15 Minutes of Fame tries to feature as wide a variety of WoW players as possible. It's not only about being famous in the real world, or being a somebody in the WoW community, or playing WoW despite some remarkable circumstance. 15 Minutes covers all those things, yes ... But we also try to talk with players who are representative of the typical player experience -- ambassadors of the Folks Next Door, if you will.
But no matter how we try to balance things, we always seem to end up back at another interview with an author. Writers who game are a particular bunch. They always have a lot to say about the fantasy genre and the game lore and way the world of Azeroth is unfolding; it makes for a pretty interesting interview. So when we realized that we'd pretty much overshot the bottom of our dance card despite the line of authors winding past the punch bowl and out the door ... Well, we decided it was time to give everyone a full helping of nothing but WoW-playing writers. With our common enjoyment of WoW and the fantasy genre, we figure most readers will find something from these authors they'll want to curl up with on the couch.
Welcome, then, to 15 Minutes of Fame's list of (Almost) 15 WoW-Playing Authors of Fame.
As seen in previous 15 Minutes columns
Vampire Empire novelist duo writes games as one
Talking about Clay and Susan Griffith means talking about partnerships. Clay and Susan are husband and wife, WoW partners and co-GMs, and authors of The Greyfriar: Vampire Empire Book 1 -- "married in all things, for better or for worse," as they put it. Together, they've worked on comics and prose with such pop culture icons as The Tick, Kolchak the Night Stalker, The Phantom, Allan Quatermain, and Disney characters, too.
"Granted, we are casual WoW players due to time constraints, but we both have level 85s," says Susan. "We enjoy questing and the lore of the game, as well as a fair amount of RPing. When time and fair winds permit, we even have a family raid group."
Sci-fi and fantasy copyeditor Deanna Hoak
Deanna Hoak and I have bonded over the Viscous Hammer. Yes, I realize that some of you will find it somewhat predictably amusing that WoW Insider's resident copyeditor should be geeking out over interviewing sci-fi/fantasy copyeditor and WoW player Deanna Hoak -- but there's more to this editor than a mere passion for punctuation.
Hoak brings a virtually unique set of experience and sensitivities to the fantastical demands of the novels she edits. In the world of science fiction and fantasy, Hoak edits the big dogs: China Miéville, Michael Moorcock, Catherynne M. Valente, Alan Dean Foster, Cherie Priest, Chelsea Quinn Yarbro, R.A. Salvatore ... In fact, Hoak's the only copyeditor ever nominated for a World Fantasy Award for her work.
Cory Doctorow on gold farming
A conversation with Cory Doctorow plunges into the matter at hand so quickly that it's almost impossible not to imagine yourself falling through an internet-era rabbit hole of pop culture and technology. Doctorow is all about synthesizing ideas and spitting them out in as accessible a fashion as possible, and the ground he manages to cover in a single stride can be mind-boggling; he's a science fiction author, activist, journalist and blogger, father, gamer ...
A former WoW player and husband of gaming standout Alice Taylor (previously profiled here in 15 Minutes of Fame), he's widely known as the co-editor of Boing Boing and author of the bestselling young adult novel Little Brother. Doctorow's latest young adult novel, For the Win, pries open the seams of the shady scene behind MMO gold farming.
The twisted tales of Caitlin R. Kiernan
I've wandered around inside the fiction of Caitlín R. Kiernan, and I'm not at all certain I'd feel safe wandering around in her version of WoW. As it turns out, though, Kiernan plays WoW much like many of the rest of us do -- smacking the "brain off" button at the end of a long day, tooling around various zones with a significant other, and somehow finding ourselves utterly embroiled in the microcosms that are the lives of the characters we spend so much time with.
So an interview with Kiernan turned out to be a long, WoW-centric turn that she attacked with relish. "Truthfully, I think it's one of the most interesting interviews I've done lately, if only because I spend so little of it talking about writing," she blogged. We think it's pretty darn interesting, too.
New York Times bestseller Catherynne M. Valente
The World of Warcraft is a season of life. You could approach it strictly as a video game -- many do -- but as soon as you push beyond the surface, you find yourself building relationships with fellow players, musing over storylines, sharing frustrations and triumphs in a way that punctuates time. It's no stretch of the imagination, then (or is it, perhaps, entirely about stretching the imagination?) to consider the impact a game such as World of Warcraft might have on the fertile mind of a fantasy writer.
So when we spied comments around the internet from Catherynne M. Valente straight toward gaming, we suspected she'd had her hand in the WoW cookie jar -- and we were right. While she's not currently playing WoW (having sworn off its siren call to devote her time to writing -- and then having become a New York Times bestseller!), she responded enthusiastically to our interest, producing an interview filled with gaming, WoW, fantasy, science fiction and the timeless themes that tie these worlds together.
