Wednesday 31 October 2012

Happy Halloween!

So it's that time of year again, and if you're looking for a spooky read for All Hallow's Eve, then look no further.

For those over 18 (or just slightly under, if they're feeling daring) there are my short stories Wraith Lights, The Doll's House, Fear to Tread and Incubus.

For those most definitely under the age of 18, why not check out one of my horror-themed adventure gamebooks, such as Spellbreaker (witches), Curse of the Mummy (mummies), Bloodbones, (zombie pirates), Howl of the Werewolf (werewolves), or Night of the Necromancer (ghosts)?

And then there are also my Warhammer novels The Dead and the Damned and Necromancer. And if you're uneasy around arachnids, then my Gamebook Adventures app Temple of the Spider God makes for a creepy read.

Oh, and of course the Pax Britannia series is often filed under 'Horror' in bookshops and has led to me being invited to be a guest at this event.

Warhammer Wednesday: Black Library Weekender

Just a quick reminder that I shall be attending the Black Library Weekender this weekend (Saturday 3 - Sunday 4 November). Specifically you'll find me taking part in a seminar about Gamebooks on the Sunday, 11.15am-12.15pm*, along with Christian Dunn and Graeme Lyon.

* Timing may change, so check the latest schedule/timetable on the day, if you're going.

Tuesday 30 October 2012

Monday 29 October 2012

Thought for the Day

"It's taken me 20 years to learn this (although others may say it's still a lesson-in-progress) but, when you're writing something that's bad, don't be afraid to scrap it and start again. Just because you've spent valuable time typing out a bunch of crap doesn't mean the crap itself has any value."

~ Gordon Rennie, comics writer

Sunday 28 October 2012

Welcome to Ravenstone

In case you haven't already heard, Ravenstone is a brand new children's imprint poised to join Solaris' genre fiction and Abaddon's pulp under the Rebellion umbrella next summer. Here's the press release says:
Rebellion Publishing is proud to announce the launch of its new line of Children’s and Young Adult fiction – Ravenstone.
Showcasing the very best in literature for the young, Ravenstone will publish one book a season. It will exist to highlight works of genre-busting adventure, and incisive and challenging writing.
Ravenstone’s titles will be published in hardback, paperback and e-book formats in the US and the UK, allowing new generations of readers the chance to explore new worlds and new horizons. They will be distributed by Simon and Schuster.
Editor-in-chief Jonathan Oliver said: “The Young Adult market is a vibrant and exciting melting pot of genres and ideas and I’m delighted to lead us into this territory with our new imprint.”
You can find the Ravenstone website here.

Saturday 27 October 2012

JG and Tin Man Games at the MCM Expo

Breaking news!

I shall be at the MCM Expo on Sunday (28 October), this year as a guest of Tin Man Games.

If you're at the MCM Expo on Saturday, Steve Jackson (co-creator of the Fighting Fantasy series of gamebooks) will be signing at the Tin Man Games stand, whilst the Tin Man himself will be showing off the new Judge Dredd app as well as Blood of the Zombies.

Maybe I'll see you there...

The right font for the job

I'm a big fan of fonts. Whenever I start a new project, I will choose a specific font for chapter headings and the like, even though that font will probably never be used in the final published product.

"Why would you do this?" you might ask. Well it's all part of creating the right mood and atmosphere for a piece of writing.

Whilst searching for Battle of Hastings fonts the other day, I stumbled across these fonts that were Inspired by Antiquity. If you like fonts I think you might like these too. Enjoy.

Friday 26 October 2012

Gamebook Friday: Blood of the Zombies - From Book to Screen

The latest Fighting Fantasy adventure, Blood of the Zombies, written by Ian Livingstone himself to celebrate the 30th anniversary of the publication of the first book in the series, The Warlock of Firetop Mountain, is now available for iOS and Android devices courtesy of Tin Man Games.

But how does the app compare to the original processed tree carcass gamebook experience? Well you'll just have to try it out to find out. But to whet your appetite, here's the suitably creepy trailer that's been put out by the Tin Man.

Thursday 25 October 2012

Steampunk Thursday: Do you feel scared yet?

I know I do, looking at this awesomely creepy caricature of myself by Nick Gucker. (I'm the one in the middle by the way.)

As you can see, I shall be joining Joeseph D'Lacey for the launch of his new book Blood Fugue, along with Pat Cadigan. M'Abaddon colleague and ward-winning author Jasper Bark will be interviewing. Start time is 6.00pm on Friday 16 November and you need to confirm how many places you would like (if you want to attend) by emailing

I think I'm there because of the reputation my Pax Britannia books have for being quite horrific in places, but of course I also have a growing number of horror short stories in my published bibliography and my next novel could definitely be termed as horror.

