Thursday, April 5, 2012

April A to Z - E is for Excalibur Junior - an interview with Herbie Brennan, Grailquest author

Herbie Brennan
If you're reading this blog today, then you are no longer sitting in front of your computer.  You've actually been transported to Avalon into the mind of a young adventurer called Pip.  Pip is currently in some kind of bizarre abode  of the grumpy wizard Merlin who will talk about a quest, teach some spells and send Pip out to encounter all the wacky characters in Avalon such as a vampire poet, a talking sword, some crazy turkeys, a nice king who dresses like a villainous black knight, an actual villainous black knight and many many more.

Welcome to Grailquest, a series of eight humorous gamebooks set (mostly) during the time of King Arthur.  It's author, Herbie Brennan managed to make humour work with the gamebooks (no mean feat) and create a versatile, flavourful and easy to use game system.  You can read more about Grailquest here and here .

But before you do that, why don't you read this interview with Grailquest's author, Herbie Brennan.

What was the first gamebook you read (that wasn't your own)?Warlock of Firetop Mountain

What is your favourite gamebook? Don’t really have one. I was a huge D&D role play gamer, but I’m embarrassed to admit I wrote gamebooks rather than read them.

What gamebooks/interactive fiction would you recommend to a newcomer to the genre? I’d love to say GrailQuest, not because it’s mine but because the game system is very simple and easy to learn. 

Summarise what a gamebook is to a newcomer in 100 characters or fewer. An adventure in which you are the hero.

Why are gamebooks great compared to games or books?They’re played in your imagination, where the pictures are always better, but you don’t have to put together an adventure group.

Where did you come up with your ideas for Grailquest? It grew out of the notion that Merlin could use a magical book to cast a spell over anyone who opened it. The GrailQuests were my magical books.

Where did you come up with your ideas for the Grailquest game system? I wanted something as simple as possible so readers could get on with the game.

What was your favourite part about writing Grailquest? It was the most fun I’d had in years.

When it comes to writing a gamebook, what's the most important thing that you do? Keeping track of where the sections lead to. If you go wrong there, it can kill the adventure. Beyond that, you have to see everything from the reader’s viewpoint otherwise the adventure just won’t work.

What have you got coming up in terms of your gamebook projects? I’m currently in negotiation for an electronic version of the GrailQuest.

Do you have any other sites besides’s a blog at . I’m also on Facebook, YouTube and Twitter, but not very actively.

What do you think the future of gamebooks is? I think the future of books generally is in a bit of a crisis at the moment because of electronic developments. I suspect gamebooks more than most will tend to go electronic.


  1. Great to hear that GrailQuest is coming back in digital form. Herbie Brennan is a pioneer of the medium and his work still holds up as some of the very best gamebooks ever written.

  2. @Dave Thanks for visiting! Yes - I too am glad that Grailquest is coming back as I didn't get the chance to get all of the hard copies.

  3. I love J.H. Brennan. His humour in the GrailQuest kept them going for longer than they normally would have.