Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Fighting Fantasy featured in Mass Movement Magazine

Mass Movement Magazine (which featured a piece by me, back in issue 23 - a year ago today, as it happens) has an extensive feature on the Fighting Fantasy phenomenon in the current issue.

Stormslayer gets a mention, which is nice, and you can download issue 26 for yourself (and for free) here.

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Night of the Necromancer

Saturday, March 27, 2010

Night of the Necromancer is coming...

There's only a matter of days to go now until the release of Night of the Necromancer, the sixty-fourth original single player FF gamebook.

The minions of the Warlock over at Wizard Towers are running a competition in readiness for the book's release, which you can find here.

Meanwhile, I've been doing a little bit to hype the release of the book on my own blog too. To help me explain, here's an exclusive excerpt from the Background section of the book:

And now, at last, your home is in sight once more. Three years ago you set out from Valsinore Castle on the northern coast of Ruddlestone to join in the crusade to purge Bathoria of the malign influence of the Cult of Death. With the defeat of the Death-Mage Thanatos, your sworn oath fulfilled, you were free to return home. As you recovered from your last battle at a hospice of the White Lady, you sent letters by messenger ahead of you telling of your imminent homecoming, writing one to your sister, Oriana, who was anxiously awaiting news of your safe return, and another to your chamberlain, Unthank, who you had left to look after your estates and safeguard the people of the Sourstone peninsula while you were away.

And you can read those very letters for yourself, right here...

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Ulysses Quicksilver - Hero of the Empire

Ooh! Perhaps this will help me out of the mire of my own self-loathing...

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Writing's easy...

All you have to do is stare at a blank piece of paper until your forehead bleeds. Or so says Tony Jordan, screenwriter.

I don't know what it is about the last couple of months, but a fair few authors have been struggling to produce the goods of late.

David Bishop has this to say on the subject. Nick Kyme's struggles are catalogued here. Chris Wraight's been feeling the pressure too, as has Si Spurrier. Even the mighty Dan Abnett has had his own creative demons to battle of late.

And I'll add my own name to that list. I thought my tenth novel was hard going but as it turns out, that one was a walk in the park compared to number eleven. Soul-destroying is how I'd describe the situation right now.

Writing's hard! :-(

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How to write an adventure gamebook - Part 2

So, here it is, at long last, the second in an ongoing series of articles regarding the writing of adventure gamebooks...

The Proposal

Having spent a long time brainstorming a gamebook, once I'm happy with the overall plot and structure, I set about writing the proposal itself.

Basically, a proposal is a sales pitch. It has to explain clearly and concisely everything about your book and is often the thing that will lead to the book being (or not being) commissioned. As a result, you don't want to miss anything out - especially not the dramatic denouement you've spent ages working out. Leaving that out is sure to see your proposal being rejected outright. But I digress...
When I write a proposal for an adventure gamebook I start with a paragraph giving an overview of the book - what it's about, what makes it different to others, the cool conceit that is going to make people want to pick up and play it, etc.
I then describe the structure of the book. My gamebooks have often had three, four, or even five act structures. For example [WARNING - SPOILERS AHEAD!] Stormslayer is a classic three-act adventure. Act 1 involves actually finding out what your quest is. Act 2 has you tracking down the various artefacts you need to beat the bad guy, and Act 3 is the climatic battle aboard the villain's base of operations.
If relevant (and with Fighting Fantasy adventures, it usually is) I then go on to explain any new rules that the adventure has (such as the POISON score in Curse of the Mummy, or the CHANGE score in Howl of the Werewolf) with a brief description of how they will work within the context of the adventure itself.

Next up is new monsters. These a vital in FF adventures. This paragraph usually takes the form of a simple list. With FF adventures I will also point out monsters that I'm using from Out of the Pit that haven't seen print in any of the official books yet.

Now I finally get to the plot synopsis itself. Because of the very nature of gamebooks, as well as describing what happens if you follow the correct path through the book, I also outline what happens on side quests and wild goose chases. I break the synopsis into clearly defined areas. For example in Night of the Necromancer [WARNING - SPOILERS AHEAD!] the first part of the adventure takes place out in the wilds, it then transfers to a castle and various places within the castle. Each of these major areas (or even set-piece scenes) was a new paragraph in the original plot synopsis. And of course, at the end I reveal the climactic twist or dramatic encounter that ends the adventure.

It is whilst writing the proposal that I often finalise certain areas of the adventure within my own mind but that's not to say that everything is set in stone at this point - far from it.

