Monday, 31 December 2012

Two new rewards announced for YOU ARE THE HERO

I have Ian Livingstone CBE and Tin Man Games to thank for these two...

SPIDER - £10
Receive a copy of GAMEBOOK ADVENTURES 7: TEMPLE OF SPIDER GOD digital gamebook app written by Jonathan Green and created by Tin Man Games. The app will be available in two versions that will work on PC or Mac. Tin Man Games will also throw in GA1: An Assassin in Orlandes and GA2: The Siege of the Necromancer! (Add this reward to any other simply by adding £10 to your existing pledge level.)

ZOMBIE - £25
Receive a BLOOD OF THE ZOMBIES poster signed by Ian Livingstone himself. (Add this reward to any other simply by adding £25 to your existing pledge and selecting this reward level.)

So check your pledge level and tell all your friends!

How I met the Warlock of Firetop Mountain

By Juliet E McKenna

I encountered Fighting Fantasy gamebooks not too long after they first appeared. I’d gone up to university in 1983 and that’s where I’d discovered Dungeons & Dragons, Traveller, Aftermath, Toon, Heroes, Car Wars and other tabletop role-playing games which instantly appealed to my lifelong love of fantasy and science-fiction. Such gaming offered me a whole new interactive and participatory way of engaging with such stories. After all those books which I’d read, wanting to slap some sense into the hero who persisted in doing something so dumb that surely only an moron would go ahead. Now I could shout across the table to stop the idiot paladin about to open the grim portal or ominously rune-engraved box. I could be the one suspiciously interrogating the apparently helpful peasant giving directions to the dragon’s den. Now I could be the one rolling a critical fumble and getting skewered by a kobold. (As with just about everyone playing AD&D in that era, our group played a highly personalised and modified version of the rules).
I have wondered since why SF&F meshes so well with table top gaming. I think it’s because speculative fiction invites engagement with the narrative to a far greater extent than other fictions. SF&F isn’t reflecting the world as we know it, offering us insights into the reality we inhabit. It’s constantly asking us to imagine ourselves somewhere else, where the rules we think we know don’t necessarily apply, whether those are the laws of physics or society. The eternal question of SF&F is ‘what if...?’ That wish to step through the barrier of the pages and participate directly in the stories ourselves naturally follows. Indeed, portal fantasy has been a staple of the genre since Alice first fell down the rabbit hole and Lucy entered the wardrobe. Who would have imagined that a handful of weird-shaped dice could satisfy that longing?
Which was great as long as I was at university. But come the end of term time, I had to go home and in those long-ago pre-Internet days, there was no way of finding like-minded souls back in Dorset. How could I continue that direct participation in story-weaving that I’d got so used to enjoying?
Fan fiction? That was also something I’d encountered for the first time at university, through the dubious medium of a much-copied photo-copy of ‘Spock in Manacles’... Setting aside the literary merits of that particular work, I was familiar with the motivation behind fan-fiction. More than once, during a particularly tedious English lesson discussing the Romantic Poets, I would stare out of the window and indulge in a light reverie about Blake’s Seven, mentally writing myself into an episode never to be seen outside my own head. The thing is though, such episodes weren’t particularly satisfying and not only because I still had such vast amounts to learn about characterisation, pacing, exposition and all the other facets of writing craft. The main problem was, there were never any surprises. I knew what was hidden behind the curtain or in the talking box because I’d thought it up in the first place. All in all, I found such indulgent daydreams as unsatisfying as playing chess against myself.
Then someone lent me a copy of The Warlock of Firetop Mountain. I forget who it was but I’m pretty sure they were in the same fix as me outside of term time. Now we had a solution! Solo gaming within a system that played fair in the sense of punishing stupidity as well as rewarding intelligent thinking and still with the added edge of unpredictable dice rolls landing you in no-win situations. Because game systems should be fair but as the Goblin King reminds us in Labyrinth, real life simply isn’t. Which was great, because the endless variations and possibilities meant you could play the book time and again. Even once you’d won, you could go back and see where the roads not taken might have led.
I love the way these books endured despite the arrival of computer games. I remember playing early attempts at those and being very unimpressed, both by the quality of the writing and plotting and by the inadequacies of the graphics. Fighting fantasy game books offered far superior game play for a good long while as well as the fabulous pictures inside my own head, spun off the wonderful cover art and the line drawings inside. It’s only in recent years that computer games have come anywhere near matching such visuals, never mind such intricate storytelling and replayability.
So of course I’m backing this project. I am intrigued to learn more about the history of these books. How the idea first originated, how they came to be published and who was involved in their creation and development and why. Quite apart from anything else, I bet I’m not the only one currently writing epic fantasy fiction with such fond memories of flipping through an increasingly creased paperback, pencil between teeth and dice ready to hand.
Huge thanks to Juliet for taking the time to write such an excellent post at what is such a busy time of year. If it has inspired you to pledge your support to YOU ARE THE HERO - A History of Fighting Fantasy Gamebooks you can do so by following this link.

