If You Play It Safe: Matt Forbeck on Taking Risks in Writing

Matt Forbeck is one of my heroes.  When I was teaching full-time and dreaming of one day going freelance, I modeled my imagined future on Forbeck’s career.  Forbeck does just about everything. He takes risks.  He juggles projects.  He gets things done.  Rumor has it that he’s never missed a deadline. Forbeck’s list of creative credits goes back to the 1980s and gets more and more diversified with each passing year.  These days, he has multiple non-fiction books, novels (media tie-in and original), roleplaying games, collectable card games, and movies in the works.

It’s hard to single out any one of his projects.  But the Weird West role-playing game, Deadlands, and his Western-influenced fantasy trilogy, The Lost Mark, hold a favored spot in my heart for blending my favorite genres.  All in all, though, my favorite Forbeck book is usually the most recent one.  Right now he has Amortals out with Angry Robot and a sequel Vegas Knights on the way.

The one thing all of Matt Forbeck’s projects seem to have in common?  He enjoys the heck out of what he does.

Forbeck has am essay in The Bones: Us and Our Dice, edited by Will HindmarchThe Bones is a collection of essays about dice, gaming, and good friends, written by some of the biggest names in the tabletop game industry.  The collection is also about good luck and bad, about rolling high and low, about taking risks.  It’s about putting it all on the line or knowing when to step away from the table.  I’ll post more about The Bones later, but for now I figured I’d get in touch with a number of the contributors and ask them about taking risks in writing.  Matt Forbeck’s responses are below.


What is the importance of taking risks, of rollin’ dem bones, in writing?


Matt Forbeck: Pushing your limits and taking chances helps improve your writing and storytelling skills. There’s a saying in downhill skiing that goes something like, “If you’re not falling down, you’re not trying hard enough.” In skiing, as in fiction, as in life, if you play it safe, you’ll never find out how good you can be. If you’re not testing your limits, you’ll never get better.


Can you tell us about a time when you rolled the dice in your career and won?  Lost?  Were utterly baffled by the results?


Matt Forbeck: Fresh out of college, I wanted to travel to Europe but had no cash. I picked up a student work visa, packed everything I owned into a couple duffel bags, and convinced my father to pitch for a one-way ticket as a graduation present. I arrived in the UK on a Wednesday not long after I’d turned 21, and I cold called Games Workshop for an interview. On Monday, I started work as an editor there, launching my career as a full-time game designer and writer.

(There’s a lot more to the story than that, but that’ll wait for another day.)

2 thoughts on “If You Play It Safe: Matt Forbeck on Taking Risks in Writing

  1. Pingback: Friday Free for All for December 10th, 2010 | T.N. Tobias

  2. Pingback: Being My Own Boss: Matt Forbeck on Freelancing « Booklife

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