When Gaming Goes Dangerous: A Q&A with Z F Kingbolt

Thirteen-year-old gamer Beth loves fighting beasts and solving riddles in her favourite online game, Tordon. But she soon faces her own adventure when she and her gaming nemesis are sucked into a new adventure filled world where they have to fight for their own survival. Into Tordon is a collaborative novel by 9 authors, written under the pseudonym of Z F Kingbolt. Good Reading talks to Editor-in-Chief Zena Shapter about the collaborative writing process, gaming and the adventures in the real world that mimic those found on the screen.

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Were there any real games that served as inspiration for Into Tordon?

Yes! And no… When we started plotting Into Tordon my kids were (and still are!) obsessed with the online game of Minecraft (both creative and survival), as were some of the other writers’ kids. We wanted our book to appeal to 8-14 year olds, both boys and girls, so we soon decided that our two main characters, Beth and Zane, would be online gamers. Of course, we didn’t just want our heroes playing an online game. So, although the story starts off with them competing in a game (inspired somewhat by Minecraft), that’s only the first few chapters. After that, the book develops into a world all of its own!

Can you tell us about Bethlyn? How did you go about formulating her character?

We wanted to write a book relevant for kids today, so our focus was on friendship, tolerance, and acceptance of diversity. Beth felt like the perfect character for our story as she’s someone who struggles to find the right friends, and probably goes the wrong way about finding them too. Most kids can identify with that quandary, adults too. Hurt by friends before, Beth can’t trust easily, yet is also lonely. In Into Tordon, she discovers that friends can be found in the oddest of places in the oddest ways, just by being herself.

There are so many dangers and challenges! …They don’t get much down time. It’s one wild ride!”

Early on in Into Tordon, Beth comes up against a ravenous multi-eyed monster that resembles a huge, hairy, vine-swinging octopus. What are some of the other dangers and challenges Beth must overcome when she’s sucked into the strange world of Tordon?

There are so many dangers and challenges! It wouldn’t be a page-turner without them and, as a mum, I love it when kids get stuck into a book they can’t put down. Dangers and challenges are a good way to draw them in and keep them reading while you subtly show them what’s really at stake. Beth’s biggest challenge in Into Tordon is her relationship with Zane. She must overcome her feelings, opinions and assumptions of him if she’s going to survive all the monsters and riddles. Together, they also face a host of unfamiliar cultures and customs, which they must navigate with sensitivity if they’re to avoid offending those in charge of their fate. They don’t get much down time. It’s one wild ride!

Nine authors are behind the pseudonym Z F Kingbolt – what was the best and worst part about this collaboration?

The best part was undoubtedly the diversity of experience and imagination nine authors brought to the story. With it, we were able to create a fantastic world for our characters to travel through. The worst part was it ending! He he…ZFKingbolt-Tordon-Author-RGB500px-1.jpg

Do you have any advice for people working in creative groups?

If you want to sell the end product of your creative endeavours, try to never lose sight of that. There’s a temptation to want to be visible in the team as an individual creative, but whenever you’re working together to create a single product to be sold commercially – whether it’s a story, a new smartphone, or building a house – the end product should matter more than your visibility. So try to see yourselves as a collective unit heading for a common goal, rather than as individuals collaborating. How you reach your goal may eventually be interesting to others, you may also grow and develop as an individual along the way, but all that should ideally remain subservient to the end result, otherwise you won’t get there.

The future is uncharted and there’s no knowing what skills our children will need to navigate it.”

Do you think that the youth of today spend too much time in the virtual realms of gaming?

Only time will tell. Twenty years ago we didn’t even have the internet! Now our kids are taught coding in primary school and we do everything online, including this interview! The future is uncharted and there’s no knowing what skills our children will need to navigate it. Balance is of course important. Just like Beth and Zane in Into Tordon, you can’t spend your entire life online. But then, if you have the right friends, why would you want to…?

What kind of reader will enjoy Into Tordon?

Anyone who enjoys the thrill of experiencing a new place for the first time. Anyone who loves adventures and riddles. Anyone who struggles to understand their place in the world, and how friends fit with that. Anyone who wants to read a good book, told well. We’d love to hear what readers think! They’re welcome to drop us a comment via zfkingbolt.com.

Into Tordon is published by Midnight Sun Publishing, rrp $17.99

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