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Sunday, February 28, 2010

How to write a Fighting Fantasy adventure gamebook

A number of commentators on this blog (is that the right word? Commentator as in 'one who comments'?) have asked how I go about writing an adventure gamebook. A while ago I promised one poster (as in 'one who posts') that I would reply via a series of detailed posts. Well I've finally made good on that promise and you can read Part 1 of 'How to write an adventure gamebook' here.

Saturday, February 27, 2010

Women in Horror - the debate rages on

Over at the Guardian.co.uk, in the book blog section, there is a piece on the maligning of women in the horror genre. Over the last six months, both the British Fantasy Society and SFX magazine have cause controversy by the lack of inclusion of women when publishing information about the Horror genre.

You can read the Guardian piece, 'The spectre of sexism haunting horror fiction' here.

Black Library to print on demand

SF Signal have got an exclusive interview with Christian Dunn, Black Library's Range Development Editor, where he talks about their new Print on Demand book line. You can read it for yourself here.

I've heard it rumoured that my Black Templars Armageddon books may well be joining the PoD range in the future, collecting together the various short stories that have been told about the crusaders of the Solemnus Crusade since Crusade for Armageddon was first published back in 2003.

And on that subject, don't forget that Legends of the Space Marines is out in April featuring a brand new Black Templar story called The Relic.

Night of the Necromancer

Check out this blog again on Monday morning, for another exciting reveal regarding the forthcoming Night of the Necromancer.

Friday, February 26, 2010

Buried by books

So, this was my desk this morning...


What's on show here is just some of the books I've been using to research Scottish Miscellany. There's a whole pile not on display here because they've already gone back to the local library. (The eagle-eyed among you will noticed that I've even been using another book I wrote, Match Wits with the Kids, to help me write this one!)

Anyway, the book's coming on apace now, but before I can carry on this afternoon I think I'm going to have to tidy some of this lot up, if only so I can find my mouse again.

Onwards...

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Scottish Miscellany - Everything You Always Wanted to Know About Scotland the Brave

So, time to come clean...

I'm onto the final stretch of my newest non-fiction book. Entitled Scottish Miscellany, in the best-selling tradition of What is Myrrh Anyway?, it answers all the questions you never knew you had about the Land of the Scots.

How do you play the bagpipes? What's the deal with men in skirts - sorry - kilts? What should haggis really taste like? Why is the thistle the national flower of Scotland? How do you toss the caber (and why would you want to)? When does a broth become Scotch Broth? Why is Scotland called Scotland? And is there really a prehistoric monster living in Loch Ness?

All these questions - and more! - are answered in the book, which includes recipes for traditional Scottish fare and even a beginner's guide to Gaelic. And to support its publication in the autumn, I've started a dedicated blog, which you can find here.


Scottish Miscellany is being produced by Skyhorse Publishing, who are based in New York. They were the guys behind the American edition of What is Myrrh? entitled Christmas Miscellany. (Do you see a pattern forming here?)

Here's Bill Wolfsthal to tell you a little more about the company...

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Daleks galore!

Endless Dalek desktops by the Mechmaster. What more could you ask for on a grey mid-week morning?


Oh, and he does 40K too...

Never be stuck for a name again

Looking for a good name for the hero of your latest short story? Can't finish that superhero strip you're writing because you can't thing of a suitably superheroic moniker? Lost for words when it comes to the title of your next fantasy magnum opus?

Well have no fear, for Michael Carroll is here!

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Emerson Tung - Stormslayer artist's blog

Emerson Tung, the talented guy behind these amazing colour Stormslayer pics, has got himself a blog, on which you can see some of the paintings he created inspired by my last Fighting Fantasy gamebook. You can check it out for yourself here.


And just a reminder that there's only a couple of months now until Night of the Necromancer, my next Fighting Fantasy gamebook, is published.

Monday, February 22, 2010

Not long now...

Solomon Kane

Looks like my kind of film.



