Recently, Michael Diamond announced the upcoming release of his first Numenera novel, Agents of the Beyond. Pre-orders are currently open, and we wanted to take advantage of that opportunity to learn more about his project. Michael was kind enough to join us for the interview below.
Along with the interview, you can also read a brief preview of Prologue: Agents of the Beyond (370 downloads) . Also, be sure to catching the upcoming second issue of CypherCaster Magazine later this summer, which will include another excerpt and more information on Agents of the Beyond.
TNW: So, for folks that might not be familiar with you, what’s your background and what other things can people look for that you’ve written while we wait on Agents of the Beyond to be released?
MD: I spent my formative years assembling friends and throwing polyhedrons in kitchens, sticking with 2nd Ed D&D, Shadowrun, Rifts, and West End Star Wars. Storytelling duties would drift between a few of us, with each person taking a different campaign setting and making it their preferred playfield. As time passed, I added White Wolf and DC to the library.
Books were always a passion of mine, and by the age of 13 I owned more books than my parents did, even some they probably wished I didn’t. Writing didn’t really come around until middle school, when the stories our gaming groups needed became more in depth. My specialty was the four to six page character history.
As high school came and went, I began to write full stories with multiple characters, all of which were based on games we’d run the weeks previously. If it wasn’t for my 9th grade English teacher, I might not have gotten into writing at all, when she took my writing spiral away from me and asked me to concentrate on the work in front of me.
In my twenties I went out to experience life, but writing stuck with me, and about 3 years ago I wrote Origins of the Black Idol, my first full length novel. It too was born from a gaming blog about my Cthulhu game. The follow up to that, Shattered Gods, was release a year later. Both are set in the 1920’s (one in India and the other in Germany) and are horror/thriller pieces.
TNW: And where can people find Shattered Gods and Origins of the Black Idol?
TNW: So clearly your writing grew out of your love for roleplaying. How did you find Numenera and what drew you to that world as the setting for Agents?
MD: I’d seen the corebook, bought the pdf’s (then the hardcover), and started up my own Numenera game. What astonished me about the setting was the breadth of options, which now number in the thousands, making it a truly unique setting for characters. The community surrounding the setting is diverse and engaged, offering their own stylizations of what Monte and his team have created. Each page of the book offered me information, but also peaked my inquisitive “get-you-into-trouble” brain and I couldn’t stop reading it. I kept thinking about the amount of information we know about present day Earth, and the vast amount that characters in the Numenera setting don’t know.
For me, getting an opportunity to write a story with the Numenera setting material was a gift. Monte Cook Games has done a spectacular job at putting together a rich and vibrant world, which is defined enough for storytellers to get an idea of what goes on in the Ninth World, but not so rigid as they couldn’t develop their own fantastic tales. So I took that and decided the story needed three critical elements to work: A diverse cast, a dynamic story, and an unbelievable setting.
TNW: And after tapping that inspiration, what kind of story did you build with Agents of the Beyond?
MD: Agents is a story about three very different people who are pushed together by a series of unfortunate events which are going on around them. Each one of them has a different viewpoint on the situation and as they move forward in the story, they come to realize more about themselves and each other.
TNW: Without trying to get you to give too much away, are there any Ninth World elements readers will recognize and can look forward to seeing as part of the story?
MD: I planned the route of the story out to include several places Numenera players would recognize, either by their own adventures there or by looking at the map. There are core book creatures, numenera, and oddities they’ll recognize plus some all new additions I made on my own.
TNW: In that vein, we all know one of Numenera’s strengths is in how it emphasizes the weird. What kind of weird stuff can readers expect?
MD: Readers can expect nothing is safe in Agents of the Beyond. Characters, buildings, and the very landscape of the Beyond is up for grabs. They’ll see everything from killer automations, to alchemically created guardian creatures.
TNW: Now, the big question is, does Agents of the Beyond stand alone as a story, or do you envision more to come with the story or characters down the road?
MD: I think Agents has the ability to stand on its own, but I’d love to continue writing with the characters and the setting material.
TNW: Many folks who get into game-related fiction also find themselves producing game supplement resources as well. Do you envision getting into that area, maybe creating adventures or other materials, or will you stick to the fiction realm for now?
MD: I think being a writer who has a background in tabletop gives me insight into that realm, so it’s always a possibility. I’m finishing up a section of the creatures and numenera for Agents of the Beyond which I intend to release with the book on my website for free.
TNW: That’s fantastic to hear! I’m sure readers will be excited to see that. And once Agents of the Beyond is released, where will they be able to buy copies of it at?
MD: Amazon for print and kindle formats, Smashwords for all other electronic formats. For those in the Northern Illinois area, I will be having a book signing for Agents of the Beyond in Rockford, IL at The Olympic Tavern on July 17th at 8pm. They can stop by, pick up a copy and have a drink.
TNW: I think as we wrap up, we’re left with One Big Question, which is, what do you want to be sure our readers know about you or Agents of the Beyond that we haven’t talked about?
MD: I really wanted to push for dynamic characters. People change in small ways every day, and over time those changes can become larger, more exposed to the people around them. When we first meet one of the characters, Aramon’del, he’s a teenager living in the body of an adult, and his wild spirit affects the others in the group. At the end of the story he’s learned that some things in life are worth making a sacrifice for, even that means part of who you are. It’s also the first book I’ve written with more than one “lead” character. Syills, a powerful Nano, plays an enormous role in the story from the beginning, and readers get a chance to see her grow as well.
TNW: Well Michael, I want to thank you for taking the time to sit down with us here at The Ninth World tonight. We look forward to the release on June 17th, and wish you all the success with it!
MD: I appreciate the chance to talk more to the Cypher community about the story. I’m looking forward to it!
Prior to release, you can currently preorder Agents of the Beyond from Michael’s website. To learn more about Michael, be sure to visit his website, or follow him on Twitter. Have questions of your own, feel free to leave them in the comments!