Sunday, 30 December 2012

YOU ARE THE HERO - One week to go!

YOU ARE THE HERO now has only seven days left to run, and under £3000 still remains to be found.

To mark this milestone, tomorrow morning I will be posting a special guest blog post written by British fantasy author Juliet E McKenna herself!

Also, if we reach the £15,000 level before the end of the YOU ARE THE HERO Kickstarter I will be announcing some awesome, new, and totally unique reward levels.

So keep pledging, keep spreading the word, and watch this space...

Ian Livingstone CBE

Yesterday, it was announced that Ian Livingstone, Life President of Eidos Interactive made the New Year Honours list for his services to the gaming industry and the education sector - again.

"Livingstone, whose honour coincides with his 63rd birthday, also co-created the Fighting Fantasy series of role-playing books," reports Digital Spy.

"I'm genuinely humbled to get something," he told BBC News. "My life has been all about games, and I think we learn an awful lot through play.

"Writing Fighting Fantasy books with Steve Jackson in the 1980s seemed to have got a whole generation of children reading again.

"I'm delighted that what we created not just manifested itself in interactive books but it's actually inspired people to join the computer games industry."

You're telling me!

YOU ARE THE HERO is very proud to have both Ian and Steve's backing, and we would like to pass on our congratulations to Ian on his latest honour.

Don't forget, YOU ARE THE HERO will feature a Foreword written by Steve Jackson and Ian Livingstone CBE!

YOU ARE THE HERO visits Steven Savile's blog

To help drum up interest in the YOU ARE THE HERO Kickstarter, I've guest blogged over on Steven Savile's website.

You can read my post for yourself by following this link.

Saturday, 29 December 2012

Friday, 28 December 2012


A quick update...

YOU ARE THE HERO is now 71% funded with 255 backers and 8 days to go. That's fantastic going, but we can't let off the pressure now because if the Kickstarter doesn't make £15,000 the book ain't gonna happen! So keep spreading the love or consider pledging yourself (if you haven't done so already).

And in other news... The Tin Man has let the cat out of the bag at long last.

"If you’ve been following the blog for a while you will know that we’ve been hinting for some time about a new Jonathan Green – Tin Man Games collaboration. We can announce that this will be happening this year! We couldn’t squeeze it into our Twelve Days of Gamebooks announcements (plus we currently don’t have any artwork created) so we wanted to mention it here instead. Jon’s new book will be part of our new Gamebook Adventures Masters series (alongside Gary Chalk’s Gun Dogs) and will hopefully be the first of many in his new setting. We proudly present Jonathan Green’s Codename: Crusader…"

To find out more, follow this link.

Skill 7? I mean, really! SKILL 7?

Thursday, 27 December 2012

YOU ARE THE HERO - A History of Fighting Fantasy Gamebooks - UPDATE!

YOU ARE THE HERO is now past the two-thirds mark and with ten days left to run is heading towards fully funding on 6 January.

Progress is going well, but we still need to raise on average £500 a day to make our £15,000 target.

So if you've not backed the project yet, but you've been meaning to, click this link and pledge your support today.

If you have already pledged, thank you - but please check that you've added the correct amount of postage. And then blog about it, post on Facebook and Tweet all your friends.

With YOUR support a copy of YOU ARE THE HERO could be in your hands by this time next year!

Thank you.

Wednesday, 26 December 2012

YOU ARE THE HERO breaks the £10,000 mark!

Fantastic news!

As of about 10.45pm on the evening of Christmas Day, YOUARE THE HERO breached the £10,000 mark on Kickstarter! That means we're two-thirds of the way to funding with more than a third of the fund raising time still to run.

Thank you to all of you who've pledged already, and for those who haven't, there's still time to join the party and help ensure this project happens!

Oh, and Happy Boxing Day!

