Episode 24 – Grimdark Worldbuilding: Interview with Ana from Gardens of Hecate!

This episode we dial up Croatia to talk with Ana Polanscak from the Gardens of Hecate blog. Ana is a true artist, something of a Renaissance woman maybe – she sculpts and converts miniatures, she paints miniatures and creates stand-alone works of art, she writes stories and her main endeavor currently is using skirmish games to create a fully immersive storytelling experience. My words, not hers.

Ana’s work is pure grimdark in a strangely classical art way – I don’t know anything about art genres and time frames and periods or classifications, so I’m just being my normal inept self when it comes to describing her work and don’t worry, I’m uniformly inept DURING the interview as well. So I’m consistent if nothing else, dammit! Oh, and that’s the key thing I find so exciting about Ana’s work – it’s her consistency of vision, her sense of aesthetic is so thorough and all-encompassing, when you see any part of her blog or her work, you just feel like you’re peering through a small window at a much larger, fully formed world. I suffer from a lack of true personal vision – I see all kinds of styles and aesthetics and processes and methods and finishes and I can’t ever settle into one thing in order to focus on creating something super specific, and, as you can probably see from the guests I have on the show, I’m always subconsciously impressed with – and perhaps even a touch jealous of, let’s be honest – folks that have true singularity of vision.

Ana’s a true author of grimdark, and her work is super inspiring to me not only in storytelling but in what you can do as a storyteller. She presents the idea, however consciously or unconsciously, that one can tell stories in unorthodox ways and all I can say is, if you’re a fan tabletop games combined with storytelling, this interview is for you, even if you don’t like grimdark itself as a genre.

http://gardensofhecate.blogspot.com
https://www.instagram.com/a_polanscak/
https://www.facebook.com/GardensOfHecate/

Time Stamps
00:00:00 – Opening & Sundries
00:05:05 – Tabletop Minions live stream reaction
00:15:07 – Interview
01:23:00 – Hobby Progress
01:25:21 – Section Charlie

In Section Charlie, where I share something or someone cool I’ve come across on the internet, I highlight the author and artist Clive Barker, just offering a few recommended selections from his short stories and novels for Halloween reading!

The Last Illusion
Dread
The Thief of Always
The Great and Secret Show
Weaveworld

https://www.clivebarker.info/news.html

Watch the YouTube version of the podcast which contains time-lapse footage of working at the paint desk!

Show Notes

Rammstein
Gothic Americana music
Dungeon Synth
Synthwave
aos28
Mierce Miniatures
rust tutorial
Questor of Sigmar
monstrous births act i
Greenstuff World

Show Transcript (excluding interview content)

Grimdark Worldbuilding: Interview with Ana Polanscak from Gardens of Hecate!

All right, welcome back to another episode of Tabletop Alchemy! Episode 24 to be exact. I am your host CryinMo a.k.a. Ignautical Fishman, a.k.a. That dude who talks to other people about what they do in the tabletop gaming arena. Tabletop gaming in the case of this podcast means we chat about Warhammer, Dungeons and Dragons, painting miniatures, crafting terrain, playing skirmish games like Frostgrave and Bloodbowl – Bloodbowl isn’t a skirmish game, I know, but it is a very cool tactical miniatures-based game, so, you know, so there. Sometimes we talk about writing, sometimes we talk about art, sometimes we discuss movies or books, all typically fantasy or sci-fi related stuff, everything that sort of ties into these things that I dig about the tabletop games genre.

You can listen to the podcast on most major podcast apps, you can stream the YouTube version where I include video of whatever I happened to be working on at the paint desk, you can find links to all the episodes and their show notes at cryinmo.com, you can find me on facebook and instagram and you can email me at cryinmo@gmail.com

Instead of a tip o’ the hat this week, I offer a sweeping bow to all my Patrons who support me on Patreon, as always, many thanks to you and also as always, many thanks to those of you out there dropping comments and ratings and sharing the show with your friends, all of that is always super appreciated! 

So, how are all of you doing this week? Seriously, how are you doing? I hope you’re  taking it easy when you need to and on the flip side I hope you’re busting ass when you need to.  In episode 153 of the Paint All The Minis podcast, Dan asked his guest a question that I seriously started to contemplate – and what I contemplated kind of worried me. Just a bit. The question was … “Where do you see yourself in five years?” I know this is a popular question in the self-help motivational type conversation going on out there and I never really thought about the answer to this – I realized with a kind of startling awareness that I actually cannot answer that question satisfactorily at this point in time. And that, my friends, is a problem. If not a problem it must be, at the very least, mildly disconcerting. Because if you cannot answer that question in some way that makes sense, if the universe cannot “feel” – quote unquote – if the universe cannot feel your intention, how is it going to manifest anything? How are YOU going to manifest anything? 

