I write this on a plane, suffering in turbulence. I won’t pretend that doesn’t make me nervous. I’m not superstitious, but I look sidelong at narrative. Oh, it’s gone now. I’m sure it’s fine.
I’m at TCAF this weekend, sharing a table with Jamie and I believe I’m right near Stephanie too.
That I’ve never done TCAF before is a strangeness in my career which provokes a similar level to bemusement to telling people in the game industry I did what I did for fifteen years and never once went to GDC. There’s more of an explanation to it than GDC. To start with, I was too poor to go there. And then, I had sold out, so knew I wasn’t cool enough. And then I was too busy.
But now I’m going there. First time on this side of Canada as well, so I suspect adventures.
Come say Hi. Say Hi where?
Booth 322 in Toronto Reference Library on the 3rd Floor. So go up stairs, basically.
I’ll be there when I’m not at panels or lunch or similar. We’ll have a schedule on the table.
In terms of public events…
Creators for Creators in Conversation
The High Park Ballroom 2 & 3 (Yorkville Marriott, 90 Bloor St. E)
Wherein I join the Creators for Creators folk to talk about what we’re doing and also unveil the winner. I was one of the three selection judges this year, so went through the 450 contributors to help put together the short list. I’m excited to find out which one is the actual winner too. The standard of work is just painfully good.
4:00 PM - 5:30 PM
Hitting the Right Note
Masonic Temple, 888 Yonge St.
Music and comics panel! Kid Koala, JonJon, me and Jamie, moderated by Hélène Deval. This should be a lot of fun, especially to get in the mood for…
TCAF Official Saturday Night Party!
The Masonic Temple Concert Hall, 888 Yonge St.
Kid-Koala’s on live at 9, and then Jamie and me and whoever else we inevitably rope into it will be dropping our science for those assembled. Worth stressing it’s not just a dancefloor, so there’s a bunch of quiet places to be. Seth Bingo is a fictional character. There’s no need to let him in.
Sunday 2:45 PM - 3:45 PM
When the Whirlwind Passes: Spotlight on Jamie McKelvie, Kieron Gillen, & Stephanie Hans
Forest Hill Ballroom
Wherein the always good David Brothers will try and get some sense from us three.
Shout Out is definitely out in the world now, and this excellent YA genre anthology from all-queer iswell worth your time. V Gagnon and myself do a story about Vikings, and it’s just got some astounding work. Go gets. It makes its con debut at TCAF on its own table , and I’m going to try and get some on mine too. Feel free to bring it over and get it signed and so on.
You may have seen a bunch of folk tweet these earlier.
Here’s one for mine. It is a fun thing I am involved in. Good to play with Dougie again, who is always astounding.
Folks can probably guess by my twitter presence that things are stressful due to an uptick of puns.
I quite liked this one, for sheer dumbness.
We’re rapidly approaching the DIE trade release, and we’re doing a signing on June 8th at the Big Bang in Dublin. Also, I’ll be interviewing Chrissy about Editing. “Editing the uneditable” is perhaps a better description. This will be fun, I suspect.
What a week.
Remember a few weeks ago when I said I didn’t have any pressing deadlines for over a month? Turns out I was totally deluded. At least one reason why this is a little Just The Facts as I need to carry on working down my List Of Stuff Which Should Ideally Be Done.
To get it in perspective, I was giving a vague run down of what I’ve been doing to my therapist and I totally forgot to include that I’d finished WicDiv.
That’s a sentence, innit?
It’s also not quite true. It’s a first draft, so it’s not something I’d ever pass over to the rest of the team. It has about an extra fifty percent of dialogue than I actually need, and a couple of places where I’ve still got a few options to consider – at least one reason why I left it as late as I have is that I want to chew over exactly how to land each beat. It’ll take me about a day to get it into final shape. But with those caveats, it does exist, and if I just died, WicDiv could be finished. Jamie and Chrissy would go out cursing me, of course, but that’s about par for course.
I’m aware this thinking “what happens if I die?” is particularly morbid, and very me. It’s not exactly new. With the first two Phonograms, while I was actually working on a series, I was in a state of vigilance, watching traffic to see if any will swerve and hit me. To leave a book unfinished was an abomination. I literally breathed a sigh of relief when they were in the draft – and then mailed a friend to ask if I happen to die before Jamie finished the art, could they do a lettering pass on the dialogue.
That went when away when I worked on longer books – partially getting used to the weirdness of writing, and partially that you can’t just run on that level of heightened emotions for years. However, I remember showering, and having morbid “So, you’re told you have a terminal disease and have three months to live. What do you do?” The instant answer was to do the cold hard calculation of whether I’d have enough time to get to the end of WicDiv if I dropped everything else.
This fucking book, this fucking human. Sigh.
The irony being it’s not even the thing which has been the biggest stress this week, which is actually the DIE rules. Having realised that May is before June and the trade’s release in June is when the Beta is meant to be available means that it really needs to be in the hands of a proofreader and designer ASAP. So getting the core manual in a state to pass over was the number one priority. It’s with a game designer who’s doing a game-design proof read, in terms of meaning. It’ll be then quickly tweaked, then passed over to actual editor, and then over for design. A last week lobbed to the core playtesters for a nose, and then release. Cripes.
I keep on saying to myself “It’s a Beta.” As in, it’s not going to be a release quality book – that would be against the purpose of the exercise. It’s also lucky that it’s against the purpose of the exercise, because to do otherwise would be literally impossible. I’m hoping folks like it enough to justify doing a proper release down the road – if they do, something around the fourth trade of DIE seems likely.
Anyway – the core manual sits at a cool 53k. The character sheets are another 10k, which are what I have to do when I get back. The Arcana is another 20-25k (and may have some more added if I get some folks to write a few things up), but that may not be in the initial release. It’s basically all the non-core stuff. It includes some of the weirdest, most playful stuff, so I’d loathe to use it, but everyone loves an expansion pack, right?
(Writing this I wonder if the Arcana is deliberately left in a rough “these really are notes in a Beta” state rather than the relative pretty of the main core book? Hmm. It would certainly lean into the intent. It was originally called the Appendix, and re-named, because frankly the Arcana does read like the beer-mat scribblings of a drunken mage.)
Getting it done was a huge relief, which I celebrated by going and celebrating Jamie’s birthday. With cocktails. Exactly two too many cocktails to drink before waking up and getting on a plane.
This week, I’m in Toronto. I will be working as well as doing the con (which is, of course, also work.) I need to wrestle down DIE 8 before Stephanie needs it when we both get back. Which should be a fun one, as I’ve got a structure I’m looking forward to using and a spotlight to shine on elements that haven’t been looked at before. But more next week. Hell, possibly some general culture download – there’s at least three books I want to write about, and I could write an entire newsletter on Barry s2Ep5 alone.
Right. I need to send this out and then meet friends for the traditional con-opening Korean Barbecue. I mention in case any of you were feeling sorry for me with the above.
See folks soon.