20Q with Darby McDevitt
20 QUESTIONS with DARBY MCDEVITT
Photo credit: Kloé Rahilly
1. My first job was… when I was 16, I was the evening janitor at a Mercedes Benz dealer in Spokane, Washington. Most of the time I just pushed a mop around and emptied litter bins while blaring Prince and Peter Gabriel over the loudspeakers after the dealers went home. One evening after the shop had closed, a few of the mechanics offered me a beer before they left. I declined and they laughed. I wanted the beer, but I had the sneaking suspicion my father had put them up to it to test my resolve.
2. If I wasn’t a writer, I would likely be… I’d love to say musician or filmmaker, since I dabble in both. But realistically I probably wouldn’t be making money doing either, so I’ll go with my childhood dream: an astro-physicist.
3. I collect… books, music, musical instruments, films, spare change.
4. My favorite word is… crush. When I was 12 I said this word aloud to my 10 year old brother and it sent him into a convulsive fit of agony: he hated how wet and sticky it sounded. From that point forward I began to think of language as having a musical element, in addition to all its typical, boring functions.
5. I’m a big fan of… autodidacts, musicians, painters, film directors, architects, photographers, civil servants, people who work their asses off for the hell of it.
6. The single best piece of (writing related) advice I have ever gotten… I couldn’t function properly without E. B. White’s “The best writing is rewriting” … but he didn’t say that for me, so the best piece of advice I received personally was a tiny little observation from a writing teacher in college: “Don’t ever forget to give your characters jobs … all of us have them, most of us hate them, but we spend so much time wrapped up in them that they can’t help define a part of us.”
7. I have always wanted to… direct the feature-length script I wrote based on Kafka’s first novel, Amerika. I finished a draft over ten years ago. Five years later I tried to turn it into a play, then a radio script. Now I have three versions of the same strange story just sitting there, gathering dust.
8. The best thing I have ever read, (but did not write) is… a toss-up between Joyce’s Ulysses, Beckett’s Molloy / Malone Dies / The Unnamable trilogy, and Douglas Hofstadter’s Goedel, Escher, Bach.
9. People often tell me that I… look and act a bit like Will Ferrell, but that I’m “way cuter, don’t worry…”
10. I really think that my best work (published or not) is… still hiding in a pen somewhere in the world.
11. I find inspiration in… everything. (Why why why did I write that?)
12. The best thing about being a video game writer is… tackling mind-bending design challenges with a massive team of incredibly talented people from dozens of disciplines.
13. I spend way too much time… reading email.
14. The smartest person in my iPhone is… Siri.
15. It really bothers me when… I wake with neck pains. I’m not well built, I think.
16. The worst thing about being a video game writer is… games usually don’t “come together” until the last few months of their dev cycle, so it’s often difficult to know if your writing is holding its own until then. So the worst thing is the wait… and the inevitable rewrites that come at the last second.
17. One mistake that many aspiring video game writers make is… believing that developers make games based on cool stories. No no no. I can’t stress this enough: nobody wants to hear your “cool game idea” if it doesn’t contain any descriptions of actual gameplay and interactivity.
18. If I knew the apocalypse were coming in 24 hours, I’d… drive into the country with my girlfriend and fall asleep together under a tree.
20. You’d be surprised to know that… I have a yellow belt in Go-Ju-Ryu karate.