Monday 5 February 2018

Interview - Jonathan Green, author

It's been a while since I last spoke to author Jonathan Green, and back then we were anticipating the release of 'You Are The Hero', the first volume of his history of Fighting Fantasy.

Since then he's written a sequel to the book and released other things besides so I thought it'd be nice to catch up Jonathan to see what else he has in store, and to find out more about his upcoming gamebook 'Neverland - Here Be Monsters!'.

Hello again, Jonathan! It’s been a busy few years for you; the ‘You Are The Hero’ books, ‘Alice's Nightmare in Wonderland’, ‘The Wicked Wizard of Oz’, and now ‘Neverland - Here Be Monsters!’, coupled with Fighting Fantasy Fest 2 and all other manner of stories and work. How on earth do you juggle it all?

With great difficulty! I also have a conventional part-time job and children to get to school, or Guides, or wherever. I always have four or five projects on the go at once, with usually one that demands most of my time at any one time.

I write in the morning, go to work in the afternoon, and then write in the evenings, at weekends and during school holidays too!

About ‘Neverland - Here Be Monsters!’. What made you want to twist the original J. M. Barrie stories into this mash-up with monsters and pirates and dinosaurs?

I’m not sure really, but it was an idea that had been percolating for a while. I had wanted to write a gamebook in which Blackbeard the pirate went to Skull Island (as seen in Peter Jackson’s ‘King Kong’), but when I started writing the ACE Gamebook series it seemed like a good idea to transfer the adventure to Neverland and make the pirate Captain Hook. I’ve never been a fan of Peter Pan, but everything’s better with dinosaurs… right?

What can we expect to see in the pages of the book? What can you share regarding the plot and the system you’re going to use?

With each ACE Gamebook I’ve always made some advancements. ‘Alice’s Nightmare in Wonderland’ introduced the ACE ruleset, ‘The Wicked Wizard of Oz’ introduced the RPG element of playing as different characters, and ‘NEVERLAND – Here Be Monsters!’ will add steeds to the mix.

The adventure follows the basic plot of ‘Peter Pan and Wendy’ but with elements of ‘The Lost World’ thrown in.

J. M. Barrie's 'Peter Pan and Wendy' meets Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's 'The Lost World' in this brand-new, thrilling gamebook adventure!

You seem to enjoy playing with the classics, as seen with ‘Neverland’ and the previous books ‘Alice's Nightmare in Wonderland’ and ‘The Wicked Wizard of Oz’. Do you have your sights set on any other properties?

Yes, plenty, but nothing I want to reveal just yet. ;-)

That said, it’s probably about time I got round to writing ‘Beowulf Beastslayer’. :-D

Fighting Fantasy Fest 2 was a huge success. What did you do differently with the second convention, and are there plans for another one?

I asked for feedback from guests and attendees of the first one. People seemed to like pretty much everything about the con itself, but they said that the venue was too small, there wasn’t enough time to game, and food with either too expensive or almost non-existent.

So, we moved to a larger venue, there was much greater variety of food at an affordable price, and the day itself was much longer. We even had a pub quiz the night before to raise money for Prostate Cancer UK, in memory of ‘Freeway Fighter’ illustrator Kevin Bulmer.

I would like to organise another event to mark the 40th anniversary in 2022, but I think we could also fit another in before then. It just depends on us having something new to bring to the event, but by then Charlie Higson’s ‘The Gates of Death’ will have been published.

What was your personal favourite part of Fighting Fantasy Fest 2?

Being greeted by Iain McCaig as if we were long lost friends (when we were only just meeting for the first time), meeting Charlie Higson, and just seeing everyone have such a great time. 

You released ‘You Are The Hero Part 2’ at the convention. The first book was an excellent view on the history, world and fandom of Fighting Fantasy, so what did you include that was new for this volume?

Since Part 1 was published, I had managed to track down more of the creators, or they had been in touch with me, so I could interview them. There had also been developments with the ‘Freeway Fighter’ comic, ‘The Trolltooth Wars’ graphic novel, and Scholastic publishing the series for a new generation with a new title – ‘The Port of Peril’ – by Ian Livingstone.

I was also able to expand on what the fans had been doing in the interim.

Is there enough material for a third instalment?

I expect there will be, I have some notes made already, but I’m also wondering about re-editing and revising Parts 1 and 2 into one volume, with new material included.

I’m also keen to write a history of non-Fighting Fantasy gamebooks and have an outline already prepared.

Now that Scholastic are printing old and new Fighting Fantasy gamebooks, do you have any plans to pen another adventure for the series?

It all depends on whether they ask me to or not. I have one idea in particular that I’m keen to explore.

What else are you working on at the moment? What can we expect to see from the mind of Jonathan Green in the future?

At the moment I’m working on ‘NEVERLAND – Here Be Monsters!’, but I’m also writing more Scrooge and Marley (Deceased) stories – the first one, ‘The Haunted Man’, came out in time for Christmas – and I’m planning my next Kickstarter. I just don’t know yet whether it’s going to be for a new horror anthology or a card game.

Scrooge and Marley (Deceased)

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