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Thursday 17 July 2014

Fighting Fantasy Fest

I did a lot more work on Fighting Fantasy projects that didn't get published than ones that did. Some got repurposed as books in other series, others went into the Negative Zone where only blog posts can reach. For example:
Anyway, this isn't about me. Fighting Fantasy stalwart Jonathan Green is one of the organizers of the first Fighting Fantasy convention. (Yes, the first. That surprised me too.) It's being held in London on Sunday September 7 and there are just two weeks left for you to buy tickets. Lots of talented artists and writers such as Chris Achilleos and Russ Nicholson will be there. And Jonathan will be launching his Kickstartered book You Are The Hero about the history of gamebooks. Don't miss it.

New news (July 21) - I just heard from Leo Hartas that he will be there (because he'll be staying over at my place while in London) and that he might be auctioning his latest gamebook map.


  1. Damn, if only I wasn't busy!

    I really liked Jonathan's books to be honest. In the Final Fantasy line him and a lot of Stave Jackson's were my favourites (sorry Dave - prefer your other non-FF gamebooks)!

    1. No need to apologize, Richard. I don't know any of the FF books very well, other than the ones by Paul Mason, but I am happy to acknowledge that without the influence of FF, British gamebooks would have been a very different animal.

    2. I like Jonathan's books in the 'new series' FF (ie. anything written after the initial 1980s run), but find his original series titles (up to and including Bloodbones) far too reliant on fights, and tough fights at that. It got to the point that you were scared to investigate anything for fear that a gang of remanning orcs would appear from beneath that couch cushion.

      Incidentally Dave, it must really rankle that most of the ideas from the list above were never published, given some of the rubbish which actually did make it to print (eg. anything by Luke Sharp, Martin Allen etc.).

    3. Luckily, Mike, I haven't read any of those books so have no idea whether mine would have been better! It does rankle a bit that, of all the proposals Jamie and I submitted, the Puffin editors picked the least original. Keeper of the Seven Keys or Keep of the Lich Lord... You'd think it'd be no contest.

    4. I think that was the biggest issue with much of the FF line; they really played it safe with format. system and content of these books and were obviously erring on the side of caution rather than exploring and pushing the creative options of gamebooks and developing the medium beyond more than railroaded dungeon crawls with uninspiring stories.

      If I listed my top 10 Gamebooks then I doubt there'd be even one FF title in there.

      ... And totally agree that Jonathan's older stuff was of a far lower standard than his newer ones - my two faves of his are "Howl of the Werewolf" and "Night of the Necromancer".

    5. I don't suppose Jonathan would mind you saying that. We writers like to hear that we're getting better, even if that means our early work comes in for a bit of a drubbing.

    6. I didn't mean for it to read so harshly, sorry!

      I don't think they were any worse than others I read at the time but when you look back on them now, and in comparison to his new(er) material, there's a significant gap between them - his new stuff is much better; so like you said, he has improved.

    7. I'm sure he won't see it as harsh, Richard. I re-read some of my early work and thre's as much to cringe at as be proud of. Luckily I had a year or two writing for White Dwarf before I started to work on real published books, so I got some of my 10,000 in early :-)

    8. You're probably being too hard on yourself there Dave. Wasn't Crypt of the Vampire your first published book? If so that still stands up pretty well I think; while it's obvious you're still refining your writing style, it has a wonderfully eerie tone and has plenty of atmosphere. Castle of Lost Souls on the other hand... I can never quite work out whether you meant that one to be taken seriously or not (I suspect not as it's far more whimsical than your other works).

    9. You're right, Mike. After all, I wrote the first version of Castle for WD several months before I started work on Crypt, and the conversation with Ian Livingstone went something like this:

      Ian: "What about writing a gamebook adventure for White Dwarf?"
      Me: "Seriously?"

      So at first I was underwhelmed, but I soon saw that gamebooks could be seen as a legitimate way to easy-in newbie roleplayers, and hence began to approach the medium with respect.

    10. And a career was born... So you're saying that the credit is due to Mr Livingstone then Dave? :) If so then we all owe him an even bigger vote of thanks!

      But back on topic, I hope the event is a great success, and perhaps in years to come expands to be more gamebook-generic such that your series could be featured somehow (as how better than to spread the word for FL 7-12 right...?).

    11. Oh sure. That whole strain of D&D/FF fantasy has never been to my taste, but I still give Ian Livingstone and Steve Jackson all the credit for creating the British form of the gamebook, without which I would have had a very different career, probably in the Foreign Office. As I'm much more suited to multi-sided dice than to tuxedos, martinis, Berettas and fast cars, I think we can all thank them for that!