Matt Forbeck took time out from his busy writing schedule to talk to me about his career.
TD: Hi Matt, how about a short intro/bio about you?
MF: Hi, My name’s Matt Forbeck, and I’ve been a full-time author and game designer for the past 23 years. I’ve had countless games and twenty (countable) novels published to date, including books based on Dungeons & Dragons, Guild Wars, and Leverage. I also write the Magic: The Gathering comics for IDW. I’ve won bunches of awards for my work, but I don’t much worry about those. I’m always more excited about my next projects than my last ones.
I live in Wisconsin with my wife and our five kids, including a set of quadruplets. Life is an adventure.
TD: So, tell me about Monster Academy
Monster Academy is a trilogy of young adult fantasy novels set in a kingdom in which good has triumphed over the Great Evil but is still dealing with all sorts of little evils. Case in point, the kingdom has all sorts of young monsters running about that haven’t hurt anyone — yet. Since it’s wrong to harm the innocent, the good king sets up a reform school for them, a place charged with habilitating the monsters so that they can become valuable members of society.
If the kids fail, of course, they face banishment or even execution. They start out with the world stacked against them, and it’s up to them to figure out a way to not only survive but thrive in this kingdom that doesn’t want them around. You can find out more about it on the page for the Kickstarter drive I’m running for it right now.
TD: Rumour has it you plan to write a book a month over the next year. Is this true? If so, how will you balance it all?
It’s a bit insane, but I think I have it figured out. I set up a challenge for myself called 12 for ’12, and with that I’m trying to write a dozen short (50,000-word) novels this year. To help fund them, I broke them up into trilogies that I’ve been running on Kickstarter (a creators crowdfunding website), one at a time. So far, three of them have been huge successes.
We have a few days left in the final drive right now. It ends on Sunday, September 16.
As to how I manage it, I outline the books beforehand, which frees me up to write fast. My outlines are loose, but they give me a map to where I want to go. I regularly write about 5,000 words a day, and I can often top that when I have some momentum.
TD: Carpathia tackled the Titanic historical incident with a horror/comedy slant. Any plans to tackle other historic events?
I love history — it’s such a rich source of ideas — so I have little doubt I’ll return to it again. I don’t know if that will be for a sequel to Carpathia or for an all-new tale, but it’ll happen.
TD: A little birdie tells me you started off in role playing games. Can you tell us about this?
I made my living as a tabletop roleplaying game designer for many years. I wrote books for most of the games publishers in the ’90s, and I even co-founded Pinnacle Entertainment Group and served as its president for its first four years. It’s a great deal of fun, but sadly RPGs don’t have a huge audience, which makes feeding a family of seven with them a real challenge.
That said, I still do a little bit of game design every year. I love it too much to ever abandon it, although I make most of my living from novels, comics, and computer game writing these days. The 12 for ’12 challenge has taken up most of my time this year, of course, and I’ve had a wonderful time with those.
The third 12 for ’12 trilogy was called Dangerous Games, and it’s a trio of thrillers set at Gen Con, the largest gaming convention in the USA. This crosses a few of my passions into the story, and I’m looking forward to setting to work on those soon.