“Success is all to do with perception.”
Sit back in your favorite leather armchair and get ready for a true discussion with our eleventh blogger interview. This time I had the pleasure of talking with published author Matt Doyle of Matt Doyle Media, and the guy gave answers verbose enough to occupy encyclopedias! It’s clear that Matt is a writer at heart, always willing to answer even the simplest of questions with thought-out and engaging responses. He made this interview a record-breaking twelve-thousand word marathon of pop culture goodness and insight. I felt like I was right there with him as he talked about his life’s experiences. I hope you’re as inspired by his words as I was.
If you’re up for the Well-Red treatment in an interview of your ownsome, please check out the post “Introducing Blogger Interviews” for additional information on how to sign up. There is a waiting list and I don’t have all the time I’d like to get these done as quickly as possible, but I do promise I’ll have a chat with you!
“Hey so thanks for taking the time to be with us, Mister Doyle.
I’m looking forward to this chat. I know your blog covers a wide variety of things, but here is our traditional opening question: How long have you been a gamer? I’d also add: Do you even count yourself as one?”
“No, no, thank you for having me on board. I’ve been looking forward to doing the chat too, as I’ve been loving the Well Red Mage site since stumbling across it.
“Yes though, I would absolutely class myself as a gamer, and that goes back a fair way. The first console that I remember getting was an Atari 2600 back when I was about 8, so that would have been 1992. I know, it was hardly the most up to date system out there, but I think that it was offered to my parents by a relative, so they snapped it up for myself and my younger brother. It came with a ton of games too, such as Galaxian, Phoenix, Star Wars: Return of the Jedi, and the 32-In-1 Cartridge. I particularly loved the 32-in-1 cart because it was such a cool novelty that you could switch it off and back on and get a different game. That meant that I’d be playing golf one minute then the next I’d be shooting someone out of a cannon, then boxing, fishing and so on.
“We went through a period then where if we wanted a new console, then we’d get it as a joint Christmas present. The next one we got was the Master System, and I mean the original chunky version with the hidden snail maze game rather than the more rounded Master System II. I loved that thing. Games like Wonderboy and Shinobi were long term favourites for ages until we got the Megadrive II with Sonic 3 one year. We stuck with the Megadrive for years then until we finally hit a point where we got something that was almost up to date.
“Christmas 1997 we got a PlayStation (back before they added the ‘One’ to the name). I still remember picking it out because a local store had a deal going on where you could get the system, two pads and three games for the price of the console and one game alone. My Mum took me and my brother down, I would have been 13 and him 11, and we picked International Superstar Soccer, Ridge Racer and Resident Evil. The guy at the counter had to check if the games were for us and give the warning about violence and horror in Resi, but my parents weren’t too bothered. They were of the view that we could tell the difference between reality and fiction and so it wasn’t a big issue (that and there’d been an incident where a babysitter had let me watch Nightmare on Elm Street some years before … sleepless nights ensued, but so did a high tolerance for horror moving forward). Anyway, the store relented and sold us the stuff and we had a great time with it all. To this day, the dogs at the window make me jump in Resident Evil.
“After that, we’d gained the skill of saving pocket money and selling stuff to second hand shops, so I think that we ended up buying all the consoles that followed ourselves. Between us, we picked up an old SNES, a PS2 and started PC gaming too. We’d already gotten a Gameboy, Gameboy Colour, Gameboy Advance, and a ton of LCD games too. My brother nabbed himself a Dreamcast, and a Neo Geo Pocket Colour, and I picked up an N64 and a GameCube.
“Since moving out of my parents’ place, I’ve been a lot slower in grabbing consoles again though. Over the last three years, I’ve managed to pick up a PS3, a 2DS and an Xbox One S, but that’s only thanks to bonuses at work. Oh, and I picked up a second-hand PSP a while back. That was the UMD version, I was insistent on that, because it was multi-region and I wanted to grab one of the Bleach games.
“The great thing is, though I don’t have any of the older consoles anymore, I’m still playing a lot of the stuff from them. With most newer consoles, the first things I tend to grab are the Megadrive Collection and, if one’s available, a Sonic collection. Then there’s a local place that’s opened up called AllGen. You essentially pay a fee for either an hour of play or an all-day pass, and you can just enjoy the consoles on offer. The owner has consoles and games from the 1970’s onwards, so I’ve been reliving everything from Galaxian right up to the stuff that I never got around to playing first time around, like Super Smash Brothers. It’s also a great place to test whether I want to buy a game that I’m unsure on. If I hadn’t had a crack at Halo 2 at AllGen, I wouldn’t have traded in the copy of The Division that came with the One S for a copy of Master Chief Collection. Halo 2 then became the first game that I finished on the One S.”
“Wow! What an answer!
I think you may have just broken a Well-Red record of some sort. Let’s unpack some of this. Am I to understand you never owned an NES, neither during its generation or later in life? I think that’s atypical of most gamers’ experiences (those who are older), which means you’re just that much more unique.”
“Ha! I did say that I can be a bit verbose at times. Nope though, I’ve never outright owned an NES. I’ve played many a game on it, of course, both back in my youth via some friends and in the present at the aforementioned AllGen. I think that what basically happened was that when it came to our second household console, my parents just went with the Master System. I don’t know if I had any say in it at all or if it was just cheaper or if they had it on recommendation, but we ended up with SEGA rather than Nintendo. The thing with it is, I’m not entirely upset by that, simply because I wouldn’t have come across the Sonic games otherwise and that was a big thing in me wanting to get a Megadrive. Sonic 3 and Knuckles remains a favourite for me to this day, and getting the Megadrive meant discovering some other gems too like Streets of Rage, Golden Axe, Comix Zone, Haunting Starring Polterguy and Decap Attack.
“That said, I was interested in a lot of the Nintendo games. I quite enjoyed Captain N: The Game Master (as well as whichever Super Mario cartoon was on at the time) as a kid, and there were a load of cool looking games being reviewed in C&VG Magazine that I wanted to play, but didn’t get a chance to until much later. Stuff like Castlevania, Mega Man, Zelda and Super Mario just kinda passed me by for a long, long time. If I’m being honest too, I’ve probably spent more time playing the SNES than the NES too, which is probably why I wasn’t as excited for the NES-Mini as a lot of people that I’ve seen.
“I think that you’re right in that my experience is different to most though. Even around my area, I think I only knew maybe two other people who had gone with SEGA over Nintendo, and one of those was primarily sticking with the C64 anyway. In a way, that was cool though, because it meant that I ended playing a ton more stuff as a result. If I’d ended up with the NES and SNES, I would have just ended up playing the exact same games as everyone else that I knew rather than expanding on it. I just think that it’s a shame that I didn’t know anyone with a NeoGeo. I would have loved to have had a go on one!”
