With hindsight I was the perfect demographic target for the book and having devoured Warlock - Russ Nicholson's art and all - I picked up The Citadel of Chaos, then Forest of Doom, then Starship Traveller... Eventually my parents lay off buying every new release for me but I never fell out of love with the series and when I had money of my own I would pick up the occasional title from time to time.
But I wasn't only reading Fighting Fantasy adventures, I was writing them as well. I filled notebooks with them - many of them unfinished - and then I started writing 200 reference adventures. And I didn't stop. I couldn't! So what else was there for me to do, other than to write to Puffin Books and ask how I submit an idea for the series.
In July 1990 I left school and in the long summer break before I started at university, I started to write my pitch for a proper FF gamebook. And so Outlaws of Kaan* was born. It was duly submitted, I received feedback, I re-wrote it, I receive feedback... but it wasn't really getting any better so I dumped it and started again.
In the summer of 1991, having completed my first year at uni, during the summer break I worked as a gardener** in the mornings and tackled a completely new idea for an FF book in the afternoons. I cannibalised some of the best bits from my Outlaws of Kaan pitch (although some of those ideas didn't appear until my second book***) and duly submitted the first draft of the first quarter of Spellbreaker.
It took two re-writes and another year but having just finished my second year at uni, I received a letter commissioning me to write Spellbreaker. I was over the moon, to say the least.
Nineteen years later, I have written seven Fighting Fantasy gamebooks, and everything else I have ever written was, in some way, a consequence of this initial success. I have written another five adventure gamebooks for different franchises since then too.
Next year is the thirtieth anniversary of the Fighting Fantasy series and, at this time, I don't know what will mark this momentous date.**** But whatever comes of the original Jackson and Livingstone series, its legacy is alive and well today and I, for one, have not turned my back on gamebooks - not yet and not by a long shot!
* Which should have been called Outlaws of Kaad, but that's a story for another time...
** It was more ground clearance than gardening really.
*** And some even made it into my fifth!
**** Although I know what I would like to happen.