Welcome back intrepid sci-fan fans.
I have a fabulous treat for you this week.
Earlier this year at the Wizard World Atlanta Comic-Con, I had the awesome privilege of meeting a fabulous author and gamer. I am speaking of the amazing, and uber talented Genese Davis.
Genese Davis is an American author, host, columnist and media personality. She is the author of The Holder’s Dominion, a next-generation thriller heralded as a breakthrough novel by Publishers Weekly. Davis is the founder of The Gamer In You and was recently awarded iGR Woman of the Year. Her writing expertise expands across various literary genres including thriller, fantasy, sci-fi, gamer-lit, new adult, and young adult, along with screenplay, playwriting, video game lore, characterization, and narrative. Davis is an in-demand host, speaker, and moderator, appearing internationally for TV, web-series, conventions, academic fairs, publishing workshops, as well as literary and entertainment expos. In addition, she is a featured columnist at MMORPG.com
Genese is also a very gracious and sweet lady. She has agreed to let me interview her this week. I hope you enjoy our conversation.
Genese, thank you so much for allowing me to interview you today. You are a popular and busy lady and I am pleased you took the time to speak with me.
Thank you so much for having me! It’s a pleasure connecting with you again and I’m honored to meet and interact with all your readers, friends, colleagues, and circles today. Authorship and artistry in general can be a very lonely profession—we’re often chained to our desks working in solitary confinement; so getting to collaborate and connect with each other and share in all that we’ve garnered over the years is a very special treat!
So Genese, as an accomplished equestrian and pilot, what prompted you to pursue writing in college?
You know, it really is amazing how life can take us on these twists and turns that we never expected. I think so much can be discovered when we walk through life with a super-open-mind. Trying things we never thought we’d like or stepping outside our comfort zone can really yield spontaneous adventures (I always refer to these adventures as
When I was growing up, my family couldn’t afford horseback riding lessons, so at twelve years old I started my first job cleaning horse stalls and water tanks in exchange for lessons. My father was a pilot for the Army and the State Police and he always wanted one of his children to follow in his footsteps. He enrolled me in the student pilot program for teens where I learned aeronautics at a rapid rate and won the first-to-solo award and received my student pilot’s license in glider planes. When I moved out-of-state for college, I began teaching riding lessons as a way to pay for my college tuition. Even though it seemed to me at the time that flying or equestrianism would be my career, I couldn’t shake the draw toward literary classes in college. I continued to work and go to school simultaneously, shifting into banking and finding a new endeavor in finance. I worked my way up to the position of financial institution manager but never shifted my focus or majors in college from English, Spanish, and Theatre. It was around this time that the idea for my novel, The Holder’s Dominion, ignited.
I discovered a opportunity to describe how impactful online games could be, and wanted to create a basis for family and friends of gamers to understand them and their world. I wrote The Holder’s Dominion to reveal the secret side to online games, and offer an avenue for different generations to understand one another. Even if a reader has never touched an online game, he or she can read Holder’s Dominion and find out why gamers game. Beyond a glimpse into gaming, Holder’s Dominion offers a message of hope and support for anyone going through grief or who have been separated from their family.
In addition, this book’s overarching concept and details within the story were composed to relate to the experience of a large and well-defined gaming community. It is an epic journey that will bring validation to gamers while intriguing them with speculative technology and a new world to adventure. The story reveals the amazing experience of collaborative video games and the communities that grow up in and around them. Listening to that yearning for literary classes in college really opened up the avenue to become a novelist.
Like you, I have only come to MMORPG’s as an adult. What attracted you to the world of gaming?
My first video game experience was on the SNES with my younger brother. Our all-time favorite games included Donkey Kong, Super Mario Brothers, and Super Mario Kart. However, it was not until college that I discovered the vast worlds of MMORPGs, and it was then that I experienced more serious gaming while playing with competitive link shells in Final Fantasy XI (FFXI). Video games offer a way for us to become social heroes. Fictional characters like Batman and Superman don’t have to be left on the comic book page anymore, they can be extended through digital art, and allow players to live the experience. Through video games, players get to experience what it’s like to be needed, what it’s like to save lives, restore trust, and help the public stand up against criminals. In life we encounter numerous situations that can imply we’re not good enough or we’ll lose, while video games teach us that we’re epic and we’ll win. Through games, we learn the habits of heroes—our batteries get jumpstarted.