“Verbosity is welcome! Personally, I’ve been with Nintendo since the NES.
The only Nintendo system I’ve never owned was the Wii U (I even had a Virtual Boy at one time). I remember the bloodfued-esque competition between Sega and Nintendo, which I think might have contributed to a lot of people picking sides. It sounds like you didn’t do that at all, to your benefit. What is something you think Sega did better than Nintendo? How did their appeal differentiate themselves from their rival in that early era?”
“Certainly in the early days, I wasn’t really aware of their being any sort of feud between them. At that point, I knew that I saw some games on one console and not the other, but I don’t think it really clicked in my head that certain games were exclusive to that particular system until I’d hit the 16-Bit era. To me, it was just a case of there being two different gaming systems, so the idea of picking a side just never occurred to me.
“I think that both companies did some stuff really well though. For the most part, it was more down to what I was looking for in games than anything else. In terms of the big mascots at the time, as much as I thought that Yoshi was adorable, I just found the Sonic franchise to be more enjoyable. To me, the idea of being a high speed hedgehog, fox or echidna (which I had no idea was a real animal for the longest time) was far more appealing than the thought of being a plumber saving a princess. I did think that Bowser was far cooler than Robotnik though. If they’d had a crossover back then and I had the chance to ride Yoshi as Tails and tackle Bowser I think that I would have passed out.
“Outside the two big characters, both companies seemed to take some very different routes with what they were putting out, and that meant that the Megadrive just ended up more appealing to my tastes at the time. Like I’d said, by the time the PlayStation came around, I was already a big horror fan. While the SNES had some good licenses (like Alien 3), SEGA just seemed to be more willing to push the boundaries more than Nintendo. Things like Haunting Starring Polterguy were really dark looking back on them, and that just sort of played into what I was watching at the time.
“I still think that the Megadrive did a better job with the beat ‘em up genre too, and part of that kinda plays into what I was saying above about pushing boundaries. If you look at the original Mortal Kombat port for example, the SNES removed the blood and altered the finishers, while the Megadrive kept the blood (albeit via a cheat code) and kept the finishers intact. While I can understand Nintendo wanting to keep hold of the ‘family friendly’ moniker, I think that they missed the point with that one. Mortal Kombat seemed to be aware that it wasn’t quite another Street Fighter II, so it took itself in a different direction, and stripping out the things that it had done to stand out kinda degraded the game to me. Then, when the Megadrive finally got a port of Street Fighter II, it got the Super version with the extra characters which, while the graphics and sound weren’t quite on par with the SNES version of SSFII, seemed like a bonus to me. SEGA always seemed to do the scrolling beat ‘em up genre better to me too. Double Dragon was fun, but the Streets of Rage and Golden Axe series just did the genre better in my opinion. I think that my growing interest in fighters probably lead into this one too, but I preferred the Megadrive control pads. With the Master System and NES, I didn’t really think that there was much difference (though in fairness to Nintendo, I never saw anyone having to use double sided sticky tape to put the D-Pad back in place on an NES, but I had to regularly on the Master System), but the button layout on the 16-Bit era consoles were very different. Whenever I went to an arcade, I used to immediately head for stuff like SFII and Pit Fighter, and the Megadrive control pads were set out a bit more like the arcade machines in my eyes with the button all lined up in a slight curve rather than set out in the now more common diamond. That gave it a familiarity for me, and it certainly helped me with getting to grips with ports of the fighters.
“So yeah, I think that to a degree it was really minor things that tipped it for me. A cooler mascot, more variety in terms of how far they would try to push things, and a more familiar pad were enough to keep me on SEGA in the long run. After a while, it even ended up getting games like Bomberman, Lost Vikings and Another World/Out of this World too, which gave me plenty to muck around with and just didn’t leave enough Nintendo exclusive titles for me to want to switch up at that point.
“Oh, one thing that strikes me looking back on it was that SEGA seemed to have better advertising in the UK too. I remember the old ‘To be this good takes ages’ adverts on TV with the guy sitting in a gaming chair and the ‘ages’ flipping around to say ‘SEGA’ after he jumps up and beats up a ninja, but I can’t honestly remember a single advert for Nintendo. That may have had an effect for me because it would have meant that I was simply more aware of what SEGA had on offer.
“Of course, things started going downhill for SEGA shortly after. I never owned a Saturn and while I think that the Dreamcast was underrated, the N64 and Gamecube were just plain better. I actually read something a while back where one of SEGA’s old employees said that he’d gone to the heads of the company with a proposal because he’d been contacted by a big company that wanted to break into console gaming and they wanted to run a partnership where they could build their system but with SEGA’s input. SEGA turned it down and released the Saturn, and that other company came out with the PlayStation. Would a joint partnership have meant that SEGA remained a big player in console gaming, or would their input have meant that Sony’s start was lessened in quality? We’ll never know now, but it’s an interesting one to think about.”
“This is great! It’s like talking to the reverse of myself.
I always thought that the exclusives of the Nintendo outweighed those of the Sega systems. I’ve actually never owned a Sega system in my entire life except for a Game Gear for a few months, and conversely, Sonic had little appeal to me.
“I’m going to lose some sleep wondering about what could’ve been. As I understand it, there was to be a similar partnership between Nintendo and Sony that Nintendo dropped the ball on, indirectly giving rise to their greatest rival. I think we’ve got a good idea of what you look for in video games, so next what are some of your favorite genres and what are your top five favorite video games of all time? And why, of course.”
“Heh. If I’m the reverse you though, would that make me the regular version of the entity or the evil version with a goatee?
“Favourites … now that’s a tough one. I tend to primarily stick to two genres: old style 2D platformers and beat ‘em ups. I’m also partial to some old style point-and-click adventures when they come along, but that genre kinda feels like it’s been swallowed up by visual novels right now. I’m not adverse to any genre really, and will happily stick on something like Alundra, Alien: Isolation or SSX if the mood takes me, but platformers and fighters are definitely my favourite genres.
“Now, narrowing my favourites down to five games is a challenge. Let’s see …
“5) Five Nights At Freddy’s (PC). It’s a weird entry, I know, but I love the simplicity of the original game. All the new characters and mechanics that came with the later games were cool, but there’s a charm to the original game that never fails to draw me in. I think that what I love about it is that it is so simple to pick up and play, and the jump scares really did catch me off guard so many times. While I’ve piled more hours into so many other games over the years, I honestly think that I’ll keep coming back to this one when I want a quick, simple bit of fun. That’s cool to me.
