Features > Tell Me About Your Character > Jess Hartley

Your name: Jess Hartley
Location: Pacific Northwesterner transplanted to New England
Age: 38
Sex: Female

Family: For the past 13 years, I’ve been happily married to my favorite Viking. I’m the mother of three, two geeks and one anti-geek.

Pets: Somewhere along the line, we managed to turn into a menagerie. We have one dog, a groenendahl named Anubis. Three cats (Rogue, Nuit and WrongWay) and most recently three pet rats.

Just to test the stereotype - Have you ever lived, or are you currently living, in your parents' basement? No, although I lived for most of 10 years in my /own/ basement, which was close enough. In fact, I don’t think my parents have ever had a basement. Living in their basement now would require me being under an RV most times of the year.

What is your favorite way to spend a weekend? With my family. I love road trips, or going to museums or doing touristy things. Or having folks over for food and Munchkin or watching movies. But as long as my family’s around, it’s a good time.

What is the most frightening thing you've ever done? Became a parent. After taking on that ongoing challenge, there’s not a thing in the world non-parenting related that can phase me for long.

Which of your accomplishments are you the most happy with? I would have to say getting my first book published. It’s an amazing thing to go into a book store and see something there with your name on it. Surreal.

What is your favorite word? I’m rather fond of “voluptuous”, although I pronounce it “volumptuous”. I also fancy “verbose” (because I am), and a recent favorite is “pejorative”, which I had the pleasure of using in a recent role play essay.

How many languages do you speak? Does geek count? If not, then only English, although I took four years of French in high school. Not actually a very useful language living in the Pacific Northwest, it turns out. I was thrilled when Brotherhood of the Wolf came out in French in the theaters, though! I felt like those four years had suddenly been justified.

What is your favorite time of year, and why? I love autumn. I know traditionally
it’s a time of slowing down, of passing into winter, but for me it’s always been a
very strong time. I even named my youngest child after it.

What is your most prized physical possession? My wedding ring. Pat and
I knew, when we got engaged, what we wanted in rings: silver broad bands with
celtic knotwork on them. But, having never seen that kind of thing done as a
wedding set, we figured we’d have to compromise on them. The first store we
walked into had exactly what we were looking for, in exactly the right size to fit
us both. We took it as a good omen then, and 13 years later, I still think so.

What was your favorite toy as a child? When I was born, I was given a stuffed poodle. The head, ears, back and tail were all covered in real white rabbit fur. Very soft, but not the best toy for a very young child. His name was “Fuzzy Wuzzy”, and by the time I was a toddler, his ears and tail were gone and his head was bald leather with all the fluff worn away. I guess it was the ultimate example of the nursery rhyme. “Fuzzy Wuzzy wasn’t fuzzy, was he?” I still have him, tucked away in my hope chest.

What makes you cry? I don’t cry often, but when I do, it’s normally because of some great or small injustice that is out of my hands to fix. The death of someone, inhumane cruelty, willful ignorance. Oh, that or /really/ stubbing my toe. I’m a clutz.

What is your favorite section of the newspaper? The comics. There’s so much sadness in the world, I’m happy to just turn to the funny pages.

What are three things you can't live without? Well, I’m going to assume “things” don’t mean living beings, else my family and friends would take up more than all three slots. “Thing” wise, I’d say my computer (and internet connection!), diet soda, and books. I may need food, shelter and the like to live, but without those three things, it wouldn’t be a very enjoyable existence.

What did you want to be when you grew up? At various times, an oceanographer, a singer and a chimp trainer.

What is your favorite mode of transportation? For pure luxury, taking a train is great. It’s always so much more mellow (and roomy) than a plane, and you can get up and walk around, move from car to car, stretch out and read… With no worries about traffic or directions or getting lost. It’s kind of like having a chauffeur! Fun stuff.

What is one thing that you regret that you would go back and change if you could? I try to live a life without regrets. I’ve definitely made some stupid choices, but I’ve tried to learn from them, and going back and undoing them would negate those lessons, too. I think I’ll stick with things the way they are.

What is the one thing you want to do before you die? I’d like to see more of the world. Europe, Asia, even more of the US. I lived for 37 years having really not seen much of the country outside of the Pacific Northwest, and now that we’re out in the Northeast, I want to see all of it and everything between here and there.

You've just purchased a small island off the coast of any continent of your choosing, and you are preparing to start your own country there. What does your flag look like?
Gold background, green cross, gold hawk’s leg. (Or, upon a cross vert, a hawk’s leg belled and jessed Or) It’s my SCA device and I really love the symbolism. And, it looks nifty. You can see it here.

Tell us about your favorite RPG character that you've ever played.
Brianna Hyland, Fianna kinfolk in the Camarilla’s Werewolf: The Apocalypse
LARP. She started out as a Garou-hating secondary character to play when
I was feeling hostile (“Don’t make me shoot you,” was her pet phrase). By
the end of her 5+ year run in the LARP, she’d spent time in Wolf Home,
fallen in love with (and lost) three mates and ended up dying while
possessed by the dead spirit of a great Fianna hero in some of the
Final Battles of the Apocalypse.

Not bad for someone who couldn’t stand “woodgie stuff.”

What are your favorite RPGs? I love the World of Darkness, both old and new. I’m also very fond of GURPs (especially TMNG and Supers), AD&D and Exalted. Oh, and Aftermath… does anyone play Aftermath any more? I loved that game!

What was your first RPG session like? 18 years ago, I sat down to play D&D with my then-boyfriend and his cousin. I rolled up a fighter, because they told me it was the easiest thing to play. “Just hit things,” they said. I armed her with a crossbow and pulled a critical failure with my first dice roll. Bounced a bolt off the helmet of one of my companions and endured months of ridicule both in and out of character for it. I’m a little surprised I ever went back!

What was your WORST RPG session like? Any one where interpersonal conflicts or rules-lawyering got in the way of having fun with the story. Thankfully it doesn’t happen often, but when it does, I’d rather be doing taxes than at game.

Who is your all-time favorite person to game with? For table top – my good-ex, Gary Lancaster. He really taught me about role playing, and his epic AD&D adventures were always fun. For LARP, the old Garou crew I used to game with in Vancouver. The Sept of the Sacred Rose was the site of some of the best role play I’ve ever had the honor to be the part of. I really miss it – damn you, Year of Fire!

Do you have anything gaming-related to plug? I work in the RPG industry so I’ve got a lot to pimp. :) Already available for sale: My fiction novel, “In Northern Twilight” and “Predators”, a White Wolf Werewolf: the Forsaken supplement that I was a co-author on.
Due out in 2006: “Skinchangers”, a World of Darkness Supplement and “Compass of the Celestial Directions: Blessed Isle”, an Exalted supplement, both of which I co-authored.

I’m also on the team that’s working under Matt McFarland to produce Promethean: The Created supplements. I also edit freelance, and have had the pleasure of turning my red-pen on several Steampower Publishing works (The Future Soldier’s Battlefield Handbook, Rocket Science, and The Lemurian Candidate) And I’m the Panel Coordinator for Pi-Con 2006, Western Massachusetts’ newest sci-fi/gaming convention. (www.pi-con.org)



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