"I like working closely with artists. I think that's very important in fantasy and science fiction - the visual aspect of the worlds and the characters." -- Margaret Weis
Margaret Edith Weis (born March 16, 1948 in Independence, Missouri, United States) is a fantasy novelist who, along with Tracy Hickman, is one of the original creators of the Dragonlance game world and has written numerous novels and short stories set in fantastic worlds.
"All the characters and plots were predetermined. Games make bad plots.""Hope is the denial of reality.""In Endless Quest books, you start the plot, and the character has to make choices. Then you have to write one choice over here, one choice over there. The author might get one or two choices out."
Margaret Weis was born in 1948 in Independence, Missouri, and later attended the University of Missouri. She discovered heroic fantasy fiction while in college, “I read Tolkien when it made its first big sweep in the colleges back in 1966. A girlfriend of mine gave me copy of the books while I was in summer school at MU. I literally couldn’t put them down! I never found any other fantasy I liked, and just never read any fantasy after Tolkien.” She graduated with a bachelor's degree of Arts, and went to work for a small publishing company in Independence and became an editor there. In the late 1970s and early 1980s, Weis wrote children's books, including a biography of notorious frontier bandits Jesse and Frank James. Weis wrote about subjects such as computer graphics, robots, the history of Thanksgiving, and an adventure book written at a 2nd-grade reading level (intended for prisoners), but eventually decided she needed a change.
Soon she discovered what would become her real career: “I did see the beginnings of the D&D game ... all of the little books ... but was pretty much occupied by marriage, kids, and a career, and just didn’t pursue it.” Eventually, she saw an advertisement for an editorial position at TSR in Publishers Weekly and sent in her resume.
TSR turned Weis down for the position of games editor, but they hired her as a book editor. In 1983, Weis took a staff job in TSR's book department. One of her first assignments was to help coordinate the new Dragonlance project. Weis was assigned to edit "Project Overlord," as it was initially called, a novel intended to be coordinated with a trilogy of AD&D modules. Weis and her new partner, Tracy Hickman, worked to plot the novel; they had hired an author, who didn't work out, but by that time, Weis and Hickman were so into the project that they felt they had to write it. “We can write this book,” Margaret told Hickman in January 1983. “It’s our story. Nobody knows it the way we do. Nobody else can tell it right.” "Project Overlord" grew into a trilogy of novels (Dragons of Autumn Twilight, Dragons of Winter Night, and Dragons of Spring Dawning, from 1984-85) and 15 linked modules, and it got a new name: Dragonlance. Weis recalled having a wonderful time working on Dragonlance: "To my mind, what made the project so successful was that everyone was involved in it, excited about it, and believed in it." Hickman and Weis as a writing team produced several projects based on the popular Dragonlance saga, which included novels, short stories, art books, calendars in the product line.
Weis and Hickman later left TSR, and wrote the Darksword trilogy (1986-87) and the seven-book Deathgate Cycle (1988-94) for Bantam Books. Weis also wrote the space opera Star of the Guardians novels, which she calls her favorite of her series. Weis was diagnosed with breast cancer, and recovered in 1993. She published a game based on Mag Force 7 from 1994-96, and married writer/game designer Don Perrin in 1996. Weis returned to Dragonlance in 1995 with Dragons of Summer Flame, written with Hickman, and her next project was a solo novel called The Soulforge, based on her favorite character from the trilogy, the dark wizard Raistlin. In 1998, she began working with Hickman on Sovereign Stone, a fantasy trilogy in a setting created by artist Larry Elmore, and published by Del Rey.
Most recently, she has completed the third novel in the Dragonvarld trilogy for Tor, Master of Dragons. Her third novel in the Dark Disciple series, Amber and Blood, was released to stores on May 6, 2008. She has finished work on the first novel in the Lost Chronicles series with co-author Hickman, entitled Dragons of the Dwarven Depths, which was released in July 2006.
In 1999 Pyramid magazine named Margaret Weis as one of The Millennium's Most Influential Persons "at least in the realm of adventure gaming." The magazine stated that Tracy Hickman and Margaret Weis are "basically responsible for the entire gaming fiction genre." Weis was inducted into the Origins Hall of Fame in 2002, recognized in part for "one game line turned literary sensation: Dragonlance."
In addition to her writing career, Margaret serves as the owner and chief officer of two publishing companies, including Sovereign Press, Inc., a game publisher based in Lake Geneva, Wisconsin. The company used to own the license to Larry Elmore's Sovereign Stone RPG world, hence the name of the company. It now produces the Dragonlance line of game products, licensed from Wizards of the Coast. Her newest company, Margaret Weis Productions, Ltd, publishes RPG line based on several licenses including Serenity and Battlestar Galactica as well as Ed Greenwood's new solo venture into roleplaying, Castlemourn.
Despite her fame as a fantasy author, she claims not to read fantasy books.
On a personal level, Weis is a mother of two (David (deceased) and Elizabeth (Lizz) Baldwin) from her first marriage. She has also divorced her second husband, Canadian-born author Don Perrin.
Weis is a breast cancer survivor. She was diagnosed in 1993 and underwent successful chemotherapy. She kept herself busy writing The Seventh Gate during her treatment. Weis now lives in southern Wisconsin in a converted barn.
In the Dragons of Autumn Twilight (1984), Margaret includes allusions to A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens, one of her favorite stories. References include But there was something disquieting about him—secret, silent, self-contained, and solitary as an oyster and The fate of mankind is my business, turning the quote from meaning good to meaning harm.
To describe a scene in Dragons of Winter Night (1985) where dragons attacked the city of Tarsis, Margaret Weis studied World War II films of the bombing of London.
When Jeff Grubb first met her, she had an autographed picture of Darth Vader on her desk.
In Dragons of Winter Night (1985), Margaret references Othello by William Shakespeare, with the phrase "No, you're wrong, Tanis. I sent him away."
Weis promised her agent, Ray Puecher, who died of cancer in 1986, that she would help other young writers as he helped her, and thus Weis gladly offers experienced advice to anyone interested in writing.
While they were married, Weis and Perrin supported the gaming community in their home town of Lake Geneva, Wisconsin, through their Game Guild gaming center and through Sunday potluck dinners.