“4) Street Fighter Alpha Two Dash (PlayStation). I know, sacrilege, I didn’t pick Street Fighter II. I love the old classic, but my word I struggle with the slower speed on it now. It always felt really smooth as a kid, but when I went back to it after the Alpha series, I just struggled to pull off what I wanted to. As a result, I ended up putting even more time into Alpha 2 in the end. It had a great variety of character playstyles and the action came at a decent speed that never overstepped into being far too fast. While Alpha 3 added more characters and a 2-on-1 battle mode, I felt that it butchered the custom combo system. That really pulled me out of the experience because I used to rely heavily on throwing out custom combos as Sakura. Taking away my main weapon just made it that less gratifying for me.
“3) Resident Evil (Playstation). The remake of the original on the GameCube was really good, and the way it changed things up led to me making an absolute fool of myself multiple times, but nothing quite beats the original for me. Like I said before, the dogs jumping through the window still make me jump, even when I know that they’re coming. The other thing that this one did that future entries into the series didn’t was that it left me fearing that I’d run out of ammo. There definitely wasn’t enough ammo in the game to kill everything with ease, and that made it all the more terrifying. The best comparison I can make is that I loved the original Alien film because I always felt that there was a chance that not everyone was going to survive. I like the second film but thought that it was the weakest of the original trilogy because, for all the xenomorphs there, there were also a lot of well-trained and heavily armed marines, and that took away the fear for me. RE1 was like the first Alien, and RE2 (while admittedly a bit more polished) just gave me too much easy to obtain ammo and left me feeling safe throughout. No other game has managed to give me quite the same amount of scares as this.
“2) Comix Zone (Megadrive). If you don’t know this one, you play as Sketch Turner, a comic book artist that (along with his pet rat Roadkill) has been sucked into his own comic. It plays like a hybrid of a side scrolling beat ‘em up and a platformer and the graphics were as bright and colourful as you’d expect for something set in a comic. The game itself had some really nice mechanics, like being able to smash enemies through the panel dividers to advance the game or setting Roadkill on the loose to both electrocute enemies and find hidden items and routes. There were multiple endings too, which was something that I wasn’t as familiar with back then, and revisiting that always gives me a nice nostalgic feeling.
“1) Sonic 3 & Knuckles (Megadrive). As much as I love some of the newer platformers out there, such as Never Alone, this one was just such a classic for me. I seem to be in the minority in that I actually love the extended Sonic cast of recent years, but having these three to play as was a big deal back in the day. The way you could insert Sonic 2 into the S&K cartridge and go back to play that with knuckles was a great addition too, and it was always fun sticking other cartridges in to see what would happen. The game itself I thought played better than the previous Sonic entries and offered that much more variety for me. Again, I know that most prefer Sonic 2, but I thought that the levels were a bit more varied in this one and the different shields were great fun. Plus, the Flying Battery Zone music is one that still gets stuck in my head after all these years. Given the quality of the 2D games, and I include the 2D levels of Sonic Generations in that (which is easily my favourite of the recent games), it makes me really excited for the upcoming Sonic Mania.
“There are so many classics I’ve missed there though. Oddworld: Abe’s Oddyssey was an excellently odd little puzzle/platformer. Discworld II: Missing Presumed, Discworld Noir, Sam ‘n’ Max: Hit The Road and Beavis and Butthead Do U are all great fun point-and-clicks. The original Spyro single-handedly sold me on 3D platformers. Alundra was a fantastic little Zelda-style game. If it had ever had an official English language release, the SNES tactical RPG FEDA: Emblem of Justice would have been a potential Top 5 purely because I hadn’t played any other tactical RPGS at the time and that coupled with the large cast of anthropomorphic characters was interesting to me. Then there’s all the games like Turtles In Time, Blazblue: Chronophantasma Extend, Streets of Rage, Halo 2 Remastered and so on that all just miss out on the top 5, and could easily appear in there if I was asked the same question next week.”
“I have a manicured necktie beard (like Lincoln)
so if you’re the reverse then you have a mustache. Both of those genres are wonderful ones to stick to, and 2D platformers and beat ’em ups I wish had more of a presence in modern gaming.
“I was not expecting some of these in your Top 5 but you have good reasons for their presence there! Own it! The one’s that didn’t make the cut we’ll say fit into a Top 100 for you. Love the love for Scott’s Alien, too. So I do need to ask you this question, given we’ve looked at Sega and Nintendo already: what do you think of the Nintendo Switch? And also are you aware that there are not one, not three, but two Sonic games coming soon for it?”
“Ah, the moustache. I used to have one actually, but I could only grow it on the corner of the lips rather than all the way across, so it just looked weird. My beard attempts weren’t much better. I had a thin but long one in the middle of my chin once, but it was so sparse that it came off in my hand while twizzling it one day.
“While I think that it’s a shame that Nintendo seems to give up on consoles quite quickly these days, if it leads to something as consistently good as the N64 I’ll be happy. I never really saw the Wii as anything more than something to use once in a while as a novelty, and I don’t think that I’ve played the Wii U more than once or twice in its life, so I kinda missed out on them. When it comes to the Switch, I’m really hoping that they buck that trend and stick with it for a good long while. Anyway, onto the system itself.
“I haven’t had the opportunity too much around one yet, but I love the look of the Switch. The whole concept of making it a portable console is terrific, and I’m really happy to see it using cartridges rather than discs. I always did prefer cartridges, and not just for nostalgia; they just felt more sturdy to me. I think that they could have done a better job in terms of acquiring launch titles, but that’s a minor gripe. Zelda: Breath of the Wild looks more than good enough to compensate for the small numbers in that regard.
“I don’t really buy into the criticisms that I’ve seen for the console in terms of power, but that may in part be because I rarely do grab stuff when they’re brand new, so I have no expectations of everything being more powerful than everything else. To me, if the games are awesome, then I’m not fussed about whether the machine is a step below my mobile phone or whatever. Thinking on it, Boogie2988 gave a really balanced review of the machine on YouTube. That seemed to cover the package as a whole, including the controller size, processing power and so on. Will I pick one up? Possibly, though not yet. I’ll end up waiting for the price to drop and for there to be a good selection of games that I want to play.
“Sonic Project 2017 you mean? Of course! Mania is my focus for me because I’ve generally enjoyed the 2D outings more (and that includes the more obscure Game Boy ones too like Sonic Chronicles: Dark Brotherhood and Sonic Rush). I’d be lying if I said that I wasn’t a little excited for 2017 though. I thought Generations really polished the 3D control system and made that a lot more fun to play, not to mention that it avoided the mass of glitches that Sonic 2006 was plagued with. If 2017 can come close to Generations, or even be as fun as Unleashed was, I’ll be happy. I’m eager to see which characters are playable too, as being limited to just old and new Sonic was really my only big criticism with Generations. I mean, they had all those funky others like Blaze, Espio and so on in there, but you just couldn’t access them. With the promise of a third playable character and a new game mechanic, I can’t wait to see what they come up with. I’m sorta hoping for maybe Metal Sonic and some sort of chain combo between the characters, but you never know.”