Maybe I'll see you on the 16 November...

School Librarian of the Year

Adam Lancaster, librarian and associate head teacher at Monk's Walk School, Welwyn Garden City, has just been named school librarian of the year.

He has picked his list of favourite books that are set in libraries or that have set his library alight, from Harry Potter to the Wimpy Kid. You can read it for yourself here.

Wednesday 24 October 2012

Normal service will be resumed as soon as possible

In the real world (as opposed to the fantasy worlds I usually inhabit for much of the working week) it's half term so Family Green are taking a little break. As a result, you'll see that this blog is also taking a break from the usual day themes... for most of the time, at least.

But do drop by every day - there will still be plenty for you to enjoy here at

Tuesday 23 October 2012

JG in The OE Link Magazine

Now I have to admit that today's post is only really going to be of interest to you if you once went to King Edward's School in Bath, as I did.

If you did, then read on...

I'm in the latest issue of The OE Link magazine, along with news of my latest books, under a new section entitled (appropriately enough) 'OE Authors'.

(I should point out that I do have some rather exciting Tie-in Fiction news, but just can't make it public yet...)

Monday 22 October 2012

Thought for the Day

And a sobering one it is too.

This is Sarah McIntyre's response to the question "What's the worst thing about being a comic artist?" that she was posed by a young fan. Although she was talking about comics, elements of it - and the general point she makes - apply just as well to writers.

"Right now in Britain, the pay for comics is not good. My friend Emma Vieceli once said to me that you have to have so many skills - drawing, writing, typography, design, publicity, computer skills - but you get paid far less than someone who works in a field that uses just one of these skills."

~ Sarah McIntyre, Children's Illustrator and Writer

Sunday 21 October 2012

Happy Apple Day

In case you didn't know already, 21 October is Apple Day, an annual celebration of apples and orchards.

Now I like apples as much as the next middle-aged man minded to make sure he has his 5-a-day (I even wrote a bit about them in What is Myrrh Anyway?) but I'm also quite keen on the other Apples - the kind you don't eat.

So far I have one Apple app available - Temple of the Spider God - but there's another in the works, and hopefully Warlock's Bounty will be released for iOS in due course.

Saturday 20 October 2012

Short Story Saturday: The right tools for the job

Obviously the creative process is all about what goes on inside your head, not the stationery you use. That said, it can't hurt to have a pretty pad to jot down your ideas in, can it?

Friday 19 October 2012

Gamebook Friday: Howl of the Werewolf

Five years* after it was first published, Howl of the Werewolf is still gaining new converts.

Here's the latest glowing review from Amazon**.

For this adventure Jonathan Green adopts the theme of were-creatures. In the world of Titan `Howl of the Werewolf' does for werewolves what `Revenge of the Vampire' did for vampires. However, this is no excuse just to pit the adventurer against a stream of transforming monsters. Instead the focus is upon how such beasts come into existence and how they develop. As such, lycanthropy becomes the central element of the story and you yourself even contract it. This becomes both beneficial and detrimental to your success depending upon the choices you make and the path you follow.

Green's usual depth of detail creates a heavy Gothic atmosphere that fully immerses the reader. It merges the FF concept of the 'Old World' perfectly with Gothic horror. Expect to see many welcome references to and inclusions from this genre. The investigative nature of your quest in trying to discover what is happening in the land of Lupravia and to yourself engages the reader further with this well constructed world Green has created.

Many of the elements that you might expect from Green are present and yet again there is some form of cult involved. But these are generally the things Green does well, always providing a new twist and angle. Although a little predictable they still arouse interest.

I found this adventure immensely enjoyable and the only reason for not giving it five stars is because it is far too easy; strange as that sounds when referring to the works of Jonathan Green. It is one of those style adventures when you must face a major opponent at its climax and whatever you have done leading up to this influences how powerful this opponent is. This unfortunately means that you can practically sail through this book without engaging in all it has to offer and complete it simply by killing the main villain. I did this on my first attempt and was forced to re-read it several times just so I could explore the enticing world Green has created. I got more satisfaction from this than the initial completion. This adventure would be much better if you were forced to explore more to discover items and powers that you would require to reach the final opponent.

If you plan to read any of the new adventures that weren't part of the original series then this is probably the best one. For the reasons above it isn't too challenging but there is plenty of scope for re-visiting this adventure.

You can pick up a copy of Howl of the Werewolf here.

* Five years?!? That's half a decade! How did that happen?

** Although, interestingly, this particular reviewer misses the days of nigh-on impossible battles with ├╝ber-powerful Big Bads.

Thursday 18 October 2012

Steampunk Thursday: Happy Moby Dick Day!

Did you know that today (18 October 2012) marked the 161st anniversary of the first publication of the great American novel Moby Dick, here in Britain in 1851? Google marked the occasion as only Google knows how.