Tuesday, 25 December 2012

Happy Christmas from YOU ARE THE HERO!

We're over halfway through the YOU ARE THE HERO Kickstarter now and almost two-thirds funded.

And how's this for a fantastic Christmas present? I've written a guest post for Graham McNeill's blog which you can read here.

Happy Christmas!

Monday, 24 December 2012

YOU ARE THE HERO around the Interwebz

I've been interviewed for various websites and written guest post for other people's blogs about the YOU ARE THE HERO Kickstarter and some are now starting to appear.

First up there's my post about Indie Publishing on William King's blog (yes, the William King of Gotrek and Felix fame!).

Then there's an interview with G*M*S Magazine.

And last, but not least, there's Matt Sylvester's interview with me over on his blog.

Still to come... More guest blogs and an interview with STARBURST magazine!

The Next Big Thing: YOU ARE THE HERO

I know I've been tagged by the Next Big Thing meme before, but it's happened again - and it really couldn't have come at a better time. So, here we go.

What is the working title of your next book?
YOU ARE THE HERO – A History of Fighting Fantasy Gamebooks.

Where did the idea come from for the book?
My love of Fighting Fantasy gamebooks. The fact that 2012 marks 30 years since the publication of the first one, The Warlock of Firetop Mountain, and 20 years since my first commission, which was also for a Fighting Fantasy gamebook – Spellbreaker. And because I wrote a piece on the subject for SFX Magazine in the year, which I soon discovered barely scratched the surface of the story waiting to be told.

What genre does your book fall under?
Non-fiction, but non-fiction about the gamebook genre, specifically fantasy adventures.
What actors would you choose to play the part of your characters in a movie rendition?
I guess Steve Jackson and Ian Livingstone would have to play themselves, as any such movie would need to be a documentary.

What is the one sentence synopsis of your book?
A 'coffee table' book celebrating 30 years of Fighting Fantasy, the publishing phenomenon created by Steve Jackson and Ian Livingstone, written by gamebook guru Jonathan Green.

Will your book be self-published or represented by an agency?
Snowbooks is actually going to publish the book.

How long did it take you to write the first draft of the manuscript?
I’ve not written it yet, but I’m anticipating it will take a couple of weeks. It will be the interviews and preparing the book for publication that will take up much the time.

What other books would you compare this story to within your genre?
None. This book is unique. So back the Kickstarter today and make the fantasy a reality!

Who or what inspired you to write this book?
Steve Jackson, Ian Livingstone and Fighting Fantasy gamebooks, of course.

What else about the book might pique the reader’s interest?
YOU ARE THEHERO will tell the story of Fighting Fantasy gamebooks, from the early days of Games Workshopright up to the present day, and beyond. I have already interviewed the creators of the Fighting Fantasyseries – Steve Jackson and Ian Livingstone – who are both keen to have their story told. In fact, Steve Jackson once said to me, "You are the perfect person to write this book."

I have also interviewed many other people who’ve been involved with Fighting Fantasy over the years. These include authors and editors – such as Dave Morris, Robin Waterfield and Marc Gascoigne – the artists – people like Russ Nicholson, Martin McKenna, John Sibbick and Leo Hartas – and fans of the series, such as New York Times bestselling author Graham McNeill, founder of Tin Man Games Neil Rennison, and author, actor and comedian Charlie Higson.
I want YOU ARE THEHERO to be something special, a book worthy of commemorating such an extraordinary achievement and the impact Fighting Fantasy gamebooks have had on the world. As a result, the first print run of YOU ARE THE HERO will be a limited edition. The book will feature brand new, specially-commissioned cover art by Martin McKenna, as well as original artwork from the series, and a foreword written by Steve and Ian themselves.

Not only will YOU ARETHE HERO tell the amazing story of how Fighting Fantasy gamebooks changed the world, it will also cover everything from spin-off novels and puzzle books, to foreign editions, board games and video games. It will even delve into such areas as the gamebooks that never were, the myths and legends surrounding the series, and how Ian Livingstone’s newest gamebook – Blood of the Zombies– almost never happened.

Thanks to Kickstarter we have a once in a lifetime opportunity to create a book about the history of Fighting Fantasy. But now it’s up to YOU! The more YOU pledge, the more impressive this book will be –with more artwork, higher spec production values and more content. I would love this first limited edition to be a hardback, and with YOUR help it could be. But without your support YOUARE THE HERO can never happen.

