Jim Butcher got his start the same as most writers do: with lots and lots of rejection.
He was turned on to the realm of sci-fi & fantasy when his two older sisters bestowed upon him the great gifts of Frodo the Hobbit and Han Solo while he was sick with a case of strep throat. Butcher pursued traditional fantasy from that point on and wrote his first book when he was 19. “It was horrible,” he stated. But Butcher continued on and wrote several more novels. “All bad,” he admits. But writing bad novels leads writers to try new things when old thing aren’t working out, which ultimately leads to better writing.
During a writing course, Butcher was encouraged by his professor to actually organize his plot and characters and it changed his writing forever. His writing career didn’t balloon from there, however, as he was continuously rejected by agents and editors. What established his career was that Jim Butcher wouldn’t be deterred. He never quit promoting his work and make attempts to establish a publishing network. He went as far as sneaking himself into one meet-and-greet event he didn’t qualify for.
Jim Butcher, while very talented and admired, struggled with the same challenges every writer struggles with. But it’s a mark of his character that he persevered until the challenges moved aside for him – not the other way around.
At the writing course where Butcher found himself faced with worksheets and *gasp* outlines, he stepped away from traditional Fantasy and wound up writing Storm Front (what would eventually be book one of the Dresden Files series). Storm front was published in 2001 and even hit the number one spot on the New York Times bestseller list.
Storm Front’s main character, Harry Dresden, is a wizard for hire who’s contacted by the Chicago Police Department in regards to a murder that’d been committed with black magic. What follows is a fun romp mixing mystery, urban fantasy, and the paranormal. The Dresden Files series extends into 15 separate books, not including spin-offs, comics, and short story anthologies (there was even a TV show). The last of which, Skin Game, won a Hugo Award. In other words, Butcher won the writing game.
Thanks to the success with The Dresden Files, Jim Butcher felt free to move back into more traditional fantasy with his next series: Codex Alera. The Codex Alera books are loosely based on the Roman Empire; the series runs for six novels. The story is about a young man named Tavi in a world where people have control over elemental forces called “Furies.” Here’s an extremely in-depth Wikipedia page covering the story’s full range of characters and settings.
The Codex Alera series is allegedly the result of an online bet. A fellow writer in the Del Rey Online Writer’s Workshop bet Jim Butcher he couldn’t write a good book set on lame ideas. Butcher took the bet and even allowed the other writer to pick the “lame” ideas, which were “Lost Roman Legion” and “Pokemon.” The result: three of the six books in the series hit the New York Time’s Best Seller List. It was this series that allowed Butcher to make the official transition to full-time author.
Another game won, Mr. Butcher, another game won.
The Cinder Spires series is in Steampunk fashion with goggles, airships, and sentient cats. The “spires” are towers that poke above a land covered in mist and the narrative follows a war between two of these spires. But the story doesn’t stop there—the war between the two factions is just the beginning. There will, inevitably, bloom a deeper problem, one that puts humanity in the sights of an ancient predator.
Butcher does cool things
Through his multiple biographies and YouTube videos featuring Q&A sessions, Jim Butcher comes across as a pertinently friendly character with a lively sense of humor and a never-ending stash of interesting stories.
Butcher’s hobbies range widely but seem to all stem from his love of fantasy. A proud nerd, Butcher is also a capable martial artist, an archer, an avid costumer, a stunt horseback rider, an RPG player, a performer of music and drama, and, as he puts it, “was once cursed by an Amazon witch doctor in rural Brazil.” (An inspiring list of pursuits to be sure.)
Jim Butcher lives in Missouri with his wife (who is also an author, Shannon K. Butcher) and their son and their dog. See Jim Butcher’s website for the full range of his books and projects.
If you like Jim Butcher…
There’s plenty to read if you haven’t given Jim Butcher a try yet, but if you’re you’re already a rabid Jim Butcher fan, perhaps you need extra reading material ? Here are four similar authors to try out: