Interview With Alberto Bieri: Head Visionary Behind The Chronicles Of Calibran

Being a rather new bod to this whole Twitter thing I have taken an unhealthy interest in my little band of around 150 followers. I read their posts, check out their sites and blogs and respond to their messages. I’m told this isn’t the done thing, as on Twitter one is generally expected to follow the example of Kanye West and make overblown monomaniacal pronouncements. While I’m may be missing out on the fun of offending the most amount of people with the fewest characters my way does have its bonuses. Having been followed by @calibranworld I clicked over to check out what the happy haps was and was immediately drawn in by the quality and scale of the work being done over at www.chroniclesofcalibran.com.

Rather than have me, an unknown who can’t even Twitter properly, tell you about it I popped an email over to the main visionary behind the project Alberto Bieri, and like the top bloke he is he got back to me with some answers to my questions. So without further ado I’ll hand over to Alberto to give you the low down on why you should be excited about Chronicles of Calibran

For those people who haven’t come across it yet could you describe Chronicles of Calibran for us?

AlbertoThe Chronicles of Calibran are a series of stories that all take place in an epic fantasy setting. We’ve been inspired primarily by the classics of fantasy, such as Lord of the Rings, Dragonlance, Elric of Melnibonè, and similar works. We’ll also be working on our own creative ideas, with innovative story lines, new races, powerful monsters, dragons spinning Machiavellian plots, and much more.

We’re going to be releasing the main story in a serialized format, following the adventures of our heroes across the first ‘season’ of the epic. The story will follow a few intertwining story lines, each handled by a different writer. It will be continued in further seasons of serialized stories, each season being about the length of a novel. In addition to the main story, we’ll have a number of shorts that will be available on our website for free. And, we’re in the planning stages of putting together some stand-alone novels that will also take place in Calibran, but be peripheral to the main story.

That may seem like a tall order, but we have a whole team of creative people working to invent a living world full of stories. We have a team of writers, editors, and artists, from the US, Norway, the UK, Thailand, Italy, and Romania. This sort of collaboration is only possible now thanks to the Internet, and we’re excited to unveil all our hard work later this year.

Obviously creating a unique high fantasy world and bringing it to life through illustrations and narrative is a huge amount of work. What made you decide to start the Chronicles of Calibran project in the first place?

Love of fantasy. Working on this project, I am constantly reminded of afternoons spent with close friends, playing role playing and computer games, all in fantasy worlds that I came to know well. Going back and playing those games, and reading some of the classic fantasy novels, are great fun and evoke some pretty heavy nostalgia.

But, once all those stories come to an end, I was left wanting more. Basically, this whole project was put together because I wanted to read some new epic fantasy stories of the sort I grew up on.

What would you say were your main inspirations that you drew on when creating the world of Calibran?

Well, the goal of our project is to create fun epic and adventure fantasy stories, so when we look for inspirations, there is no real shortage of options. As I mentioned above, Lord of the Rings is an influence, as it pretty much defined the epic fantasy genre. We’ve also drawn from authors like Margaret E. Weis, Tracy Hickman  Fritz Leiber, Michael Moorcock, and many others for our inspiration. We also try to look back a little further, to the mythology and folktales that inspired people like Tolkien and other writers.

As we write, we often find ourselves looking at fantasy series like Game of Thrones, as well as the show, and all the fantasy shows that have become more popular. More often than not, however, while we enjoy those a great deal, we are looking for ways to set ourselves apart from them. With the serialized format we’re using for our main story line, we have many of the advantages of TV without many of the restrictions.

How did you go about drawing your team together and is it difficult working on a project this large with contributors in different continents? 

It is a lot of work. With a team that only seems to be growing, and spread across the world,dwarf-clean-character it can be challenging to keep track of everything that’s happening. It’s also a lot of fun. We get together to have big brainstorming sessions on a regular basis, to come up with new plots and story layouts, as well as to fill out some of the corners of our world that are still blank. Those sessions are not always the most organized, but it’s great to see people bouncing off each others’ ideas, and improving them. It’s not quite like anything I’ve done before.

On your website, it lists your team’s many and varied inspirations. Is it difficult to keep the world consistent with all these disparate sources of inspiration? Do you have a central repository of “canon” information that everyone refers to?

It is definitely difficult. We want the writers to be free to be creative and add the details to their stories that can often create the verisimilitude a good story requires. But, every detail has to be kept track of and noted so we don’t contradict ourselves or forget an important element down the road. We spend a lot of time trying to keep the world building tight, and we constantly re-read and reassess to make sure we haven’t missed a detail that seemed minor at one point but could cause problems later. To keep track of everything we’ve created the Encyclopedia Calibran, a wiki that’s open for the public to view, but that the writers use to keep track of cultural details, settings, and other important aspects of Calibran. You can take a look at it here: http://calibran.wikia.com/wiki/Calibran_Wiki

It will continue to be updated as stories are released and more information becomes available. You can read about Calibran safe from spoilers on the wiki! Readers will find a bunch of helpful background information there, though.

