Tuesday 30 September 2014

Christmas Explained: Robins, Kings and Brussel Sprouts

Coming to a Christmas stocking near you soon from Snowbooks* is Christmas Explained: Robins, Kings and Brussel Sprouts.

Some readers of this blog may already have What is Myrrh Anyway? in their collection of Christmas books (published in 2008 by Icon Books), Well Christmas Explained is the brand new hardback edition of the book (and actually has the word 'Christmas' in the title).

If you have already read What is Myrrh Anyway? then you'll know that the book's a great read - "As welcome as a warm glass of mulled wine on a wintry night," according to the Good Book Guide - but you will also be thinking, "Why do I need to buy it again?"**

And to you I would say, "Because the text has been completely revised and updated, and at least another 10,000 words of content added. That's why."

So if you want to know where tinsel comes from, or when a frost fair was held actually on the surface of the River Thames, or if you've ever wondered why we build snowmen at Christmas***, then add Christmas Explained to your wish list this festive season.

* Rather appropriately.

** Unless you're buying it as a suitably festive gift for someone else.

*** If it actually snows.

Monday 29 September 2014

Thought for the Day

"Books are like old friends. Sometimes you have to let them go."

Sunday 28 September 2014

Fighting Fantasy Fest 2014

So, Fighting Fantasy Fest... This time three weeks ago (as of writing*) I was unloading a carload of stuff** at the DoubleTree Hilton Hotel, ready for the first ever, dedicated, Fighting Fantasy convention. Almost twelve hours later, I was getting back into said car to return home. The bit in between was a bit of a whirl.

Jonathan Green, Geraldine Cooke, Zagor the Warlock, Steve Jackson, and Ian Livingstone at Fighting Fantasy Fest 2014.

It really came home to me that Fighting Fantasy Fest was actually happening when all the traders started to turn up and unload very professional-looking display cabinets and the like. And it was the presence of Otherworld Miniatures, Leisure Games, FightingFantasy.com, Snowbooks, Arion Games, All Rolled Up, Scriptarium, Tin Man Games, Inkle Studios, Gothic Manor, and Legend Photography that really helped to make what started out as a book launch into a proper con.

Otherworld Miniatures' Zagor miniatures in special FFF blister packs.

But of course the day wouldn't have been what it was without the presence of the host of Fighting Fantasy guests who made their way to Ealing especially for Fighting Fantasy Fest. There were the artists Chris Achilleos, Malcolm Barter, John Blanche, Leo Hartas, Tony Hough, Russ Nicholson, writer Peter Darvill-Evans also made it, along with very special guests Philippa Dickinson and Geraldine Cooke (who just made it in the nick of time to rapturous applause from the audience). But none of us would have been there in the first place if it hadn't been for our very special Guests of Honour, Steve Jackson and Ian Livingstone.

Just part of the much marvelled at FF Exhibition.

Jamie Fry of FightingFantasy.com.

I am grateful to Neil Rennison for kicking off the talks with a presentation  about Tin Man Games and the company's plans for the Fighting Fantasy apps, which was followed by the headline act of the day, as it were - Steve and Ian in conversation with Philippa and Geraldine (eventually).

One of the goodie bags given away on the day, plus contents.

Just some of the highlights of the day
  • Meeting so many FF fans and backers of YOU ARE THE HERO.
  • Meeting the Demonic Three (a.k.a. Mark Lain, Steve Leicester and Jam Hirons).
  • Seeing a Goblin patrolling the queue attempting to register on the day and berating them generally.
  • The FF Exhibition.
  • Damien Sparkes' FF miniatures.
  • People asking me to sign original copies of Spellbreaker and Knights of Doom, along with my other gamebooks at the mass signing.
  • The FF Auction (with Ian Livingstone working the room like a pro).
  • Getting the band back together. (All of the WARLOCK level backers who went for lunch with Steve and Ian back in June 2013 were there.)
  • Thomas Nielsen winning the costume competition dressed, appropriately enough, as Zagor the Warlock.
  • Facebook friends and Twitter adventurers meeting in person for the first time.
  • My Skill, Stamina and Luck t-shirt.
  • Having my photo taken by Legend Photography alongside Ian and Steve.
  • The positive atmosphere and happy con-buzz (which still hasn't left me).

Who let that Goblin in?

Pure Evil Miniatures' take on some Fighting Fantasy classics.

The Downside
  • Timings going a little out the window (but thank goodness the hotel let us stay on for an extra hour).
  • Not getting my own copy of YOU ARE THE HERO signed by all of the guests.
  • Not having enough time to speak to anyone beyond saying "Hello, thanks for coming" in some cases.