However, for the time being, what has to happen next is for me to forward the proposal to my editor and wait for them to give me the go ahead to write the book. And that's the topic I'll be dealing with next time...
Coming soon: Part 3 - Writing the Adventure

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Friday, March 26, 2010

Crisis on Coruscant - another good review

Here's what Jennifer has to say about my Clone Wars gamebook over on the Puffin website:

My 9 year old son loved this book. It contains lots of interactive stories. You can decide your own destiny by choosing from options at the end of each chapter. The story can be augmented by going to the website... I think this would be a good book for a reluctant reader as it combines "computer gaming" with traditional book reading...

She gives Crisis on Coruscant five stars too! To read the rest of her review, click here.

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Another mysterious letter...

Addressed to one Chamberlain Unthank, make of this what you will...

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Monday, March 22, 2010

Match Wits with the Kids

It's not that long until fifteen and sixteen year-olds up and down the country we be embarking upon their GCSE examinations. And if you're a parent of such a prospective examinee, what can you do to help?

Well you could do a lot worse than pick up a copy of Match Wits with the Kids to refresh your own knowledge of subjects such as English, Maths, Science, History, Geography, Modern Languages and even the Classics. But don't just take my word for it, check out David Marx's review over at his blog.

Here's a highlight:

If, as parents, you sometimes find yourselves climbing the collective walls of turmoil in search of something to entertain and calm the kids – especially during those elongated weekends that are filled with rain, tedium and nothing particularly groovy on telly – then this could well be the perfect book for you.

Match Wit with the Kids is, as it says on the front cover: ‘’a little learning for all the family.’’ Indeed, it’s one of those books that immediately grabs the attention of even the most innocent and innocuous by bystanders. It’s akin to a pub quiz, only more geared towards that which we all learnt at school...

Jonathan Green has compiled a more than compelling and magnetic wealth of interesting facts, figures and knowledge.

As such, Match Wits with the Kids is a book that’s as engaging as it is fun as it is imperative throughout those aforementioned weekends and really long, giddy car journeys.

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Saturday, March 20, 2010

He can't do it alone!

This is great. As are these.

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Alex Milway's Mythical 9th Division

I have to say that I'm getting quite excited about the release of Alex Milway's new book Operation Robot Storm (not to mention the also forthcoming Terror of the Deep). But his teaser twitpic off all the Mythical Division badges has just upped my child-like excitement ten-fold. Check them out for yourself. (Apparently there are even genuine cloth versions*!)

* It was Alex who got me into creating badges linked to my own work too.

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Friday, March 19, 2010

The Eleventh Doctor in action

My prediction is that the young lady in this clip turns out to be Amy Pond, the Doctor's new companion.

Not long to wait now...

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Thursday, March 18, 2010

Night of the Necromancer and Bloodbones redux

Look what arrived in the post this morning!

There are the same number of books in each pile, but Night of the Necromancer is substantially longer than Bloodbones

Those kind people at Fighting Fantasy Towers (a.k.a. Icon Books' Wizard imprint) sent them to me. Night of the Necromancer is the newest of the new Fighting Fantasy gamebooks and is released on 1 April, alongside the brand-spanking-and-really-quite-shiny-new FF format edition of Bloodbones (first published four years ago - can you believe it?).

In case you're not salivating at the prospect enough already, here are two teaser trailers I put together for the books.

Not long to wait now...

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Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Howl of the Werewolf

Later this year, Howl of the Werewolf (arguably my most popular Fighting Fantasy adventure gamebook to date) is being re-released in the new larger FF format and I have the opportunity to put right any errors that may have crept in the first time round.

I am already aware of one, which will be quite easy to fix, but this is where you come in. Are there any errors that you are aware of and think I might have missed? If you do know of any, please reply to this post and I shall be eternally grateful.

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Happy St Patrick's Day!

It's 17 March which means it's Guinness Day... I mean, St Patrick's Day! The annual celebration is named after Saint Patrick (AD 387–461), who is the most commonly recognized of the patron saints of the British Isles.

St Paddy's Day was once purely a Christian holiday an
d it didn't become an official feast day until the early 1600s. However, it is now much more of a secular celebration of Ireland's culture, and the Guinness brand in particular.

Did you know...?

