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Trivia / The Dresden Files

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The books:

  • Blooper: In the audio book version of Summer Knight, Harry Dresden is being held up by his neck. Narrator James Marsters proceeds to read Harry's spoken line with a gruff, choked voice, as if he was having trouble breathing.
    Marsters: "Wait a minute," I managed to say. "Okay, he's off. Put me down." The grip on the back of my neck relaxed... Oh. Oh, it's at the back of his neck. Fuck. [goes back to the beginning of the line and proceeds to read it in a normal voice]
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  • Executive Meddling: invoked A positive example; Dead Beat's necromancers were originally scheduled to turn up in the eighth book, with Proven Guilty as the seventh entry in the series. Butcher swapped them around when his publishers insisted that the seventh Dresden tale, being the first hardbound release, really ought to feature something "truly spectacular". Cue the zombie dinosaur.
  • Lying Creator: Jim Butcher explains the reasons behind it here.
    Guys, I am a storyteller, first and foremost. I professionally take wild liberties with the truth when its in the service of telling a good story. So, while you could be certain that if I saw you drop your wallet, I'd give it back to you with nothing missing, and while you could be sure that if I told you I'd be there to help you hide the body, there I would be—when it comes to telling a good story, I make Nicodemus look like a choirboy. :)
    What's even worse is that I'm still learning more and more about the craft, which means that what I thought would be the direction of a story ten years ago often gets revised as I learn more about telling effective stories. So even if the answer /was/ honest a few years ago, maybe I learned something about storytelling that changes my original plan to something that'll be more fun for me to write and more fun for you guys to read.
    In short—when it comes to my writing I am not to be trusted. :) However, like any halfway decent liar, about 95 percent of what I say is the absolute truth. That makes the other five percent work LOTS better. :)
  • The Other Darrin: In the audiobooks. Books 1-12 are narrated by James Marsters. Unfortunately, Marsters was unavailable for Ghost Story, which was narrated by John Glover. Fan reaction to the change has, thus far, been... mixed.
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    • Alternatively, the switch could be justified in a meta sense: Given that for almost all of Ghost Story, Harry was dead, and therefore in a markedly different state and there are even suggestions that he wasn't even Harry proper, just a shade (though that was wrong), having a new voice for that book adds to the ambiance of 'somethings wrong'. Narration returns to James Marsters when Harry comes back to life.
    • Marsters returns for Cold Days, possibly due to fan backlash. Furthermore, a rerelease of the Ghost Story audiobook, with Marsters narrating it, was released on April 21, 2015.
  • Throw It In: A variant; Jim Butcher apparently created the general plans for the entirety of The Dresden Files while he was still in college, and has slowly been working through his Long Game for the series since then in the books proper. However, several elements in the later books have either been inspired by certain fan theories that he himself loved or events in his own life that he felt worked for the series proper and so were integrated in. Most notably, Butcher has claimed that Mouse's implementation into the books was almost entirely based on how Butcher's family had moved around the time of Blood Rites, and Butcher & his first wife had bought a dog to make their son feel better. Another example is the short story "The Warrior," which was based on a moment of introspection Butcher had after having moved to a new town for about a year and was reflecting on what changes he had brought to the lives of his neighbors since then.
  • Trolling Creator:
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    • Jim Butcher is very upfront about it:
      Nordling: It reminds me, do you like torturing your characters? Is it more fun to torture them a bit?
      Jim Butcher: I don't like torturing my characters, I like torturing my readers. It happens to be that torturing the characters is the best way to do that.
      Abstruse: You and Joss Whedon are going to put me in my grave.
      Jim Butcher: That's the idea. I want you to lose sleep and miss work and all kinds of thing.
    • His April Fools' Day's prank in 2015:
      Due to readers' frustration with the wait between books, Jim Butcher and his editor at Penguin Random House are taking inspiration from one of their favorite film trilogies and declaring a temporary hiatus on publication of the Dresden Files novels.
      "I think Peter Jackson had the right idea with the Lord of the Rings movies," Butcher explained. "The trilogy took eight years to make. You can't expect an audience to wait that long between installments. It made more sense to film all three movies simultaneously, then release them back to back. That's what I'd like to do."
      [...]
      Jim will be writing case books 16 through 20ish all at once, then releasing them six months apart. Then, taking inspiration from Jackson's treatment of The Hobbit, Butcher will split the final Apocalyptic Trilogy into fifteen books, also written simultaneously and released on the same schedule.
      Look for "Peace Talks" on April 1st, 2027.
    • This Twitter reply in July 15th, 2015:
      BigBentley15 [Ryan Bentley]: @longshotauthor what part of peace talks are you writing RIGHT NOW!