On your blog, Anthony Russo says “we plan to grow Calibran into an epic locale of stories and other products far into the future.” Where else do you see Chronicles of Calibran going? Obviously, it’s the perfect setting for good RPG, but do you see it as the setting for films or a tv series?

Wip1Well, we don’t want to get too far ahead of ourselves. Let us get our first season out before we turn it into a TV show! 🙂

We have considered turning Calibran into an RPG setting, and that’s something that we’ll probably look at more seriously in the future. As to a TV or movie adaptation, that would, of course, be great. We hope our world will have the depth, and our stories the excitement and appeal, that might lead someone to one day put the stories on a screen. At the moment, that’s somewhere in the future, however.

Do you think that the popularity of shows like Game of Thrones and Chronicles of Shannara have led to a revival of popular interest in high fantasy settings?

 Well, there does seem to be a growing appreciation and popularity for a lot of things that were considered too ‘geeky,’ or ‘nerdy’ in the past. The success of Game of Thrones, and the new Shannara TV show are signs of that. However, fantasy has always been a beloved genre for many people. We’re hoping anyone who enjoys fantasy will enjoy Calibran, but we do have a particular fondness for those long-time fantasy friends.

Given your experience of this project do you have any advice for those thinking of attempting the same thing? Or perhaps just starting out as fantasy authors or worldbuilders?

My advice would be to try something simpler. Like manned space flight.

Honestly, it’s a tough job. As I am at the top of the whole organization, there are a number of decisions to be made that can only be made by me, and there is always something waiting to be read or okay’d. You need to be simultaneously a writer, artist, and marketing expert. We’re also working to innovate a new method and model of commercial storytelling, which is a big challenge.

The most important thing to understand is you can’t expect to be a success overnight. I’ve already put thousands of hours of work, and years of my time, into Calibran, and most of it hasn’t even been published yet. You have to really believe in the project, and be motivated to keep moving forward. That’s true of writers or worldbuilders, as well. Keeping yourself motivated is key.

We hear you’re a big Dungeons and Dragons Fan. Could you give us a rendition of one of your favourite DnD moments? Bard Style? 

Well, dragons play a big role in Calibran, so we’ll go with a dragon centred story.

Ahem.

bdw_headerLong ago, in a mystical land far away, there lived an ancient, evil dragon named Garuga the Terrible. Garuga was as black as he was evil, and he was feared in the lands around his lair for his cruelty and malice. He would lay in quiet wait, in the swamp that was his home, for the unsuspecting or unwary to pass by. Then he would lash out, killing all he found, and swallow them down in a gulp. Their gold and treasure he would collect and add to his ever growing hoard.

In this manner, he killed scores of innocent travellers, and collected much that was valuable, magical or both. The chiefest of his treasures was the Scepter of One Thousand Souls, a mighty magical tool that had powers over the dead and living. Garuga could not unleash the Scepter’s power, but he recognized it as the most valuable item in his hoard, and so he kept it close.

The knight Griswald and his companions sought the Scepter, part of a longer quest to free Griswald’s home of a curse. After much investigation, they discovered that it had been lost years ago to the dragon, taken in ambush. Griswald’s companions were the dwarf fighter Rohark, the elven wizard Alisandre, and the human cleric, a follower of Lathander, named Morgan Crow.

A thief might have tried to slip into the dragon’s lair while Garuga was out hunting prey. A bard might have tried to lull the dragon to sleep with a song or story. Griswald was a knight, however, which meant a fight was the only way to take the Scepter from the dragon.

It was an epic battle, one for the ages. Griswald stood tall before the monster, striking with his enchanted sword, drawing blood and dodging the dragon’s acid breath. Rohark the dwarf circled to attack the monster’s flank, while Alisandre hurled her spells and Morgan stood by, ready to offer to heal to those that needed it.

In the end, Garuga was defeated and the sceptre regained, though it cost the noble Rohark his life. Griswald and his remaining companions continued on their quest to free the knight’s homeland.

Everyone lived happily ever after. Except for Garuga.

The End.

As you can see, while it’s still in its early stages, the team behind the world of Calibran are committed, determined and talented enough to make it work. Everyone who has ever played D&D, DM or not, has considered building their own world. Most never make it past the idea, and those that do have some idea of the challenges and difficulties that Alberto and his team have overcome just to get this far. And that’s why they deserve our support. So get on over to chroniclesofcalibran and follow them on Twitter at @calibranworld. And you can thank me when we’re all watching the 5th season of Game of Calibran.

Images used without permission of the owner.

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