Tuesday, April 26, 2016

Best gaming fiction writer Michael Atamanov

Michael Atamanov was born in 1975 in Grozny, Chechnia. He excelled at school, winning numerous national science and writing competitions. Having graduated with honors, he entered Moscow University to study material engineering. Soon, however, he had no home to return to: their house was destroyed during the first Chechen campaign. Michael's family fled the war, taking shelter with some relatives in Stavropol Territory in the South of Russia. Then one day unexpectedly for himself he started writing fairy tales and science fiction novels. For several years, his audience consisted of only one person: Michael's elder son. Then, at the end of 2014 he decided to upload one of his manuscripts to a free online writers resource. Readers liked it and demanded a sequel. Michael uploaded another book, and yet another, his audience growing as did his list. It was his readers who helped Michael hone his writing style. He finally had the breakthrough he deserved when the Moscow-based EKSMO - the biggest publishing house in Europe - offered him a contract for his first and consequent books.

MDB: Why gaming? What prompted you to dream up a virtual world?

Michael Atamanov: For quite some time, I’d been working in genres which were borderline LitRPG. My entire Gray Raven fantasy series was in fact conceived as a MMORPG storyline complete with quests and leveling scenarios. Still, once the publisher had accepted it, he asked me to delete all gaming references. My Quit the Game novel is in fact a cross between an Eve Online fanfic and a space-opera LitRPG. In it, the MC realizes he’s stuck in an online game - but unlike other players he can’t quit it because he is in fact a piece of software. So no wonder I began writing my next project Perimeter Defense. Sector Eight as purely LitRPG.

MDB: If you could transport yourself to the world you created, would you do so? And if you did, which of the game characters would you like to play?

Michael Atamanov: According to my wife, I’d have jumped at the opportunity. Me, I’m not so sure. I’m quite happy with the real world. I also have quite a few writing commitments I wouldn’t have been able to abandon at a moment’s notice. But if I couldn’t avoid being transported to Perimeter Defense, I’d have joined the androids. Think of their immortality combined with the emergency backup options, their ability to instantly communicate with other androids, their unique and truly boundless abilities only constrained by the world’s rules! That’s exactly what I would have done: I’d search for ways to remove these rules or circumvent them.

MDB: In your opinion, is playing MMORPG games just mindless entertainment and a waste of time? Or does it help one grow and develop one's particular skills and character traits? If so, which ones?

Michael Atamanov: Games give everyone what he or she wants to find in them. Some play online to practice a foreign language in real-time communication with other players. Others want to make new friends. Yet others do it for the adrenaline rush. And certain people play in order to learn to control others. While for a few it might indeed be a mindless waste of time.

MDB: What do you find more exciting: to play a game or to write about it?

Michael Atamanov: It took me seven years of online playing to finally feel saturated. I’d experienced all there was to be experienced, both emotionally and practically. Been there, done it. Switching to a different game only helped temporarily: there’re not so many truly unique solutions in any one game and I was getting pretty fed up with straightforward farming and leveling. I wanted computer games to be something else; I missed the real-life flexibility when a situation would respond to a player’s actions. I longed, on one hand, for a full immersion experience and on the other, for the feeling of my own uniqueness. That’s how I began to create Perimeter Defense - an ideal game virtually indistinguishable from reality, one devoid of clear-cut classes, quests, XP and other limitations. I’ve only been writing LitRPG for less than two years so at the moment it’s a bit early to answer your question, I think. Let’s wait another five years, then I’ll tell you.

MDB: Can we expect your new books to expand into other genres? What genres would they be?

Michael Atamanov: Absolutely. I’m going to write more Gray Raven books which is a young adult fantasy series. I’m also planning on writing a standalone hard sci fi novel about the nearest future of space exploration.

MDB: Can we expect new books in the Perimeter Defense series or do you have other plans?

Michael Atamanov: In a month’s time, I’ll make a start on the fourth book of the Perimeter Defense series: Game Without Rules. I still don’t know whether it’s going to become the last in the series or whether I’ll have enough ideas left for book 5. I’ll have to see how the story goes. One thing I promise: I’m not going to pad it out simply to boost the word count!

MDB: Which other LitRPG authors would you personally recommend to your friends and readers?

Michael Atamanov: I’ve read lots of LitRPG authors. Many of them are very talented writers who have penned excellent stories. Still, I’d like to draw your attention to two of them. Firstly, Vasily Mahanenko with his seven-book series The Way of the Shaman. It’s a very easy read, it’s packed with plot twists and it has a likeable hero. As I read it, I felt tempted to write my own story sharing similar gaming mechanics. This resulted in my current WIP The Dark Herbalist. I’d also like to mention another fellow Russian author Artyom Kamenisty. This experienced and prolific author of portal fantasy has been a great new acquisition for the LitRPG genre, his books The Weirdest Noob Ever and The Gods of the Second World retaining his signature non-stop-action style.

Magic Dome books

"Beyond Death" by Michael Atamanov coming soon:

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