He’s Brian Cortijo, @briancortijo and I like him a lot. He was our judge for 5MinuteFiction this week, and he’s also one of the authors featured in When the Hero Comes Home, the new anthology from Dragon Moon Press. I like it a lot.

Now, let’s meet Brian. He’s agreed to one of my long, tortuous, 5MinuteInterviews (without any spaces between the words, even.)

So, because we only have five minutes, let’s not muck about:

1. Your short in When the Hero comes Home, “One and Twenty Summers” sticks with me even now, months after reading it. What do you think, as the author, was the one thing that really made that one work?

To respond to that question, I’ve actually got to hearken back to a lesson I’ve learned as a reader: the story doesn’t begin and end with what’s on the page. As an author, I think one of the most difficult things to do is to avoid the temptation to tell all of the story. We’re coming in on a moment, a snapshot of the lives of our characters–sometimes the most important, but not always–and that there are two things that we don’t always need to know about: the after, and the before.

2. So I’m impatient for the next Brian Cortijo effort. What else is coming from you?

Well, I’ve recently been asked to participate in a follow-up anthology to When the Hero Comes Home, and I’m tinkering with a short story or two of my own that I may start shopping around in the beginning of next year.

There’s also my game writing, for D&D and Pathfinder. I’m in the middle of a rather large series of articles for Dungeon and Dragon Magazines (the online, monthly installments of D&D support), of which I’m rather proud, to be honest. Not quite fiction writing, but honestly, some of it’s pretty darned close.

3. When the day comes that you’re a fabulously successful and wealty author, and you look back and say “this is where it started for me,” what is “this” going to be?

Hmm. That’s a toughie, because it assumes there’s a single moment. There could be the first time I played D&D. Or the time I decided to pipe up and say something on an RPG author’s message boards. Or the day that author (Sean K Reynolds) offered to forward some of my stuff along to Ed Greenwood for him to look at. Or when I read the email I got back from Ed saying that he’d love to see fiction from me, even though I’d never written any of it.

As an author, I’ve been blessed with a number of supportive people as readers, editors, and developers, and my current fiction work grows out of that. But the fiction work comes from my RPG roots, which all goes back to finding the old red box in a friend’s basement.

4. What’s the question you wish I’d asked that I didn’t? And what’s the answer?

“Will you please write more so I can give you all my money?” It’s a lovely question, and the answer is always “sure!”

More seriously, the question that I wish you’d asked is “What is your favorite part of writing? Your least favorite?”

I love creating living things: characters, settings, creatures. The idea that I’m making something whole cloth that someone else will look at, and get the feeling that there is something larger to that thing–a before and an after and a before-before–is a splendid one for me.

What I like least is the part I call ‘choreography.’ While I appreciate that a story has to hit certain beats, sometimes it’s painful to force your characters or lovingly crafted details to contort to meet those beats. As a writer, I’d love the opportunity to let the story live its own life without my guidance. Of course, that’s not usually the case, so then the dance begins.

So don’t forget to check out Brian Cortijo, @briancortijo one of the authors featured in When the Hero Comes Home, the new anthology from Dragon Moon Press.