JT: Why are you a video game fan?
PJH: This one Christmas I found this game called Halo. I lost a Christmas playing that game. That’s how Nathan and I became really good friends. We bumped into each other at a house party and because we’re Canadians you got to talk to each other and we hit it off. Then I bumped into him again just after Christmas and he asked what I had been doing and I told him I felt so guilty and so bad because I spent my entire Christmas playing this game called Halo. Nathan looks up at me and said “You had me at Halo.”
Then we started this Epic, Epic, two year battle were we would play every Sunday night rain or shine he would move his schedule so we could play. We would play Sunday around diner time until Monday sunrise, and my team was really good in the beginning. Nathan would audition people to come try and beat us and eventually the tables turned and Nathan and his team got so good it was no longer fun to play (laughs), they got insane.
JT: Video gaming is for all ages. What makes gaming appealing to people from all walks and stages of life?
PJH: It’s the reward system. When we are little kids we are rewarded for everything we do. Then all of a sudden you drop into the real world and the rewards stop. It all comes in negative reinforcement after that and you work and you struggle more out of fear than you do out of rewards. Yet you go to a game and that game is constantly rewarding you, and it is triggering a part of your brain that is the same stimulus reward mechanisms that you triggered when you were a child. That gaming aspect is addictive, and people that don’t get that anymore we still crave it, we still always crave acceptance and skill and we seek it out.
JT: In an IGN interview that Fillion conducted, you talked about a particularly profound time in your life where writing no longer felt like a struggle. What would you say to others who still struggle creatively?
PJH: I never set out to be a writer it was never on my roadmap whatsoever. I had come to a point in my life where I was pushing forty and I thought “Gosh I better do something I enjoy for the second half because I’m really not happy right now.”
I was really big into advertising and I was journaling to sort of find my creative spark because I had lost it. I just didn’t care anymore about my creative endeavors. Through the journaling I started writing and of course it was a struggle in the beginning and I think half the struggle is just admitting to yourself that what you’re writing is good enough.
Now looking back I would equate it with the same struggle you have when you go to the gym in the beginning. It’s the same struggle of getting into that routine and making it a habit. Eventually the writing became one of those things where if I didn’t write in the morning my whole day felt off kilter, my wife would go “oh you’re cranky, you didn’t write today?” It was just this thing that became very important to me and just a part of my life.
It was like that way until my second book series where I would take meetings with publishers and they started feeding me their ideas and what they wanted and I started writing a book for them. I’ll never ever do that again. I was struggling with a series I was writing for them, and I want to get back when I was writing in a void all by myself, trying to make me happy with the words.
JT: What is it like when you are in that “Void?”
PJH: When you’re in a series and you’ve got two, three, four novels in there, there is such an immersion of story worlds that you have to make room for. I would tell people I only write for an hour, but I’m in the world 24 hours a day. The characters are talking to me, I give the characters a problem and I listen to them in my head as they work out the problem, half the time I’m just recording what they’re doing.
JT: If you weren’t writing and managing the game…what would you be doing?
PJH: I’m doing exactly what I want to be doing, but if you took it all away from me and I could pick and do whatever I wanted, I would probably be at SETI sitting there trying to listen for aliens.