Carrie Harris (Interview)

Are you ready for a treat? We have Carrie Harris on the blog today, and she has graciously given us a little of her precious time. This is one accomplished lady! You are not going to want to miss this fantastic interview! Get to know Carrie, and make sure to follow her!

I will admit to feeling as though I have found a kindred spirit while working on this interview. Books, authors and more – are just a few of the exciting things that I gleaned, but I truly admire the “never give up” attitude.

1. What first drew you to this line of work?
I’m a bit of a funny duck in that I love math and logic, but I also love words and creativity. I’ve had a lot of jobs over the years – marketing project manager, autopsy coordinator, neuropathology manager – and they all seemed to scratch one itch but not the other. So I’d work in neuropathology during the day and then go home and write books and play games. It worked out fine, but when the opportunity to do all of those things at once came across my desk, I didn’t look back. At Evil Hat, I get a chance to play with logic and business planning, pick apart games to look at the math underneath, write books and games of my own, and sometimes I can pretend to be a cat and call it work. I really couldn’t have lucked out more, and it’s tough to get bored with all of these things going on.

2. What do you see as the hardest part of your job?
I’m a card-carrying overachiever – or I would be if I could find a card for that. I’ve never been the best at calling for help or admitting defeat. When I was younger, I always had a superior who would pull me out of the weeds – protesting all the while – and make sure the work got done. But when you’re the head of the department, you don’t have that luxury. People are counting on you in very real ways to get the job done. I do ask for help now when I need it, although I still drag my feet on it sometimes.

3. What do you enjoy the most?
I really love the big picture work. I like looking at an aspect of the company, or a decision to be made, or a direction to take a book or a game, and trying to puzzle it all out. Because ultimately, there’s no right answer. You’ve got to be insightful and quick on your toes and not too stuck to your original idea. I have a weekly meeting with Chris Hanrahan, our VP, and we often sit there and bat around those kinds of ideas for hours. It’s a lot of fun to see the answer come together. We also talk a lot about stand-up comedy, because that’s awesome.

4. Do you have a favorite role so far? How did you find out about it?
I’ve wanted to be a creative director for a long time. Our creative directors’ take the top-down look at our games as they’re being made – what is this game supposed to be? What should it do well? Does it hit all of the notes we want it to hit, or does it need to go off in a different direction? It’s easy to get stuck in the minutia of does-this-mechanic-work and lose sight of the game as a whole, and the creative director helps keep that big picture in focus. I was so excited to be asked to creative direct a couple of games for the Hat, and I’m really loving the ability to step back and make sure that we’re creating a great game as well as a great product.

5. What do you like to do in your free time?
Well, I am working for the Hat, writing novels, and being a mom and wife, so I am not sure how much free time there really is to talk about! I do spend a lot of time with my kids while they’re still willing to be seen with me in public, so there’s that. My husband and I really like going out to try new restaurants together – we just found a really fabulous sushi place in Salt Lake City after living here for about three years. I’m hungry just thinking about it!

I read a lot, although the content depends on what I’m working on at the time. I tend to gravitate toward genre lit if I’m just reading for fun. Lots of Sci-Fi and Fantasy, and mysteries. I have a deep deep love for Jim Butcher, Ilona Andrews, Richard Kadrey, and Dorothy Sayers, just to name a few.

I also love to game, of course. My kids like RPG’s, particularly the FATE supplemented Secrets of Cats and Paranoia. We play a lot of board games too. The Dresden Files Cooperative Card Game is our current favorite, and yes, it’s made by Evil Hat! I am incredibly relieved to like it! When your company decides to make a game based on some of your favorite books, there’s little part of you that is scared crapless because of what if you don’t like it? But it’s awesome.

6. Is there a role that you have taken that you did not enjoy as much as you thought you would?
Not really, although if you flip the question the other way around, there are things that I enjoy more than I expected. I used to be a firm pantser. When I approached any game or project or new draft of a book, I wanted to get in there and dig around first. I wanted to write the book with the bare minimum of preparation, and so on. But then, I was persuaded after a few pantsing-related mistakes to try planning. Outlining. Looking at the big picture first and letting it inform the details. I honestly don’t know why I had such a resistance to it, because I love it so much. If I could approach everything in outlines and spreadsheets, I might do it.

7. What advice would you give to someone who is just starting out?
I think creative endeavors can feel a bit like running through Jell-O in slow motion. You have no idea if you’re going in the right direction since you can’t really see where you’re going, and it’s taking so long to get there that it might just make sense to turn back. But you really never know what’s going to open doors for you. Sometimes it’s the most innocuous thing. I got my job at Evil Hat because of a tweet. I posted about RPG’s, and that ended up getting me a job. Keep slogging ahead, because those opportunities don’t come if you give up and go home.

8. Where do you see yourself in ten years?
Personally, I’ll probably be wandering around my house, wondering why it’s so darned quiet because all of the kids will be gone. Maybe I’ll finally get around to having another bacon party by then, because I keep promising to do it, but never have any time! No matter what else happens, I’ll be making things and playing games and reading books, because those are my lifelines.

9. What is your favorite book, and why?
I have many favorites for a variety of reasons, but here’s one that stands out in my mind: Skinny Legs and All by Tom Robbins. I’d always loved writing, but reading that book was a real a-ha moment for me. I finished it and said, “I’m going to do this for a living.” (Out loud. By myself. In my college dorm room. Yeah, it’s weird.) Years later, my then-boyfriend-now-husband had a family friend who knew Tom Robbins, and they were throwing a cocktail party with Tom as the guest of honor. As we’re walking there, I told then-boyfriend that I really hoped I’d get a chance to talk to Tom, because I was sure he’d be swamped. Sure enough, he was. But then-boyfriend decided he was going to create a distraction, and he started up this giant conversation about every controversial topic he could think of. Soon, people were leaving the group around Tom and getting sucked into this giant debate, leaving me alone with him. He was looking really confused by this point, and I made it worse when I blurted out, “Thank you for ruining my life!” I clarified what I meant, but I’m sure he thought I was nuts.

10. Growing up, what was your favorite thing to do?
To say that I’ve always been a reader is an understatement. I was the kind of kid who would vacuum the floor while holding a book up in front of my face. I’d end up with bruises all over my shins from refusing to put my books down, but I never had to wait to find out what happened next. Also, I’m quite sure it drove my parent’s nuts.

11. Do you have a favorite quote?
There’s a Robin Williams stand up that has stuck with me from the moment I heard it. He was doing this goofy bit about being an old comedian looking back on the alien invasion, and then he gets unexpectedly serious and starts talking about how you’ve got to embrace your weirdness. As a kid who was always pretty weird and struggled to fit in, it really stuck with me. He said, “You’ve got to go full-tilt bozo. You’re only given a little spark of madness. If you lose that, you got nothing.”

12. Do you have links where people can view your books, author page, and of course, learn more about you?

I want more!

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