Michelle Franklin [meibatsuren]
What is your specialty?
Game design, world design, narrative design.
Where can we view your portfolio online?
What made you interested in design?
Game design bring together two things I most enjoy: writing and gaming. For me, it was the next logical step.
What did you first read? How did you begin to write? Who were the first to read what you wrote?
I actually found reading difficult when I was young. I had English tutors and many teachers telling me I had attention problems. I was too busy thinking about faeries and ninjas. I guess I just hadn't found my niche yet, I only new I enjoyed certain books over others and clung to them. When I was in my teens, my high school principal saw what types of books I was drawn to and told me all about the fantasy genre. I was hooked and I knew from that moment that I was meant to write the fantastic. Of course, the very first things I wrote were terrible. I gave them to classmates to read and give me their opinions and they were kind in their comments but it was my principal who I made suffer the most. I used to give him entire books I'd written and he would read every page. He used to let me sit in his office and write instead of going to class. He felt it was more important to nurture something that might blossom . . . and he knew that I was only going to write during class anyway.
What is your creative process like? What happens before sitting down to write?
It's strange- I don't really have a ritual for a creative process. If I have a solid enough idea or a well-developed character, I'm always thinking about it and therefore I always keep a notebook with me. I go through about two large notebooks in a month. Good characters talk by themselves and I simply write down what they say. I just have so much fun making new worlds and new inhabitants that everything seems to come naturally. If I'm having particular trouble with the prose, I skip over it for the moment and continue with the dialogue.
What type of reading inspires you to write?
Jane Austen, David Eddings- specifically his Belgariad, Charles Vess and his art work, Greg Keyes, Tolkien. But what I find most inspiring are well-written video games because of their interactive quality. It's a full, immersing experience and playing a game with a deep story and rich environment, like Shadow of the Colossus or Neverwinter Nights, I find incredibly inspiring.
What voice do you find most to your liking: first person or third person?
It's interesting- I always preferred third-person until an agent told me to try something in first-person, which at the time was something I had never really done on a large scale before. It was a great experience to write an entire novel from the perspective of only one character and I learned a lot from it.
Are you equally good at telling stories orally?
You'd have to ask those to whom I tell stories. People listen and laugh when I tell stories so maybe, but I often laugh in the middle of telling something I think is funny and I feel it ruins the tale a bit.
Deep down inside, who do you write for?
For anyone. I write because I'm compelled to, because I cannot imagine doing anything else and anytime I have tried to do anything other than write or game design, the experience has been most unpleasant. When I'm not writing or making games, I'm thinking about writing and making games. Anyone who wants to read what I write only makes it more exciting for me.
Is writing a form of personal therapy? Are internal conflicts a creative force?
For certain characters for me, I would say yes. Writing helped me get through a terrible time in my life and certain characters of mine do reflect questions and difficulties I faced. I always felt like the odd person out and my characters although I created them, helped me tremendously and I owe them much.
Does reader feed-back help you?
Always. I enjoy critiques, even negative ones.
Do you believe you have already found "your voice" or is that something one is always searching for?
I have a distinctive voice in my writings, as do many writers. But my writing voice is always evolving- I do not write the same way I did ten years ago and that may change in ten years from now as well.
What do you surround yourself with in your work area in order to help your concentrate?
Lots of fantasy, sci-fi, and gaming paraphernalia. I have dragon warrior plushes, a master chief helmet, my pc game collection, Warcraft and Dungeons and Dragons figurines, a Bionic Commando statuette, my White Wolf tabletop gaming collection- anything nerd related always helps. As well, tons of notebooks I've filled with novels, novellas and short stories.
Do you write on a computer? Do you print frequently? Do you correct on paper? What is your process?
I hand write everything first. My mind moves to fast for my typing hand but I hand write very quickly, so quickly that my handwriting is illegible to most. Someone once asked me if I write in a secret code. Once I finish a dialogue or a chapter, I scan it and type it up. This gives me a chance to proofread my writing as well.
What are you working on now?
My second book, The Account of Penelopia, is finished but I want to go back to my first book, The Datura, and change a few things. Although both books are in the same universe, they are entirely different points of view of the same events. I'm working on new fantasy dialogues for work but I assume the question is intended for personal work. I'm having great fun with the new Dragon Age editor and I'm making a few scenarios in it, preparing for the day when I'll need to use it professionally.
What do you recommend I do with all those things I wrote years ago but have never been able to bring myself to show anyone?
Oh, goodness . . . For my old works, I keep them in a sealed box and only speak about them and remind myself that they were good for a 13-year-old's first try. Other than that, I never show them to anyone. However, they are an excellent reference to see how far one has come in ones abilities. Don't toss them aside. You never know.