Thru April

April 26, 2010

Just got back from my vacation in Turks and Caicos. Had a great time, got in plenty of golf, some scuba diving and a lot of great meals. Food is expensive there, but all in all it was a great trip. (Didn’t hurt that the Spurs are up 3-1 in their series with Dallas, either. Go, Spurs, go!)

Posted a couple Holiday Update tweets on Twitter. If you want to follow me, just sign up athttp://twitter.com/drewkarpyshyn – it’s the best way to keep on top of any interesting Drew-related news. (And tell your friends – I’m trying to get my followers up over 1,000!)

Now I’m back, rested and refreshed. Unfortunately, while the vacation was great for the body, mind and soul it wreaked havoc on my e-mail backlog. I was almost caught up; now I’m way behind again. But I’ll be chipping away, so if you sent me an e-mail please be patient – you will get a reply.

I’m also going to be working on a project that has me very excited. For the past decade I’ve been kicking around my own original fantasy novel. But between the Bane novels, the Mass Effect books and my work at BioWare I never seem to get to dive in and finish it. Now, I’m finally taking a few months to focus on my (in?)famous unfinished manuscript. (Note – I’m not giving up on my other franchises; I’m just not working on any of them at the moment.)

So, what can you expect from my novel? (Tentatively titled “Children of Fire”, by the way.) I think the best way to answer that is to list some of my favorite fantasy novels, so you can get a sense of what I like. Then, I’m going to list some of the things I *don’t* like about many of the fantasy novels I’ve been reading lately – things that I think the genre in general needs to get away from.

All this won’t happen in one post, however. It’ll probably take place over a few weeks. Let’s call this series of updates “A Journey through the Mind of Drew”. (Hmm… does that sound pretentious and arrogant? Probably. But it’s my website, so screw it.)

What I like: Sword of Shannara by Terry Brooks (and Elfstones, and Wishsong). The Belgariad by David Eddings (I was much younger when I read it – it probably doesn’t hold up as well as I remember, but it taught me a lot about pacing and dialog). Tigana and Last Light of the Sun by GuyGavriel Kay. The first 3 books of George Martin’s Song of Fire and Ice. Neverwhere by Neil Gaiman(he has other good books, but Neverwhere is by far my favorite).

This list is by no means complete, but if you haven’t read these books you should check them out. They’re all great reads (in my opinion).

Fantasy fans will notice some very conspicuous absences on this list. I’ve probably read the missing books (or at least some of the novels in the series), but I didn’t love them, and I didn’t feel like they shaped my style or approach to fantasy literature. (That’s right – Tolkien didn’t make my list. I appreciate what he did for the genre and I thought the books were good. Good, not great. I found his writing too slow, too filled with poetry and “artsy” descriptions, the characters too “perfect” and the overall style too “dated” to really grab me. Sacrilege, I know. But I’m not going to bow down just because everyone else loves it – I’ll make my own opinions, thanks.)

Okay, that’s about all for this update. Next week, some of the things I don’t like about fantasy literature. Here’s a preview: first person voice; “fat” fantasy; kindly but kooky old wizard mentors; passive/observer main characters.

Drew

 

April 11, 2010

Time for another update. So what’s new in my world? What’s the “exciting” news I was going to tell you about? Well, I just signed up with Twitter. If you’re signed up with this ubiquitous internet phenomenon, you can follow me by going to my home page:

http://twitter.com/drewkarpyshyn

May not seem like much to you, but this is a big step for me. I’ve avoided FaceBook, MySpace and similar sites with a vengeance. (If you want to understand why, watch last week’s episode of SouthPark - pure brilliance.) But Twitter could actually be useful… and not just to me!

See, I figure if people start following me on Twitter, then instead of having to check my webpage all the time only to discover I’m late with my update (again), they can just wait for me to tweet that the site is updated. It’s also a good way to be alerted when (if) I’m ever going to be doing personal appearances.

Basically, I’m going to use Twitter as a way to keep people updated on important (and trivial) Drew related info. It was either this or put together a mailing list, and that just seemed like too much work.

What can you expect if you follow me on Twitter? Honestly, not much. I won’t be updating every day. But I will tweet every time I update my website. And I’ll tweet if I’m ever doing personal appearances (like book signings). Probably tweet whenever I travel to another city for a Magic Tournament. If I ever hit another hole-in-one in golf. (That’s right – I said “another” – I already have one!) I might start giving pithy movie reviews when I go to see films. And if anything cool or exciting happens on the BioWare, Star Wars, Mass Effect or general writing/screenplay front, twitter will be the first update.

So go ahead and follow me on Twitter. It’s free, and it’s the best way to stay on top of what’s going on in my professional life.

Now, let’s see what else I can talk about in this update. Hmmm… just finished watching the Masters (on tape – I can’t watch sports on live TV anymore). Was kind of cheering for K.J. Choi, but it was fun to see Phil come through. Still think his caddie should have tackled him before he hit that shot from the trees on 13, but I guess it worked out.