Now how's this for a coincidence? I received an email today from Scott Harrison, editor of Resurrection Engines, telling me that the book will be released on 1 December and to start pimping the book on my blog and elsewhere.

Resurrection Engines is a steampunk anthology, published by Snowbooks, that features 16 brand new stories from some of the most exciting names writing in genre fiction today, that reimagine or retell classic works of literary fiction in a steampunk stylee. And guess what... my story is a reimagining of Moby Dick.

You couldn't make it up, you really couldn't...

Tie-in Thursday: Duel of the Fates (the sing-along version)

Seeing as how Tuesday was Steampunk day, Thursday is the new Tie-in Fiction day (for this week anyway).

Thanks to Sarah Cawkwell for this. I think what makes it so funny is John Williams' serious expression throughout.

Wednesday 17 October 2012

Warhammer Wednesday: Black Library Weekender

Just a quick reminder that I shall be attending the Black Library Weekender (Saturday 3 - Sunday 4 November). Specifically you'll find me taking part in a seminar about Gamebooks on the Sunday, 11.15am-12.15pm*, along with Christian Dunn and Graeme Lyon.

* Timing may change, so check the latest schedule/timetable on the day, if you're going.

Tuesday 16 October 2012

Mike Singleton, Lord of Midnight, RIP

I was very sorry to hear the news today that Mike Singleton, the father of home computing, passed away last Wednesday after losing the battle against cancer.

In case you don't know, Mike designed The Lords of Midnight, an epic RPG adventure for the 8-bit generation. I was once given Doomdark's Revenge (the follow-up game to Midnight) for my ZX Spectrum, but the kind family member who bought it for me purchased the wrong edition of the game (or something) and so I never actually played it.

But I still remember how excited I was by the review of the game I had read and its distinctive screenshots.

If I had played the game, I'm sure it would have been another influence on the nascent game designer within me.

You can read more about this sad new both here, and here. But in the mean time, tonight, when you sit down to rest within your feasting hall, raise a tankard of mead to Mike, the Lord of Midnight.

Steampunk Tuesday: Ada Lovelace Day

Today is Ada Lovelace Day, an annual event the goal of which is to raise the profile of women in science, technology, engineering and maths. You can find out more about Ada Lovelace Day (and Ada Lovelace herself) here.

Monday 15 October 2012

Thought for the Day

"Writers: next time you read or watch something, ask yourself every 10 minutes why you're still interested. Very useful for your own work."

~ Jason Arnopp, screenwriter, via Twitter

Sunday 14 October 2012

We have a winner!

Last Sunday, my sister-in-law ran her first Ultra Marathon. For those of you into the whole statistics thing, she completed the 50km course in just under 5 hours and came 63rd out of 250. (I get out of breath running for a bus, if I could ever be bothered to run for the bus in the first place.)

I don't think my sister-in-law was actually chased by zombies, but this is the only sort of running I can understand and really get behind.

Now several of you thoroughly decent people sponsored her, hoping to have your name immortalised in print. Well, the names of those who entered our little competition were put into the proverbial hat and one was pulled out. So congratulations to

Philip Thorogood!

Phil's name will be appearing in one of my stories in due course. Commiserations to those who didn't win, but thank you very much for your support and (more importantly) charitable donations. It meant that, in total, my sister-in-law made her target of £750, which after Gift Aid actually raised a whopping £882!

Saturday 13 October 2012

Why Amazon reviews matter

A change from the usual Short Story Saturday post to bring you this...

If you've enjoyed something of mine you've read - whether it's a short story in an anthology or a novel, or even a gamebook - please try to spend a couple of minutes posting a review on Amazon. It only needs to be a couple of sentences long.

The reason for this simple request is this. Amazon employs software that monitors numbers of reviews. The more good reviews a book has, the more Amazon pushes it, which hopefully results in more sales for the author. It's the digital equivalent of the old Word of Mouth, and publishers are agreed that there's no better way to sell books than by Word of Mouth.

So if you liked something, please take two minutes (or maybe five) to write a customer review. It really is appreciated, you know? And of course the more books I sell, the more I can write, and the more stories you'll get to enjoy.

And this concludes our public service announcement. Thank you.

World Zombie Day

13 October 2012 is... that's right, you've guessed it...

I am yet to write my own zombie novel (although I do have an idea for one) but that doesn't mean I haven't tackled the shambling dead in my work in the past.

My third Warhammer novel Necromancer features one zombie in particular and they've cropped up in my various adventure gamebooks, specifically Bloodbones and Night of the Necromancer. (Do you see a common theme forming here?) There might even be one or two in the forthcoming Shadows over Sylvania.

