Along with the review of Jay Posey's novel Three we have been lucky enough to interview the author as part of his Blog Tour. At the end of the Interview you can enter a competition to win a signed copy of Jay's book.
Ant: Three is set in a future earth laid waste by an unknown cataclysm. What encouraged you to create a post-apocalyptic story?
Jay: I’d had the seed of the story for Three for a good couple of years, but I’d never really been able to find a good setting for it that made it interesting enough for me. It was really a combination of factors that led me to the world I created for it. There were a lot different elements and ideas that I was toying around with, like the prototypical gunslinger, cyberpunk, anime inspirations, martial arts, and so forth. I finally decided that instead of trying to pick one, I might as well just create a world where all of those things could co-exist. I actually wrote a mid-future cyberpunky short story that I thought was going to have absolutely nothing to do with Three, but a few months after I wrote it, it occurred to me that I could take that world, throw it into complete chaos, give it a few years to recover, and see what came out the other side. And what I ended up with was essentially the Duskwalker world.
Ant: Three reminded me a little of Stephen Kings Dark Tower series, do you see this as an influence?
Jay: I hate having to admit this in a public setting, but I’ve never actually read the Dark Tower series, so I would have to say no. It’s on my list of Things I Should’ve Read by Now. I’m also somewhat ashamed to admit that that list is very long.
Ant: Which other authors / works have you influenced you the most?
Jay: The one I cite the most is J. R. R. Tolkien, though I always say that I am probably more influenced by how he thought and talked about writing than I am by his writing itself. He was truly a masterful storyteller, and his essay On Fairy Stories left a big impact on me. William Gibson is another author that I’ve long admired, not just for his skill, but also for his courage to just write the kinds of stories he wants to tell, the way he wants to tell them. Those are the two I tend to be most conscious of, but I know there are many others who helped shape how I think about writing before I was even aware that it was happening; Orson Scott Card and Frank Herbert for example, or Margaret Weis and Tracy Hickman, who I read a ton of when I was growing up.
Ant: Your style of writing is very distinctive, unique - How do you think this has been influenced by your career as a narrative designer and in within the video game industry itself?
Jay: I definitely think my work in games has affected how I think about sequencing things, and in pacing in general. I think, too, it’s helped me be okay with letting readers fill in some gaps for themselves. When you’re writing for games, you have to be constantly aware that the story you write isn’t the complete picture … it’s not until the player enters the world and starts interacting with it that the narrative experience really comes to life.
On top of that, working in games, you’re surrounded by a lot of other amazingly talented creative people, and very often I’ve found that I’ll be imagining something one way, and then a visual artist will present a concept that’s wildly different than what I pictured but is so much better, and I find that I can’t believe I ever thought it could be anything other than what they came up with.
It’s one of the most challenging aspects of game writing I think, to let go of some of that desire to control every detail, but I think it’s helped me become more comfortable with the idea that I don’t have to force readers to visualize the world exactly the way I picture it. It’s alright to give the right impression, and then let readers fill in those gaps for themselves, the way they see fit.
Ant: You've had experience writing scripts and narrative but this is your first novel, how have you found the experience?
Jay: It’s both thrilling and frustrating. It’s an amazing feeling to know that you’re in complete control of what you’re writing. You don’t have to take any hardware constraints into account, you don’t have to worry about matching previous franchises, and you can really let your creativity run free.
At the same time, it can be a very lonely process, and it can be frustrating when something just doesn’t seem to be coming out the way you see it in your mind, and you don’t really have anyone else around to blame for it except for yourself. When you’re that close to the material, it can be easy to lose your way. There were many times that I let myself get discouraged, or that I got overwhelmed with the task. The more I talk to other authors, though, the more I discover I’m not necessarily alone in that.
Ant: Three is the first in the Duskwalker Cycle - can you tell us anything about where you are going to take the series after the end of Three?
Jay: Well, to give a vague and non-spoiler-filled answer, I will say that the next book follows a few returning characters, some in potentially surprising ways, and I’ll be introducing a bunch of new characters. My hope is that each book in the series will continue to tell stories that reveal more and more of the world, and feel consistent, while each offering something distinct of their own.
I guess that seems more like a non-answer than a vague one though. Maybe I should’ve just said “Each book will be even better than the one before!” Also, there will be words.
Ant: What's it like to be part of the Angry Robot Army?
Jay: It’s been a truly excellent experience for me. The Robot Overlords have all been extremely kind and generous to me, and have done a lot of amazing work. I’m consistently blown away by the quality of the work they do in general, and it’s still humbling to me to get to work with them on something of my very own. Also, the assimilation process was very nearly painless, and I hardly notice the brain-chip anymore.
Ant: If you could be asked any one question you wanted, what would the question and answer be?
Jay: Are you doing anything special with the release of this book?
Why yes, in fact, I am … I’m partnering with a fantastic organization called Hope For The Warriors®.
The mission of Hope For The Warriors® is to enhance the quality of life for post-9/11 service members, their families, and families of the fallen who have sustained physical and psychological wounds in the line of duty. Hope For The Warriors® is dedicated to restoring a sense of self, restoring the family unit, and restoring hope for our service members and our military families.
I’ll be donating 10% of my royalties from the sale of Three to their organization, and I highly encourage everyone to check out their website at Hope for Warriors® and do whatever you can to support them in their very important work.
Ant: What have you got planned next?
Jay: I’m wrapping up The Sequel to Three right now, and then after that I’m going to take a little time to refill my brain with words (by reading as much as possible). I’ll probably take a couple of weeks to see where my brain is creatively. I’ve got several projects in various stages of completion, and I’ve got the beginnings of a third book in the Duskwalker series to think about, if people decide they want more.
The trouble with having an open mind, of course, is that people will insist on coming along and trying to put things in it.
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