Author Interview: dcsross

2018-07-24 · by Stewart C Baker
tagged Blog / Interviews

dcsross grew up on the west coast of Canada. His poetry has been published in Matrix Magazine and The Scarlet Leaf Review. He is 31 years old. Learn more at his website His twitter and instagram are @dcsross.

This interview was conducted via e-mail in July of 2018 by Stewart C Baker.

sub-Q Magazine: What does interactive fiction mean to you, and how does that inform your approach to writing it?

dcsross: My primer on interactive fiction was the essay “Creation Under Capitalism and the Twine Revolution” by Porpentine. I urge everyone to seek out, and read that essay. To me, interactive fiction, and especially the tool Twine, is a way to make something beautiful, or beautifully ugly, over a period of a week with no budget.

Truthfully, the Hidden King was originally a conventional short story that no one wanted to publish. It was either too dark, or too weird, or too fragmented. I worked backwards to the middle of the story, and then completely rewrote the beginning. In every IF I’ve made since, I wanted to manifest a moment of discovery in the player. Those moments are so important to all forms of narrative. In a sense, I want to recreate the moment in Fallout 3 when you discover Harold in the Oasis, who has grown completely into a tree that is now poised to rejuvenate the Wasteland. That moment when you start to see patches of green in the distance of an otherwise barren landscape had a huge impact on me. It made me want to make games.

Sub-Q:In addition to interactive fiction, you also write poetry. Do you ever notice that what you’re doing in one genre influences what you’re doing in the other, or are these two totally different activities to you?

dcsross:I believe poetry and Interactive Fiction go very well together. They are both suited to the digital medium, and the shorter attention spans that go along with that. My mood mostly influences what I’m writing, and sometimes a poem becomes better presented through interactive fiction, and vice versa. I made an interactive fiction poem called “a game about loneliness (that is really a poem),” and I’d like to make an interactive fiction poetry chapbook, but I haven’t figured out an interesting way of putting it together just yet.

Sub-Q: “The Hidden King” features an almost Kafka-esque visit into a psychiatric hospital. Can you tell us a little bit about the choice of setting and style in the story?

dcsross:When you’re pulled into a psych ward, no one will tell you why you are there, what you’ve done wrong, or how long you’re going to be imprisoned. I say imprisoned because it is a prison. It’s a prison for people who have been abused physically, psychologically, emotionally, and spiritually. It’s very traumatic for everyone involved, including the staff, who have been trained to get medication compliance from patients by any means necessary.

I’ve been handcuffed and thrown into psych wards, and I’ve gone in willingly looking for help. They are not always bad, but they are not always good either. I chose to tell this story in a psych ward because it involves a clear choice with two different endings. You either take the medication they give you, or you spit it out when they aren’t looking. If you get an injection you don’t have a choice.

Each decision has its benefits. Chances are if you don’t take the medication, you will die crazy. If you do take the medication you will lose some cognitive function and get fat. That’s in real life, though. In the story. I feel like it was a perfect fit for IF.

The style is staccato and heavily influenced by the minimalist American writers. Chuck Palahniuk and Amy Hempel. I wanted the narrator to have a sucker punch attitude and a directness to his thoughts. I most associate that style with minimalism.

Sub-Q: What are you working on next?

dcsross: I’m working on my third novel right now, in addition to my daily writing chores producing addictive pulpy stuff for Amazon. My next IF will be a less stylized dive into the day in day out life of someone with a severe mental illness.

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