Another film I've seen recently is Percy Jackson and the Olympians: The Lightning Thief. I actually got to go to a preview screening and was going to post a review here. Life and work got in the way but suffice to say, Chris Columbus (who directed the first Harry Potter film) was keen not to simply make a Greek Gods version of Harry Potter apparently. Well he failed. Percy Jackson should really be called Harry Potter and the Lightning Thief. And don't get me started on Camp Half-Blood...

Angry Robot interviewed


The British Science Fiction Association has an interview with Marc Gascoigne and Lee Harris of Angry Robot Books. To hear what they have to say about their (relatively) new science fiction/dark fantasy/horror imprint, click here.

Sunday, February 21, 2010

All you budding writers out there, take note

Yesterday's Guardian online published a collection of writers' top tips. Inspired by Elmore Leonard's 10 Rules of Writing, they asked a number of successful authors for their personal dos and don'ts. The list they came up with included get an accountant, abstain from sex and similes, cut, rewrite, then cut and rewrite again – and if all else fails, pray.

You can read all of the writers' top tips by following this link.

Alice in Wonderland - booking now!

It's only a matter of a couple of weeks now until Tim Burton's take on Lewis Carroll's Alice's Adventures in Wonderland hits cinemas nationwide. And you can book your seat at the BFI IMAX cinema here.

Spotlight on Pirkka Harvala

Tin Man Games are running a feature on Pirkka Harvala, the artist behind many of the illustrations to appear in their new iGamebook App An Assassin in Orlandes. You can read an interview with the Finnish magician himself here, and check out his artwork here.

Monday, February 15, 2010

Crisis on Coruscant - a new adventure with every read!

Crisis on Coruscant has been out for a couple of weeks now and the reviews are starting to come in. There's a very pleasing one (that covers Sue Behrent's Dooku's Secret Army as well) by Scott Weller of STAR WARS AFICIONADO.

You can read it for yourself here - just scroll down to the bottom of the page. The part which made me smile was this: 'Newcomer to the range Jonathan Green proves equally adept in this new universe of interactive storytelling; his tale just as strong and enjoyable to partake in.'

I may be new to this particular series but at the time of writing Crisis on Coruscant it was my tenth gamebook. (My eleventh, Night of the Necromancer, is out this April.)

Crisis on Coruscant - a new adventure with every read!

Crisis on Coruscant has been out for a couple of weeks now and the reviews are starting to come in. There's a very pleasing one (that covers Sue Behrent's Dooku's Secret Army as well) by Scott Weller of STAR WARS AFICIONADO.

You can read it for yourself here - just scroll down to the bottom of the page. The part which made me smile was this: 'Newcomer to the range Jonathan Green proves equally adept in this new universe of interactive storytelling; his tale just as strong and enjoyable to partake in.'

I may be new to this particular series but at the time of writing Crisis on Coruscant it was my tenth gamebook. (My eleventh, Night of the Necromancer, is out this April.)

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Howl of the Werewolf - the movie!

So, I've just been to see Howl of the Werewolf... sorry, The Wolfman... and a very fine film it was too. 142 minutes of gruesome skin-changing fun - exactly what you want from a movie released in time for Valentine's weekend.

The Wolfman is old school horror, a classic jump out of skin shocker, enhanced by modern special effects although, pleasingly, prosthetics and make-up are just as important as the CGI elements in the film. Anthony Hopkins sleep walks through his part, but Bernicio Del Toro is perfectly cast as the eponymous monster of the title. Emily Blunt does what she has to (which isn't very much) but Hugo Weaving, as disgraced Ripper-hunter Inspector Aberline, is great fun to watch - especially in the scene in the village tavern.


The setting is late 19th century (1891 to be precise) and everything is suitably grim, rundown, gloomy, smoky and gothic. There are creepy mansions, foggy London streets, rugged moorland studded with standing stones and brooding skies. Danny Elfman's score evokes the music of Bram Stoker's Dracula and Sleepy Hollow. There are plenty of OTT bloody deaths to get your teeth into, and Joe Johnston (the director) doesn't waste any time in getting the blood pumping with a drama attack on a gypsy camp and doesn't linger on the weeks between full moons either. Oh, and parts of it were filmed at Castle Combe in Wiltshire and others at Chatsworth House in Derbyshire.