The creators of Fighting Fantasy, Ian Livingstone and Steve Jackson, and the author of YOU ARE THE HERO - A History of Fighting Fantasy Gamebooks, Jonathan Green.

FFF 2014 would not have run so smoothly without the help of my family and best friend Andy, so a massive thank you to them***. But the biggest thanks has to go to all those who attended. If you hadn't stumped up for a ticket or two, the event could not have happened.

There are already rumblings regarding FFF 2015. I think it's safe to say that if we do do it again, it won't be quite the same as this year, put I will also be sending out a questionnaire, in due course, for attendees of FFF 2014 to give their feedback and have their say regarding what they would like to see at the next Fighting Fantasy Fest.

If you missed the event, the exclusive Zagor the Warlock miniature that was given away in the event goodie bag is now available to buy from Otherworld Miniatures. And if you'd like to see some more photos from the day, you can do so here.

Because of all the work involved in preparing for (and promoting) Fighting Fantasy Fest, I completely failed to blog about Bex Levene's Smiler's Fair book launch, Geekfest 2014, or even what I got up to at Loncon 3 (which including accidentally saying "Hi" to George R R Martin). However, I'm back on the blogging horse now and would like to let you know about some other events that I shall be appearing at in the run up to Christmas.

MCM Comic Con London
Saturday 25th & Sunday 26th October 2014
I'll be at MCM two out of the three days it's running, selling my Steampunk Pax Britannia novels as well as bringing along YOU ARE THE HERO this year.

Kilburn Literary Festival
Sunday 2nd November 2014 (2.00pm-3.30pm)
I shall be at the North London Tavern, talking about how my History of Fighting Fantasy Gamebooks came to be, giving you the story of the book, as it were (rather like the 'Making of...' documentaries you get on DVDs).

Steampunks in Space
Saturday 29th & Sunday 30th November 2014
I will be at the National Space Centre in Leicester for a weekend of Steampunk splendidness. So why not come along and pick up one of my Pax Britannia novels while you're there? After all, Dark Side is set in space as well as on the Moon!

Saturday 6th December 2014 (10.00am-6.00pm)
I'm going to have a table at Dragonmeet this year, so come along and pick up one of the last hardbacks of the first edition of YOU ARE THE HERO and get it signed at the same time!

Maybe I'll see you at one of the above...

* 7.00 a.m.

** Goodie bags, Kickstarter backer copies of YOU ARE THE HERO, bottles of water...

*** It's been particularly gratifying to read other people's kind comments about how hard my wife worked on the day, and even one attendee remarking how much he enjoyed embarking upon an AFF adventure with my sprogs.

Friday 26 September 2014

Gamebook Friday: YOU ARE THE HERO reviewed

It's been a couple of weeks since YOU ARE THE HERO - A History of Fighting Fantasy Gamebooks, was released on an unsuspecting public, and with all the Kickstarter backer copies having been sent out into the wild now, the book has begun to receive some reviews, and very favourable they are too.

Geek Syndicate has this to say about the book: "You Are The Hero is a magnificent work that manages to be objective and passionate about the series it discusses. A more fitting tribute to the series that saw me through my youth I can’t really imagine." 4.5/5

Lew Stringer, the comic artist who provided a brand new Derek the Troll strip for the book, reviewed it both here and here. Lew said that the book, "looks very interesting because it seems to be written for both Joe Public and the hard core gamer, which can't be a bad thing... The book is well illustrated throughout with numerous images, including many full page book covers without the cover copy so that you can fully appreciate the art."

Games designer Jake Thornton even gave YOU ARE THE HERO a mention over at Quirkworthy.com.

Realm of Chaos 80s loved the book! "The book is a joy! An absolute joy! Even if you have a slimmest interest in FF this book is worth buying. Every page brings a new memory, a new fact and a bigger, broader smile!"

Starburst Magazine had this to say: "Green has produced a beautifully edited and firmly present account of a phenomenon that for some is as important as Transformers or Star Wars and yet has been pretty much overlooked by the mainstream. If you’ve recently become reacquainted with the idea of turning to page 400 and want to know more about this strangely British fandom, then this is the best place to start." 8/10

Corehammer.com also liked it: "You Are The Hero is an absolute triumph. It is a love letter to a cherished memory, written with a scholars knowledge and a fanboys heart."

And then there are the 22 5-star reviews on Amazon.co.uk*,  the 5-star review on Amazon.fr, and the 5-star review on Waterstones.com**.

If you would like to pick up a physical copy of the book, you can do so here. However, if ebooks are more your thing these days, you can download a digital copy of YOU ARE THE HERO here. And if you enjoy it, feel free to add your own review online.

