The people who use our boards.

308 interviews since 2018

Jen Coster

Narrative Designer/Game Writer

Who are you, and what do you do? What do you like to do outside of work?

I’m Jen, and I do… a lot of things. Probably at least one too many at any given time. In a previous iteration, I trained on the straight and narrow as a pediatrician, but I pivoted to storytelling a handful of years ago. My main (and most recent) job is that of narrative designer/game writer for Butterscotch Shenanigans. On top of that, I edit and write speculative fiction, I’m an associate editor for the Hugo-nominated science fiction podcast magazine Escape Pod, and I’m a part-time henchlady and process/workflow consultant in the SFF space. I like figuring out the hows and whys behind the way things are done and then coming up with strategies to make those systems better.

Jen Coster's needle felting
Jen crafted her own adorable soft friends

When I’m not doing any of those things, I’m reading (currently A Psalm for the Wild-Built by Becky Chambers), playing games (video and tabletop, mostly), and crafting. My brain is curious and drawn to problem-solving and learning New Shiny Things, so I’m at an ‘advanced beginner’ or ‘intermediate’ skill level in a myriad of domains. I cross-stitch, embroider, and needle felt. And recently, I took up scale mail, linocut printmaking, and am starting to explore dice making. Because why not?

Jen Coster's scale mail
Not everything Jen crafts is cuddly, though

What hardware do you use?

I built my desktop a long time ago, and I’ve started ship-of-Theseus-ing it over the last couple years. Here’s where we are at the moment.

Inside the case (which is an older NZXT H510-ish model):

Outside the case:

Jen Coster's setup
Enough room to mouse, enough room to craft

All of my work is remote, so I spend a lot of time at my Uplift Desk. I like being surrounded by a degree of comfortable clutter—things that are functional, interesting, and pleasing. In the background of video calls with me, you’ll see books next to books stacked with more books.

a sample of Jen Coster's bookshelves
A selection of Jen's books

In my working area, I usually have my bullet journal-esque planner (for my weekly overview and smaller on-the-fly to-dos), sticky notes, a few pens, a snack, and a variety of fidgets (I’m partial to rocks with good textures and the Infinity Cube). And I’m pretty much always flanked by whatever hand craft I’m working on, a(nother) stack of books, and at least two beverages.

Jen Coster's keyboard
Purposeful clutter: Even the rocks are useful

And what software?

I primarily use Favro for project management, and I use a combination of virtual desktops and Chrome profiles for task switching. Bscotch uses Discord as its communications hub, so I’ve got that running most of the time too.

My creative work is done in a bunch of places. A lot of my drafting (particularly for game writing) is done in Scrivener. For my own projects, which generally don’t require screenwriting capabilities, I like Dabble. Most of my editing is done in Word or Google Docs. When I’m brainstorming, I use some combination of paper and pen, Google Docs, and Milanote. For bigger story projects, I’ll build a story bible in Notion. And if that isn’t enough, when game writing, I also use Articy to test narrative flow, structure, and logic.

If I need music or background noise when I’m working, I go to—it’s continuous, unobtrusive, and seems to facilitate my focusing on the task at hand.

What’s your keyboard setup like? Do you use a custom layout or custom keycaps?

My Moonlander is a recent acquisition, and I absolutely love it. Once I started doing computer work full time, I developed shoulder and wrist pain, which is what initially prompted my moving to an ErgoDox EZ (that one had Kailh Thick Gold switches). I then moved on to the Moonlander because the slimmer profile of the keyboard really appealed to me. My hands are somewhat smaller and they can fly across this thing.

Currently, my layout is close to the default with only a few adjustments. I’m working on strengthening my keyboard shortcuts and macros game, so I’m taking my time with the customization. I work more through an iterative process than one-and-done anyway.

No custom keycaps …yet.

What would be your dream setup?

I’m curious about NVMe. And I’m looking into some custom cables for my Moonlander—something magenta and/or black and coiled. Other than that and the perpetual quest for the perfect office chair, I feel like I’m pretty close to my optimal setup, work buddy included.

Jen Coster's cat Ori
Ori, the perfect officemate

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