The Written outspaced

On this page are links to some things I have been working on. Feedback and comments on any or all of these writings are most welcome. Criticism should be constructive, though, if you want a reply.

The Curse of the Yeti

I have enjoyed gamebooks ever since I first read The Forest Of Doom in about 1986-7 at primary school. Since then I have gone on to collect all of the official Fighting Fantasy gamebooks and many other gamebooks besides. Among my favourite gamebook authors I include Jamie Thomson, Mark Smith, Dave Morris, Joe Dever, Paul Mason, Peter Darvill-Evans, Luke Sharp, Stephen Hand, Steve Jackson, and Ian Livingstone. Over the past decade or so, I have tried to emulate these icons with my own meandering writing style, and I have several complete gamebooks at home. Sadly (or, happily, if you hate my writing style!) only one of the completed gamebooks is on my computer (the others being hand-written and in need of extensive revision). I provide a link to a zip file of this gamebook, called The Curse of the Yeti, for you to download and peruse at your leisure. It is in PDF format.

I designed the original plan for the book several years ago. I wrote sections during "free periods" at school when I had completed all my homework. There it sat, completed, languishing in a folder for some years. Fast-forward five years. . . . I had recently bought my first IBM-clone PC and, bored with playing games, I decided to see what else I could do with it. I remembered that Word Processing was a major use to computers, and I decided that I would convert some of my hand-written work to word processed format. I had already tried this using Wordsworth on my Amiga 1200 computer, but had not progressed very far. As I began to type in the text for The Curse Of The Yeti, the more and more I saw flaws, errors, contradictions, poor grammar, and downright awful writing! I knew that it would need extensive revision. . . . About a year later, the revision completed, I printed the book and gave it to a few friends, who were very supportive and liked it a lot, so I now decide to release it in its complete form. I hope you like it.

The Curse of the Yeti (PDF, 294Kb)

Alternatively, you may play the gamebook online from my site. To do this, click here or click here to download the hyperlinked version as a ZIP archive.

The Rising Sun

I have also dabbled in short stories and journalistic writing. The following two pieces were written for Issue 2 of Rising Sun E-zine, which is based around the world of Joe Dever's character, Lone Wolf. For those of you not in the know, the Lone Wolf gamebooks began in 1984, but were sadly discontinued before the completion of the series in 1998, leaving four books unwritten. The main character in the first 20 books is a warrior-monk called Lone Wolf, who is the lone survivor of the massacre of his kinsmen by the armies of the Darklords--20 champions of evil. You play this Kai Lord and direct him around the realms of Magnamund, a well-realised and highly developed fantasy world. Recently, Joe Dever has given his permission for his books to be made freely available on the internet. The group of volunteers who have accepted this task call themselves The Aon Project, and I am proud to be a part of this group. Sadly, Rising Sun is no more, but I've got copies of the two pieces here on my site (you lucky people, you!). The first piece is a journalistic account of why (in my opinion) gamebooks appear to have died a death in the last few years, and, perhaps, a hope for the future. It is called, perhaps rather pompously, Lone Wolf--A Social Problem? It was written at a time when I hated my job and my superiors, and this certainly comes across in the bitterness with which I coloured some of the text. Perhaps if I went back and revised it, I would smooth some of the edges, gloss over the rough, but I present it here in its original form for posterity.

Lone Wolf--A Social Problem?

The second piece is something I am altogether much happier with. My first proper attempt at a true short story (until this story, I was stuck on trying to write novels, and failing miserably!) it is something that, even now, I stand back and admire as a true piece of art, perhaps my best work. I started off with an idea to write a story in the style of H P Lovecraft, who I was reading extensively at the time. I have always enjoyed cross-pollination of genres to produce unusual and unique pieces of work, and the thought of marrying 20th century Gothic Horror with more traditional fantasy devices was something that came to me in a flash of inspiration and appealed most strongly. While most fantasy writers are content with churning out the same old stuff (see piece 1) I appreciate when authors make the effort to do something different, such as Terry Pratchett's Discworld, a humourous, yet often poignant, take on the fantasy genre, or Douglas Adam's Hitch-Hiker's Guide To The Galaxy with it's sci-fi-rules-bending originality. Horror in fantasy is something that, I feel, has never been properly explored, after all, fantasy introduces to us some of the most horrific nightmarish creatures and villains, all of which are usually described in a very matter-of-fact way. In reality, even the weakest fantasy monsters, kobolds or goblins, would probably scare most of us to half to death, should such things ever truly exist. That was the stance that I took when writing the story, that and the wonderful Cthulhuesque way that the protagonists in Lovecraft's stories are often incapable of escaping their visions, and often end their miserable lives in sanatoriums, disbelieved by the scientific elite, languishing in fear of the reprisals of knowing too much. It was in this twisted frame of mind that I wrote The Grimoire, a morality tale, extolling the virtues of not knowing too much.

The Grimoire

The Bodies in the Docks

The Strange Case of the Bodies in the Docks is a gamebook I originally started work on way back in 1999. It is a Cthulhu Mythos-inspired gamebook that uses the basic Fighting Fantsy rules, but adds to them in order to make the character more customisable. It was supposed to be the first in a series of adventures, but I'm afraid I've done very little to the sequel so far, beyond research and plotting. I haven't even flowcharted the gamebook yet, though I do know exactly what is going to heppen. The gamebook is called The Bodies in the Docks and is set in the 1920s. I've had good feedback from it except to say that it is TOO SHORT! I will get round to working on the sequel . . . some time . . . one day . . .

The Bodies in the Docks PDF (455Kb)

Both The Curse of the Yeti and The Bodies in the Docks have also been converted to more complicated systems over on the FFProject website, with automated bookkeeping and combats.

An Assassin in Orlandes

If you're interested in gamebooks, you may like to check out the two I have written for Tin Man Games:

An Assassin in Orlandes Curse of the Assassin

More information can be found on my dedicated Assassin in Orlandes page, including the bizarre world of Cats reading my gamebook.