I am thrilled to be part of the Three blog tour—in fact, I pretty much inserted myself into this tour after it had already been scheduled, LOL! Huge thanks and hugs to the lovely Caroline at Angry Robot for finding me a spot at the last minute. I ADORED this book (you can read my review here) and any chance I get to promote a book I adore is one I jump at!
For my stop on the tour, I’ve interviewed Jay. He’s such a great guy, and I hope you enjoy the interview.
But wait—there’s more! Angry Robot is giving away TWO signed copies of Three. You have lots of chances to win, but for some of those chances you will have to do some reading, something we’re all good at, right? Each blog that is participating in the tour has a specific question relating to the book. You will need to hop to each blog, find their question, and enter the answer in the Rafflecopter on the blog My Shelf Confessions. (And Tabitha and April are pretty awesome, so make sure to check out their blog while you are visiting!) The Rafflecopter has links and explains everything, so you shouldn’t have a problem.
For my stop, you will need to answer this question: Question #18 – There is a group of men in the bar in chapter 1, what does the protagonist call them?
Some of the answers to the questions are in the book description, and some of them are in a special excerpt of Three, which can be found here on the Angry Robot website. (Now keep in mind that Angry Robot is a British publisher, and they use funny words like “extract” instead of “excerpt.”)
So it’s kind of like a scavenger hunt! Go forth and scavenge and have fun! But first, here’s my interview with Jay:
First of all, welcome Jay, to Books, Bones & Buffy! I feel very fortunate that I could join your blog tour. Tell us a little bit about your publishing experience for Three. As a debut author, what have been the highs and lows of getting a publishing contract?
Thanks so much for having me! For me, once I finished up the manuscript for Three, I had a good author friend of mine, Richard Dansky, read it through and give me feedback, and over the course of our discussion of what I should do with it, he pointed me to Angry Robot. When I read the description of the kind of work they were looking for, I felt like they would be a great fit, and was fortunate to have Richard and another writer friend Matt Forbeck make the necessary introductions. There was of course the usual Long Wait as the Robot Overlords evaluated the manuscript, and to my great excitement (and relief), they liked what they read enough to assimilate me.
They really have been great to work with, and have been very supportive through the whole process. Some of the highs have included (of course) reading that first “we’d like to make you an offer” email, seeing the cover for the first time (by the excellent artist Steven Meyer-Rassow), and getting such a positive response from so many early reviewers.
Okay, and actually there have been a few lows. When the cover was first revealed to the world, it came out with an excerpt on a high-profile website, and of course when I got the email from Angry Robot that it was live, I was very excited to see it, so I immediately clicked through the link to bask in all the glory that was sure to be waiting for me there. I didn’t actually know what the excerpt was going to be, and I was scrolling down the page to see how long it was, and naturally, there at the bottom, waiting for me, was my First Comment. To put it mildly, it wasn’t quite as effusive in its praise and adulation of my writing as I had hoped. So my total enjoyment of that Big Moment was around seven seconds before my sensitive writer side went all “WOE IS ME I KNEW I WAS TERRIBLE I’LL NEVER WRITE AGAIN”.
On another level, working on Book Two has been really tough for me, both because I’m on a deadline, and because there’s a level of insecurity there I really hadn’t been expecting. During the first book I had the occasional bouts of “what if this is all for nothing and no one will ever want to read it.” With the second one, it’s been all “what if the first book was a fluke and it was the only thing I’ll ever write that anyone will want to read.” I think, too, I know now that there are readers out there who Have Expectations, and I feel that pressure sometimes more acutely than I was anticipating.
Don’t worry Jay. You are seriously talented. It wasn’t a fluke! Your background is in gaming and you describe your job title as “narrative designer.” Can you tell us exactly what that entails? Also, how did you decide to veer off into writing a novel?
For my day job, I’m a Senior Narrative Designer at Red Storm Entertainment (founded by Tom Clancy), and narrative design is really the marriage between writing, storytelling, and game design. It’s understanding the game mechanics, and the overall game experience, and then helping to create the tools and systems and content necessary to deliver a narrative that works with the game as a whole.
The title itself is still fairly new in the industry, even though people have been doing that work for a long time. Mary DeMarle (of Myst 3: Exile and Deus Ex: Human Revolution fame, among other things) was the one who coined the title, because neither “writer” nor “designer” really captured all the things that a narrative designer does.
As far as what the job entails, it really depends on the studio and the project, and can vary wildly. I’ve been on projects where I had the privilege of working closely with the Creative Director and Lead Designer to help plan out the overall vision for the game, and I’ve been on projects where I’ve been in a pure writing role, just writing the dialogue for someone else’s story. But usually there’s a mix of tasks that balance design and writing; for example, working with concept artists to flesh out character design, or helping design the AI dialogue system, or working with the audio team to cast and direct voice actors (Red Storm has one of the most talented audio teams in the industry), or even just consulting with level designers about how particular moments in a mission might impact story.
