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Chat with Tom Bruno

April 13, 2010
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Transcripts of the chat with Tom Bruno {aka @oodja} –  author of the series “Varonian Nights”–  held Tuesday, April the 13th, 2010.

TPDonline: Chat at #ThePennyDreadful TODAY, 4pm EST/8pm GMT with @oodja – author of ‘Varonian Nights’ http://bit.ly/csVm0s #amwriting #webfic #weblit
techtigger: allllllrightythen… just about ready to get the show started, I’ll be giving @cafenirvana a break from hosting #thepennydreadful today 🙂
cafenirvana: @techtigger *grinz* will be fun to get rid of my mask and cape for a day!
TPDonline: RT @TPDonline: *taps mic* hellooo everyone! I’d like to welcome @oodja and say thanks for stopping in to chat today! 🙂
oodja: @TPDonline Thanks @tpdonline and all of #ThePennyDreadful folks for having me for today’s chat!
TPDonline: @oodja is the author of Varonian Nights, which you can read at http://bit.ly/btK39C
oodja: FYI, Tweeps: I’ll be the featured author for a chat over the next hour at #ThePennyDreadful – feel free to follow along and ask me anything
LexxClarke: @oodja welcome :o)
TPDonline: And he also has a novel set in the world of Varo, called Confessions of a Gourmand http://bit.ly/46GdFr
cafenirvana: @oodja Hi! great to have you here. I must say, I am absolutely crazy about your “Varonian nights” series.
TPDonline: This is an open chat – I’ll be asking some questions, but anyone can chime in at any time 🙂
oodja: @CafeNirvana Why thank you very much, @CafeNirvana! I was honored to have the series included with the other #ThePennyDreadful authors
Saffy: Ok I am here hello #thepennydreadful and featured author peep *waves*
LexxClarke: @oodja what inspired to you write serial flash fiction?
TPDonline: @Saffy glad you could join us! 🙂
cafenirvana: @oodja I hope you finish it soon & make it into a book so I can gift it to my friends and of course buy it for myself 🙂
TPDonline: @oodja the questions are rolling in already, awesome! I’ll let you answer @cafenirvana and @lexxclarke first 🙂
oodja: (Sorry, forgot the hashtag) The impulse was exactly the same for flash fiction- I wanted something light and action-packed
TPDonline: RT @oodja: My fiction is the least flashy of those featured on TPD
oodja: @CafeNirvana The goal is to write 11 stories and then collect them as a book- I’ve posted 5 and have written up to No. 8
TPDonline: RT @oodja: – the first few installments of VN are short but they keep getting longer
TPDonline: (psst – don’t forget the hashtag when replying! 🙂
TPDonline: RT @oodja: The impulse was exactly the same for flash fiction- I wanted something light and action-packed
oodja: @LexxClarke The goal of Varonian Nights was to write a “Crossbow Noir” take on the fantasy world of Confessions
LexxClarke: @TPDonline Thanks,was having some editing issues with RTs!
cafenirvana: Awesome. Cant wait! RT @oodja @CafeNirvana The goal is write 11 stories&collect them as a book- have written up to No. 8
TPDonline: @oodja – can you tell us a bit about the world of Varo?
oodja: @TPDonline Sure thing! Varo is a fantasy world that started in 1989 as a crudely-drawn world map for an old D&D campaign
oodja: In college I started having these epic conversations with my best friend (also a gamer/writer) about this dystopian city
cafenirvana: @oodja oooh RPGs! I think we’re all nuts about them on the #thepennydreadful!
oodja: I was translating some Renaissance Latin for a professor doing Venetian archaeology and suddenly The City was born
LexxClarke: @oodja Interesting how so many projects are inspired by D&D!
TPDonline: @cafenirvana @oodja @lexxclarke – who knew our childhood geekdom would come in handy like this? *grinz*
oodja: I’ve been obsessing over the city of Varo and its world ever since in various ways.
