“What if I told you we could change the world, fix all of its wrongdoings, instill a new value of life?” So inquires the main character in the second self-published novel by game design major Preston Lingle.
The novel, titled “Victims”, tells the story of a group of orphans attempting to survive in a post-apocalyptic world. Lingle said he came up with the idea for the story on Christmas night in 2013. He got to work on creating an outline for the story immediately afterward, and finally finished it in July 2017.
Lingle said the music he listens to inspires most of his ideas. Coheed and Cambria, Green Day, and Fall Out Boy make up his playlist of music he listens to while he writes.
“I’ll just kind of get ideas from bands and their lyrics and themes,” Lingle said.
Lingle started writing while he was a sophomore at Windsor High School. He said his teachers were impressed by his creative writing after reading his work. They encouraged him to write for National Novel Writing Month, an event in which writers attempt to complete a 50,000 word novel in the month of November.
Windsor High School librarian Rebecca Zwetow said Lingle was the second student at the high school to successfully finish, edit and publish an entire novel.
“When many of the writers who participated in [National Novel Writing Month] used the meetings to socialize, he wrote,” Zwetow said. “It was the following year that I learned conquering his first novel had in turn given him confidence to . . . participate more in school life.”
The success of Lingle’s first book prompted him to start a writing club at his high school, where he cultivated his passion for writing among fellow students.
“Watching him jump into helping other students with their writing – giving them careful feedback, was really what showed writing would be more than a hobby for him,” Zwetow said.
Although he loves to write, Lingle said it does not always come easy to him. Every once in awhile he reaches points in his writing process where he is not sure how to progress the plot.
Lingle said he encountered his personal form of writer’s block while writing “Victims.” It lasted for about six months.
“I just didn’t know what to do,” Lingle said. “I didn’t know how to get from this beat to that beat. I eventually just sat down and tried something. And it kind of worked, and I went back and redid it.”
Lingle said his passion for writing relates to his passion for game design. He said role playing games (RPGs) in particular influence his writing style and he has made it a goal to write for games in the future.
Because of the novelty of game design, he said the actual narrative writing in current video games has room to grow and improve.
“Game design is still so new,” Lingle said.“You need programmers and developers to get the game working. But to make a game truly good, you need good writers, lighting directors, acting. Those all enhance a game but they aren’t necessary to play the game.”
Lingle corroborated with studio art major Lauren Poitras to create the cover art for “Victims: Part 1.” Lingle said the art style of the book is based off of the art direction of popular post-apocalyptic movies and video games.
“This very dark, bleak, dusty environment,” Lingle said. “[Lauren] kind of took that, checked out some of the references, one of which is the game ‘The Last of Us.’ She kind of read my mind and gave me exactly what I wanted. It helps that she’s one of my close friends too.”
Poitras said she met Lingle in a game design class at Webster. She said she has slowly worked her way from traditional printing, drawing and photography to the digital art methods she used to create the cover art for “Victims”.
Poitras said working with Lingle was the first formal commission she had received for her work and the first time Lingle had commissioned an artist.
“I look forward to reading the final piece, as well as seeing my own art on the cover of a book for the first time,” Poitras said.
Poitras said the creative process was very open. Lingle told her the basis of the plot and described the visual aesthetic he was going for along with the tone of the story. Poitras checked in with him periodically to make sure her work stayed true to Lingle’s original vision.
“The story itself fell right into my style of drawing, making the process very smooth and exciting,” Poitras said.
Lingle raised money for his novel through Kickstarter. He reached his original goal of 1,500 dollars in six days. His book was released September 19 and is purchasable through amazon.com.
“I’ve had the idea in my head for so long, so it feels weird to have people read it and talk to me about it,” Lingle said. “It feels like they’re made up characters in my head, they’re like imaginary friends almost, and to have other people say ‘hey, I know them too now’.”