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Friday, December 9, 2016

Bringing the Metaverse Alive : Author Huckleberry Hax- Seersha Heart Reporting



“Text is the medium in which we find our connections in SL, and in which we communicate our core desires. It works because what we want is ultimately very basic; the descent to rawness in our words is like the shedding of our clothes. But when things become complicated, words trip and stumble and fail. They’re not enough. The very things through which we found each other turn against us and rip us apart.” From “AFK, Again” by Huckleberry Hax

            Author of eleven VR novels, including the AFK series, a novella, a non-fiction book, a collection of poetry and a short story collection, Huckleberry Hax is a prolific writer detailing stories some of which occur in SL.  Those that are not part of the SL landscape are heavily influenced by it.  He also has a website playfully titled “WHAT the HUCK”.  His first book, “AFK”, was met with rave reviews by its readers.  The series centers around the life of a SL detective, Definitely Thursday and the exploits that befall him.  He has also received acclaim for his other works, another of note is his non-fiction publication “Second Life is a place we visit”.

“For some of us, our experiences in SL serve as a catalyst, an awakening, a leap in our level of personal consciousness which then needs to be fed into our real lives if its ultimate purpose is to be fulfilled.  For some, SL is a respite, a place to just pause and get our breath back.  For some, it is a playground, a chance to experiment with being something different.  For some of us, it is all of these things together.”
From “Second Life is a place we visit” by Huckleberry Hax

Huckleberry Hax demonstrates a keen understanding of human interaction in SL and has taken it to the next level by developing engaging literary works that you don’t want to put down.  Once you begin reading, you are hooked.  I caught up with Huck recently and asked him a few questions.

Seersha Heart: I noticed that you wrote AFK in 2007 but did not follow up until 2013 with AFK, again.  Was this always planned as a four book series?

Huckleberry Hax: No, it was originally just a stand-alone novel.  I got a few requests over the years to write a sequel, however, and in the end I gave in.

Seersha Heart:  I can understand that since the first novel whets the appetite for much more.  Inch Sideways, a character in the AFK series, forbids the usage of lol.  Do you have any pet peeves with communication?

Huckleberry Hax: I do have an issue with the proper use of apostrophes.

Seersha Heart: you feel there is a difference between single and double quotes?

Huckleberry Hax: Well, I don't think there is a definitive grammatical answer on when you should use one and not the other, but personally I tend to use double quotes to indicate direct speech and single quotes to indicate a saying or slang expression.

Seersha Heart: Ahhh nods appreciatively. Tell me a bit about Amazing Metaverse.  You wrote it after the AFK series and I believe it is also a detective story?

Huckleberry Hax: It's a collection of short stories.  I've designed it to look like an old-fashioned pulp fiction publication such as the 'Dime Detective' series (I think that was what it was called).  A number of the stories feature an SL detective I like to write about from time-to-time called 'Hard Luck.'  Several of the other stories are about a group of people from SL who meet in RL to have dinner and solve SL mysteries - I call them the 'Avatar Dining Club'.


Seersha Heart: You write female parts very well.  Where do you feel you get your skills to write as a woman character?  Did you have help from women friends on certain aspects?

Huckleberry Hax: Well I know a lot of women in SL.  And I work with women.  Other than that, I guess it's just thinking myself into the character.  I didn't receive help writing any of the plot from women.  All my own thinking!

Seersha Heart has noticed Huckleberry Hax likes to use !

Huckleberry Hax: A few people asked me if I was in fact a woman in RL after they read AFK lol.  No - all male, I'm afraid.

Seersha Heart:  Your latest novella is titled SIM and the description on your website reads “A man is in a house, in a square region of land which is walled off on three sides by impenetrable glass and on the fourth by a huge black barrier. He is completely alone but for the occupants of three other houses, with whom he can only communicate via virtual reality.” From WHAT the HUCK website
With your latest book SIM, I am curious, did you build an inworld environment to use as reference for the writing in that book?