So, how would you guys answer that? How do you see yourself, your life, in five years? I think if you can answer that in writing – and that’s a key property, you gotta be able to format a sentence that doesn’t contain the words “wish” and “someday” – but if you can answer that question in writing, you have the title of your battle plan and from there you can begin strategizing, and hopefully generate some action. Because “action” is what really matters, “intent” is just, you know, spinning mental wheels LOL.

So this episode I don’t have anything in the way of news but I happened to just watch Tabletop Minions’ archived VOD of Uncle Atom’s Every Other Sunday live stream. Now if all of that sounded completely alien, I’ll explain – I’m sure a lot of you already know Uncle Atom, that’s atom as in atomic, and his YouTube channel Tabletop Minions. I’ve been watching his stuff for about 2 years now and I really like his format: every Friday he drops a 10 – 20 minute video about some specific tabletop-gaming related topic and just talks to camera about that topic. His channel is also specifically targeted towards new tabletop gamers and how to help people get into these hobbies. Every other Sunday he does a 2 hour live stream chat with viewers ostensibly about the hobby, he answers questions, chats about new products, old products, games and rule sets, just kind of a coffee-and-chat gaming sort of thing. He starts at 9am his time, which is 7am for me, which is typically too early for me, but I really enjoy putting on that bi-weekly chat like a podcast when I’m painting minis or working on terrain. Okay, so usually he’ll have some sort of vague topic that he’ll touch on for each live stream, maybe something like “My Fun Time at Adepticon” or “Building Star Wars Legion Empire Units”, whatever, and he’ll just chat about that topic for a few minutes in the middle of his livestream. Today’s livestream was titled “My Problem with Minecraft”. That’s right. Minecraft. I was like, “oh, I gotta watch this right now.” 

So it turns out that Uncle Atom is a huge gamer – and by that I mean VIDEO gamer. He mentions owning almost every game system since the very first Atari deck was on the market. I had no idea about this, but as you know, I’ve got my own struggles with video games and I’m sure a lot of us enjoy video games. So then he mentions that his problem with Minecraft is that it currently is taking up too much of his hobby time! And he’s had the game since Alpha! If you’re Minecrafter, you’ll know what that means – basically he’s had the game since before it was ostensibly commercially available. And then he talks about how Minecraft isn’t like other video games because it satisfies a “creative itch” – his words – and that creative itch is the same thing his painting models satisfies. So I’m finding out that this guy has a VERY similar experience to mine, or mine to his. Whatever. Anyway, it was actually really nice to hear someone I thought was this sort of hobby guru – guru is the wrong term, he’s a hobby evangelist maybe, but without any negative connotation, he truly enjoys sharing the tabletop hobby with potential new initiates, and he’s played Dungeons and Dragons, Warhammer, all kinds of smaller lesser known games, he builds terrain and paints, all that stuff. Anyway, I like his vibe, but you know, your mileage may vary. Anyway, yeah, I’ve been playing Minecraft here and there as a purely zen sort of exercise and yes the struggle is alive and well.

All right enough of this, let’s talk about this episode’s interview! So, a preface is needed. First off, I humbly apologize for the thin sound quality. As you know, I’m the opposite of a genius when it comes to audio engineering – which is of course the perfect quality for a podcast producer, so yeah!

Also, I mispronounce the name of our guest’s blog about 700 times – but don’t worry, that’s only AFTER she pronounces it correctly! So there.

Okay, so who are we meeting today? We are dialing up Croatia to talk with Ana Polanscak, which I’m making sure I’ve also mispronounced, so humble apologies again, we’ll just go with Ana from the Gardens of Hecate blog. She’s also on Instagram and facebook, links to her social media and blog are in the show notes of course. Ana is a true artist, something of a Renaissance woman maybe – she sculpts and converts miniatures, she paints miniatures and creates stand-alone works of art, she writes stories and her main endeavor currently is using skirmish games to create a fully immersive storytelling experience. Now these are my words, not hers, but we’ll meet her in just a minute. 

Ana’s work is pure grimdark in a strangely classical art way – I don’t know anything about art genres and time frames and periods or classifications, so I’m just being my normal inept self when it comes to describing her work and don’t worry, I’m uniformly inept DURING the interview as well. So I’m consistent if nothing else, dammit! Oh, and that’s the key thing I find so exciting about Ana’s work – it’s her consistency of vision, her sense of aesthetic is so thorough and all-encompassing, when you see any part of her blog or her work, you just feel like you’re peering through a small window at a much larger, fully formed world. I suffer from a lack of true personal vision – I see all kinds of styles and aesthetics and processes and methods and finishes and I can’t ever settle into one thing in order to focus on creating something super specific, and, as you can probably see from the guests I have on the show, I’m always subconsciously impressed with – and perhaps even a touch jealous of, let’s be honest – folks that have true singularity of vision. 

