The Burning Trees of Ormen Mau

MEGHAN BARRETT, Author of The Burning Trees of Ormen Mau (Keith Trammel Photography, Rochester, NY)

How did you become interested in a fantasy genre? Was it traditional D&D games, fantasy novels or something else got you hooked?

[Meghan Barrett] I became interested in fantasy through the normal means – Tolkein, Rothfuss, and a few authors that appealed to me as a teenager, like Clare, Paolini, and Colfer. I’ve always been amazed by the world building that goes into these novels, the deft handling of a newly created history and the gorgeous settings that we are immersed in. It was only natural that I look for apps like Narborion Saga, which I avidly began playing shortly after the first book came out – the gorgeous illustration style, the intuitive gameplay, and the evocative storyline had me hooked.

Similar to most choice-driven narrative experiences, a large part of Narborian Saga will be missed by an individual player. Do you find this annoying, or do you think it gives your story replay/re-read value?

[Meghan Barrett] I’m actually so excited about this aspect of Narborion Saga as a player and a writer! In my book, I love that two players can play almost entirely separate stories depending on which of the two paths diverging in the woods they choose to take. There are so many hidden avenues in the world that are just waiting to be unlocked and I think it really builds a community of gamers when the world is full and replay-able like that – people trade off stories about the places they’ve been that others haven’t even seen yet.

What is your writing style? Do you make an outline of a chapter or just “go with a flow”?

[Meghan Barrett] I’m a writer who starts out with the best intentions, making a strong outline when I sit down to write the chapter and then ditching it about halfway through every time. A lot of this had to do with my research into various mythologies taking me in new directions as I wrote; a lot of writers also talk about how their characters will tell them where the story should go – and that happened a lot to me too.

What’s the main difference between writing a novel and a gamebook app story? Which one do you prefer better?

[Meghan Barrett] The biggest difference is that, in a novel, it’s very linear; you only have to remember one path to your current scene that you’re writing. In a gamebook app, you need to remember all the possible paths that could lead a player to the current scene, so you don’t writing anything in that doesn’t make sense. While I love the relative simplicity of writing a novel, I think the challenge of putting together all the puzzle pieces of a gamebook app is really intense. I loved it!

Who is your favorite character in The Burning Trees of Ormen Mau?

[Meghan Barrett] This is a tricky question – there are characters like Baladur that I enjoyed bringing back from the original series as a crossover. But I think my favorite new character is the talking turtle you meet in Lake Mir. He trades riddles with you, gives you advice, can tell you the history of the places you visit – he’s all around a very decent, wise character and an excellent friend.

What is your favorite chapter?

[Meghan Barrett] My favorite chapter is ‘To be Surrounded by Stone’. It can be a tricky chapter to access; you need to make a lot of specific moves in the game to get to this chapter at all, and then really dedicate yourself to spending some time with the characters and history of the chapter to enjoy it. But there are a lot of lovely, hidden details in this chapter that I enjoyed writing – it speaks to the universality of mythology, the power of love, the beauty of history, and the interconnectedness of our spirits all underneath high stone ceilings and star-drenched skies.