How it Happened: Game

Warning: Spoilers for Game!

First, let me get this off my chest: The title of the book is Game. Not The Game. Just Game.

Game coverI feel better now. 🙂

Not much to say about the genesis of this one. I had signed on to write two books, I Hunt Killers and a sequelThen I convinced my publisher that the story should be a trilogy. Good thing, too, because as I recount here, I didn’t really know how to tell the whole story in just two books.

I knew that the book would hinge on multiple meanings of the word game1 and that an actual game would play (sorry) a role.

I wasn’t sure which game, though. I knew that chess was out — freakin’ everyone uses chess, and I really wanted to try something different.

For a while, I considered using the lottery. Like, the killers would act based on whatever numbers came up in the lottery on a given day. But that was too random, too unconstrained.

Thai edition

Thai edition

I also considered poker and blackjack, but both games have mathematical nuances to them that, quite frankly, make my head hurt.

I don’t know where the idea for Monopoly came from. But once it arrived, I knew I had my gimmick. It fit perfectly into the dynamic I was trying to establish for the book, and even handed me the name of the Hat-Dog Killer. When I told my brother what I’d decided, he sent me the actual game (since I didn’t have one) and, yes, I sat there one afternoon with the hat and dog pieces on the board, rolling the dice and taking notes. And that’s how the spine of the story was built.

Creepily, the summer after I finished the book (but before you guys got to see it), I was walking near my apartment in Brooklyn and I saw this:


Yeah, that was weird…


  1. In English, at least. My poor translators have spent the past few years trying to figure out how best to communicate the nuances in their own languages. Mea culpa.

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