If you have any interest whatsoever in the British games industry, adventure gamebooks or fantasy fiction, then this book is for you. Check out the rewards on the YOU ARE THEHERO Kickstarter page and pledge your support today!

Remember – only YOU can make this book happen, because, thanks to Kickstarter, YOU ARE THE HERO!

You can find out more (and pledge your support) by clicking this link.

Saturday, 22 December 2012

YOU ARE THE HERO - Halfway there!

The YOU ARE THE HERO Kickstarter is now passed the halfway mark (in terms of the time it has to run), has already raised over £9,000 and is well on the way to being two thirds funded.

If you've been thinking about backing but haven't committed yet, then watch the pitch video below and then click this link to pledge.

And if you're still not convinced after watching that, then watch this!

YOU ARE THE HERO supported by DestinyQuest!

Michael J Ward has set up a post on his DestinyQuest forum to discuss and help promote YOU ARE THE HERO here.

He's also already lent his support to the project and has even been interviewed for the book.

So if you want to find out how Fighting Fantasy impacted on the life of Mr Ward and the creation of the DestinyQuest books, spread the word and help to make YOU ARE THE HERO happen!

Friday, 21 December 2012

Gamebook Friday: Blood of the Zombies - Best Interactive Fiction of 2012!

From the Gamezebo website...

While video games are all well and good, they’ll never offer the level of immersion that a good book can. Unless, of course, those video games are a good book. Welcome to the world of interactive fiction.

2012 saw a number of notable releases in the world of playable words, proving that the genre didn’t die back in the days of ZORK or Choose Your Own Adventure – and 2013 is set to offer even more! But this isn’t a roundup of interactive fiction that’s still being written, this is a roundup of interactive fiction that’s ready to be read. Wondering what the best stories that you could play in 2012 were? Then read on!

And #1 on the Gamezebo list of the Best Interactive Fiction of 2012?

#1 – Fighting Fantasy: Blood of the Zombies (iPhone, iPad, Android)

If you follow the history of interactive fiction all the way back to its pre-video game roots, you’re sure to discover the name Fighting Fantasy. A series of books that blended fiction and role-playing mechanics, it served as the inspiration for Tin Man Games' popular Gamebook Adventures series. Much to Tin Man’s delight, that relationship has come full circle, as their GA games proved that they were the perfect mobile masters to adapt the latest Fighting Fantasy book from series co-creator Ian Livingstone.

Not only is it their best game to date, but it has us drooling with anticipation for the other Fighting Fantasy books they’ve announced they're adapting. We can’t wait to see what they come up with in 2013.

YOU ARE THE HERO will feature an entire chapter on Blood of the Zombies, so back the project today and help make this book happen!

Thursday, 20 December 2012

YOU ARE THE HERO around the Web

YOU ARE THE HERO has been getting a lot of love from a lot of different places around the Web recently.

Mass Movement Magazine have been doing their bit, as have G*M*S MagazineYOU ARE THE HERO got a mention on the Geek Syndicate podcast Episode 196*, and PJ Montgomery has been plugging the project again here.

Remember, if you'd like to interview me for your blog about YOU ARE THE HERO or post a banner on your blog/website, drop me a line at

I look forward to hearing from you soon. :-)

* At about 23 minutes in.

Wednesday, 19 December 2012

YOU ARE THE HERO on Lloyd of Gamebooks

Stuart Lloyd has blogged about the YOU ARE THE HERO Kickstarter over on his blog here.

And to give you a quick update, we've now passed the halfway mark, which means there's only £7500 to be collected for YOU ARE THE HERO to achieve full funding!

Remember - keep spreading the word!

Tuesday, 18 December 2012

Artist Profile: Russ Nicholson

Russ Nicholson - legendary FF artist, responsible for illustrating The Warlock of Firetop Mountain, Citadel of Chaos, Masks of Mayhem, Chasms of Malice, Stealer of Souls, Island of the Undead, Deathmoor, Magehunter, Blacksand!, Allansia, the Chadda Darkmane novels, and The Adventures of Goldhawk - has also lent his support to YOU ARE THE HERO.

Russ is going to produce an original illustration to be given away as a unique print to people pledging at the GHOUL reward level and above. I've also already interviewed him for the book.

Earlier this year, I also interviewed him for my blog which I reproduce here, now, for your delight and your edification...