Half way through The Wolfman briefly turns into An American Werewolf in Victorian London, and there's even a nod to the Piccadilly Circus scene from John Landau's classic, but it's an exciting sequence with a hilarious lead-in set within Lambeth Asylum.


But when you consider the subject matter of the film and the plot (particularly in the last reel) I couldn't help feeling that I was watching Howl of the Werewolf committed to celluloid - which was kinda cool, in it's own way. (Oh, and talking of Howl of the Werewolf I am reliably informed that it will be re-released later in the year as one the new format Fighting Fantasy books, which'll be cool too.)



So, to sum up, if you're into werewolves, Bernicio Del Toro or things that go bump in the night generally, then The Wolfman is for yoooooouuuu!

Bringing the magic back

Among my various paying gigs, one of the things I'm trying to develop is myself as a children's author. It's where I began and I think it's where my strengths lie.

With that in mind, I am a keen follower of Alex Milway's Mousehunter blog. He posted an interesting piece the other day about magic and children's books. To see what I mean, follow this link to read his post for yourself.

Friday, February 12, 2010

Deathtrap Dungeon

Probably the best Fighting Fantasy gamebook ever is now available as an App for your iPhone/iPod Touch. Featuring Iain McCaig's classic artwork now in glorious technicolour, Ian Livingstone's 80s masterpiece is the latest must have for the discerning iDevice gamer.

You can read more about the new App from Big Blue Bubble here, but from what I hear, you might want to hold off buying it until they've sorted out a few bugs that have somehow crawled into Sukumvit's Trial of Champions.

I always loved this picture...


...And this one


An old ad for the PC version of Deathtrap Dungeon... Subtle.

The Siege of the Necromancer...

... is coming!

Red Planet

Check out these incredible photographs of Mars...


You could almost believe there's somebody living down there...

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Crisis on Coruscant

It's been out for two weeks already, but I only got my hands on a copy of Crisis on Coruscant for the first time today... and very pleased with it I am too, if I may be so bold as to say so. It feels suitably chunky (considering it's a children's book) and the illustrations used throughout enhance the look of the thing no end.


If you've not seen one yet, you can get hold of yours here.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

JG spotted at the SFX Weekender

I get a mention over at Abaddon's eleventh and final post about the SFX Weekender and there's a photo too (heaven forbid!).

Just for the record:
1) They're my Ulysses L. Quicksilver books.
2) I have two little ones at home, so I was lucky to wangle a Saturday away at all!
3) No, I'm not going bald - I've just got short hair that tends to stick up revealing much scalp beneath.

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Steve Jackson's Sorcery and the magic of iTouch

I am very pleased to be able to pass on the news that Steve Jackson’s first Sorcery! book The Shamutanti Hills will be available for Fighting Fantasy fans on both the Apple iPhone & iTouch in February 2010.

Sorcery!

Developers Seb EJ and Bright AI are releasing all four Steve Jackson’s Sorcery! books in quick succession.

The Apps will appeal to the original Sorcery! fans and encourage a new generation of gamers to get reading. Each book in the Sorcery! series is a complete adventure – you don’t need to have read a previous book to move on to the next.

Play as a warrior or wizard and enjoy many unique features and challenges that will excite novice and veteran adventurers alike. Rely on your warrior’s strength in battle, or your spell-casting cunning as a wizard.

The Shamutanti Hills iPhone App stays true to the original book, using Steve Jackson’s transfixing text and John Blanche’s iconic illustrations. This highly anticipated iPhone App combines the user-friendly features of an e-book, with a new level of gamebook excitement.

Gav Thorpe on tie-in fiction

As regular readers of this blog will know, I've been following the debate regarding tie-in fiction versus own-world creations for some time now.

However, today I read an interesting piece on this subject by Gav Thorpe, with the benefit of his experience as both a writer of tie-in fiction and the custodian of a franchise universe.

The point which I think he makes particularly well is at the end and concerns the snobbery many people have regarding the merits of tie-in fiction in general. But rather than spoil the surprise, you can read it for yourself here.

And the Geek shall inherit the earth...

