Monday’s Friend: Bryan Fields

Today I’m pleased to have Bryan Fields as my guest on the blog.

SJT: Welcome back, Bryan. You last visited in January 2014 to tell us about LIFE WITH A FIRE-BREATHING DRAGON. Now the third book in the series, DRAGON’S LUCK has been released. What are David and his dragoness girlfriend Rose up to now?

BF: Since the end of the second book, ‘The Land Beyond All Dreams’, David and Rose bought a gaming studio and have been trying to get a new online role-playing game finished and onto the market. The problem is, David is good at playing games, but knows nothing about making them. The only hope they have of getting a product out the door is to get a new investor, so they go to the BuzzCon gaming convention in Las Vegas to drum up some interest and hopefully some capital.

Once there, they become embroiled a civil war between two factions of Dark Elves living on another world. The god Crom recruits David and Rose to find a weapon capable of ending the conflict once and for all. All they have to do is find it and get back to the convention before the costume contest starts.

SJT: The new book sounds like a fascinating mix of urban fantasy, gaming and Las Vegas. What was the inspiration that gave you this idea?

BF: Inspirations came from all manner of events, usually totally unconnected. I’ll give you some examples:

My wife Noelle and I took our daughter, Alissa, to her first convention a few years ago, and while we were waiting in line to get in I got an email with the contract for “Life With a Fire-Breathing Girlfriend”. That was pretty exciting, obviously. “The Land Beyond All Dreams” was almost finished, so, naturally, I was thinking about what to do with the third book. We go in to the convention, where we were surrounded by all the people in costumes and the dealers and all that, and as I watched Alissa, just, wide-eyed, taking it all in, I kept wondering how Rose would react to that environment. That idea became the background setting.

I was going to set the convention in Denver, but somewhere in there, I ran across this promo ad about vacations in Las Vegas. It said, “With money, one is a Dragon.” Great line, and I immediately moved the convention to Vegas. Really, for a Dragon, it’s the best city on Earth. I found out later that the line the ad used is only half of a Chinese proverb. The rest of it says, “Without it, a worm.” Which is pretty damn Vegas as well.

Games are a big family activity for us, and one of the games the whole family plays is World of Warcraft. One day Noelle came up with the idea of Blizzard, the game’s publisher, building a WoW-based casino in Vegas. The guild we play with in WoW actually has a bunch of game designers in it, including some from Blizzard, and she made a point of submitting it to them as an official suggestion. Well, I loved it. That idea became the Trove, the casino the story is set in.

DragonsLuck_2 (2)At one point, I got stuck trying to work out the events of the story, and I wound up breaking out my box of Storymatic cards. It’s a great tool for exactly this situation. You draw a card, and you get a random event, goal, or character description. I drew about six, and one of them was ‘steal a car’. I used them all in one way or another, but that one card established most of the second half of the book, including a running battle across northern Arizona.

You don’t always need a huge, grand idea; it just has to be the right one.

SJT: Dragons are legendary creatures that have inspired many writers. Is your dragon more like a D&D dragon, or did you make up your own rules?

BF: Well, I made up the rules when I was running D&D games, so…yes to both. The dragons of Pern were a great influence, along with the movies of Hayao Miyazaki. I love the fact that people in his movies accept these wonders they discover. I didn’t want the dragons to be monsters. I wanted them to be likable and relatable, even though they are different.

The biggest influence, though, was the player community for the online game ‘Istaria’. It was and still is the only online role-playing game where you can play as a Dragon. I played for several years and eventually joined the design team as a writer. The game lore and the Dragon society created by the player community were a huge influence.

The first book I ever completed was very heavy on Dragons, and they are quite different from Rose and her people. The title, ‘True Flame’, came from the Istarian Dragon community. It means something embodying the quintessence of what it is to be a Dragon, which is a strong theme in that book. Right now, the book is up on blocks for transmission work. I have to write out a major character, and it’s not easy. One of these days… J

SJT: Are you a meticulous plotter, or more a ‘seat-of-the-pants’ sort of writer?

BF: I try to plot out the events of the main story and the major secondary stories, but I know it’s a guideline at best.

SJT: Have you ever put people you know in real life into any of your books?

BF: Yes. Russell, in the first book, was an amalgam of several people, including an idiot who decided to clean his pistol at the table during a D&D game, load it, and leave it pointing at the game master because he didn’t like how the game was going.

There are a fair number of others, but Russell is the only one I’ll give up; mostly because the people he was based on were just awful and I’m glad they are out of my life.

SJT: What’s next for you, writing-wise?

BF: Charles de Lint did a review of ‘Fire-Breathing Girlfriend’, which, I have to say, was one of the most awesome moments I’ve had as a writer. One of the comments he made was about the escalation of the stakes in each story. Essentially, ‘after you save the world, then what? Save the galaxy?’ Well, he was right, and I took it to heart. ‘Dragon’s Luck’ was pretty much finished by then, so I couldn’t change the stakes in that one. However, from here on out, David is not saving the world any more.

The next story, “Born With Wings”, is about David fighting for custody of his daughter Aparna, who was introduced in the first book. She’s four now, was born and raised in India, and does not know David is her father. David and Rose get to go to Mumbai for a wedding. Thirteen, the talking cat from book two, is back, and it has been a lot of fun catching up with him. David is also having some issues with the Colorado Department of Motor Vehicles; he’s trying to figure out how to get a title and registration on a car he brought back from Thirteen’s world.

The biggest change in David’s world is the world itself. Noelle and I decided that it would be fun to merge the backgrounds for our books, so now we are working with a single shared world. The events Noelle covers in “Forging Day” hit at the beginning of “Born With Wings”, and the effects of the Change precipitate most of the events in the story. In some ways, having magic and non-Humans in the world makes things harder for David and Rose, because things people once dismissed out of hand are now entirely possible. They have to be more careful than they have been, which is fun for me.

I don’t know what will happen after this story, but that’s the good part about David being a Hero; there’s always someone out there who needs one.

You can buy DRAGON’S LUCK from the MuseItUp bookstore, and follow Bryan on his blog and Facebook page.

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