Today, we also see the return of James Schannep, who we interviewed last year about his gamebook , about a zombie apocalypse. This year, James has released another gamebook, MURDERED which is currently at $0.99 for the Kindle edition. Here is James.
Where did you get the idea to do a murder mystery?
My question has always been: What would be the most fun to read? With INFECTED, I gave people the opportunity to pit themselves against zombies. Now, with MURDERED, readers can see if they have what it takes to solve a mystery. As far as I know, there's never been a detailed "whodunit" gamebook for a mature audience.
How do you plan out your gamebooks?
I create a comprehensive skeleton plot and then let inspiration to serve as the meat. It's a thrilling way to write: at the end of every chapter I rack my brain for every possible choice/outcome for a given situation. More often than not, I surprise myself.
What is the hardest thing about writing a gamebook?
Ending it. With the opportunity for near limitless choice, it feels as if a book could go on forever! So far, each of my books are around 120k words, which is twice as long as some novels. But I know the readers appreciate a comprehensive experience.
The "inspiration" I talked about in question 2. It's a fantastic day when a new story element takes me by surprise. Writing a gamebook is a journey of discovery.
What advice would you off to someone who thinks that they want to write their own gamebook?
Keep a roadmap! Unless you’re reading this as a computer AI (in which case, I’m very flattered), you’ll have a hard time remembering so many parallel timelines and events. I keep detailed flowcharts in the hopes that I won’t get lost in my own mind.
What spoils a gamebook for you?
I get frustrated when the author doesn't keep track of their own world. I recently read a Choose Your Own Adventure where you're looking for your uncle in a museum. There comes a point where you must choose to keep looking in the building or to board a truck and check there. If you choose the former, you find your uncle in a suit of armor. If you choose the latter, you find him in a sarcophagus on the truck. This sort of thing (is he two places at once?) makes me feel like my choices hold little weight in the context of the story.
What makes a gamebook stand out for you?
Depth and breadth of choices. Are the differences in the story purely cosmetic? Or do we as the reader truly effect the story world? I do my best to keep my books in the second camp.
What future projects do you have that you can talk about? What theme will you do next?
Up next: SUPERPOWERED -- an action/adventure where you get one of three super-human abilities (you can go back and try the others). Will you be a hero or a villain?
What is your wish for gamebooks?
I'll be happy when a wide audience knows they exist!
You can buy a Kindle or paperback version of MURDERED from Amazon. Also, check out Jame's author page, his blog and his Twitter feed.