Interview with author Matt Forbeck
Hello everyone, I would like to introduce you to Matt Forbeck, author, game designer, Kickstarter guru, and Dad to the quad power. Matt hails from the great state of Wisconsin, you know the place with a lot of cheese, or so they tell us. First off I would like to thank Matt for taking time out of his schedule to do an interview with us, The Founding Fields have been a fan of your work since the beginning and some of us even before we joined the website. For those of you who do not know who Matt is, he is a game designer with a tons of games to his credit, including both RPG and CCG games, including Marvel Heroes Battle Dice, The Lord of the Rings RPG, Dreadlands: The Wierdest West RPG, and even more! He is also an author with over a dozen books to his credit, writing the Magic the Gathering comic book, Blood Bowl based books for Black Library, books for Angry Robot, and finally his own 12 for 12 project, which if you did not know, is 12 novels written over the 12 months of the year.
The Founding Fields: Thank you Matt for joining us, we are glad to have you here.
Matt: I still do a bit of game design, although most of my work is in writing novels and comics and for computer games. Writing for RPGs sadly doesn’t pay that well, so I can’t make it as much a priority as I once did. I feed my family with my writing, so I need to try to make the most out of it.
TFF: What do you enjoy more, writing for an established franchise, like Blood Bowl, or writing your own materials?
Matt: They both have their advantages. I love coming up with my own settings, characters, and plots, but sometimes it’s refreshing to play in someone else’s treehouse. I just wrote a novel for the TV show Leverage for instance, and it was a blast to put words in the mouths of characters I’d been watching on TNT for the past four years.
TFF: I have a few other author friends who have wanted to write for Black Library, and as a 40k fan, if I ever became an author that is a series of books I would like to write for myself. What is the biggest problem with writing for a franchise?
Matt: When I’m in writing mode. I hit it regularly, and I often surpass it. Sometimes I go weeks without being in writing mode though, and summers can be brutal for that, between conventions, vacations, revisions, production issues, drumming up new work, and hunting down payments. When I’m in a groove, though, it’s no trouble at all.
TFF: Do you listen to music or do something while you are writing, or do you like dead silence?
Matt: I like to listen to music, and I often try to pick something appropriate to the book to get me in the mood. I prefer either songs I already know well — and so can ignore the lyrics — or instrumentals, like soundtracks. Otherwise the words in the song can distract me.
TFF: Now, rumor has it (as in all over your Facebook page) that you have five children, four of them being quadruplets, I have four kids myself and they all were born at least a year apart and I recall the horrors of feeding times and diapers, I can not imagine having four at once. How did that impact your writing?
Matt: It pretty much destroyed it! Actually, it forced me to back-burner a lot of projects that I had in the works, some of which I’m just getting back to now. However, it was right around then that I started getting traction on writing novels, and I did many of those while sleep-deprived.
However, we had a fantastic army of 30 to 35 volunteers coming in every week to help out with the quads for their first year. We owe those people everything. I don’t know how we’d have made it without their help. Our little city of Beloit really came out for us there.
TFF: In this day and age with vampire books and movies being all the rage, why did you decide to write a vampire novel like Carpathia Especially a more traditional drink blood, blow up in sun light, stake in the heart dead vampire novel when others where doing non traditional?
Matt: Because I love that stuff. Also, you can’t chase trends. Books can take years to go from concept to shelf, and by the time they do there’s little guarantee that what’s hot now will still be then. Plus, because most people had abandoned that style of vampire, that left the field free for me to play in.
TFF: Now tell us a bit about your 12 for 12 that you are doing.
Matt: It’s this crazy plan I have to write a dozen short novels this year. They’re only 50,000 words each, about the amount you’re challenged to write during National Novel Writing Month, but a bit shorter than the standard 80k novel these days. As a working writer, I couldn’t afford to take the year off to write them though, so I turned to Kickstarter to help line up funding for them.
I broke the dozen books up into four trilogies and ran Kickstarter drives for each one of them in sequence. The first three went fantastically well. The first one was based on my old Brave New World RPG, a dystopian supers game that came out from Pinnacle and AEG in 1999/2000. The second is a fantasy noir series called Shotguns & Sorcery. The third is a fistful of thrillers set at Gen Con, the largest gaming convention in North America, called Dangerous Games.
Matt: It’s just me, sadly, but I don’t sleep much. I also write as fast as I can, which always helps when you’re getting paid by the word. That’s not true of the novels so much, but back when I wrote lots of RPG materials it was, and that’s trained me to move with clarity and confidence ever since.
TFF: What projects would you love to do work on if you would get the chance?
Matt: I’d love to write a Spider-Man comic someday, and I’d like to dig into a Star Wars novel at some point too. I’ve had the pleasure of working on lots of Marvel materials over the years, mostly games, but it would be wonderful to tackle a comic story for him too.
TFF: Can you give us any hints of what next years has in store for us, after the 12 for 12 is finished?
Matt: I could, but I’d have to kill you. Seriously, I have two or three projects in early stages for 2013 already, in novels, games, and even film, but some of that year will involve me wrapping up the production of the 12 for ’12 books. Plus I hope to keep writing comics for IDW.
TFF: So you have accomplished what many of us have wanted to do for years, game design, author, write comic books, etc, what are some goals that you have and would like to accomplish in the future?
Matt: There’s always a new horizon, no matter what mountain you’re standing on. I’d like to stretch in new directions, perhaps write for film and TV. Design more toys. Come up with more games. Maybe see if I can work up to running a marathon before I’m 50. Who knows?
TFF: With all the success that you have had with Kickstarter, have you ever thought about becoming a Kickstarter consultant? I know from personal experience that having an idea is one thing, getting it typed out and approved is another.
Matt: I often advise people who ask me kindly, but I don’t charge for such services. I like to say that if it all works out, the drinks are on them when we celebrate their success.
TFF: What about the budding authors?
Matt: Not at the moment. I have a standing offer to pitch books to Angry Robot, but I’ve been too busy with 12 for ’12 to get to it. I’m going to be meeting with a bunch of the Angry Robot authors and staff at World Con this weekend, so there’s a chance that might come up though.
As for the Black Library, I wish them well, but I haven’t heard from them for a long while, not since I finished those Blood Bowl comics for Boom Studios a few years back. I still see some of my friends from there on Facebook and Twitter, but we don’t usually talk business. If the right project came along, though, I’d be happy to chat with them about it.
Matt: Oh, sure! The best ones are when you go to tell someone you’re a fan and they already know and enjoy your work. I had that happen with John Rogers and Wil Wheaton, both of whom I respected before I’d ever met them, and it was a real kick to see the lightbulb go off in their heads too.
Mostly, though, I just like to tell people I enjoy their work and then be respectful of them and their time. That’s how I’d want people to treat me if they recognized me, which mostly only happens at conventions, of course. Writers and game designers are far more invisible than people with their faces on screens.
TFF: Who do you think is the greatest inspiration for you to continue to write?
Matt: My wife and kids, because I have to keep feeding them! Beyond that, it’s my readers. The fact that I know there are people out there who enjoy my work enough to plunk down their hard-earned cash for it always inspires me not to just continue writing but also to keep pushing myself to do my absolute best every time.
The Founding Fields would like to thank Matt for taking the time in doing this interview with us. If you have not already check out his final (for this year heh) 12 for 12 on Kickstarter, you can also check out his personal website www.Forbeck.com. The folks here are The Founding Fields have been fans of this author and recommend you pick up his books if you want a good read!
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