Another really cool thing about an online game such as FFXI is that it has a translator function where players can tab through phrases in different languages and select the appropriate questions and responses to communicate with those who don’t speak the same language. I love that! You can meet and forge friendships with players from all over the world. After FFXI, I started playing competitively in World of Warcraft’s PVE raids where I cracked the top 100 in the world for my class. I also worked tirelessly with my guild to win the Server First Legendary Achievement. After months of following quest lines, forging relics, carrying fire, and dancing between lava, it happened. After the final boss was defeated, I collected the last of the Smouldering Essences, turned in the final quest and an achievement bar populated on my screen: Server-first legendary weapon achievement, Dragonwrath, Tarecgosa’s Rest.
During that time I also experienced co-founding new raids, leading raids as an officer who organized and developed strategies for fights, and worked as a liaison between new players and raid leaders. This experience naturally led me to found the online movement The Gamer in You. Below is a link to one of the episodes I hosted for Pixel Legends where we reveal the secret meaning to the word gamer:
Which games, other than Final Fantasy XI and World of Warcraft are you playing?
There are so many amazing games to play! For MMORPGs, I really enjoyed beta testing Firefall and FFXIV. For console games, I keep going back to Fable, Assassin’s Creed, Call of Duty, Skyrim, Dante’s Inferno, and Mass Effect. For mobile, I really like Plants vs. Zombies 1 and Ski Safari. I’m really looking forward to finding some time to play Wildstar and Elder Scrolls Online.
How has gaming inspired your novel The Holder’s Dominion?
My hope, when writing this book was to encompass all the little details that make playing an online game so thrilling and engaging. Hence, the main inspiration for the story came from actual player experiences. While playing alongside fellow raiding and PvP gamers, I adapted our experiences into the story. Players were the driving force that inspired ideas for how Edannair (the MMO in my novel) could come alive.
Every once in awhile we all get that overworked, overtired, and underpaid feeling. Impossible demands take their toll. Students face peer pressure in school. Professionals starve for feedback in the workplace, and at home, stress feeds negativity. It is easy to blame the things around us when life gets hectic. But hobbies like playing MMOs are often not the cause of stress but the reliever of it. It might be easy to observe someone playing a video game and misinterpret that action as apathy. However, it’s important to remember that all humans need time to unwind, because when we relax our minds have the chance to process our daily stress and to rejuvenate. Video games offer a way to explore, create, and imagine—which is not something adults get to do that often. Most of us will never know what it’s like to be a secret agent, soldier, or superhero, but video games can place anyone in the role of the hero.
Beyond that, the novel’s virtual world of Edannair shows what I hope we can look forward to in next-gen online games. It was really exciting creating an online game that incorporated new races, classes, and unique PvP and PvE elements. Even though some of the technology I added to Edannair hasn’t been fully developed, I think we’re on the cusp of inventing the same kind of AI found in Holder’s online world.
Tell us about the adventure of writing Holder’s Dominion. What was the best part of the process for you? What was the worst?
I’d have to say the most-difficult aspect when writing Holder’s was developing an online game world for Edannair. That was super challenging. Some nights I’d stay up wondering, “How am I ever going to create an online world—an entire fantasy video game—on my own for this novel? This is a job for teams and teams of people.” There are thousands upon thousands of details that go into designing games, so writing and creating an online game that doesn’t yet exist was intimidating. There were many late nights of “blue sky sessions” plus research and development, but it was a blast creating new elements to show how the gaming experience enlightens people’s lives.
