Wednesday 30 November 2016

Joe Dever - 1956-2016

I met Joe Dever, for the first time, at Dragonmeet three years ago.

Joe Dever at Dragonmeet 2013.

Today I discovered that he passed away yesterday morning, after battling with ill-health for a long time. He was 60 years old.

If you are reading this blog, then you probably already know that Joe was the creator and writer of the Lone Wolf series of adventure gamebooks, which were set in the incredibly well-developed world of Magnamund.

Although I only met Joe in 2013, I had been aware of his works since the 1980s. I owned a few Lone Wolf adventures, but I personally preferred the Fighting Fantasy range because they provided the reader with more choices. I felt that Lone Wolf books were more like solo RPGs that wanted to be novels. This is probably why I actually preferred reading the Legends of Lone Wolf (co-authored with John Grant).

However, as I grew older I began to appreciate all the more what an incredible, and richly detailed, creation of the world of Magnamund was. Where the Fighting Fantasy world of Titan was a fantasy realm created by a committee who never met, and who rarely seemed to even speak to one another, Magnamund and Lone Wolf were the vision of one man, developed over decades.

Joe Dever at the UK Games Expo 2016.

When I did finally meet Joe, I found him to be affable and encouraging, always willing to chat about all things gamebook-related and pose for a photograph.

Joe Dever at Dragonmeet 2015.

From then on I caught up with Joe once or twice a year - usually at Dragonmeet and the UK Games Expo - and he was always interested in what I was working on, and I'm pleased to say I was able to give him a copy of Alice's Nightmare in Wonderland on its launch day.

Dragonmeet will be a strange place without him this Saturday and he will be sadly missed by many, right around the world.

But although the man himself is lost to us - and there are still three uncompleted Lone Wolf adventures, which he was still working on up until Monday night - his work endures, and that is quite some legacy.

Or, to put it in the words of another much missed author: “No one is actually dead until the ripples they cause in the world die away...” ~ Terry Pratchett, Reaper Man

For Sommerlund and the Kai - RIP Joe Dever.

Christmas Explained: A is for Saint Andrew

What does Saint Andrew, the patron saint of Scotland, have to with preparations for Christmas? Buy Christmas Explained: Robins, King and Brussel Sprouts to find out!

Monday 28 November 2016

Dragonmeet 2016

I shall be attending Dragonmeet 2016 this Saturday, 3rd December 2016, at the Hammersmith Novotel, in London. You will find me on stand Q10, where I shall be selling copies of my adventure gamebook Alice's Nightmare in Wonderland, as well as a few of my Fighting Fantasy books.

You also have permission to quiz me about The Wicked Wizard of Oz - but no spoilers, okay?

I shall be joined during the day by Steve Jackson - creator of the Sorcery! series, author of the Fighting Fantasy novel The Trolltooth Wars, co-creator of the Fighting Fantasy series of gamebooks, co-founder of Game Workshop, and one of the godfathers of the UK gaming industry.

So if you're coming to Dragonmeet, please drop by stand Q10 and say hello. Online ticket sales close on Thursday night, so if you don't want to miss out on getting in a much shorter queue on Saturday morning, get your tickets in advance here!

Thought for the Day

"If writing can be its own reward for you, it will survive whatever happens to you as a writer."

Friday 25 November 2016

Gamebook Friday: The Wicked Wizard of Oz OST

When I am working on a particular project, I often end up creating a quasi-soundtrack for the book, purely as a consequence of the kind of music I listen to whilst writing it, and that helps get me in the correct creative state of mind.

So far, much of The Wicked Wizard of Oz has been written whilst listening to the 'Doctor Strange' and 'Fantastic Beasts' soundtracks. But now that I've moved onto the Wicked Witch of the West's route through the adventure I find the music changing too, to that of Blackmore's Night, specifically the album 'Fires at Midnight'.

Oh, and for those of you keeping count, the writing of The Wicked Wizard of Oz is rapidly approaching section 700!