LexxClarke: @oodja have you drawn a physical map of Varo?
oodja: The City was briefly the setting for a solo D&D game I ran for my friend, who created the Deccio Solamni bounty hunter
TPDonline: @oodja there are a lot of different races mentioned in the stories – were they inspired by D&D, or all made up by you?
oodja: Chapter Five, “Bond” is Deccio’s origin story, set several years before the actual game that I’d run for my friend.
oodja: @LexxClarke Yes, I do have several maps- I should upload the one of the City itself and attach it to Varonian Nights
cafenirvana: Childhood??!!! I’m still playing! 😀 RT @TPDonline who knew our childhood geekdom would come in handy like this?
oodja: After the campaign Varo lay fallow for a couple of years until my friend and I thought we’d design our own fantasy RPG
cafenirvana: Yes please 🙂 RT @oodja I do have several maps- should upload the one of the City & attach it to Varonian Nights
LexxClarke: @oodja That would be great,especially once all the stories are finished
oodja: Alas, the game never made it out of Beta testing, but it did inspire me to explore the culture of the City/world
oodja: I started Confessions of a Gourmand in 2003 as my first attempt at “Varonian” fiction
oodja: After that I wrote The Librarian’s Tale for #NaNoWriMo 2006, also set in the same universe. Still editing that!
oodja: Then Varonian Nights started in early 2008.
LexxClarke: I love a pictorial map of a fantasy world,helps in adding locative context to the story
oodja: @TPDonline Good question about the races! My idea was to keep the fantasy elements marginalized so they’d be more powerful
TPDonline: @LexxClarke I love the maps as well – seems like books have less of them, and illustrations these days, not sure why
oodja: While I didn’t expressly reject D&D or Tolkien’s archetypes for fantasy races, I wanted to make sure I didn’t rely on them
LexxClarke: @TPDonline even simple pen and ink line drawings can be wonderfully additions
cafenirvana: @TPDonline I think you should read the books I do. Most of them have maps 🙂
TPDonline: #ThePennyDreadful Weekly Roundup 4-12-2010 – New episodes for the week of  4-12 through 4-18-2010 (updated through… http://ow.ly/173NjY
oodja: I really liked the idea of making Gorgons these shadowy all-powerful sorceresses from an earlier era of mankind
TPDonline: @oodja you’ve obviously done a lot of world building, any tips, or advice that you’d be willing to share?
LexxClarke: @oodja I think there are two things there,one it gives you more freedom&two people are less likely to lump them together
TPDonline: (sorry, the auto post just popped in from the website! 🙂
oodja: @LexxClarke @TPDonline @cafenirvana I love maps as well! I will definitely incorporate them into my fiction.
LexxClarke: @TPDonline tsk,pesky technology!
oodja: My 2009 NaNoWriMo, which is also set in the City with Deccio as the main char, is like a giant map of the City in words
oodja: @LexxClarke Yes! When you focus on the wonders/horrors of humankind foremost, it makes the weird stuff even weirder
RandomOenophile: Sweet! Cancellation at 4:00 means I can peek in on @oodja as the featured author for this week’s #ThePennyDreadful chat.
oodja: @TPDonline A great way to world-build came from our attempt to publish Varo as a game, creating sidebar material
TPDonline: @RandomOenophile yay! glad you could make it!
cafenirvana: Good approach. RT @oodja I didn’t reject D&D or Tolkien’s archetypes for fantasy races but didnt want to rely on them…
oodja: Concentrate on the little things- not so much the history and politics, but what ppl eat, what they do for fun
oodja: @RandomOenophile Welcome! So glad you could make it.
oodja: @TPDonline Investigate your world via a series of Wikipedia entries. Random facts may emerge into larger patterns
LexxClarke: @RandomOenophile greetings :o)
RandomOenophile: ThatRT @oodja: Concentrate on the little things- <snip> what ppl eat, what they do for fun
TPDonline: @oodja wow, you have a wiki of Varo? now that’s organization! 🙂
oodja: Also, don’t be afraid to assimilated anything/everything you lay your eyeballs on!
lastsyllable: @oodja Do you or would you consider using a Wiki to keep track of all your world building?
