Biography of Andrew Auseon
Andrew Auseon is an author of acclaimed novels for young people, including: Funny Little Monkey, Jo-Jo and the Fiendish Lot, Alienated (w/ David O. Russell) and Freak Magnet, a Bank Street Best Book of the Year. His books have been nominated for numerous awards, including the ALA’s Best Books for Young Adults, the Cybils, and state book awards.
In addition to his writing, Andrew is a producer and designer of video games. He was the first full-time writer ever hired by Big Huge Games, where he worked on The Asian Dynasties expansion for Age of Empires III and the open-world RPG Kingdoms of Amalur: Reckoning; he was the Lead Narrative Designer on The Legend of Dead Kel expansion and the cancelled Reckoning sequel. As Epic Games’ Impossible Studios, Andrew focused on creative direction, IP cohesion, and ways to integrate narrative and gameplay.
Andrew received his MFA in Creative Writing from Vermont College and a BA from Ohio University. He lives in Washington, DC with his wife, Sarah Zogby, and their two daughters. In his spare time, Andrew teaches Interactive Narrative and makes appearances at writing festivals, schools, and game industry events.
How long have you been writing?
I've been writing for almost as long as I can remember. I still have many of the “books” I wrote in grade school, and even earlier. During classroom quiet time I often scribbled in a journal or notebook, writing stories about my classmates. My friends were eager to hear the next installment of my stories because they were often the main characters. I continued writing through junior high and high school, and then went to undergraduate and graduate school for creative writing. I feel very lucky that I have known what I've wanted to do with my life from a very young age.
Why do you write books for young people?
I find that most of the books I reread often are those I read when I was young. There is a particular sensation I get when experiencing these stories. It’s more than nostalgia. It’s simply great storytelling. These books were usually not written to impress people, or to win awards, but they achieve something more enduring. For a short time, I forgot who I was and what I was doing. Those books conjured magic. This kind of enchantment is what I’m constantly trying to replicate when I write novels. I hope to one day capture that magic in one of my own books, create a story that would have made a younger version of me happy. I don’t think I've accomplished this yet, but I keep trying.
Where do you get your ideas?
Some writers start with a great premise. They see an article in the newspaper, or are struck by something a friend or relative says in passing, and they feel drawn to that idea. I usually start with a character, or I think of a pair of characters and wonder what one of their interactions might sound like. I tend to let people pull me along, and if a plot is part of that experience then great. If not, that doesn't bother me.
How is writing video games different than writing books?
Games are about interaction, whether it be with people or an artificial intelligence, namely the game itself. When you read a book you are placing yourself in the hands of the author, who has a specific story to tell. This story does not change depending on the person reading it an any given time. Games are about a player creating a unique story, one that grows organically from the experience of playing. When you write a game, you have to take into consideration that the player will be an active participant in the action, and that they often determine how events unfold. You must learn to surrender control, to remember that the story you’re telling isn't yours, but the player’s. You write in a way that allows them to make the experience their own.
What do you like better, writing books or writing video games?
They are very different. With the exception of working closely with an editor to revise your book, writing novels is a very lonely process. The upside is that you have almost complete ownership of a story. In game development, writers are part of a larger team, and much of the challenge, and the fun, is in working with other talented people. You share the vision for the game, and you must learn to be extremely flexible in order for that collective vision to become a reality.
Andrew is represented by the literary agency of Zachary Shuster Harmsworth.