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Interview with Shane Hensley

Posted on July 20, 2004 by Flames

How did you get into gaming?

The Dungeons and Dragons Marvel Comics ads are what hooked me. I was intrigued, and ordered my first D&D books through the Sears catalog (this is about 1983 or so). I grew up in a small coal-mining town, so game stores weren’t something that existed (in fact, the nearest book store was 3 hours away).

What do you feel is the biggest issue facing the gaming community today?

The glut of product. The pond is so small, and now we have more fishermen than fish.

What advice do you have for hopeful authors trying to get into the RPG industry?

Don’t quit your day job. The industry is appallingly unhealthy. Even the WOTC folks don’t make that much (though it’s certainly comfortable). The owners of the top 5 or so companies do fairly well, as do those who have found a niche (like me), but it’s notoriously difficult to make any real money otherwise.

That said, if your mind’s made up, start by doing small projects for your favorite game, get noticed, then move on to larger products as your skills improve.

Having done both, how would you explain the difference between editing for a game and writing for a game. What do you look for as an editor vs what you expect to get back from an editor?

Writing is, of course, creating everything from scratch. Editing is much more difficult to explain. It’s far more than just checking grammar. New authors often make many mistakes, including non-sensical paragraphs, bad lead-ins, and formatting mistakes. And that’s just on the technical side. Even more problematic is when the content is off. The organization of material must be good, the plot has to be solid and walk a fine line between “getting to the conclusion” and “forcing you to the conclusion”, and the rules have to be clear and useful. Editing someone else’s work—particularly when it has problems in all those categories—is often more difficult than writing it from scratch. You’d be surprised how many books “written” by someone you’ve heard of were almost totally rewritten in-house.

How did Deadlands evolve? Where is it headed?

It all started from Zombie Cowboys and that Brom cover I’ve mentioned many times. Then folks like Greg Gorden and Matt Forbeck and my own circle of friends started adding ideas until the basics were set. As time went on, all the various PEG staff, freelancers, and fans have added dozens of incredible new facets to my humble little seed.

What can you tell us about your work on the Army of Darkness RPG?

It covers the movie and several other eras, and I think will be tons of fun! If Eden ever gets it out there! 😉

What makes for a good night of horror gaming?

Ah! Dim lights, creepy music, and females. Gotta have women in the game for horror. I look for “fun horror.” The kind of thing where a person says “Man! That’s creepy!” I’m not really looking to induce nightmares or gross anyone out. 😉

What’s next for you?

Finishing up Necessary Evil, our awesome new “supervillains save the world” book, then on to editing about a dozen products on the way in, including the new Deadlands trilogy. My next personal project hasn’t been decided yet, other than what secret one I’m working on in my copious spare time.

For more information on Shane Hensley, visit Pinnacle Entertainment.

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