S. S. Prince: Musician Of The Warp

Interview with S.S. Prince

The following was compiled from notes on conversations that took place between S. S. Prince and Gusair Onothabawor while they shared some drinks in the Carved Pike Tavern & Inn located in Mapesad.

Gusair: So S. S., tell me a little about where you were born and where you grew up.

S. S. Prince: Well Gusair, I was born in Winnipeg, Canada and grew up both there and in Toronto. When I was five years old, my Dad’s job got transferred to Toronto so we picked up and moved there. We lived in Toronto until I was thirteen when he was laid off. That is when we moved back home to Winnipeg. My youth was spent in West Hill, one of the many neighbourhoods of Toronto. I went to a french immersion school, played hockey, played hide-and-go-seek with my neighbourhood friends and was involved in Scouting.

It was a big adjustment moving back to Winnipeg after my Dad was laid off. We first lived in an apartment, then a town house until we were able to buy a house in Windsor Park where I spent my teenage years. Yet, I made some really good friends and fell in with the Role Playing Game crowd. We spent a lot of our time playing Iron Crown Enterprise’s Rolemaster as well as Games Workshop’s Warhammer and Warhammer 40k tabletop war games. We were also big into music and by grade twelve we had started a band called Gargamel’s Revenge. I played rhythm guitar and sang. Our big claim to fame was playing at an ice-fishing tournament in North-West Angle, Minnesota in front of two thousand people. It was an awesome, but very cold, experience.

Gusair: How did you and when did you start writing? What were some of your influences?

S. S. Prince: I sort of remember always telling stories. I read a lot as a kid and my Mom read to me every night before bed. It certainly ingrained a love of reading at a young age. I remember one summer, maybe the summer of grade four or five, I wrote a Choose-Your-Own-Adventure style book. I was a big fan of the series and still own many of the original books that I now read with my own son.

I had written a lot of different things growing up, mostly for school assignments. But in grade eleven I wrote the first short story that made me feel that I could actually be an author. I had gone on a school bike trip at the beginning of the year. When we got back, my English teacher had assigned the class one of those obligatory “Write a story about your trip” assignments.

I wrote a very short story (what I would consider Flash Fiction now) about a moment when I was trying to pedal my bike up a very big hill in Whiteshell Provincial Park. My grade eleven English teacher really helped me focus my creative writing skills. I began to write poetry I was proud of, even getting one of my poems published. And I had begun to formulate the beginnings of one of the many worlds I have created for my stories. It was a very important time in my life and I have that teacher, Joan Thomas, to thank for guiding me on my writing path.

Like the music I write, I have many influences. I’ve read a lot of different genres, but I always gravitate back to fantasy and suspense. Tolkien is, of course, a huge influence. I don’t think anyone can write fantasy and not be influenced by Tolkien. But I’m also influenced by a lot of pre-Tolkien fantasy as well.

In university I took a Gothic Novels class that really shaped some of my ideas on world building, plot and character development. Authors like Horace Walpole, William Beckford and Matthew Gregory Lewis fascinated me with their dark, gothic terror filled novels. My all-time favourite author, though, is James Clavell. His Noble House is an epic book (longer than War And Peace) that is so complex it still makes my head spin.

Gusair: So you have talked about your music. You are a musician and songwriter. How does your music influence your creative writing?

S. S. Prince: I honestly can’t remember a time when a song has not been playing in my head. Either a song by an artist I love or a melody of my own making. Music pours through my soul. Because of that, I try to relate sounds throughout my writing, not always successfully – I might add. But music does feature in my writing.

I have written many characters who are musicians. From my angst ridden, guitar playing, gen x poster-boy Ennis in the short story Unsung Briefcase From A Friend; to the Grand Ducal heir of Ravenstone, Rana, in my Oracle series of books that I am writing for my fantasy world of Nytheun.

Rana is a seer and a harpist. The central prophetic vision that drives the first half of the first book of the Oracle series revolves around Rana playing her harp at a concert for her people. There is even a travelling band of minstrels who show up in the same book. I want to write a series of short stories that describe the tours they have gone on. Sort of a fantasy Rock Band Tour Diary.

Gusair: So I have to ask, how did you get involved in the creation of my world?

S. S. Prince: It was an accident, actually. But I think if you talk to any of the four of us who got together to create Warp World, we would all say the same thing. I had signed up for Holly Lisle’s Write Flash Fiction that Doesn’t SUCK course and started posting on the forum located on her website.

There was one thread that was all about collaborating. Had you collaborated in the past? What was it like? What worked? What didn’t? Well, Drake (NM Henderson), Chris (CT Bridges), Reetta and I really seemed to hit it off on that thread. I think it was me that suggested that some of us should collaborate.

Next thing I knew, Drake was sending the three of us a private message inviting us all to what she called the Accidental Collaboration Club. We combined our creative juices and Warp World was born. It’s been an amazing experience and I’m having a lot of fun as well as learning a lot from the ladies.

Gusair: So I understand that I probably know more about Warp World right now than you do because I live here and your Accidental Collaboration Club has only developed a tiny corner of the world. But is there something or someplace in Warp World that has really captured your imagination?

S. S. Prince: I have to say Fasthaabur. I think I’m a little like you, Gusair: I’m fascinated by ancient, ruined cities, temples and fortresses. I have always pictured myself as Indiana Jones searching for lost treasure and knowledge. I even went to university to take Archæology before I transferred into Philosophy in my second year. Fasthaabur really taps into the archæologist part of me.

There are dark secrets hidden below the ruins. Dark terrors that stalk the underground vaults while pilgrims from Mapesad explore the city above ground unaware of the dangers that lurk below. There are secrets hidden down in those tunnels. But there is also an evil intelligence hiding there too. Someone is directing the terrors. Someone has a plan to unleash these dangers on the unsuspecting citizens of Mapesad. Yet, there is hope buried below as well. A hope you and your Captain are probably going to find.

Gusair: Can you tell me more about this hope we are going to find? (She asks expectantly)

S. S. Prince: Well, you’ll just have to wait and read the book when I’m done writing it, Gusair. (He flashes her a mischievous smile). You haven’t gotten to Fasthaabur yet. I don’t want to give anything away that might change the story.

Gusair: Alright, I guess that is fair. (She looks around the tavern) Waitress! Another round, please!

S. S. Prince: And some barbeque peanuts!

Gusair: What is a bar-bah-cue peanut?

S. S. Prince: Note to self: have the Ocebur create a barbeque sauce that is central to their diet.

Gusair: What?

S. S. Prince: Forget it.

S. S. Prince lives in an hundred and ten year old brick house with his wife, son and their dog, Cenny in Keewatin, Canada. When he’s not writing, he’s usually recording and playing his guitar or hiking with his son.