The Writers Who Read series is back! Joining us for the new interview is Eddy Webb.
Who are you?
My name is Eddy Webb, and my job description is… complicated. These days I’m a freelance writer and game designer working in fiction, non-fiction, role-playing games, and video games, sometimes all in the same day! I’ve written everything from short stories about uplifted dogs trying to survive on a deserted world, to a book of slightly unhinged rants about people’s misperceptions of the original Sherlock Holmes stories, to the sales text on the back of game boxes. But throughout my life I always go back to stories, whether it’s writing them, writing about them, or helping other people tell them.
Which book or series was your gateway into the world of reading?
The Sherlock Holmes stories, without a doubt. My grandfather gave me a beat-up volume of The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes, and right away I was hooked on them. While I love stories of a variety of lengths, short fiction has always had an urgency that I’ve been drawn to.
Nowadays, what makes you crack open a book instead of pressing play on your favorite Netflix show?
I love to read when I want to be drawn into a story. I’ve watched a lot of Netflix, but it’s nearly always on in the background as I work or do something else in the living room. But a book can’t really be multi-tasked: you need to focus, and that adds a level of immersion and personal investment in the story.
Which authors are auto-buys for you? Why?
Most of my favorite authors have long since passed away, but Chuck Wendig is one of my favorite authors right now, period. For a while I thought I was biased, since he’s a friend of mine and I’ve previously worked with him on some projects, but over the years I’ve found that his voice and style of storytelling really draws me in. I actually have a half-dozen of his books that I’ve just bought because they have his name, but I haven’t gotten around to reading them yet! Also, Jim Butcher. I’ve been reading his Dresden Files series for over a decade now, and it’s the only book series that I read from year to year religiously.
What is your book kryptonite–those unique settings, tropes, or character types that make you unable to resist reading?
Complexity of character. If I think I know what the characters are all about and where they’re going, I get bored quickly. But if there’s something about the character that makes me wonder, or if they do something surprising that turns out to make perfect sense, I’m hooked. I want to know more about that character.
What is your ideal time and place to read?
These days my wife and I read in bed with our iPads — it’s usually the only time I have to read for fun anymore! But once in a while I’m able to snatch a lazy Sunday afternoon where I can sit on the couch with a mug of tea and get lost for an hour or so. That’s wonderful.
Are you a re-reader? Why or why not?
For years I actually felt guilty about re-reading. There are so many other books in the world to read! Why read something I’ve read before? But I’ve found that not only is there a comfort in reading something that I know I love, but also I can find new elements and aspects of the story that I missed last time. I must have read the Sherlock Holmes stories a dozen times in my life. But as a general rule, I do prefer new books over old ones, and a lot of times I’ll pass books I’ve read on to friends and family that I think will like them, instead of keeping them in case I read them again.
Which books have had the biggest influence on your writing?
Surprisingly, it’s only been the past few years that Victorian fiction has influenced my own style. Before that, books like The Maltese Falcon by Dashiell Hammett and The Big Sleep by Raymond Chandler were very influential. The economy of prose and multiple layers of dialogue and description are still wonderful to me.
What makes a book a satisfying read for you?
It’s a tricky balance of knowing where things are going and being surprised by the result. If I’m lost, or if everything is too obvious, I lose interest. But if the characters are compelling, and if things look inevitable but turn out to be different than anticipated, I’m very satisfied by the result.
What are you reading right now?
Right now I’m reading a book on video game narrative for review, but before that I was reading some old Conan stories by Robert E. Howard. I came to Howard late in my life, but elements of his writing style remind me of Chandler, and I’m finding it fascinating to read fantasy stories before readers and writers developed this very rigid definition of what “fantasy” means.
Eddy Webb (with a “y,” thank you) is a freelance writer, designer, producer, and consultant for video games and RPGs. He has worked on over a hundred products, including providing creative vision for properties such as Vampire: The Masquerade and the interactive audio drama Codename Cygnus. His work spans over a decade and across dozens of respected companies, and he’s even won a few awards along the way. Today he lives a sitcom life in Atlanta, Georgia with his wife, his roommate, and an affably stupid pug. More information and mad ramblings about Sherlock Holmes can be found at eddyfate.com.