There are places in our world where fiction and dreams can come true.

18th September 2017
A Conversation with Clara Wake,
Author of The Upcoming "A Modern Myth"

Since its announcement in 2005, Alan Wake has gained a passionate following and a cult level status within the industry. Despite the dream of a sequel remaining in a hiatus; suspended in a status of possibilities and intentions but with no hard confirmation, and the disappearance of the original game from marketplaces earlier this year, the fanbase is still thriving with new fan art, let's plays, fan fiction and articles, on a daily basis. It's weird that a game about an outside force leaving an impression on a creator's mind and influencing their work, would also in turn do a similar thing to the audience...

Kristy Seddon is a familiar name in the Alan Wake community, although you may know her more by her username, Invisible Rain. She's one of the most prolific artists in the fandom, with over two hundred pieces of Remedy artwork. She also multi-tasks her time in the community running an Alan Wake roleplaying blog on Tumblr. Her artwork has caught the attention of Remedy who selected her Mr Scratch piece to feature prominently as the cover photo of the Official Alan Wake Facebook page and she's been spotlighted in Remedy's anniversary celebrations of Quantum Break's launch. Last year, Kristy took her passion to a new level, dedicating her first tattoo to the game which inspired her.

The Alan Wake tattoo. Source: Kristy's Twitter page.

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Now she's going one step further and is about to publish her first novel under the pseudonym, Clara Wake, called A Modern Myth, a project motivated by Alan Wake. 

"I’ve always wanted my own book on the shelves since I was probably thirteen years old. The dream I’m chasing right now? It’s been there for years." Clara revealed in our interview.

The story of A Modern Myth is her own, with original characters, long established in her mind. She describes her story as "the fictional dystopian depiction of a very dark, haunting, and traumatising world that is ruled by a very sinister and unhinged source. Riveted with suspense and conspiracies surrounding a broken half-elf trying to find a reason to continue fighting." In addition to the book fitting the dystopian genre, Clara has also described it being "speculative fiction" which encompasses both horror and science fiction elements.

Despite the huge differences which separates A Modern Myth and Alan Wake, there's a strong connection between the two. For Clara playing the game ignited a passion for storytelling, an experience she elaborates on in the interview, "Without Alan Wake, I wouldn’t have re-discovered my love for writing and telling stories. As I’ve mentioned before, that beautiful game tore me out of years of creativity block, and it hasn’t faltered since. Without Alan Wake, I wouldn’t be writing or even drawing as much as I have over the years since playing. It’s changed my life in so many ways, and my undying love for it only ignites my desire to keep going. Like Alan, as writers, we struggle but in the end, we find a way to keep going. He’s my muse."

Nickolai, A Modern Myth's protagonist . Source: InvisibleRain's Facebook Page.

The jump from passionate fan to author didn't happen overnight, but in a series of steps. Soon after playing the game, she began drawing fan art for it, gaining recognition by the community and developers. Soon after, she founded an RPG blog on Tumblr where she had a outlet for her writing. With so much of the motivation Clara described coming from the game, one subject I was curious about was how the story would have been different if she hadn't discovered Bright Falls. For her, that was an easy question to answer, "I wouldn’t have written it. I wouldn’t have gone to Tumblr, and entered the amazing role-playing community as Alan Wake and met some of the greatest people on this earth, who motivate and cheer me on. I wouldn’t have bothered."

What originally started as a Nanowrimo project, to get the story in motion, became a professional edited manuscript. A dream which has existed through Clara's childhood, teenager and into adulthood, "I believe I’ve always wanted to [become an author] since I started writing. I was always praised for my creative writing, but I dismissed and even ignored it – even when I felt so happy to get compliments about it – I focused too much on my art growing up. While it was my coping mechanism for bullying and everything else, I completely forgot about my writing. It’s been there for years, and like I said I shoved it aside, for art; thinking that was my passion – while it still is – I’ve found it in writing as well, so I pushed myself last year to truly make it a reality."

Her partner in editing. Source: Clara's Twitter Page.

One reason why last year was a pivotal turning point was due to Clara's daughter starting school, and was learning to read. "Rayne, my daughter, is why I pushed myself. I suffer from anxiety and depression, and while my meds help with depression, they’re not completely taking hold on my anxiety, and it’s honestly really hard for me to even leave the house, alone. I want to make my little girl proud of her mummy, and seeing her face light up when I show her what I’ve done, is truly a treasure I’ll never fall bored of. I decided at the end of 2016, to buckle down and write the story that’s been screaming in my mind since 2008. She’s six years old, learning to read and we share conversations all the time, and I hope she’ll be proud of her mummy for pursuing her dreams instead of letting self-doubt cripple her. To know, that you can do anything you put your mind to."

