Interview with Tony Kenealy

This is the 2nd in a series of 4 interviews with the writers of the scenarios for the new Perils of the Surface World book, which is currently up on Kickstarter.

Tony Kenealy is the writer of the adventure scenario The Frozen City of Terror. He’s a long-time game writer and the nicest guy you could ever hope to meet.


Who is Tony Kenealy when he isn’t writing traumatizingly terrifying scenarios for Exile Game Studio?

Tony: I’d like to say that I am an international spy, a rocket scientist, maybe an astronaut or something else exciting, but if I did that would be a small untruth.

Like a lot of writers, especially in the games industry, I have a day job that is nowhere near as exciting as the things I write about. I have been writing for the games industry for many years and have delved into the realms of post-apocalyptic earth with Warlands; the dark science fiction world of 2175 in Rezolution: A Dark Tomorrow; the supernatural world of demons in 1689 for the Witch Hunter RPG and the fantasy world of the No Quarter miniatures game. Now I find myself in the pulp world of Hollow Earth, a genre that has interested me for years and this was definitely an exciting piece to work on. I am a big horror, fantasy and science fiction fan so it is good to be able to write in these genres. I also like to squeeze in reading, TV and movie watching as well as model-making and listening to music when I get the chance (I am a huge Beatles fan), but with the day job and my writing there is not much time for too much else, so maybe traumatizing people with my writing is who Tony Kenealy really is.


What were some of your inspirations (movies, books, or other research) for writing a scenario set in the frigid Antarctic wasteland?

Tony: The first thing I did was to step outside in San Diego where I live to get a feel for the cold brutal weather and the harsh environment where the adventure would be set. I failed miserably as this was Southern California and sunny… but being born in the UK, I was not a stranger to the cold and wet so I set out to research Antarctica. For me, the biggest character in this adventure is Antarctica itself.

I had to make it feel real to the players. When I write, I like to be able to visualize what I am writing so I spent a lot of time looking at images of Antarctica and reading historical accounts of expeditions. It also gave me a good excuse to buy some more books (and justify them to my wife). I found a great book called The Frozen World by Patrick Hook that was full of wonderful photographs of ice fields, glaciers and icebergs as well as aerial photographs of Antarctica. This was a great help. For the horror aspect of the adventure, one movie that influenced me was The Thing by John Carpenter. The isolation, the fear and the desperation felt by the characters in that movie were something I wanted to capture for the players. I wanted this adventure to be something that would stick in their mind especially if they went for a walk on a cold snowy day. There was a lot more I could have added to the adventure, but I have put the ideas on ice for another day!


What’s your favorite part of the scenario?

Tony: If it has to be only one then it is what I call the “Oh  #$%” moment when the players finally realize they are trapped and isolated at the base. This is the point when their transport is destroyed by the crashing Nazi plane. Coupled with the imminent storm, this should be the moment when the players realize that they are going to have to fight for survival. Antarctica is not just a walk in the snow and being stranded there is a life- threatening experience. The weather, the freezing temperatures, the raging wind and the snow is as much the enemy as the Nazis or anything else they may find later in the game. I really wanted to capture this moment for the players by removing any chance of an easy escape. If I were allowed a second favorite, it would be the scene with the reanimated body parts. I love horror movies and this was so much fun to write, but as I was only asked for one favorite part I will resist mentioning that. I will also resist mentioning that I love the fights in the city, as they were a lot of fun to write. The whole adventure was really fun to write.


What’s your favorite dinosaur?

Tony: That’s an interesting question… I remember as a child watching the 1933 film King Kong (no, I am not quite that old) and seeing the dinosaurs in that and being fascinated by the fight between King Kong and the T-Rex. I also used to watch all the Japanese Godzilla movies and loved Godzilla. At an early age, I found the movies of Ray Harryhausen and I was hooked. I loved his dinosaur movies such as One Million Years B.C and the Valley of the Gwangi. So to finally answer your question, surprisingly enough it isn’t the T-Rex that it so dominant in all those movies that really appeals to me, my favorite is the graceful Pterosaurs (or pterodactyls as they are also called)


What question do you wish I had asked and what’s the answer?

Tony: You don’t believe in letting your interviewees have easy questions do you?

I could go for the ultimate question to life the universe and everything, but we all know the answer to that is 42 so there would be no point. I could say “what are you currently working on” which would be a good publicity angle for me, but the answer to that is simply more of the same. So I am going to say something ordinary instead. “What is the one single movie, TV show or book that has been your biggest influence and enjoyment in life.” The answer to that would be Doctor Who, a show I remember watching as a child, as an adult, and probably will continue to do so until I dragged off to my final reward. I watch, read and collect items and merchandise whenever I can, and will talk about it constantly if given the chance. So if you wanted, I could fill up your entire blog talking about Doctor Who, but I suspect most people would have fallen asleep by then.


Thanks, Tony! Be sure to help us hit our stretch goals on Kickstarter and help improve the book for everyone!

About Sechin Tower

Sechin Tower is a teacher, game developer, and author of MAD SCIENCE INSTITUTE, a novel of creatures, calamities, and college matriculation. He lives in Seattle, Washington.
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