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Masquerade as a noble with fairy magic! What will you risk for your family? For fairy revolution? For true love? Changeling Charade is a 450,000-word interactive supernatural romance novel by Ruth Vincent. I sat down with Ruth to talk about her new game and her work in the world of the changelings. Changeling Charade releases this Thursday, February 9th. You can play the first three chapters today, for free.
This is your first piece of interactive fiction, but not your first time writing about changelings! Tell me about your other works.
I have two fantasy novels out with Harper Collins, Elixir and Unveiled. They’re both about fairy changelings, but in a very different context than Changeling Charade. Those books are urban fantasy, set in contemporary New York City, and the protagonist is a fairy changeling turned private investigator who solves missing persons cases. I had originally conceived Changeling Charade as a book as well, but then I realized the story would work better as an interactive fiction game than as a traditional novel.
What attracted you to the idea of taking that world to a new medium?
When I originally tried to write Changeling Charade as a novel, it was a murder mystery. But the book wasn’t working structurally, and my literary agent at the time suggested I shelve the project. When I discovered Heart’s Choice games, I realized that this was the perfect medium for Changeling Charade. The story had never really wanted to be a murder mystery; it wanted to be a romance! So, I revised it, shifting the focus from killing to kissing, lol, as well as adding in three more love interest options, and restructuring the plot for better playability. I’m so happy that Changeling Charade eventually found its home at Heart’s Choice, because I think the medium of interactive fiction helped it to become the story it was always meant to be.
Did you have a favorite character you enjoyed writing most in the course developing the game?
While I love all my characters, of course, I have a particular fondness for the Honorable Valentine Dupont. I’ve been in love with Valentine ever since they first swaggered into my imagination with their pet fox in tow. As a child, one of my favorite books was The Scarlet Pimpernel, and I became obsessed with the idea of characters who are not what they seem (perhaps why I love writing about changelings!) I enjoyed creating Valentine’s wildly outrageous persona – which doubles as the perfect cover for hiding in plain sight – as well as exploring the tender and vulnerable heart beneath the brazen exterior. And Valentine’s pet fox, Felicity, was so much fun to write! Who doesn’t love a fox who wears tiny fascinators, has filet mignon served to her on fine china on the floor, and is her human’s best friend?
What did you find most challenging about the writing process?
The most challenging part of creating Changeling Charade for me was learning how to code. I had zero previous coding experience before writing this game and was initially very intimated to learn. But the more familiar I became with Choice Script (the coding language writers use to create Heart’s Choice games) I realized that it was actually a very simple, logical system, ideally suited for structuring this type of game. There was a learning curve, and I made a lot of mistakes at first, but overtime, writing in ChoiceScript began to feel natural. Also, since Changeling Charade is on the longer side, word count wise, with a lot of different story branches, it became increasingly complicated to keep it all straight in my head in the later chapters of the game. Thankfully, I worked with a wonderful editor and team of beta testers to make sure that none of those story threads got tangled!
What are you working on next?
I have a new novel that I’m currently querying to agents, since my former agent recently retired from the industry. The premise is, what if you didn’t get your invitation to magic school until you were forty? What if you suddenly had powers, but also a marriage and a mortgage and a full, adult life that you couldn’t just walk away from? The novel explores the ways in which five New Yorkers struggle to solve their very grown-up problems with magic…or learn to find enchantment in an ordinary life. I’ve been calling it a coming-of-middle-age novel. I also have an idea for a new interactive fiction game. In a world where magical manna comes down from the sky like powdered sugar, those with a knack for baking become the new wizards…and become contestants in a national baking competition. Think The Great British Bake Off but with magic! I’d like to write future games where both the PC and every romance character has the option to be gender variable, and I think this would do that. I’m always coming up with new ideas for projects though, more than I can ever finish… but I figure if one doesn’t come to fruition, I can always save the most fun parts of the story and use them in another medium, just like I ended up doing with Changeling Charade!