There’s a lot of crossover between what it takes to write a game and what’s involved in writing a novel, so I think for me the novels were a place I could go exercise a lot of similar skills but in my own creative playground. Working in games, I’m usually writing well-established franchises that have clearly defined rules. In the novels, I have a lot more creative freedom to tell the stories I want to tell.
I’m going to have to introduce you to my son. He definitely wants to go into gaming design as a career…You are generously donating 10% of your Three royalties to Hope For The Warriors®. Can you tell us a bit about how you got involved in this organization?
I’ve had the true honor and privilege through Red Storm to get to work with both active duty and retired members of the US Military, and I’ve always been both humbled and impressed by the quality and character of the men and women that we have serving our nation in that capacity. I knew with this novel that I wanted to find some way to contribute to that community, and while my wife was researching our options, she found Hope For The Warriors®. Hope For The Warriors® has consistently received the highest ratings for both financial transparency and efficiency, and we felt like the goals of their organization strongly aligned with the kind of support we wanted to help provide.
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.
It’s the least we can do as citizens to make sure that our veterans and their families are getting the kind of care and support they need as they transition. I’m often at a loss for how I can personally help, so I’m really glad to be able to connect with Hope For The Warriors® and trust that they know the needs of the community and can help bridge the gaps.
What is a day in the life of Jay Posey like? How do you balance writing, a job, and downtime in your schedule?
The secret is, you just cut out all the downtime. Actually, it really is a day-by-day kind of thing for me. For the most part, during the week I work a normal day, then come home and have dinner and some time with the family, and then once the kids are in bed, I head down into the word mines for a few hours. Depending on how I’m feeling about deadlines, I might give myself a night or two off a week, but I generally try to write at least five nights, with extra time on Saturdays when I can manage it. Lately I’ve been writing every night.
It helps that my family has been super supportive through this whole process, so they’ve given me a lot of extra writing time on the weekends and things. It can definitely be a challenge. I’ve had to scale back on a number of other things to make room for it, but I think a lot of it just comes down to how you arrange your priorities. We’ll usually find a way to make time for the things that are important to us.
What and who are some of your favorite books and authors?
J.R.R. Tolkien is always at the top of my list, both for the usual suspects (The Hobbit, The Lord of the Rings) but also for a lot of his other lesser known works like Farmer Giles of Ham, Leaf by Niggle, and his essay On Fairy Stories. William Gibson is another big one that I’ve always admired. I’m also a fan of Barry Hughart, though I’ve only read Bridge of Birds and The Story of the Stone. (If anyone has a copy of Eight Skilled Gentlemen they’d like to send me, that’d be great.) And Douglas Adams, of course. And Dave Barry. And Daniel Silva. And there are so many other ones I feel bad for not listing, but I’ll just stop there.
Please tell us three things about Jay Posey that can’t be found on your website—come on, spill the beans!
Hmm, I have a terrible time thinking of things about me that other people might find interesting. But I guess you didn’t say they had to be interesting so how about:
- I was once an extra in a movie that starred Robin Williams, and I very nearly got to meet him. The movie was Patch Adams, released in 1998, and I played Medical School Student (uncredited) during the “courtroom scene” towards the end of the film. As extras, we were instructed never to approach any of The Talent, but were also told it was fine to interact with the actors if they ever initiated a conversation. During a break, Robin Williams came out of his trailer and started walking over towards me and two of my newly-made extra friends, and right before he got to us, another extra let out an absolutely ear-splitting scream, and then started half-hyperventilating/half-freaking out and telling him how amazing it was to be so close to him. He was very kind and generous, and then he promptly returned to his trailer.
- I grew up, went to college, and now live all within about a 30 mile radius. It’s not that I haven’t gotten to travel around and visit other great places. It’s just that I might be a really big fan of North Carolina.
- I’ve been playing guitar for over 20 years. Not continually, of course, but you know.
Ha ha…Awesome interview, Jay! Thanks so much for visiting today:)
Jay is a narrative designer, author, and screenwriter by trade. He started working in the video game industry in 1998, and has been writing professionally for over a decade. Currently employed as Senior Narrative Designer at Red Storm Entertainment, he’s spent around eight years writing and designing for Tom Clancy’s award-winning Ghost Recon and Rainbow Six franchises.
A contributing author to the book Professional Techniques for Video Game Writing, Jay has lectured at conferences, colleges, and universities, on topics ranging from basic creative writing skills to advanced material specific to the video game industry. (from the Angry Robot website)
Find Jay & Three:
Don’t forget to stop by My Shelf Confessions to enter your answer to the question at the beginning of this post, and to visit the other blogs on the tour and answer their questions, too! It’s a bunch of fun! You could win your own signed copy of Three!