* As of writing. ;-)

** That has mysteriously vanished!

Thursday 25 September 2014

Steampunk Thursday: Leviathan Rising

Luzifer-Verlag, the German publishers who published a German edition of Unnatural History last year, will soon be releasing a German language edition of my second Pax Britannia novel Leviathan Rising. And here's the new cover by Timo K├╝mmel...

Wednesday 24 September 2014

Warhammer Wednesday: The Connoisseurs of Pain

The Dark Eldar are getting a lot of attention from Games Workshop at the moment. The revamped Warhammer 40K army have some very cool troop types, not least of which are the haemonculi and their various, tortured pain engines.

Both feature in my Warhammer 40K gamebook Herald of Oblivion, which (incredibly) is already over two years old! If you've not read it yet, you can pick up a copy here.

Monday 22 September 2014

Thought for the Day - Stephen King On Writing

Says the man whose money made him both rich and famous. And does anyone actually understand the end of the quote? It's so badly expressed...

Friday 19 September 2014

Gamebook Friday: Talk Like a Pirate Day

In case you didn't already know, today was International Talk Like a Pirate Day, and, as usual, this has meant a couple of my gamebooks have been given a fresh plug.

First up is Bloodbones (originally written eighteen years old and first published eight years ago!) which is going to be coming to a handheld device near you soon, courtesy of Tin Man Games.

Secondly, my Gamebook Adventures app Temple of the Spider God was second on Gamezebo's list of 19 games in which you can play a pirate, coming second only to Assassin's Creed 4, which was nice.


If you want to know the story of how Bloodbones first came to be and then almost never saw print at all, you should pick up a copy of YOU ARE THE HERO - A History of Fighting Fantasy Gamebooks. ;-)

Monday 15 September 2014

Thought for the Day

"Fairy tales are more than true: not because they tell us that dragons exist, but because they tell us that dragons can be beaten."
~ Neil Gaiman


Saturday 6 September 2014

Fighting Fantasy Fest 2014 - A few final things...

This time tomorrow* I shall be at the DoubleTree Hilton hotel in Ealing, setting up for the world's first, international, Fighting Fantasy Gamebooks convention, Fighting Fantasy Fest 2014**.

If you are attending tomorrow (tickets are now no longer on sale) there are a few things to bear in mind.

1) Car Parking 
There is free parking at the hotel for those attending FFF 2014. As you arrive at the car park, you will need to take a ticket from the barrier machine and get this validated at reception. Reception are aware that complimentary car parking is offered to all guests attending the event.

2) Tickets
Please remember to bring your tickets with you tomorrow, so that we can check you in at Registration with the minimum amount of fuss. (Doors open at 10.30am, but we may well be able to starting registering you before then.)

3) Book Signing
The mass signing will be at (or maybe even just slightly before) 3.00pm on Sunday. Due to the numbers of people we are expecting, there will be a limit of two items signed by each guest at the mass signing***. If the queue has gone down later, by all means come back then to get something else signed, or try to catch your idols as the event is winding down at the end of the day. And there's no reason why you can't ask the guests to sign something for you while you're chatting to them earlier on in the day.

4) Collecting your copy of YOU ARE THE HERO
If you are planning on collecting your Kickstarter backer copy of YOU ARE THE HERO - A History of Fighting Fantasy Gamebooks at FFF 2014, hopefully you've emailed me by now at info@jonathangreenauthor.com. (If you haven't, you have until midday today, otherwise I cannot guarantee your book will be ready for you tomorrow.) As everyone excitedly enters the con, our priority will be checking in attendees and giving out the correct goodie bags to everyone. As a result, you might need to wait until the dust has settled before collecting your copy of YOU ARE THE HERO from Registration. I only ask that you be patient with us.

5) Food and Drink
Both are available in the hotel, and although there are other eateries nearby, it would be a shame to miss out on the atmosphere of what is going to be a very exciting day for everyone involved. So if possible, frequent the Black Lobster Tavern in the main event foyer (where you could end up having a drink with one of your childhood idols), or use the hotel cafe (just across the hotel lobby from the function rooms). Failing that, I would recommend bringing some sandwiches to tide you over during the day.

6) WiFi
There is free WiFi at the hotel for FFF 2014 attendees. The username and password will be displayed inside the event. Although we have an official photographer and videographer, feel free to take your own photos and video snippets of panels on your smartphone throughout the day. The only thing I would ask is that you publish them on social media (via Facebook, Twitter and the like) and Tweet using the hashtag #FFF2014 as well as the handles @fightingfantasy @stevejacksonuk @ian_livingstone @jonathangreen @You_Are_TheHero @snowbooks @tinmangames @inkleStudios etc.

