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Monday, 1 January 2018

Notes from small islands

Happy New Year! Normally I tend to focus on gamebooks and roleplaying around here, but maybe I can squeeze in some news of projects of personal interest now that we're at the tail end of the intercalary days.

I've been trying to continue my Mirabilis comic for some time now, and finally came to the conclusion that if I can't get it to the stage where it's a commercial enterprise that pays for the pencils, inks and colours, I can at least still tell the story. Having a few pages of artwork left before Leo gave up on it, some of which he was able to ink, I began serializing issue #10 ("A Truth That Wounds") on my Patreon page.

Those already-completed pages are running out fast. We'll soon get on to Leo's rough pencils, and after that I'll have to fall back on my own sketches. No joke, that, as you can see from the sample here, but at least the die-hard followers of the story (all dozen of them!) will eventually get to read it.

My main obsession for most of the year has been my new gamebook Can You Brexit? in which you play the prime minister of Britain through two years of negotiations, calamities, and backstabbing starting in March 2017. The book is about 870 sections long, it's now finished bar a final polish, and I'm hoping to get a proper publisher if my agent can find one who isn't too craven to handle it. Enemies of the people and all that. Maybe next year I'll tackle You Are Trump.

My wife Roz has published a book of travel memoirs called Not Quite Lost for which she has been doing loads of BBC interviews throughout December. Banish those mental images of climbing the Kilimanjaro slopes or drinking snakeblood cocktails in New Guinea. These are lyrical, whimsical accounts of our visits to various old follies around Britain, peppered with eccentric encounters à la Bill Bryson. I liked it, though you may not regard me as entirely impartial.

And if you want to hear what Jamie is currently up to, come back on Friday.




Meanwhile, if you're here looking for a gaming fix I got a doozy for ya: James Wallis's long-awaited story-game Alas Vegas is finally on sale. Buy it from DriveThruRPG or Indie Press Revolution. (Unfortunately it's not on Amazon, so if you want a print copy from IPR and you live outside the US, you'll end up paying about $50 in postage.) I'm not usually a big fan of "narrative" RPGs, but any and all original work by Mr Wallis is touched with genius, so I plan to give this a go at our next weekend special.

14 comments:

  1. Happy New Year, Dave. I had assumed your new book was in the mould of your Frankenstein rather than a conventional gamebook. I'm looking forward to it. I watched the film Sideways last night (a New Years Eve tradition of my wife and I, being about the only film we both like). I spared a thought for your Mirabilis publishing travails part way through. I'm sure you won't have the same difficulties with your new gamebook, hopefully sparing you the need to reach for the spit bucket. Don't worry about your drawings, it's better that you initially intimated and our imaginations will fill in the rest from your prose. As previously mentioned, I really liked Roz's book too. Is her other book close to fruition (Ever Rest was it called?) All the best for 2018.

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    1. Certainly if you'd told me this time last year that I'd spend most of 2017 writing a conventional gamebook, Andy, and a political one at that, I'd surely have said I'm far more interested in using interactivity to create an emotional bond with the characters. All I can say is that the Muse decides what we write, and we authors have very little say in the matter. Knowing what I do of publishers, I suspect the spit bucket will be getting a lot of use -- but you never know. One way or another I intend to get the book out by the summer.

      When I ask Roz how long before Ever Rest is ready I get a black look and muttered oaths. It's coming along at its own pace and that's as far as I dare probe. Hopefully this year. I'm pretty keen to read it myself, having heard her talk about the story for over two decades now.

      Have a great 2018.

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    2. I spoke too soon. Roz just put her head around the door to say that she's about to send out a newsletter with an important announcement about Ever Rest, so maybe it's further along than I thought. If you pop over to her blog you can sign up for the newsletter and you may even get the latest before I do.

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    3. Thanks, Dave. I'm sure it will be worth the wait!

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  2. Happy new year Dave ! I hope "can you Brexit" will be a success. I may have a friend who runs a small publishing house and would like to publish everything AGAINST Brexit.

