Sunday, 28 September 2014

Fighting Fantasy Fest 2014

So, Fighting Fantasy Fest... This time three weeks ago (as of writing*) I was unloading a carload of stuff** at the DoubleTree Hilton Hotel, ready for the first ever, dedicated, Fighting Fantasy convention. Almost twelve hours later, I was getting back into said car to return home. The bit in between was a bit of a whirl.

Jonathan Green, Geraldine Cooke, Zagor the Warlock, Steve Jackson, and Ian Livingstone at Fighting Fantasy Fest 2014.

It really came home to me that Fighting Fantasy Fest was actually happening when all the traders started to turn up and unload very professional-looking display cabinets and the like. And it was the presence of Otherworld Miniatures, Leisure Games,, Snowbooks, Arion Games, All Rolled Up, Scriptarium, Tin Man Games, Inkle Studios, Gothic Manor, and Legend Photography that really helped to make what started out as a book launch into a proper con.

Otherworld Miniatures' Zagor miniatures in special FFF blister packs.

But of course the day wouldn't have been what it was without the presence of the host of Fighting Fantasy guests who made their way to Ealing especially for Fighting Fantasy Fest. There were the artists Chris Achilleos, Malcolm Barter, John Blanche, Leo Hartas, Tony Hough, Russ Nicholson, writer Peter Darvill-Evans also made it, along with very special guests Philippa Dickinson and Geraldine Cooke (who just made it in the nick of time to rapturous applause from the audience). But none of us would have been there in the first place if it hadn't been for our very special Guests of Honour, Steve Jackson and Ian Livingstone.

Just part of the much marvelled at FF Exhibition.

Jamie Fry of

I am grateful to Neil Rennison for kicking off the talks with a presentation  about Tin Man Games and the company's plans for the Fighting Fantasy apps, which was followed by the headline act of the day, as it were - Steve and Ian in conversation with Philippa and Geraldine (eventually).

One of the goodie bags given away on the day, plus contents.

Just some of the highlights of the day
  • Meeting so many FF fans and backers of YOU ARE THE HERO.
  • Meeting the Demonic Three (a.k.a. Mark Lain, Steve Leicester and Jam Hirons).
  • Seeing a Goblin patrolling the queue attempting to register on the day and berating them generally.
  • The FF Exhibition.
  • Damien Sparkes' FF miniatures.
  • People asking me to sign original copies of Spellbreaker and Knights of Doom, along with my other gamebooks at the mass signing.
  • The FF Auction (with Ian Livingstone working the room like a pro).
  • Getting the band back together. (All of the WARLOCK level backers who went for lunch with Steve and Ian back in June 2013 were there.)
  • Thomas Nielsen winning the costume competition dressed, appropriately enough, as Zagor the Warlock.
  • Facebook friends and Twitter adventurers meeting in person for the first time.
  • My Skill, Stamina and Luck t-shirt.
  • Having my photo taken by Legend Photography alongside Ian and Steve.
  • The positive atmosphere and happy con-buzz (which still hasn't left me).

Who let that Goblin in?

Pure Evil Miniatures' take on some Fighting Fantasy classics.

The Downside
  • Timings going a little out the window (but thank goodness the hotel let us stay on for an extra hour).
  • Not getting my own copy of YOU ARE THE HERO signed by all of the guests.
  • Not having enough time to speak to anyone beyond saying "Hello, thanks for coming" in some cases.

The creators of Fighting Fantasy, Ian Livingstone and Steve Jackson, and the author of YOU ARE THE HERO - A History of Fighting Fantasy Gamebooks, Jonathan Green.

FFF 2014 would not have run so smoothly without the help of my family and best friend Andy, so a massive thank you to them***. But the biggest thanks has to go to all those who attended. If you hadn't stumped up for a ticket or two, the event could not have happened.

