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Sunday 31 July 2011

Get ready for Dirk Lloyd

If you've been following this blog from the start, you'll know that Dirk Lloyd was the first new concept that we came up with after founding Fabled Lands LLP. By that I mean the company Fabled Lands, not the gamebook series - though Fabled Lands projects (the world, gamebooks, RPG and apps) are all controlled by Fabled Lands the company. Don't worry, it confuses us too.

Anyway, back to Dirk... In a nutshell, it's the story of what happens when the Lord of All Evil is defeated by the forces of good and banished to our world in the body of a 13-year-old kid. Oh, the ignominy! Whoever heard of a dark lord having the crusts trimmed off his peanut butter sandwiches? But even stripped of his powers, Dirk isn't going to take his exile on modern-day Earth lying down. Imagine a novel told from Tom Riddle's point of view - and with a style of crazed humour that will be familiar to anyone who used to enjoy Jamie's hilarious column in the old Warlock magazine.

The first book had a pretty drawn-out development process, as new projects often do. We plotted it in detail, Jamie went away and wrote a first draft, we then completely reworked the storyline, and Jamie wrote another draft before getting a full story analysis from Roz Morris (bestselling author who I had to foresight to marry so as to save the company money) which guided him in polishing it. Would you believe that all took nearly two years? What can I say? Perfection doesn't come overnight. Then the series took another year to sell, and even after that it went through a healthy process of thorough critiquing and editing from our UK publisher, Megan Larkin, at Orchard Books.

And now this lovingly polished jewel of dark brilliance is about to be unveiled to the world. The first book, Dark Lord: The Teenage Years just got a glowing review from Hazel Holmes over on the Chicklish site and you can pre-order it on Amazon. (Just don't look at the product description there as it contains a massive spoiler about the end of the book!) Freya Hartas, daughter of Leo and grand-daughter of John Vernon Lord (how's that for an artistic pedigree?), has produced a clutch of macabre illustrations as unique and tasty as devilled dragon eggs that perfectly complement the dry black humour of the text.

Now that the characters and scenario are all worked out, coming up with new stories is much easier. In fact, Jamie has already written the second book in the series, Dark Lord: A Fiend in Need, and is about to start work on the third, The Dirkest Hour. Orchard are planning a promotional tour, so if you keep an eye on your local bookshop window you may find that Jamie is coming to your town. (Hide the beer and sausages if so.) NBC are developing the Dirk Lloyd TV show. There are plans for apps and gamebooks and bunch of other stuff. And all for you, dear reader; all for you.

The UK books will be out in October with editions in Germany, Spain and the US to follow soon after. So there you have it - Dirk Lloyd is going to conquer our world. There's no use fighting it.


  1. What a fantastic idea for a series of gamebooks. How long after the novels will they be out? Will they be the same story in both?

  2. It's early days, Banup - we have to give Jamie a chance to finish the three novels first! However, I can say that we would need to work closely with NBC on the gamebooks, which would therefore probably expand on the detail in the novels. For example, most of the first book has to do with Dirk trying to get back to his own realm. A gamebook might use the plotlines of several episodes of the TV show to explore some of Dirk's other activities while (reluctantly) settling in to life in our world.

  3. Now that A Game of Thrones has been so popular, why not a Fabled Lands series on cable TV?

  4. A major tv channel like NBC is already interested in it before the first book is even out!?!? That's truly outrageous! (Note to self: Most stop watching stupid 80's cartoons like Jem and the Holograms at 2am EVEN if I can't find sleep). Let's hope it becomes a reality. The show I mean, the books obviously are...well..the first two anyway.

    Anonymous: Not that we fans wouldnt like this but unfortunately without in any way attempting to hurt Mr Morris' ego (that's ok I generally flatter it), I kinda think the Game of Thrones book series sold millions more, as such being a lot more atractive to tv networks. I say this of course when NBC is interested in a teen book series that's not even out yet... But let's be realistic, if a Fighting Fantasy movie or series isn't happening, then Fabled Lands, sadly, surely won't.

    Hmm...ok actually, I just remembered they're making House of Hell as a film (even if it does look unbelievably cheap)

    So to summarize: Don't listen to anything I say, I oviously don't know what I'm talking about.

