Lisa Wolf an Australian author who’s previously written a short book called I Don't 'Do' Normal and writes a blog on her spare time. Her short story, A Question of Intelligence, included in the Tales from the Frontier Elite anthology, sees the heroine of the story on a desperate quest to find her father before it is too late.
Lisa, what is your favourite past Elite title and is there a ship in the originals that you especially liked and would love to see in Elite: Dangerous?
My favourite will always be the original Elite - which I played on the Commodore 64. I enjoyed Frontier and First Encounters, but the original came at just the right time to really fire my imagination and love of gaming.
That means my answer to the second part is quite boring: The Cobra Mark III has to be my favourite – and I'm pretty sure it'll be in Elite: Dangerous!
Lisa, your story has been read and commented on by your fellow authors and it is soon going to Fantastic Books Publishing for the professional editing rounds. How do you feel about the story now?
I went through a period where I really wasn't happy with it. I'm not sure about others, but when I write, the characters and events take on a life of their own and don't always end up where I want them. Sometimes that's good, and makes for a better story, but in this case it damaged a lot of the original ideas and the atmosphere I wanted to create. However, with the advice I've had from others, I've been able to rework it into something much closer to what I wanted, and something that I'm happier with. With a bit more work, I think I'll be incredibly happy with the result. Until I notice any problems that is!
What kinds of problems did you encounter during the writing process that you did not foresee?
The first one was one I've never had an issue with before: ideas. I knew I wanted to write in the Elite Universe, and I'd written smatterings of fan fictions for my own pleasure. However, when it came down to ideas for a "real" story, I found ideas just dried up.
The two other problems are linked in a way. Firstly, the game was (and is) being developed, and so I started with a huge amount of momentum, but a lot of the information I needed just wasn't there yet. Frontier hadn't nailed down some aspects and so I had huge voids in what I was trying to write, and eventually most of those early attempts didn't see the light of day.
Secondly, working within a Universe you thought you knew, but has changed subtly from the original version is frustrating and fascinating. Some of my ideas fit into (say) the original Elite Universe but wouldn't have worked in the Frontier Universe, and certainly not the Elite: Dangerous one. The upside, of course, is that I was on as much a voyage of discovery as a new player!
The game is not out yet, so we must ask you if you have had much (or enough) information about the game universe. Are there many open questions still remaining?
At this moment I'm waiting on just a few details to properly finish my story. They're more "flavour" details and so I was able to get the bones of the story in and leave place-holders for them, rather than them being critical.
Have you written before and if you have, what’s different about writing a piece of fiction based on a game compared to your previous work?
I've written most of my life, but it's almost always been for me and not to be published. The one book I did publish was really just a collection of tweets, and so the work needed for that was very different to a work of fiction.
I think the major difference to other writing I've done that you have to follow the rules of the Universe in which it's set. In fan fiction you can take liberties, or interpret things the way you want. For an official piece of fiction, however, you have to get it right. That means you have more restrictions on you. On the other hand, you also get access to so much more background information that it also expands what you can do. I rather like that.
Frontier is planning to include aspects of the fiction into the game. Do you have many ideas of what details of your novel you might want to see in the game? Are you willing to reveal some of them at this point?
There's only one thing I'd like to see in the game from my story, but I can't really reveal it as it's likely to give away how my story ends. No, scratch that, it will give away my story end!
What are the next steps in your writing process until your story is delivered onto the readers’ hands?
At the moment it's going through a "peer review" process, where other authors in the Anthology can poke and prod and offer advice. Once that's done, it goes to the publisher and their editors get to poke and prod it. That's the bit that scares me the second most – I've never had to go through that, and I'm not sure what to expect.
The thing that scares me most is the near to final part: Frontier Developments seeing and commenting on the story. It's their Universe, and I have to get it right!
Thank you, Lisa, for taking the time for this interview! If you want to learn more about Lisa, her story, or the anthology that it is a part of, head over to the official Tales from the Frontier site.