Huckleberry Hax: So SIM is quite different from my SL books (though SL as an influence should be obvious).  I didn't build an inworld environment, no - why do you ask that?

Seersha Heart: I am interested in your process of visualization.
Huckleberry Hax: ah, All in my head.  I'm actually very bad at visualizing, which is why a great deal of my writing is dialogue.  I don't close my eyes and I don't walk around.  I suppose it would be fair to say I'm a character writer and I spend most of my time trying to figure out what such-and-such a character might say or do.

Seersha Heart: I noticed you dedicated your first novel to your father, now about 20 years deceased.  Sorry for your loss.  Can you tell me how he influenced you as a writer or as a story teller?

Huckleberry Hax: Hmmm... interesting question.  I wouldn't say he influenced my writing a great deal, however as a parent he had a strong belief in the importance of children being given the opportunity to explore the world with their imaginations.  So me being into story writing as a kid fitted nicely with that.  I can't really think of a time when he specifically encouraged my writing, but me writing stories was entirely consistent with his view of the world and what children should be doing in it.


Seersha Heart: I leafed through your dedications.  Do you have stories behind each?  I'm just curious as to how you decide whom to dedicate to, and is it before or after the book is written?  Generally speaking.

Huckleberry Hax: Always after.
Seersha Heart prints her name in standard block and slides it to Huckleberry Hax across the table.
Huckleberry Hax: It's usually just people I'm thinking of at that moment in time.  I think my latest published AFK book (number 4) was dedicated to Stosh Quartz, an amazing SL poet who died earlier in the year.

Seersha Heart: Great....hmmm let me check something there....You've written some very detailed erotic scenes.  It is exciting to read, do you find them exciting to write?

Huckleberry Hax: I do!  It's not every day you get to write what you consider to be a smooth, not clumsy, not awkward sex scene!  It's like polishing a performance lol.  So I think there's even an annual award for bad sex scene writing.  It's so easy to write sex scenes badly when you're embarrassed about what you're writing.  The tendency then is to lapse into cliche - every writer's nemesis - and end up with something cheesy.  My approach is to tackle sex scenes unashamedly and in whatever detail I consider necessary for the scene. 

Seersha Heart: One more question Huck; please tell me a bit about the Nancy Redgrave Building where we did the photo shoot.  Nancy is in the portrait behind you in this picture.


Huckleberry Hax:  Nancy Redgrave was on of my first friends in SL - and my very first reader.  I was greatly encouraged by her remarks about AFK not long after I released it.  She died a few years ago from cancer.

Seersha Heart: What a wonderful way to show you appreciation for her and memorialize her.  It’s a lovely space, I could see spoken word events here easily….raises eye brow and nods at Huck

Thank you for your time and candid responses Huck.

            Huckleberry Hax impresses me with his ability to write dialog in a very up close and personal way.  He demonstrates an ability to capture emotion so close to the heart of it.  I asked him if he had ever been in love in SL, he responded yes a long time ago.  I also asked him if he experienced the feeling of betrayal similar to that which he writes of in his books.  He told me that he has been disappointed in some people’s behaviors but he has been lucky not to have experienced a deep betrayal personally.  Even so, he has written some relationship foibles that will keep you page turning to the end of his books.
            I highly recommend getting your “feet wet” by reading his first novel AFK which is free in multiple formats on his website.  You could also start on any one of his other projects and have a truly enjoyable experience.  Huckleberry Hax is a resident of SL and a definite treasure to those who read his works.  Also visit his Flickr account in the contact information below.  He is enjoying photography immensely these days.

Additional Information:
Group: Huck’s News
Flickr: https://www.flickr.com/photos/hhax/
Twitter: @huckleberryhax
Marketplace Store: : https://marketplace.secondlife.com/stores/116995?id=116995

Location of Photos [Nancy Redgrave Building]

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