Friday, 19 October 2018

Gamebook Friday: Alice im Düsterland at the Frankfurt Book Fair

This time last week I was on my way to the Frankfurt Book Fair for what turned out to be a very special birthday weekend indeed. I was there as a guest of Mantikore-Verlag, the German language publisher of Alice's Nightmare in Wonderland, who were launching my spielbuch at the event.


I arrived at Frankfurt airport to be greeted by publisher Nicolai Bonczyk holding a sign with my name on - a first for me! After checking in to my hotel, we made our way to the Book Fair where I met Nicolai's partner in business, and life, his lovely wife Karolina, and Alex, who works as a translator and proofreader for Mantikore, and who has his own YA fantasy novel coming out next Spring.

I had a scheduled signing slot at 3:00pm for an hour, but as soon as I arrived I found myself with pen in hand*, signing books for people, and posing for selfies. I was also interviewed by various book bloggers, including DieTeenX (who was wearing an Alice-themed dress) and Susanne (a.k.a. Solaria300). You can actually watch my interview with Susanne on YouTube.

My first book blog interview was with DieTeenX.

By the end of the day, Mantikore had a slight problem, in that they had sold out of copies of Alice im Düsterland! However, there was another geek con taking place nearby and so Nicolai was dispatched to collect several boxes of books.

It also happened to be my birthday last Friday and so the Mantikore team took me to dinner, where we were joined by superstar German gamebook author Jens Schumacher and his partner Mia. I sampled the local apfelwein and some very smooth spirit or other, as well as enjoying a feast of schnitzel, pork knuckle, and a special birthday apple strudel**. (I was also delighted to discover that we had been out on Franksteiner Strasse.)

Schnitzel und apfelwein!

When I arrived at the Book Fair on Saturday, it was to find people queueing to meet me and buy the book and - after a heading off to explore and grab some food - when I returned to Mantikore's stand in the afternoon it was to find even longer queues of people, some of whom had been waiting up to two hours! It was very flattering and all a little surreal***.

Having sold out again(!) Karolina then broke out the treats she had prepared especially for the event - cans of 'Drink Me' energy drink or prosecco, and little boxes of 'Eat Me' popcorn! There were even Düsterland-themed bottle openers, trinkets, and fantastic Cheshire Cat bags.

Does what it says on the tin, so to speak.

At dinner that night we were joined by more Mantikore authors, including Dominic Schmeller, and gamebook specialists Swen Harder (he of Rider of the Black Sun fame) and Jörg Benne (author of Verax: Das Experiment). Much discussion of gamebooks followed, not only concerning how we write them and the mechanics we employ, but also how in German they have made the successful transition to being regarded as suitable for adults whereas in the UK we are still struggling for them to be seen as any other than books for children. We also talked about how we might best capitalise on the success of Alice im Düsterland.

Sunday came and with it one last book of books, all of which sold out within five minutes. I then resorted to signing postcards while people filled in pre-order forms for the book, which has had to be reprinted. Which is nice.

The Mantikore-Verlag stand at the Frankfurt Book Fair.

There was then a chance for one last look round - Frankfurt Book Fair is like the London Book Fair and MCM Comic Con all rolled into one - and pick up something for the family, before heading to the airport. I left summer sunshine, clear skies, and temperatures of 26 degrees in Germany, to return to a cold and wet autumn in England. But it's okay - I'm already planning a return visit.

Other highlights of the weekend including meeting long-time reader, and Pax Britannia translator - Michael Knarr, meeting Game of Thrones German superfans Frank and Marion, and also meeting Bulgaria gamebook author Nikola Raykov (creator of GameTale).

Michael Knarr and Yours Truly.

It only remains for me to say another huge danke schön to Nicolai, Karolina and Alex, for looking after me so well and making such a fuss of me on my birthday, as well as all the authors, who so patiently spoke English for the entire weekend because my German is so poor****, and last, but my no means least, to all the fans. Alles gut und wunderbar!



* As well as a bottle of German beer!

** That was the second time that day that a group of German people sang Happy Birthday to me.

*** The other authors on the stand also started calling me a rockstar author!

**** Although it did improve when the beer was flowing, and I now know the German for both 'Curiouser and curiouser' and 'Welcome to Wonderland'.

Thursday, 18 October 2018

Beowulf - The Epic in Performance

Last night I attended a performance of Beowulf, sung in Old English and accompanied by an Anglo-Saxon harp, given by Benjamin Bagby at the British Library, in London. The event was a prelude to a new exhibition that opens this Friday.

The audience await the performance with eager anticipation.

I do not speak or read Old English, but fortunately subtitles were provided! However, that said, it was still wonderful to hear the poem being recited, for the language is so rich and expressive, and Beowulf was meant to be performed, and listened to, rather than read. The accompaniment on the harp also took it to another level altogether - with the instrument itself being used as a prop on occasion!

Mr Benjamin Bagby himself.

