From the online scene of multiplayer gaming to a love for the written word, Connor Maher (AKA Wolverfrog) has established himself as a popular writer of Halo fanfiction.
Q1. How did you first get into Halo?
I was pretty late to the party, actually. I grew up a Nintendo kid; we had the NES, SNES, N64, Gamecube, the Wii and all the handhelds under the sun. Outside some brief experiences at friends’ houses, I’d never even touched a shooter. My parents are divorced, so one weekend back in ’07 (just after I’d turned 12) I was staying at my Dad’s house and he’d picked up an Xbox; not a 360, just a classic. He had a few games for it which I played for a bit, but didn’t enjoy any of them. Then I saw Halo CE. I wasn’t really interested by the look of it, but I didn’t really have much else to do so I popped the disc in the tray. Soon enough I was running around the Pillar of Autumn, and from there I was hooked.
When I got home, I used some of the money left over from my birthday to buy myself a classic Xbox. My Dad hadn’t liked Halo so he gave me his copy (I’ve still got it, actually) and so I finished that; then straight away I begged my Mum to buy me Halo 2, which if anything drew me in even more. I always say Halo CE told a story and a great one at that, but Halo 2 told a universe. Many of my mates had 360s at this time, and so I had played Halo 3; just the multiplayer though, I refused to spoil the campaign until I could get a 360 of my own. I sold my Wii on eBay for a pretty penny and finally, many months later, had an Xbox 360. I played the campaign, loved the ending to the trilogy (even if in hindsight it was somewhat lacking a little) and shelved it, until I got LIVE some time after. Then it was all about the matchmaking.
One day I checked Bungie.net to see some stats regarding my Halo 3, when I found my way to the forums. There were a large variety of threads; BR complaints, lag issues, moans about people who bought their 50s, the insulting of colonels – it was a hellhole of complaints and pettiness, really. But one thread stood out, the Halo 3 Epilogue. I opened the thread and was hooked. After I while I decided to try my own hand at it, since I’d always been decent at English amongst my class in school. That’s how my first fan fiction was born.
Q2. The Halo universe is pretty big, filled with a plenty of variety. But what part of that universe appeals to you the most?
Humanity. I’m still not quite sure why, but the thing about science fiction in general which really captures my heart is how humanity finds itself a new player in cosmic games they can’t possibly fathom, and how they deal with the adversity presented by these new and terrifying challenges. I think Halo is one of the best examples of this; I love that for hundreds of years we’re the perceived lords of the universe as we relentlessly spread through the stars, with not a single sign of active life seen. Then the Covenant discover us in 2524 and in just a few months that all falls to pieces. In Halo, we see examples of some of the rawest expressions of humanity. The UNSC, which I perceive as having been a somewhat oppressive militarism prior to first contact, forgets its expansionist nature and dedicates itself to protecting humanity. People from all corners of the Orion belt; farmers, soldiers, scientists, businessmen – everyone bands together with one common goal; prevention of humanity’s annihilation. Call me a philanthropist, but it just speaks to me like nothing else in the universe does.
Q3. Being one of the most established fanfiction writers in the community has allowed you to reach out to varied audience, but what part of Halo influences your writing?
When writing originally, I actually seldom turn to science fiction. I rarely read it too; I’m more of a fantasy man, always have been. That’s not to say I don’t enjoy a good bit of adventure in galaxies far away – I just feel sci-fi can be better expressed in visual mediums like television or film, because when writing about the alien it can be hard to visualise what it all looks like; I know this is a problem I often strike in my writing for Halo, where I’ll have to somehow convey to the reader in words a completely alien idea I’ve come up with. Aside from content, Halo’s arguably been the biggest indirect influence on my writing out of anything – if it weren’t for Halo, I’d never have started writing as a hobby. I imagine a few themes from the series often sneak their way into my writings as well, and I recently sneaked a Gravemind quote into a piece of AS English Language coursework, so I’m definitely influenced. But for technique, tone and inspiration, I’ll usually look to something else.
