Gamebook store

Friday, 19 December 2014

Why I write


Back in 1992 I got a letter from an English lad living in France. Let’s call him Jay. He was a fan of the Blood Sword series but he couldn’t get hold of the last book. It was four years after publication and there was no print-on-demand in those days, so I figured there was no chance of getting a copy from Hodder. Luckily I had a spare, which I posted off to him.

Jay wrote back, a detailed letter of the sort I used to write to Donald Wollheim and Arthur C Clarke when I was his age. He discussed his plans to go to GenCon 92 and to find players for a Dragon Warriors campaign. He also recommended Lord of the Rings, which I still haven’t read, and The Hobbit, which I have.

Jay’s letter was accompanied by a very nice note from his father which I have kept and reproduce here, not to congratulate myself on an act of mild generosity, but because every time I come across it, it reminds me of my own relationship with my dad. And “the joy in his eyes”, more than anything, is why I’m proud of the books I’ve written.

I know how something you love as an eleven-year-old (in my case: Marvel comics, Doctor Who, Star Trek, Thunderbirds) ignites a flame of imagination and enthusiasm that can last a lifetime and carry you on beyond that original kindling spark. Jay will be thirty-three now. Maybe he has children of his own. Possibly he kept on role-playing, possibly not. I like to think he cherishes his memories of the gamebooks he loved back then, but even more I hope he cherishes the father whose love for him shines from these few simple words.

15 comments:

  1. That is a very touching note.

    Speaking of the last Bloodsword book - any ETA on its availability?

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  2. I'll do a post update on that over Christmas/New Year.

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    1. I knew when I saw the title that I would love this post.

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  4. This brought a tear to my eyes. Partly because I'm the same age as Jay, and I'd love to have kids to share such moments with.

    Thank you for all you've written so far, and for everything you'll write in the future, Dave.

    Happy holydays, everyone!

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    1. Thanks, Efrem and Stuart. Whenever I come across that letter it never fails to move me, the more so since my dad died.

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  5. Dave, you've mentioned before that you've never read Lord of the Rings. I think that's rather amazing for a fantasy writer! (Not a criticism, BTW, just a thought).

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    1. And I only got around to reading Gormenghast this year - what a glaring oversight that has been. As for LotR, it's just not my cup of tea. In fact I hardly read any fantasy, come to think if it.

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    2. I hope you've read the Hobbit. LOTR is tedious self-indulgent dreck, but the Hobbit is wonderful and whimsical and one of the best novels of the 20th century. It honestly amazes me they came from the same writer.

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    3. I did read The Hobbit a very long time ago. I was probably more into Conan the Barbarian and John Carter of Mars back then, but I remember enjoying it - especially those wonderful maps that were almost storytelling artifacts in their own right.

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  6. That's a lovely story Dave. As the father of a young boy, I can fully appreciate just how much joy you would have given Jay, and just how much he would have treasured that book.

    It's also a nice reminder of how sometimes even the smallest things we do can have profound and long-lasting impacts on others' lives.

    I hope you and your family have a wonderful Christmas. :)

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  7. That's a lovely letter and I can confirm that the 'joy in his eyes' was authentic because I was of a similar age and felt much the same when you replied to a letter of mine. And here I am following your blog twenty years later! The little gestures can make all the difference. ;)

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    1. That's so true. Have a great Christmas, Andy.

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