you knew I was going to say that.