Q4. Frankie previously stated that all of the Halo fiction will now intertwine, so events that occur in the novels may be reflected within the games. Do you think this is positive move?
Definitely. I doubt we’ll see it in any serious extent, but I do think it’s a good idea to bring all the threads together; there’s been a succinct disconnect between the games and the expanded universe since First Strike, and that was a long time ago. Most of the reason I fell in love with the Halo universe was because of the books and other media – the games are great, but the plots are a little simple and the characters are very lacking. I often try to explain to people who dismiss Halo as a braindead shooter with story as a periphery that there’s far more to the franchise than just space marines vs aliens, but it’s hard to make a convincing argument when that’s virtually all we see in the games. In the Reclaimer trilogy I’m hoping for campaigns of real length which nod at everything we’ve seen so far and more, especially regarding the Forerunners and Precursors – I’d love to see more of Covenant society too; with True Sangheili, it’s surprising how much of the culture I’ve had to invent myself due to the sheer lack of it.
Q5. Your fiction has really expanded over the years, covering a variety of perspectives. But which story did you enjoy writing the most?
Halo 3: Insurrection. In a few months it’ll have been two years since I finished it, but the experience stays fresh with me. It was written at a time when Halo was a huge part of my life – a little sad maybe, but that’s how it was. I was a true fanatic, and Insurrection was essentially all of my dreams put down in words. Yet more than that, I think it’s the story in which my evolution as a writer can be seen the most; looking back, none of it is particularly fantastic, but there’s a definite change in quality and tone between the opening and the ending. It was an absolute joy writing it, back in the days when I was a real active in the community and in private groups. I’d feel bad if I didn’t mention Memoirs of an ODST, because that’s where it all began and so I’ll always have a nostalgic softspot for it – Memoirs laid the foundations for what was to come, and was fun to write in itself, but even though Insurrection originally started as a side-project to Memoirs it very swiftly surpassed it in many ways. I do try to make all my stories different; citing fan fiction alone, Memoirs is a first venture into writing and it’s reflecting in the first person; I was more or less throwing myself into the Halo universe, which is why the protagonist’s of a young age too. Then Insurrection was a bombastic space opera juggling lots of events at once. True Sangheili’s a controlled, personal tale and a lot softer in tone, and a bit more tragic too. So yeah, there have been a variety of wide perspectives to be sure – I think I’ve exhausted fan fiction for now at least, and so after True Sangheili’s done with I’m looking forward to crafting an original novel of my own – my ultimate dream is publication, but it’s probably many years off yet.
Q6. What are you hoping to see and experience in the new Halo trilogy?
A tricky one. My gaming tastes now are very different to how they were when I first discovered Halo in 2008; I’m very into my RPGs, JRPGs and other narrative-driven games – I think the last dedicated shooter I bought was Reach, actually. But I’ll definitely be getting Halo 4, and I’m hoping it rekindles my love for the franchise, so in a way I’m hoping 343i delivers on the gameplay and multiplayer. Campaign’s what it’s all about for me at the end of the day and what I’ve read of it so far has me excited about Halo in a way I haven’t been since E3 ’09 – getting back to what Halo’s all about at its most base; the Master Chief on an unknown world, his sole companion a blue girl in his head and an army of aliens in his way. If 343i manage to create an engaging story of significant length (Halo games have been far too short for a long time now,) then I’ll be happy – their promises to build more of a character around John intrigue me further as I always thought him a little too quiet in the games; he’s never going to be a social butterfly, but I definitely want to see the human behind the suit in the Reclaimer trilogy. All in all, Bungie disappointed me with Reach and that’s made me a little tentative where Halo is concerned; I’m hoping 343i repair the wound with a good dollop of creative biofoam, and make me a true fan once more.
For those eager to read Wolver’s collection of legendary fanfiction, head on over to the Gallery forum on B.net