Thursday 24 November 2016

Happy Thanksgiving, America!

Today I am thankful for all my readers and followers in the United States. I should say I am grateful to all my fans, but as it's Thanksgiving Day in the US I am going to focus on my American friends, who are actually responsible for for than twice as many visits to my blog as the next nearest nation, which just happens to be the UK*.

Back in May 2011 I set up a widget on my blog to track how many visitors drop by to read through my missives. In the intervening five and a half years, the blog has received over 191,724 visits, and you can see many of them on this map of the World.

Click on the map to see a larger version.

And here's the USA.

As you can see, my readership comes from right across the country. It is also highly likely that some of those visitors picked up the Alice's Nightmare in Wonderland Colouring Book, which has now received 108 5-star reviews on!

So, Happy Thanksgiving Day, America!

* Russia is third!

Wednesday 23 November 2016

Happy 53rd Birthday, Doctor Who!

And what better way to celebrate the occasion than by joining the Doctor on one of his most recent adventures?

Tuesday 22 November 2016

SHARKPUNK - The Audiobook!

Fresh from the minds of twenty-two top writers comes an anthology of killer shark stories to sate all appetites. From SF to WTF, from gritty to whimsical, these stories all have weight and depth as vast as the deep blue ocean. And now you can get it as an audiobook from Circle of Spears Productions!

This is the first release featuring all the members of Circle of Spears, which presents SHARKPUNK in its entirety in both Download and MP3 CD format. Over 13 hours of shark-themed stories available for the first time in audio!

And if you need any more persuading, just check out the reviews the print edition has received.

Even if you've already read the stories contained within the anthology, you owe it to yourself to download and listen to the audio version as well - and it really helps make the time pass while you're preparing supper, or paintings your wargaming miniatures.

So what are you waiting for? Come on in... The water's fine...

You can buy the 2-disc MP3 CD set here, and you can buy the MP3 Digital Download here.

Monday 21 November 2016

Thought for the Day

"It is perfectly okay to write garbage - as long as you edit brilliantly."

~ C. J. Cherryh

Sunday 20 November 2016

Interactive Fiction Saturday: AdventureX 2016 and WordPlay London

For some reason, this weekend seems to be the weekend of Interactive Fiction here in London. AdventureX is enjoying its sixth(?) and biggest year, with all manner of people demoing all manner of interactive adventures over the course of the weekend at Goldsmiths University in south-east London, and yesterday saw the international WordPlay festival take over the British Library for the day. Seeing as how I live a tube ride away from central London, it seemed rude not to attend both.

Goldsmiths University, venue for AdventureX 2016.

I started at AdventureX, where I listened to a very interesting conversation with Rhianna Pratchett and briefly got the chance to say hello afterwards, and then headed back across London to the British Library, where I was appearing on a panel myself.

Rhianna Pratchett in conversation.

Both events took over their respective venues, with laptops dotted about the place and people trying out each others games (AdventureX in a stairwell/hallway, and WordPlay in the environs of the British Library). There was a real buzz at both events and it was pleasing to see that the gamebook hasn't died out, rather than it has evolved.

The British Library, venue for WordPlay London.

I arrived at WordPlay in time to hear the panel before mine, entitled 'Practical Considerations of Writerly Games' and found myself nodding away as the panellists discussed the pros and cons of crowdfunding platforms, the challenges faced by independent games designers trying to market their games, and how to actually earn any money from such ventures.

Does what it says on the tin...

And then it was time for 'Worldbuilding with Words'. Hannah Powell-Smith (creator of various interactive games in which a far bit of making out seems to take place) did a sterling job moderating our panel, on which I was joined by Helen Carmichael (whose new game 'Shadowhand' is out imminently) and Nate Crowley (who has contributed a story to the soon-to-be-Kickstarted short story anthology SHARKPUNK 2).

We discussed how to avoid overloading readers with information, pacing, design vs storytelling, creating believable worlds within a limited word count, and matching the setting to the game mechanics. (I also plugged Alice's Nightmare in Wonderland and The Wicked Wizard of Oz - a lot!)

