Friday 31 May 2013

Gamebook Friday: Stormslayer

I've been busy, busy, busy of late, working on various projects, but there haven't been that many new releases to talk about. So today I'm going to revisit a book I wrote back in 2009* - my sixth Fighting Fantasy gamebook, Stormslayer.

Here's a review written by somebody who only discovered the book for the first time a couple of months ago. And, as you'll see, it's one I'm particularly pleased with...

If you don't already know, a gamebook is something like a "choose your own adventure" book, but more like a solo Dungeons & Dragons adventure. You create a character with stats and equipment, then wander through the book exploring the world and solving challenges. You fight monsters (dice are required) and accumulate treasure, in the hopes of beating the final villain at the end of the book.

Stormslayer is a great example of the genre, with lots of interesting wrinkles. The quest has you making your way to four different areas in the hope of acquiring powers of the elements--fire, earth, air and water--all in the hope of eventually facing off against an evil weather-controlling wizard.

There are lots of items and different abilities to find, as well as "minigames" and wrinkles like a day-of-the-week system. In addition, the writing is well executed, with memorable characters, epic battles and a subtle humour throughout. Recommended!

You should be able to pick up a copy of Stormslayer by clicking this link here.

* Is it really that long? Four years already?!?

Thursday 30 May 2013

Wednesday 29 May 2013

Warhammer Wednesday: Crusade for Armageddon

Crusade for Armageddon was the very first Warhammer 40,000 novel I ever wrote. It was published back in 2003 and yet, several years on, some people are still discovering if for the first time.

Here's what one new convert had to say about it:

Crusade for Armageddon was the very first Warhammer 40K book I ever read. As such it, and the Black Templars, have always held a special place in my heart for igniting my undying love of all things 40K. Having lost my original copy to one of my greedy friends however I had not gotten a chance to re-read this classic until the Black Library released it, and the sequel Conquest for Armageddon, as a print on demand special. Now that I have read Crusade for Armageddon for a second time I can say that while much of my positive feelings towards it were undeniably nostalgia, it is still a heavy firepower novel sure to please any 40K fan.

Crusade for Armageddon follows a crusade fleet of the Black Templars Chapter, the most zealous and dedicated of all The Emperor's space marines, as they hunt down the vile ork warlord that destroyed their home and slew many of their brethren. Eventually the Black Templars track the ork down to Armageddon, a forge world vital to the Imperium of man that is already besieged on all sides by the greenskin menace. Rather than heed the call for help by the beleaguered Imperial defenders however, the Templars go on their own quest through the desolate ash wastes to avenge their fallen.

The plot is pretty straight forward, the Black Templars have an objective and they pursue it regardless of the dangers. Despite the simplicity of the plot however there is a good bit of depth to the three unique perspectives that alternate throughout the story. One perspective follows the Black Templars, warrior-monks armed and armored with the best weapons in the Imperium, as they hunt for the ork warlord that blighted their honor. Another perspective follows the warlord titan Tyrannus Maximus, a land battleship, as it copes with the loss of its titan legion and takes severe damage fighting in the wastes. And the last perspective follows a platoon of Steel Legion Imperial Guardsmen as they try to survive long enough to relay highly important information back to HQ. Though the character of the Black Templars are pretty flat (duty bound and zealous) the way their Chapter is portrayed is quite vivid. Readers get a sense of just how strict and unmerciful they are, even compared to the Emperor's other devout space marine Chapters. The inclusion of the Tyrannus Maximus and crew as well as the Steel Legion platoon provide a more human outlook to the conflict at hand. On a final note, though the orks themselves don't have a perspective in the story they are described quite vividly. Reading this story I could easily depict the shoddy weapons and jerry-rigged vehicles of the vile greenskins.

The action is the real draw here. This is what hooked me as a kid and bound me to 40K forever more. Readers will experience first hand the zealous fury of the Black Templars, from tactical marines to assault squads and even the implacable might of a dreadnought. There is also some titan on titan action courtesy of the Tyrannus Maximus and readers get to see a battle between giants wielding weapons capable of leveling entire cities. The last fight is, of course, the best of all. A courageous assault on an ork factory that draws all the individual perspectives together into one glorious attack. If you are looking for some intense action you are unlikely to do better than Crusade for Armageddon.

