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Arts student talks gaming, becoming next great writer

September 11, 2013

Editor's Note: This story is part of an ongoing series about student excellence at the university. To read more about some of ASU's outstanding students, click here.

Imagine for a minute that you are casually walking through the town of Mostroferrato and come across a man who asks you to retrieve the Circle of Fire and the Circle of Water to test your worthiness. Should you agree? Should you turn around and run home to Gotha?

If you read “For A Time I Lived There,” by Sam Martone, a Master of Fine Arts student in the Department of English, you would surely know the right answer to this conundrum.  

Martone, a native of Tuscaloosa, Ala., describes the piece as a “series of video game player’s guide memoir fictions.” The short stories also contain flecks of his own life and demonstrate his love of video games, particularly Dragon Quest V.

“I don’t remember making the decision to be a writer, but I was always coming up with stories for my own video games. I didn’t have the programming skills, but would write down the plot and game controls,” he said.

In high school Martone took a creative writing class where he was inspired by a writer named Brian Oliu, who read a story about himself as Pac Man and his ex-girlfriends as the ghosts.  

“It was the moment when I realized this is something I could do. I could incorporate my interests into my writing and have fun with it,” he said.

Growing up with parents who are full-time writers, Martone says that he was always surrounded by books. But instead of taking up their interests, he focused on monsters and magical realms.

The rest, as they say, is history. Martone has written several short stories, including one titled “The Last Tour,” which recently placed second in the Sarah Lawrence College Literary Contest. Corgi Snorkel Press also chose it as a featured summer chapbook. In the story, Martone takes readers on a tour of a museum with mystifying displays, like the hall of widows, a black box gallery and a room of undeliverable letters where lost mail is brought.

He is also finishing up a collection of stories based on popular films. One titled “Cut to the Chase” examines cliché chase scenes, while the other story focuses on cliché horror movie scenes. His goal is to peel back the layers within each genre and “turn them on their heads.”

Martone says that he would eventually like to tackle realistic and long format works. After he completes his studies at Arizona State University, he would like to secure a job at a university. That is, of course, until he is able to become the next great writer of his generation.