lunes, 30 de septiembre de 2019

Leticia Lara interviews Gareth Hanrahan, author of The Gutter Prayer

I am very happy for having the opportunity of publishing this interview of Leticia Lara with Gareth Hanrahan, author of The Gutter Prayer, one the most interesting fantasy novels that has been published so far in 2019. Hope you enjoy it, and remember that you can read the interview translated into Spanish at Leticia's essential blog, Fantástica Ficción.  

Leticia Lara: We met at Dublin at the Worldcon. Do you usually go to these conventions? What do you think about them? 

Gareth Hanrahan: I go to a lot of gaming conventions, which are very similar but aren’t quite the same thing. The Dublin Worldcon was my first fantasy/sci-fi con in a very, very long time. Conventions can be wonderful experiences if you approach them in the right state of mind, or once you make the right group of friends; there are some conventions that are like annual reunions, and I look forward to them all year. 

LL: You used to work as a game designer and now you are writing novels. Which are the common points (if any) in both worlds? 

GH: I still work as a game designer – my day job is still making up stuff about elves and vampires. There’s a host of common elements; they’re both modes of storytelling, both involve shaping character and backstory and plot to create an emotional experience. The difference is where that shaping happens – a novel is more-or-less fully formed when the reader encounters it, whereas a game only comes alive at the table. 

The biggest difference, I find, is open-endedness. A novel needs to drive towards a conclusion; games, by contrast, tend towards sprawling or even meandering plots and don’t always have a conclusion at all – and where they do, it’s more of a capstone than a carefully planned and foreshadowed conclusion. 

LL: What is your favourite RPG? What do you like best: being the master or being a player?

GH: I don’t really have a favourite RPG – I mean, if you held a gun to my head and said ‘choose’, I’d probably blurt out ‘Call of Cthulhu’, but there are so many games I adore. Dungeons and Dragons, Nobilis, Night’s Black Agents, The One Ring, Unknown Armies… Right now, I’m playing in a Warhammer Fantasy campaign and about to start running a Yellow King game…

I prefer running games, in general, but it’s a good idea to see the game from the other side of the GM screen, too. It keeps you humble…

LL: Does your background as a role player help you while writing fantasy?

GH: Yes, immensely – up to a point. Certainly, a lot of the tools and techniques are hugely useful, especially for world-building and small-scale plotting, for making the fictional world coherent and plausible within its own crazy rules. There are a few places where my instincts as a roleplayer and game designer clash with what works in novel writing and I’ve had to unlearn some lessons, but overall it’s been very helpful.

LL: What can you tell us about your ENnie awards? 

GH: The ENnie awards are one of the big awards in tabletop gaming. I’ve picked up a few, most notably for a project I co-wrote with Kenneth Hite (and, technically, with Bram Stoker) called the Dracula Dossier. We turned the novel Dracula into a game supplement, revealing its secret history as an after-action report written by British Intelligence after their failed attempt to recruit a vampire. We filled it with annotations, added characters, and connected it all into an epic campaign of modern-day espionage and horror. That pretty much swept the awards in the year it was released, which was incredibly gratifying. 

LL: What would be your sales pitch for The Gutter Prayer? Who is your favourite character from this book? 

GH: In a city of alchemists and strange gods, three thieves stumble upon the fantasy equivalent of the Manhattan Project – and, not understanding what they’ve found, try to use it to overthrow the corrupt master of the thieves’ guild. Many things explode or get stabbed. 

My favourite character… hmm. Weirdly, I’m very fond of Effro Kelkin, who’s a comparatively minor character. He’s an ambitious and cranky old politician who used to rule the city before he was forced out by the alchemists. I’m a big fan of political intrigue and double-dealing, so it was nice to be able to indulge in that on the sidelines of the fantasy carnage.

LL: Can you tell us something about your new book, The Shadow Saint? 

GH: The Shadow Saint is the sequel to The Gutter Prayer, set about a year later. The city of Guerdon’s recovering from the events of the first novel, and new factions and powers are moving into the wreckage. The story follows the efforts of two of these factions – the warring powers of the necromancers of Haith, and the fanatical followers of the mad gods of Ishmere – to seize control of Guerdon, as well as those caught in the middle of their intrigues. 

LL: Have you been contacted by a Spanish publisher interested in your work? 

GH: I don’t believe so – at least, I haven’t heard of any offer. The Russian and Turkish rights have been purchased, but that’s all so far. I’d love for it to be translated into Spanish – there are some Spanish fans and bloggers who’ve really enjoyed the book, and it’d be nice for it to have a wider audience there.

LL: Is there anything else you would like to comment? What can you tell us about your new projects?

GH: I’ve just finished up writing some of the dialogue for the Paranoia: Happiness is Mandatory computer game. My Night’s Black Agents: Solo Ops game – a game for one player and one Game Moderator, think Jason Bourne vs Dracula – just came out, as did Hideous Creatures: A Bestiary of the Cthulhu Mythos. I’m in the middle of working on a campaign for the One Ring RPG entitled Errantries of the King, which is set in Gondor in the years before the War of the Ring. Oh, and I’m working on another novel…

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