Is my review tainted by nostalgic bias? Absolutely. But does that mean Crusade for Armageddon doesn't deserve five stars? Not at all. Crusade for Armageddon is an explosive good time that shows the Black Templars as they are meant to be shown. The only problem will be getting your hands on a copy, I suggest a visit to the Black Library website where you can order one as print on demand and the sequel, Conquest for Armageddon, will be included as well.

5 stars!

Crusade for Armageddon is now available along with its sequel Conquest of Armageddon (and a couple of short stories) as The Armageddon Omnibus, which you can purchase direct from the Black Library here.

Tuesday 28 May 2013

Tie-in Tuesday: Nathan Long's Light Bulb Moments

Amongst other things, I am a tie-in writer*. So is Nathan Long. Okay, tenuous link to Tie-in Tuesday established - now on with the blog...

Nathan has learnt a thing or two about writing over the years - what he likes to call Light Bulb Moments. For example, did you know that writing a novel is impossible? Or that proper channels don't work?

Interested? You should be. And if you are, you can read more about Nathan's Light Bulb Moments here.

* I've recently been working on a couple more Moshi Monsters titles.

Monday 27 May 2013

A-Z Cities of Death - available now!

This one kind of slipped under the radar, but another of my short stories has just been published for the first time, after a long gestation period.

A-Z Cities of Death, edited by Dean M Drinkel, is available now via Amazon and CreatSpace. Twenty-Six stories about twenty-six cities by twenty-six writers.

My contribution is U is for Ur - City of the Moon, a story I wrote back in January 2012.

The entire table of contents is as follows:

A Is For Adelaide by Steven Gepp
B Is For Baltimore by Ron Koppelberger
C Is For Calais by Emile-Louis Tomas Jouvet
D Is For Darktowne by Ran Cartwright
E Is For Erum by Robert Tangiers
F Is For Fortune by Paul Woodward
G Is For Gotham by John X. Grey
H Is For Harbin by G.R. Yeates
I Is For Intrepid by City George Wilhite
J Is For Johannesburg by Suzanne van Rooyen
K Is For Kathmandu by Dave Fragments
L Is For Lobo by Sandra Norval
M Is For Miami by Rachel Chipp
N Is For Necropolis by Richard Salter
O Is For Ottawa by Carrie Orr
P Is For Paris by Dean M Drinkel
Q Is For Quito by Sean Monaghan
R Is For Ripon by Philip Meeks
S Is For Stoke-On-Trent by Jan Edwards
T Is For The Greatest City In America by S. Wayne Roberts
U Is For Ur by Jonathan Green
V Is For Venice by Edward McKeown
W Is For Waddington by Jason Brawn
X Is For Xanadu by Steven Gepp
Y Is For York by R.S. Pyne
Z Is For Zebulan by Justin Miles

You can pick up your copy of A-Z Cities of Death here.

Thought for the Day

Sunday 26 May 2013

JG at the MCM Expo (again)

So yesterday I headed over to the MCM Expo at Excel in London's Docklands, not as a contributor (just for once) but as a punter. My kids have been asking for ages what one of these events is like, so this time I took them along with me.

They were amazed - not to say overwhelmed - by all the cosplay characters. My son spent the day pointing out superheroes while my daughter counted Pokemons, specifically Pikachus. Having queued for an hour and a half to get in, with Lavie 'I don't queue' Tidhar, we only had about two hours to actually explore the con itself. Not that we got to see very much of it, since my kids fell in love with Letraset pens and went shopping crazy.

"Please, no pictures... No pictures... Oh go on then."

No tea duellist should be without one.

Miss Emily Ladybird and Major Jack Union (striking his Blue Steel pose).

Steampunk avionics.

At the end of the day I got the chance to catch up with the Steamies, which is always most splendid, and it looks like I'll be taking the family to MCM again, since my daughter is already planning her next two(!) costumes. What have I started....?

The usual steam-powered suspects.

