I first became aware of the name of Richard Dansky way back when I was playing Vampire: The Masquerade. His name was on a fair number of those supplement books that every gamer just has to have. Since those days, he’s moved on to other venues, but stayed primarily within the game industry. Writing for video games is generally more lucrative than writing for tabletop pen-and-paper games, just in case you potential writers out there didn’t know. However, I’m finding that there are a lot of writers out there who got their first paying gigs writing for roleplaying and/or video games. I may have some more to write on that subject in the future, but for now, let’s get into our talk with Richard Dansky.
TH: Can you tell me a little bit about your writing career? Credits, general work, accomplishments, etc.?
RD: I started out in tabletop RPGs as a writer and developer for White Wolf, working on (among others, Wraith and Vampire: The Dark Ages). In 1999, I moved into the video game industry as a game designer for Red Storm Entertainment, later part of Ubisoft, and I’ve been working there as a game writer and designer ever since. Some of the games I’ve written for or designed include Splinter Cell: Double Agent, the reboot of the Might & Magic universe, and the original Far Cry, as well as numerous titles in the Rainbow Six and Ghost Recon franchises. At the same time, I’ve been working on various fiction projects, including four novels for White Wolf. My first original novel, Firefly Rain, came out in January as the lead title on WotC’s new Discoveries imprint.
TH: What is The Story of Richard? Is it a novel? A short story? A poem? A limerick?
RD: The story of Richard is, I think, the lost collaboration between Neil Simon (or George S. Kaufman, if you’re feeling old-school) and H.P. Lovecraft. In three acts, of course, with music and book by the Gershwins.
TH: When did you know that you wanted to be a writer? How did you know?
RD: I figured it out for good when I was in graduate school in Boston. After a fairly disastrous run-in with Annie Dillard during my college writing career, I’d given up on writing until Jen Hartshorn asked me to do some work for Wraith. I remember scribbling away on that first assignment (Haunts, if you’re curious) while theoretically proctoring a practice SAT in the basement of a church in suburban Boston and thinking, “Yeah, this is it. This is what I should be doing.” Then again, that may have been delirium brought on by the fact that it was 96 degrees in there and I was working at a table designed for six year olds. Either way, it seems to have worked out so far.
TH: Do you have a stack of crap-writing stuck away somewhere? I’m talking about stuff that helped you learn and develop your craft, but will never see the light of day. Most established writers seem to have something like this, like the five novels he or she had to write before they could get to the good one. Describe yours.
RD: I don’t have a titanic pile of Things Which Must Not Be Read. Instead, I have a lengthy and disjointed cut file that I’ve carefully tended for the past fifteen years or so. Everything I chop out of a project goes in there, and it keep it, along with all of the stories that don’t sell, the novels that don’t quite jell, and the one-line story ideas. Then, when I get stuck, I can go rummaging in there and dust something off that I’ve hopefully got new perspective on. As for learning and developing my craft, working in tabletop RPGs was wonderful for that. The quantity of work that was demanded, not to mention the quality that the fans expected, made one hell of a pressure cooker. I consider myself lucky to have been able to hone my craft in that environment. It taught me a lot, and forced me to learn things that I probably never would have been willing to pick up on my own.
TH: Having done several hundred thousand words of roleplaying content myself, I can vouch for the fact that it really helps hone one’s craft as a writer. Meeting deadlines with the kind of quality that players demand can be tough, aside from the fact that it doesn’t pay all that much, but it is rewarding doing what you love. Do you ever see yourself transitioning away from the day job to focus on just your own projects?
RD: That would be hard to do as long as I keep on getting cool games to work on with the day job. Do I daydream about being able to do nothing but write my own stuff? Absolutely, but in the meantime I’m getting to work on other interesting things, and work takes me places and gives me experiences that ultimately fuel my writing.
TH: OK, confess. How many Lovecraftian short stories/pastiches/homages have you written? Any published?
