Saturday 29 August 2020

Rhianna Pratchett in the Bookseller

Scholastic UK is gearing up for the release of Rhianna Pratchett's brand new Fighting Fantasy gamebook Crystal of Storms, at the end of September, and as a result this article appeared on the online version of The Bookseller on Thursday, International Gamebook Day.

Here are some of the highlights, that will be on interest to Fighting Fantasy fans:

Being tabbed as the newest “special guest” to author a Fighting Fantasy book is something of a childhood dream come true for Rhianna Pratchett. The video game writer and screenwriter was a superfan of the iconic Choose Your Own Adventure-esque series when she was young. Maybe a little overly attached to the books, as they led to an early brush with the long arm of the law (OK, it was the hard nuts at Somerset County Council library services).

“I read Fighting Fantasy a lot as a kid,” Pratchett explains. “I used to get in trouble with my local library for not bringing them back. I remember a threatening letter that they were going to take me to court if I didn't return one of the books. I was reading a lot and I managed to lose it under my bed”

The license was bought and resurrected by Scholastic in 2017, which happily coincided with the series’ 35th anniversary, a burst of ‘80s nostalgia (helped by “Stranger Things” and a resurgence in the popularity of Dungeons & Dragons) and the overall “Game of Thrones” booster shot to the fantasy sector. Suddenly, Fighting Fantasy was cool again. Scholastic has rejacketed and rebooted some backlist, released a tranche of new titles, while Young Bond creator Charlie Higson was the first special guest author to hop on board with The Gates of Death...

Pratchett's Fighting Fantasy title is Crystal of Storms in which the reader/player is a member of the Sky Watch charged with keeping the peace in the floating cloud islands of Pangaria. When one of the islands, Nimbus, crashes into the Ocean of Tempests after an explosion, you set out to explore the other islands, facing off against the elements and sea beasts, in order to try to raise Nimbus from the depths.

Pratchett pitched the idea to Scholastic, inspired by both a portion of Higson’s book in which there was a flying bier, “and I wanted to play with that combination of flying tech/magic idea” and, somewhat more leftfield, after reading of a rare cloud formation mirage that appeared over southern China a few years ago which looked like a floating city... "My tale is maybe a little bit lighter than some others and there is a police procedural element which is quite new to the world. But, I did bring back some classic monsters from the books of the '80s and '90s, and I had a bit of fun with that.”

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