Tuesday, April 24, 2012

April A to Z - U is for Undead filled new Fighting Fantasy books - an interview with Jamie Fry, webmaster of the official Fighting Fantasy site (aka the Warlock)

Today, we have Jamie Fry a long time Fighting Fantasy fan who brings us lots of information and news on Fighting Fantasy with his website Fighting Fantasy Collector.  Of course, then he became the webmaster of the official Fighting Fantasy website (and obtained the title The Warlock).  I contacted him to as him about his rise to the official webmaster and whether he could tell us anything about Ian Livingstone's new 30th anniversary gamebook.

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

I think the only way I can answer that is the one’s I used to borrow from the Library. I am afraid I cannot recall which one I read first but I do remember reading Lone Wolf as much as Fighting Fantasy. This was the only  way I could keep up as I couldn’t afford to buy them all myself at the rate they all came out in those days.

What is your favourite gamebook?

It sounds boring to keep saying but it has to be House of Hell and I still have the very worn copy. I also enjoyed a series called ‘Legends of Skyfall’.

What gamebooks/interactive fiction would you recommend to a newcomer to the genre?

It has to be Fighting Fantasy but in this digital age I would also recommend the iOS Gamebook Adventures published by Tin Man Games.

Summarise what a gamebook is to a newcomer in 100 characters or fewer.

A book that is a game with many endings all dependent on the decisions you make and the roll of a dice

Why are gamebooks great compared to games or books?

The sheer interactiveness. You can roll dice, create characters, they are portable and re-playable. You can collect things, fight, travel, the list is endless (even die and get to do it all over again!). I think the pictures inside at each encounter make a difference, done well they can help you realise a scenario much better

How did you come to edit the official site?

It originally started when I showed up at Gamesfest 4 and met Steve Jackson. I managed to to get some time with him and share my first checklist guide which he encouraged me to finish. The
following year I was contacted by Ian via my other sitewww.fightingfantasycollector.co.uk asking me if I’d like to sell on some of his books. Following a series of e-mails between them I got to meet them in London and they offered me the opportunity. i didn’t take long to say yes. 
Image from Blood of the

What's new for the official site in 2012?

I think it will predominantly be about the 30th Anniversary, the Authors journey’s around the country for the celebrations and the launch of Ian's new gamebook, Blood of Zombies.

Can you tell us anything about Ian Livingstone's new book?

Well, now you know it is to be called Blood of the Zombies. It could have been Escape from Zombie Castle but based on a fan vote the latter was chosen. Being on the inside as it were has not meant I am party to anything else I am afraid. It is frustratingly a closely guarded secret, even for me he will only drip feed the info .I do know that the illustrations will be done by Kevin Crossley. I did ask if I could play test it but I think Ian was too afraid I would leak it! Cheers Ian. When I know more I will be the first to post it on the official site. I do believe though that something great is brewing and you will all love the outcome.

When it comes to writing a gamebook, what's the most important thing that you do?

Would it come as a surprise to you that I have never written a full one? Based on what I do know though is that a good imagination will not get the job done alone, research and planning are also key to completing a great gamebook. I read a lot of blogs etc on this subject including that of Jonathan Greens and I admire the amount of effort that goes into writing one. I realise it a lot of it can be done without the research but even Steve and Ian drew on experiences life had thrown at them but they used their imaginations to turn them into fantastical storylines.

What have you got coming up in terms of your gamebook/competition projects?

I said earlier that I have never written one but that is not to say I won’t. I do have plans to do something but it is very much in the planning stage. I have a few ideas up my sleeve that need shaping so watch this space.  I have a column in the Fighting Fantazine and I am also working on version 3 of my Fighting Fantasy Collector Checklist and Price Guide for 2012 that I will be launching soon.]

Do you have any other sites/blogs/twitter feeds besides www.fightingfantasy.com?

Yes, as alluded to earlier I run www.fightingfantasycollector.co.uk as well, But since i took on the other site I have neglected it somewhat. It still remains the number one place to look up all the Fighting Fantasy book covers and collectables. I see myself now as an on-line curator of this material. If I had more time i would tidy it up and modernise it somewhat. I don’t have a related blog just because of lack of time. I hold down a corporate 9 to 5 job and my other hobby of crafting keeps me busy (www.creativestores.co.uk/UncleBundleCrafts) enough. I tweet as me @jamie_fry or as The Warlock @fightingfantasy.

What do you think the future of gamebooks is?

Very exciting, this is certainly the year for it and one to remember them by. I think we are going to see new authors, new genres, new concepts and a lot of them will be digital. But there is still a place for the paper based gamebook where I am concerned not sure the publishers agree though.

So there we go - make sure you are dropping in to www.fightingfantasy.com and  www.fightingfantasycollector.co.uk and also following @jamie_fry and @fightingfantasy for the latest in Fighting Fantasy news.  Also check out Jamie's great crafts at www.creativestores.co.uk/UncleBundleCrafts.

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