At the end of a long and tiring day... a pair of budding comics creators of the future?

Scottish Miscellany: Everything You Always Wanted to Know About Scotland the Brave

Scottish Miscellany: Everything You Always Wanted to Know About Scotland the Brave has received so little coverage since I wrote it back in 2010 that I sometimes forget I wrote it. But then the other day I stumbled across this rather pleasing review of the book, written a year ago.

Fantastic book! It is full of great history on Scotland, Scottish lore, famous Scots, just about anything you want to know about the land, its people and customs! A great read and a good reference book you'll go back to time and again!

You can pick up your copy of Scottish Miscellany here.

Saturday 25 May 2013

Short Story Saturday: 1853

Pandemonium: 1853 has been out for a couple of months now and recently received this rather lovely review on

This collection of short stories is great! Each story adds a new facet to the alternate history of 1853 with glimmers of the supernatural and glimpses into the darkness. When I finished reading the book I was left wanting more!

You can pick up your copy of Pandemonium: 1853 here.

Friday 24 May 2013

Gamebook Friday: Holdfast

Holdfast is an adventure gamebook for Print, Android, Mac and PC, following in the tradition of the old '80s and '90s greats: Lone Wolf, Fighting Fantasy, Tolkien Quest and Fabled Lands.

Taking up your ancestral weapons, you'll choose your path to reclaim your homeland through orc-legions, hidden grudges, and nameless horrors from the Deeps. You will delve, expand your fortress and confront a mighty army, if you have the mettle it takes to hold the realms of old.

With over 600 sections, you'll discover many different mysteries, threats and resources to aid in your rule. The book will be printed in soft and hard covers, black and white, with over 50 illustrations. We have partnered with Tin Man Games to use their excellent platform to provide the Android, Mac and PC versions of the gamebook.

To find out more about Holdfast (or to back the Kickstarter) click this link.

Thursday 23 May 2013

Steampunk Thursday: Lego Goes Steampunk

It's official - Lego is going to release its first official Steampunk set.

Lego has dabbled with Steampunk before - my son still refers to one of the Monster Fighters as Ulysses Quicksilver - but now the company is going legit.

Here's the official news 'leak' that has appeared on the Lego Club website.

The line will be part of the Lego Master Builder Academy, specifically Level 4, titled Invention Designer. (It's just a shame the official literature has fallen foul of the incorrect use of apostrophes in dates that is so prevalent now.)


Launch your Invention Designer adventure! LEGO Master Builders merge the futuristic idea of time-travel with the clockwork gears and puffing steam-engines of the Victorian 1800′s – Steampunk! Steampunk is a science-fiction art-form that imagines the future as people might have in the past. Let it inspire all kinds of new ideas, and pick up some tips from professional LEGO designers on how to make your creations look futuristic, industrial or just plain cool!

As followers of this blog will probably already know, I've been encouraging people to create their own Pax Britannia kits for years. Now it looks like we'll actually have some bespoke Steampunk pieces to use in such creations in the future. :-)

Steampunk Thursday: Pax Britannia reviews

Just a short one for you today - a  succinct review of The Ulysses Quicksilver Short Story Collection:

Good steampunk mysteries. I felt somethings were left unsaid or just mysterious. Otherwise, the stories were interesting and quick reading.

You can download your digital copy of The Ulysses Quicksilver Short Story Collection here.

Wednesday 22 May 2013

Warhammer Wednesday: Necromancer

I can't quite believe that Necromancer, my third Warhammer novel, came out over eight years ago! It's not been re-issued yet as a Print on Demand title, nor as an eBook, but there are still people who are coming across this tome for the first time, and loving it.

This novel is very different from the typical Warhammer novel. Instead of the more typical action-driven story, this novel is a character study and provides a fascinating look at how an ordinary young man raised in the Empire becomes corrupted by darkness.

The entire novel is told from the point of view of the main character, Dieter Heydrich and covers only a brief period of his life (how he became a Necromancer, but really nothing about him after that point).

Every step on his path of damnation is made with logical and seemingly good (or at least understandable) reasons. The reasons and rationalisations he makes along the way make him a tragic and flawed, but entirely human character.