  5. ROFL - he very idea of a Fighting Fantasy movie is far more horrific than anything in the House of Hell gamebook. But yes, Milk, you are quite right. George R R Martin wrote a compelling story with intriguing characters and sold a few million copies, and that's why HBO took a punt. There are hundreds of more deserving fantasy settings to turn into TV shows and movies before we get to gamebooks, most of which (let's face it) are not noted for either originality or characterization. Although obviously Universal should immediately invest $300m in movies of Heart of Ice and Down Among the Dead Men :-)

    Why is Dirk Lloyd being turned into a TV show before it sold a single copy? Because it's a truly original killer concept that the NBC team bought into as soon as they heard the pitch. The audience for a show like that is much bigger than for a generic swords-&-dragons type fantasy.

    I probably ought to correct one misapprehension about Dirk Lloyd: it's not a teen series as such. Think of the early Harry Potter books - they were ostensibly targeted at 9-12 year olds but appealed to any age. Dirk Lloyd is like that.

  6. What about a TV version of Heart of Harkun? BBC Radio have repeated it dozens of times over the years, so it must be popular.

  7. Hmm, well there's "radio popular", Anon, and then there's "TV popular". And that's not even thinking about the budget...

  8. Well the thing with Heart of Ice or Down Among the Dead Men is that they are already fleshed out enough even as gamebooks to actually be turned into a script easily. Which is NOT the case for House of Hell (even if it is one of the most respected FF books, personally I find all this one true path BS terribly annoying) unless you want to make a generic movie with a generic story in which some guy randomly walks into rooms and witnesses random horrific things/fight random monsters (which is sadly PROBABLY what the House of Hell movie will be EXACTLY like). At least there's one thing we can be sure the movie will get WILL be a one true path (unless somehow they break with cinematic tradition in the vein of Run Lola Run and offer different outcomes...but I'm doubtful its director is bound to have such artistic aspirations)

    Actually that gets me to ask, have you ever tried your hand at movie scripts? Or well, fact, if Dirk Lloyd gets made into a series, will you or Jamie be involved in the writing?

    And I did say teen books but I had figured it was more in the vein of HP, perfectly readable and enjoyable at any age. I didn't mean to sound like I was hmm...cheapening it. Anyway, fingers crossed that all these good things will come true for Dirk Lloyd, I would be comforted in knowing that two of my old time favorite gamebook writers are finally getting wider recognition (and probably more money too ;) ) for their talents. And I know you have published lots more than just gamebooks but forgive this gamebook geek for referring to you in those terms, I just mean this is how I was introduced to you both.

  9. Oh, I don't think teen fiction is a pejorative term, Milk, just that it's quite a specific market. I have nothing against writing for teens, and in fact my own favorite of the various prose projects I need to find time to work on is for teens.

    I worked in TV for a few years and I do some consultancy work on polishing up movie and TV scripts. Jamie and I won't be writing the Dirk Lloyd TV show, mainly because that project is sold so there's no mileage in writing scripts for it. We may well do spec scripts for new projects in order to help sell them in future.

    House of Hell is just a story for investors. I don't mean the story in the book, which from what I recall is just the generic haunted house set-up. The story is, "These books sold millions a quarter century ago so let's make a movie." I would imagine they've gone looking for a bunch of angel investors from outside the entertainment industry. You're never going to see it at your local multiplex, anyway ;-)

  10. "You're never going to see it at your local multiplex, anyway"


    This is the sound of my illusions shattering, thanks.

    And please don't use expressions like "quarter of a century ago" when speaking of things like gamebooks, it just makes all of us (including you) feel older then we need to. 25 years sounds depressing enough as it is without bringing the century up. ;) (I'm pretty sure it was just 5 years ago that I was 8 anyway)

    I'm not gonna ask a list of what you worked on on tv, but please do write a fantasy film and have it made (I make it sound so simple!). Because I can't take the crap they try to feed us in that genre anymore (see latest Conan trailer).

  11. Can't say I see enough movies in the fantasy genre to be able to judge, Milk, though the new Conan movie will have to really plumb the depths to be worse than the Arnie version. Anyway, I have no doubt Jamie will insist on going to see it. Just as long as we can avoid 3D, which I really do loathe.

    Long ago I wrote a screenplay with Mike Polling based on his Key of Tirandor campaign. It was way too philosophical and mystical, though, so probably best that it has been lost these three decades - oops, sorry.