The Grim Tidings Podcast: LANDFALL Kickstarter with Omnicide Publishing

Click here for the episode!

815c46bd7abb26b8eb0ca174cc6675b7_originalWe’re joined by the team at Omincide Publishing to talk about the forthcoming occult grimdark serial fiction anthology LANDFALL! Our panel of guests include Adrian Collins, Jinx Strange, Jesse Bullington / Alex Marshall, Michael R. Fletcher, and Angela Meadon! Listen to find out how this unique serial fiction project came together, what awesome authors, artists, and worldbuilders will be a part of the series, get all the details of the Kickstarter including stretch goals and add-ons, and much more!

Click here to back LANDFALL on Kickstarter by September 30th!

Join the LANDFALL Community Facebook Group

Past episodes you’ll want to check out:

EVIL IS A MATTER OF PERSPECTIVE Kickstarter with Grimdark Magazine

Inside with Dirge Magazine

The Dark Side of Alex Marshal / Jesse Bullington

Manifesting Michael R. Fletcher

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Grimspirations #2: Dungeons & Dragons

The game that launched a thousand careers, slayed millions of kobolds, and made staying at home drinking copious amounts of soda fun, Dungeons and Dragons is definitely one of the top Grimspirations of all time. To celebrate International Tabletop Day (April 29th) I decided to put together a post about how Dungeons and Dragons inspired me in multiple ways, including most of my interests to this day. Shit, if not for Dungeons and Dragons, the Philip you all know and love might be still shoveling chicken guts for a living. But let’s not get into that.

On The Grim Tidings Podcast, Rob and I have had multiple guests tell us the impact role-playing games, particularly D&D, had on their lives. Some even famously wrote books for D&D worlds (including R.A. Salvatore and Richard A. Knaak). Suffice to say, I devoured dozens of Forgotten Realms and Dragonlance books back in the day. A sprightly young Phil was seen 9 times out of 10 with a beat-up paperback in his grip. These included the adventures of Drizzt, the Heroes of the Lance, Huma, and many others. I wasn’t inspired by J.R.R. Tolkien like many in the generations before me, but by the worlds influenced by Tolkien. I’m one of the sad few on Earth that has never read Lord of the Rings. I’m one of those lowly “saw the movies” guys.

But let’s not get too far off track. I want to talk about a few things that heavily influence me even today that were directly caused by my days of playing D&D.

Writing

The obvious one, I wouldn’t be writing jack shit if not for D&D. I had a friend introduce me to D&D back when I was a teenager and I spent most weekends of junior high and high school staying up late and playing marathon sessions. I eventually transitioned from a Player Character (PC) to a Dungeon Master (DM). This is what led me to get bit by the story-telling bug.

I spent many hours at my early part-time jobs (during breaks) designing campaigns and plotting out small maps. I had dozens of little memos folded up in my pocket that I’d doodle on whenever I got even a small window. I was literally working for the weekend. I always looked forward to how my players would react to what I had in store.

I never really had “loot monger” players. Fortunately, they enjoyed the role-playing aspect more than endless battles. The battles I did throw at them usually meant something because I worked hard on making them hate the people that they occasionally ran into. Monsters were around as well, but I never did the standard dungeon crawl kind of games. The players seemed to like that, so I rolled with it.

Then the games ended. People went off to different universities, I went off to university, and no one really played anymore. I tried other groups, but nothing really clicked. That’s when the foray into writing really began.

I never used any of my D&D ideas for stories, but I’d be lying if I said DMing had become an addiction, an addiction that transferred over to writing. The folded memos were no more, replaced by notebooks full of ideas and a desktop crammed with Works-in-Progress.

At some point I hit the “fuck it” point of my life and decided to publish some of the stuff I’d written. I decided waiting around for things to be perfect wouldn’t work. Just like that wouldn’t work when I was DMing. I had players waiting for a story. Surprisingly, I have people interested in the next Splatter Elf tale. So…addiction sated.