There are already rumblings regarding FFF 2015. I think it's safe to say that if we do do it again, it won't be quite the same as this year, put I will also be sending out a questionnaire, in due course, for attendees of FFF 2014 to give their feedback and have their say regarding what they would like to see at the next Fighting Fantasy Fest.

If you missed the event, the exclusive Zagor the Warlock miniature that was given away in the event goodie bag is now available to buy from Otherworld Miniatures. And if you'd like to see some more photos from the day, you can do so here.

Because of all the work involved in preparing for (and promoting) Fighting Fantasy Fest, I completely failed to blog about Bex Levene's Smiler's Fair book launch, or even what I got up to at Loncon 3 (which including accidentally saying "Hi" to George R R Martin). However, I'm back on the blogging horse now and would like to let you know about some other events that I shall be appearing at in the run up to Christmas.

MCM Comic Con London
Saturday 25th & Sunday 26th October 2014
I'll be at MCM two out of the three days it's running, selling my Steampunk Pax Britannia novels as well as bringing along YOU ARE THE HERO this year.

Kilburn Literary Festival
Sunday 2nd November 2014 (2.00pm-3.30pm)
I shall be at the North London Tavern, talking about how my History of Fighting Fantasy Gamebooks came to be, giving you the story of the book, as it were (rather like the 'Making of...' documentaries you get on DVDs).

Steampunks in Space
Saturday 29th & Sunday 30th November 2014
I will be at the National Space Centure in Leicester for a weekend of Steampunk splendidness. So why not come along and pick up one of my Pax Britannia novels while you're there? After all, Dark Side is set in space as well as on the Moon!

Saturday 6th December 2014 (10.00am-6.00pm)
I'm going to have a table at Dragonmeet this year, so come along and pick up one of the last hardbacks of the first edition of YOU ARE THE HERO and get it signed at the same time!

Maybe I'll see you at one of the above...

* 7.00 a.m.

** Goodie bags, Kickstarter backer copies of YOU ARE THE HERO, bottles of water...

*** It's been particularly gratifying to read other people's kind comments about how hard my wife worked on the day, and even one attendee remarking how much he enjoyed embarking upon an AFF adventure with my sprogs.

Saturday, 27 September 2014


It's been a couple of weeks since YOU ARE THE HERO - A History of Fighting Fantasy Gamebooks, was released on an unsuspecting public, and with all the Kickstarter backer copies having been sent out into the wild now, the book has begun to receive some reviews, and very favourable they are too.

Geek Syndicate has this to say about the book: "You Are The Hero is a magnificent work that manages to be objective and passionate about the series it discusses. A more fitting tribute to the series that saw me through my youth I can’t really imagine." 4.5/5

Lew Stringer, the comic artist who provided a brand new Derek the Troll strip for the book, reviewed it both here and here. Lew said that the book, "looks very interesting because it seems to be written for both Joe Public and the hard core gamer, which can't be a bad thing... The book is well illustrated throughout with numerous images, including many full page book covers without the cover copy so that you can fully appreciate the art."

Games designer Jake Thornton even gave YOU ARE THE HERO a mention over at

Realm of Chaos 80s loved the book! "The book is a joy! An absolute joy! Even if you have a slimmest interest in FF this book is worth buying. Every page brings a new memory, a new fact and a bigger, broader smile!"

Starburst Magazine had this to say: "Green has produced a beautifully edited and firmly present account of a phenomenon that for some is as important as Transformers or Star Wars and yet has been pretty much overlooked by the mainstream. If you’ve recently become reacquainted with the idea of turning to page 400 and want to know more about this strangely British fandom, then this is the best place to start." 8/10 also liked it: "You Are The Hero is an absolute triumph. It is a love letter to a cherished memory, written with a scholars knowledge and a fanboys heart."

And then there are the 22 5-star reviews on*,  the 5-star review on, and the 5-star review on**.

If you would like to pick up a physical copy of the book, you can do so here. However, if ebooks are more your thing these days, you can download a digital copy of YOU ARE THE HERO here. And if you enjoy it, feel free to add your own review online.