RD: At the very first writing workshop I ever went to, George Scithers told me, and I quote, “Everyone has one good Lovecraft story in them.” Unspoken, I think, was the notion that many people write more than one. I confess I’ve done two, one of which appeared in the Astounding Hero Tales anthology that James Lowder edited. The other one, well, there are some stories Man Was Not Meant To Read…
TH: Of course, most writers want to have a bestseller or make some sort of artistic or literary impact, but do you have an immediate close-range goal? Is there some accomplishment that you’re striving for in the near future?
RD: Just to keep writing; everything else is details. Obviously, I’d love to keep selling novels, and I’d love for them to do well, but I’m in a great place where I get to work on all sorts of tremendously interesting projects. I enjoy writing games as well as writing fiction, so really I’ve got a lot of different things to look forward to working on. If you twisted my arm and demanded just one answer, I’d say probably wrapping up the revisions on my novel Vaporware, which is a video game ghost story, and getting that one published. I guess you could call that the intersection of all of my professional interests, the place where everything comes together.
TH: What are some of the things that most inspire you?
RD: In no particular order: Ray Bradbury, empty landscapes, good movie soundtracks, recorded sasquatch calls, good scotch, and late nights driving alone and picking up random pieces of baseball games on AM radio. Most of my writing actually comes out of single images â€“ a line of kudzu-covered trees leaning over a country road like they’re going to pounce, or the stark line of black and white at the edge of a moonlit field. Anywhere I can find those, I can find inspiration for a story.
TH: What are the most successful ways you have used to promote yourself and your work?
RD: I confess, I’m terrible at self-promotion. I was raised not to make a big deal out of myself, so jumping up and down and shouting “Look at my book! Look at my book!” is enough to make me turn several shades of green. I still do it, mind you â€“ it’s a professional necessity â€“ but there’s that myth of pure art that gets drummed into you in school that says that the quality of the writing alone is what people will look at. If that were the case, well, the bestseller lists might look very different, and I wouldn’t have to spend nearly as much time on my website (not that I spend nearly enough, mind you). I’ve been very lucky working with Wizards of the Coast. They’ve been very supportive of both Firefly Rain and the Discoveries line as a whole, and folks like Susan Morris and Phil Athans have been great to work with
TH: Do you have some promotional ideas or avenues in mind that you haven’t tried yet?
RD: One of these days I’ll work up the nerve to do podcasting, I suppose. I just have this morbid fear that halfway through the first broadcast I’ll crack and start doing the whole thing as a Kermit the Frog impersonation. The real wild and crazy idea that one of my coworkers in the Paris office keeps suggesting I try is adapting some of my stuff for the French graphic novel market, which is very different from comics over here. I haven’t seen a lot of Southern gothics in comic shops in Paris, so it might be worth a shot. It’s funny â€“ as a writer you get this fairly steady blizzard of junk mail from people promising to teach you how to get your book on Oprah or suchlike, and all of them have books I’ve never heard of.
TH: Some say that professional writers have to look at themselves as a business, a branded commodity. Have you reached that point? How do you handle the financial side of writing?
RD: I don’t look at myself as a branded commodity, though that may be a character flaw on my part. More seriously, right now I’m doing video games, book reviews, essays (at Storytellers Unplugged), fiction, and non-fiction work about game writing. If that’s a brand, someone needs to beat the marketing department with a stick. I do take my writing very seriously in terms of it being work, both through the day job and the work I do on my own. I’m lucky in that the video game work pays the bills, so I can work on personal projects and not rely on them to keep a roof over my head, but then again, I did plenty of that in the White Wolf days. What that leaves, I guess, is trying to be professional in everything I do, whether it’s game writing for Ubisoft or book reviews for Green Man Review, and making sure that anyone who reads my stuff feels like they got their money’s worth. Everything else, I think, can be built on top of that.
TH: One of the coolest things about being a professional writer is indeed that a variety of interesting projects can appear unexpectedly. What’s the most pleasant surprise you’ve had to date?
