Thursday, November 25, 2021

Have a merry Christmas!

These are some of my books. Mostly for children 8 to 10 years old, and a few for 10 to 12s. This holiday season, if you still believe in getting presents for kids, do consider giving one of them. I wrote these stories to entertain my two sons when they were younger, and help them experience a first class childhood. I really hope they can bring some joy and optimism to your kids too, in these times. The books are available on Amazon and Book Depository, as well as (in Singapore) Times Bookstores Online, Kinokuniya and Epigram Bookshop.
Also, here's a screen from my recent session at the Singapore Writers Festival, thanks to everyone who joined us:

Thanks for all your support over the last 10 years, since we started Super Cool Books back in 2011. Thanks to everyone who helped to make all this possible. This will be my last post for this year. Take care, have a good holiday, see you all in 2022. Remember, what we can imagine, we can create.

— D

Monday, November 22, 2021

GAMEBOOK ACADEMY _____ Meet Sam Isaacson, he's created the perfect fantasy gamebook for young readers, with fun ideas, simple language, engaging visuals and a streamlined character score sheet

NOTE: This is part of a series that explains how to create your own simple gamebooks. More articles here.

Hi Sam, please introduce yourself!
Well, I love to read all sorts of books and have enjoyed gamebooks in particular since I was a child. Now I have four young children of my own, I find less time to read than I’d like! But I do my best to make time to write gamebooks. The Entram Epic is a science fiction gamebook trilogy, and I’ve also written two comic fantasy mysteries: Escape from Portsrood Forest, and The Bradfell Conspiracy.

Tell us about your new gamebook.
You’re a Wizard! is my latest gamebook, and this one is aimed at younger children. You – the reader – take on the role of a schoolchild, who is invited to perform a secret errand in a magical complex under your school. I won’t give the game away, but it turns into a bit more than that! You’re a Wizard! has got the classic ability to choose your own actions, a streamlined character score sheet and introductory approach to skill checks, and beautiful original art on pretty much every page. 

Why did you decide to make a gamebook for younger readers?
My kids are aged between 4 and 9 – I wanted to give them a gamebook to play, but was struggling. So many needed dice, creating a barrier to even trying, and most were too long, complex, punishing, unpredictable, violent or gory to make my kids want to read them or for me to want them to! I wanted a way for my kids to really enjoy a gamebook containing the key elements of a fantasy setting, without the violence and other more grown-up stuff inherent in a lot of gamebooks. In short, You’re a Wizard! is the gamebook I want my children to read.

What is your gamebook creation process?
Storyline. Process flow chart. Spreadsheet. Write up. Edit. Playtest. Discover errors. Re-write. Playtest. Nearly give up. Persevere. Finish!

What advice would you have for parents and teachers want to introduce their kids to gamebooks?
I hope my book’s a great entry point – the ideas are fun, the language is simple, the visuals are engaging. I think gamebooks should be great for early readers – each section is short enough to read quickly, the inevitable consequences of your actions make reading the next section a compelling option, and the fact that the hero of the story is YOU speaks for itself! In fact, in You’re a Wizard! you’re encouraged to draw a self portrait in your character sheet to underline this point.

Buy on Amazon US
Buy on Amazon UK

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Thursday, October 21, 2021

LAST KID RUNNING _____ See you at the Singapore Writers Festival 2021, where we'll be launching Night of the Six-Headed Robogator, the second title in this thrilling gamebook series

Book Launch Special
Last Kid Running: Night of the Six-Headed Robogator
by Don Bosco
Published by Penguin Random House SEA

Zoom online event
14 Nov Sun
4:30pm - 5pm SG time

Free for all — register here!

More info at the Singapore Writers Festival programme page here

About this book:
Welcome to Book 2 of the thrilling LAST KID RUNNING gamebook series, where YOU decide how the story unfolds. You are Runner X, one of six eager contestants on the biggest reality show streaming on the mobile web.

This time, you’re taken to a secret venue in Indonesia. The enigmatic Dr Yamato has created a massive Run Dome filled with crazy technological inventions to challenge you and amuse his viewers.

You’re prepared to face anything, even the intimidating Six Headed Robogator. But the night gets creepy. And you can’t help feeling that the Run Dome hides a nasty surprise in its shadows.

Will you be too overwhelmed to outrun the others? Or do you have what it takes to be the LAST KID RUNNING? Quick, open the book and find out!

Recommended for readers 10 to 12 years old.

