On Monday 16th November, Jonny Nexus embarked on a project to publish the entire text of his ENnie award nominated roleplaying novel Game Night on leading RPG website EN World in 26 free weekly instalments.
To publicize this project, he’s embarked on a “blog tour,” and DorkTower.com is one of his stops. You can read the first installment of the serialisation here. Two more have subsequently been featured on the “tour,” and Jonny’s latest stop is here.
DorkTower.com is very happy to be presenting Chapter Four of Game Night. And also to be quizzing Jonny a little bit on this latest bit of madness of his…
Q: The idea to promote Game Night via a “blog tour” – how did that come about? Is that an original idea, or has someone done it before?
It’s not an original idea. I don’t know where I first came across the idea, but I know that I was exposed to it when Shauna Reid, who does a blog called “What’s New, Pussycat?” did a blog tour to promote her book, “The Amazing Adventures of Diet Girl”. And I’ve read about it in various other places since then, typically in “How to market your book” type books.
Q: A lot of authors say the worst thing about book tours is either the travel, or the loneliness. What’s the worst thing about a Blog Tour?
I don’t know that there’s a worse thing. I suspect a real book tour has much more extremes either way: lows like travel, loneliness and the one you didn’t mention – having no-one turn up to a signing; highs like the buzz of seeing new people and places.
It’s probably a bit like comparing a night in front of the TV with going to the theatre to see a play; you might get rained on or mugged on the way to the theatre, and you might end up having paid a load of money to see something it turned out you hated – but you might see something that rocks your world.
Q: Three stops into the blog tour, what’s the reaction been like? As good as you’d have hoped? Any surprises?
Well I haven’t had any huge responses so far. I think one of the problems with this sort of on-line marketing is that you don’t get much of a reaction at all. You might get a few comments posted here and there, but in general people just read what you’re doing – and hopefully enjoy it – but that’s that. You instead measure success in page views.
That’s probably actually the answer to your above question: the worse thing about a blog tour is that you don’t get anything like as much feedback as you would with a real tour. You hope people are clicking on the link at the end and going on to (in this case) read the first part of the serialisation. But when all you’ve got to go on is a page view counter, it’s hard to know who’s coming from where. You basically just have to keep on doing all the stuff you’re doing and hope that some of it is working.
But the page view counter’s kept on going up, so hopefully that’s good. I’m sure the blog tour is getting the message out to people, but it’s very difficult to know by how much. (I guess Russ, the boss of EN World, could look in the server logs and find out where people are coming from, but it seems like a bit of a cheek to bother him, just to satisfy my curiosity.
Q: You’ve said that Terry Pratchett isn’t as much of an influence as people may think. Do you think that all humorous fantasy book these days get an immediate Pratchett comparison?
I think the honest answer is that humorous fantasy authors very want to be associated with someone who’s sold 55 million humorous fantasy books, as much as they might protest the opposite. Sure, they (and I include myself here) will claim that that they’re not influenced by him, but his success has been of such a huge, genre-defining type, that you secretly want to have a tiny little bit of his spotlight shine on you. So if reviewers don’t compare their books to Terry Pratchett, then the authors most like will.
It’s also a very easy and convenient shorthand to explain what genre you’re in, who might like them, and where they should be filed.
I’d like to think I’ve got my own style, but that hasn’t stopped me being very pleased whenever I’ve found a quote in which someone compares me to him, or deterred me from immediately splashing said quote all across my website. I’ve got a whole bunch of them up there in fact (the first of which is from yourself):
“A Pratchett-esque debut novel of gods, roleplaying, and game-night kerfuffles…”
“Game Night, the debut novel by Jonny Nexus, is a work of absolute genius, and is definitely ranked as one of the most fun and enjoyable books I’ve read in a long time, and in my opinion is at least as witty as the likes of Terry Pratchett. ”
“Reviews of this book have claimed that it has an air of Discworld about it. I’d agree with that, especially Pratchett’s early work; its plot is similarly chaotic and the comedic style is similar.”
“I issued more laughs from reading Game Night than I do from an average Pratchett novel… Clash of The Titans meets Discworld, neatly blended with a little Red Dwarfism.”
“Start with a generous helping of Terry Prachett, add a dash of Douglas Adams, a pinch of Christopher Moore and season heavily with Dead Gentlemen’s Gamers.”
“If you like the work of Pratchett, Foglio, Asprin, or DeChancie then this book is for you.”
So there’s no way I can claim to dislike it if people compare me to Terry. (Although as an aside, I hadn’t realised there were that many Pratchett mentioning quotes up there until I just went through and picked them out).
Q: Nice work, slipping those rave quotes in. Well played, sir. OK – next question: Are there any Gods in Game Night that are based directly on you, or your style of play? Any of the player characters?
None of the gods are directly based on particular people; but they are very much based on styles of play that I and others have exhibited. I always say that in my personal style of play, I tend to vary between being the Dealer (i.e. the method roleplayer) and the Jester (the guys who can’t resist making jokes), with a regrettable tendency to become the Sleeper when tired.
As to the mortals (the player characters), I’d probably say that Yann is the character I’d like to create, but Hill is the character I’d probably end up creating.
Q: Obviously, many BAD fantasy novels have been written about people’s Dungeons and Dragons campaigns. Game Night is very good. Did any episodes in it come directly from your gaming group?
No, nothing directly. I think I wrote in one of the earlier blog tours about the incident which was closest to a real incident (a character burning to death). But I think the idea that you could (or should) simply write up a campaign into a novel is bad one.
A roleplaying campaign is like real-life; sometimes interesting, often not, sometimes involving something that will turn out to be significant, and often involving something that will turn out to be irrelevant. In a sense, that’s part of what I like about roleplaying; it’s more real than any novel precisely because it’s raw and not edited.
A novel shouldn’t be like that. At each point, the thing that happens should be the funniest, most interesting thing that could have happened; the thing that is said should be the most apt and insightful thing that could have said. A novel deserves to have the novelist guiding it at every point to the best possible path, to instead write what simply happened to happen is (IMHO) an abdication of responsibility.
So the entire novel is inspired by things that have happened to me when I’ve roleplayed; but inspiration aside, it’s entirely fictional, with me attempting to come up with the most entertaining paths at each decision point that I could.
To read the first installment of Game Night, just click on this link (and remember to bookmark it!)
To reach Jonny, just drop him a line at gamenight (at) jonnynexus dot com. Or you can follow him on Twitter or Facebook. Or to just be kept informed of each chapter when it comes out, you can follow the @GameNightNovel twitter feed.