Brian Freyermuth is an award-winning video game designer who has teamed up with his wife Juliet to write the Sundancer urban fantasy series. I’m always a sucker for good UF, especially the Jim Butcheresque kind that the Freyermouths have created. I always find it interesting how creative skills transfer from one medium to another, and was curious about how they found writing as a team. Take a look at what they think about this below:
Brian wrote Demon Dance and Juliet edited it. You then wrote Mind of the Beast together. I suspect I’m too much of a control freak to co-write with anyone. How do you decide who does what when writing, and how would you work through any creative differences?
It’s definitely a process we’re still working on. For Mind of the Beast, I wrote the initial draft, and Juliet came in and rewrote a bunch of the scenes and marked others for deletion. We would then edit this official “rough draft” together. When it comes to creative differences, we really don’t have that many, and we just discuss the ones that come up until one of us is convinced.
One thing that Juliet absolutely loved was writing the action sequences. She watched Captain America and the Avengers to see how bodies are thrown around by superheroes, just to get the same feel to Nick’s fights. When she wrote the action scenes in Mind of the Beast¸ she envisioned Captain America crashing into buildings.
As well as being an author, Brian is also an award-winning video game writer. I imagine the skills required to design games would transfer well to writing: scene setting, story flow and so on. How well do you think this helped with writing a novel, and were there any places where the creative process was unexpectedly different?
It definitely helps when writing a novel. For example, in video games your dialog needs to be crisp and minimal because of VO budgets. In novels having shorter dialog achieves a quicker flow on the page.
And while story flow and scene setting is pretty much the same across all mediums, the biggest difference between the two is this: while a novel is the character’s story, a game is the player’s story. As a game writer, you have to account for the choices that the player will want to make and how those changes will affect the story you’re trying to tell. In games, the dialog branches depending on the player’s choices, and sometimes there are multiple endings to the story.
Compare that to a novel, where your characters make their own choices, but it’s only one choice. You don’t have to worry about accounting for multiple branches because it’s only one tale, even if the characters drive the story.
Paranormal romance is supposed to be a subgenre of urban fantasy, but there is such a tsunami of sexy vampires out there that many readers think the two are synonymous. How have you felt this has affected the series’ reception and how you’ve marketed it?
I think there’s a lot of overlap between the two. Demon Dance and Mind of the Beast are not romance, but there is relationship drama in both. Relationships are part of human nature, so it should be part of all genres. When we market both books, we’re very careful to call them Urban Fantasies, because while the romantic plots are there, they aren’t the focus of the plot. They have the same types of mystery and action of the Dresden Files by Jim Butcher.
What projects are you currently working on?
We’re currently working on book 3 of the Sundancer series, along with a few minor projects on the side, including a few short stories, as well as the planning stages of a serial. Between that and my job at Telltale Games, I’m pretty busy.
Could you imagine the Sundancer series being adapted for screen, and who would you like to play Nick St. James?
No question. A younger Lou Diamond Philips. If I had to pick a modern actor, it would be an actor\model named Rick Mora. He’d have to wear blue-green contacts for the role, but otherwise his look is perfect.