“Let’s get fundamental: Why do you play video games at all?
Do they have intrinsic value or are they merely mindless, mind-consuming entertainment for the masses?”
“For the most part, I play for the same reason that I read a book or watch a film or TV show: I enjoy it. Whether on my own, with my partner and kids, or in the occasional foray into online (and by that I mean struggling to pick up the odd round against far more skilled players on Blazblue Chronophantasma Extend), it’s fun for me.
“I wouldn’t say that it’s mindless at all though. Aside from the sheer amount of detail that goes into the characters, plot progression and world building in some games, I have this philosophy that it’s very hard to actually waste time. I’ll write about that a little more on my own site, but the general idea is that, even if you’re doing nothing but sitting back and playing a game, there’s still a goal in mind (which in the case of gaming is usually to recuperate or enjoy yourself), so it’s very rarely without any purpose.
“In that regard though, games definitely have value anyway. Whether it be because you want to relive a happy moment from your youth or you simply want to relax and enjoy yourself, video games are a wonderful tool to use. That they can cause you to experience a wide variety of emotions ranging from ecstatic joy at finally completing the thing that you’ve poured hours into, to sadness at the death of a favourite supporting character, and all the way down to sheer frustration at persistently difficult tasks. And if you don’t particularly care for getting that immersed? That’s fine too, there’re are plenty of ways to game, and they all have the potential to give you a release from the everyday world.”
“A thorough answer, if I’ve ever seen one.
Now of course your blog, Matt Doyle Media, covers much more of a variety of subjects than just video games. Let’s move on to some of them. At a survey height, what are the subjects you blog about? Do you have a favorite or a focus among them?”
“I tend to cover a lot of different things there. First and foremost, the site was set up as a way to promote my own projects. Currently, that mostly focuses on my books. I have a cyberpunk novel titled Addict coming out soon through the publishing house Ninestar Press, and ran a cover reveal on that recently. There’s also the first of my children’s horror novels, Basille, which is currently available via Black Rose Writing. My biggest sellers at the moment though are from my self-published Sci-Fi series The Spark Form Chronicles. That one’s been described as a cross between card gaming anime like YuGiOh!, pro wrestling and eSports, and it really draws on a lot of different influences for me. I also promote my cosplay efforts and my art.
“Outside my own projects, I tend to cover a lot of different things. As mentioned, I run at least one video game article in every posting cycle, which is the ‘In Desperate Need of Love’ piece. For that, I focus on games and gaming systems that are tragically forgotten or overlooked. I do some variety pieces too, such as ‘Way Cool Wednesday’, which is where I post a selection of cool stuff that I’ve found on the internet over the month. That usually has at least one obscure song, a couple of blog posts and articles and a video (which could be anything from a talking fursuit to ninja road safety, the only criteria is that I have to enjoyed the content). I occasionally interview people, which has pretty much been limited to fellow indie authors thus far, though I want to branch out on that.
“I do a lot of reviews too, covering anime, books, comics, films, conventions and the occasional unboxing. The vast majority of them follow a simple lay-out whereby I give some background to whatever I’m reviewing, then cover the good points, then any bad points, and finally a summary and score. While I’m fine to list anything that I found to be problematic with something (or indeed something that didn’t bother me but that I know may bother others), I tend to put more of an emphasis on the positives, and I can be fairly generous in terms of ratings. Outside the standard reviews though, I also run a yearly tournament called ‘Crunchyroll of the Dice’. This is where I pick a set of random anime series on Crunchyroll and pair them off in a single elimination tournament. The way it works is that I watch episode one of each pair, summarise them, then compare them in different categories, giving points to the winner. The show with most points advances to round two where the pairings are compared on episode two, then episode three in round three and so on.
“Lately, I’ve been adding some other miscellaneous posts too, as and when the mood takes me. That could anything from an observational piece about Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles to something a little more philosophical about how I view the world. The funny thing is, I was described as having a ‘pop culture blog’ not so long ago, and until that moment, it hadn’t occurred to me that that was what I had.
“As to favourites, the obvious ones are my project stuff. I’m always proud to get new stuff out there, and I like connecting with people about then. ‘Way Cool Wednesday’ is always fun too, because it gives me a chance to spread the positivity with a bunch of random stuff (I mean, where else are you going to find Gary Numan, Star Trek Easter Eggs and a First Person Shooter on ChatRoulette in one place?). ‘Crunchyroll of the Dice’ too I love doing. I’m told that tournament style reviews is actually pretty innovative, which is cool, and it also gives me an opportunity to see a bunch of anime that I would have otherwise missed out on. As it is, the two finalists in the first tournament (Amanchu! and Flying Witch) became firm favourites and I’m planning to cosplay as a character from the runner-up (Inukai from Flying Witch) at the next convention that I attend. Without ‘Crunchyroll of the Dice’, I would have missed them entirely because they’re both Slice of Life shows and I don’t often get along with the genre. Taking a chance like that was fun.”
“Wow! A true pop culture renaissance man and a published author!
That’s an impressive array of subjects your fingertips have touched upon. Let’s unpack them in order, beginning with your book projects. How long have you wanted to be a writer? Since you were a child? Was getting published a goal? What led you to write books?”
“It definitely stems back to childhood for me. I always remember doing creative projects when I was about ten or eleven, and we were pretty much given the freedom to write what we wanted. My first story was called Malfunction and it was a horror about a circus comprised entirely of robot clowns that went haywire and started killing people. Honestly, between that and the sequel, I’m surprised that my parents were never called in for an informal chat. Still, the teacher liked the stories and I took that line of thinking into high school where it kinda backfired on me.
“We were given another story project and were told that we’d have volunteers read out their short stories at the next lesson. So, the next lesson comes and the first boy reads out a story about himself getting to play for his favourite soccer team. Next, a girl reads her story about finding love. Then … I put my hand up. My story was about a tramp that was settling in for sleep and looked up the alley to see someone approaching him. The person was a young lady with matted ginger dreadlocks, a heavy limp and rusty blood stained blade in her hands. She chases him, he trips, and the story ends with her finishing him off. Now, the other two students had gotten rounds of applause for their stories. Me? I got silence. I looked up and everyone’s jaws are on the floor, and a few people have gone a little pale. The teacher loved both the story and the effect that I’d had on the class, but the result was that after that day, I could walk into any classroom and most people seemed to know my name, even if I’d never seen them before in my life. I got a reputation for being a bit odd after that.
