In Changes, book 12 of Jim Butcher’s best-selling supernatural adventure series The Dresden Files, private investigator and wizard Harry Dresden discovers that he has a daughter, who’s just been abducted. And that’s just in the very first line.
Changes marks a major turning point for Dresden, who finds himself paying a terrible price in order to save the daughter he never knew he had. It also ties up a number of major story threads that Butcher has been dangling for years. “This book is essentially the mid-point of the overall story that I’m telling,” he explains. “The events in it and the choices that people make in this book are going to shape the course of the rest of their lives, so a lot of this is setting up for the future, but some of it was closing up storylines that have been dominating the series, like the war between the White Council and the Red Court that had been going on and on.”
In order to prepare Harry for the future, Butcher has stripped away a number of elements that have been part of his support system since book one. “If you notice,” he points out, “the things he lost were mostly material goods, like his apartment, car and so on, but I really like it in a story when you force characters to face a real sea change in what their world is like.”
Changes also ends with what is arguably the biggest cliffhanger in the series to date, which Butcher will address in the next novel. “It’s called Ghost Story, where Dresden has to solve his own murder,” he elaborates, “and I think this is the first time I’ve told that to anybody. The brief description is that Dresden gets sent back to solve his own murder and he’s a ghost, so we’ll go on from there.”
But before that, Butcher will be releasing Side Jobs, a collection of his Dresden Files short stories, most of which have appeared in other anthologies as well as his own website. “There’s a original novella written from Murphy’s point of view, called Aftermath, which takes place about 45 minutes after the end of Changes. The rest represent everything from one of the very first short stories I ever wrote, to the most recent stuff I’ve done.
“The stories all come with introductions to tell you where they happen in the storyline so people will know, ‘Okay, this happens three months after this story and this happens a week before that story begins,’ so they can see how they all fit in.”
Also coming up is a post-apocalyptic fantasy series to be co-written with old friend Cam Banks, but for now, Butcher remains justifiably proud of the way that Changes turned out. “There were so many things in it that I had been waiting to write,” he notes, “and I finally got to write them. I felt like the guy who builds the Tokyo set for Godzilla, and after eight months of work, he gets to strap on the Godzilla suit and kick it down. That’s what it felt like and I had so much fun doing it.”
This article originally appeared in the print edition of SciFiNow, issue 43 by Joe Nazzaro. To buy a copy of the magazine or subscribe, go to www.imagineshop.com, or call our subscriptions hotline on +44 (0) 844 844 0245.