RD: The coolest surprise I ever got came in the form of a phone call I received while I was in Bucharest, working on the original Blazing Angels. That was when I learned that when I got back, I’d be going to Montreal to work on Splinter Cell: Double Agent. Splinter Cell was a game franchise that I’d always wanted to write for, so getting that call – particularly when I was halfway around the world, going pedal to the medal on another game and wondering which Eastern European country my luggage was currently located in, was pretty damn cool.
TH: What is the most memorable moment (good, bad, or other) you have had in your writing life?
RD: Opening the package that had the page proofs for Firefly Rain. That was the moment when it really hit home that this was really happening, and it also hammered home the notion that this wasn’t just me scribbling for my own amusement any more. I suppose the sheer weight of the manuscript helped with that, but still â€“ it meant that I’d written an honest-to-God book, in a way that was different from anything I’d ever written before.
TH: What can readers expect to see from you in the near future? What are you working on?
RD: Unfortunately, I’m at the point where I can’t talk about the game projects I’ve been working on, except to say that they’ve been numerous and most of them are unannounced. Beyond that, I do regular book reviews for Green Man Review and contribute one essay a month to Storytellers Unplugged, and I’ll have a chapter in the upcoming book Professional Techniques for Video Game Writing.
TH: What kind of things can you envision yourself writing in forty years?
RD: I’ve told my wife I actually want to go out in some sort of bizarre zeppelin accident at some point, so forty years may be a stretch. That being said, if I’m still around and scribbling, I’d hope I’m still writing ghost stories. There’s something absolutely timeless about them, I think, and even in forty years I suspect they’ll still be able to speak to people.
abilify side effects accutane online side effects of aciphex generic acomplia online actonel actos generic buy online aleve allegra 12 hour buy alli cheap walmart altace buy order antibiotics no prescription cheap aricept buy arimidex ashwagandha dosage buy online astelin order on line atacand atarax 30mg child augmentin discount avandia prescription purchase avapro avodart hair loss bactrim alternatives benadryl sleep generic benicar online biaxin buspar anxiety cardizem generic celebrex and dosage cephalexin dose cialis levitra cipro and alcohol cheap cla online clarinex side effects claritin eye allergy relief drops side effects of clomid order clonidine online pharmacies that ship to tennessee for colchicine buy coreg coumadin weight loss cozaar sex creatine effects lipitor vs crestor cymbalta and wellbutrin online depakote diclofenac sod acne medication differin diflucan canada buy diovan doxycycline side effects effexor price buy flagyl order flomax cheap glucophage cod vitamins for hair loss hangover pill buy hoodia lamictal weight gain buy lamisil in us lasix side effects levaquin cialis levitra online gain weight on lexapro Lipitor Adverse Reaction lisinopril hair loss melatonin Micardis HCT 80 MG mobic and blood donors motrin under 6 months order neurontin Nexium Rebate nizoral mexico Nolvadex For Cutting omnicef side effects buy cheap paxil online vesco penis extender traction generic phentermine Plan B Pill Symptoms plavix asa Bontril Pravachol Paxil Index php? Prednisone for Canine Lymphoma Premarin withdrawal Prevacid solutabs does prometrium prevent ovulation propecia study Conceiving after Depo Provera prozac drug interactions Reglan medication and side effects risperdal anesthesia Rogaine Itchy seroquel stomach acid singulair reacciones secundarias side effects of skelaxin hypnosis stop smoking Strattera + low cost funny stress relief synthroid and Liver Counts topamax trip toprol xl 100 sideaffects Toradol for ortho injuries Tramadol RX tricor and high ALT and AST Trileptal Bipolar drug potency ultracet valcyte valtrex CFS buy viagra voltaren product label vytorin and problems weight loss diet plan Suicide wellbutrin yohimbe effective Zantac Pregnancy Zetia flatulence online zithromax Prozac Zoloft Paxil Drug Zovirax zyban insomnia Drug Zyprexa The Drug Zyrtec zyvox prescription assistance