If you are looking for an action-packed Warhammer novel, this book is not for you. If you want a chance to get some insight into the bad guys of the Warhammer world, this book is an excellent choice.

5 stars!

You might be able to pick up a copy of Necromancer for yourself here.

Tuesday 21 May 2013

Tie-in Tuesday: Nazi Zombie Army

It's more than a couple of months now since my Sniper Elite-linked short story Nazi Zombie Army: Götterdämmerung was released upon an unsuspecting public.

If you've not read it, it's action-packed, it's grim and gritty, and I can see it appealing to the current generation of pubescent gamers in particular. It seems that a certain mom from the US thought the same...

I downloaded this book onto my tablet for my 14 year old son as I was desperate to find something he would read. Having always struggled to get him to start a book, let alone finish it, I knew I had to find something that had elements similar to the games he loves playing on Xbox. When I found this I was a tad excited - Nazis, Zombies and full on adventure, how could he resist?

All I can say is congratulations to the author, my son actually chose to turn his Xbox off at night and it was a great pleasure for me to see him curled up in bed, enjoying a book. He finished it within a week, an unheard of experience!

I also read this as I wanted to see just exactly what had intrigued my son so much, and even though the story itself isn't something I would usually choose, this author does have a real talent at grabbing the reader from page one and taking them on a wild ride. I would definitely recommend this book to anyone, especially people with teen boys, its exactly the kind of thing they love!

5 stars!

So there you go. If you're a teen boy, or you know one, or you belong to that group none as 'anyone', why not download a copy of Nazi Zombie Army: Götterdämmerung yourself today?

Monday 20 May 2013

That's a lot of (Moshi Monsters) books

Some statistics for you, for a slightly dull Monday morning.

Over the last two decades I have written...

7 Fighting Fantasy adventure gamebooks
2 Sonic the Hedgehog gamebooks
5 non-fiction titles
3 Warhammer novels
3 Warhammer 40,000 novels
2 Path to Victory gamebooks
1 Gamebook Adventure for Tin Man Games
1 Warlock's Bount gamebook
2 Doctor Who books (not including the 2010 Doctor Who Annual)
2 Star Wars books
8 Pax Britannia novels

... and today I completed my 10th Moshi Monsters title.

Go figure!

Another Thought for the Day

"We focus too much on accomplishments. We set goals and work hard at achieving them. The downside to this mindset is that we rarely feel satisfied or happy when we accomplish a goal. We're always looking ahead to the next thing that is supposed to make us feel fulfilled, but we never get there."

~ John Anealio

"And so, does the destination matter? Or is it the path we take? I declare that no accomplishment has substance nearly as great as the road used to achieve it. We are not creatures of destinations. It is the journey that shapes us. Our callused feet, our backs strong carrying the weight of our travels, our eyes open with the fresh delight of experiences lived."

~ From The Way of Kings by Brandon Sanderson  

Thought for the Day

"Be a sadist. No matter how sweet and innocent your leading characters, make awful things happen to them — in order that the reader may see what they are made of."

~ Kurt Vonnegut, "Eight Rules for Writing Fiction"

Sunday 19 May 2013

Launching the Adventure Rocketship! at Forbidden Planet

On Thursday evening I attended the launch of Jonathan Wright's new anthology magazine (or is that bookazine?) Adventure Rocketship! at Forbidden Planet in central London.

The first issue, Let's All Go to the Science Fiction Disco, looks at the links between science fiction and music. It includes non-fiction pieces written by the likes of Anne C Perry and Jared Shurin of the Kitschies awards, and short stories by the likes of Lavie Tidhar and Martin Millar.

 (From l-r) Lavie Tidhar, Jonathan Wright and Jon Courtenay Grimwood.
 Jon Courtenay Grimwood reads Martin Miller's short story.

The contributors signing for their fans.

After the launch, it was all back to the Phoenix Club to shoot the breeze, catch up on all the gossip and make new friends (hi, Konrad Walewski). I also happened to run into Si Spurrier (who I had not seen in far too long) who introduced me to David Hine and Mark Stafford - the guys behind the new iteration of Victor Hugo's The Man Who Laughs.

