Damien: Let me start by saying you are a bit of a legend in both the LitRPG author community and the LitRPG reader community. You are someone who goes well out of their way to help noob authors with kind advice, and someone who is always ready with a list of reads applicable to whatever some random reader is looking for. But what started all of that? What started you in the community, and what got you to become the guide to so many?
[Answer Here] I don’t know about legend. There are others that do far more than me. Whenever I start something new, joining a fandom, writing, I jump in all the way. I’m not a lurker on the edges, I go in deep. I like to be involved. I’m all over the place, in so many groups, I gather a lot of information and just like to help pass it on.
Damien: When did you start writing? What books were formative for you? What specifically drew you to writing? Would you consider it a hobby, a job, a calling, or an aching throbbing empty hole in your soul that compels you to untold lengths?
[Answer Here] I started as a kid, always wrote off and on but never able to finish things. I have a problem with expansion. Anything I did just grew too big. I love creating and having no artistic talent, writing is where it’s at. Right now it’s a sidejob and eventually hopefully will be full time. I don’t know if I’d call it a throbbing empty hole that needs to be filled, but I have a lot of stories to tell and I want to share them.
I first published in 2014/2016. Prior to that, I’d never been able to complete anything. When Amazon launched their Kindle Worlds program, G.I. Joe was one of the worlds that could write in. Being a huge Joe fan, I started writing some stuff for it. I published it on that platform, people seemed to like it and that helped me get over the hump to finish projects and publish. The Skeleton Stone came next (2016) and taught me that I still had no clue what I was doing. I published it and it just sat there. Did some sci-fi space opera novellas and a sequel to The Skeleton Stone that I wasn’t happy with but felt I needed to get out (both Stone and the sequel are unpublished and Stone will return someday, hopefully next year, after I’ve fixed it up). I worked at learning everything I could about successful launches, ads, etc..
Couple years later and Sky Realms Online: Grayhold was ready to go. I was going to self-publish it, still not confident/really knowing what I was doing, but at that time Aethon Books was looking to get into litRPG. I’d been interested in them prior so I jumped at the chance and the rest is history.
Dragonlance: Chronicles and the Forgotten Realms were a big impact on me. Michael J. Sullivan is a huge influence. Someone that started indie, got so popular the big guys picked him up but then he realized he was better off being indie.
There are no crafting books, I’m not a big believer in them. I think you learn more about writing by reading. I’m always reading, not just gamelit/litRPG but more standard fantasy and sci-fi along with thrillers and mysteries. Always be reading.
Damien: Your current series is Sky Realms Online. Why don’t you tell us about it. What was the vision behind it and what were some of the difficulties in creating it?
[Answer Here] I’m not sure where the idea of floating islands came from but I loved it and ran with it. Hall, the MC, is a Skirmisher and that class is a mix of Dragoon from Final Fantasy XI and Warden from Lord of the Rings online. It combines my favorite things from those classes, which are my two favorite in MMOS (even though neither game is my favorite MMO to play, that would be Ultima Online and World of Warcraft).
Back when I was playing WoW (I started with the beta way back when…), I wanted to write the adventures of my guild. Convert the questing into actual stories. Years later I find out that I was looking to write gamelit without knowing what it was at the time. Once I found litRPG, I knew it was what I wanted to write.
With the world created, the first class, I started fleshing out the rest of the story.
The biggest difficulty was in scale. I originally planned this twenty volume epic with 3 or 4 side series, each 3 to 6 books, a couple anthlogies. It was going to be huge. Reality set in and there was so much more I wanted to do as well.
It’s still going to be nine books and we’ll see what else happens, but there might still be life for Hall and company beyond book 9.
Damien: In your author photo we see you on a panel at what I assume is a convention of some sort. What is the story behind that? Do you often participate in panels? What sort of stuff do you talk about? Also, do you have a schedule for next year? Don’t be shy, let everyone know!
[Answer Here] Yeah, that was at a G.I. Joe Convention, back in 2015 maybe, and I was on a panel talking about the Kindle Worlds project and my work on it. That was the first panel I’d done. I hate public speaking and was nervous going into it (also had 0 sleep the night before, seriously, I had pulled an all-nighter with a couple friends, hadn’t done that since my college days).
I’ve done a handful of them since. They’re a lot of fun. I try to do ones that are relevant to what my projects are. Beginning of November I got volunteered for a panel on magic systems in fantasy for the virtual SFFCon and I was far from being an expert but I made it work and had fun. Any panel I do, I try for ones that will help get the word out about my work and LitRPG in general.
Nothing lined up right now. Need to see what the convention landscape is like for 2021.
And I still hate public speaking.
Damien: “Bruin’s Rest” in Rise and Rescue had a fun Dnd feel to it. Do you play Dungeons and Dragons? What RPGs have you played? What are your favorites?
[Answer Here] I’ve played very little D&D through the years. Original red box and 5E. Was always a problem of finding people to play with. I love the game though and collected the sourcebooks. Forgotten Realms was a big influence. I just loved the world building in that setting.
I really haven’t played many others. I love MMORPGs. I started those with Ultima Online back in 2000/2001, went to Final Fantasy XI, started World of Warcraft with the beta. Played some Lord of the Rings Online and others off and on. I love RPGs move than any other kind of game. Love Skyrim. And absolutely love Dragon Age.
Damien: So, really, the Patriots?
[Answer Here] Yep. I’m from New Hampshire, so the New England Patriots are our local team. Been a fan for decades now (before Tom Brady joined the team). My favorite player of all time is Troy Brown (not just because of the name, but that helps). I am not a fan of “stars”. I like the guys that really make a team work. Brown did everything. He played wide receiver, special teams and even defense when needed.
I pretty much always wear a Pats hat when I’m out of the house. I’ve probably had over a dozen different ones. There are two in rotation at any time. One is the “dress” hat and one is the “working” hat.
Damien: Imagine that a movie director read one of your novels and decided to buy the rights for the film. Which one should he go with?
[Answer Here] That’s a tough one. None of my current series would work as a movie. I think the first thing I published, The Skeleton Stone (which is unpublished now but will be making a return appearance hopefully next year) would work as a movie. It’s got a fantasy/western feel to it and is basically stand alone (with ability for more).
Sky Realms Online would make a good animated series. It’s got an end point, so a five season run of 13-20 episodes a season would work nicely. Animated would allow for some of the more wild effects and the world itself, with all the floating islands, would be CGI anyways. I’d prefer an animated series.
Arek Lancer, my space opera novella series, would make the best TV show. It’s open ended, and set up for the episodic nature of TV.
Damien: Troy Osgood is the author of Sky Realms Online You can follow him on Instagram (Ossywrites) Twitter (@Troynos) and Patreon (troynos)
You can find his FB author group at https://www.facebook.com/groups/200913971032382/
and you can visit his website at www.ossywrites.com