A Cop, A Mage – and An Online Game?

Guest Blog by Diane Whiteside

It’s night in the city and the river-side streets are still wet from a recent flood.  Jake Hammond, leader of the local homicide squad, finds a corpse washed up in an alley.  No witnesses, no clues that even his first-rate CSI folks can sniff out.  His only hope to solve the mystery is Astrid, his very reluctant online friend who he’s never met in person before.


Online friend???  How on earth could two people know each other well enough to immediately trust each other with sensitive information and their reputations during a murder investigation, yet never have seen come face to face before?

Picture loud screeching writer’s block, while I argued with my characters.  Guess what?  The hero and heroine won, as ever for me.

So what options did I have for hooking them up before THE SHADOW GUARD starts?  Given the abominable hours that Jake works, it had to be something he could do at any hour of the day or night.  What about an online game?  Something done by millions of people so neither he nor Astrid would think the other had sought them out, hoping to learn confidential information.  Bingo!

But what kind of game?  It needed to be something where they built trust in each other, worked long and hard together, did battle.  Okay, so I’d also like a complex world.  (Maybe it’s me but I like a lot of options for explaining things in the rest of the book.)  Ah yes, the delights of matchmaking in the online game environment, where I could ensure Jake and Astrid played on the same server and in the guild.  Wow!

But which MMORPG  (or Massive Multiplayer Online Role Playing Game) should they play?  One already in existence, like World of Warcraft, or something I invented?  Much as my gamer friends and I liked the ones already around, none of them worked for Jake and Astrid.  I wanted my own names for heroes and monsters, always a tricky point when borrowing somebody else’s creation.  Plus, I definitely needed to be able to control the etiquette for message boards.  (Have I mentioned that I’m a control freak, like most authors?  LOL)

THE SHADOW GUARD’s online gaming world is called Argos and is based on the tale of Jason and the Argonauts.   Long before the Trojan War, the Argonauts went on a quest which took them beyond the edges of the known world.  They fought gods, monsters, and impossible landscapes to win a golden prize.  Some of them were the sons of deities, while others were ordinary mortals.  Success depended on trust in each other and working together.  What better model for a game?

Just to make it even more fun, I love the names involved – Colchis, Scylla, Charybdis…  Lovely fluid syllables to roll off the tongue and not sound like anything else out there!   Plus good, old-fashioned weapons like swords, daggers and pikes to fight magic with.

Even Jake and Astrid hummed approval of their roles on the quest.

Writer’s block was solved.  Now all I had to do was write the rest of the book…

Have you ever wanted to live in a literary world?  If so, which one?  Would you want to play one of the characters in that book?

Guest Blog by
Diane Whiteside