Returning to the Gamers universe
by George Ivanoff - July 19th, 2012
This month saw the release of Ford Street Publishing’s massive new anthology Trust Me Too, edited by Paul Collins. Among the 50 plus stories, poems and illustrations in this collection is my little contribution, “Gamers’ Inferno”. I’m rather excited by its publication, so I’m gonna tell you a little about it.
You may know that I have been writing a series of teen science fiction novels, set within a complex computer game with multiple environments. It follows the adventures of two created computer game characters named Tark and Zyra. There have been two books so far, Gamers’ Quest and Gamers’ Challenge, and I’m currently working on the third instalment. I’ve developed a lot of background about the computer game world in these books, much of which has never made it onto the page. It’s a world which I very much enjoy writing in. So when Paul Collins asked me to contribute a story to Trust Me Too, I immediately suggested that I write a new Gamers story.
There were two things that I had to take into account when coming up with the story. Firstly, I needed to write a story that could be understood and enjoyed by people who had never read the books, but which also added something to the Gamers world for those that had read the books. Secondly, because I knew I would be writing a third book following the adventures of Tark and Zyra, I needed to write a story that did not interfere with the arc I had planned for them.
Solution: come up with some new characters.
And so, “Gamers’ Inferno” introduces a new set of characters and, although taking place within the same game world, it is specifically set within a game environment not encountered in any of the books. This way, I would not be constrained by anything that had already taken place in the books.
In the novels, Tark and Zyra (and other characters) strive to get to a place called Designers Paradise. The concept of the new story stems from a thought that struck me one day — if there’s a Designers Paradise, perhaps there is also an opposite, a Designers Inferno?
I then decided to set the story in a vaguely medieval Italian city and to continue the religious analogies I had set up in the books. Because it is just a created environment, I didn’t have to be constrained by historical facts and could just work on creating a ‘feel’.
With a vaguely Italian setting, I decided that at least some of the characters should have Italian sounding names. Now, I very much believe that character names are important and should not be chosen at random (see my guest post for author Goldie Alexander’s blog — “What’s in a Name?”). So, I sought out a list of Italian names that explained their origins and meanings, and used it to select appropriate names.
My main character was an orphan boy who had the potential to save the city from the Inferno. Someone who could ‘heal’ the city, but also someone who had more power and potential than he was aware of. I wanted a simple name that could be shortened, like a child’s nickname, and one with multiple variations (as this would be an important plot point). So I settled on the name of Raphael, which means ‘healing god’ and can be shortened to Raph.
I had another character who would be very important to the story — a religious figure in exile. And she would guide Raphael with an important revelation (or announcement). I wanted her name to be long and formal. So I ended up calling her the Dama Sebastiana Annunciata — Dama meaning ‘lady’; Sebastiana meaning ‘revered’; and Annunciata meaning ‘announcement’.
Then there were the villains. Designers Inferno was to be administered by the three Lords of the Inquisition. These characters were outsiders. They had come to this city and taken over. So they did not necessarily need Italian names. So for each of them I chose a name related to fire and inferno — Lord Blaze, Lord Brimstone and Lord Dante.
It is through these names then, that the plot took form. But I’m not going to tell you anything more about that. If you’re curious, you’ll have to get the book.
BTW, Trust Me Too will be officially launched by Isobelle Carmody at Princes Hill Secondary College (Arnold Street, Carlton North) on 27 July at 6pm. A stack of children’s authors and illustrators will be there, including Kirsty Murray, Meredith Costain, Marc McBride, Leigh Hobbs, Sean McMullen, Corinne Fenton, Adam Wallace, David Miller, Janeen Brian, Gabrielle Wang, Sue Bursztynski and moi. If you’d like to come along, RSVP by 23 July to Terrie at Ford Street Publishing: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Catch ya later, George
Check out my DVD blog, Viewing Clutter.