In this interview, author David R. Packer take us behind the scenes, sharing his inspirations, favorite moments, and the connection between his own life experiences and the characters he's brought to life in Fool's Play, the first book in the System Apocalypse: Kismet series.
1. What's the series about?
System Apocalypse: Kismet is the story of two people, broken in different ways, that found a path to their true selves via the System. The trilogy covers their growth into those selves, and how that changes the world around them, uniting their homeland back towards what it was before the System shattered it.
2. Can you introduce the main characters?
Fool lives up to his namesake...not the Jester, but the Tarot card. He's the kind of person who's always willing to try something new, and trusts in his luck. Sometimes blindly, and only rarely with any sense of how it's going to turn out. In spite of that, his background of living with a serious, untreated mental illness has given him a strong sense of compassion and a critical eye towards others. All of this makes him a dangerously capable, unpredictable tactician.
At heart, he's a person who was broken by his experiences. The System gave him a chance to be reborn, to reshape himself into something new. He's been fortunate to have a partner that recognizes his fragility, and supports his growing into the person he's destined to be.
Jackal is Fool's partner. Growing up, Jackal dreamed of becoming a classic action hero...John Wick, Tom Cody, Conan, Batman. He adored the strong, silent types and when the System gave him the chance to transform his body into that ideal? He leapt into it.
Outwardly, Jackal is a giant—towering over most humans—and a near-ideal warrior. Inwardly, he's another stereotype. A poet and holder of multiple PhD's in sciences. Jackal was a young prodigy. He still pursues knowledge, but he now finds his poetry in the joy of combat.
3. What was your favorite thing about writing the book?
Tapping into the old school heroic stories I grew up with. Fafhrd and the Gray Mouser, Elric and Moonglum...Arioch! Taking my memories of those characters, combining them into a modern setting with System Skills? Just dropping them into the plot I'd worked out, and letting them play and see what happened? Glorious. Huge parts of these books were closer to reading than writing. The characters just leapt out and told me how things would go, and all I could do was sit back and enjoy. And occasionally step in to figure out exactly how Fool managed whatever it was he just pulled off...
4. Tell us a bit about yourself. What inspired you to be a writer?
Stories are my life. I came from a family of readers, and we moved a lot. Over twenty times before I left high school. That was rough, and my refuge was in reading. All my friends were people I met as a result of speculative fiction reading, comics, or tabletop RPGs. The thing about being a mostly lonely kid who reads a lot? You build a deep and intense desire to share the stories you are reading. You want people to get that same joy, that same WOW you got from an amazing book. It sucks to be the only person to feel that.
Writing is my way to make that kid in me feel less lonely, by sharing those awesome memories and how they made me feel.