Taking a lesson from Alan Wake, Clara describes her process into getting into the writing mood. For some closing the door to your room or opening a window and letting the fresh air in, for Clara hers was without a doubt, "Coffee! Lots of lots of lovely, warm, and caffeinated coffee! Music, that fits my story – 30 Seconds To Mars and Dead By April, but mostly instrumental music, trailer music and TV/Movie scores etc. I basically worked as soon as Rayne went to bed, so from 8 pm, I’d get to it and if I was awake when Rayne went to school, I’d write then. But I’ve learned I’m more creative at night time."

Clara's writing setup. Source: Clara's Twitter Page


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The process has been a mixture of emotions with triumphs and challenges. One of the early main difficulties faced for A Modern Myth was creating a smooth and satisfying pace which brought the reader to each outlined event; "I’ve had this story, this character since I was 21 years old (2008). The whole premise has never left my mind it only evolved into what it is today. I’ve had this idea, building, and molding into its own world since, and of course, while I had the main plot, there were little sections I had to fill in. I’d say they were the most challenging parts, oh and editing, don’t get me started on editing."

After writing and editing her first book, Clara has moved on to the sequel while looking at publishing the first in the series. She's learnt from the challenges she has faced over the past few months, and started applying them to her future installments. "OUTLINE. KEEP OUTLINING FOR THE LOVE OF THOR! KEEP OUTLINING", she advises new writers. "No seriously, outlining in the best thing ever, and everyone should do it. It’s the best thing ever. And make sure to add those little details to Evernote that I’ll no doubt be scrolling through hundreds of pages for to reference from. Ha-ha, so guilty of that. I’ve learned my lesson!"

With jobs, and especially with creative roles, there's an almost inevitable feeling of Impostor Syndrome; the belief that even though you can do your job well, you don't always feel it. For Clara that manifested into concerns over originality and identity. "I think every creative person has this at some stage of their journey, right? With books, or even movies and games; there will always be elements of another source within. We get ideas from things that are already created, however, we bend them and make it our own with our own style and story. It happens everywhere. You can’t tell me The Hunger Games doesn’t have some elements that The Maze Runner has. They all do, some way or another. I had my partner remind me of this, among other examples to pull me out of the Impostor Syndrome. Without him, I probably would have drowned in it, heh."

First book proof. Source: Clara's Twitter page.

This week, after dreaming of becoming an author for years, Clara finally received her first book proof from complete with a possible final version of her cover. "I’d say the best thing, would be the sense of purpose I got from writing and completing it. I honestly, never felt so accomplished in my entire life; like I finally had a reason to wake up. I know it almost sounds morbid, but it’s my reality honestly. I felt like for once, I’d done something with my life. I’m not just sitting at home playing games, or scrolling through Facebook all day. I’m researching, learning, and creating the world from my own mind. I’m not the lazy person people think I am. I know I’m more than that, and this book has helped me realize this."

"For me it’s not just a slab of paper with words. It’s so much more than that. I have so much love for this story and its characters, and I just hope someone else will love it too! "

For more information, follow A Modern Myth via Facebook, Twitter and Tumblr
Thank you to Kristy/Clara for taking the time to answer our questions! 

1 comments:

Interesting! Alan Wake helped me re-discover my creativity as well. This summer I've been playing about 100 hours of Alan Wake (yes that's just this summer alone), partly because my new computer made it look more beautiful than ever before and it was just fun to return and spend some time in this world. But also because for some reason it kept triggering a creative mood. I re-discovered my passion for writing (this summer) which was really great and had a lot to do with this game (those manuscript pages was such a great inspiration). And I also started exploring the art of virtual photography and taking screenshots. I studied photography during the summer while playing lots of Alan Wake and because the game has a free camera mode (thank you so much for this, Remedy!)I thought that this was a great opportunity to combine the two and practice my composition using Alan Wake. I found that this game is really great for this sort of thing.

In short: Alan Wake has inspired me to start writing and to explore the art of games using screenshots. I also enjoy using the soundtrack from Alan Wake to get in a creative mood (works great because it gives me the same feeling I get while playing the game).

I don't know what it is with this game but it sure does inspire and makes me feel more creative.

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