HM: Growing up on the Texas Gulf Coast with my father. By my standards today, he was very strange; angry and impulsive, with social views radically at odds with mine today. The novel is maybe 85% autobiographical, though any time you fictionalize something, it really becomes something other than reality. To write Big Jack is Dead, I changed a few major details, suppressed some of the good elements (and people) from my early years, and focused on the things that made me the angriest. I grew up in an environment with a lot of hostility, fairly alienated by the drug-overdose death of my mother when I was six.
Eventually, I left the area entirely, living in Germany and California--seeing a completely different world and being re-cultured on numerous levels; working around incredibly smart, fairly social people in videogames further changed me for the better. My dad killed himself after I left home, after many years of sullen anger and volatility. Leaving Austin--a place I love--and driving across Texas to attend his funeral was crushing and liberating at the same time, though many of the emotional effects wouldn't settle into place for years. Eventually, I fictionalized some parts of my experience, changing things to a point where they were unrecognizable, but still emotionally true. Big Jack is Dead is the result of that process.
I do think that growing up vulnerable, really disconnected and under what I perceived to be nearly constant threat has influenced what interests me in video games: Being less powerful in a menacing environments, having to craft tactical solutions to problems, and gaining mastery over scary entities or phenomena.