“I loved writing though. Whenever I was ill, I’d pick up one of Terry Pratchett’s Discworld novels or a Edgar Allen Poe piece, and just drift away. Anyway, I went through a phase of submitting stories to online magazines, but I never really got anywhere. I was reading a lot of HP Lovecraft and Ramsey Campbell at the time, and my stories just ended up as pastiches of that. Eventually, I took a break and concentrated on the wrestling (I was a few years into my time in ring by then and the training took up a lot of it). Towards the end of my wrestling career, I became a booker for a local promotion, so I was basically writing the shows and storylines. That gave me a kickback towards writing and I ended up working on a manga style fantasy webcomic. I enjoyed that, in part because I was trying something new with my writing, but I lost my way with it in the end. That was when I got a bit more serious with it all. I started work on an untitled science fiction novel and basically just started writing without too much planning. It didn’t take long for me to realise that what I was writing was essentially a remake of a single episode of the anime Bodacious Space Pirates. That does not a full length novel make. So, I started over but kept the two lead characters, Fahrn Starchaser and Meera Thorne. The next thing I knew, I was working through this sprawling, multiple point of view story about a card tournament. It had bits and pieces of a lot of things that I was into in it too: the card matches were set out like a cross between a pro wrestling event and YuGiOh!, the underlying plot about a holographic anthropomorphic wolf-rabbit hybrid called Carnival played off my love of AI based anime, the five different point of view characters spanned a wide variety of ages and personalities … the whole thing really just became this massive unexpected story. In the end, that became The Spark Form Chronicles series.
“I shipped the first book around a few places, and a couple of publishers expressed an interest but in the end turned it down. That was a lot to do with timing on my part. In one case the book just felt too Young Adult at a time when the publisher wasn’t looking for more YA stuff, for example. I knew that there was an audience for my weird little genre bent thing though, so I tidied it up and self-published. Now, it’s got an average rating of over four out of five on both Amazon and Goodreads and regularly breaks the top 100 in a number of genres on the Amazon top selling list.
“I didn’t want to just write this one series though, as much as I love it, so I set myself working towards two other goals: one, selling a novel to a publisher, and two, selling a short story. They’ve both been ticked off now. First, I managed to sell a middle-grade/young adult horror novel titled Basille to a small press house. Then, while I was still working through that, I sold a cyberpunk novel titled Addict to another press house. Addict is something that I’m particularly proud of because the publisher, Ninestar Press, approached me during a Twitter Pitch Event for that one, and the sheer amount of work that they’ve put in to make sure that it’s as good as it can be has been astronomical. The story follows Cassie Tam, a Chinese-Canadian PI working in a fictional near future city as she investigates the death of a local VR addict. I wanted that to be a sort of Bladerunner meets LA Confidential type story. With the lead being an out lesbian, I can’t think of a better home for it than Ninestar Press either, as they’re an LGBT focussed press house and their books run the gamut of literary genres.
“Meanwhile, I started submitting short stories again once we hit the new year and I’ve already managed to sell a science fiction story titled Nor’Killik to an anthology. I have no intention of stopping yet though! I have always loved the release that reading has given me over the years, and I want to be able to give other people that too (or at the very least a few hours entertainment). If I can hit the point where I can make a living out of it too, then I’ll be an incredibly happy person! As such, I’m currently writing the second Cassie Tam novel, editing the next three books in the middle-grade/young adult horror series, planning another Spark Form Chronicles novella, and looking out for anthology calls that inspire me. Given that I can only really write for an hour or two of an evening, it’s certainly keeping me busy!”
“What a success story! I wish you the best of luck.
Perhaps you could elaborate specifically on your experiences with self-publishing and successfully selling your novel. I’m sure several of our readers (well including myself) would be interested in receiving any guidance in this direction.”
“As Scar said, “Be Prepared!” I went into publishing WICK fairly blind, so what I’ve picked up has mostly been through trial and error. Starting off though, the obvious thing is to write the book. He best advice I can give on that is to write it without going back and changing too much (unless necessary) on the first run through. You’ll avoid getting bogged down with trying to perfect single scenes that way. After that, put the book aside for a little while. I tend to leave mine for between one and four weeks so that when I come to doing the first run through, I can view it with fresh eyes. That’s when the hard work starts. From my own standpoint, I do a minimum of three rounds of editing before I move on to the next stage, and what that step is depends on what you’re going to do with the book.
“If it’s as polished as you can get it yourself, then you need to decide whether you’re going down the submission process or self-publishing. If you’re submitting, whether through an agent, an open submission period at a publishing house, or a Twitter Pitch Event, be prepared for a bit of a wait while your manuscript is reviewed. That’s a terrifying time. If you’re self-publishing, you ideally need to get someone else to do another run of editing. The obvious preference is a professional editor, but that costs money. If you haven’t got the budget for that, then someone you can trust to legitimately hunt errors and be honest in terms of pacing and so on would do it.
“Next up is the cover. Unless you happen to be great at art (or know someone who is), it’s worth paying for a professional cover. I didn’t, and I do think that that affects my sales a little bit. Once that’s all ready to go though, your next decision comes down to where you want to make your book available and in what format. For me, I’ve been keeping my self-published stuff as exclusive to Kindle as far as electronic copies go, because doing so allows me to have the books available to Kindle Unlimited users. That means that I get paid per page read by KU users which, while not a huge amount per page, can add up. There are services such as Smashwords that will get the book onto other sites too if you prefer though, making it available on iTunes, Kobo etc.
“Uploading the book is easy enough, and as long as you haven’t tried to be too fancy with lay-outs, most sites will be able to format your book for you without issues (though there are formatting services available). Keywords come up then, which is where you enter the data that will help sites like Amazon classify your book in terms of genre and sub-genre. These can be changed later on if you think of words that are more relevant, but you can find plenty of advice as to what words to sue by simply running a search for ‘Kindle keywords’.
“Advertising is something I personally find difficult. Thus far, I’ve found that adverts through Amazon and Facebook have been inexpensive and relatively effective. I’ve not tried any outright Twitter ads as yet, but I do post about my books on a regular basis on there, which helps keep them in mind. Blog Tours can be set up too, which means that your book gets mentioned on several blogs (sometimes with a review or giveaway attached). You can set those up yourself or go through dedicated sites (again though, that costs money). By far the most effective advertising I’ve found though has been to hound people for reviews. More often than not, you can find authors writing similar genres that are willing to do a swap with you so that you each review each other’s book. Book review sites will also have their submission guidelines on the page along with instructions as to how to send them your book. Just be aware that you may not always get entirely positive reviews!
“That’s about all I’ve got in terms of advice. I’m still learning myself I’m afraid.”
“Thanks for the treasure trove of information!
I’m sure it’s helpful to a great many people who find the publishing process daunting or baffling or both. Next you’d mentioned your ‘In Desperate Need of Love’ piece. What are definitive examples in your mind of a game and a console which are the most tragically forgotten or overlooked?”