After all that talking, it was only right that we decamped to a hostelry down the road to refresh ourselves and talk more about this business we call 'Writing'.

Thanks to everyone who came along to listen to our panel (especially loyal FF fan James Aukett) and for being such an involved and interested audience*. And here's to WordPlay London happening again next year!

* One gentlemen was taking copious notes on his laptop and I'd love to read his transcription of the talks, if such a thing were possible.

Friday 18 November 2016

Gamebook Friday: NaNoWriMo progress and WordPlay London

Just a reminder that tomorrow, Saturday 19th November 2016, I shall be taking part in WordPlay London at the British Library.

You can find out more about this event by following this link to last weekend's post about it. The panel I'm going to be on is currently scheduled to take place from 4.15pm-5.00pm, and is called:

Worldbuilding with Words
Creators of interactive fiction, prose-forward games, Twitter microfictions and gamebooks discuss the challenges and joys of using words to evoke historical eras and weird universes.

In other news, you'll see that I've made significant progress with The Wicked Wizard of Oz since last week.

Monday 14 November 2016

Thought for the Day

"However great a man's natural talent may be, the art of writing cannot be learned all at once."

~ Jean-Jacques Rousseau (1712-1778)

Sunday 13 November 2016

Jonathan Green at WordPlay London 2016

Next Saturday, 19th November 2016, I shall be taking part in WordPlay London at the British Library.

WordPlay is the Hand Eye Society's international festival of writerly games and the British Library is the ideal venue. For one thing, it’s the largest library in the world boasting a collection of over 170,000,000 items. For another thing, one of those items is the manuscript copy of Alice’s Adventures Under Ground (which was later published as Alice's Adventures in Wonderland). And for yet another thing, the Beowulf manuscript (the oldest surviving long poem in Old English) is housed there.

London has been chosen as the location for this year's festival because of the wealth of interactive fiction talent in the UK, including friends of Fighting Fantasy, inkle Studios. The date, Saturday 19th November, has been chosen to coincide with International Games in Libraries Day.

The panel I'm going to be on is currently scheduled to take place from 4.15pm-5.00pm, and is called:

Worldbuilding with Words
Creators of interactive fiction, prose-forward games, Twitter microfictions and gamebooks discuss the challenges and joys of using words to evoke historical eras and weird universes.
Hannah Powell-Smith, Twine creator
Nate Crowley, dystopic Twitter writer
Helen Carmichael, historical game writer
Jon Green, gamebook author

As the focus of the festival is digital games, I think I'm there to represent the retro processed tree carcass contingent.

So, if you're interested to know how I endeavour to evoke different eras and settings using words alone (and a minimal number at that) they why not come along next Saturday?

Maybe I'll see you there.

Friday 11 November 2016

Gamebook Friday: On NaNoWriMo and the Dangers of Project Fatigue

As readers who have been following this blog for some time will know, I've dabbled with NaNoWriMo* in the past. (As has my friend Bill King.)

I contemplated taking part again this year, to work on a new project, but it got to the start of November and The Wicked Wizard of Oz was still unfinished and so I have decided to use NaNoWriMo as a motivational tool to help get me through to the end.

Why? You may well ask. Basically, two months into writing my latest gamebook I found myself in need a something to motivate me to keep going.

Why? Because half term happened, including a family holiday, and I took a break to write a couple of short stories, and I have a raft of new projects, snapping at my heels, that also need to be written. Also, because despite having reached section 500 I am still nowhere near the end of this particular adventure. The Wicked Wizard of Oz is going to be significantly longer than Alice's Nightmare in Wonderland (which means it will also be my longest gamebook to date) but then that's what happens when you allow the player to be one of five different characters all with their own abilities and unique backstories!

You will see that I actually started NaNoWriMo a week late, but I'm confident that I'll be able to catch up, and besides, I'm back on the horse now and galloping into Winkie Country as I type. Sort of.

