The Impossible Mister Lapin
My first steampunk/gaslight fantasy novella, “The Impossible Mister Lapin Investigates: The Affair of the Terrible Boar”, completed its a serialized run in Steampunk Tales magazine, a wonderful publication that can be handily downloaded to your computer and many other portable devices. “Mister Lapin” ran in four parts, with the first installment beginning in Issue #10.
The Dead Heroes Trilogy
A few years back a friend introduced me to Dystopia Rising, an innovative boffer LARP set generations after a zombie apocalypse caused society to come crashing down almost overnight. I fell in love with the fantastic setting as well as the energy of the staff and the players, and have been a regular attendee at their flagship game in northern New Jersey every since. (Note: I specify the flagship game because their network is growing, now including chapters in Massachusetts, Pennsylvania, Florida, Texas, California and Washington state. Yeah, it’s that good.) True to my game writing roots, I happily helped pitch in to contribute to their larp rulebook – now available in free PDF format as well as a compact print editions – but when the game’s creator offered me a chance to write original fiction in their world, I jumped at it.
The result is the Dead Heroes trilogy, a mixture of action/adventure and survival horror in a ruined world ruled by ruthless survivors and constantly menaced by the ravenous hordes of the undead. In particular, the series follows one Tribeca Rockaway, a sniper in the Dead Heroes gang and a hardened survivor of the bombed out streets of Old York, as she takes on a simple delivery job that proves to be anything but what she was promised. Before the run is over she’ll have traveled hundreds of miles, overcome fearsome obstacles, faced down agents of a terrifying conspiracy, and killed a whole hell of a lot of people, both living and dead. It’s a tall order, no doubt, but fortunately when Fate needs to get shit done, she taps a Yorker for the job. So pull up a place by the drum, warm your hands at the fire and listen to the story every iron climber and ruin diver knows, the story of how a gang kid just maybe saved what’s left of this sorry world.
Because everybody dies, but not everybody dies a Dead Hero.
The first two books of the trilogy, Runner and Domino, are out now and available in print through Amazon as well as in electronic format from DrivethruRPG. The final book, Knockout, is slated for release in late 2013 (Q4 for you industry folks). There may also be some associated short fiction available soon as well, so make sure to follow the blog for updates …
In the past several years I have been lucky enough to be included in a number of superb anthologies. Many of them are set in the worlds of some truly innovative, in some cases award-winning LARPs and RPGs, though I should stress that all of the anthologies are designed to be perfectly accessible even if you are not familiar with the games they are based on.
* Gimme Shelter: I contributed a short story called “Lions” which focused on a father and his young daughter surviving night to night in a zombie apocalypse. The collection was edited by the inimitable J.R. Blackwell and released by Galileo Games. It was developed as a companion piece for Shelter In Place, their ENnie award-winning LARP about humans struggling to survive the early hours of a zombie outbreak.
* We Are Dust: I put forward a little piece called “Ready For Takeoff”, about a small group of people coming face to face with a hard-takeoff AI event, for this collection of stories about humanity facing extinction level events. It was edited by Mark Diaz Truman of Magpie Games, and designed as a companion volume for their bittersweet and wonderful apocalyptic rpg Our Last Best Hope.
* Have Blaster, Will Travel: My rather cheeky story “Being Green” features an alien former adult film entertainer on the run from his sordid past as part of this rowdy assemblage of stories about life on the fringes of known space. As a companion to Brennan Taylor‘s delightfully B-movie rockets and raygun extravaganza, otherwise known as the Bulldogs! sci-fi rpg, I have to say this anthology was some of the most fun I’ve had in a long time. Another fine release from Galileo Games as well.
* The Road to Hell On Earth: I contributed the short story “Rorschach”, about a young woman whose inner demons may not actually be all in her head, for Growling Door Games‘ inaugural fiction collection. It’s a companion to their haunting and often disturbing game curse the darkness, and you can rest assured Matt and Michelle aren’t done terrifying us all, not by a long shot.
* The Lost: I added my short story “The End of Hungry Santa”, about an old homeless man and his quixotic quest to help his only friend, to this Galileo Games charity anthology. Set in the Neverwhere-esque world of the fabulous Kingdom of Nothing game, where magic and horror lurk in the cracks of society, the proceeds benefited City Harvest, and I was proud to be a part of this excellent collection and its efforts. Note: As of this update, The Lost is not yet available beyond copies delivered to backers of the charity campaign; if and when this changes, I will update accordingly.