* As of writing. ;-)

** That has mysteriously vanished!

Wednesday, 3 September 2014

Fighting Fantasy Fest 2014 - Featuring Damien Sparkes of Pure Evil Miniatures

 One of the guests attending Fighting Fantasy Fest on Sunday is miniature sculptor Damien Sparkes, of Pure Evil Miniatures.

FFF 2014 will be the first time Damien reveals the results of the project he has been working on for the last year with Ian Livingstone, and as one of those lucky individuals who has already had a sneak peak I can assure you that you will not be disappointed.

FF fans and dedicated miniatures collectors are not going to want to miss this... So buy your ticket today, before they run out!

YOU ARE THE HERO - The first reviews

Thanks to the fact that Amazon are a law unto themselves, despite YOU ARE THE HERO's official publication day being this coming Sunday, some lucky individuals have already managed to get their hands on the book and give it a read. And, as a result, two reviews have appeared online already.

The first I became aware of was this one on The Realm of Chaos 80s blog:
"The book is a joy! An absolute joy!... Even if you have a slimmest interest in FF this book is worth buying. Every page brings a new memory, a new fact and a bigger, broader smile!"

And then this one appeared on Amazon itself:
"This absolutely excellent new publication is the definitive history of the triumph of the Fighting Fantasy book, chronicling their rise, their fall and their 21st century re-birth as essential tablet/phone apps. Crammed full with all the art work you will ever need about the series, maps, full colour paintings, concept work and much much more. Even if you only have a cursory flick through the books back in the day, you NEED to own a copy of this one."

Of course, having said that these are the first reviewers, they are in fact the first reviews written by the book-buying public. YOU ARE THE HERO has already been reviewed by SFX Magazine, and three other individuals, whose quotes appear on the back cover.

If you happen to read YOU ARE THE HERO, a favourable review on Amazon would be much appreciated. And, to be honest, if you're the sort of person who's going to purchase the book in the first place, I would hazard to guess that your review will be a favourable one. ;-)

Tuesday, 2 September 2014

Fighting Fantasy Fest Costume Competition

I know that some of those attending Fighting Fantasy Fest are already preparing what they're going to wear for the day, and I have it on good authority that will we see at least one Zagor the Warlock!

It's not too late to put together your own FF-themed outfit for the day. Indeed, anyone dressing up for FFF 2014 will be able to take part in a costume competition, the winner being decided by the other attendees on the day. The prize? A framed, signed  poster of Ian Livingstone's Blood of the Zombies book cover!

So what are you waiting for? Get out that needle and thread and get sewing! (And buy your ticket here.)

Monday, 1 September 2014

Fighting Fantasy Fest 2014 - Food and drink

Going to Fighting Fantasy Fest 2014 on Sunday? Wondering what you're going to do for food and drink?

Well have no fear, because the event has its own bar for the day - The Black Lobster Tavern - and the DoubleTree Hilton has a cafe, literally just across the foyer from where we'll be celebrating all things Fighting Fantasy. Even better, a lunch hour has been factored into the schedule for the day.

Of course, you could also spend that hour perusing the stalls in Port Blacksand and Darkwood Forest. Among the traders are:
  • Otherworld Miniatures - who have produced the highly collectible Zagor miniature that will be in every attendee's goodie bag.
  • Leisure Games - purveyors of only the finest board games.
  • Snowbooks - publishers of YOU ARE THE HERO - A History of Fighting Fantasy Gamebooks
  • - Jamie Fry will have FF gamebooks both old and new for sale on his stand.
  • Arion Games - publishers of Advanced Fighting Fantasy Second Edition.
  • All Rolled Up - suppliers of gamebook gaming accessories, who will have some very special, bespoke items for sale.
  • Scriptarium - French publishers of Advanced Fighting Fantasy.
  • Legend Photography - who will take your FF-themed portrait, props included.