Sunday, April 4, 2021

GAMEBOOK ACADEMY _____ Meet Mica De Leon, Managing Editor of Summit Books in the Philippines, she explains how the Helios Trials gamebook for young adults was created

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

How did you get involved in the Helios Trials gamebook, and what was your role?
I was the book’s managing editor and developmental editor. I also wrote two of the fourteen endings, the prologue, the opening chapter, the epilogue, and the super short, secret fourth narrative cluster. My job was to ensure that this book still aligned with the overarching story of The Ceyla Chronicles, stayed within the internal and external logic established in the worldbuilding of Helios, and somehow moved Ceyla Ward’s story and character development forward. 

I was also tasked to ensure that the characters and the world stayed consistent in all the Helios books, coordinate with authors who will write for the series, create new or cultivate existing story arcs for future authors to explore in future books, and oversee the books’ production from conceptualization and planning to the release of the print and digital versions.

My job was to also help the authors write in this new—and unconventional—format of storytelling, make the narrative choice map and the Helios worldbuilding brief to guide authors when they write their assigned narrative clusters, check if the chapters are consistent with the overall narrative planned for this book and the entire series, and somehow give authors autonomy to write their assigned narrative clusters in their own authorial voice.

The three major narrative clusters of the Helios Trials were penned by Hraefn, Missmaple, and sielalstreim.




What is this gamebook about?
A brief backgrounder about The Ceyla Chronicles series and the world of Helios: The Ceyla Chronicles is a series of fantasy books set in the world of Helios and follows the story of Ceyla Ward, a half-Fae, Half-Human freelance detective who fights crime and solves mysteries of the supernatural nature.

The book series started out as a collaboration by our first five fantasy authors back when we launched Cloak, the fantasy, scifi, and speculative fiction sub-imprint of Pop Fiction, in 2014. As more and more authors joined the Pop Fiction imprint, more opportunities for book collaborations came to us. With every new collaboration made for The Ceyla Chronicles, the more the world and the series grew.

(NOTE — In this series, only Helios Trials is a gamebook.)

Briefly describe your gamebook development process.
Plan. Make a choice map. Coordinate with authors. Make a very detailed outline. Set a deadline. Write. Adjust outlines if needed. Realign plans. Rewrite. Edit. Check for inconsistencies. Proofread. Edit.

What advice would you have for writers who want to write a similar gamebook?
If you’re just starting out, it helps to know your writing process. Are you a plotter or a discovery writer? A gamebook like Helios Trials requires a clear plan and outline. In fact, I don’t think any writer can discovery-write their way to finishing a game book like Helios Trials without any kind of outline. 

If you know your process, you’ll be able to adjust yourself to cater to the requirements of writing a gamebook. All authors are a bit of both, but they usually lean more on one type of process over the other. The authors of Helios Trials lean more towards discovery writing, but they are also very comfortable with outlining. This was where we began.

Next, make a work plan and the narrative choice map, and stick to those plans as closely as possible. It will make the backend work (like editing and revising) a lot easier for you. Then set a deadline to finish the book.

Excel sheets were most helpful to us in tracking the choice maps and chapters.

What was your first ever encounter with a gamebook?
My first encounter with a gamebook similar to Helios Trials is the Give Yourself Goosebumps series by R. L. Stine published in the 90s. After that, I found the original Choose Your Own Adventure series published in the 80s. For Helios Trials, the inspirations were actually Netflix’s Bandersnatch, Can You Survive The Zombie Apocalypse by Max Brailler, and My Lady’s Choosing: An Interactive Romance Novel by Kitty Curran and Larissa Zageris.

What other gamebook-related projects do you have coming up?
For Pop Fiction Originals, an interactive romance novel entitled The Paths We Take is in the works. It features our readers’ favorite leading men archetypes—the bad boy, the nerd, the CEO, and the firestarter—as potential romantic partners depending on the choices readers make in the book. We’re also working on another game book set in the Ceyla Chronicles universe. Entitled The Ceyla Chronicles 4: Murder Mayhem, it is a murder mystery party book that can be played with friends—online or offline.