“You are most welcome! Now, the most overlooked console and game. Hmm … that’s a tough one.
“For systems, I stand by the Neo Geo Pocket Colour. It was a 16-Bit handheld that came out in 1999, but it kinda got lost in the sands of time pretty much everywhere. While it wasn’t as graphically advanced as some of the consoles that followed, it did have a lot going for it. The release titles featured a mix of sports games and some of the well-known franchises that you’d expect from SNK, including Fatal Fury, King of Fighters and Samurai Showdown. It also had the bonus feature of not only being multi-region but auto-translating most import games into English.
“Unfortunately, several things prevented it from being successful after the initial good sales. First of all, only SEGA agreed to jump on as a third-party developer. While Sonic Pocket and the NGPC-to-Dreamcast cabling system were cool, that wasn’t enough to keep it afloat. In its native Japan, I think that the combination of Pokémon and the Bandai Wonderswan just kinda dented it from the onset too and prevented it from getting a firm foothold. Outside Japan, there was also a lot of anticipation for the 32-Bit Gameboy Advance, so it could be aid that the NGPC was always likely to be a stepping stone rather than a long-term investment for people. Then, there was the constant criticism that the joystick that was used instead of a D-Pad was great for fighters but not for anything else. Then, finally, SNK were sold and then declared bankrupt. It was a shame really, because the system should be better remembered in my eyes.
“My first ‘IDNoL’ was also based around handhelds, but featured the game Sonic Chronicles: The Dark Brotherhood. To me, that’s one of the most underrated games I’ve played. I think that a lot of what held it back was that people think Sonic and they think speed, not an RPG. The game itself is pretty slow, but it did some interesting things. The graphics were strong, the large cast was well written, and the story itself gave plenty of extra depth to Knuckles and his race. Was the story a little predictable? Sure it was. Sonic isn’t really designed to be an absorbing franchise for fans of things such as Game of Thrones, he’s designed to be a family friendly mascot character. Keeping it simple and cartoony works for that. The turn based battles themselves were pretty fun too with extra movements being needed to perform special moves (such as hitting set points at the right time or following a moving target down the screen).
“In the end, the game just ended up with a huge bag of mixed reactions. The difficulty was either too easy or just right, the controls were either cool or clunky, the story was good or too simple … you get the idea. Then there was some controversy about the new character (and potential love interest for Knuckles) Shade the Echidna. She and her backstory was similar, though not identical, to that of Julie-Su, Knuckles’ girlfriend in the Archie imprint Sonic comics. Ken Penders created Julie-Su and had already engaged in a legal battle with Archie over his characters, and when this was released he reportedly to legal action against SEGA as a result of the game. I’m not sure that anything came of it, but SEGA did put a stop on the planned sequel afterwards and Shade hasn’t been seen at all in the franchise since. That in itself is a shame because she like a cool cross between Knuckles and a Predator.
“For now, they’d be my most overlooked. I’m sure others will creep into my head when I’m not expecting it though.”
“You just rocked the nostalgia. I forgot about the Neo Geo Pocket!
Friend of mine had one but I never owned it myself. I’ll be the first to admit that when I think of Sonic, I do not think of an RPG, either.
“And now to anime. This is a question that generally comes to my mind when beginning any discussion of anime: What is its appeal? I won’t say how some of it strikes me but I’m curious as to your thoughts. Also, if you would be so kind as to name us your five favorite anime series/movies of all time?”
“I think that I get what you mean when you say that you won’t say how some of it strikes you. There’s a lot of anime out there, and not all of it is great. There are a lot of things in anime that I’m not a fan of either. I can’t stand the genre’s apparent need to fill itself up with gratuitous ‘fan service’ for no real reason, and some of the themes that certain shows touch on are more than a few steps too far for me. The way I see it though is that I wouldn’t stop listening to power metal if I found a band of said genre that made songs that I found distasteful, nor would I stop watching horror films just because I don’t see the appeal of the grindhouse sub-genre. So, I try to wade through the stuff that I don’t like, avoiding shows that I can tell won’t appeal, and have a gander at what I think I’ll like.
“As to the appeal, that’s pretty much the same as any form of entertainment for me. There are series that just hit the right points for me in terms of story and characters. Even as someone who grew up in the VHS era of things like Akira, Ninja Scroll and Ghost in the Shell, it’s easy to see why people think of anime and think of particular tropes these days. Once you get past that though, you see can see that it’s wonderfully varied form of media. When you look back at the work of guys like Masamune Shirow, it’s easy to see how far reaching anime has been, certainly in terms of cyberpunk. On top of that, it’s been fantastic in recent years at creating some laid-back series about just living through what every day can bring. I wouldn’t go so far as to say that anime as a rule does everything better than the West (I’ve heard that before and while I’m all for the concept of ‘different strokes for different folks’, I can’t agree on that when we have things like Sons of Anarchy, Westworld and so on out there), but it is more than capable of holding its own. It probably also helps that I find Japanese culture so fascinating. From the polite customs to the Yokai and Yurei, Japan has such a rich tapestry of culture. Again, it’s just too easy to forget all that and focus on the odder side of things.
“Now, onto the top 5’s. This is really difficult because I’ve watched so much of the stuff that it’s hard to pick it apart, especially as my favourites change with my mood. I’ll start with series though, in no particular order.
“Flying Witch is one that I discovered recently and that fits into the category of a show about life in general. Despite the title, the magic on display is quite subtle, and the genius of the show is in making human interactions entertaining with little else going on. It’s one of the shows that I go to when I want something relaxing to chill out with. The story is basically that of a witch in training moving to the countryside to continue her studies.
“Durarara! It’s bonkers and can be a bit confusing at times with the way that it jumps around, but it’s definitely compulsive viewing in my eyes. I don’t have a clue how to summarise the story other than to say that a lot of crazy people do lots of crazy things, but it’s all connected and manipulated by some other crazy people. The cast is simply massive, and there are a ton of cool characters and subplots in there. I’d say that my favourite character is probably Celty, who is a Dullahan (of Irish folklore fame) living in modern Ikebukuro. Despite not being human herself, she often comes across as the most human of all the characters.
“Steins;Gate comes high on the list too. It’s based on a visual novel, but I have no idea how close it is to the source material, as that genre of gaming hasn’t quite appealed yet (it looks too much like point and click without so much interaction to me). I think that the best way I could describe the series would be as ‘this is what would have happened if Shane Carruth had made Primer as an anime rather than an indie science fiction film’. The story follows a small group of people who accidentally create a time machine that, though not able to transport people, can send text messages back in time. It’s smart, and the cast is pretty likeable.