Game Design

A few years ago I had a revelation while teaching. It was: “If I make classes I’d have fun doing, then maybe other people would like them, too.” This meant games. A shit ton of them. I started cutting up cards, collecting tokens, dice, and all sorts of things to make games out of. Students started to like my lessons and lit up when they learned we were playing a game. That’s when I knew that game design was something I had suddenly gained interest in. Now, I have to go back to my D&D roots because without them, I would never have even thought about playing games in my classes. Game designing also brought me to one of my new favorite hobbies, card/board games. I have about 20 now that I’ve bought in the last three years or so. They help me come up with new ideas not only for classes, but also for my own games. That’s right, I design games now also. Woo hoo.

Without D&D, I wouldn’t have one of the things I enjoy most in life, something I can share with friends and my wife. It’s awakened new creative impulses in me that have lain dormant for a while. Making card games for classes and myself (for possible sale at some point?) have become the new folded memos of my 30s.

Reading

Ah, reading. It’s something I’ve done a lot of, but unfortunately is never enough. I always feel guilty for getting behind on reading. Mostly because I know the amount of work authors put into their books. Yet I’ve realized that this is never going to end. The To Be Read Pile is like eating a Sisyphean doughnut. The more I eat, the more it grows. That said, most of what I read is fantasy. That’s because of, you guessed it, D&D. I’ve always been interested in magic, swords, and the like, probably dating back to when I was in elementary school reading Greek mythology every day. Why did I do that? I was bored after school most days and I had a library at my disposal.

I read fantasy not necessarily for the escapism like some may do, but to remind me of what I love. I love the fantastical, the weird, the unexplained. And I think that comes from watching a party get butchered by a beholder, or seeing a blue dragon get its head sliced off by a vorpal blade, or even my main villain get turned to dust by a Disintegrate scroll. These are fond memories that really happened. With friends. Memories that I still hold dear.

OK, this is getting less grim. Uh, unicorn throat rip. There, that’s better.

In any case, I think those of us that have played D&D have been inspired by it in multiple ways. Those who still smile at the glimpse of an old 2nd Edition book or marvel at the ungodly stats of the Tarrasque. We will not go quietly into the night. Unless we’ve had too much caffeine. They we’ll howl and curse.

But those of us that create have that addiction. We must create so we do create. And I owe that in part to Dungeons and Dragons.

Now roll that trusty d20 and see what you get.

  1. You trip on your guts down a staircase into a pit of ravenous jackals.
  2. Your shield breaks and splinters in your face. Now everyone calls you Dumbass Shield-Face.
  3. Your pegasus shits on your tent.
  4. An owlbear eats your last can of beans, flattens your wagon, and kills your cleric. In that order.
  5. A pack of wights drains the piss out of your levels.
  6. A necromancer raises a were-boar from the dead. Now you have to fight an undead were-boar. Ha ha ha!
  7. A thief steals your bag of holding and sticks in another bag of holding.
  8. You trigger a Stinking Cloud trap. Now you smell like ass.
  9. You get Melf’s Acid Arrow right in your junk.
  10. A big ass umber hulk crashes through the wall, screams “Oh yeah!” and then douses you in acidic Kool-Aid.
  11. An elvish fighter/mage/thief throws nuts at you.
  12. A wild beholder appears. You pee a little.
  13. Oh, you found some treasure! It’s the Hand of Vecna! Oh…
  14. The party wants to split. The DM sighs.
  15. A Hill Giant and a Frost Giant get it on near your tavern. You are not amused.
  16. A bard keeps playing the same song over and over and it vaguely sounds like “Let It Go” from Frozen.
  17. A paladin mistakes you for an evil priestess and smashes your toe with his warhammer. You need new shoes.
  18. Rust monsters.
  19. Mountain Dew river.
  20. Someone walks in and laughs. “What you guys playing?” “D&D” “Oh yeah? Who’s winning?”

Thanks.

