How long have you been writing?
I started writing in college (1989-1993), producing an assortment of unpublishable work that included two novels. Far inferior to what I can do now, but one has to start somewhere! Later in the 1990s I moved on to writing RPG scenarios for distribution through the Role Playing Game Association and, in some cases, for purchase by the games’ publishers. If you think it’s hard to make a living in fiction writing, try doing it in RPGs!
Eventually I did get hired as an editor, writer, and designer on the Legend of the Five Rings RPG, a samurai-fantasy game. That came to an end in 2015 and the following year I finally returned to my original path of writing novels.
Which writers inspire you?
I grew up reading the “classics” of science-fiction and fantasy: Tolkien, Wells, Verne, CS Lewis, Burroughs, and so forth – they were certainly my formative inspirations. In my teens I added Herbert’s Dune, Clavell’s Shogun (the start-point for my lifelong fascination with samurai), Lewis’ “Space Trilogy,” Fritz Lieber, Robert Heinlein, Lloyd Alexander, Richard Adams, Dungeons & Dragons, and on the non-fiction side, Bruce Catton, Alexander Solzhenitsyn, and Paul Johnson.
So, what have you written?
I worked eight years on Legend of the Five Rings, serving as co-designer and primary writer/editor on the tail end of the role-playing game’s Third Edition and then working on the entire line of the Fourth Edition, ultimately something like 25 books.
Throughout the time I worked on L5R, I was mentally gestating ideas for a samurai-fantasy world of my own. After the game was sold off to a new company, I regained a lot of free time and decided I should start actually writing those stories rather than let them forever lurk in my mind and die with me. The series is titled “Empire of the Sun & Moon,” and to date I have published three novels for it, with the fourth and final one currently about 2/3 finished.
What draws you to Superversive writing?
Having grown up reading authors like Lewis and Tolkien, I’ve always felt that epic fantasy should have a moral element. Although I enjoy the quality of writing in a lot of modern fantasy (such as Game of Thrones), I dislike the overwhelming nihilism in those sorts of works, as well as their tendency to depict worlds where supernatural Evil exists but not supernatural Good. In particular, the penchant of so many writers for depicting organized religion and moral codes as vacant/fraudulent in worlds where magic and monsters exist has always struck me as bizarre, and I wanted to push back against that in my own work.
What are you working on at the minute?
Currently, as noted earlier, I am working on the concluding fourth volume of my Empire of the Sun & Moon series. I hope to finish it sometime in January or February.
Do you read much and if so who are your favorite authors?
I do read a lot, both fiction and non-fiction, though not quite so much as when I was younger. I’ve also gradually gotten pickier as I’ve gotten older, so authors who I once followed intensively (such as Harry Turtledove, Neal Stephenson, and Brent Weeks) have now fallen off my radar. (Some have also passed on, such as Jerry Pournelle.) My current reading list includes David Drake (his “Cinnabar” series), Tim Powers, Jim Butcher, Larry Correia, SM Stirling, and Neal Gaiman. I also read a ton of manga (Japanese comics).
How can readers discover more about you and your work?
My website (www.robhobart.com) has links to my novels and to a lot of my earlier RPG work, including extensive essays on the creative processes involved in the latter.