Talk Part 3

Posted: June 26, 2012 in Uncategorized

Apologies for the delay on this third and final part; I can assure you all that it is kitten-related and therefore worth it. I promised pics of more kitties once I hit 150 followers on my author page and I am sticking with that pledge! For now though, the last part of the Nerd East talk now some time ago, relatively speaking! You may, as usual, find a link to the video here:

An image from my talk!


I had a couple of points left to the Wikipedia definitions which turned up in previous parts of this annotation:

Several tales of urban fantasy have appeared in live-action format. Additionally, some stories have debuted as films before finding further success as television shows. Well-known examples include the 1992 series Highlander, and the TV adaptation of Buffy the Vampire Slayer, which is regarded as a seminal work of the genre.

[Urban fantasy] often features mythological beings, romance, and various female protagonists who are involved in law enforcement or vigilantism.

‘Live-action’ is of course the first half of LARP by definition. That aside, here it is meant as TV or film of course. But yes – if someone wanted to ask ‘what is urban fantasy?’ and needed a physical televisual example, I would probably hand them Buffy before I’d had a chance to think about it at length. I would certainly count vampire slaying as either a form of vigilantism, or perhaps even an allegory for it at times. I’d even make an argument for Harry Potter containing elements relating to the genre. Consider Platform 9 ¾ at Kings Cross Station, and the Routemaster bus running around London, for example. And now, the last taken quote:

Certain staples of urban fantasy novels are also present in TV series. The concept of peaceful coexistence with paranormal beings is explored in the 1996 series Kindred: The Embraced, which focuses on secret vampire clans throughout San Francisco. Conversely, works such as Witchblade present the more common matter of a protagonist attempting to protect a city.

Kindred: The Embraced brought me something perfect to talk about. You see, it was from the writers of the original Beverley Hills 90210 – who took their source material from… Vampire: The Masquerade. This was a source of huge excitement amongst those of us who spotted this landmark moment – a TV show with its origins in a table-top roleplaying game! This was a big deal in the community; perhaps as big a deal as the MMO in development. I’m not an MMO player really, but I’m looking forward to seeing what they do with this very much. Now, earlier on in the Kindred TV series, the 90210 part of it seemed the clearer part, and the changes rendered felt a little cringe-worthy. I won’t go into detail, but some of you know exactly what I’m talking about. However it was starting to get quite watchable by the end of it, and showed some promise until its cancellation, the tragic loss of the actor playing the lead protagonist putting a final end to it.

Gaming, then, has been without question a formative element to my own writing. Without having created one or two gaming environments over the years, I wouldn’t have had the same experience to do so with my writing these days.

Despite having read his stuff after starting mine, I have to consider Jim Butcher a real role model for me. He is a gamer and proud of it – even crediting as much in his book bios. The Dresden Files universe, or ‘Dresdenverse’, is a fine example of a GM in action, and nowadays has a great roleplaying game series of its own, which he was heavily involved in the production of. Check it out if you haven’t already – I’m in a campaign even now!

Nerd East provided a wonderful audience of fellow gamers and those who write about such things. Revisiting this, I mentioned that within the urban fantasy ‘rules’, there is the option of a significant ‘real world’ person, place or thing being brought in – or taken out. Charlaine Harris of the True Blood series has, in her books, Elvis running around alive (in a manner of speaking) and well in the present day. This, or another such celebrity figure, is very possible in any roleplaying game, should the Gamesmaster deem that it would add something to it. I put out there the possibility of a game’s players having to solve the mystery of the Milton Keynes concrete cows for example, clearly conduits for some otherworldly force…

What IS their secret??

As mentioned earlier in the talk, the current fashion isn’t for third-person omniscience in writing nowadays – more commonly, first-person is where it’s at now. It’s great for those moving between gaming and writing – that literal thing of getting into the head of your character, just like you’d expect to as a player.

From my experience of gaming, drawing up a character is sometimes as straightforward as an idea coming to me straight away about what I want to play – however attaching the nuts and bolts isn’t as simple as just putting pencil to paper. And here’s another analogy I have with writing; I find that it never quite comes together until I’ve actually played that character for that first session, maybe a second or even a third. Certain combinations of perks, merits or advantages and quirks, flaws or hindrances – whatever you want to call them depending on your system, don’t always quite work for the way you want to play the character. Stats or skills may need a little adjustment. And sometimes, the character just isn’t the one you pencilled in at all, and you need to do something different.

One area in which they differ is that a starting novel character may not at all be a suitable starting gaming character. Harry Dresden for example, is somewhat beyond a starting character, even when we first catch up with him in Storm Front. I’d argue the same about Rose, in my story, Misery’s Tear, even relatively early on. And also, occasionally in character development too. Sometimes, novel characters make significant advancements in terms of power and skills without having done the kind of grind that RPG players put in four hours of gaming time in once a week for two or three years to reach. Novel characters can be utter munchkins, and it isn’t fair at all, but sometimes, that’s how it’s got to be for a story.

Finally, it’s probably worth me putting out there that in some form or other, urban fantasy is not necessarily a new thing. It finds older relations in more general fantasy, but it is also the descendant of the original Gothic novels. Vampires, werewolves, and ghost stories have been cropping up for quite some time. In regular generational cycles, these elements crop up and trend in popularity most likely too. Look at: Christopher Lee’s lengthy stint in the fantastic Hammer movies from the late 50s to the 70s, Anne Rice’s Vampire Chronicles from the mid to late 70s onward – and accompanying movies, The Lost Boys, the True Blood series and I could probably name a dozen more. And that’s just the vampires.

I would be delighted to hear how your stories, readers, came to be. On the gaming side, there are very few games I’ve played in, games-mastered or attended as crew in the case of live-action, that have not seen a character turn up – mine or another player’s, that I haven’t taken some inspiration from. Stories breed stories, no matter what universe they start or end up in.

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