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Ask An Author 3.0 #38


astone2292

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I hope y'all had a wonderful break from me. Big shoutie-outie for @Valkyrie and all of those who participated in this year's Poetry Anthology! 

Onto our next edition of Ask An Author! Yes, yes, I'm sure everyone missed me and my fat fingers as I bring you wonderful interviews. Let's get right into it, shall we? We have an amazing author lined up, so grab your popcorn and a drink while we see what kind of questions we have.

    

lawfulneutralmage

2 Stories / 99,604 Words 

 

What prompted you to start writing, and what has kept you going?

I am a keen table-top role-playing gamer. My first RPG rule book, Shadowrun v2, contained a chapter explaining what role-playing means. The game designers asked the readers whether they had ever read a book and imagined they were the main character and in the described situation in the book, they would do something completely different. Role-playing would allow the reader to impersonate a character and act upon a described situation. Furthermore, the rule book stated that a character can be easily forgotten or, if well played, be someone a player would fondly remember. The difference, the rule book continued, was how much effort a player invested in a character.

I have always invested a lot in my characters. Descriptions of family members and family history (where applicable), appearance and demeanour, and, of course, personal histories explaining why a character was who he was and why he was doing what he was doing. Sometimes, that was a long text. I think the maximum was twenty-four A4 pages. I even had one or two Game Masters (GM) who read it. Later, I started writing for some characters and their pivotal experiences as stories.

In 2022, a new Game Master set a particular challenge. All characters had to be genuine criminals and on the run. That is not easy for me. My characters always have a detailed background with proper reasoning for what they are doing. I cannot justify proper criminal behavior, i.e. greed or hunger for power. I could write it, but I could not “feel” it. Therefore, I had to come up with something that was a justifiable and understandable crime. For me, it could only be some form of self-defense getting out of control. So, I wrote “Unchained” and shared it with the role-playing group who, all cis-hetero men, gave very positive feedback.

When browsing GA and reading about the Secret Author Contest 2023, I thought “Why not?” I started going through the writing resources on GA, did some editing (poorly I know now) and asked it to be included. For me, the feedback to “Unchained” was fantastic, especially as most people I asked responded to my requests for further info.

By that time, I had completed my run as Game Master with a TPK (total party kill – GM hint: never split the party!). However, the players wanted to know how the story ended. Therefore, I started writing it as a story with one of the non-player characters they had met as MC. It quickly got out of hand, i.e. took pages and pages and just did not want to come to an end. The positive experience from “Unchained” gave me the energy to continue that story. I intend to publish it on GA once it is done.

To conclude my elaborate answer, I write and I continue doing so because I love stories. I keep posting on GA because it is an encouraging community.

 

What genres do you enjoy writing, and what genre have you always wanted to explore?

I love fantasy stuff, magic if it is at least somehow logically explained, and science-fiction under the same condition. In these areas I “know” stuff. I could not write about a genre I really know nothing about e.g. Westerns.

  

What inspired you to write a police procedural that morphed into a supernatural thriller?

In Great Britain, I was a volunteer police officer for ten years, a Special Constable. They have the same police powers as regular officers and the same uniform, apart from a crown on the epaulets. I was lucky enough to be based in a small but very busy station. I was able to experience a lot, either crewed with a regular officer or later with a fellow Special. I miss policing dearly. Sometimes, I am asked to tell some stories, and I realized people were actually quite interested. With that in mind, I planned to record some of my experiences.

In 2021, my role-playing group started a Savage Worlds “Super Heroes” campaign where the Game Master had us make normal characters who would discover their super powers gradually. My character was Jamie, a young but experienced, gay police officer. A friend’s character was someone like Rupert Morris-Walker, an upcoming conservative politician from the ubiquitous upper crust. The group had a run-in with a supernatural creature that was after the politician, and that encounter activated parts of Jamie’s powers and got him suspended. Unfortunately, we have never continued that storyline and never will, because that GM retired from mastering. I was annoyed, because I loved Jamie and the story.

When I just could not stand my 84 pages fantasy story anymore (see question 1), I needed to let it rest and concentrate on something else. At the same time, there was a discussion an GA about writing first-person-point-of-view i.e. the main character’s viewpoint and how difficult that was and how annoying it could be. Again, I thought “Why not?”

I had a character I loved in Jamie whose world changes completely. I could explore what he felt by trying the first-person PoV which made me fall in love with him even more, and I had a topic I loved to talk to about in policing. So, the idea for “Special Circumstances” was born.

Due to that PoV discussion on GA, I contacted Mikiesboy whether he would be willing to have a look at what I had written. He did … and tore it apart (nicely). He made me read Stephen King’s “On Writing” (most strongly recommended!!!). Mikiesboy was able to make me see “it”: let the characters tell, don’t describe too much, readers will imagine etc. He showed me how to write a story, not a description or a technical manual.

CassieQ came back to me a bit later and was willing to have a look, too. She “hit me with the feelings stick”, making me rewrite stuff I thought was clear and asked questions I had hoped nobody would ask or I had thought had obvious answers.

To give an idea of the transformation, my first chapter of about 7,800 words turned into four chapters of about about 20,000 words after they had put their hands on it. It was fun! Dear experienced writers, please help newbies by editing!

 

What is one story/book you could read until the end of time and why?

What a limitation! There is so much good stuff out there! My favorite commercial authors are Timothy Zahn and Raymond E. Feist. I have all their books and have read them several times.

My favorite Zahn story is the Conquerors Trilogy (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Conquerors%27) in which the first book is written from the Human perspective, the second from Alien perspective, and the third mixing them. What a world building!

My favorite fantasy story is the Raymond E. Feist / Jenny Wurtz’es Empire Trilogy (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Empire_Trilogy) featuring the political machinations in a Human society resembling a mix of East Asia, Zulu, and Aztec cultures. The world they are painting is so alive.

However, the book I have read most often and since moving to Norway, yearly, is Melissa Scott’s science-fiction book “The Kindly Ones” (https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/1268281.The_Kindly_Ones). It first mentioned gay characters in any book I could access. Also, the MC’s gender is never revealed. So, this book was my first exposure to LGBT characters and dark, cold places.

 

If you could chat/gush about one story you've written, which one?

Well, I like both of them, but Jamie and policing are closer to my heart, so “Special Circumstances” it is. That story will always have a special place in my heart.

    

Thanks for the interview, lawfulneutralmage! It was fun to read your responses. 

As for the rest of y'all, make sure to send me some questions for future Ask An Author articles via PM. If you can't come up with questions, you can list an author for me to send some of my own! 

Until next month! 

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Well, I have been told my answers were long-winded... in general, not only here :)

Edited by lawfulneutralmage
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