Interview with author Richard Lee Byers
As you may already know, our current Kickstarter campaign for the Mutants & Masterminds Reprint Extravaganza, also features two brand-new novels set in the world of Earth-Prime. Recently we had a chance to catch up with Richard Lee Byers, author of the first book in the Arcane Secrets Duology, The Doom That Came To San Francisco!
Tell us a bit about yourself and your work prior to this novel.
I’m a fantasy and horror writer who’s done well over fifty novels, dozens of pieces of short fiction, scripted a graphic novel, and has a screenplay under option and in preproduction. The majority of my novels connect to RPG worlds although I’ve also worked in settings that are all my own. I may be best known for my Forgotten Realms fiction. Most recently, I’ve written a Marvel Legends of Asgard trilogy for Aconyte Books and a novel set in the new fantasy world Archvillain Games is developing.
The Earth-Prime setting is richly developed, with hundreds of characters and twenty years of lore and development; was it intimidating stepping into a setting like that? How did you navigate it?
I didn’t find it intimidating because I have so much experience working in other richly developed settings. Also, I had visited this world before/ I wrote some short fiction for it.
I had the further advantage of knowing my book would focus on the supernatural. So I didn’t have to immerse myself in outer-space stuff, for example. I just needed some basic familiarity. I also knew that at the time I was writing it, Green Ronin had a big supernatural multi-part adventure in development, so to avoid continuity glitches, I didn’t use characters who were going to be involved in that. I went with a number of the others. I knew Thomas Rhymer and liked him from using him in one of my short stories, so I chose him to be my primary protagonist.
Finally, there are a number of characters on Earth-Prime who (I don’t think I’m giving away any secrets here) are to some degree inspired by classic characters from DC and Marvel. If you’re a lifelong comics fan like I am, that helps you get a handle on them.
How much of the concept for The Doom That Came to San Francisco came before you delved into Earth-Prime setting lore and how much of it developed out of it?
That’s a tricky question to answer because, as I mentioned, I’d written Earth-Prime short fiction before taking on the novel. So the premise came to me pretty quickly, and then I tinkered with it until it was a good fit for the characters I intended to use.
Why San Francisco? With the various fictional cities like Freedom City and Emerald City on Earth-Prime, why is Doom set in an analogue of a real-world city?
San Francisco is Gatekeeper’s home base, and he was the perfect character to play an important role in the novel. So that’s where I set it. San Francisco also has the advantage of being quite an interesting city, and I did my best to showcase some of what’s interesting about it. As readers will discover, though, the story does visit one of Earth-Prime’s cool fictional cities as events unfold.
Did you find the game-system details about characters’ various abilities inspirational, limiting, or some of both?
To be honest, it was information, often interesting, never limiting as far as I recall. I find that when I write fiction set in an RPG world, I don’t have to absorb every detail of the game mechanics. In the case of superheroes and supervillains, I just need the concept of the ability being represented and who’s mightier than who. If I’ve got that much, I’m good to go.
Richard Lee Byers is the author of well over fifty horror and fantasy books including the Marvel Legends of Asgard novels The Head of Mimir, The Rebels of Vanaheim (a Scribe Award finalist), and The Prisoner of Tartarus. He is perhaps best known for his Forgotten Realms books. He’s also written scores of short stories, scripted a graphic novel, and contributed content to tabletop and electronic games. A screenplay he wrote based on his prose work has been optioned and is now in preproduction. Richard is a frequent guest at GenCon in Indianapolis and Necronomicon in Tampa. He invites everyone to Follow him on Twitter and Facebook.
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