Wednesday 31 March 2010

Fighting Fantasy featured in Mass Movement Magazine

Mass Movement Magazine (which featured a piece by me, back in issue 23 - a year ago today, as it happens) has an extensive feature on the Fighting Fantasy phenomenon in the current issue.

Stormslayer gets a mention, which is nice, and you can download issue 26 for yourself (and for free) here.

Night of the Necromancer

Just one day to go...

Saturday 27 March 2010

Night of the Necromancer is coming...

There's only a matter of days to go now until the release of Night of the Necromancer, the sixty-fourth original single player FF gamebook.

The minions of the Warlock over at Wizard Towers are running a competition in readiness for the book's release, which you can find here.

Meanwhile, I've been doing a little bit to hype the release of the book on my own blog too. To help me explain, here's an exclusive excerpt from the Background section of the book:

And now, at last, your home is in sight once more. Three years ago you set out from Valsinore Castle on the northern coast of Ruddlestone to join in the crusade to purge Bathoria of the malign influence of the Cult of Death. With the defeat of the Death-Mage Thanatos, your sworn oath fulfilled, you were free to return home. As you recovered from your last battle at a hospice of the White Lady, you sent letters by messenger ahead of you telling of your imminent homecoming, writing one to your sister, Oriana, who was anxiously awaiting news of your safe return, and another to your chamberlain, Unthank, who you had left to look after your estates and safeguard the people of the Sourstone peninsula while you were away.

And you can read those very letters for yourself, right here...

Ulysses Quicksilver - Hero of the Empire

Ooh! Perhaps this will help me out of the mire of my own self-loathing...

Writing's easy...

All you have to do is stare at a blank piece of paper until your forehead bleeds. Or so says Tony Jordan, screenwriter.

I don't know what it is about the last couple of months, but a fair few authors have been struggling to produce the goods of late.

David Bishop has this to say on the subject. Nick Kyme's struggles are catalogued here. Chris Wraight's been feeling the pressure too, as has Si Spurrier. Even the mighty Dan Abnett has had his own creative demons to battle of late.

And I'll add my own name to that list. I thought my tenth novel was hard going but as it turns out, that one was a walk in the park compared to number eleven. Soul-destroying is how I'd describe the situation right now.

Writing's hard! :-(

How to write an adventure gamebook - Part 2

So, here it is, at long last, the second in an ongoing series of articles regarding the writing of adventure gamebooks...

The Proposal

Having spent a long time brainstorming a gamebook, once I'm happy with the overall plot and structure, I set about writing the proposal itself.

Basically, a proposal is a sales pitch. It has to explain clearly and concisely everything about your book and is often the thing that will lead to the book being (or not being) commissioned. As a result, you don't want to miss anything out - especially not the dramatic denouement you've spent ages working out. Leaving that out is sure to see your proposal being rejected outright. But I digress...
When I write a proposal for an adventure gamebook I start with a paragraph giving an overview of the book - what it's about, what makes it different to others, the cool conceit that is going to make people want to pick up and play it, etc.
I then describe the structure of the book. My gamebooks have often had three, four, or even five act structures. For example [WARNING - SPOILERS AHEAD!] Stormslayer is a classic three-act adventure. Act 1 involves actually finding out what your quest is. Act 2 has you tracking down the various artefacts you need to beat the bad guy, and Act 3 is the climatic battle aboard the villain's base of operations.
If relevant (and with Fighting Fantasy adventures, it usually is) I then go on to explain any new rules that the adventure has (such as the POISON score in Curse of the Mummy, or the CHANGE score in Howl of the Werewolf) with a brief description of how they will work within the context of the adventure itself.

Next up is new monsters. These a vital in FF adventures. This paragraph usually takes the form of a simple list. With FF adventures I will also point out monsters that I'm using from Out of the Pit that haven't seen print in any of the official books yet.

Now I finally get to the plot synopsis itself. Because of the very nature of gamebooks, as well as describing what happens if you follow the correct path through the book, I also outline what happens on side quests and wild goose chases. I break the synopsis into clearly defined areas. For example in Night of the Necromancer [WARNING - SPOILERS AHEAD!] the first part of the adventure takes place out in the wilds, it then transfers to a castle and various places within the castle. Each of these major areas (or even set-piece scenes) was a new paragraph in the original plot synopsis. And of course, at the end I reveal the climactic twist or dramatic encounter that ends the adventure.

It is whilst writing the proposal that I often finalise certain areas of the adventure within my own mind but that's not to say that everything is set in stone at this point - far from it.

However, for the time being, what has to happen next is for me to forward the proposal to my editor and wait for them to give me the go ahead to write the book. And that's the topic I'll be dealing with next time...
Coming soon: Part 3 - Writing the Adventure

Friday 26 March 2010

Legends of the Space Marines

I am very pleased to be able to tell you that Legends of the Space Marines - which features my brand new Black Templars short story The Relic - is now available to pre-order, over at the Black Library's shiny new website.

Crisis on Coruscant - another good review

Here's what Jennifer has to say about my Clone Wars gamebook over on the Puffin website:

My 9 year old son loved this book. It contains lots of interactive stories. You can decide your own destiny by choosing from options at the end of each chapter. The story can be augmented by going to the website... I think this would be a good book for a reluctant reader as it combines "computer gaming" with traditional book reading...

She gives Crisis on Coruscant five stars too! To read the rest of her review, click here.

Another mysterious letter...