Monday, February 8, 2010

An Assassin in Orlandes - is here!

Yes, good news for a Monday morning (for once)! Tim Man Games' first iPod/iPhone Gamebook Adventure - An Assassin in Orlandes - is available to buy now from Apple's App Store. And it only costs £2.99. (That's less than a pint costs round here!)

So what are you waiting for? Get over to the App Store now and get your hands on a brand new gamebook gaming experience!

Set within Orlandes City itself, nobles are being systematically murdered by a ruthless assassin no-one seems able to catch. Finding yourself thrust in the middle of a large conspiracy, you must make decisions that may put yourself and one other most precious to you in great danger. Can you locate the Assassin in Orlandes before it is too late?

Sunday, February 7, 2010

The SFX Weekender

So, I drove down to Camber Sands yesterday for the second half of the SFX Weekender (I mean why else would you go to Camber Sands?) and had a great time.

I hooked up with David Moore and Jonathan Oliver of Abaddon/Solaris Books and signed some stock, as well as giving away some Pax Britannia badges, and was interviewed for a forthcoming podcast. I met ace Slaine artist and Preacher cover artist Glenn Fabry (who happens to think he's quite good). I was welcomed by Darth Vader and his Stormtroopers and ran into these interesting-looking fellows...


I listened to China Mieville talk about writing for the YA market (or not as the case may be), I listened to Jon Oliver read from his first novel The Call of Kerberos, I watched the fantastic Moon (starring the even more fantastic Sam Rockwell), I listened to a Q&A session with Toby Whithouse, creator of Being Human, having just watched a sneak preview of tonight's episode, and listened to a panel discuss the various merits, or otherwise, of tie-in and spin-off fiction (or tie-off, as one of the panellists called it).

Tom Baker regaling the crowds

Jon Oliver - lord of all he surveys

Glenn Fabry talks comic special effects budgets

Al Ewing - fellow Abaddon author

The 2000AD stand - Clint Langley and Leigh Gallagher draw for your entertainment

To conclude, here's a list of ten things that I now know as a result of the SFX Weekender that I didn't know 48 hours ago:

1) You can buy a bespoke Dalek for £3,000 but it'll take at least 10 weeks to make.
2) Glenn Fabry's thinking of becoming a teacher.
3) The novelisation of Snakes on a Plane was Black Flame's best-selling title.
4) Tom Baker gets chatted up in Waitrose by ladies of a certain age (that means they're in their 70s, I think).
5) Ianto Jones actor Gareth David-Lloyd was unaware of the Scottish Falsetto Sock Puppet Theatre's version of Torchwood, which they call Torchwool.
6) Cosplay is really just what my 3 year-old calls dressing up (but done by adults).
7) Gareth David-Lloyd would like to play Lion-O in a live-action version of Thundercats.
8) He-Man is camp.
9) Leigh Gallagher can't draw as quickly as Clint Langley.
10) This Christmas will see the release of the first Pax Britannia Ulysses Quicksilver omnibus.

Friday, February 5, 2010

Star Wars - The Clone Wars - Decide Your Destiny

I realise that some of you may be reading this blog and wondering what these Star War The Clone Wars Decide Your Destiny adventures are all about. Well, here's a helpful video, put together by the publishers, to tell you a little more about the series.



Remember, my Clone Wars adventure Crisis on Coruscant is available now.

The Galactic Senate is under attack! As Padawan to Jedi Master Shaak Ti, your mission is to rescue Chancellor Palpatine, then find out who is responsible for the plot. Your adventure will take you from the depths of the underlevels on Coruscant, to the Great Mesra Plateau and Jabba the Hutt’s Palace on Tatooine. Will you prove yourself worthy of your Jedi training or turn to the dark side when the going gets tough?

Not only can you now buy the book, you can also enjoy the online content created especially for it - including the totally brilliant lightsaber duel game seen here:


Jump in and out of cyberspace to continue the experience online with exclusive content, amazing animated scenes and games!





















If you would like to immerse yourself in the world of Star War The Clone Wars Decide Your Destiny adventures, click here. To buy the book, click here.

And may the force be with you.