* The Ministry Protocol (COMING 8/15/2013): To say that I was blown away to be invited to this fantastic steampunk anthology, set in the world of Tee Morris and Philippa Ballantine‘s high-octane Ministry of Peculiar Occurrences novels, was pretty much the understatement of my fiction career so far. There are so many great authors in this collection it’s hard to know where to start – seriously, check out the page, it’s a steampunk fan’s dream lineup – and I hope my story measures up. Sorry, can’t reveal the title just yet, but stay tuned, it’s almost here!
* Blood Red Sands Anthology (COMING SOON): Also on the horizon is this sword-and-sorcery anthology, set in the grim world of the upcoming Blood Red Sands rpg from – you guessed it – the good folks at Galileo Games. I had a lot of fun with my story, a fantaisy twist on a caper tale called “The Old Man and the Thief”, and I can’t wait to see how the whole collection comes together.
Tabletop RPG & LARP Books
Though it honestly seems almost like a lifetime ago now, once upon a time I wrote quite a few books for White Wolf Game Studio and its subsidiary imprints. I was with them for about a decade, working mostly in their Mind’s Eye Theatre live-action gaming line (where I eventually had a hand in almost all of their game lines at one point or another), though I contributed to a fair number of tabletop games in my time as well, particularly Changeling: The Dreaming, Hunter: The Reckoning, and the ArtHaus edition of the classic Ravenloft D&D setting. I stayed on through their transition from the “classic” World of Darkness and helped them design a completely overhauled Mind’s Eye Theatre system for their new setting, before the siren song of graduate school and professor work finally pulled me away. I still miss it, though – I met some really incredible people working there, not to mention the many players at all the different games and conventions over the years. It was a wild ride, but I don’t regret a moment of it.
During all that time at White Wolf, I even managed to win an ENnie award – one of the gaming industry’s highest accolades – as part of the writing team honored for our work on Changeling: The Lost. It was a blast to help write the “re-launch” of Changeling in the new World of Darkness setting, and the book turned out to be a runaway winner at the ENnies that year, taking Gold awards not only for writing but also well-deserved wins for interior art, production values, and even Product of the Year. I couldn’t share it with a greater bunch of writers.
If you asked me to list my favorite RPG books I’ve written/co-written were from those days, in no particular order, I’d say something like the following: Changeling: The Lost, The Shining Host, Mind’s Eye Theatre, Kithbook: Eshu, Requiem, Laws of the Reckoning, The Shining Host Player’s Guide, Laws of the Night (Revised), Changeling: Book of Lost Houses, Vampire By Gaslight, Ravenloft: Heroes of Light, Hunter: The Infernal, and Laws of Judgment. I still have a tremendous soft spot for Changeling (both versions), Hunter (ditto), Mind’s Eye Theatre (likewise), and Mage: The Ascension.
More recently I’ve also done some work for Eschaton Media’s Dystopia Rising game line. I contributed to the final version of their larp rulebook – available in free PDF form online as well as in a compact print version – which is pretty exciting considering it’s the backbone of what is already a nationwide game network and still expanding. I also summoned up some home state pride and chipped for the New Jersey sections of their their tabletop game supplement, Pillars of Dead Light.
A fairly comprehensive though still somewhat frustratingly inaccurate list of most of my RPG work can be found on my Amazon page, though for some reason I can’t get them to credit me on several books I’ve worked on. What’s bizarre is that they updated a number of listings quickly and without complaint, while on others they seem oblivious to my requests. I’ve written to their staff a number of times, even going so far as to say “Just flip it open! It’s right there on the inside page!” Alas, to no avail. So far, anyway.
The Dresden Fiasco
Back around Halloween 2011, the fine folks at Evil Hat Productions and their counterparts at Bully Pulpit Games tapped me to work on a fun little project called Hocus Focus, a playset for the award-winning Fiasco role-playing game set in the world of Jim Butcher’s occult detective series, The Dresden Files. I’ve been a fan of the Dresden books for years, and Fiasco just blew my mind, so it was a real pleasure to work on a project that put the two of them together. That said, I also have to admit I got a real fanboy thrill knowing I could write in the Dresden voice on an officially approved project, even if it was just a couple of snarky one-liners. Sure, it’s the writing equivalent of picking up Harrison Ford’s blaster pistol and pretending to be Han Solo until he gets back from crafts services with his bagel and coffee, but hey, I’ll take it!
I recently discovered that I’m listed in Wookiepedia, the “official” Star Wars wiki. It’s a tiny little entry, but it’s about my first professional writing credits ever, so what can I say – sentimental value. Plus, anything named “Wookiepedia” is just awesome on its own, so here goes:
Loose Ends, Signed Copies, and Contracts for Word Mercenaries
Looking for one of these books but can’t seem to find it? Have a copy and want to know if I’ll sign it? Interested in approaching me about working on your game, anthology or other project? Here’s a handy form for just those sorts of occasions. Feel free to drop me a line, anytime!