April A to Z – A is for Amateurs part 1 – interview with Phillip Sadler

It’s begun.  The April A to Z has kicked off and I will begin our gamebook journey with amateur writers.  Why do amateur gamebook writers make gamebooks great?  They keep the fandom entertained when there is a dearth of official books.  It is also great to be an amateur writer for many reasons – you can hone your writing/gaming skills, you can get great feedback about your book and you can go through the pleasurable process of creating something.  

On great website that showcases amateur gamebooks is www.ffproject.com.  This website not only has gamebooks in doc and pdf form but you can also play a lot of those gamebooks online.  I put some questions up on the guestbook of  ffproject and some of the authors were kind enough to give me answers.  
Phil Sadler has created two brilliant full length Fighting Fantasy books- Hellfire and Riders of the Storm.  He is also kind enough to share with us his inspirations and thought process.
What was the first gamebook you read (that wasn’t your own)?
Deathtrap Dungeon
What is your favourite gamebook?
House of Hell.
What gamebooks/interactive fiction would you recommend to a newcomer to the genre?
Something easy like Forest of Doom or perhaps something ‘forgiving’ like Legend of Zagor.
Summarise what a gamebook is to a newcomer in 100 characters or fewer.
A great way of reading a book without the effort of a fully fledged novel
Why are gamebooks great compared to games or books?
You can change the course of the story; you can be the hero.
Where did you come up with your ideas for gamebook stories?
Deathtrap Dugeon, House of Hell and Temple of Terror, but also many others such as Way of the Tiger and Lone Wolf.
Where did you come up with your ideas for gamebook game systems (in this case additional rules for FF)?
The instant death rule of mine is from Lone Wolf. The deadlock rule i’m not sure about, maybe I’ve forgotten.
When it comes to writing a gamebook, what’s the most important thing that you do?
Keep throwing interesting decisions at the player: real choices that actually mean something.
What inspired you to write an amateur gamebook?
Deathtrap Dungeon.
What has writing a gamebook taught you?
It’s easy to make things too difficult.
What have you got coming up in terms of your gamebook projects?
Nothing I’m afraid.

What do you think the future of gamebooks is?
The future of gamebooks may well be Destiny Quest.

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9 thoughts on “April A to Z – A is for Amateurs part 1 – interview with Phillip Sadler

  1. I vaguely remember reading a gamebook (much simpler version I imagine) when I was about 12, as an indecisive person I always found these quite difficult, and constantly wanted to cheat. Glad to see a recommendation for beginners to the genre and am gonna check it out. Thanks, great post.

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  2. Many thanks for the comment Kate – I'm glad that you will check them out as I think that many people are in the same boat as you – they read gamebooks once but never got that into them. These posts are here so that people can find out just how extensive and great gamebooks are.

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  3. Phillip, you are spot on with your comment about it being easy to make things too difficult. I was guilty of that in my teen writing years, usually via difficult die rolls/combat etc.

    On the flip side, however, I believe if one can make a gamebook incredibly difficult to complete by hiding the true path very, very, well (e.g. Creature of Havoc), and not because of die rolls, I consider that a gamebook masterpiece, from the gamebook mechanics point of view. I would be interested to know if anybody has achieved that at the same level Steve Jackson did with CoH.

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