About the Author: Terry Brooks
Note: the below is actually an essay I wrote in, er, eighth grade. I haven't been able to bring myself to reread it again because it's embarrassing... so why do I keep this here? I dunno. If you want a better biography, you should read his memoir, haha.
The romantic Four Lands, the dark town of Hopewell, Illinois, the misty depths of Landover - all of these were created by Terry Brooks, one of the most acclaimed fantasy authors of all time. Ever since 1977 his books have been read worldwide, the majority of them bestsellers. He got people who said that they wouldn't ever read to read and redefined fantasy to make it his. He was the one who brought that genre to life again after Lord of the Rings.
Terrence Dean Brooks was born on January 8, 1944 in Sterling, Illinois to Dean Brooks and his wife. Dean Brooks was the owner of a printing company and an aspiring writer; his wife stayed at home. Sterling, Illinois was a small, peaceful town - the exact opposite of a big city. Sinnissippi Park, Rock River, and Riverside Cemetery were some of the landmarks there - it would later become the basis for Hopewell, Illinois in his Word and Void trilogy; after all, he lived there for 42 years.
It was the end of the Great Depression and the beginning of World War II, which meant that there weren't many things to do back when he was a child. So he and his friends believed in magic. They entertained themselves in the local park, pretending to see things that weren't really there. Unknowingly, this belief was what led him to his future.
He completed grade school and went off to Hamilton College in 1966 to earn an undergraduate degree in English literature, and from there earned a graduate degree in law at the School of Law at Washington and Lee University, which he stayed at for five years. Terry became a lawyer after that - lawyers were looked up to and respected.
Although he was well on his way to becoming a lawyer, he still loved to read and write: his influences were William Faulkner, Alexander Dumas, and J.R.R. Tolkien. Faulkner and Dumas were amazing authors in the action/adventure genre, and that was what he wanted to write. His love for writing had manifested itself in him early on - he had been writing stories ever since he learned how to convert the alphabet into words. But somehow the Western stories didn't work for him; Brooks just didn't feel right with the time period. So he "floundered about in fits and starts" and went off to college without getting anything major done.
In law school he got around to picking up Tolkien's Lord of the Rings. He was fascinated with the idea of people journeying in a timeless land filled with magic and mystery. The Sword of Shannara was thought up in 1967, and Brooks worked on it all through law school so as to not sink into "terminal boredom" - which was how he put it. It took seven years to write, although that was to be expected because he wasn't working on a schedule.
When it was finally finished, he did some research on publishing and decided to send it to DAW Books with the help of his brother-in-law Peter. Although it was rejected, the editor, Donald Wilheim, wrote back saying to try sending it to Ballantine. Terry hadn't sent the manuscript there in the first place because they had Lord of the Rings, but now that someone had suggested it he went for it. Lester Del Rey, the new fantasy editor, accepted it, and The Sword of Shannara was published in 1977. It was the first fiction book to hit the New York Times bestseller list and stayed there for over five months. It also was the first major fantasy book since the epic Lord of the Rings trilogy.
After the success of his first book, he decided to write a sequel focusing on the son of Menion Leah, one of the characters in The Sword of Shannara. He got three-fourths of the way done, but the ending wouldn't fall in place so he sent it off to Lester Del Rey for some help. Lester wrote back, telling him to scrap the whole thing - there were too many problems with plot, perspective, pacing, and the like. Two and a half years down the drain! But Terry listened to Lester and wrote another book instead, The Elfstones of Shannara, which was published in 1982. From there on he wrote twelve more Shannara books, the Magic Kingdom of Landover series (five books), the Word and Void trilogy, Hook, and Star Wars: The Phantom Menace. With his High Druid trilogy complete, he is now working on the second book of a six-book series concerning the fall of the Word during the Great Wars.
Of course, Terry Brooks wasn't acting as lawyer and author for all these years - imagine the stress! After he wrote The Wishsong of Shannara, his third book, he quit being a lawyer so that he could pursue a writing career. Yes, there were worries - what if he dried up? In the end, though, he came through.
So in the sixty-four years of life he's lived through, he's wrote numerous bestsellers, motivated people to write, and, in general, made people happy. And now we all eagerly await the arrival of The Elves of Cintra...