So all in all a very pleasant evening, and I'm now looking forward to the next Forbidden Planet launch...

The Ten Commandments of Sci-Fi

  1. Thou shalt not make every planet look suspiciously like Canada.
  2. Thou shalt not resolve all issues with technobabble.
  3. Thou shalt not wear a goatee just to signify you are evil.
  4. Thou shalt not cancel a sci-fi show before the writers have a chance to wrap up the story arc.
  5. Thou shalt not have midichlorians.
  6. Thou shalt not remake classic sci-fi that's less than 25 years old.
  7. Thou shalt not pretend that skin tight leather or PVC on a female character has any practical reason other than titillation.
  8. Thou shalt not write about cowboy hybrid cyber-monkeys and then claim you're not a sci-fi author.
  9. Thou shalt not have alien civilisations consisting of only one nation, with everyone dressing uniformly, having the same religion and speaking the same language. Especially not English!
  10. Thou shalt not use time travel to reboot or rewrite canon.

(Thanks to for these.)

Saturday 18 May 2013

Short Story Saturday: Dreaming in Darkness - The Serpent's Egg

Dreaming in Darkness is a collection of four Cthulhu mythos-inspired novellas by four established or up and coming horror writers, namely John Prescott, Adrian Chamberlin, Aaron French and Yours Truly.

Those of you who know a bit about the contributors already, will realise that there are two US writers in the collection and two UK writers which gives the book its own, unique feel. And my story is a quintessentially English tale, called The Serpent's Egg.

Dreaming in Darkness is being launched at World Horror Con in New Orleans, 13-16 June, and you can find out more about the collection here.

* As you would no doubt expect.

Short Story Saturday: Dreaming in Darkness

Launching at World Horror Con, New Orleans, 13-16 June 2013...

To find out more, check out the Dreaming in Darkness Facebook page.

Friday 17 May 2013

Gamebook Friday: JG goes to Librogame's Land

A couple of weeks ago I posted a link to an interview I did with Italian gamebook website Librogame's Land.

Today, as promised, I'm posting my original English answers...


1)    You are best known as a Fighting Fantasy gamebook writer - the last of them, so far. Why did you decide to write a Path to Victory gamebook?

a)      Because I was asked by Black Library.
b)      Because I love writing gamebooks.
c)       And because I love the worlds of Warhammer and Warhammer 40,000.

2)    What’s the difference between writing a Fighting Fantasy gamebook and a Path to Victory one?

Not that much really. Obviously there is a different combat system and they are set within different worlds, but other than that I go about planning and writing them in exactly the same way. That said, Path to Victory books have death paragraphs rather like Gamebook Adventures following a battle, whereas Fighting Fantasy adventures do not.

3)    Tell us something about the creation of your Path to Victory gamebooks, Herald of Oblivion and Shadows Over Sylvania! Is there one of the two that you prefer?

I’m proud of both of them (I’m proud of everything I’ve had published) but I have to say that I do prefer Shadows Over Sylvania.

When I was commissioned to write Herald of Oblivion, I was told to set it on a space hulk, featuring Imperial Fists Space Marines, and to include Dark Eldar, Necrons, Orks and Tyranids. Although I created the game’s narrative, clearly quite a lot had already been dictated by Black Library.

Shadows Over Sylvania was the total opposite. I had already been asked to work up a proposal for a Khemri-set Warhammer Path to Victory gamebook, but then the Vampire Counts Warhammer Armies book was released. I read it from cover to cover and an idea for a completely different adventure formed, the unique selling point being that the reader would play the part of a vampire for themselves. The rest, as they say, is history…

4)    In both books, the atmosphere is simply fascinating. It takes the reader into a charming world, even if they (just like myself) have no knowledge of Warhammer/Warhammer 40K. What inspired you in their creation? How much freedom did you have in their setting?

The settings are so richly developed already that you just have to tap into that and you’re there. As long as you stay true to the Warhammer worlds, there is a fair amount of freedom.

