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.
Jeff Umbro
Jeff Umbro@jeffumbro · CEO of The podglomerate
Why Leverus?
Lev Grossman
Lev Grossman@leverus · author
@jeffumbro After Deathly Hallows came out, I was talking to somebody about how sad the whole Snape arc turned out to be, and how much I identified with him, and they said geez, if you like Severus Snape so much, why don't you just call yourself Leverus? I don't think he was serious. But I did it anyway.
Jeff Umbro
Jeff Umbro@jeffumbro · CEO of The podglomerate
@leverus I NEVER expected that answer. Unreal. I gave The Magicians to a friend for the 7th time yesterday, so congrats on making something evergreen.
Alex Livingston
Alex Livingston@galaxyalex
@leverus Where do you see the novella format fitting into the current publishing landscape for SFF? Wave of the future? Flash in the pan?
Lev Grossman
Lev Grossman@leverus · author
@galaxyalex I don't know. Personally I'd still be hesitant to write one, because I don't get what the business model is for selling them in print, and ... I like print, because I'm a dinosaur that way. I've actually quashed ideas because they felt like novellas to me. But obviously there's a huge new opportunity for them to circulate digitally. And I know Tor has a new line of novellas—I just read Victor Lavalle's, and it was amazing. I'm going to go and get hit by a giant meteorite now.
Jeff Strittmater
Jeff Strittmater@jstrittmater
Did you ever get into magic? Either the sleight of hand/magic tricks or the card game?
Michael Ewon
Michael Ewon@bonersniper · Accountnat
@jstrittmater Or pagan religions?
Lev Grossman
Lev Grossman@leverus · author
@jstrittmater I went through a phase where I practiced close-up magic. But I was terrible. I mean really really bad. I can't not look at my hands. I did play Magic the Gathering for a few years, though I haven't for ages. I must still have my deck somewhere.
Lev Grossman
Lev Grossman@leverus · author
@bonersniper nope. though I have browsed their stuff looking for ideas for spells.
Jeff Strittmater
Jeff Strittmater@jstrittmater
Can I count on you doing a book signing at nerdcon in October?
Lev Grossman
Lev Grossman@leverus · author
@jstrittmater oh yes. really looking forward to that.
Melanie Palmer
Melanie Palmer@princessedamame
Hey Lev! I can't really think of a good question for you this time around, so I'll just say thanks for all the fish, and I'm looking forward to a re-read to see what else I can get inspired to cross-stitch. :D
Lev Grossman
Lev Grossman@leverus · author
@princessedamame yes! more stitching.
Matthew DeCara
Matthew DeCara@wombatprez
@leverus Is there an inspiration for Quentin’s middle name? There’s a character named Quentin Makepeace in Jonathan Stroud’s Bartimaeus books, but I assume that’s just a coincidence.
Lev Grossman
Lev Grossman@leverus · author
@wombatprez Yes, I haven't gotten to the Bartimaeus books yet. Honestly I don't have a good answer, except that a friend of mine's middle name is Makepeace, and I was massively jealous of it. And maybe it's a good description of what Quentin needs to do with his life. My own middle name is Thomas. I was named after my father's psychiatrist.
Matthew DeCara
Matthew DeCara@wombatprez
@leverus I'd have been jealous too! Thanks for answering.
Jamie Pierson
Jamie Pierson@the_fillorian · Bookmobile Driver
I don't want a full JK Rowling style info dump here, but what IS Penny's deal? The tattoos, and the name? Working on a fan fiction, but curious what his "real" back story is.
Ben Tossell
Ben Tossell@bentossell · Makerpad.co
@leverus What five authors, living or dead, would you want to have dinner with?
Lev Grossman
Lev Grossman@leverus · author
@bentossell mmmmm ... that's a good question. I'm going to say Virginia Woolf, and if she's coming we'd better have her husband Leonard. Who else? Evelyn Waugh -- he can order the wine. George Orwell. And TH White. Chaos ensues.
LolCifer Lú
LolCifer Lú@lolciferl · IMLATE
Hi, How does it feel to acknowledge the existence of so many people Lev? And please, i´ve been dying to know, how many times did you hear the "eww Lev, gross man!" ?
Lev Grossman
Lev Grossman@leverus · author
@lolciferl Many, many times. When it came to grade-school mockery, Grossman was low-hanging fruit.
Melanie Palmer
Melanie Palmer@princessedamame
@leverus I feel you, man. My maiden name was "Curd." You can guess where that went...
Jacqueline von Tesmar
Jacqueline von Tesmar@jacqvon · Community at Product Hunt ⚡️
What gave you the idea for the world of Quentin Coldwater?
Michael Ewon
Michael Ewon@bonersniper · Accountnat
@jacqvon I want to take a swing at answering this because I know too much about his life and I'm obnoxious but I'll direct you to a google talk he did about a year ago! It was really interesting stuff and he touched on this :D
Lev Grossman
Lev Grossman@leverus · author
@jacqvon Real answer? I wanted to write fantasy, but I was old enough -- 35 -- that anything like Harry Potter or Narnia just felt too bright and shiny and innocent to be a reflection of what was going on with me personally. So I took them and made them darker and more degraded and violent. I wanted to do to Narnia what Alan Moore did to Gotham and Metropolis in WATCHMEN.
Tim Himes
Tim Himes@timboaz
The saddest part of Fillory for me was the underworld, especially since you left a great character to languish there playing shuffleboard. In book three, you cleaned that up. Did it nag at you -- was it too grim and broken for Fillory?
Lev Grossman
Lev Grossman@leverus · author
@timboaz yes -- I felt like it crossed the line, even for Fillory. George RR Martin would have left it hanging, but I couldn't do it.
Michelle Hodkin
Michelle Hodkin@michellehodkin · author
How do you write books?
Lev Grossman
Lev Grossman@leverus · author
@michellehodkin I don't know. I've completely forgotten.
Michael Ewon
Michael Ewon@bonersniper · Accountnat
@leverus MArtin Lawrence from the Freetraders group is looking for a used hardcover copy of The Magicians Land (because it's more magical and feels right). Does Greenlight sell used copies or any other retailers you'd like to recommend?
Michael Ewon
Michael Ewon@bonersniper · Accountnat
@leverus you gave us book recommendations, now what are your favorite video game recommendations?
Artur Kiulian
Artur Kiulian@arturkiulian · Partner at Colab
A weird question here, do you use shopping list apps? Why or why not? :)
fabio
fabio@fabiocastellino
@leverus Hi. I'd like to know if The Magician Trilogy Will entirely be translated in Italian. Thank You Very much.