-Philip Overby

Grimspirations #1: Joe Abercrombie and Desperate Housewives

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Welcome to Grimspirations! This is a new feature on TheGrimTidingsPodcast.com where Rob, Phil, and sometimes special guests will share how some grimdark writers (and maybe some other strange sources) have inspired them as readers, writers, artists, etc. If you’ve been grimspired, feel free to share with us!

No, this is not a trick. I seriously changed my views on writing after watching the complete series of Desperate Housewives and reading Joe Abercrombie for the first time. It comes down to this word: episodes.

Some background info. I was getting tired of reading fantasy epic after fantasy epic. I enjoyed Abercrombie’s world so much I was delighted to see stand-alone novels featured with some of the same characters. However, some minor characters made cameos, weaved in and out of the stories, or became major characters themselves. Nicomo Cosca, Bremer dan Gorst, and Black Dow stand out to me as good examples of this. Then there’s the short stories that introduce new characters to the world that later ended up being in novels like fan favorite Whirrun of Bligh. It all had a very TV feel to me. Characters get promoted to “main players,” characters leave and go on their own adventures, characters die and get replaced by others. That made me think of Desperate Housewives.

Yes, that Desperate Housewives.

I started watching Desperate Housewives several years back thinking it would be something fun to laugh at how silly it was. While there were silly moments, I was surprised by how good the writing, character development, and plot structure on the show turned out to be. It might be considered a sin by some to mention Desperate Housewives and the First Law series in the same breath, but hear me out. While I might be stretching to compare the two, I enjoyed the overall “lived-in” feel of the show. That even though some characters died or moved away, the common theme of drama on Wisteria Lane stuck with the four main cast members, Susan, Bree, Lynette, and Gabby with some minor characters getting promoted to bigger roles in later seasons.

So I wrote “The Unicorn-Eater”, my first Splatter Elf title, with these things in mind.

Wait, what?

Burned out with failed novel after failed novel, I decided to write in a shorter, episodic style. Main characters get over-arching stories, but I feel like each story can be read by itself as a stand-alone if needed. For example, Katzia of Clovenhoof is a monster hunting sword-collector that has a penchant for cursing at anyone and anything. She appears in all of the Splatter Elf stories so far, but she has a minor role in “The Bog Wyvern.” In turn, I gave Katzia the main story of competing with her father, also a sword-collector, and her shitty relationship with him. Yet in “The Bog Wyvern” she is dealing with some other issue so she goes off on her merry way “off-camera.” Instead we get the focus on Bathbrady, Katzia’s partner from the first story “The Unicorn-Eater.” The same goes with my first novella One Goblin Army which shifts the focus to Grinner, Bathbrady’s goblin partner in “The Bog Wyvern.” Lots of criss-crossing, weaving, and exploring characters. So why do this? Um, because? Maybe it could be best explained through a fancy list. Everyone loves fancy-ass lists, right?

1.Character Development AF

Ever read something and thought “I wish I could learn more about that character.” This is my way of thinking when doing the Splatter Elf stories. As Joe Abercrombie’s characters change and grow in different stories and novels, I’m attempting to do the same thing. A good example would be Black Dow, but I won’t get into SPOILERS here. For Desperate Housewives, the best choice would be one of my personal favorites Mrs. McCluskey, who starts out as curmudgeonly neighbor, but later grows to be beloved by everyone on Wisteria Lane for her incredible kindness. Giving various characters the spotlight allows readers to learn more about them and watch their journey. Doing this with too many characters can be dangerous, but in moderation it can be fun for both the writer and readers.

2. Explorin’ and Shit

One way to show more of the world is to allow characters to travel. I’ve introduced numerous places in the main continent of Groteskia by honing in on different characters experiences. Wyvern-infested swamps, desolate post-war landscapes, and sites of unicorn butchery. While Desperate Housewives tends to spend almost all of its time on Wisteria Lane, we do get to see inside the homes of most of the characters. The places where murders were hidden, secrets were told, and affairs were had. Mary Alice’s home in particular was a uniquely grim place on the show, the site of a murder, a suicide, stealing a baby, all sorts of horrible shit.