I cannot imagine a world in which adventure gamebooks were not illustrated by Russ Nicholson. Back in the 80s, when gamebooks were at their height, his intricate pen linework was the perfect match for the likes of Fighting Fantasy and Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay, not to mention a host of other gamebook series (including Robin of Sherwood and, later, Virtual Reality Adventures).

When I first picked up The Warlock of Firetop Mountain on that fateful day back in 1982, it was Russ's minutely-detailed illustrations that gripped me as much as the concept of a gamebook, and the adventure Steve Jackson and Ian Livingstone had crafted.

1. Which is your favourite Fighting Fantasy gamebook?
Hard one. Probably The Warlock of Firetop Mountain.

2. How did you find the process of illustrating FF books? Was it an enjoyable experience? How did it compare to other illustration jobs?
I had trouble with the cover as the editors kept changing every time I submitted an idea, after three and the deadline for the black and whites coming up I gave up. The last editor used his favourite SF artist. Enjoyable? Yes. I still get a buzz from doing Fantasy-related work. Compare... My more formal Illustration work was strewn with disappointments.

3. What are you doing now?
Just finished a few pieces for a couple of American clients. Have a commission to 'complete' and waiting for another project to be fired up again.... My work for Calific and the world of ''Yezmyr''.

4. How much did FF influence your career and what you are doing today?
No actual influence. My work just happened to 'marry' well with FF. If FF hadn't come along I would still be doing such work... I was already doing small press work for several clients prior to FF.

5. What is it that makes FF so special?
Unique and, according to teaching friends, helped a lot of lads who did not read… and according to those same friends it was my illustrations that was a key for many. I was pleased when I heard that. The reason why I did two titles then 'disappeared' for several years was Penguin's decision not mine. I was never offered book three, etc.

6. How do you explain the gamebook resurgence of the last couple of years?
You’re asking me? Ha-ha. I've always been on the periphery of gaming. Though I've an interest I'm not consulted. At a guess, nostalgia and the 'rise' of the Internet and video games.

7. There are notable exceptions (such as House of Hell and Appointment with F.E.A.R.) but in general why do you think the non-Titan adventures were less well-received than those set within FF’s own fantasy world?
Oh dangerous ground... I've never read any so my comments are not worth a lot, but to my mind the treatment was too similar... they should have been handled as a 'new' game series under the general umbrella of FF. I'd love to have been offered a SF variant but you get pigeon-holed in the world of Publishing as I suspect you've found.

8. What do you feel was the impact of video games on FF (both negative and positive)?
Totally new and more exciting visually when they came out and mirrored the death of comic reading in Great Britain, which also mirrored the boredom with the book. But Joe Dever's 'Lone Wolf' series is still alive and kicking on the continent as is a lot of Games Workshop product.
9. Where is there left for gamebooks/FF to go?
Ah! My crystal ball is clouding.

10. Do you think people will still be talking about FF in another 30 years?
Yes. It has a niche, has a following, and it will always inspire gamesmanship.
Thank you to Russ for agreeing to be interviewed. You can check out more of his artwork here.4

Monday, 17 December 2012


In this blog post, Brewin' gives his reasons why you should back YOU ARE THE HERO on Kickstarter...

If you know anything about gamebooks, you'll know what Fighting Fantasy is. Fighting Fantasy catalysed the gamebook genre more than any other, and filled many a childhood throughout the eighties including mine. Without Fighting Fantasy you may not have had most other gamebooks, you wouldn't have had Games Workshop (therefore the Warhammer games including Blood Bowl that I still play), and even role-playing games themselves (such as Dungeons and Dragons) wouldn't have been successful: in the UK, Europe and Australia at least where gamebooks were often "the gateway drug" to role-playing games.

So basically this Kickstarter is for a "coffee table" thirty year anniversary book of Fighting Fantasy, written by the Legendary Jonathan Green who's not only written a number of Fighting Fantasy titles but a Gamebook Adventures title and at least another 30 books as well (and many of these award-winning). It too needs your support if it's to happen!

There's been some other great Kickstarter projects lately, some of which have been successful, such as the epic gamebook Maelorum, and others such as Turn to 400 - The Fighting Fantasy Documentary which haven't. Sadly dreams can only be realised with time, money and publicity...

So, tell all your friends and back YOU ARE THE HERO on Kickstarter today!

