Writer Q&A 2020 No. 1: Matt Forbeck

Image Credit: Forbeck.com 

Matt Forbeck is a New York Times-bestselling author and game designer with dozens of published credits for books and games. His works include the Dungeons & Dragons Endless Quest books, the Star Wars: Rogue One junior novel, and Shotguns and Sorcery: The Omnibus. I really appreciate him taking the time out of his busy schedule to answer a few questions about his writing career!

How long have you been a writer?

Matt Forbeck: I’ve been a full-time writer and game designer since I graduated college in 1989. Soooo, almost 31 years.

How did you know you wanted to be a writer?

Matt Forbeck: I loved to read, and I discovered in grade school that I had a talent for telling stories of my own. There’s a much longer story about how I decided to dedicate myself to it in college, but that’s for another time. 

Are you a full-time writer? If not, what’s your day job that helps pay the bills? If yes, how do you keep the process fun instead of feeling like it’s…ugh…work?

Matt Forbeck: This is it. I’ve mostly worked for myself over those 31 years, barring a stint as the president of Pinnacle Entertainment Group and the director of the adventure games division of Human Head Studios. That ended in 2003, so it’s been a long stretch. 

I pay my bills this way, and that helps keep me focused. The fact that I’ve been at this for so long means I’m useless for any other kind of work. 

I mean, it IS work, but it’s good, fun work. I don’t mind working, especially if I get to do this instead of something else. 

Do you have a family? How do you balance quality time with them and with your creative process?

Matt Forbeck: I’ve been married 27 years and have five kids. The eldest is about to graduate from college, and the other four — who are quadruplets — are seniors in high school. 

I mostly work while the kids are at school and my wife is at work. I love the fact that working for myself, out of my house, means I can be there for the kids whenever they need me. I’ve gone to a lot of field trips over the years. 

Since I’m a full-timer, it balances out pretty well.

What’s your favorite genre to read – and why? 

Matt Forbeck: I’ll read anything, as long as it grabs me. That said, much of what I read falls under fantasy and science fiction. That’s mostly because I’ve worked in those genres for so long and have lots of friends writing those kinds of books, but it’s also because I love the way you can take a metaphor in fantastic fiction and make it real. It’s a wonderful tool for any writer to play with. 

Share some works that were influential for you – and why?

Matt Forbeck: The most influential are The Lord of the Rings, Trouble Is My Business, and Neuromancer. I love them all, and each of them had a huge influence on my style and my writing life. You can see mash-up of the first two in my Shotguns and Sorcery series of stories and novels. 

What drives you to write? What do you get out of it?

Matt Forbeck: I love telling stories in any form I can: games, novels, comics — even over a beer. Anything I can do to entertain people and maybe illuminate their lives for a bit. 

Also, I like to eat and have a roof over my head and maybe help send my kids to college. So there’s the money too. 

Are you powered more by character inspirations or plot ideas? Why is that?

Matt Forbeck: I’m more of a plotter, probably because I started out in tabletop roleplaying games. In those, you have to provide the setup, and the players come up with the heroes. As a novelist, though, you get to control the main characters too, which makes it even more fun. 

What do you do for fun? Interesting hobbies? 

Matt Forbeck: Mostly I write, design games, and spend time with my wife and kids. I read, watch TV and movies, and play games too, but much of that’s tangentially related to my work as a storyteller and designer. 

What advice do you have for would-be writers?

Start early if you can, and stick to it as long as you like. It’s not a race, and you’re not competing against other writers. If you can find a way to love the process, then you’re way ahead of the game, no matter what ends up happening with the results. 

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Wes Platt

Lead storyteller. Game designer and journalist. Recovering Floridian.

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