Salvatore is the type of author who writes events as they occur in his mind, with very little pre-planning. "I don't know what's on the next page. I write books the way other people read books," he said. "I have a general outline next to me so I know where I think I'm going but I get surprised all the time. I just follow where the story takes me."
"If there's going to be a Drizzt series or a Drizzt movie, it's up to Hasbro to make that happen, not me."
That technique is what makes Salvatore's description of action and battle scenes so vivid. "I watch the fight," he said. "It's actually going on in my head as I'm writing it. I don't know that on page two of this battle scene Drizzt is going to do a back flip and run out the backside of the room. That happens or it doesn't happen, those kind of things just happen as I'm going."
He also uses his experience as an athlete to make the action grounded in real fighting techniques and tendencies. "I know about fighting, I was a boxer in high school. My friends and I had a little boxing club and we were all athletes, we watched all the sports all the time. I was a bouncer for many years paying my way through college and I played hockey for most of my life," he said. "So I understand balance and footwork and fighting, I understand the concept and when I'm writing a battle scene I watch it in my head. If I wasn't a writer, I would be a choreographer for movie fights. I appreciate great choreography in a battle scene."
Given the cinematic nature of Salvatore's books and the recent success of fantasy films and TV series like Lord of the Rings, Harry Potter and Game of Thrones, a Drizzt movie seems like a no-brainer. The idea is not new, but Salvatore told me what held back such a project was a trademark issue, not a creative one. "One of the things that's been holding us back on that is it's more complicated [than other situations] because I don't own Drizzt. Hasbro does and Hasbro is a merchandising company," he said. In a tangled web not unlike the shady dealing of the Underdark, Salvatore's intellectual property was commissioned by TSR in the 80s. Wizards of the Coast purchased the rights along with all of Dungeons & Dragons from TSR in 1996, and Wizards was in turn purchased by Hasbro in 1999. (The history of D&D is convoluted, but much of it is sorted out in "The State of D&D: Past".)
"If there's going to be a Drizzt series or a Drizzt movie, it's up to Hasbro to make that happen, not me. I'm on board if they want to do it, but it's their choice. It's more complicated because it's at the corporate level. It's not just an author selling his/her work to HBO," he said.
Of course, there has been discussion already from Hasbro, which has made a boatload of cash from the G.I. Joe and Transformers film adaptations. "They asked me 'Who do you know in Hollywood that loves the Drizzt books?' I sent them this long list of actors, directors, and producers I know who have come to me over the years wanting to do a Drizzt movie," Salvatore said. "Will it happen? I don't know. If it's going to happen and they're going to do it well, I'm all for it. If it's going to happen and it's not going to be done well, I'm glad they haven't done it yet," he laughed.