Born and raised in Cincinnati, Ohio, Stuart Thaman graduated from Hillsdale College with degrees in politics and German, and has since sworn off life in the cold north. Now comfortably settled in Kentucky, he lives with his lovely wife, a rambunctious Boston terrier named Yoda, and four cats who probably hate him. When not writing, he enjoys smoking cigars, acquiring bruises in mosh pits, and preparing for the end of the world.
When did you first start writing fiction?
I began writing in 2012 when I couldn’t find a job after college. Writing gave me something to fill all the down time between interviews and job applications.
What kind of books do you enjoy reading? Paper or eBook?
I read eBooks almost exclusively.
What’s your favorite under-appreciated novel?
The Kill Kill Kill series by Mike Leon is amazing.
Of your books, which is your personal favorite? Why?
My favorite is Shadowlith. The story parallels a lot of actual events that took place in my life, and the characters are the “realest” ones I have ever written. The main character’s journey essentially mirrors my own journey.
You can make one LitRPG book (not your own) a movie. Which is it and why?
I’d like to see How to Avoid Death on a Daily Basis by V. Moody turned into a movie. The main character is a narcissistic asshole, and his wit is perfect. That would be a funny movie for sure.
Do you believe in writer’s block?
Not at all. Some writers might not have the right ideas at the right time, but the flow of ideas never turns off.
Are you an outliner or pantser?
I outline almost everything. I keep notebooks on my desk and next to my bed where I hand write all my novel plans, and then I stick to the outlines maybe 70% of the time. Sometimes better things happen in the moment, and the plan becomes useless.
What is your writing process like?
I always attempt to follow my outlines pretty closely, constantly referring back to my notes and previous chapters for consistency and ideas. I consistently end my writing sessions in the middle of action scenes which makes me super eager to get back to them and continue writing.
How many hours a day do you write?
I usually write about 2 – 4 hours day, though I split it into 2 sessions and don’t always work on the same project.
Tell us about your Workspace?
I use 2 monitors, one for notes and one for writing. I keep an outline notebook at my right and have decks of cards on my left. The cards are basically there to occupy my hands when I need to take a bit to sit back and read or think through the next scene. Having something tactile to mess with between my fingers really helps me concentrate on the plot points I need to figure out.
Who are some of your favorite authors of all time?
My favorite written work is The Aeneid by Virgil. In fact, I love most things Virgil has written. For modern stuff, I really love Orson Scott Card, specifically Ender’s Game. I also enjoy Frank Herbert, C. Bryan Brown, Stephen Paul Sayers, Christopher Moore, Courtney Peppernell, and Snorri Sturluson.
Where do you get your ideas?
I have no clue where my ideas come from. Sometimes I think of stuff while dreaming or right after I wake up, but most of the time I start getting a flow of content the moment I sit down at my desk to write.
What are your thoughts on how VR will affect the future of humanity?
I don’t like where things are going. Sure, VR gaming is going to be badass, but I envision a dystopian future where all human interaction is relegated to a VR simulation, and people never need / want to leave their houses. The government will encourage the VR rigs to be installed in every house because it makes people easier to control, and corporations will drool at the prospect of advertising on the VR channels. It’ll get out of control right out of the gate, and the entire human population will essentially become lazy and complacent all at once, content to sit in their rigs and experience the VR world while brutally neglecting their own bodies and physical existence.
What kind of research do you do, and how long do you spend researching before beginning a book?
I like to read the best books in the genre in order to figure out what readers want and which tropes I want to avoid or improve upon. Typically, I read 4 – 6 books per month, and at least half of those are in whatever genre I’m writing at the time.
First video game memory?
The first game I remember was Contra, a side-scrolling shooter my brother played on one of the old systems, I don’t remember which. I’d watch him shooting aliens (I think) in the jungle for hours at a time. Then we got a racing game, Pole Position I think, for our Atari. We’d play Pole Position and Pong together before the the SNES came out.
What can fans expect from you next?
Killsteak 2: Heavy Armor will be out sometime this winter, probably December. After that, Realm Online: Trapped (currently free on RoyalRoad) will be dropping in the winter or early spring of 2019, and I expect Mournstead, the sequel to Shadowlith to be out in the spring as well.
Anything else you would like to add?
Thanks for hosting the interview! I’m relatively new to the LitRPG scene, but I love it here so far. I only wish I had discovered the genre a couple years ago so I could have been writing so much more of it instead of my usual epic fantasy. That said, I’ll keep writing epic fantasy at least until my current series (Umbral Blade, Chronicles of Estria) are completed, at which point I plan on switching into LitRPG exclusively. The books are more fun to read, more fun to write, and I want to help keep the LitRPG genre alive and thriving!