There is a book that I credit as being the one, more than any other, that makes me the writer I am today, that opened my eyes to a whole world of fantasy, and what was at the time an entirely new genre. A book whose authors were my childhood idols, a book I must have read over twenty times. A book whose influence was so profound, that my first novel’s last third pays homage to its genre, and is actually featured in a chapter of my second novel (including extracts). A genre that I now work in to produce titles of my own and those of others, and where I have the amazing privilege and honour to be working for one of the original authors himself: a dream that my childhood self would simply have been unable to believe.
That book is The Warlock of Firetop Mountain:
My much-loved copy with the original cover from 1982 when I was seven and the book was first printed.
The Warlock of Firetop Mountain, written by Steve Jackson and Ian Livingstone, was the first title in the Fighting Fantasy series. The Fighting Fantasy series has been translated into 23 languages, sold over 15 million copies, and spawned numerous computer, board and role-playing game adaptations. American readers may be less familiar with this series’ prevalence during the eighties, but they can be thought of as Choose Your Own Adventure or Goosebumps books (two series’ which have sold about 600 million copies between them) but with dice.
Fighting Fantasy books were essentially an interactive fiction series (where the reader is the protagonist and makes choices to determine where the story goes) but with dice mechanics, rules for combat, a character sheet and items, spells etc. -“Dungeons and Dragons lite” if you will. And of all the many “gamebooks” (as the genre is now called) published since, particularly during their heyday in the eighties, none have been more successful than the Fighting Fantasy series.
The Fighting Fantasy series, where YOU are the hero!
The Warlock of Firetop Mountain, and subsequently the gamebook genre in general, ignited my love of reading and writing like nothing else. Over the next few years I’d collected over a hundred gamebooks and was writing my own. It was also my “gateway drug” to role-playing games, particularly Dungeons and Dragons, which I was only able to understand and play two or three years later.
It is a crazy confluence of fate that over the past two and a half years I have been working with the Melbourne-based indie game developer, Tin Man Games, that produces “digital gamebooks” (a series known as Gamebook Adventures) that are very much in the spirit of the Fighting Fantasy gamebooks. I have edited, redesigned and (partially) rewritten the first four titles in this series, and have written the eighth title, Infinite Universe. Not only this, but Tin Man Games now has the digital license for the Fighting Fantasy books. In this digital age of smart phones and tablets, gamebooks are making a comeback J
About the Author
His debut novel, Evermore: An Introduction, was published to critical acclaim in 2001, and has been republished twice since. The Dark Horde, is his second fiction novel, published for the first time in 2012. Based in Melbourne, he is also a respected IT developer and analyst, and has been editor and designer for the first four books of the highly acclaimed Gamebook Adventures interactive fiction series. This role has culminated in the creation of his own work, Gamebook Adventures: Infinite Universe, released in 2012 on the iPhone, iPod Touch and iPad. Find him at: http://www.thebrewin.com/