It was interested how much of the language I could understand, particularly when Benjamin used both his voice and actions to emphasise what was happening. There was both action and atmosphere in his performance, humour and heroic deeds, and the hour and a half passed in a flash*.

Benjamin's interpretation of the text has also given me some more ideas to try to include in Beowulf Beastslayer. The Kickstarter still has 12 days left to run and is currently 114% funded, meaning that the first Stretch Goal has been unlocked and the second is within sight.




* The performance ended with Grendel's death in the boiling pool. To recite the entire poem would take about five and a half hours!

Wednesday, 17 October 2018

Warhammer Wednesday: Orktober

This month, over on the Games Workshop website, it's Orktober.


I've written a few stories over the years featuring the alien greenskins, but most of them seem to have been branded as heretical texts and so are no longer available to buy, including the Nathan Creed Necromunda short story Boyz in the Hive*, and the Armageddon duology.

However, there is one story of mine that features orks that is still available to buy from the Black Library, and that is the much loved The Relic. Yes it's primarily about Black Templar Space Marines, but they go up against a lot of greenskins in the story, and I do mean 'a lot'.

The Relic is available as either an eBook download, or in print as part of the recently released War for Armageddon The Omnibus.


It's just a shame I never got to write a story set on the world of Gorkamorka.


* Not my name for the story, I hasten to add. It was supposed to be called Illegal Alien.

Monday, 15 October 2018

Thought for the Day

"I’m so glad I live in a world where there are Octobers."

~ L. M. Montgomery, Canadian author

Friday, 12 October 2018

Gamebook Friday: JG at Frankfurt Book Fair

This weekend I will be at the Frankfurt Book Fair, on the Mantikore-Verlag stand, helping to promote Alice im Düsterland, the German edition of my first ACE Gamebook Alice's Nightmare in Wonderland.


I will also be signing on the stand, so if you're attending, do stop by and say hello, and maybe even pick up a copy of Alice im Düsterland!


In other gamebook-related news, Beowulf Beastslayer is currently standing at 108% funded, with 18 days left to run on Kickstarter.

Monday, 8 October 2018

Thought for the Day

"A book must be the axe for the frozen sea inside us."
~ Franz Kafka

Friday, 5 October 2018

Gamebook Friday: Beowulf Beastslayer is live on Kickstarter

As many of you are no doubt already aware, my latest ACE Gamebook is currently funding on Kickstarter.*

In Beowulf Beastslayer, you take on the role of the eponymous hero Beowulf himself. You decide which path to take, which risks to brave, and even which of the strange creatures you will meet along the way to engage in battle.

Whether you survive your quest and rise to the level of lauded hero, and maybe even king, or succumb to the likes of the monster Grendel and his sea-hag mother, will be down to the choices YOU make.

I am delighted to report that Beowulf Beastslayer will be illustrated by Fantasy gamebook art legend Russ Nicholson. His portraiture and attention to detail - not to mention his undisputed skill at drawing caves! - make him the ideal illustrator to bring the world of 6th century Denmark to life.

If you back the Kickstarter at the HERO level or above, before 1:00pm today (Friday 5th October) you can also nab some rather special rewards, which, after that time, will go up in price.



So, if you've not already done so, check out Beowulf Beastslayer now, please tell all your friends too, and I'll see you again in the land of the Danes!



* As of 8:30am on Friday 5th October, the Kickstarter had 130 backers and was 86% funded in just under 4 days.

Tuesday, 2 October 2018

Tie-in Tuesday: Inferno! is back!

In the June of 1997, issue #210 of White Dwarf magazine was published and contained within was a strange pull-out called Inferno! "Issue Zero". It was a teaser for a forthcoming bi-monthly short story magazine, being put out by a new branch of Games Workshop, the Black Library. One of the stories contained within the taster copy of Inferno! was The Hounds of Winter, by Your Truly.

Skip forward 21 years and Inferno! is coming back this week, in the form of a short story anthology, and to celebrate Black Library are making the early issues of the original Inferno! available again through their Print on Demand service. Which means that you can get your hands on hard-to-get-hold-of short stories of mine, including the ever-popular Salvation - a story of Ultramarines, Tyranids and humanity that appeared in Inferno! #1 - and the first ever Nathan Creed Necromunda story Bad Spirits, which appeared in issue #3, not to mention the Kislevite mercenaries versus vampires slug-fest that is Dark Heart, in issue #5.

To find out more, simply follow this link. But don't hang around - this offer is only available for one month!

And in case you're wondering, I wrote a total of 13 short stories for the original incarnation of Inferno! - five Torben Badenov stories, five Nathan Creed stories, two Space Marines stories, and one Warhammer fire wizard story - along with various comic strips and other pieces.



Monday, 1 October 2018

Thought for the Day

"Art and fiction are important because they put us in the shoes of others. They create empathy and understanding, and promote education and intelligence. They allow us to share ideas and discuss what it means to be human, and unpack the fundamental commonalities we all share."