      longshotauthor [Jim Butcher]: @BigBentley15 Murphy's funeral.
      <.<
      >.>
      -.-
      Fans: O_O
      • The best(?) part is that by then most the fans know better than just overreacting to anything Butcher says and suspect that some form of Exact Words was at play. Although, trying to figure out that one out is bound to delve into Epileptic Trees territory, meaning that the author gets his trolling done in any case. Well played, Trolling Creator. Well played. Turns out she really does die in Battle Ground (which was originally supposed to be a part of Peace Talks before it got too big) after all so he was telling the truth.
  • Troubled Production: The fandom encountered this for the first time with the planned 16th book, Peace Talks. Jim Butcher had previously churned out Dresden books a year and a half apart at most, but after the previous book's release nearly five years went by without a firm release date. In response to fan complaints, Jim eventually put up a "release date" countdown website just said "X days until Peace Talks comes out", with X being the number of visitors to the site. Eventually an announcement was put up on his official website explaining that in the interim Jim had gotten divorced, his dog had died, he'd remarried and moved to another state but then got stuck living in a horrible apartment with no writing space for years while an awful contractor completely failed to build him a house. As of January 2019 the book was reportedly back on track, and as of July 22, 2019, it was complete except for a last editing pass. (Whether this was before or after he ended up having to split it into two books, which were ultimately released in July and September 2020, was not said.)
  • Old Shame: The introduction to "A Restoration of Faith" (the first story Jim Butcher ever wrote to be set in The 'Verse of The Dresden Files) is very much full of Self-Deprecation and Butcher mocking how sophomoric the story is and reflective of him having been writing it when he was a first-time college student. Additionally, Butcher has been very dismissive towards the first few novels in the series (Storm Front and Fool Moon in particular), and he has openly advised new fans to start with Dead Beat since he feels that it's the best entry point for new people into the books.
  • What Could Have Been:
    • Originally, the title of Death Masks was to be Holy Sheet, but that just couldn't fly. Similarly, Ghost Story was originally supposed to be titled Dead to reflect how both it and Changes weren't following the series' Idiosyncratic Episode Naming, but his publishers and editors refused.
    • Dead Beat originally was meant to come after Proven Guilty, but when his agent told Jim that the seventh book was to be his first hardcover book, he was asked if Proven Guilty would have an exciting climax. Comparing a valiant legal fight to save a young girl's life to Harry riding into battle on a zombie T. rex, Butcher switched the stories with the needed edits. This led to Butters' character being partly re-written to serve as The Watson for Harry in Dead Beat, a role that originally was supposed to go to Molly, the rookie apprentice.
    • In Cold Days, instead of her becoming the Winter Lady, Jim considered killing Molly off.
    • Butcher has stated that, when writing Changes, he considered having Harry become the Winter Knight, use the Darkhallow, or take up Lasciel's coin. In fact, he metaphorically threw darts at a wall to decide which option he would stick with.
    • Most notably, Peace Talks and Battle Ground were originally going to be one huge Doorstopper, but his editors informed him that the novel was way too long and so he had to split it roughly in half into two separate books.
      • Relatedly, Changes was intended to be the tenth book in the series, but Butcher supposedly got "off track" from his original plans and so it had to be shifted to being the twelfth instead.
  • Word of God: Jim Butcher is quite often going to conventions or signings or readings, and occasionally pops into threads on his own forums, and willing to answer questions. Most of the time he gives a straight answer, it's because it's information that will not make it into the series. His forums have special sections cataloging various "Word of Jim" posts, speaking on everything from how different wizards may perceive things in the Sight (Ancient Mai might perceive a warlock as a dried out, bleached white tree, while Listens-to-Wind may perceive the same warlock as smelling foul), to characters' pasts (Ebenezer McCoy and the Merlin fought on opposite sides of the French-Indian War), to background information that would explode if Harry knew about it (Ivy's true purpose in the Oblivion War).

The series:

  • California Doubling: Mostly some mild Vancouver Doubling, but most egregiously when Harry goes to "West Lafayette"—the mostly rural college town is so violently unlike the urban setting depicted that your jaw will drop.
  • Executive Meddling: The series was going to be a more faithful adaptation of some of the first books, but two weeks before starting they got a new producer. Jim describes it better, mentioning that he has seen only part of the series once.
  • Fake American: Paul Blackthorne as Harry Dresden.
  • Fake Brit: Terrence Mann as Bob. In the DVD commentary for the series, the creators jokes that he and Blackthorne swapped accents as soon as the cameras started running.
  • Word of God: Butcher said Bob was originally killed by an axe to the head and mentions the skull prop has a hole in the back for that reason. You can see the hole in one shot during the series.

General trivia:


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