Today, Rusty Zimmerman tells me what it’s like to put together a collection of game fiction that was written over many years. It’s a walk down memory lane.
Down These Dark Streets is a Shadowrun first-ever; a collection of a writer’s short fiction, gathered up from across all the various sourcebooks, setting books, rule books, magazines, and where ever else it first showed up. A lot of Shadowrun fiction is spread out in intro pieces, short, punchy, stories that separate big chapters in sourcebooks, and that sort of thing, and The Powers That Be took a shot at gathering mine all together between one set of covers.
Readers can follow along as a handful of threads and characters weave from story to story, a sort of universe-within-a-universe that started with my very first piece of Shadowrun work, intro fiction for Attitude, two editions and *mumble* years ago. The protagonist of that short piece shows up as part of a team in some later intro fics I published, that team shows up alongside Jimmy Kincaid in Dirty Tricks, Jimmy Kincaid’s entangled with Ms. Myth and the Shadowrun Fifth Edition crew in his novels, their nemesis Rook first showed up in some adventure intro fic, etc, etc.
I’ve long felt like Shadowrun works best when the shadows feel small, tangled, and reputation-centric – everyone knows everyone, word gets around, and when you’re looking for reliable talent, the odds are good they’ve worked together before. I wanted that feeling, and a sense of continuity, even in my seemingly-unrelated pieces that were initially scattered across books (and even editions). Getting to see them all side by side in this book was a lot of fun.
What else was a lot of fun? Writing intros! In addition to a sappy love letter to Shadowrun that kicks off the whole collection, each and every piece has a small writer introspective from me. In them, I talk about what the original pitch for the story was, I talk about cover art (sometimes changing cover art!) that inspired the piece, or I just share my thoughts on how it came together and what I think about the finished product. Having the chance to open up and ‘chat’ with readers was a lot of fun, and I hope I’m not too cringe-worthy when I talk about what fun, and what an honor, it’s been to get to do what I do.
Also included among the already-published sourcebook and Game Trade Magazine-exclusive pieces are four brand new, never before published, short stories. Some of them spun out of the ‘enhanced fiction’ line before finding a home here instead, but the largest story in the collection was written just for this book. It’s a novella-length Jimmy Kincaid story, set as an ‘in-betweener’ in his novel trilogy, fitting in there any place before his latest novel, On The Rocks.
Assembling this collection was a good time, and the short walk down memory lane for the dozen years, now, I’ve been writing Shadowrun stories. I was very excited to get to share a little bit of the creative process with readers, I was excited to hear there are paperback and hardback versions available right off the bat, and I’m excited for the future, to hear what fans think of the whole kit and caboodle.
Russell Zimmerman got started in writing as a freelancer for wargames like Warmachine, and since then has contributed to dozens of projects including fan-favorite fiction in Shadowrun and writing the international award-winning PC game Satellite Reign. His most noteworthy work has been for the Shadowrun role-playing game and associated properties, but he's spilled some ink in the universes of Vampire 20th Anniversary, Earthdawn, Wrath & Glory, and Mutants & Masterminds, and more!