Also looking forward to the NBA playoffs starting soon. I’m feeling pretty good about the Spurs right now. Unfortunately, I won’t be able to attend any of the first round games. Why not, you ask? Simple – I’ll be out golfing, scuba diving or chilling on the beaches of Turks and Caicos.

That’s right – I’m taking a vacation. I still haven’t caught up on my e-mails (though I’m only 2 weeks behind now), but you’ll just have to be patient with me… I’m not going to be checking them when I get back.

Okay, that’s enough rambling. Maybe I’ll have something more interesting to talk about when I get back.

Drew

 

March 28

Well, I wanted to have some interesting news for you this update. Unfortunately, things are running behind so I’ll have to put off the “cool” update for a couple weeks. So I guess I’ll just have to fill this update with some trivial personal info.

Before I get into that, though, I’m happy to say I’m caught up to the point where I’m responding to March e-mails. (Yes, I know March is almost over.) It’s nice to see my inbox sitting around 70 or 80 e-mails waiting for replies instead of 150. Hopefully I can get to where I’m only a week or so behind by the time of the next update.

Now on to the unimportant details of my life. Let’s start with the big Magic tournament in LA. Short version: I sucked. Longer version: I severely sucked on Saturday, and I moderately sucked on Sunday. Sometimes the cards just don’t want to cooperate, so you shake your head and move on.

However, my plummeting Magic rating is offset by the return of my golf game. I recently got fitted for a new set of irons (they’re not here yet), and I’ve gone back to my old driver from a few years ago: a classic Taylor Made R7 425. It’s an inch shorter than the Ping Rapture I was using – combined with the smaller head and an extra degree of loft, I’m able to control the ball a lot better. Which has led to some lower scores and, more importantly, a return of my confidence on the tee. Add in the new irons and I fully expect to be on the PGA Tour in another year or so. (Or at least, I expect to be WATCHING the PGA Tour.)

Speaking of the tour, the Masters is coming up. Looking forward to it as always, but the tournament has a different feel for me this year. No, not because of Mr. Woods. In Edmonton, the Masters marked the start of “golf season”. The courses weren’t usually open, but you might be able to find a few driving ranges so you could start shaking off the winter rust. Very exciting. In Austin, however, the golf season never ends. And though I miss the thrill of a golfing rebirth every April, I’ll gladly take year round rounds instead.

The Spurs are starting to show signs of life as well. Ginobli (who was born on July 28, like me!) is on fire, and the defense is coming around. Duncan isn’t putting up the numbers like he was early in the season, but I’m not worried – come playoffs I know he’ll deliver. Jefferson, Hill and Blair are carrying their share of the load. And as soon as Parker comes back… okay, let’s not get ahead of ourselves. A title might be too much to ask, but I do expect to be able to see a few playoff wins in person this year.

In professional news, BioWare just moved into a new building. We have a ton of room, and there’s something exciting about being somewhere new – the whole team feels energized as we begin the push to final the SWTOR game. (Don’t get too excited – “finaling” can be a very long, drawn out process.)

I’m also excited because I have a friend from Edmonton coming to visit. I expect the next week to be full of golf, restaurant dinners and Spurs basketball. In other words, my typical routine.

Okay, that’s about all for now. Long update considering I had nothing to say.

Drew

 

March 07

Okay, I’m a day late with the update. But in my defense, I’m still trying to catch up on all the e-mails I’ve gotten over the last month. And, I got all the editor feedback on Mass Effect: Retribution, so I wanted to complete all the rewrites on the manuscript this weekend. (I’m happy to say it’s all done, and everyone who’s read it seems to love the book.)

So, what am I working on now? Well, obviously I’m still involved with the Star Wars: The Old Republic MMO. In fact, they just recently posted a new developer dispatch video with a few short interview clips from yours truly. You’ll also get to hear from, among other people, James Ohlen -  thecreative director behind the Baldur’s Gate series, Neverwinter, KOTOR, Dragon Age and SWTOR.

James is also the guy who convinced me to move down to Austin, and he’s my testing partner whenever we want to try out the latest Magic the Gathering decks in preparation for a big tournament.

Speaking of big Magic tournaments, I’m heading out to LA in a couple weeks for theTCGplayer.com 5K tournament.  That’s why the next update won’t be for three weeks. But I do hope to have my e-mails updated by then, and I might even have some other interesting news for you. (Well, I think it’s interesting, at least…)

Later.

Drew

 

February 21

It’s been almost a month, but I’m back with another update. And let me tell you – it’s been one HELL of a month for me. Let’s do a quick recap of what happened.

First, Mass Effect 2 was released. It’s setting all kinds of sales records, and it’s one of the mostcritically acclaimed games of all time. So, let’s chalk that up in the plus column.

I also managed to complete the final draft of Mass Effect: Retribution – it’s sitting on my editor’s desk right now, waiting for final approvals. That’s another big plus, and a huge weight off my shoulders. Like most writers, I tend to push any project right to the deadline, so I’ve been busting my ass for the last month to get this book finished.

