AUTHOR INTERVIEW: Tim Pratt

Tell us a bit about your story.  What’s it about?

Some alternate-reality game/LARPer guys who enjoy role-playing in a post-apocalyptic setting … and decide their game would be a lot more fun if the world really was a post-apocalyptic nightmare wasteland, and decide to make that happen. (Of course, the people organizing the game make sure they have a sweet bunker and all the best weaponry.) It’s also about systemic misogyny in the world of gaming. And also just in the world.

What was the genesis of the story—what was the inspiration for it, or what prompted you to write it?

It was largely prompted by seeing women who write about games and gaming endlessly attacked on Twitter and Facebook and elsewhere online. And by the fine Feminist Frequency video series, which points out both the egregious and subtle misogyny that’s so prevalent in gaming (they cover video games, but as a recovering tabletop gamer, I see it there too). All that stuff was swirling around in my head when I wrote this.

Was this story a particularly challenging one to write? If so, how?

Well, writing from the (admittedly exaggerated, though not by as much as you might think) point of view of people who see women as prizes or obstacles was pretty gross.

Most authors say all their stories are personal.  If that’s true for you, in what way was this story personal to you?

I rarely write from a place of rage, but this time, I made an exception. (Of course, I hope it’s also funny, but I hope the initial, “Ha, that’s funny” reaction is gradually replaced by a growing horror.)

What kind of research did you have to do for the story?

Just living on the internet and caring about games, pretty much.

What are your thoughts about crowdfunding generally? Do you back a lot of Kickstarters, or at least find a lot of interesting projects because of crowdfunding?

I have backed quite a few. I think it’s a nice way to bring niche projects to fruition, and to let established artists do weird stuff that might not necessarily be commercially viable otherwise. I’m pretty unambiguously pro-crowdfunding, at least when it comes to art projects and games. When it’s used as an alternative form of venture capital for dumb technological junk I’m less interested, but I don’t disapprove of people using crowdfunding that way—I just don’t back those projects. I go back another weird board game or documentary or something instead.

How do you think Kickstarter and self-publishing platforms (like Amazon’s KDP, etc.) are changing publishing?

They provide writers and readers with more options, and more options are, generally, a good thing; the more options there are, the greater the chance is that some of those options will be non-terrible. Self-publishing has certainly worked well for my career, though I remain steadfastly a “hybrid” author—some projects make sense for me to do myself, others make more sense to do with established large or small presses…

BONUS: What are some examples of fiction you like in which the format helped dictate the story? (i.e., like the stories in HELP FUND MY ROBOT ARMY!!!, or like a found footage movie, or like Jake Kerr’s “Biographical Fragments of the Life of Julian Prince,” etc.)

I like found footage horror movies; they don’t even have to be good movies! All I ask is that they not be boring. V/H/S and V/H/S/2 are good examples, but my favorite of the genre is probably Grave Encounters, about a reality-show ghost-hunting team that explores an old asylum and finds themselves trapped in a spatial nightmare.