Sunday, 16 December 2012

YOU ARE THE HERO on Fighting For Your Fantasy

MJ Eccles has blogged about the YOU ARE THE HERO Kickstarter over on his blog here.

And to give you a quick update, we've now passed the £7000 mark - in less than ten day! That means there's only £8000 to be collected (over the next 21 days) and YOU ARE THE HERO will achieve funding!

Remember - keep spreading the word!

Saturday, 15 December 2012

YOU ARE THE HERO over on The Far Side(Kick)

Over on the The Far Side(Kick), P J Montgomery has given YOU ARE THE HERO a plug...

At this point, I need to mention the You Are The Hero Kickstarter project. Jonathan Green, who has written a number of acclaimed Fighting Fantasy books, including Spellbreaker, Bloodbones and Howl of the Werewolf, is writing a definitive history of the Fighting Fantasy series to celebrate thirty years of FF. Planned as a coffee table book featuring illustrations from many of the books, and interviews with Steve Jackson and Ian Livingstone, Green is asking FF fans to help fund the project, and is a third of the way towards his goal already. This is a book I definitely want on my shelf, so if you’re interested in Fighting Fantasy, then I recommend you head over to the kickstarter and pledge a donation.

You can read P J's blog post (about The Forest of Doom) here.

Thursday, 13 December 2012

Artist Profile - Martin McKenna

Martin McKenna has kindly agreed to provide the cover for YOU ARE THE HERO - A History of Fighting Fantasy Gamebooks (should the Kickstarter prove successful in raising the necessary funding), so today I present an interview I conducted with Martin earlier this year.

When I wrote my first Fighting Fantasy gamebook Spellbreaker (back in 1992) I asked if Martin McKenna could illustrate it. Unfortunately we weren't to work together until my third gamebook, Curse of the Mummy (1995), but since then I've been fortunate enough to work with him on another three occasions. He painted the cover of Bloodbones (2006) and produced all the art for both Howl of the Werewolf (2007) and Night of the Necromancer (2010).

Anyway, Martin has kindly taken the time to talk to me not just about his art but about his involvement in the Fighting Fantasy phenomenon and so today, I proudly present, the Martin McKenna interview!

1. How did you start out as a professional artist?
I gained some experience as a youngster by doing artwork for fanzines in the '80s. Fanzines, kids, were obscure pamphlets their editors scraped together money for to get printed and struggled through the night to staple together and cart to conventions where they'd be swapped for the fanzines of other editors. Crazy olden days. The stuff I did seemed to go down well with the folk who saw it, and one thing led to another. Twenty years later I'm still at it, since no one's actually told me to stop messing about and get a real job.
2. What was your big break that led to you doing what you’re doing now?
It was probably more like a lot of little breaks. Really early stuff like meeting Steve Jackson and Ian Livingstone in '86 was helpful. They liked the fanzine work which had included a Fighting Fantasy spoof, and they recommended a submission to Warlock magazine. Coincidentally Marc Gascoigne had seen my fanzine stuff and liked it, and he was then editor of Warlock. Most importantly, an invitation came from John Blanche, then art director at Games Workshop, to produce work for him. John’s initial contact came as a result of me entering an art competition featured in the Citadel Journal. Instead of the hoped-for prize of a two quid postal order, I got a letter from John expressing interest in my stuff. This led to my very first paying commission: illustrations for an Out of the Pit article in Warlock. So a bunch of things came together in the very beginning. And one way or another they've continued to do so ever since. Back in those days (I remember when these fields were all molten lava) the whole fantasy scene was so much smaller, but probably harder to make initial contact with people and get your stuff seen.

3. What is your preferred method of working? Which medium suits your style best?
Doing stuff digitally, but retaining some connection with how I did things traditionally. Line and wash, basically, with some twiddly bits.
4. How did the evolution from Letratone shading to your current scraperboard-style of white marks on black come about?
I didn't use Letratone very often. Thank God that stuff's long since gone in the bin. Yeah, drawing in a pen & ink style digitally is a bit like doing a scraperboard thing, which I enjoy. I still prefer doing things in black and white... I really should do more. One of these picture books I'm doing for children these days needs to be pure black and white linework, or I'm missing a trick.
5. Having illustrated both Warhammer and Fighting Fantasy (and all manner of other things) which setting do you prefer and why?
Oh, I have no preferences. Anything that allows me to do a few monsters and gnarled, pointy things with a bit of mist. Moon, silhouette, twisty tree, bish bash bosh, Bob's your uncle; any setting.
6. How did you find the experience of producing the illustrations for Curse of the Mummy compared to those for Howl of the Werewolf and Night of the Necromancer?
Well, I remember Curse was done in next to no time because time had run out, and I was reduced to desperately scribbling in felt tip, and weeping. The other two were digital and infinitely less gruelling. Howl was enjoyable I seem to remember, I quite like some of those. Oh but thinking about it, I remember now I'd trapped my hand (my drawing, fighting hand) in the car door the previous Halloween and I did most of the Howl stuff with a fingernail hanging off and flapping around getting caught on my pen. Yum.