In the end I’m happy with how things ended up, but there wasn’t any lack of stress or drama in the making. That’s because, for the second time this month, I had a computer crash. This time I lost 3 full chapters of writing because, like an idiot, I was only backing up twice per week. I had to finish the novel by commandeering my wife’s laptop, since my machine was toast. So that’s a pretty big negative.

So let’s toss the computer crash redux into the negative column. That’s also the reason I’m about a month behind on my e-mail. I’m working hard to catch up, but I have over 100 e-mails in my inbox waiting for replies. So please, be patient with me – I’m doing my best to get back to everyone.

Also in the negative column: my golf game (driver fell apart, had to take a lesson to get back on track), the Spurs (can’t seem to click as a team, in danger of another first round playoff exit or even – for the first time ever in Tim Duncan’s career – missing the postseason!), and the coldest Austin winter in 35 years (still one million times better than Canada).

But I think with the book being complete I can see change on the horizon. I finally broke 40 for 9 holes for the first time this year at the golf course; I’m planning on hitting a few Magic tournaments in the next month; we’ve got a trip to Turks and Caicos planned in April; and I’m planning to attend some of the WSOP events in Vegas come June.

So all in all it’s still pretty damn good to be me. Look for another update in a couple weeks.

Drew

 

January 25

So I’m a day late with this update. No real excuses; I’m just busy and it kind of slipped by me. And, just to prove I’m busy, notice that the next update isn’t for 4 weeks. That should give me enough time to catch up on all the things I’m behind on. But I do have some cool things to talk about, so on with the update!

First, they finally officially announced the big, secret project I’ve been working on (that is keeping me so busy): a third Mass Effect novel! The book, Mass Effect: Retribution, is scheduled to come out sometime in July, though that could change. Click on the link to see the cover and a plot teaser for the novel. Basically, like the other ME books, this novel focuses on a story not directly involving Commander Shepard, but that still helps flesh out the ME universe while helping to set up elements that will be featured in the third game.

I’ve been cruising the forums a little bit (yeah, I lurk there once in a while) and it seems like people are pretty excited about ME: Retribution. But there is also a little confusion I’d like to clear up. The novel takes place AFTER the events of the second Mass Effect game. So you can play ME2 when it comes out and not worry about spoiling the book.

Speaking of the game, Mass Effect 2 is set to drop tomorrow. Here’s a little tidbit to file under “weird” – Dynast of Evil released on December 8th, my Mom’s birthday. Mass Effect 2 releases on January 26… my Dad’s birthday! Bizarre, yes? Well, maybe not bizarre, but odd. (I figure this means I don’t need to buy them gifts, since they get the pleasure and pride of seeing something their son made on the shelves. Plus, I’m cheap.)

The early reviews for ME2 are fantastic – the game is blowing people away. Reviewers are raving about the characters, the story, the graphics and the gameplay… really, there isn’t anything they don’t like. As co-lead writer on the game, I’m pumped for the official release because I know it’s going to do much, much better than the first game – which was itself universally praised and won a ton of awards. If you want to get a sneak peek at how the sequel is tracking, check out the ME link onGame Rankings.

On a side note, I was watching the NFC Championship game (Go, Saints!) and when the telecast went to commercial for the 2 minute warning I was surprised to see a commercial for Mass Effect 2 pop up. The timing was perfect, and the ad itself was awesome. Plus, it’s waaaay cool to know that millions and millions of people watching the game saw it.

Okay, that’s all for this update. Back to writing Retribution and trying to get caught up on my e-mails. (I’m up to 2010 now, so I’m only about 3 weeks behind. I guess that’s progress.)

Drew

 

January 8

Happy New Year! I know I’m a few days late with this update, but my computer crapped out on me, so I wasn’t able to update the website or answer e-mails. Great way to start the New Year, right? A late update and over 100 e-mails in the in-box.

But it’s not all bad. The Spurs are starting to put it together, and the Chargers are looking strong for the NFL playoffs. (I admit, I was trash-talking them earlier in the season. My bad. I should have known they’d make their second half of the season run.)

The golf game is starting to come around, though with the recent cold snap here in Texas it might end up being almost two weeks between rounds for me. (The horror!)

So, what to talk about for the first update of 2010? Well, I was hoping my “secret” project could be revealed, but the official announcement isn’t out yet. If you do a little poking around on the interweb, you can probably figure it out, but I don’t want to get in any trouble with the powers-that-be, so I’ll keep quiet for now.

As for my Christmas and New Year’s, they were pretty good. Went back up to Canada for a short visit to see the family and nearly froze my ass off. Then I come back home, get a week of decent weather before we get below-freezing temperatures in Austin. It’s like winter is stalking me or something. (Yes, I do believe the earth’s climate revolves primarily around me…)

Dynasty of Evil is hanging on in what they call the New York Times “extended” best seller list, ranking right around 30th place right now. It’s 3 weeks and counting, so that’s a good thing. And we’ve had more printings for the first two Bane novels, so I guess I’m collecting a few more fans.

Okay, that’s about it. Next update in a couple weeks. Until then, I’ll start grinding away at the e-mails. Be patient.

Drew

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