Author Interview: Jac Colvin
2018-03-27 · by Devi Acharya
Jac Colvin is the author of our March game, “Lost Ones,” which will be published on March 15th. Jac enjoys writing interactive fiction in the fantasy genre, and currently has two gamebooks published by Hosted Games with hopefully a few more on the way. Abysm’s Veil is set in the same universe as Lost Ones and won the CSComp in 2017. When not underwater, she can sometimes be found on Facebook https://www.facebook.com/
This interview was conducted over e-mail in February of 2018.
sub-Q: To begin with, could you tell me a bit about yourself?
Jac Colvin: I live in (sometimes) sunny Australia, and am currently working my way through a post grad course at university. When given the chance, I tend to spend most of my free time underwater.
sub-Q: Your piece, “Lost Ones,” uses imagery from folklore. How did this work as an inspiration for you? Why tell this story?
Jac: I’ve always found folklore and mythology fascinating. There’s so much inspiration to be found there, and you often find out a lot about the culture of people in the past by the stories that were told by them in the process.
I decided to tell a story about rusalki because although I love stories with elves and dragons as much as the next person, there’s so many interesting creatures and beings present in folklore that are underrepresented and really deserve some more attention.
sub-Q: What were some of the biggest hurdles for you in bringing the piece to life? Anything you would go back and do differently?
Jac: I actually really enjoyed writing this story. It was one of those rare pieces that seemed to almost want to write itself. I’d say the main challenge was keeping it to a short story length, and not allowing it to spin out into something much longer. I was also fortunate to have several fantastic beta testers who made some great suggestions on interactivity options and with picking up my many typos.
If I were to go back and write it again, I’d possibly try to give it more of a Slavic setting as this is where the rusalki myths originated from.
sub-Q: What first drew you to interactive fiction? What most excites you about interactive fiction as a medium?
Jac: I grew up on the paperback choose your own adventure books. I used to love them as a kid in that you could actually play a part of the story, making decisions on what would happen. Also, if you happened upon a good interactive book, you could read it again and again, seeing different parts of the world the author had created.
One of the things I love about the way interactive fiction has been progressing is it’s no longer considered something just for kids. Stories are being written for everyone from children to adults in a range of genres and have been getting a lot more inclusive in general. Having the stories computerised can also allow a lot of freedom with introducing new elements previously only seen in computer games, seamless checking of stats so you don’t lose immersion and you can do away with dice rolls in the train on the way to work which tends to draw attention.
sub-Q: What is some advice you would give to others looking to write interactive fiction, or content creators in general?
Jac: Just get out there and give it a go. It’s fun and you get a lot of creative freedom with your game as you don’t have to lock yourself into a single story line.
I’ve seen a lot of people are tempted to write really long works as their first story, (which can get even longer if scope creep happens) and they get so long and complicated in the end that many are never finished which is a shame. In my opinion, it’s often better to start a bit shorter, and use what you learn from that to go onto writing longer stories if that’s what you want to do.
It’s also great to have supportive people to bounce around ideas with and give you honest feedback where required. If you don’t have anyone local, there are a few forums full of nice people who are usually willing to help. (Not to mention you get to read their stories as well which is half the fun!)
sub-Q: What do you see in the future for you? Any big plans or dreams?
Jac: I’m currently collecting partially written stories, so am hoping to get the time to continue to get those written. I have one that’s an interactive fiction retelling of a story in Greek mythology that’s quite different to anything I’ve done before, so am excited about getting that one completed in particular. Other than that, I’m working my way through university and should have some interesting stuff planned for this year. (Although I’d forgotten how much I disliked the exams part of that equation until recently.)
sub-Q: Got anything else you’d like to share?
Jac: I’d like to thank sub-Q for publishing “Lost Ones.” It is nice to see a site that combines short stories and interactive fiction which are two of my favourite types of literature. It’s been great working with you.