Today, I'll be questioning Eric Thomas, aka Big E, the guy who gave Dangerous Dan his name and also introduced him to the marvels of Steel Reserve malt liquor. He's also the creator of Hacktastic D/20 Fantasy RPG and the author of The Makings of a Warlock.
What was the impetus behind the creation of Hacktastic?
Hatred. When B.P.P. Inc. first started we were running game days using the open d20 system and having a fine time of it. Then when rumors of 4E started and all the open d20 stuff was fading we got a bit pissed off. I’ve spent thousands of my hard earned dollars on D&D for years and finally said enough is enough. It seemed pretty ridiculous to me that to just play D&D you needed to spend $80-$120 just to get the core books. So we made Hacktastic D/20 Fantasy, It is fun, affordable and easy to learn. Now I’ve heard all the complaints that it looks like it was made in a basement, well it was. It also is priced according. I’m not trying to be the next Gary Gygax, I just wanted make an alternative for those who like their gaming fun and don’t want to mortgage their house to play it.
How did your experience with Lulu differ from your current relationship with Createspace?
VERY! Createspace is hands down the better option for anyone who wants to self-publish. It is cheaper, easier and above all they have customer service...with if you can believe a real, live person on the other end of e-mails and phone calls.
How long was The Makings of a Warlock floating around in your cranium before you finally put it on paper?
Not long really. It just kind of flowed out. Like it was ready to be told.
Was there a book that made you realize you wanted to be a writer?
Not really. I always wanted to be a game designer, but wrote my first novel just to see if I could do it. The fans of our game liked it, so I wrote more. Now I enjoy doing it so I keep writing.
Who are some of your influences (Besides Robert E. Howard)?
Well Howard goes without saying, but Fritz Leiber’s Fafhrd and The Gray Mouser stories, Edgar Rice Burroughs, Mel Odem, Terry Brooks, Terry Goodkind, George R.R. Martin, Ed Greenwood, All the Thieves World books and of course Tolkien. There are so many others. I find I always take something away from any book I read.
What's your favorite book?
The Hobbit hands down. It was what got me interested in gaming and I read it once every year.
Who's your favorite author?
It would have to be Howard, though Leiber runs a close second. I mean come on, Conan, Fafhard and the Mouser are such cool characters, how can’t you love them. They live hard, play hard and get all the chicks (at least for a time).
What's the best book you've read in the last six months?
I just reread Conan of Cimmeria. The Frost Giant’s Daughter story by Howard is one of my favorites.
Favorite Kurt Russel movie?
That is tough...I’ll have to go with Big Trouble in Little China. It has a Six Demon Bag for God sakes!
Favorite D&D Class/Race combination?
After thirty years of gaming I have many. I like playing Dwarves or Humans mostly. As far as classes, I like Fighters, Ranger or Rogues. Though lately I have been into spell casting classes.
If you could punch one celebrity in the face, who would it be?
Chuck Norris...just to say I did it.
What was your most memorable gaming experience?
I guess it would have to be at Die Con a couple of years ago when I looked across the game room and watched thirty or forty gamers working on their characters before a game session and they were all using a game book that I had written. It is kind of crazy, though pretty damned cool.
Any words of wisdom for aspiring writers?
Well being a fellow that has a Wisdom score of about 9 or 10 I’ll give it a whirl. Write what you think is fun. Once it starts to feel like a job it probably is. Also if you think you are going to quit your job and be the next Hemingway...get ready to eat a whole lot of Romen Noodles and search through your couch for loose change.
What's next for Eric Thomas?
The 2nd Warlock book will be out in October. I have to finish the 3rd Warlock book here soon. I have two other books started as well, though they are a bit different flavor than the Warlock stuff I’m doing of B.P.P. Inc. I’m also working on a supplement for the new version of Villains & Vigilantes with my buddies Robert and Terry Crump, as well as another game project with an old friend of mine. All that and some new Hacktastic stuff for Black Pigeon Press Inc. So I guess quite a bit.