Posted on April 3, 2012 by Billzilla
Get this book at Kickstarter.com
Chuck Wendig has been a mainstay of White Wolf Publishing for years, and one of their most popular authors. Having successfully branched out into non-World of Darkness fiction, Chuck continues to develop a strong following for his longer-form prose. Recently, Chuck and Evil Hat Productions announced a series of novels based on Evil Hat’s Spirit of the Century RPG. Chuck will be authoring a trilogy of short novels, the first of which, Dinocalypse Now, is being released soon. Chuck and I recently spent some time chatting about this new series.
What influenced you in writing this novel? Were there particular characters, events or places that helped you frame your ideas for this story?
The majority of the influence I needed was right in Spirit Of The Century. The rest I dug up out of research, really. Though, I will say that the love triangle between Sally, Jet and Mack is one of those things I think we’ve all seen or been a part of in some way or another. Easy to stick a shovel in the loam of real life and unearth some truth for fiction.
Had you played Spirit of the Century prior to your involvement with the novels?
I had, though not often. And not in a while, regrettably — with a wee tiny human running around the house for the last 3/4 of a year, it’s hard to find the people or the time to game.
How difficult is it to write fiction based on an RPG setting?
Not hard if you love the setting. And the Spirit Of The Century setting is very unobtrusive — it’s not thick with canon or Byzantine with a billion details you can forget or get wrong. It’s light and easy and fun, which was my approach to writing the novel.
The chapters in Dinocalypse Now are each quite short; was this an attempt to emulate the style of the pulps or did it just work out that way? Did you spend time researching pulps and serials from the 1930s?
It’s both in an attempt to emulate the pulps and serials — which, yes, were a lot shorter in order to maintain attention — and also an effort to keep it fast-moving, snappy, engaging. A book like that is built on some pretty crazy concepts (psychic dinosaurs! ape dictators! dread zeppelins!) and if you stay too long with those concepts I fear it could collapse under its own delicious awesomeness. Plus, on a personal level, I prefer to write leaner and meaner. Authors are in a fight for people’s time and in certain stories it pays to get in and get out without bogging the reader down.
You have to be pleased with the response to the Kickstarter program for this series; if you had your choice, would you have used Kickstarter at all to fund this project?
Well, honestly it wasn’t my choice — not that I wouldn’t have done it, but Evil Hat is the publisher that commissioned me, the penmonkey, to write the book. Fred Hicks is a Master Genius who knows his way around a fanbase and a business plan, so all that (wisely) fell and falls to him.
Were you given a story framework to build on, or were you working the whole story up from scratch?
I worked up a three-act structure and passed it to Fred, and we bounced it back and forth. It was a fairly quick process, honestly, and a lot of fun. I was not given any particular directive other than the two-word title of “Dinocalypse Now.”
What other projects do you have in the works right now?
Well, Blackbirds releases from Angry Robot on April 24th — it’s about a girl who can see how people are going to die just by touching them, putting her as the pivot point between fate and free will. It’s grim stuff, but also funny, at the same time. Then I just completed another Kickstarter, carrying forward my teenage detective-slash-vigilante, Atlanta Burns, in BAIT DOG and a second as-yet-unnamed novel.
What are you reading for fun these days?
I just finished Saladin Ahmed’s Throne of the Crescent Moon, which was a delightful read — great escapist fiction that further escapes from the tired tropes of modern fantasy.
Interview by Bill Bodden