Ana’s a true author of grimdark, and her work is super inspiring to me not only in storytelling but in what you can do as a storyteller. She presents the idea, however consciously or unconsciously, that one can tell stories in unorthodox ways and all I can say is, if you’re a fan tabletop games combined with storytelling, this interview is for you, even if you don’t like grimdark itself as a genre. 

So if you wanna follow along, pull up www.gardensofhecate.com, that’s gardens of h e c a t e .com and, well, let’s meet her!

###

All right, many bows of thanks to Ana for taking the time to chat with me, I wanna say it was a great conversation but I know my general lack of vocabulary definitely leaves a lot to be desired of an “interviewer”. But she was a trooper and bore with me and in the end, I had a great time talking with her and really of course it’s all about going to her blog and experiencing her art and world building for yourself. So what you waiting for?! Go see what she does! As always, links to her social media and the Gardens of Hecate blog are in the show notes for this episode at cryinmo.com.

Let’s do some Hobby Progress!

###

All right, this week I got a little bit of stuff done. I hacked up four sprues, broke out the trusty Plastic Magic… that’s a styrene plastic glue … and I built and primed up ready to go two full Blood Bowl teams – the Orc, or I guess as Games Workshop calls them, Orruks team called the Gouged Eye and the skeleton and zombie Shambling Dead team. So I shall be embarking on some team jersey paint jobs in the near future, we shall see how that goes. I have not decided on my orcs paint scheme yet – I am not a fan of professional sports. I mean, I think they’re fine, I just don’t watch them or go to any games or follow any teams or read any sports magazines or websites or anything at all that has to do with organized sports. But growing up, when I was like 8 and 10 years old, my dad would always watch the Oakland Raiders, cause that’s where he’s from. I think they’re the LA Raiders now, but whatever, but I always thought their colors and symbol was just the coolest! I mean, c’mon, black and silver and the team emblem is an old style football guy wearing an eye patch and two crossed cutlasses behind him?! Are you kidding me? Straight up pirates man of course I gotta like them! So I was thinking of black and silver for my orc, but black and silver … I don’t know, it seems like I need a splash of color in there. Of course the orcs are green themselves so there’s that … I don’t know. I already have the color scheme for Kiera’s undead team, that whole pimento highlight color, so I gotta come up with something different for the orcs. Maybe I’ll try my hand at painting those checkerboard patterns. Maybe. Anyway, I definitely want to come up with some names for the teams and I’m looking forward to splashing up some paint at least start with on the Undead. 

All right, on to Section Charlie.

###

Where I highlight someone or something cool I’ve found on the internet that I wanna share! This week, in the spirit of Halloween and grimdark itself, I’m gonna shout out the author slash artist Clive Barker who I mentioned in the interview. Specifically I want to recommend a few specific titles, and some of them are short stories that can only be found in his short story collections, The Books of Blood. This is only Section Charlie, so I’m not doing reviews or anything, just a quick list of titles for you to look up if you’re looking for something cool for Halloween! The short story (I think it’s more of a novella) that Ana’s miniatures made me think of is called The Last Illusion. Now there’s a quote film adaptation unquote of this story that has nothing to do with this story. The movie is written by Clive Barker and has his paranormal detective in it, but the movie is garbage and the short story is incredibly cool. The premise is about a detective who has had run-ins with things he can’t explain and he’s hired to sit with the body of a recently deceased magician because the magician fears that Hell is coming for him after he’s died. And in this story there is a marching band of demons that play musical instruments built from the bodies of dead people. Yeah, that’s right. And it’s full of crazy cool world building. In fact, Barker’s whole repertoire is full of crazy cool world building, that’s kind of what he does on a grand level. 

Another story I highly recommend is Dread, find it, read it, enjoy it! And for a third and final recommendation, The Thief of Always is a favorite book of mine – it’s a book for ages 10 and up, and it predates Harry Potter by about five years. It’s an excellent fairy tale type of story where a young boy wishes for change in his life and is invited to a mysterious and intriguing hidden estate where he eventually discovers something sinister. I don’t wanna dish out any spoilers, but I loved this book and it’s definitely enjoyable for adults as well as children. I also really liked the novels The Great And Secret Show and Weaveworld. Barker is similar to Neil Gaiman in some ways but very very different in others, but one thing I dig about them both is their ability to create full pantheons and folklore and some of their naming conventions definitely make me think of Ana’s work.

All right, I’ll throw some links to these references in the show notes, that’ll put a fish in this fryer, I hope everybody out there has a great week, I hope you get some gaming done, some building done, some painting done, but most of all, I hope you can write down the answer to that most imperative of current questions:

Where do you wanna be in five years?

See ya!!