Wednesday, June 16, 2021

GAMEBOOK ACADEMY _____ Meet David Lowrie, he's written an interactive adventure about Varney the Vampyr, it's partly inspired by his niece and nephews

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

Please introduce yourself
My name is David Lowrie, and I am a gamebook author and illustrator from North Yorkshire in the UK. I published my first gamebook in March 2020, and so far have published 5 gamebooks: The Shadow Thief Trilogy, Straight to Hell and Psycho Killer. My sixth book, published this month, is slightly different. It’s a children’s book called Varney the Vampyr with over 50 illustrations. 

Tell us about this new gamebook
Varney the Vampyr Book 1: The Feast of Glood is slightly different to my previous books (which were all pure gamebooks). This is a story aimed at children (and adults!) from aged 8 onwards. It’s a fun, funny and fast moving adventure about when 3 kids meet a vampyr who has just woken up from a long sleep. It’s full of great characters, and has about 40 full page illustrations.

What inspired you to create this?
For some reason I decided I wanted to watch the Tobe Hooper’s 1979 adaptation of Salem’s Lot, the Stephen King book, starring David Soul and James Mason. Salem’s Lot is a favourite book of mine, and I seem to read it every year — but I hadn’t seen the 1979 TV miniseries since I was a teenager. I found a copy on DVD and watched it one night, and was struck again by the effect and look of The Master (bald, pointy ears, blue skin, long pointed teeth, etc) which was completely at odds with his description in the book. So I started to think about writing a vampire book for kids, using the look of The Master, but more the personality (toned down) of The Master in the books — who is very urbane and charming (most of the time).

I decided on the name Varney the Vampire (or in my case Vampyr). Varney is mentioned in King's book, as it was a very successful Penny Dreadful in the 1850s, and in fact contributed a lot of vampire lore that we now expect (pointed teeth, superhuman strength) and it predates Dracula by 50 years. But poor Sir Francis Varney seems to have been forgotten and Dracula has got all the glory. I am mainly using the character names, not the plots, and transplanting the action to the present day. The 3 Bannerworth kids (George, Flora and Henry) are based on my sister‘s 3 kids — both in appearance and personality. 

As well as a great, fun story (I hope) I also wanted to add a gamebook section to it. Therefore I decided to include a 75 section interactive adventure, set after the end of the story in the book, where you can learn more about the world Varney lives in. This is also fully illustrated and was my first attempt at a CYOA rather than a full gamebook. I am hoping that it will encourage younger readers to give gamebooks a try. 

What was your creation process for this? 
All my gamebooks so far have started with the title. This was from the character. The first chapters were the initial contact between Varney and the kids. The plot sort of fell into place just after that. It was quite different from plotting a gamebook, as it was all about characters and the narrative.

How will you be promoting this new gamebook?
Mainly on Facebook and Amazon, although I am trying traditional publishing houses as the children’s book market is huge, and I could do with some help in marketing outside the gamebook community. But blogs like yours are also incredibly helpful and so thank you for your time and help. 
Amazon page

Black Dog Gamebooks 

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