Interview: Tao Wong on “A Gamer’s Wish”

Henry Tsien has been living the quiet life of a mundane mortal until he stumbles upon a magical ring which contains an ancient jinn resides. Henry wishes for magic, and stumbles into a world of adventure and a hidden magical world that is more banal and wondrous than he could ever imagine.

A Gamer’s Wish is available for a limited time in the Wild Magic bundle.

There’s the real world…
…and then there are our worlds, secret, wild, and free.

The Wild Magic bundle holds ten volumes of the magic. Ten books about what we find after we have passed through the illusion that we can live without wonder in the world, and come out the other side.

Pack your bags, put on your good walking shoes, and make sure you bring plenty of water. We’re going out into the wilderness, and who knows when we’ll be back?

The Wild Magic bundle is available through July 14th, 2021.


“Are you done yet?” the blond woman, who had formed in my apartment from smoke, asked me. Clad in a pink bra, tiny vest, and billowy sheer pants, she reminded me of an actress from an old, cheesy TV show, almost uncannily so. Seriously, the blond genie that stood in front of me with her sardonic smile would have sent copyright lawyers salivating at the fees they’d earn. If they could have seen her. And if she hadn’t wished them away.

“You… you’re a genie! But that was a ring, not a lamp!” I spluttered, the ring that the smoke had streamed from still clutched in my hand in a death grip.

“Jinn! And yes, I am. What may I do for you, Master?” the genie said. Turning her head, she looked around my bachelor suite with a flicker of distaste. “Maybe a bigger residence?”

“You’re a genie…” I stared at the blonde, my mind caught in a circular trap as it struggled with the insanity in front of it. After all, genies didn’t exist. But there, in front of me, was a genie.

“Oh, hell. I really can’t wait for this entire ‘enlightenment’ period to be over,” the genie said with a roll of her eyes after I just continued to stare at her blankly. She turned away from me and walked around the room before she stopped at my micro-kitchen to open the fridge. Bent over, she fished inside before extracting day-old fried rice and popping a bite into her mouth. A conjured spoon later, she was digging into last night’s dinner and prodding my stove, flat-screen TV, and laptop. “What is this?”

“Fried rice.”

“I know what fried rice is. And this isn’t bad,” she complimented me, ignoring my mumbled thanks while she pointed at the TV screen and then laptop. “This. And this.”

“TV and laptop.”

“Huh.” She returned to the TV before she prodded at it a few more times and inevitably adjusted its angle. “That’s amazing. I guess your science actually does have some use. Well, outside of indoor plumbing. That isn’t as good.”

My brain finally stopped going in circles after I decided to stop trying to actually understand what was going on. If I had a genie in my house, I had a genie. “So, your name isn’t Jeannie, is it?”

“Do I look like a Jeannie to you?”

—from A Gamer’s Wish by Tao Wong

The Interview

A Gamer’s Wish is the first book in Hidden Wishes, a series with shadowy supernatural organizations, a beautiful, game-addicted Jinn, and lots and lots of magic. 🙂 How did you come up with the premise for this world?

I’ve been reading urban fantasy forever, starting with the Anita Blake series and Dresden Files and then just branching out. So when I started writing LitRPG (when the magic mimics a role-playing game) I wanted to put the two together, so I had to figure out why a leveling system—a way to gateway the magic into Henry—would work. Which then came via giving him his magic via a magic wishing ring, and… voila! A Gamer’s Wish.

Why did you decide to include a Jinn in this series?

Well, Lily, the Jinn was necessary to give Henry his magic. I needed something powerful enough and knowledgeable enough to both gateway the magic he received as well as bend reality, and so… jinn! She started out as a typical ‘genie’ at the start, before she morphed in her interactions with Henry to her true nature as she realised he wasn’t really part of the supernatural world.

You live in the Yukon! What do you most like about living there?

Summer! 24 hours of daylight, gorgeous sunny days with nice, warm temperatures and so much beautiful, gorgeous wilderness. There’s so much wildlife, from the eagles that nest on Millennium Trail to the foxes that run around the neighborhood I live in, you’re always able to see something new.

What do you enjoy about weaving elements from mythology, legends, and folklore in your own writing?

For me, I love looking for new creatures that might not be as well known and weaving them into my worlds as well as giving them little twists, sometimes humanising them like with Lily or offering alternative explanations of the stories like in the System Apocalypse. Playing with old ideas and twisting them sometimes also lets me play other fantasy ideas straight and leave my readers guessing.

In your series A Thousand Li, which draws upon traditional xianxia and wuxia fiction, Long Wu Ying grows from a peasant farmer to a cultivator in the search for immortality. What inspired you to write this series?

I’d been reading a lot of the more recent xianxia work coming from China via the translated webnovels, and one thing I noticed was that many of the works were missing certain aspects that drew me into traditional wuxia works. The philosophical struggle between honour and enlightenment, between being the best and, at the same time, the desire to retreat from social constructs like rankings, a lot of that was missing and replaced by this rush for power, the progression of power and basic power fantasy tropes.

On top of that, I’d been reading and studying Daoism myself a little, and I found the idea of enlightenment and gaining immortality via understanding the Dao fascinating. In a way, A Thousand Li lets me play with both exploring Daoism myself via my protagonist and how that interacts with the need to exist in a world that is, in many ways, inimical to Daoist principles. That push and pull creates a lot of the internal conflict in Wu Ying and the world around him.

In the end, A Thousand Li was my way to hopefully introduce some readers to what I thought were the more interesting aspects of xianxia and wuxia works, in a form that is slightly easier to digest than some of the other works out there.

Is there something from a legend, fairy or folk tale, or myth that you haven’t yet used in your writing, but would like to?

Dragons! I’ve had them as tertiary characters, but not really had a chance to really make a dragon the star. I’d love to make them integral to the plot as a companion or even protagonist. There’s just something fascinating about dragons—both Western and Eastern ones.

What story (or stories) are you working on now, and what’s fun about what you’re writing?

Hah! I have a hummingbird brain. Right now, I’m editing book 11 of my post-apocalyptic LitRPG the System Apocalypse which is super exciting because this is the penultimate work before the series ends in book 12. It’s fun, but hard work, weaving together the end of the plots and things I’ve foreshadowed many books before while also weaving in some other thematic elements for the end.

I’m also working on a few other projects because hummingbird brain. One’s a weird epic fantasy LitRPG mashup with thematic overtones of family and responsibility and fatherhood which probably won’t sell well but is a ton of fun to write. And the other is the final book on my new adult fantasy series which I’ll be rapid releasing at the end of the year / early next year with the other two books I’ve already written for it. That’ll bring the Adventures on Brad series to a proper series end.

About Tao

Tao Wong is a Canadian self-published author based in the Yukon. Yes, that Yukon. As a reader, he’s an avid fan of science fiction and fantasy, having cut his teeth decades ago on Dragonlance, Terry Brooks and Asimov before graduating to Jordan, Gaiman, Bujold and more.

When he’s not writing and working, he’s practicing martial arts, reading (even more!) and taking care of his family. Other hobbies include occasional RPGs and board games as well as picking up random skill sets.

Tao became a full-time author in 2019 and is now a member of SF Canada, the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America (SFWA) and ALLI.

Find Tao

Website ~ Facebook ~ Twitter ~ Instagram ~ Goodreads ~ BookBub ~ Patreon ~ YouTube

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