More info here, including links to online retailers, author interview, etc

About SWF 2021: 5 Nov- 14 Nov
The Singapore Writers Festival, one of Asia’s premier literary events, started in 1986 as a biennial festival. Now organised by Arts House Limited, SWF is a much anticipated event on the cultural calendar, presenting the world’s major literary talents to Singaporeans while shining a spotlight on home grown and Southeast Asian creative talents. Over the years, the Festival has become an exciting meeting point of writers, academics and thinkers in a choice spread of panel discussions, workshops, lectures and performances over 10 days. It has hosted literati the likes of two-time Booker Prize winner Margaret Atwood, Whitbread First Novel Award winner Zadie Smith, British poet laureate Carol Ann Duffy, Nebula winner Neil Gaiman and Lambda Literary Award winner Roxane Gay.

The Singapore Writers Festival is one of the few multi-lingual literary festivals in the world, celebrating the written and spoken word in Singapore’s official languages – English, Malay, Chinese and Tamil.

This year's festival takes place 5–14 November, and will be a hybrid format with a mix of in-person and online events. International speakers will join us digitally.

Saturday, September 4, 2021

GAMEBOOK ACADEMY _____ Meet Bart King, author of the new CYOA gamebook Time Travel Inn, which bestselling kidlit legend Jeff Kinney finds "mind-blowing" and "heart-stopping"!

NOTE: This is part of a series that explains how to create your own simple gamebooks. More articles here.

Please introduce yourself!
Hi! My name is Bart King. I'm an author in Oregon, and I just wrote a book for Choose Your Own Adventure called Time Travel Inn. Also, I can't resist sharing that Jeff Kinney (author of “Diary of a Wimpy Kid”) recently described my book as having “mind-blowing adventure and heart-stopping thrills!”

So THAT was pretty fun.

Some of my other books include Bad Dad Jokes: That’s How Eye Roll and the funny science-fiction novel, The Drake Equation. Oh, and I like turtles!

Do tell us about your new Time Travel Inn gamebook.
Time Travel Inn shares the adventures of Astrid, a character whose family just moved to a remote motel in Wisconsin. Astrid’s mother and father disappear at the motel, so Astrid and her two new friends start investigating. They quickly discover that the inn is an epicenter for time travel research gone very, very wrong in a variety of unexpected ways. One motel room has a time machine that sends them back 30 minutes in time, but others lead to the reader facing off against gladiators, dinosaurs, and the Grey Council of Wizards. But the trickiest room might be the one where time starts running backwards as soon as you enter.

And ooh, this is cool: Time Travel Inn is coming out in a larger format than Choose Your Own Adventure has published before. I’m pretending that this is because my book is THAT good, so please don’t pop my bubble with any facts that dispute this!

Time Travel Inn came about after I wrote a little about time travel in a different book. At that point, the story really “opened up,” and so I wanted to write a new story that began with that sense of wonder and explore how wide open a story's possibilities might be.

The answer was VERY wide open—Time Travel Inn  even has a fun multiverse thread that goes into worlds where magic exists and the dreaded Jabberwock is on the loose. What I found was that if I imagined something funny or outrageous, the odds were good that I could figure out a way to work it into the story.

And the fun thing about this book is that it has humor, action, science fiction, and even a bit of horror. So there really is something for everyone.

How did you come to work on a CYOA title?
When I was asked if I might like to try writing a CYOA title, I jumped at the chance like a puppy for a squeaky toy.

That’s because I’d been given a superpower: I got to write a high-interest book where I could do almost anything I wanted to make the book un-put-downable. (Yep, that’s a word.) So I wanted to write like I was daring the reader to find an excuse not to read the story, because it’d be that good.

I know that’s a ludicrous goal, but it helped keep me on my toes.

When did you first get interested in gamebooks?
Well, speaking of time travel…
Waaaay back in the 1980s, I enjoyed playing a text-based interactive video game named Zork II: The Wizard of Frobozz. It was a low-tech funny adventure. As you played, it presented scenes that you had to type responses to. For example: 

A volcano gnome seems to walk straight out of the wall and says, "I have a very busy appointment schedule. I have little time to waste on trespassers, but for a small fee, I'll show you the way out."

Here, you might type in something like "Offer gold piece" and hit <Return>. Then the volcano gnome might take your gold piece and give you information. OR it might be offended at the small amount and leave in a huff. OR … you get the idea.

Anyway, I loved that interactive element, and when I later discovered that Choose Your Own Adventure books had been coming out for years, I thought they were sheer genius.

What's your gamebook development process?
The key is figuring out the story endings. Once I have those, I can work backwards. So my book plot diagram looks like a basketball tournament graph, in reverse.

What else are you working on?
I’m having fun writing a possible Choose Your Own Adventure that involves cryptozoology. That’s the study of animals whose existence is disputed, like the Loch Ness monster or armadillos. So one of my story’s important characters is a Pacific Northwest tree octopus.

And I just finished a scene where a mob of highly intelligent apes invades a room, and one of my characters cries out, “It’s a chimp-ageddon!”

(That’s like an Armageddon with chimps … and why am I explaining this?)

Thank you so much for the chance to share about Time Travel Inn, Gamebook Academy!


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