I feel I should point out that the word count displayed above is what I've written during NaNoWriMo, not the total word count for the book so far!

In other news, someone has written a new and very pleasing 5-star review of Night of the Kraken, and fans of gamebooks may be interested to know that Joe Dever's Grey Star is back, courtesy of a new Kickstarter campaign.

* A.k.a. National Novel Writing Month.

Wednesday 9 November 2016

Thought for the Day

or 'Woeful Wednesday: On writing and the futility of existence'

Whatever your personal politics, you can't help but be dismayed as the divisions that are forming around the world at present and the economic consequences of recent democratic decisions.

Like many other creatives, I am sure, I find that my ability to work on creative projects is directly affected by my mood. If I'm distracted by things, I find it hard to settle. If I am worried about things, I find it hard to write anything at all.

Waking up to today's news, that the leader of the free world is to be one President Trump - on top of everything else that is going on in Syria, Russia, and the rest of Europe - my initial reaction was, "What is the point in even turning on the laptop today? How can I contemplate spending my time writing a silly little gamebook based on The Wizard of Oz? The world might end tomorrow. What's the point?"

Now I would never claim that what I do is Art. For example, the other night I was out with friends and heard some incredible tales about their time working in Kuwait around the time of the first Gulf War. One of them said I should write a book about it. Then another asked me what I'm working on at the moment, and even as I was explaining The Wicked Wizard of Oz to them, I felt like what I was doing with my days was insignificant and juvenile, when compared to the woes facing the world.

I don't do Art, I do Entertainment. And that remembrance was the trigger that meant I deleted the self-indulgent tweet I had composed* and sat down to write this blog post instead.

I'm not saying that people should disengage from politics and the world, and live in Airy Fairy Land. Far from it. But if reading a inconsequential little book inspired by The Wizard of Oz improves someone's day in these dark times, if only for a minute, then surely it's worth knuckling down to finish said book.

As I said, I would never claim to create Art, with a capital A, but today, Neil Gaiman's words are going to be my mantra.

* In case you're wondering, it read: I shouldn't do politics on social media, it never ends well, but there doesn't seem much point in working today. #amnotwriting #pointless

Tuesday 8 November 2016

Tie-in Tuesday: Robin of Sherwood - The Knights of the Apocalypse

Word is that my long-awaited novelisation of Richard Carpenter's Robin of Sherwood: The Knights of the Apocalypse will be released by the end of he month, with spare copies left over from the printing to fulfil pledges for the crowdfunding campaign going on sale through the Spiteful Puppet website.

I will, of course, keep you informed of developments. After all, nothing's forgotten... Nothing is ever forgotten.

Monday 7 November 2016

Thought for the Day

"Good writing is essentially rewriting."

~ Roald Dahl, author (1916-1990)

Saturday 5 November 2016

Sharkpunk Saturday: SHARKPUNK - The Audiobook

I found myself down in Poole this week, appropriately enough, there to record my own introduction to the short story anthology SHARKPUNK.

It was a revelation with regards to how much work goes in to recording a segment that's about seven minutes long, and I can't wait to listen to it along with the other stories in the anthology.

The audiobook is being produced by Circle of Spears Productions, led by Helen Stirling, who was the one who had to patiently ask me to re-record names of Hawaiian shark gods and the like.

 The Talking Shed.

Inside the Talking Shed.

Helen Stirling at the recording desk - and who wouldn't want a TARDIS for their recording desk?

Yours Truly, inside the Talking Shed.

Helen working her magic inside the Talking Shed.

Helen also just happens to be married to SHARKPUNK and Shakespeare Vs Cthulhu contributor Andrew Lane, who stopped by to say hello and talk all things sharks, Cthulhu and Sherlock Holmes.

Quiet! Genius at work!

Andrew Lane, and obligatory pet Godzilla.

SHARKPUNK - The Audiobook will be released soon, and I will of course let you know when it's on sale.