In turn, I began looking at locations as more than just places. They have their own stories, their own lives. Abercrombie’s approach made me think about this idea even deeper. The people of the world don’t just sit there and do nothing, waiting for the main characters to appear. They have their own wars, atrocities, victories, etc. Case in point, Styria, only briefly mentioned here and there in the original First Law trilogy, we get a close-up of it in Best Served Cold. I love this style of seeing new places through different eyes and not just through one set of characters.

3. WTF Moments

One thing we’ve talked about on The Grim Tidings Podcast before is having WTF moments in books. George R.R. Martin seems to be the master of smashing his readers in the face. Abercrombie excels at this as well by having characters that do surprising and unpredictable things. Logen Ninefingers, the Bloody Nine himself, had a lot of depth as a character because he had done so many terrible things in his past. So when he went batshit crazy and slaughtered people on occasion, it gave his arc some WTF moments that can keep the readers hooked.Same with one of the most complex characters in all of fantasy, Sand dan Glotka, former hero turned torturer. Any time he would come up in POVs, it was always exciting to read because you never knew which direction he would go.

And Desperate Housewives builds itself on WTF moments every episode. Seriously, watch it.

I’ve tried to create that same element in my own writing. I wouldn’t call it “shock value” but more along the lines of keeping the reader entertained through off-the-wall characters and situations.

So that’s it for the first Grimspirations post. I didn’t expect to bring Desperate Housewives into this article about Joe Abercrombie’s style having a great influence on me, but it seemed apt. Plus, that’s a grim ass show.

How has Joe Abercrombie made you interested in fantasy fiction? What elements do you think he does the best? Share in the comments below!

-Philip Overby

Welcome to The Grim Tidings Podcast.com

the-grim-tidings-podcast-logo

Welcome to the internet home of The Grim Tidings Podcast! Not only will we continue to grim up the podcast airwaves, but we’ll also be featuring new content here on this very website. If you’re new to The Grim Tidings Podcast, here are a few primers for you to get caught up with the epicosity.

Q. Who in the blue hell are you guys?

A. The Grim Tidings Podcast is hosted by Rob Matheny and Philip Overby, both life-long fans of speculative fiction and all things dark. We formed The Grim Tidings Podcast in 2015 and have interviewed some of the heaviest hitters in the genre including Joe Abercrombie, Steven Erikson, Kameron Hurley, Anthony Ryan, R.A. Salvatore, Raymond E. Feist and more. We also like to dig into the guts of the industry every so often by talking to literary agents such as Mark Gottlieb or acclaimed editors like Ellen Datlow. We have a mature rating because we like to use colorful language and that’s probably not stopping anytime soon.

Q. OK, so where are your episodes?

A. You can find them on iTunes, Stitcher, or Podbean, but we also have a direct link here to all of the current episodes.

Q. And will this website just sit here and rot now after this initial post?

A. Uh, hell no. We’re planning tons of content. Let me spill the grim beans below.

  • Text Interviews: In addition to our regular podcast episodes, we will also feature text interviews with some of the biggest names in fantasy, SF, and horror.
  • Grimspirations: We’ll be sharing how some of our guests have inspired us by highlighting our background, first time reading their work, etc. Getting teary-eyed just thinking about the memories.
  • Guest Posts: The site will also be open to guest posts from all sorts of people which opens the gates to infinite possibilities.
  • Reviews: Reviews of books, movies, games and any other media that gets The Grim Tidings Podcast seal of approval.
  • …and much more!

So keep an eye on this space for future content, links to episodes, and even some surprises!

You can find us at the following  places as well:

The Grim Tidings Podcast Facebook Page

Twitter: @grimdarkfiction

And the awesome community where we met on Facebook Grimdark Fiction Readers and Writers.

-Philip