Friday, April 9, 2010

Story of my Life: How I Got Into This Fix

The last decade seems like such a blur...

 So, I get a lot of questions about how I got into this game writing thing, to which I usually respond, "By accident". Now, admittedly, that's not a very satisfying answer. It's mostly the truth, though. I happened to have the right story in the right place at the right time, and, well, here we are. How exactly did it happen, though? I'm glad you asked. Brace yourselves, and set your Wayback Machines to the dim past of 1999...
I did initially get into writing by accident. I had written some stories for myself over the years, but nothing serious, nothing actually published. Then, when we were living in St. Louis back in '99, I took a creative writing class at the local community college. My final for that class was to write a story and submit it for publication. So I dashed off a story based on an illustration by the great Ramon Perez featured in Rifts: Lone Star. It was short, three pages short, and was more a snippet than a full blown story. It was good though, at least I thought so. So I had a classmate look it over, then sent it away to Palladium Books in the hopes it would be printed in the Rifter quarterly mag. To my surprise, my story got accepted and my first publishing credit was in Rifter 8.

Fast forward a couple of years to late 2002. We were back living in Ann Arbor, I had drafted up a couple of stories over the intervening years, but never finished them. Then I got involved with a writing collective called the Think Tank. These guys were all prospective Palladium freelancers, guys like Todd Yoho, Carl Gleba, and Jason Richards. Their stated goal was to create a community of Palladium freelancers that would work together to produce high-quality content for the Rifter and hopefully other publications. I dove in with both feet, wrote some great short fiction and setting material for Rifts and Phase World, and made a lot of good friends and contacts. Sadly, our collaborative utopia was not to last, and we were broken up by Kevin Siembieda due to fears of litigation and copyright infringement. God forbid his freelancers work together in a collaborative environment with a free exchange of ideas. 

Anyway, after that brief spell of productivity I went dormant again as I concentrated on my photography career. All the while, though, I was slowly sketching out stories and game ideas. Always tinkering in with rules and settings when I should have been, you know, in the studio shooting. As the years progressed I became more and more involved at Palladium, hanging out around the office, helping at cons and attending the Open House, and in late 2007 my opportunity came. I was at Palladium's office talking to Kevin and I was bitching about how the photo industry was in the can and I was looking at folding up my photo business. He looked across his desk and offered me a job and I never looked back.

Now here I am, trying to make a living at this. So, yeah, there was a fair amount of luck and right place right time in there. There was also a lot of hard work, constant writing, hours of gaming and a lot of soul searching. I've made mistakes, made art, missed opportunities, had fun, and made a lot of people happy. There, that's my answer. I'm looking forward to doing more, having more fun, making more art and getting paid. As usual, I'll let you know how that turns out.

6 comments:

Jason Richards said...

Man, I miss the Think Tank. What a wonderful use of bandwidth that was, for the edification of all.

Zachary The First said...

I’m happy you’re getting a chance to show more of what you can do. There are still some pretty great RPG folks out there, and I hope get to work with as many of those types as possible.

Anonymous said...

This is a great post. I'm new to your site, and having read some of your other posts I'm curious: How long did it take FFG to get back to you after you turned in your assessment? Thanks, and keep up the good work!

Jason Marker said...

Hey Anonymous, welcome! The whole thing with FFG took a total of two weeks from submission of my resume to signing my first contract. In all fairness, they already knew who I was from my previously published work with Palladium, and I was sort of a known commodity. Your mileage, of course, may vary.

Levi said...

The good old days of the Think Tank. I think many peoples' path into their careers are really by accident.

Keep up the great work Jason!

Anonymous said...

Thanks Jason! It's taking a bit longer than that, but I figure they're busy and have other things to take care of first, plus I'm somewhat new to the RPG world overall. The first emails back and forth were pretty fast. After the WH assessment things slowed, but I'm guessing I'll get a response either way.