Interview – Nicholas Jennings

Interview with Nicholas Jennings, author of “The Concurrence” in the Megan Survival Anthology.

The characters in your story are interesting because they are so vastly different, yet they are forced to work together. What was your inspiration for these diverse characters?

I wanted my group to feel like real people struggling to survive on a hostile world. None of them are especially well equipped to handle the circumstances they’re thrust into. They aren’t survivalists, nor do they even really like each other, yet they need one another to survive. Each of my characters have personal challenges to overcome, and I think how they each go about doing so speaks towards the overall theme of this anthology.

Your story focuses mainly on the development of these characters. Was the development all pre-planned, or did some of it come to you as you were writing while you were getting to know the characters yourself?

I always start every project with a basic plot structure and work my characters up from there. I only really ‘discover’ my characters halfway through anything I write, and always do plenty of passes until I get things sounding the way I like. Even with all the revisions, though, I like to leave key details about characters ambiguous so readers can make their own conclusions and create a stronger bond with the text.

While attempting to avoid any spoilers for those who haven’t read your story yet, what does the ending of “The Concurrence” say about the relationship between man and machine, or, more specifically, man and robot?

I think this question can best be answered by contrasting what the robot is built for, and what it becomes by the end of the story. I leave it up to the readers to decide just how much the robot ‘knows’.

Did you find it difficult to write in a world that was different than Earth, but created by somebody else?

In a word, yes. I had several questions about the rules at the offset, and once they were answered, I promptly set about breaking all of them. I do not envy the editor.

Along with being a writer, you are also a game designer. What do you believe the importance is of the interaction between interactive game and narrative?

Well this is certainly a loaded question. When it comes to crafting game narratives, of course the two most imperative things to consider are the player and the main gameplay mechanic. If a game narrative does not support/relate to that which the player is doing every five seconds, it falls flat. One mustn’t forget the medium either-a game narrative is not merely read or even viewed, it is experienced. The most successful games make use of all aspects of their medium (visuals, audio, gameplay, text, etc.) to communicate their narratives.

Reality Skimming Press brands itself as optimistic sci-fi. What does that phrase mean to you?

Optimistic sci-fi considers humanity rising above itself to, perhaps, become something greater. These stories do not preclude hardship (mine especially) but from them some glimmer of hope can always be extracted. Though the costs may be great, humanity always ‘wins’ in the end.

What projects are you currently working on?

I have two major projects on the go at the moment. I am currently writing a sci-fi adventure novel and designing a short satirical game about working in an office. In 2017 I’m going to write a D&D campaign as well – I think it will be a lot of fun!

Ellen Michelle is the managing editor for Reality Skimming Press. She is also a freelance editor at and volunteers in the editing and science fiction communities in western Canada.

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