7. Which was the first Fighting Fantasy gamebook you read?
I think I began at the beginning with The Warlock of Firetop Mountain.
8. Did you read FF before illustrating FF?
A friend of mine at school bought the first issue of Warlock magazine, which was my introduction to the whole fantasy gaming thing. I bought The Warlock of Firetop Mountain book and one or two others on the strength of that, and a few of the other early titles over the following couple of years. I started doing some illustration work for Games Workshop while I was still at school, and John Blanche recommended I send some samples in to Puffin and it resulted in me being commissioned to illustrate Daggers of Darkness when I was seventeen. So the short answer is: yes.
9. Which is your favourite FF gamebook?
I think I remember enjoying Deathtrap Dungeon more than most, and I really liked the Sorcery! books.

10. How did you find the process of illustrating FF books? Was it an enjoyable experience? How did it compare to other illustration jobs?
Illustrating Daggers of Darkness when I was so very young was a terrifying experience! I barely coped with the burden of the job and the pressure I felt working for Puffin, which for me at that age felt like the big time! I struggled through it and thought I'd done a terrible job, and was truly amazed when they asked me to illustrate another one (they must've been desperate). For some reason I wasn't deterred and accepted the commission and, maybe because I'd gained some confidence having one book under my belt and the editors' praise, my second book Vault of the Vampire was much more enjoyable to do. It's all been downhill from there! Generally I found Fighting Fantasy material a bit easier than other illustration jobs which are often much more complex.

11. How much did FF influence your career and what you are doing today?
I guess FF got me started working in the gaming industry and helped direct me in into the field of fantasy art generally. So I owe it a lot, especially for helping to get me established and find early success in my career. These days I'm doing a lot of much the same sort of stuff! Occasional goblins and things with spikes. I remain busy with book covers and album covers and whatnot. Primarily I'm working on my own picture books which I'm writing and illustrating.
12. What is it that makes FF so special?
From a purely nostalgic point of view FF was special for me, when I was young and first discovered it, because of the look and feel of the artwork by some great illustrators. It was certainly an important part of FF's success, being some of the best stuff around at the time. Plus there was the slightly downbeat British quality to the storytelling, being quite visceral and gritty (or at least it seemed to me as a kid!), and shot through with dark humour.
13. There are notable exceptions (such as House of Hell and Appointment with F.E.A.R.) but in general why do you think the non-Titan adventures were less well-received than those set within FF’s own fantasy world?
I'd imagine it's just to do with familiarity with the fantasy world, and not having to make any kind of imaginative switch into a less familiar setting and adjustments to game mechanics.
14. Which do you prefer working on, black and white pen-and-ink-style illustrations or full colour computer coloured covers?
Almost answered this already... black and white will always be what I prefer and enjoy doing most. But whacking in some colour isn't always painful.
15. Of which piece of work are you most proud?
Anything I can look at and not feel enormously depressed.

16. Is there anything you haven’t illustrated yet that you would still like to?
Yes, the various story ideas I have for picture books. These things are taking me so long I'll be dead with plenty of illustrations left to do.
17. What are you working on at the moment?
Children's picture books of my own devising. Currently one concerning an octopus and a toilet (really you can't go wrong with either), and my epic about a lamp that I'm determined I'll finish before I die. I'm working on these with my wonderful editors at Scholastic. Out for Christmas this year is my first fully illustrated children's book, which I've created with author Penny Matthews. It's called The Gift. It concerns a toy bear, and if it doesn't reduce you to a tearful mess I'll be very cross.
18. What advice would you give to any aspiring artists wanting to follow in your footsteps?
Art's full. Try plumbing.
Huge thanks to Martin for answering all my weird and wonderful questions, and for all the great art he's produced for my books!

You can see more of Martin's work here, here, and here.