Posts tagged: Author Talk

Once Upon A Time

By , February 21, 2013

When I was a kid, I didn’t have many good friends who weren’t imaginary. Sure, there were schoolmates, and fellow members of a Cub Scout troop, but I’m not talking about percentages here, but quality representation. And far and away, my finest and most loyal daily companions were fictional.

Bilbo Baggins and I battled together against the chicken pox. Aquaman, Green Lantern and the Phantom helped me recover from an accident which came close to killing me. I traveled through the wardrobe with the Pevensie children, went down the rabbit hole with Alice and over the rainbow with Dorothy Gale.

But my most boon companion of all was a gentleman captain from Virginia, who through no fault of his own found himself millions of miles from home fighting against injustice and for the love of an incomparable Martian princess.

With these men and women of “character” at my side, from the time I realized where books came from my course in life was set. I was a Writer, and one day I’d work alongside other writers to chronicle the universe.

Fast forward a few years. I’m working as a warehouse manager, making good money and responsible to no-one but myself. I’ve written some very bad books, a selection of decent (and humble) poetry, and a few short stories that workshopped well but never really went anywhere. I’ve learned how to fight both in and out of armor, and am ready to ride whenever adventure may call.

When a friend offered me the chance to come work in the publishing industry, I gladly said goodbye to a quarter of my income, packed my life into my car and drove on towards destiny.

One of the first things I did was fulfill my childhood promise, and began working on licensed game products in the Marvel Comics, DC Comics, Star Trek and Dune universes. I came into the office every day and rubbed shoulders with writers and editors, and when we left for the night we lifted glasses and talked about our childhood friends.

Wouldn’t you know it; I’d had company on those journeys into imagination. Especially when the Warlord and I saved the atmosphere factory, and the girl.

Since then, I’ve worked on dozens of products in about as many universes, eventually making the leap into the world of massively multiplayer online games. I went back to the creative well early and often, drinking deep from the fountain and bringing my friends back to life as best I could in new places and times.

Sometimes in life, we lose track of those who’ve shaped and guided us. While I’m not the best of correspondents, I’m happy to say that hasn’t happened to me. Looking up from my desk at a room full of books, my friends are there looking back, waiting to ride again into the unknown.

Won’t you come along with us, and save the world?

The Unintended Authors

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By , February 12, 2013

How I got involved in Foreworld. I suppose that I should start by saying that didn’t intend to become an author…

I’ve been a sword-maker for many years now, specializing in medieval european and viking-era swords. Having been raised by an engineer I was always interested not merely in how these swords were made, but why they were made that way and how their intended function affected their design. How they were meant to be used is an essential element of their design, so when and as I could I studied that as well. In the late nineties I got involved with the online sword community and spent a lot of time writing posts, essays and articles about the functional aspects of swords.

After a while people started bugging me to write a book about swords. A couple of publishers hinted that they would be interested in such a book and I vaguely intended to write one some day. Fate intervened when I screwed my back up one spring. I was going to be out of work for at least a week or two, and the only comfortable place for me to spend time was my office chair. I got an icepack, took some ibuprofen and wrote ‘The Medieval Sword in the Modern World and self-published it, first as an ebook and then as a print-on-demand book. It sold quite well for a niche book and continues to do so. It is now in its second edition.

Then I met Neal Stephenson and I was introduced to his intrepid band of sword-play enthusiasts. I was teaching a class on the combative techniques found in Fior dei Battaglia at the time, and when we lost our training space it was only natural that I fell in with Neal’s merry band. When they became interested in a variety of media projects centered around Historic European Martial Arts it was only natural that they would consult me (among many others.)

So I consulted and wound up helping with videos, fight choreography etc. Occasionally I would sit in on brainstorming sessions during the writing of ‘The Mongoliad’ and I generally tried to be helpful. But while I had written a non-fiction book and had sold a short-story or two I was not a ‘real writer’ and was content to leave that to others. Then the call went out for the Foreworld Side-Quests, a series of novellas set in the Foreworld. One of the story ideas intrigued my wife and I and the Foreworld team graciously let us take a crack at it.

So we wrote The Shield Maiden. Over the course of that experience Linda and I learned how to write together without killing each other, and found that we actually enjoyed it. Linda does the research. We brainstorm the story and I do the grunt-work of writing. Then Linda steps in; she is the ‘Amnesty International’ of our efforts, rescuing my tortured sentences and rehabilitating them into something that some one might actually want to read.  With ample assistance from Mark Teppo and our editor it came out in November and has been quite well-received.

We liked writing together so much that we kept at it and have just now finished our first novel, a heroic fantasy called Diaries of a Dwarven Rifleman. God-willing-and-the-creek-don’t-rise we’ll be publishing that in late February.




On the awkwardness of self-introductions

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By , February 8, 2013

In my limited experience, people who come to the craft of writing do so via a myriad of strange ways. Moreover, very few people get there the same way. For me, it was a matter of stumbling clumsily into it because I had stories I wanted to tell and words come easily to me, except, of course, when I want to talk about myself.

But here we go. A little about me:

My name is Joseph Brassey, I go by Joe, and I’m one of the seven authors who co-wrote The Mongoliad. I’ve been telling stories since I was two years old, and writing them down since I was fourteen. When I’m not writing, I’m the domestic half of a happily married couple, keeping the house clean, the cats fed, the yard mowed and the food made. In addition to this, I’m an assistant instructor for a local Historical European Martial Arts group on the local military base.

Prior to this I’ve been a newspaper bundle carrier, worked in a plant pulling freshly painted house siding off a giant roaring machine, and stacked PVC piping in the parking lot of a massive factory who wouldn’t let me come inside to eat my lunch. I’ve worked at Subway, and served food and washed dishes in the kitchens of two hospitals. I also spent a summer working for cash-under-the-table at a gas station on the other side of the country. I grew up in suburban Massachusetts, then spent my teenage years learning to be a farm-boy in rural Washington.

All this has given me an interesting perspective on people, and one of the things it’s taught me is that intelligence is not itself a guarantee of intelligent action, and that there’s an appreciable distance between understanding the academic concept of a thing, and really grasping how its reality functions. This is true in Martial Arts, in fiction, and in history – which is is why that last one is full of wonderful examples of very smart people doing very foolish things with all the competence that might otherwise be expected of them. These two anecdotes tend to inform my work perhaps more than anything else, except perhaps my love of personal struggle and the wonderful and horrible things that happen when unfettered passion runs amok.

You’ll be seeing more of that from me in the coming year, along with more of my voice in this blog. That’s the thing about writers: They usually have something to say, and if given a place to make their voices heard, will gladly give you quite the ear-full of opinions unsolicited and otherwise.

Unless, of course, if you want them to talk about themselves.

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