“ERASED. This is another recent find that I stumbled upon. It follows 29-year-old Satoru Fujinuma who, when near a life-threatening incident, is sometimes involuntarily sent a short period back in time so that he can try to prevent it. He returns home one day to find his mother murdered and his ability kicks in, catapulting him back in time eighteen years. Now ten years old, but with his current mind, he soon realises that his mother’s murder may have been linked to a series of child kidnappings that happened around this time and her work to try to stop them. From there, we get to see him struggle to put the pieces together and try to save the three children that suffered back then. Again, it’s a smart series, though the twist may be a little obvious by the end. Still, marvellously executed.
“Digimon Tamers. Easily the most enduring of the anime that I’ve watched. Growing up, I liked the first two seasons of Digimon, but I preferred Pokémon. That changed with Tamers. For the third season, they took on a new writer who was a big Lovecraft fan that had risen to fame for writing the Serial Experiments Lain anime. What we got as a result was a kid’s show that touched on some pretty dark themes. OK, so Digimon never shied away from stuff like death and marital splits, but this took everything to a new level. We had permanent death, childhood trauma, AI philosophy, and all sorts of other stuff, all wrapped up in a child appropriate package. It possibly also helped that, out of all the different Digimon series, this one suffered less edits when it was dubbed. A lot of the dialogue remained intact and the physical edits were few and far between. Rika/Ruki and Renamon still remain my favourite team in the franchise too.
“Now then, films … let’s see … There’s going to be a lot of Mamoru Hosoda’s work here, because I absolutely love the films that he’s directed. Again though, in no particular order:
“Wolf Children. The most recent of Hosoda’s films that I’ve seen follows the story of a woman who fell in love with a man while in college, only to discover that he’s a werewolf. She sticks with her man and they have two children together, one daughter and one son. Shortly after the son is born though, the father is killed while out hunting for food, leaving the mother to raise two half-human, half-wolf children with no idea how. That all gets covered pretty quickly and the brunt of the film shows the kids growing up. It’s a charming family film with a bittersweet ending.
“Summer Wars is another Hosoda film, this one dealing with a larger family. In this, a high school student that works as a part time moderator in OZ (a virtual world that is the film’s version of the internet) is invited by a classmate to come to her family get together out in the country. He soon finds out that she’s told everyone that he’s her fiancé. While he’s there, a virus hits OZ and starts causing havoc across the country, leading a high action virtual reality battle with the virus. There are lots of touching moments throughout too, and the stylistic changes that happen visually in the scenes in OZ are terrific.
“The Girl Who Leapt Through Time is the last Hosoda entry in the list, and follows the story of a girl who finds a strange walnut shaped object in her school. This turns out to be some future tech and it allows her to travel short periods back in time. While she does use this to do things like saving a friend’s life, a lot of her jumps are for more frivolous things like avoiding embarrassment when a boy she’s friends with confesses that he wants to date her. In some ways, it’s a love story masquerading as a science fiction piece, and there’s one scene towards the end that makes me cry every time.
“Princess Mononoke takes us into the Studio Ghibli territory. I’m generally fairly open about not being particularly enamoured by Studio Ghibli’s stuff, but I always did have a soft spot for this one. As much as I enjoyed both Spirited Away and Howl’s Moving Castle, this one always holds the nostalgic advantage of being the first Ghibli film that I watched. It’s visually really well done, I liked the dub cast, and the story really drew me in.
“Ghost in the Shell takes the final spot for me. It was one of my earliest anime experiences, having bought it on VHS along with a handful of others way back when I was about twelve. The story is great, the animation still holds up, and the franchise ranks up there as one of Masamune Shirow’s most famous for good reason. It’s not as quirky as Dominion Tank Police, and it doesn’t have the underlying romance of Appleseed, but it does have a fantastic edge of its own to play with. I’ve enjoyed everything in the franchise thus far (though I’ve not watched Arise yet), but this was where it all began for me.”
and I think it shows you have your head on straight when you can point out the things you dislike about the things you like. I’m not adverse to all anime and I can attest to the quality of the few pieces of entertainment I recognize on your list. I’m sure it’s a standard answer but Cowboy Bebop is my favorite anime series. I’m also more than delighted to see Princess Mononoke (and Ghost in the Shell) landing so high on your list. Why do you think Studio Ghibli’s works have found such a wide reaching audience and popularity?”
“I’ve not actually seen too much of Cowboy Bebop myself. I caught a couple of episodes back on a now defunct channel called The Anime Channel when I was doing night feeds after my youngest was born, but starting the middle is never a good idea I find.
“Ghibli though I think may be because it tells a good variety of stories, most of which are family friendly. Regardless of what’s out there, most people look at animated stuff and assume it must be for kids. Most of Ghibli’s most loved films embody that family friendly feeling, but are usually interesting enough to keep adults hooked better than some animated features.
“The character designs stand out too, and don’t seem to pander to whatever design trend is in at the time, preferring instead to stick to the style that is synonymous with Studio Ghibli, which really helps with branding for them. The animation quality too is usually very high for the era that each film is released, which helps them in the long run.
“I think that, in all, the Studio Ghibli films age well compared to a lot of efforts as well. Everything remains consistent with them, so you avoid things like characters shrinking and growing at random like some older anime efforts had. Because they avoid the stuff that people view as negatives about anime too, they instantly become more accessible to other audiences. Having Disney help out with Spirited Away can’t have hurt either! Ghibli are a very strange one for me though. Outside the three I mentioned, I’m not a huge fan of the studio, and I can’t figure out why. I don’t know what it is about their work that just doesn’t click with me, but something’s off. I could be because they were so hyped up for me that I expected more than was reasonable, I suppose. Who knows. I’m fairly convinced that I’ll revisit them again in years to come and have a better appreciation for some of the stuff.”
“Well hey, then I hope you take Cowboy Bebop on my recommendation someday!
It’s a short series but poignant for it. I’m sure you’d enjoy it. Maybe sitting on Ghibli’s work for some time is wise. If there are a few films by them you’ve yet to see, that could be a good place to start. I’ve found personally that their most obscure films are the ones which resonated with me the most, in general.
“So if “they” were going to make an anime series based on your life, who would be your dream development team: director, composer, animation studio, cast?”
“It could be that time is the way to approach it indeed. I find with a lot of things that if the hype overtakes me, I’m all but guaranteed to be disappointed.
“Crikey, that would be an odd little anime. I think that I’d go with Brain’s Base as the studio, because on top of Durarara! they also did the second season of Spice and Wolf. Spice and Wolf is one that regularly jumps into my top five. It’s the story of a travelling merchant named Lawrence and his companion Holo, a wolf goddess. It’s part political, part trade deals, and part romance. The animation quality on it is superb, and so different to Durarara!, so it gives a good view as the variety of things that they can do.
