Do you remember when you first came up with Gaunt and Bone?
I was writing longhand in a coffee place in Menlo Park, California, in the ’90s. I was doing the second of a planned series of stories in a dreamlike fantasy world, taking cues from Dunsany, Lovecraft, and Leiber. (The first one, “The Lions of Karthagar,” eventually appeared in revised form in Black Gate 15.) I wanted a classic Dungeons & Dragons style thief, and played around with names resembling Indiana Jones and Inigo Montoya, coming up with Imago Bone. The inspirations suggested a lot about his character. Next, I needed a reason for him to do something dangerous, so along came his “Goth” girlfriend and her stolen book of poems. Her name, Persimmon Gaunt, was meant to suggest a love of life and a fascination with death. They clicked with me, and when I went on to do a third story in that sequence, they ended up answering the “want ad.” So, I just ran with that and wrote more stories about them.
Chris, you have spent time as a librarian, a job that most people think would be great for an author. Is that true or false and why?
True, especially if your job covers fiction. It helps keep you aware of what’s been written, what’s popular, what people enjoy about certain writers and genres, and what the possibilities are. Meanwhile nonfiction books can spark all kinds of ideas. I mostly handled children’s books and programs, and even though I’m not currently writing for children, there’s a lot of fantasy and science fiction being written for kids. I found all that exuberant storytelling inspiring. One word of caution if you’re interested in public libraries, though—it’s not necessarily a “quiet” job from the librarian’s perspective! There’s a big customer service component. You need to be able to talk to people, and listen, and be patient.
“Know, O prince, that between the years when the oceans drank Atlantis and the gleaming cities, and the years of the rise of the Sons of Aryas, there was an Age undreamed of, when shining kingdoms lay spread across the world like blue mantles beneath the stars…” —Robert E. Howard, “The Phoenix on the Sword”
Well met, intrepid reader! If you’ve seen my other work for Kobold Press, there’s no hiding the fact that Weird Tales and the writing of Robert E. Howard have been a huge influence on my lifetime of gaming. So, I wanted to honor Howard by briefly studying the most cohesive world he ever built—the world of Conan the Barbarian.
Howard termed Conan’s time “The Hyborian Age.” And its place was the prehistoric realms of Hyboria and the outlying “savage” lands. The map of the Hyborian Age isn’t too dissimilar from what we imagine the pre-cataclysmic continent of a unified Europe/Asia/Africa to look like. It’s a time of young civilizations and forgotten kingdoms—a time of high adventure! Thus, the Hyborian Age becomes one of the best playgrounds imaginable when it comes to tabletop roleplaying. There have been many notable adaptations throughout the years of the Conan mythology for pen and paper RPGs. And the Cimmerian’s influence is no stranger to the core concepts of D&D itself—heroic adventure in the face of thrilling adversities, among them.
KOBOLD BOOK SIGNING, SEATTLE: Join Wolfgang Baur, Janna Silverstein, Jeff Grubb, Chris Pramas, John Pitts and Steve Winter on Wednesday, November 5th at 7 p.m. at University Book Store, 4326 University Way NE (map).
At the heart of every adventure lies conflict, whether it’s between a cursed knight and a half-elf prince at swordspoint, a troupe of adventurers facing down an ogre, or the armies of two great nations clashing for ultimate power.
The Kobold Guide to Combat brings more than 15 master game designers and storytellers together to share their secrets: with essays that cover everything from strategy and tactics to the history of military systems at war, from increasing the tension in a conflict to using monsters, magic, and war machines on the field, these creators show you how to bring together the elements to create great combat on the tabletop and in your storytelling.
Edited by Janna Silverstein, this volume contains essays by:
The clapping of hands to a folksy rhythm, the dance-inspiring thump of goatskin tambourines, the high reedy long notes produced by conical horns carved of apricot wood—these are just some of the sounds of the Southlands.
Like a magic carpet, music is interwoven into the fabric of the region’s life and culture.
Instrumentalists and storytellers of renown attend great annual festivals, entertaining thousands.
In street-corner cafes, a lightly strummed oud accompanies a mid-day mint tea.
Children are taught in family gatherings of the traditional musical poetry and accompanying dances to celebrate each season of the agricultural calendar.