Pulp sci-fi author shoots 'em up in Azeroth
Let's jump right in -- because appropriately enough, that's the modus operandi of this week's profile subject, blogger/cartoonist/gag writer/self-proclaimed "older" player/sci-fi writer John Zakour. With a WoW column at Pink Raygun, a daily web comic with some 50,000 readers, a 2,180-rated mage, and a steady stream of published sci-fi books, Zakour keeps the one-liners flowing.
A recent review of Zakour's The Flaxen Femme Fatale does a neat job of summarizing his outlook: "I'm always glad to see new books in this series come out, as there's a serious deficit of comedic hardboiled science fiction adventures on the market, and John Zakour has filled that niche quite adeptly," wrote the SF Site reviewer. "It's goofy, it's quirky, it's iconic in its own way, and it's way too much fun. Like the rest, The Flaxen Femme Fatale borders on parody, but maintains enough good-natured charm to maintain an air of legitimacy. It may be a world full of robots, psychics, aliens, genetically-engineered superhumans, and wacky technology, where anything is possible, but it has the internal consistency and earnestness required to sustain such a setting."
More authors who play WoW
Tim Akers, Dead of Veridon Dead of Veridon, from sci fi/fantasy author Tim Akers, comes out this month. "It's a fantasy noir thriller, set in the steampunk world of Veridon," he writes. "Trouble finds Jacob Burn: kicked out of his house, out of his comfortable life -- out of everything that is familiar -- even turned away from his circle of criminal friends and interesting enemies. Two years after he saved an ungrateful city from a mad angel, thwarting the plans of every powerful faction in Veridon, Jacob is still trying to pull his life together. And still trouble finds him. A bad job goes worse, and soon old enemies present themselves as allies, and former friends set themselves against Jacob as he tries to put the dead to rest and the living to justice. Things gets even harder when he's appointed by the Council to investigate the rise of the cog-dead, while some hold him personally accountable, and others in the city work to use the chaos to their advantage.
"My second book was more fantasy-specific. It's called The Horns of Ruin and follows Eva Forge, the last paladin of a dead god as she investigates a series of murders in her cult. Betrayal, swordplay, people becoming gods... I think of it as Final Fantasy meets Dashiell Hammett.
"Oh, and World of Warcraft. I've been playing for almost three years now. I started shortly after I got the contract for my first book. My play times fluctuates in accordance with my contracted deadlines, which prevented me from making it to Kingslayer. I recently switched from DPS to heals, so leveling the appropriate character has kept me out of raiding for the last month or so. Soon, though! Soon! My wife and I play together. Raid night counts as family time, right?"
Jon Sprunk, fantasy author "I just read your article on Clay and Susan Griffiths and really enjoyed it!" writes Jenny Sprunk, also a WoW player. "I read their first book and am looking forward to the sequel very much. My husband Jon Sprunk is actually a fellow Pyr author who has played WoW since practically launch, and I know he would be thrilled to be featured on WoW Insider! His current main is a NE DK who MTs for our raid group. We've taken a couple of breaks (the longest after our son was born in 2008), but we always come back, and we're now squeezing time in to raid with our group of friends (after the kiddo goes to bed, of course!). WoW has been such a part of our lives these last 6 years or so."
"My wife and I have been playing since a month or so after release," confirms Jon. "My first character was a night elf hunter (my wife played a NE druid), and we raided with them in the original game. I tried healing with a priest in The Burning Crusade, but later fell in love with tanking, so I rolled up a death knight and he's still going strong today (although I've been flirting with a warrior ...). As a fantasy writer, Warcraft melds my hobby life and my professional life. The beautiful vistas and brutal combats, the sweet savor of killing a new enemy for the first time -- these are what is best in (fantasy) life."
Paul Witcover, genre-bending author Paul Witcover blends horror, fantasy and sci-fi in a number of titles. "I play on the Hakkar server," he writes. "My main characters are a warlock, Horrig, 82, and a death knight, Acronus, 73. Horde, naturally. My novels are Waking Beauty and Tumbling After, both from HarperCollins, and Dracula: Asylum from Dark Horse. A short story collection, Everland and Other Stories, is available from PS Publishing.
"I play once a week with some old D&D buddies from high school. We are old farts now, spread across the country, but WoW gives us a chance to relive our glory days and make new ones as members of our proud guild, Church of the Subgenius."
Still more WoW-playing authors
Editor Deanna Hoak (see above) put us on the trail of a number of other authors, and still more wrote in, but not everyone was able to get back with us with full comments. Here are a few more WoW-playing authors you might want to sniff out at the bookstore:
Karen Anders, who says her daughter introduced her to WoW, is the author of Five-Alarm Encounter, a Harlequin romantic suspense (May 2011).
Russell Davis is a past president of the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America. Check Russell's website for numerous books from both him and his wife Sherri.
Tara Maya is the author of the epic fantasy series The Unfinished Song.
"I never thought of playing WoW like that!" -- and neither did we, until we talked with these players, from Star Trek: Deep Space Nine's Aron "Nog" Eisenberg to an Olympic medalist and a quadriplegic raider. Know someone else we should feature? Email firstname.lastname@example.org.