RandomOenophile: @oodja That’s the fun stuff, I meant to say.
lil_monmon: @oodja Are there any eras of history you use to help in establishing routines and social customs? #ThePennyDreadful <–sorry.
LexxClarke: @oodja it is the day to day mundane things which are most interesting to a reader IMO
lastsyllable: @oodja Or did I miss the tweet where you actually said you use a wiki…
oodja: @lil_monmon I had originally based Varo on Renaissance Venice, with a kind of retro cyberpunk Corporate House culture
LexxClarke: @lastsyllable he has a wiki :o)
oodja: @TPDonline @lastsyllable I would very much like to move all of this stuff to a wiki format, as it’s 20 years of chaos now
cafenirvana: So insanely cool. RT @oodja Varo is based on Renaissance Venice, with a kind of retro cyberpunk Corporate House culture
lastsyllable: @LexxClarke Aha, he doesn’t! But wants to?
TPDonline: @oodja a wiki is a great idea, I had never thought of that before 🙂
oodja: @lil_monmon Varo is an info society that never embraced openness, a comment on where our own proprietary culture is headed
oodja: @CafeNirvana Always loved the idea that ancient China had invented everything and either forgot it or never exploited it #
lil_monmon: @oodja Re: Renn Venice/retro cyber. TOO cool.
oodja: The idea is that the Great Houses of Varo jealously lock up their numbers and data in a ceaseless war for superiority
oodja: @lastsyllable Nope, I don’t use a Wiki currently, but would definitely like to create a Varopedia at some point!
lil_monmon: @oodja What’s your preferred method of conquering writer’s block?
oodja: @lil_monmon Ooh, good question! I took a long break from writing and didn’t start again until my wife got my a PDA
LexxClarke: *stands corrected* RT @oodja: @lastsyllable Nope, I dont use a WIki currently, but would definitely like to at some point!
oodja: Without being able to see anything but what I was immediately writing I suddenly stopped 2nd guessing myself
oodja: I wrote the entire first draft of Confessions of a Gourmand (150k words) on my PDA riding the bus/train!
oodja: (Now I use a laptop because writer’s block isn’t the issue that it once was for me.)
TPDonline: @oodja so you are a seat-of-pantser, rather than a plotter? or a little of both?
oodja: @TPDonline Although I will occasionally sketch out a plot outline, I’m really all about the pants.
oodja: Not necessarily knowing what’s going to happen next myself keeps me engaged as a writer
TPDonline: @oodja as we mentioned at the opener, some of your Varo stories are online. Any thoughts to publishing beyond the blog?
lil_monmon: @oodja I think tendonitis would be an issue on a PDA as well, yah?
oodja: @lil_monmon I always called Varo “cyberpunk with crossbows”, but I also like the term Clockpunk
oodja: @TPDonline I’ll be releasing a Kindle edition of Confessions of a Gourmand really soon-same w/Varonian Nights eventually
TPDonline: fantastic! RT @oodja: Ill be releasing a Kindle edition of Confessions of a Gourmand really soon-same w/Varonian Nights
oodja: @lil_monmon I’ll always be fond of that PDA (an iPaq), but yes, writing on it was a test of one’s stamina!
TPDonline: @oodja do you have any other projects in the works, or are you sticking with Varo for now?
oodja: The Librarian’s Tale, which is set in Varo’s literary rival Iskandalon, will also make it into Kindle form once edited
cafenirvana: @oodja plans for paper based books? Don’t get Kindles where I am.
oodja: @TPDonline I have a non-fantasy novel in progress titled “Sex, Drugs, and Acappella” that I’d love to get back to
oodja: @CafeNirvana I will definitely have print options either on Lulu or Createspace!
cafenirvana: @oodja Iskandalon = Alexandria of D&D? love the names u think up. I’m a broken record here but it’s all so frigging cool!