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    1. Happy New Year, Olivier. My first thought was: how small? Seriously, if your publisher friend is interested, please ask him/her to contact my agent, Piers Blofeld, at the Sheil Land agency. And thanks!

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    2. He's Evertype, who publishes everything about "Alice in Wonderland" : http://www.evertype.com/ ; OK, I'm gonna send him a message about this.

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    3. Thanks, Olivier. Brexit Britain is as surreal as anything Lewis Carroll dreamt up, so maybe it'll be a good match.

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  3. You're a dark horse keeping this new gamebook under your hat for so much of 2017 Dave; exciting to have this to look forward to. I'm trusting that it isn't too 'Pat Mills political' (ie. any views that don't conform with mine are by definition wrong).

    Your wife's book sounds interesting too; I shall check that out. All the best to you both for 2018, whichever path you choose to take.

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    1. I like Pat Mills's work (especially, need I say, Charley's War) but I know what you mean about his political zeal, Michael. I hope I've managed to be more balanced than that -- although I'm pretty sure that the book will quickly get me labelled a "snivelling traitor" and "arrogant elitist" by the Daily Mail, should they ever get to see a copy.

      As for 2018... I haven't really decided yet, though it is looking like it's time I gave up writing. Maybe a career in politics?

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  4. My problem with Mills was that his stories became not fun to read anymore (for me anyway). I voraciously read 2000ad in my younger years, but some of his later Nemesis and Slaine stories, plus others like Third World War, read like rants and just didn't have any joy. Your book is clearly written with tongue in cheek though, however rooted in reality, so I'm sure I'll love it.

    As to 2018, I hope any decision you make is based on what your heart is telling you; I'd be sad indeed if it were just a commercial decision. You're far too talented not to be writing. But I've made the call to have a big career change this year to do something which will feed my soul more, so I certainly empathise with your reflections.

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    1. I'm not sure it's exactly tongue in cheek. Aghast and despairing might be more like it, though with a bite of vitriolic satire in the mix. It's hard for me to say. Some publishers are clearly trembling at the thought of putting out a book that fails to show sufficient enthusiasm for hard Brexitism, but I think I've kept it less polemical than Pat Mills' later work.

      I will keep writing Mirabilis when I can, though it will be slow because I also have to draw it. And it has barely 20 diehard readers now that it's no longer backed by Random House, so it's certainly one from the heart rather than a commercial decision. Other writer friends of mine have decided 2018 is the year to get out -- the publishers really only want celebrity authors these days -- and I don't want to spend another year writing a book on spec. Good luck with your own new direction; that inspires me to make the break.

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  5. My decision is to leave the corporate world of marketing to retrain as a primary school teacher, so definitely to feed the soul rather than the wallet.

    Maybe teaching at a senior level or lecturing could be a good gig for you? Hopefully you'll keep your hand in with writing in some fashion though; I always found your work inspiring, and (hand on heart) would actively seek out books with your name on them; even today I aspire to write something as great as Heart of Ice, while knowing that I never actually will.

    You know, you've probably not pitched Mirabilis as hard on this blog as you could have (spoken with the soul of a marketer!). Maybe just out of laziness on my part, but I know very little about it, and what little you've intimated about above sounds very interesting.

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    1. I do tend to keep more personal posts for my Mirabilis blog, as this one was set up to promote Fabled Lands LLP, the company Jamie and I set up a few years ago with Tim Gummer. Realising that there's only so much you can say about gamebooks, I've pushed the remit a bit to include RPGs and interactive stories in general, and we also occasionally feature things like the Binscombe Tales and Dark Lord: The Early Years as those are FL LLP projects. But it's true that I don't often promote my own projects here. Even if I did it's possible nobody would notice, as I have zero aptitude for marketing!

      Good luck with teaching. Few jobs could be as worthwhile or as fulfilling as that. My only experience of it was taking classes at school for people who were retaking their Physics A-levels, but that was enough to show me that it's a true vocation. I'm sure your soul will benefit!

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