Interview with Richard Denning
Posted by evangeline han
Richard Denning works as a General Practitioner in the West Midlands, England. He has had four books published, with two more books to be released in 2012. He is fascinated by historical settings as well as horror and fantasy. Besides writing, his main interests are games of all types. He is the designer of a board game based on the Great Fire of London. Visit his website at www.richarddenning.co.uk.
The Last Seal is somewhat based on the 1666 Great Fire of London. Why did you write a story based off this event?
I have been interested in this great event in London’s history for some time. It had a profound effect on 17th century London and radically altered the city. But when I started to read about London in 1666, I realised there were many other features that could make a good story. England was at war with France and Holland and that created distrust of foreigners and a paranoia about spies. There were omens of doom in advance of the fire. London was recovering from a great plague which had its own effects on the citizens. There was a belief in magic. All that suggested that a fantasy story set in the London of 1666 could be fun to write and – I hope – to read.
Will we be reading more about the adventures of Ben?
I hope so. I have a plotted out plan for a sequel and story arch for a series. Let’s see how people react to The last Seal.
You work as a General Practitioner in North Birmingham. What do you like most about your job as a GP?
Solving problems. I don’t like politics and the interference of governments (which happens too often), BUT when I am able to sort out problems for people I get the satisfaction of having achieved something.
You are a keen gamer who designed the board game The Great Fire of London 1666 which was released last year. You are also a director of the UK Games Expo. What makes you enjoy gaming? How difficult was it to design a board game? Do you have any other board games to be published?
I enjoy gaming for three main reasons. Firstly, it is escapism from real life. My day job as a GP brings with it quite a bit of exposure to the grim things in life and quite a lot of stress so I enjoy games because they take me away from all that. They allow me to pretend to be Julius Caesar conquering Europe, astronauts exploring space or racing car drivers speeding around a track. All on my own table. So there is the fun aspect. Secondly, there is the mental challenge. My favourite games are a bit demanding. That means I have to THINK a bit and I enjoy that – better than just crashing in front of the telly. Finally, there is the social aspect. Boardgames are better than computer games (and I do play electronic games too at times) because of the social aspect of getting together with like-minded folk to play.
Designing a game is easy enough. Designing a good one is hard. It requires a LOT of play testing and repeated playing to get it right and to come up with something original and new. The Great Fire of London 1666 went down well on release and encouraged me to try other ideas. I do have two games in the pipeline but both at early stages yet.
I read from your website bio that you run roleplaying campaigns. I’ve always been interested in the way people do roleplaying. How does roleplaying work?
Roleplaying games are really a grown up version of let’s pretend but with rules to create the structure. So let’s take an example – you can play a fantasy roleplaying game (RPG). In one of these, the players will all be members of an adventuring party (think of them like the fellowship in Lord of The Rings) and will have a task to achieve. This might be investigating an abandoned fort which travellers have reported is haunted. Another player is the games master – GM – (or umpire or dungeon master) whose job is to run the game. He (or she) will have draw a map of the fort and will know where the monsters are, where the traps are, etc. The appeal is that this type of game has no limits. You can do anything you want (within the limits of what the game rules define). So the GM describes the fort and might draw it out on paper or even use a model. Then the players discuss a plan and explore the ruins. They might have to fight monsters, they might be able to negotiate with them (played by the GM) or avoid them. If they do well they might find treasure and get better at their tasks and use those new abilities in the next adventure. Again, RPGs are social events, fun (often hilarious), and make you THINK around problems.
Can you please tell us a little known fact about yourself?
I love cooking and although family often demand dishes like curries, jambalayas and Moroccan chicken. I once invented the bean omelette – made with baked beans! It was a hangover cure when my friends and I were 17 or 18!
Is there anything else you would like to say?
I have written books from three series. The Last Seal is the first of the Praesidium series and is a historical fantasy set in the 17th century. The Amber Treasure (and upcoming Child of Loki, both of the Northern Crown series) is set in 6th century England in the Dark Ages and is a coming-of-age tale of a Saxon noble. Finally, Tomorrow’s Guardian and Yesterday’s Treasures are time travel novels set in the modern era but in which a schoolboy visits many past time periods. You can read parts of any of my books on my website. If you want to know more about the board game, visit medusagames.co.uk.