Wednesday 26 December 2012

Elite: Dangerous Author Interview - Kate Russell

Today we welcome the latest of the Elite: Dangerous authors - Kate Russell. She's still setting up  her Kickstarter so I'll post again when it's available for you to pledge, in the meantime you can read what she has to say below:

Update! Kate's Kickstarter project is now live,you can pledge your support at:

Please introduce yourself, who are you and what do you do?
Hello, my name is Kate Russell and I’m an Elite addict. Oh wait, sorry that’s Tuesday’s meeting. I’m a tech journalist and reporter writing about technology since 1995; started out in games but went on to become more known for reporting on Internet and mobile. The main things I do right now are hosting a weekly segment on the BBC’s tech show Click, writing columns for Web User and National Geographic Traveller magazines, freelancing, speaking and lecturing, and I am about to have my first book published (a business tome out March 2013).

When did you first start playing Elite and why did you come to love it so much?
In 1984 I was lucky enough to have a family that could afford a BBC Micro. My older brother was the techy one, studying computers in school whereas I got to learn home economics and needlework. When I saw the amazing world living inside his computer I remember thinking it must be some kind of witchcraft and I set about trying to understand it. Maggie Philbin, Ian Livingstone, Johnny Ball, David Braben/Ian Bell – they were all huge influences on me through the awkward teens. Funnily enough I have got to meet all of them except Ian Bell in the last eighteen months. I was contemplating this fact on 21/12 at 11:10 and actually thought, you know what? If this really is the end of the world I can die pretty happy at least.

Have you reached Elite status in game?
No. It was my older brother’s game and you know what they are like? I only just made it to Deadly in the time he wasn’t about so I could play. When Frontiers came around I was already working (that’s what you get for waiting 9 years to release a sequel!) and didn’t progress very far… in 1995 I got fully back into gaming when I became a games journalist (best job ever, though the money is pretty crappy), but I’ve worked hard trying to forget First Encounters so I’d rather not go there right now if you don’t mind ;)

What inspired you to start writing?
I’ve always loved telling stories. As a kid I would act out epic plots with my collection of smurfs, and even working in news and technology reporting as I do now it’s all about telling stories; they’re just a bit more grown up and the people in them tend not to have blue faces. When I was little if I got really upset with my brothers I would vanish upstairs to write cross letter and then fly it downstairs on a paper aeroplane.

You’re funding your writers pack with a Kickstarter project. Tell us more about that and how we can support.
Pledge :-) And once you’ve pledged, share the link with others. I’m only asking for as much as it takes to buy the writers pack and pay the Kickstarter commission and fees, so 200 people bunging in £25 each will do it (and at that pledge tier you get a mention in the book!)… So I guess I’m asking people to donate a small amount so I can add another £4.5k to the pot, and I’ll donate the considerable time it will take to write and produce a story worthy of you… and trust me it will be the absolute best story I can write because I don’t know how to write any other way.

Can you tell us anything about the story you're planning to write?
No.. well yes.. but not much as it literally just occurred to me to do this the other night when I was fretting about ED not making the target – then some people on Twitter kind of egged me on, and here we are. I’ve always felt inspired by Douglas Adams, so humour will play a large part. I also love the unexpected. I’ve written quite a lot of short stories, many with vicious twists in the tail. It’s likely to be quite random in places too if all the upper tier pledge options get sold.

Do you have any other writing we can read?
Google ‘Kate Russell’ you’ll find plenty of scary stuff (and some very bad photos if you do an image search). I have a where you can see my BBC videos, podcasts & some writing here: The interview I did with David Braben for The Next Web will probably be the most interesting for your readers in terms of judging who I am in relation to the game, and how I write: 

What makes the Elite universe a good setting for stories?
When I first played Elite the thing that struck me most was how you could travel in one direction for hours and hours and never see the same place twice. It’s easy to dismiss that in today’s world, but back in 1984 it was mind blowing. I’d never seen a computer let alone flown through 3D space inside one. I imagine it feels a lot like peering into the Tardis for the very first time. In a world where the dimensions are that screwed up there has to be a lot of fantastic stories waiting to be told.

Why do you think you can write a great Elite story?
Because I have the keys to the Tardis. Well, they are hanging just out of reach on a £4.5k hook, so if you could just give me a leg up…

If you haven't pledged to support the Elite: Dangerous game then please do so:


  1. But where is the link to Kate's Kickstarter?

    1. Her Kickstarter project hasn't been approved yet. I'll post as son as I have the link.

  2. She's not joking about those dodgy photos :)

  3. Kate's Kickstarter project is now live and is off to a great start, visit the link below to pledge your support: