Posted by: Mary Duffy | Comments (0)
Saddle up to defend the realm on dino-back! Once a humble farmer’s child, you’ve been accepted into Queen Isobel’s Rangers: brave knights who patrol the kingdom of Pascalia on scaly beasts. But just as you receive your own dino and begin your career as a knight-ranger, you discover evil forces are converging to destroy the Queen, and Pascalia itself. DinoKnights is a 177,000-word interactive novel by KT Bryski. I sat down with KT to learn more about the world DinoKnights is set in, and the challenges of picking up ChoiceScript after a break. DinoKnights releases this Thursday, August 23rd.
Tell me about the Kingdom of Pascalia where DinoKnights is set. What kind of world is it?
Pascalia is a world of intrigue and shifting alliances, where honor is currency, but ambition runs rampant. It’s a world where deep chivalry and deeper friendships bring peace to far-flung corners, and where dark, ancient magic stirs old betrayals back to life.
It’s a world of golden grasses, rolling mountains, and blistering summers.
It’s also a world of dinosaurs.
Who are the major political power players in Pascalia?
Pascalia is a monarchy, so right at the top, we’ve got Queen Isobel. She’s the authority in the kingdom and also presides over her corps of dinosaur-mounted Rangers.
Next in line to the throne is her only child: Prince Bartas/Princess Beatris. Besides standing to inherit the crown, the heir also has the Queen’s ear!
The Queen’s sister, Lady Ermessen, wields considerable influence over the court of nobles. The lords and ladies advise Queen Isobel and manage the affairs of their respective regions. Rule the nobles and you may as well rule the kingdom…
And finally, the Mages’ College nurses its own power. Their own affairs concern them most, but their use of magic and rigorous scholarship make them a force to be reckoned with.
Why not dinosaurs?!
I’ve always loved fantasy stories with “animal partners,” whether that’s the daemons in Philip Pullman’s His Dark Materials or the Companions in Mercedes Lackey’s Heralds of Valdemar…or even Pokémon! So I knew that I wanted strong non-human bonds to be a major part of the story.
Why dinosaurs specifically? Before the Royal Ontario Museum underwent extensive renovations in the mid-2000s, their dinosaurs were housed in a shadowy, dark wing full of dioramas. Yes, it’s outdated museum practice, but when I was a kid, it sparked awe and wonder like nothing else. I wanted to recapture some of that magic!
What character was your favorite to write?
I really enjoyed writing Prince Bartas/Princess Beatris, Queen Isobel’s child and the heir to the throne (for simplicity’s sake, I shall use the heir’s female iteration here!).
When we first meet Princess Beatris, she’s languid, sardonic, and unflappable. Or so it seems. While her flirtatious, aristocratic dialogue was fun to write, it was even more interesting to see more complex layers emerge as the story went on. Turns out that Princess Beatris has a rich inner life, a strong sense of duty to her realm and mother, and a deep wellspring of honor.
It’s so rewarding when characters assert themselves that way, and it certainly earned her a fond spot in my heart!
This isn’t your first rodeo with Choice of Games—you’re also the author of Yeti’s Parole Officer. What’s changed for you about writing interactive fiction between these two games?
I think that interactive fiction has developed more, in every sense. The audience has grown, the genre has become wonderfully sophisticated, and the mechanics allow for even more complexity and nuance in the story. In 2014, I was experiencing the genre for the first time, so there was a lot of trial and error as I learned how it works. This time around, I felt like I had a better handle on what makes great interactive fiction—Choice of Games and its community have worked really hard on the underlying theories!
What did you find most challenging about it this go-around?
“I’ve already written for Choice of Games,” I said. “And I totally remember everything!”
Not…quite true, as it turned out. I went in overly-confident, and quickly discovered a) there’s been a lot of updates over the last four years (“multireplace” became my new best friend) and b) I actually had forgotten quite a bit. Including how many words are spelled differently in American English.
So the unexpected steep learning curve threw me. Fortunately, I had amazing support from Choice of Games to get me back up to speed!