The only thing that there remains for me to say is I shall look forward to seeing you tomorrow, and let's hope all our STAMINA scores hold out until the end of the adventure.

* That's 7.00am on Sunday morning, in case you're wondering.

** Don't know what I'm talking about? Where have you been for the last four months?

*** So you could ask Tony Hough to sign two books but ask me to sign to completely different books, for example.

Thursday 4 September 2014

Fighting Fantasy Fest 2014 - Featuring Scriptarium!

I am very pleased to share with you the news that Scriptarium, the French publishers of Advanced Fighting Fantasy, will be in attendance at Fighting Fantasy Fest 2014 - which is fast becoming the first international convention dedicated to Fighting Fantasy Gamebooks!

You can find out more about the company here, and they also graciously allowed me to use some of their artwork in YOU ARE THE HERO - A History of Fighting Fantasy Gamebooks.

And don't forget the auction that will be taking place at the end of the convention! These are just some of the items that are up for auction on the day.

 Deathtrap Dungeon swords – A pair of swords, made in 1998, to promote Ian Livingstone's Deathtrap Dungeon PC game.

 Fighting Fantasy 50s – Seven of the hard-to-find FF adventures published between 1992 and 1995, all of them in either excellent or mint condition. (One lot.)

The Warlock of Firetop Mountain (Nintendo DS game) – A copy of the Nintendo DS The Warlock of Firetop Mountain, never released in Europe.

 Ian Livingstone's Deathtrap Dungeon – A limited edition copy of the Ian Livingstone's Deathtrap Dungeon PC game, from 1998, complete with a copy of the gamebook and card game of the same name.

 Casket of Souls – A rare, mint condition copy of the hardback edition of Ian Livingstone’s Casket of Souls, published in 1987.

The Warlock of Firetop Mountain poster – A rare, framed, promotional poster for The Warlock of Firetop Mountain, produced by Puffin Books in 1982, signed by Steve Jackson and Ian Livingstone.

Dicing with Dragons – rate US editions of Ian Livingstone’s book, one hardback and one paperback.

So don't delay, grab your ticket today, while there's still time!

Wednesday 3 September 2014

Fighting Fantasy Fest 2014 - Featuring Damien Sparkes of Pure Evil Miniatures

 One of the guests attending Fighting Fantasy Fest on Sunday is miniature sculptor Damien Sparkes, of Pure Evil Miniatures.

FFF 2014 will be the first time Damien reveals the results of the project he has been working on for the last year with Ian Livingstone, and as one of those lucky individuals who has already had a sneak peak I can assure you that you will not be disappointed.

FF fans and dedicated miniatures collectors are not going to want to miss this... So buy your ticket today, before they run out!

Tuesday 2 September 2014

Fighting Fantasy Fest Costume Competition

I know that some of those attending Fighting Fantasy Fest are already preparing what they're going to wear for the day, and I have it on good authority that will we see at least one Zagor the Warlock!

It's not too late to put together your own FF-themed outfit for the day. Indeed, anyone dressing up for FFF 2014 will be able to take part in a costume competition, the winner being decided by the other attendees on the day. The prize? A framed, signed  poster of Ian Livingstone's Blood of the Zombies book cover!

So what are you waiting for? Get out that needle and thread and get sewing! (And buy your ticket here.)

Monday 1 September 2014

Fighting Fantasy Fest 2014 - Food and drink

Going to Fighting Fantasy Fest 2014 on Sunday? Wondering what you're going to do for food and drink?

Well have no fear, because the event has its own bar for the day - The Black Lobster Tavern - and the DoubleTree Hilton has a cafe, literally just across the foyer from where we'll be celebrating all things Fighting Fantasy. Even better, a lunch hour has been factored into the schedule for the day.

Of course, you could also spend that hour perusing the stalls in Port Blacksand and Darkwood Forest. Among the traders are:
  • Otherworld Miniatures - who have produced the highly collectible Zagor miniature that will be in every attendee's goodie bag.
  • Leisure Games - purveyors of only the finest board games.
  • Snowbooks - publishers of YOU ARE THE HERO - A History of Fighting Fantasy Gamebooks
  • FightingFantasy.com - Jamie Fry will have FF gamebooks both old and new for sale on his stand.
  • Arion Games - publishers of Advanced Fighting Fantasy Second Edition.
  • All Rolled Up - suppliers of gamebook gaming accessories, who will have some very special, bespoke items for sale.
  • Scriptarium - French publishers of Advanced Fighting Fantasy.
  • Legend Photography - who will take your FF-themed portrait, props included.

Thought for the Day

"A non-writing writer is a monster courting insanity."
~ Franz Kafka