I promised we’d get the skinny on what Jamie has been getting up to. He was reluctant to emerge from his lair and tell me, so I sent Dirk Lloyd round to prod him. Hard.
DIRK: So, you vile tentacled freak, what's this new book project you're working on with Ian Livingstone and Steve Jackson?
JAMIE: I've been tapped by my old bosses, Ian Livingstone (or my 'Dark Master' as I call him) and Steve Jackson, to write up the history of one of our country's most iconic games companies, Games Workshop. Well, at any rate, its history up to 1985 or so, when Ian and Steve sold it for a lot of gold pieces. We've launched the book on Unbound.
DIRK: As usual, I'm not really getting what you're talking about. What's Unbound? Is it like Kickstarter?
JAMIE: It's pretty much a Kickstarter for books, but only books and nothing else. Unbound are more involved in the whole end-to-end process than Kickstarter, though. They're more like a crowdfunded publisher than just a commercial process for crowdfunding, if you see what I mean. So, if a given book project gets funded they will also do the printing and distributing of the book, and then sell it afterwards, usually in conjunction with a mainstream publisher. A bit like what we do with our Fabled Lands stuff, though we haven't got the reach or the contacts that Unbound has. Maybe one day!
DIRK: You're so old and decrepit now, like some kind of shambling, Alzheimery troll thing, I'd forgotten you ever actually held down a job. How did you first get involved with Games Workshop?
JAMIE: Hah, now that's a story. Way back when I left university, around 1980, I was flailing about pretty cluelessly trying to work out what to do with my life. I spent most of my time playing a game I'd got recently, in a little white box with three little ochre-coloured booklets inside...
Which I'd bought from GW, as it happens. Along with my White Dwarf mags. Instead of job hunting, I was painting figurines. My mum pointed out an ad for a job as a features editor on that selfsame magazine. I thought to myself I'd have no hope whatsoever of ever getting that job. It would be like a miracle, a dream job, working with people I admired from afar. So I gave up on the idea pretty quick. But my mum had other ideas. She had to get her nerdy, 21-year-old, paint-stained son out of the damn house, as soon as. So she rang Ian Livingstone.
And they chatted, and Ian said sure, send him up for an interview. And I went up there, had the interview, got the job! And that's how I ended up as assistant editor on White Dwarf in the early ‘80s. All thanks to my mum.
DIRK: Watching you dribble your food down the front of your shirt for the umpteenth time, I'm surprised you can remember any of that, let alone the rest of it. But anyway. What sort of stories will be in the book? Can you give us a teaser? And photos, presumably? Fresh young faces with flares and big afro 'dos?
JAMIE: Well, it won't just be how the company developed and grew and so on – the business narrative. There will be a lot of that obviously, but also there'll be stuff like the anecdote about how I got the job, for instance, but not just me. There'll be the experiences of the people that worked there. Sure, mostly Ian and Steve, but there were a whole bunch of other folk back in the day, people I'm still in contact with. Like Gary Chalk, Russ Nicholson, and Joe Dever too, though he's sadly left us now, but I've still got a story or two to put in about him. And a bunch of other folk working for or associated with GW. Including Dave Morris, White Dwarf contributor extra-ordinaire!
Here's a pic from the heyday, 1983. Gary Chalk, me, Steve and Ian front row, middle, with dear old Joe Dever standing behind Gary.
Mind you, most of the book will be the early days, about the start of it all. Like this photo of the first ever customer in the first ever Games Workshop. Apparently that bearded fellow had been queuing all night...
Games Workshop Board Meeting
And we won't be shying away from those controversial moments too…
That's the Mail for you, mind. Hasn't really changed much, has it?
DIRK: Assuming you're actually still capable of writing a book, when will this be out?
JAMIE: That kind of depends on when the funding goals are reached, but probably summer/autumn of next year. To be part of this exciting new venture, and to help me pay my grocery bills for another few months, shoot over to the official Unbound site where you can pledge for a copy of The Dice Men.
DIRK: Never mind your pointless little hobbies. People should spend their money on my darkly glorious works. Or else.