I published a novel. I published it under a pen-name. Why? Maybe I've been reading too many of the marketing books that Scott Miller recommends (they're down at the bottom of the page - the all-time best). These books say that line extensions are bad: they get you a short-term gain for a long-term loss. In other words, if I used my real name, maybe a handful of the people who read this blog would buy the book, but nobody else would; they'd all say, "Fiction by a videogame developer? No way."
So this is my way of trying to have my cake and eat it, too. You should read this book. If you're like me, the kind of geek who got kind of sick of science fiction and turned to "contemporary literature" but still found yourself responding most to books with a geeky bent, this book is for you. It's geek literature: literature by a geek, about geeks, for geeks. If you liked Microserfs or Plowing the Dark or The Ice Storm or A Separate Peace or The Curious Incident of the Dog In The Night-Time...what are you waiting for? Topically, it has a lot in common with these books: coming of age, computers, comic books, autism, videogames. And it has sex, drugs, and violence as well. Buy it already. If Amazon runs out of copies you can get it here.
Ever since fourth grade, fiction and videogames were my two loves. In fourth grade, I wrote my first short story - a story about aliens taking over Venus and piloting it on a crash course for Earth - and programmed my first videogame - on my 8k PET computer, a game in which two players piloted two circles and tried to shoot each other with horizontal and vertical dashes. I would switch back and forth between wanting to be a novelist and a videogame developer as I grew up. (Although at one point I wanted to be a psychologist...) As my videogame career moved along, I didn't want to give up writing. I attended writing classes; I participated in--and eventually ran--the Beyond Baroque fiction writing workshop in Venice; I published my short stories on the web (and even in print).
But after a while, I had to face facts: my career as a writer was not going anywhere, and my career as a videogame developer was doing pretty good. I took my fiction off the web, devoted myself more to videogames - and my videogame development career rocketed even higher. (My boss at the time even said, once he noticed that I had started writing about videogames instead of fiction on the internet, "I can see you've made a choice." Is that why he gave me these promotions? Maybe. More evidence that people love a specialist.)
Still, I couldn't quite give up the fiction writing bug completely, and the novel that I had been working on for many years was almost done. So I started taking individual writing lessons from one of my instructors, and he helped me get the book finished. And now it's published. Did I mention you should buy it? And recommend it to all your friends?
Will I write fiction again? Other than storylines for games? I don't know.
So, how does it feel to own some published intellectual property, to know that I own these characters and story? Kinda neat.