Origins of the Knights

Over on the forums at, new Eberron author Marcy Rockwell asked how I happened to get into writing young adult fantasy novels.

Hey, Matt, I was wondering—how did you get involved writing the Knights of the Silver Dragon books? Did you come up with the idea and pitch it to Wizards, or did they say “we’re looking for YA stuff, show me what you’ve got”? I’m curious, because it doesn’t seem like you’d really done YA stuff before this (not that I’ve memorized your bibliography), so it might have been a bit of a stretch for Wizards, especially starting off a brand new series…not all good fantasy writers turn out to be good YA writers, so Wizards certainly chose wisely with you!

I answered: Thanks! Secret of the Spiritkeeper, the first in that series, was my first mass-market novel, which makes it even more of a stretch. I’d signed on with Wizards to write one of the Iconic series, the thin tomes by house name T.H. Lain. When they cancelled the line, Steve Winter asked me to pitch them something for a YA series instead.

It took me two or three tries before I figured out how to structure the series, which was the real breakthrough. I came up with a set-up (medieval fantasy teenagers as young sleuths) and a cast of heroes and villiains, but the trick came when I realized what it meant that I wouldn’t be writing all the books. I had to treat it as episodic television.

I said, “Here’s the setting, the characters, and the basic hook. Riff on that all you like, but when you’re done playing with the toys, be sure to put them back where you found them, in roughly the same shape.” That worked.

Also, any idea why I can’t find these books in the bookstore? We’ve looked everywhere, and have had to resort to ordering off of Amazon. Getting books in the mail just isn’t as fun as buying them from a bookstore, where you get to manhandle them a bit first.

Hopefully it’s because the books are flying off the shelves. If you can’t find a book, and you have a bookstore you’d like to support, I suggest ordering the book through the store. This tells the store that there are people who want the book and that they need to keep it in stock.

I understand the lure of Amazon though. It’s so easy, and it’s as close as your web browser.