Cindy Koepp

Writing on the Edge

Where Did This Story Come From Anyway?

Animal Eye did not start out as GameLit. Nope. I wanted to write a story about from the point of view of Masika, my African Grey. Not a story about an anthropomorphized parrot, but as an actual parrot, who interacted with the world as a parrot. I wrote it that way as Bird's Eye: The Novel in Need of a Better Name. As I plotted it out, it ended up being very quest-based, a string of individual tasks that each furthered the characters on their way to the goal.


In the midst of writing, rewriting, revising, editing, mutating, and otherwise trying to get this thing straightened out properly -- it had issues, man, serious issues -- I wrote "The Fall of the Invincible Man," one of my stories in Avatars of Web Surfer. It took place within a game scenario. (So does Heather Titus's story in that anthology, but a different game). Avatars of Web Surfer went through a convoluted path to publication and eventually landed with Bear Publications. 


A pal of mine, who knew the plot of "The Fall of the Invincible Man," pointed me toward a podcast about a relatively new speculative fiction genre called LitRPG or GameLit. Like my novella, GameLit stories take place within a game scenario. Shoot, I didn't even know that was a thing!


I contacted Travis Perry at Bear Publications and suggested that Avatars might work as GameLit with some tweaking. I mean 2 of the stories already qualified. The rest wouldn't take that much of an overhaul to make it work. The publisher was game. The primary owner of the anthology, however, was not. In the discussion, I mentioned that I had a work of my own that I planned to convert to GameLit. After all, it was most of the way there already. It was already quest-based. I just needed to add the game mechanics and good to G.O. 


Travis contacted me outside that discussion and offered me an agreement for Bird's Eye if I could get the rework done. The two of us worked together to build the game mechanics, and then I got to work reshuffling the story to make Animal Eye. It was retitled because the parrot was not the only critter involved. There was a dog and a bear, too.


As a sort of proof-of-concept for myself, I wrote "Seeking What's Lost," which is the origin story for Jael, the grizzly bear. "Seeking What's Lost" appears in Mythic Orbits, vol. 2.


Even after I finished the revision of Animal Eye, it sat for a looooong time in Bear Publications' queue. Other projects needed to be cleared out ahead of it. Eventually, it had its time to shine, and now it's there for all the world to see. 


There is a Part 2 in the works. First, though, we've decided to tackle a new adventure: Turning it into a comic book miniseries and graphic novel. Stay tuned! That's the current project in the works.