TPDonline: love the title! RT @oodja: I have a non-fantasy novel in progress titled “Sex, Drugs, and Acappella”
oodja: @TPDonline I also have a couple of sci-fi/horror stories I’m kicking around- you can see others at http://bit.ly/2ZW8Pi
cafenirvana: Excellent! RT @oodja I will definitely have print options either on Lulu or Createspace!
LexxClarke: Sounds awesome! RT @oodja: I have a non-fantasy novel in progress titled “Sex, Drugs, and Acappella”
oodja: @TPDonline Thanks! SD&A is loosely based on my undergaduate years at MIT, though reality is probably much weirder!
oodja: I don’t think I’ll ever leave Varo alone, though- it’s proven to be a wellspring of creativity for me
LexxClarke: @oodja aren’t college years always stranger than fiction?!
oodja: I’ve always envisioned a second series of short stories called Varonian Days, and another called Varonian Exiles
oodja: @LexxClarke LOL! Yes, often you have to tone it down because what reader would believe a word of it? 🙂
RandomOenophile: That’s not what I told my parents. 😉 RT @LexxClarke: @oodja aren’t college years always stranger than fiction?!
TPDonline: @oodja awesome! you’ll be welcome to share those on TPDonline as well! 🙂
oodja: Another inspiration for Varo was ancient/19th c. Alexandria and the poems of C.P. Cavafy (see in particular The City)
LexxClarke: @RandomOenophile Haha,me either!
TPDonline: It looks like our hour is almost up – any last questions for @oodja ?
cafenirvana: Indeed! RT @ TPDonline @oodja awesome! you’ll be welcome to share those on TPDonline as well! 🙂
oodja: The notion of being haunted by one’s history/antiquity is one I love to play with in my world-building #
lastsyllable: @oodja As a D&D player, do you have “sheets” for your characters or do you also “pants” them and let them surprise you?
oodja: @TPDonline Yay! Well, Chapter Six, “Profit”, will be posted online at TPD sometime this weekend. So stay tuned
TPDonline: BTW – the official chat will end, but everyone is welcome to hang out after! 🙂
oodja: @lastsyllable Good question- For years I only Dungeon Mastered and never played and I’d be lucky if I sketched a map!
lil_monmon: @oodja I’ve been thinking of world building as a chore lately. Thanks for reminding me how much fun it can be too.  : )
oodja: @lastsyllable The games I ran were always very much pantsed, but that fit well with my rambunctious players
oodja: @lil_monmon Visit your world like an immigrant would, or better yet a cranky food critic like Tony Bourdain
TPDonline: @oodja fantastic, we’ll be looking forward to the next episode! And thank you again for joining us today!
TPDonline: Just a reminder, you can find @oodja on our site http://TPDonline.wordpress.com As well as on his own blog Varonian Nights, which you can read at http://bit.ly/btK39C
oodja: @TPDonline Thanks a million for featuring me in this week’s chat! I had a blast. Great questions, everyone!
cafenirvana: @oodja It was lovely to have you here, thanks for creating such an amazing world. Cant wait for your books to come out! #thepennydreadful
LexxClarke: @oodja thanks for the great chat and sharing tips with us :o) #thepennydreadful
TPDonline: And he also has a novel set in the world of Varo, called Confessions of a Gourmand, at http://bit.ly/46GdFr #thepennydreadful
TPDonline: welcome to our new visitor, @lil_monmon – and thanks to veryone for coming out today! #thepennydreadful
oodja: @cafenirvana Thank you! I’ll be sure to let everyone know when Confessions is available in Kindle/print! #ThePennyDreadful
TPDonline: @oodja you’re welcome, we’re glad to have you as a part of The Penny Dreadful crew! 🙂 #thepennydreadful
LexxClarke: @oodja yes do keep us updated! #thepennydreadful
TPDonline: Watch this space! Follow @TPDonline and #thepennydreadful for more author chats, stories &much more! Transcripts will be up soon.
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