I love the editing process, so that was definitely one of the best and most-exciting times during the writing process. Writing really is re-writing. Therefore, even when my editors suggested adding or delete chapters from Holder’s, for example, I was open and welcoming to these changes. My most-important goal was to create a crisp, tight, and well-written manuscript and trusting editors can make that goal a reality.
Getting to collaborate with fellow literary and entertainment industry professionals as well as filmmakers has most definitely been a highlight while working on Holder’s. When we filmed the movie teaser for the book the art of filmmaking became even more wondrous. Check out the really unique vision directors Brian Horn and Eric Kieron had for the book’s film:
The reception for Holder’s has been incredible as well, and I’m honored to have endorsements from industry and literary legends like Dr. Richard Bartle, Christie Golden, Micky Neilson, Billy Joe Cain, James Waugh, and Kristian Nairn. Seeing this book come to life and witnessing its story shape video game perceptions is truly exciting.
Why do you think The Holder’s Dominion appeals to gamers and non-gamers alike?
I think The Holder’s Dominion intrigues both gamers and non-gamers because the story reveals the ins and outs of gaming on a personal level. Gamers will recognize the guild and raiding dynamics while non-gamers can connect because the story doesn’t avoid real issues; it weaves them into its suspenseful plot. This book highlights the often-underestimated degree of connection between the online world and real life; it treats the internet—and online gaming—as an extension of human society, not an alternative to it. This book’s thrilling plot combined with its new adult genre offers readers a unique adventure diving into the challenges of human frailty and a dynamic group of true-to-life characters.
With speaking at conventions and expos, writing columns for MMORPG.com, hosting radio shows, as well as hosting The Gamer in You, how do you find time to write?
The two things that have really helped me balance so many commitments are planning out a weekly schedule and working with a producer. Setting aside designated parts of workdays, nights, and weekends for writing, research, convention preparation, fan correspondence, hosting, and so much more is really the only way I’ve been able to keep up with the constant deadlines. The reality though is that when working in the literary and entertainment industries, getting a day off or even any time off in any given week is extremely rare. It’s definitely a tough schedule to keep. What also helps is working with a creative director or producer. A producer can bring incredible project management insights to writers and creators of every genre. I’ll be discussing this further at all my 2014 and 2015 appearances. Hope to see you guys at one of my events or book signings! All the locations and dates can be found on my author page at Facebook.com/AuthorGeneseDavis or my website at GeneseDavis.com
Have you considered creating an MMORPG based on Edannair? If so, what would that take to create?
Seeing Edannair come to life would be incredible! There are so many next generation elements to the MMO I created for Holder’s that could push game technology forward in a cool way. I could also see myself spending hours getting lost in that world. Of course, developing an MMORPG is not easy. It takes a ton of people, a large budget, and a lot of time. The world I created is quite large and immersive so translating that in to virtual-reality would take a herculean effort, but developers out there have mentioned it so I’m completely excited and open to it! 🙂
What can we look forward to from you in the coming future?
More books are in the works! Overwhelming requests for a sequel to Holder’s Dominion have been pouring in, plus I’m also working on two additional novels simultaneously. In addition, my writing extends beyond fiction genres such as thriller and fantasy; I am working on screen and stage plays as well as video game lore for some exciting upcoming projects. I am also often asked to write on topics such as business, pop culture, and leadership, and I can be contracted to speak and host for radio, web series, conventions, academic fairs, publishing workshops, as well as for literary and entertainment expos. I’m honored to be a part of such diverse groups and work with passionate individuals. Collaboration keeps me inspired to keep working hard. In additional to that, I just finished speaking at the San Diego Comic-Con and will continue to appear at events such as Wizard World Comic-Cons and literary conventions across the country.
Genese, I can’t thank you enough for taking the time to let me interview you. It has been really fun having you here.
It’s absolutely a pleasure and a blast collaborating with you, too! Thank you again so much.
If you’d like to reach or keep in touch with Genese, as well as purchase her novel, please feel free to check out her website, column, YouTube, FB page, Twitter and Google+. Trust me, you’ll want to add her novel to your must read list.