“Director I’d say Mamoru Hosoda because I’ve genuinely loved everything that I’ve seen by him. On top of the films mentioned previously, he also did the first couple of Digimon movies too, and they always felt really cool to me from the standpoint of how they were presented. Composer is tougher. But I’ll say Yoko Kanno. I mostly know her from her work on Wolf’s Rain (another big favourite of mine, this time with wolves disguised as humans in a dystopian world as they try to find paradise). Her work there was strong enough that I made the two OST CD’s from that particular series the first two that I bought. Like Brain’s Base as a studio, she’s diverse and I think that that’s key. She also worked on Ghost in the Shell: Standalone Complex, Cowboy Bebop: The Movie and a ton of others too.
“Cast wise, I watch a good mix of subbed and dubbed anime. I’ve met so many cool people over the years though that casting them all would be hard. To voice me, if I wasn’t doing it myself, I’d say … Koki Uchiyama for the subbed one. I loved him as both Soul Eater Evans (Soul Eater) and Raku Ichijou (Nisekoi), and I think that he’s capable of such a good range of emotions. I’m an overly emotional person at times, so that’s a must! For the dub, I’d say Johnny Yong Bosch. He’s played so many memorable characters, including Kiba (Wolf’s Rain), Izaya (Durarara!), Koizumi (Haruhi Suzumiya), Ichigo (Bleach), Kaneda (Akira), and TK (Digimon Tri). He’s done a load of video games too and was also a Power Ranger.”
“I’d watch it! Have you ever wrestled Macho Man Randy Savage?”
“Ha! Alas no, I never got to wrestle Randy. Most of my time wrestling was with Hammerlock, which was the UK branch of the NWA. While we didn’t get the guys that were still in the big feds at the time, we did get a few older stars at different times. As a result, I did get to work on some shows that also featured Jake ‘The Snake’ Roberts, Jim Neidhart and Dan ‘The Beast’ Severn, but I never got to actually work matches with them. Jake was particularly fun for me, because he was a favourite growing up, and I never expected to be on the same card as him. Jim Neidhart was cool as well because he spent a good amount of backstage chatting to us less experienced guys during shows. Outside of them, I did get some advice from Rob van Dam once, though that was at a comic convention rather than a show.
“If we’re looking at currently known workers, I’ve had many matches with Zack Sabre Jr. He actually started training about a week after me, and we trained together quite a lot in the early days. He was always fantastic to work with, even back then, and you could really see that he was going to break out at some point. In fact, one of my favourite matches of my own was a time limit draw with Zack on a show in a pub of all places. I used to have that one on VHS, but the tape has long since gone missing, sadly. It’s been really cool to see him not only appear on WWE (during the cruiserweight tournament) but to go to Japan and work with Kenta Kobashi and Jushin Liger too, as those two were on a lot of videos that we used to swap back and forth. I’m really happy to see him being so successful.”
“Dang! What have you not done?”
“Oh, there’s plenty, I’m sure! I wrote a blog post back in February titled ‘The reason that life is interesting’. The whole thing came about because I get told a lot that I’ve had or have an interesting life, but I’ve never viewed it that way. It’s like when the comedian Eddie Izzard was asked why he wears women’s clothes, and he replied that they aren’t women’s clothes, they’re his clothes, he bought them, therefore they are his. I’ve never thought of my life in terms of it being interesting or not, it’s just ‘my life’. Anyway, that posting used the wrestling as a focus (and included some videos of me in action), because that was when I started doing different things.
“The main point was to give out the two rues that I apply to trying different things: If you want to try something, do it. If people tell you that you can’t, or that you’re not capable, be stubborn. If this is something that you truly want, then no amount of can’t should stop you attempting it.
“And … Success is all to do with perception.
“What I wanted to get across was that if you want to try something and there’s no good reason not to (such as legalities and cashflow), then do it. Just remember that while you won’t always be the best at everything you do, simply turning up to the dance in the first place is more of a success than most achieve. As a result of following that, I’ve done a lot of different things with my life. Wrestling, sombo, salsa dancing, writing, music (I was the signer in two bands that went nowhere and performed a duet with my brother on a charity show once), blogging, karate, kung-fu, tai chi, art, t-shirts, cosplay … they all came about because of that, and while my success in each has varied, I’m glad that I took the plunge each and every time. Will I do even more things in the future? I certainly hope so! If something grabs my attention and I can try it, I will. Life is far too short not to experience a good variety of things after all!”
“Profound and wise, sir!
Speaking of profundity, how has being a father changed your approach to your hobbies, if at all?”
“It hasn’t really changed the approach at all in terms of my throwing myself at them, it’s really more my habits around them and what things I have to take into consideration around them. For example, when I was living with my parents but had a full-time income, I could essentially throw as much money as I could muster at things like buying CDs, travelling places and so on. Once I moved out on my own, that altered slightly, but not greatly. When I had kids though, that changes. I have more people to care for and to ensure that they have what they need and, where possible, what they want now. I was lucky that, while my parents were never rich, they tried to makes rue that me, my brother and my sister all had what we wanted when they could, and I want to be able to do the same for my kids.
“There are other things to take into consideration too. For example, towards the end of my time wrestling, I was nursing a long-term back injury, but I just kept going. Even when I was beginning to get frustrated with the backstage politics (and there was a lot of that, because by then I was training people and booking the shows too), I kept pushing myself. Once I realised that the kids were getting worried every time I got in the ring, I kinda had to take a step back and ask whether it was worth continuing. It wasn’t. While part of me still loved doing it, I was really hurting myself. Wrestling rings are just metal frames, thick sheets of wood, and a sheet of canvas, so even if you ‘know how to fall’, you’re still gonna feel it. I was already aware that I’d gone as far as I could, and I really didn’t want my kids to worry so much, so I retired.
“So yeah, I keep my hobbies and interests, but the kids come first.”
“Spoken like a true father.
In conclusion, what’s a final word of advice you would give to your fellow bloggers?”
“Simply put, have fun with it! Write about the things that you want to write about, and don’t be afraid to try out different ideas as you go. Enjoy interacting with readers and fellow bloggers, and don’t put too much pressure on yourself to get posts out if you’re not feeling it. Basically, just do what you can to make it as positive an experience as you can for yourself, because that’s gonna come across in your blogging, and that’ll make it a positive experience for others too.”
“You got me right in the feels, there.
You’re definitely someone who has managed to get the cart before the horse and it was a pleasure talking with you and learning from your life’s experiences. Thanks for taking the time to share with us!”
“And thank you! It’s been an absolute pleasure, especially being able to cover so many different topics in one go. I just hope everyone reading finds it as fun to run through.” 🙂
“I’m sure they will! Or else they’ll face these tiny 8-bit guns…”
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