The intensity and loneliness that growing up brings with it has always seemed to Mary Borsellino to be a perfect basis for stories, ever since she was a teenager herself. That age group knows better than anybody the hopes and horrors of society’s potential futures, the flash and glamour of rock stars, the dangerous hunger of the vampire, and the quest to find out who you are.
Mary’s writing career began in her own teen years, when her Lord of the Rings fanfiction Pretty Good Year attracted the attention of academics worldwide. Her next breakout success was the Wolf House series of punk vampire novels, which Vampire Diaries author LJ Smith described as “Electrifying. Chilling. Enthralling. Amazing. One of the truest young voices I’ve ever heard, with a plot that keeps you stuck to the pages and stops the breath in your throat.”
Her first novel to be set in Australia was 2012’s The Devil’s Mixtape, and Mary’s most recent novel, Thrive, sees Hobsons Bay and Victoria play pivotal roles.
My family has lived in Hobsons Bay for generations: my great-grandfather made a lot of the old iron lacework you can still find on houses around Williamstown.
I was born and raised in Queensland, and yet when I wound up in Hobsons Bay at age 22 I knew I wanted to stay there, even before I knew the longstanding family connection to the area.
I’ve been here more than eleven years now, and hope that I don’t leave any time soon.
Do you enjoy playful banter? Because that’s what 85% of this game is. Sometimes it will get a chuckle out of you, or perhaps you’ll find the characters a bit more endearing, but then there are going to be sometimes where you just want to slap the three characters upside the head. It kind of boarders on the “too much” side of snark, but none of the characters feel flat. All three of them have unique histories, and while they may seem cookie cutter on the surface they actually have some deep struggles on the inside. While you’re most likely not going through what they are, you’re still able to connect pretty quickly when they finally open up. While the story is solely focused on the romance between you and one of the other characters of your choice, there is still a lot of dark topics covered by the Psychopomps. It goes from light-hearted teen romance to death and blood pretty quick. The world Psychopomp High is set in isn’t fully explained, nor is it the focus of the game, but you do feel as if the world is completely fleshed out, giving the rest of the game a solid if not a bit surreal base. While gameplay is limited to a few choices you choose on screen, Psychopomp High is a complex story with all the fluff of teen romance and yet all the dark and gritty details of life and death. It’s a surprisingly pleasant mix that you’ll have to try for yourself.
I worked as a narrative and technical tester on Queen at Arms, a new fantasy wartime visual novel by Aqualuft Games. It’s challenging and exciting, and I recommend it highly to anyone who likes intrigue, battle strategy, romance, or just plain old good stories.
From the mind of Mary Borsellino comes Psychopomp High, a story of love and identity set in a high school of the dead. Caleb is a psychopomp with no memory of who he was in life. It doesn’t take him long to meet and befriend Luke and Marcella, two fellow psychopomps with their own secrets.
Psychopomp High plays in a straightforward manner. Stick with either Luke or Marcella to find out their stories and learn Caleb’s role in the afterlife, initiating a romance along the way. It’s when Caleb’s alone though that bad things start happening. What really catches my interest is the suggestion of a fully realized world underlying a short game. Luke isn’t human, Marcella wasn’t always, and Caleb…well, he’s something else entirely. Luke, Marcella, and Caleb look and behave human, but the game makes it clear that this comes more from a longing to be human more than anything, taking the time to deconstruct shallowly even the standard high school setting. After all, the game points out, why exactly would dead teenagers go to school?
Despite the somberness of the premise–dead teenagers! amnesia! revenge!–Psychopomp High is a breezy, sincere addition to the visual novel genre, with an intriguing hint of darkness underneath the bright colors.
So that’s pretty spectacular. SPEAKING OF SPECTACLE, if you live in Melbourne and are free on the 7th of June at 3pm, come to the launch of my newest novel, Thrive, at the Ether Conference Centre on Little Bourke st (between Swanston and Elizabeth).
Bring your friends! Bring your frenemies! Bring randoms off the street! BRING YOURSELF! please for the love of heck bring yourself i’m terrified nobody’s going to come
Over the past weekend I did presenter, panelist, and moderator duties across a wide variety of sessions at the Room 801 convention/conference in Sydney. It was a fantastic experience and I was glad to be involved with such a vibrant, positive event for the second year running.
One of the sessions I presented was a preview of the Dramatical Murder fangame I’m involved with making, Chequerboard Blues. I’m responsible for scripting and dialog on the project, which should be out later this year.
The audience response to the game preview was enthusiastic and positive, which made for a great first outing! I love this game, and can’t wait to share it with everyone.