Addressed to one Chamberlain Unthank, make of this what you will...

Monday 22 March 2010

Match Wits with the Kids

It's not that long until fifteen and sixteen year-olds up and down the country we be embarking upon their GCSE examinations. And if you're a parent of such a prospective examinee, what can you do to help?

Well you could do a lot worse than pick up a copy of Match Wits with the Kids to refresh your own knowledge of subjects such as English, Maths, Science, History, Geography, Modern Languages and even the Classics. But don't just take my word for it, check out David Marx's review over at his blog.

Here's a highlight:

If, as parents, you sometimes find yourselves climbing the collective walls of turmoil in search of something to entertain and calm the kids – especially during those elongated weekends that are filled with rain, tedium and nothing particularly groovy on telly – then this could well be the perfect book for you.

Match Wit with the Kids is, as it says on the front cover: ‘’a little learning for all the family.’’ Indeed, it’s one of those books that immediately grabs the attention of even the most innocent and innocuous by bystanders. It’s akin to a pub quiz, only more geared towards that which we all learnt at school...

Jonathan Green has compiled a more than compelling and magnetic wealth of interesting facts, figures and knowledge.

As such, Match Wits with the Kids is a book that’s as engaging as it is fun as it is imperative throughout those aforementioned weekends and really long, giddy car journeys.

Saturday 20 March 2010

Alex Milway's Mythical 9th Division

I have to say that I'm getting quite excited about the release of Alex Milway's new book Operation Robot Storm (not to mention the also forthcoming Terror of the Deep). But his teaser twitpic off all the Mythical Division badges has just upped my child-like excitement ten-fold. Check them out for yourself. (Apparently there are even genuine cloth versions*!)

* It was Alex who got me into creating badges linked to my own work too.

Thursday 18 March 2010

Night of the Necromancer and Bloodbones redux

Look what arrived in the post this morning!

There are the same number of books in each pile, but Night of the Necromancer is substantially longer than Bloodbones

Those kind people at Fighting Fantasy Towers (a.k.a. Icon Books' Wizard imprint) sent them to me. Night of the Necromancer is the newest of the new Fighting Fantasy gamebooks and is released on 1 April, alongside the brand-spanking-and-really-quite-shiny-new FF format edition of Bloodbones (first published four years ago - can you believe it?).

In case you're not salivating at the prospect enough already, here are two teaser trailers I put together for the books.

Not long to wait now...

Sunday 14 March 2010

Sexy, Sexy Steampunk

Thanks to Jenni Hill of Abaddon Books for this one. So, over to Jenni...

'Pornokitsch are also running a Sexy Steampunk Competition - comment there and nominate your favourite sexy steampunk characters to be entered into a prize draw. I notice that nobody has nominated our very own Mr. Ulysses Quicksilver, yet! Nor any one of his many lovely female companions from the Pax Britannia series. It's an outrage, say I, an outrage!'

Saturday 13 March 2010

Scottish Miscellany

The brand new Scottish Miscellany is available now from Skyhorse Publishing. Order yours via the link on this page today!

Sunday 7 March 2010

Howl of the Werewolf

I discovered this today...

It's a piece entitled 'Howl of the Werewolf' and is by the obviously very talented Paul Mudie. I just find myself wondering whether it was inspired by my fifth Fighting Fantasy adventure Howl of the Werewolf which is being re-released later this year.

If you know, or if you're Paul, please drop me a line by replying to this post.

A mysterious letter

The following was intercepted by Brician spies operating in northern Ruddlestone. Make of it what you will...

Quite excited

I'm quite excited at the moment because within the space of twenty-four hours I've been commissioned to write another Star Wars book as well as something not unconnected with the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. So you can add another popular childhood (or possibly teenager-dom) franchise to the list that I will have written for now. Colour me pleased.

The Gospel According to Jon, patron saint of struggling SF/F writers

One of my bosses, as it were, Jonathan Oliver, editor-in-chief of Abaddon Books and Solaris, has followed the trend set by the Guardian recently and published his own ten rules of writing.

Jon's take on the topic is written from both an editor's and an author's point of view, and advises you on how to get published in the first place, and then how to (just as importantly) stay published.

You can read it for yourself here.

And on the subject of Abaddon Books, the latest Abaddon and Solaris podcast is now up on iTunes and can be downloaded from here, for free. I make an appearance, as one of those interviewed at the SFX Weekender, about 49 minutes in (if you're interested).

Monday 1 March 2010

Night of the Necromancer - one month to go!

This morning, I am very pleased to reveal the new cover for Night of the Necromancer, featuring Martin McKenna's finished artwork.

There's only one month (thirty-one days, 744 hours, 44,640 minutes, 2,678,400 seconds...) to go now until the release of the newest Fighting Fantasy gamebook and you should keep an eye on the FF discussion forums, Facebook page and official website for some more sneaky peeks between now and then.

But in the mean time, just to whet your appetite even more, I've prepared this little treat for you...

Night of the Necromancer - one month to go!

This morning, I am very pleased to reveal the new cover for Night of the Necromancer, featuring Martin McKenna's finished artwork.

There's only one month (thirty-one days, 744 hours, 44,640 minutes, 2,678,400 seconds...) to go now until the release of the newest Fighting Fantasy gamebook and you should keep an eye on the FF discussion forums, Facebook page and official website for some more sneaky peeks between now and then.

But in the mean time, just to whet your appetite even more, I've prepared this little treat for you...