Pirate Zombies from Bloodbones
The Zombie Executioner from Night of the Necromancer

And now that various different Zombies have been produced by Lego, how long can it be before I recreate one of these classic scenes in acrylonitrile butadiene styrene?

Friday 12 October 2012

Happy Birthday to us!

As some of you may have noticed (thanks to the wonders of Facebook) today is my birthday. But not only that, it is also the birthday of my fellow Black Library writers Dan Abnett and Steven Savile. And it also happens to be Storm Constantine's birthday, and Storm just happened to once write a Warhammer 40K story for Games Workshop. So there you go.

Why not help my fellow writers celebrate their birthdays today by checking out one of their books? Just click on one of the links below to be taken to the appropriate website.

Dan Abnett

Storm Constantine

Steven Savile

Gamebook Friday: Lego of the Spider God

Yes, I've been at it again, but this time it's a sort-of-scene from my Gamebook Adventures app Temple of the Spider God.


In case you didn't know Minifigures Series 8 is out, which includes the Conquistador above, not to mention a Deep Sea Diver, Man-Bat-thing and Pirate - so you can expect some more scenes from my gamebooks/novels to be realised in Lego very soon...

In the meantime, if you've not checked out my very first gamebook app before, you can do so here. (And I am assured that it is coming to Android users and French speakers very soon.)

Thursday 11 October 2012

Steampunk Thursday: A Short History of Abaddon Books

My editor Jonathan Oliver has written a very interesting piece for Armed With Pens (the go-to resource for writers and editors) about the history of Abaddon Books, publishers of the Pax Britannia series of steampunk novels.

I get a mention.

You can read it for yourself here.

Wednesday 10 October 2012

Warhammer Wednesday: Mission Games Workshop - Return to Chiswick

Popped into the Chiswick GW store on Saturday to pick up some research material for a story I'm writing at the moment. Was sorely tempted to pick up a copy of the new Chaos Space Marines Codex but managed to restrain myself (only just).

However, the unexpected highlight of the visit was meeting Jordan, who, it turns out, is a massive fan of Herald of Oblivion.

Thanks to Billy for introducing us and all I can say is, if you liked Herald of Oblivion, wait until Shadows over Sylvania is out!

Oh, and it turns out there's a new Hobby Centre opening in Putney before the end of the month.

Tuesday 9 October 2012

Tie-in Tuesday: Liberator

Liberator is my contribution to the last ...of the Space Marines title from Black Library, edited by Christian Dunn. And like so much of my stuff, it appears to be dividing readers left, right and centre.

In the supporters' camp we have such reviews as the one that appeared on The Founding Fields website, which give Liberator a respectable 7.2 out of 10.

In the dissenters' camp we have reviews like this one that's appeared on Amazon:

`Liberator' is a rather unconvincing story of an element of a loyalist Space Marine squad who turn traitor. The reasons themselves are rather forced and the characters quite weakly drawn. I also found some of the terminology felt borrowed inappropriately - Nova Terra is the setting but no reference is made to whether this is the planet at the centre of the major schism in the setting (Nova Terra Interregnum in M35), a quoted Inquisitor has the first name of Gideon which is the same as Ravenor's first name and one person's title is Iconoclast which is the same as a Chaos Destroyer ship class. These are individually minor points but they do create a composite view that the author is lifting names lazily. The story is not helped by being told in semi-reverse either. On the positive side it is good to see the Iron Knights Chapter appear and their names at least are consistent with their appearance in `Tower of Blood' (Best of Hammer and Bolter Volume 1). I rate this as 2 stars.

I take issue with 'the author is lifting names lazily' bit. I believe the names I have used are appropriate, given the context (and who ever heard of more than one person sharing the same name?), but you'll need to read the story yourself to see why. As to the reasons why the characters fall to Chaos... that was already in the Chaos Space Marines Codex.

But those points aside... 72% or 40%? You're just going to have to read the story yourself to decide which is the fairer review.

You can pick up a copy of Treacheries of the Space Marines here.
PS - In case you hadn't noticed, I'm invoking the 'Black Library fiction as tie-in fiction' clause today.

Monday 8 October 2012

Why gamebooks are great for those with dyslexia

Last week was National Children's Book Week (in case you didn't know) and this week is Dyslexia Awareness Week. In honour of both, I want to tell you why gamebooks are great for children with dyslexia.

1) They have short paragraphs, printed in a large clear font.

2) They have engaging storylines that a children can lose themselves in.

3) Because of their very structure, the reader jumps backwards and forwards through the book so they are not put off by the feeling that there are still hundreds of pages left to read.

4) They are very often illustrated and in a mature style, with gruesome images of monsters and magical creatures.

So if you have a reluctant reader at home or your child struggles with dyslexia, why not try introducing them to the wonders of adventure gamebooks?