For example, I came up with the Seven in Shadows Over Sylvania and was allowed to set the story in a previously not widely explored historical period.

5)    Personally, I found Warhammer combat rules a bit complicated for a gamebook. The combat is slower than ideal, especially when you have to face multiple opponents. Would you make any changes to the rules, if you could?

The simple answer is I can’t, so I wouldn’t. Games Workshop are first and foremost a games developer and so the games side of the Path to Victory gamebooks has to be worked on in house.

6)    What do you see in the future of this series? It being available only from Black Library’s website may limit its distribution. Do you think there’s a chance it may become available from other online shops, so to make it more accessible to worldwide fans (and a little cheaper, maybe!)?

I’ve heard talk of the books possibly being released exclusively in Games Workshop stores but I believe Black Library are holding back on making any decisions, with regards to the series in general, until they’ve been able to review their sales figures.

7)    Last, but not least: what about your future in Path to Victory? Are you going to deliver a sequel to your previous books, following Herald of Oblivions’s steps in the universe, or maybe having us explore some more of the Old World? Or something entirely new? If so, which setting would you choose?

Personally, I’ve already got another two pitches in with the editors – the Khemri/Tomb Kings one and another 40K adventure – and have ideas for several more. Quite simply, if they ask me to write more, I will.

There was talk of Herald of Oblivion being the first in a trilogy, but with other writers writing the subsequent adventures. If you’ve read the book yourself, you may well be able to guess where the sequel would take place…


8)    Your last Fighting Fantasy gamebook, Night of the Necromancer, came out in 2010, and since then the only new book published in the series was Blood of the Zombies, by Ian Livingstone (2012). Do you think the series has finally come to an end, or will it have a future? And if so, will you have a role in it, giving us more exciting Fighting Fantasy adventures?

I wouldn’t be surprised if the future of Fighting Fantasy lies in digital formats. Inkle are producing a new Sorcery! App, while Tin Man Games are bringing out four classic FF titles this year alone.

As with the Path to Victory series, if I was asked to write another Fighting Fantasy gamebook I would jump at the chance.

The brand is far from done. After all, I’ve got my own history of Fighting Fantasy gamebooks coming out later this year.

9)    Some of your old FF books (Spellbreaker and Curse of the Mummy) have never been officially published in Italy, but they have been translated (totally non-profit) by fans. How do you consider these initiatives? Do you think they could help keep alive the memory of some of the most relevant pieces of interactive fiction, and enhance their diffusion?

That’s a tricky one. If it creates a demand for more books which leads to new books being published and paid for, then all to the good. But I know that app producers suffer from people pirating their gamebooks which makes it increasingly unlikely more new content will be produced, considering the current economic climate.

10)    Temple of the Spider God was your first digital gamebook, and it received astonishing reviews! Is there any difference between writing a paper gamebook and a digital one?

Not really, except that the apps undergo rigorous testing, which can’t be a bad thing.

Thank you very much, may your Wounds score never come to 0!

Thank you. And may your Stamina never fail!

Thursday 16 May 2013

Steampunk Thursday: Steampunk Doncaster

A month today, I will be enjoying the second day of the UK's newest steampunk convention, Steampunk Doncaster.

The current plan is that I shall be undertaking a reading, and taking part in a Q and A session concerning my Pax Britannia books, on the Saturday, so on Sunday 16 June (other than selling my wares) I'll be able to enjoy the rest of what the Litarium has to offer.

To find out more about Steampunk Doncaster, follow this link.

Wednesday 15 May 2013

Black Library - Free Shipping!

Which means you can order both my Path to Victory gamebooks - Herald of Oblivion and Shadows Over Sylvania - or classic novels such as The Armageddon Omnibus and Iron Hands, and pay nothing for postage.

So what are you waiting for? As Mr Brian Butterfield would say, 'Call Now!'

Warhammer Wednesday: Chris Wriaght on Space Werewolves

Things are a bit busy right now, in the lives of Family Green, so over the next few days I'll be handing over the blog to wiser minds than mine and sending you to read their blogs instead.

Today it's the turn of Chris Wraight who discusses writing about the Wulfen.