I think one of the gravest misconceptions we have is that playing is for children. I believe that as long as you can play whole-heartedly, you’re never too far from happiness. To me writing is often like a game. When I write poems, I build a collection of good sounding words and I try to organise them in the most pleasing way. When we did song translations with Girl in the Mirror, it was a balancing act between keeping the meaning and finding the write amount of syllables to go with it.
The whole idea of Macchiatos was born from a game, a YA title generator. It sounded so random that I felt like I had to do it.
I like weird challenges: I have written haikus about zombies, a Cinderella remake with a shoe fetishist prince, and lyrics about a new laptop with specific IT vocabulary. That’s why I decided to try my hand at these blog series, I find that our brain (our at last my brain) likes to play. You give it a dare like “I bet you can’t come up with fun stuff to write about for all the letters of the alphabet.”
And it goes “Hold my beer!”
I’m also fan of games outside my writing life, I love escape games, board games and I have tried my hand in RPGs. (Although I have commitment issues, so I prefer short campaigns with a foreseeable end then infinite sagas going on forever.
I started writing Macchiatos during lockdown when I missed my friends and all the board gaming gettogethers, My ex used to go to play a long campaign of Pathfinder every Sunday and even though I didn’t play, I tagged alone because I could write on the sofa where I was surrounded by people and was given an infinite supply of coffee. So if I couldn’t have these occasions IRL, I could at least have them with my characters in my head.
Voilá a few quotes:
In the following hours, the group was completely immersed in their own world. We handed them refreshments from time to time, but other than that they were wandering in the shadows of some ancient forest.
Tara looked years younger, a childlike enthusiasm twinkled in her eyes. Marcel was eating and laughing while Faerie Queen shot him killing looks. Once he almost got them ripped to pieces because he went looking for food in the cave of a bloodthirsty bear. At least he was in character in the game. Faerie Queen voted to abandon him and let him be eaten by the monstrosity, but Starboy saved him with a spell or something.
Just look at them! Aren’t they the sweetest?
Actually they aren’t.
What became clear for me in the almost two hours of playing that both Thomas and Macy liked winning a bit too much.
Take me, for example. I was happy I understood the rules and was trying to meet my objective and make my poor nation beloved, while those two were waging a bloody war. Guess who won in the end?
Kim, of course.
Did it sit well with Macy? Not at all. She left the table, fuming, blaming Tommy for her downfall.
“Isaac wanted to start a new campaign and he insisted on doing it here.”
“That’s nice of him,” I said and looked over myself in slight panic. I paid special attention to my clothes on game days, but today I was just plain old Blue.
“What are you playing?”
“Nobilis,” Tommy said and seeing my blank expression, he added. “Not one of the most well-known ones. Players play personifications of abstract things…”
“Sounds like Isaac.”
I spent Valentine’s Day playing a catastrophic game of Azul in which Esther was trampling Tara and me into the ground. It was a beautiful and zen game but somehow she made it feel like war. They seduced me over with the promise of pancakes then roped me into a game I knew I would lose. The food was worth it though.
Games also play an important part in Wicked Games (working title) (Pinterest board here) (Haha, you thought you have already heard about all my novel ideas. Ye of little faith! I call it a universe for a reason.) Wicked Games is sort of the evil stepsister of Macchiatos. It’s about a group of friends but instead of benevolence and mutual support, you have secrets, treachery and all-around backstabbing. The seemingly perfect life of the inhabitants of a rich American suburb is turned upside down by the arrival of a handsome new neighbour. He stirs up memories of a turbulent high school year all of them tried their very best to forget. As the title also shows, games, most notably chess have a particular importance in WG, since it is deeply symbolic with its calculated moves and tactic sacrifices. Darts, billiards, poker and even a “murder party” are also featured.
“You always have to protect your king. Everybody else is expendable.”
“It’s easy not to care for victory when you always win everything.”
Isabella just followed the sound. It found her lost in thought in a classroom, hooked its claws in her heart and dragged it towards its source. She knew it was him. They had this connection. She always felt when he was in a room. He often gave her what she wanted without her having to ask. The chapel organ sounded like something holy and turned the afternoon sunshine into brass, making her feel like she was walking through a sepia photograph.
She pushed the heavy wooden door open. It was smooth under her fingers, the touch of many previous students rubbed it shiny.
Light poured in through the stained glass windows, coating Frederick’s form in colour. He was completely lost in the music, unaware that she was there, admiring him.
He was the most wondrous creature she had ever seen. So beautiful and tormented.
She wanted him more than she’d wanted anything. More than she wanted the chess titles for herself.
(The last one is more about piano than about chess, but I really liked it so I wanted to include it. I will have piano coming up at P, but I will have way too many things to say.)