Bard's Rumours

Response from Mark Anthony, re: the Shores of Dusk novel

This email was sent to a member of the REALMS-L mailing list in response to questions raised regarding the discontinuation of the release of the Drizzt Do'Urden novel: The Shores of Dusk, due for release by TSR in 1997. The following text is unedited.

Dear Brian,

I'm constantly surprised how many emails I still receive regarding SHORES OF DUSK. It seems a number of people remain curious about what happened to the book. So, yes, feel free to post this reply to your mailing list, if you think others will be interested.

The story behind SHORES OF DUSK and its eventual cancellation is really pretty simple, at least from my end of things. A few years ago, after he began writing for Del Rey, R. A. Salvatore was unable to come to an agreement with TSR to keep writing the Drizzt series. I'm not aware of the exact reasons for this--you'd have to ask Bob about that. One factor might have been a "no-compete" clause in his contract with Del Rey. (This is quite common--publishers usually want their authors to write only for them.) There may have been other factors, such as compensation. (At the time, TSR was in pretty dire financial straits.)

Regardless, Brian Thomsen, then Executive Editor at TSR, approached me to write a new novel starring Drizzt. Brian was of course familiar with my writing, as I had done several novels for TSR, and I he had previously assigned me to write a novella set in the Drizzt milieu as a sort of test, which I apparently passed ("The Fires of Narbondel" in REALMS OF THE UNDERDARK). I'll be honest--writing about Drizzt was not my idea, and it was not something I would have sought out myself, but Brian asked me, and so I accepted.

I wrote what I thought was a fun and interesting novel, trying to be as sensitive to the characters and worlds Bob Salvatore had created as I possibly could. It was without doubt the most difficult book I had ever written for TSR, as I worked hard to stay true to Bob's earlier novels. It was also made difficult by the fact that Bob was clearly unhappy that someone else was writing a novel about Drizzt. Not that I could really blame him--but therein lies the danger of writing in a licensed world like the Forgotten Realms.

Anyway, as things turned out, just months before SHORES OF DUSK was to be published, TSR was bought (and saved from bankruptcy) by Wizards of the Cost. Brian Thomsen was replaced as editor by Mary Kirchoff (who had headed up the book department before him). She managed to work out a deal with Del Rey that allowed Bob Salvatore to write for both publishers, and Bob was still interested in writing Drizzt novels. With Bob back, there was no need for my novel, and so the project was canceled. I did get paid for it, but obviously only a fraction of what I would have gotten had it seen publication.

It was disconcerting, of course, to have the book canceled so close to publication. Ads for it had already appeared in Dragon Magazine! But I can't blame Mary for her decision. The Drizzt novels were TSR's biggest asset, and a Drizzt novel by Bob Salvatore is certainly worth more than one by anyone else, no matter how well written or researched it might be. So I certainly bear TSR/WotC no hard feelings in the matter.

In fact, later on, Mary Kirchoff offered me a Forgotten Realms trilogy, which was very kind of her. However, I had to turn the project down. By that time, I had sold my own fantasy series to Bantam Spectra, and I had neither the time to write a trilogy for TSR, nor could I legally do so, given the no-compete clause in my own contract with Bantam. And the fact is, I'd much rather write novels set in my own worlds starring my own characters.

So everything turned out well in the end. Bob Salvatore got to keep writing Drizzt, which I'm sure his fans appreciate. And I got to write my own fantasy series. It's doing well by the way. The third of six books, THE DARK REMAINS, is due out February 27th. I'm glad to hear people enjoyed the books I wrote for TSR, and I believe my current books are a big leap above those in quality, so I hope you'll check them out. You can learn more at my web site:

Well, I hope that answers your questions. Feel free to pass the word along to others. And if you have any further questions about SHORES OF DUSK, please direct them to Mary Kirchoff at TSR/WotC.

All the Best,

Mark Anthony


Response added by James Lowder

"Mark is incorrect in both his "guesses" here--that the reason Salvatore and TSR had parted ways for a time was either because of a non-compete clause or because of financial demands on anyone's part. The non-RAS Drizzt book assignment was offered to writers as a way for TSR punish Salvatore over a non-financial business disagreement. "

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