2009 was the 250th anniversary of Guinness and by 2001, almost 2 billion pints a yea
r were sold worldwide - that's over 10 million glasses every day. Unsurprisingly it is Ireland's best-selling drink, but in 2006, more Guinness was sold in Canada than in Ireland. Guinness is brewed in more than 150 countries worldwide, including Nigeria and Indonesia, and 40% of all Guinness sales are in Africa. Over the years, much slang has come about when ordering a pint of Guinness and here are just a few examples: 'Arthur G'; 'Pint of black stuff'; 'Arthur Scargill'; 'Pint of plain'. The 'Guinness is Good For You' slogan is still used in many places worldwide, and some research has apparently shown that Guinness has heart health benefits. However, Guinness now officially states that they make no such health claims.

Little is known of the early life of St Patrick, although it is known that he was born in Roman Britain in the fifth century, into a wealthy Romano-British family. His father was a deacon in the Church, like his father before him, but at the age of sixteen, Patrick was kidnapped by Irish raiders and taken to Ireland as a slave. It is believed he was held somewhere on the west coast of Ireland, possibly Mayo, but the exact location is unknown. He was told by God in a dream to flee from captivity and escape to the coast, where a ship would return him to Britain. Upon returning, he quickly joined the Church and studied to be a priest.

In 432, now a bishop, he found himself called back to Ireland, to save the native populace. He was successful in this task, focusing on converting royalty and aristocracy as well as the poor. Irish folklore tells that one of his teaching methods included using the shamrock to explain the Holy Trinity (the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit) to the Irish people.

After nearly thirty years of teaching and spreading God's word, Patrick died on 17 March 461. He was buried at Downpatrick, or so tradition says. Although there were other more successful missions to Ireland from Rome, Patrick endured as the principal champion of Irish Christianity and is held in esteem in the Irish Church.

Did you know...?

Legend has it that Patrick banished all the snakes fro

m Ireland. When people first discov

ered the fossils of ammonites, they took them to be the snakes, curled up and turned to stone. The truth is that post-glacial Ireland probably never had any snakes in the first place. However, the legend may have come about that because of Patrick's missionary work, when, in professing the Christian faith he came up against the local Druids with their serpent symbolism.

The colour originally associated with Saint Patrick was blue. However, over the years the colour green and its association with Saint Patrick's day has grown. Green ribbons and shamrocks were worn in celebration of St Patrick's Day as early as the 17th century. During the 1798 Irish Rebellion, wanting to make a political statement, Irish soldiers wore full green uniform

s on 17 March in hopes of attracting attention with their unusual fashion gimmick. The phrase 'the wearing of the green', refers to the wearing of a shamrock on one's clothing and derives from the song of the same name.

Did you know...? The Chicago River is dyed green each year for the St. Patrick's Day celebration.

Whatever you're doing today, have a Happy St Patrick's Day!

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Sunday, March 14, 2010

Sexy, Sexy Steampunk

Thanks to Jenni Hill of Abaddon Books for this one. So, over to Jenni...

'Pornokitsch are also running a Sexy Steampunk Competition - comment there and nominate your favourite sexy steampunk characters to be entered into a prize draw. I notice that nobody has nominated our very own Mr. Ulysses Quicksilver, yet! Nor any one of his many lovely female companions from the Pax Britannia series. It's an outrage, say I, an outrage!'

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Sunday, March 7, 2010

LEGO Star Wars Foosball Table

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The future of Apple

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Howl of the Werewolf

I discovered this today...

It's a piece entitled 'Howl of the Werewolf' and is by the obviously very talented Paul Mudie. I just find myself wondering whether it was inspired by my fifth Fighting Fantasy adventure Howl of the Werewolf which is being re-released later this year.

If you know, or if you're Paul, please drop me a line by replying to this post.

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A mysterious letter

The following was intercepted by Brician spies operating in northern Ruddlestone. Make of it what you will...

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Life's rich tapestry


Quite excited

I'm quite excited at the moment because within the space of twenty-four hours I've been commissioned to write another Star Wars book as well as something not unconnected with the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. So you can add another popular childhood (or possibly teenager-dom) franchise to the list that I will have written for now. Colour me pleased.

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Monday, March 1, 2010

Night of the Necromancer - one month to go!

This morning, I am very pleased to reveal the new cover for Night of the Necromancer, featuring Martin McKenna's finished artwork.

There's only one month (thirty-one days, 744 hours, 44,640 minutes, 2,678,400 seconds...) to go now until the release of the newest Fighting Fantasy gamebook and you should keep an eye on the FF discussion forums, Facebook page and official website for some more sneaky peeks between now and then.

But in the mean time, just to whet your appetite even more, I've prepared this little treat for you...

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