At events like GenCon, we’re often asked for advice on how to break into the tabletop business. Getting that first paid gig is an intimidating hurdle, and we get it! We’ve been there. We’re also super proud of our ever-expanding stable of talented creators, and we’ve worked hard to develop a space where everyone is welcome. With that in mind, we’re launching a new blog series called Inside the Hat. In these columns, you’ll find profiles of some new and exciting creative talent, advice for aspiring creators, and a few behind-the-scenes tidbits.
Even if you’re not thinking about breaking into the biz, we hope you enjoy this look inside the Hat. (And if you do like inside peeks, you’ve read Designers & Dragons, right? RIGHT?!?!)
Our first profile is of our very own Pink Lion, Carrie Harris. Carrie is our Director of Marketing and author of Young Centurions, Sally Slick and the Steel Syndicate, and the upcoming Sally Slick and the Miniature Menace.
Tell us about your work and explain this Pink Lion stuff?
Well! I’m an author of RPGs and novels for tweens to adults. I can hardly believe it, but I’ve written professionally for over twenty years now, and writing and games have been my full time vocation for almost seven years. I’ve contributed to seven RPGs and published five novels, and I’ve got more projects in the works, including the second Sally Slick novel. Just waiting on the printers! I’m also the Director of Marketing for Evil Hat, which means that I write all the stuff you see on the back of our games and most of what you see on the website. I plan out and write most of the ads and promotions you see when new games come out. Over the past few months, I’ve started to initiate some new projects for the Hat, and I’m really loving that part of the job.
When I started working for the Hat, someone made the mistake of asking me what I wanted my job title to be. I remember making a smartass joke about how I always wanted to be the pink lion from Voltron. I know there’s no pink lion, BUT THERE SHOULD BE. The joke stuck, and my last set of business cards actually had “Pink Lion” as my job title. On Sean Nittner’s birthday, he’s allowed to be the pink lion, but only for one day and then I want it back. I earned that title! Somehow. Maybe.
The GM of my college gaming group was a developer for White Wolf, and he hired me for my first gig. I wrote a bunch of original World of Darkness stuff over the next few years. Then I graduated from college and stepped away from gaming for a while to adult. I had a more-than-full-time job that sucked away all my available hours, and I quit writing altogether for a while.
It didn’t last long. I freelanced a bit here and there, and in the early 2000s, I did a bunch of random writing jobs to help finance our first house. I wrote study flash cards for medical students, marketing materials for textbooks, web copy for carburetors…you name it, I wrote it. And in 2009, I sold my first novel, BAD TASTE IN BOYS, which hit the shelves in 2011. Then I tweeted some about how I missed gaming, and Chris Hanrahan sent me a PM out of the blue, asking if I was familiar with Spirit of the Century. That one tweet opened up a conversation about writing the Sally Slick tie-in novel, and ended up with me working at Hat Central and writing more games.
Start developing your craft, whether it’s writing, system development, art, layout, or whatever. Practice practice practice. Critically evaluate the work you see in print. Challenge yourself. Give yourself permission to suck, because only crazy mutants get it perfect the first time. You can’t fix your work if you don’t ever finish anything. Besides, you’ll get better when you put the work in. Print business cards, and treat your work like it is a business. Don’t wait for your big break to come; get ready now!
Let’s face it—I lucked into the connections that got me my first gaming job and the one that brought me back to the industry. But if I hadn’t been prepared, I wouldn’t have had the basic skills to take advantage of those lucky breaks. You never know when you might randomly connect with somebody who can open the door to your dream career.
What’s up next for you?
Well, I’m working on a handful of Hat projects that I cannot talk about just yet, but I‘m crazy psyched to see them start to come together and cannot wait to start talking about them. We’re also upping our convention game, so next year will be a big con year for the company in general and for me personally. I love conventions, so this is a thumbs up in my book.
I’m also waiting on the printing of Sally Slick and the Miniature Menace, and I’m on the writing team for ReMade, a serial about a group of teens who wake up in a post-apocalyptic world full of mechanical horrors with no idea of how they got there.
What can I say? I like it when I’m busy.