How can readers find out more about your gamebooks? 
Readers can get a copy of Helios Trials and all the other books in The Ceyla Chronicles series in any of Summit Books’ shops: Shopify, Shopee, Lazada for only P199 for the print book version and P165 for the ebook version.

Follow Pop Fiction on Facebook, Instagram, and YouTube for updates on current and future books and gamebooks. Check out Pop Fiction’s entire catalogue of books at We also regularly post cool videos and articles on our website and social media pages.

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Don Bosco's Gamebook Academy

Monday, March 8, 2021

FOOK ISLAND _____ Get our new gamebook, paperback edition available now

by Don Bosco
Published by Super Cool Books (2021)

Age: 13 +
82 pages

ISBN-10 : 9811494649
ISBN-13 : 978-9811494642
Item Weight : 3.04 ounces
Dimensions : 5 x 0.2 x 7.01 inches


You work for the Archanesium Academy. They send you on a dangerous mission. Will you survive?

This short choice-based gamebook is written in a brisk, minimalist style. Includes development notes.

Fiction | Science fiction | Thriller | Suspense | Gamebook | Games


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The Secret of the Chatter Blocks
Paperback now available

Middle grade science fiction 
gamebook series 
Published by Penguin Random House


Don Bosco's Gamebook Academy
Free lessons for making your own simple gamebooks
& interviews with gamebook creators

Sunday, March 7, 2021

LION CITY ADVENTURES _____ Visit the Lion City Adventuring Club at Singapore Heritage Festival 2021

LION CITY ADVENTURES is our award-winning series for young readers, about a society of children dedicated to exploring Singapore, making new friends and solving mysteries. This society is known as the Lion City Adventuring Club. And you're invited to join the fun!

We’ve published three books so far: LION CITY ADVENTURESSECRETS OF THE HEARTLANDS and ISLAND OF LEGENDS, all with Marshall Cavendish. You can find out more about this series here and here. You can buy these books from your regular bookstore, or borrow them from the library.

Hope you enjoy reading this series. Do spend time imagining yourself going on all the adventures. Take care and happy reading!

— D

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Can you solve this mystery?
Play our gamebook and find out!
Paperback now available online
Details and free PDF for browsing here

Monday, March 1, 2021

GAMEBOOK ACADEMY _____ Meet Adam Mitchell and and his young son Lukas Latham, they created and published a fantasy gamebook together

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

An introduction, please!
Adam is a Gamebook, RPG and Crime Novel writer, and an ambassador for Dyslexia, and dyslexic himself. He is also a tired coffee-addicted father and fiancé to Samantha and two children. Lukas is Adam's 10 year old son, who is new to gamebooks but is a wealth of ideas and enthusiasm, which is rare in the old authors out there.

What inspired you two to write this gamebook?
This gamebook was born out of the UK going into lockdown over the pandemic. Me and my son got into playing a lot of Dungeons and Dragons and Four Against Darkness. Prepping the campaigns got us creating loads of maps and coming up with a lot of ideas. Then one day Lukas says, 'Dad, lets turn them into a gamebook' and that's where it all began. A lockdown-fueled father-son bonding experience. 

We wanted to make sure it was kid-friendly so the Rules Lite approach was a must. Now, it takes me about a month to come up with the first draft. But Lukas has his draft done in about a week, and that draft hasn't changed much throughout the book. It is in almost every way Lukas's book. All I did was the technical stuff and offer suggestions here and there.

What is this gamebook about?
Here is the book blurb, it kind of says it all really: “Welcome, Warrior! I, Arudus, the Grand Wizard of this Guild, offer you a chance to become a true hero of this realm, for times are dire and heroes are in short supply. If you would tread the path of a true hero, you must first walk the path of danger through the dungeons of this Guild. You will need a single six-sided dice, a pencil and an eraser to play this Rules-Lite Gamebook.“

What is your gamebook creation process, in under 30 words? 
This was Lukas's book and this is his way of writing: play some D&D and 4AD, get inspired, then chuck a ton of ideas out, edit nothing out and use everything.

What's next for the two of you?
Adam's son has plans for a trilogy but is in no rush to write the rest just yet, nor spend that much time with his dad again for a while. Whereas Adam has plans to 'borrow' the rule set from this book to write something of his own.


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Don Bosco's Gamebook Academy