RealThog (realthog) wrote,

  • Music:

a (shy cough) twelve-book deal

I've known about this for some little while but it's only now that my lips have been unsealed.

'Way back in the 1980s and 1990s I wrote alongside Joe Dever the 11 novels and one novella collection to go with Joe's astonishingly successful Lone Wolf gamebooks.

The gamebooks (awarded the Gamemaster International "All Time Great" award in 1991 and Game Book of the Year awards in 1985, 1986 and 1987) have been published in over 30 countries and been translated into 18 languages, and have racked up sales to date of over 10 million copies. The Legends of Lone Wolf, as the novels are called, didn't do (ahem) quite that well, but they were performing pretty healthily when, in the mid-1990s, the publisher pulled the plug on Lone Wolfish enterprises in general in response to the overall downturn in the market for gamebooks. (This downturn affected the novels' sales as well because the publisher had been oh so cleverly marketing them into the gamebook section of bookstores, not the f/sf section . . .)

That was in the UK. In the US, the publisher of the gamebooks released only the first four of the Legends, splitting one of them arbitrarily so that there were five vols in all. I don't think I've got file copies of any of this edition: the production standards were so extraordinarily disgusting that I didn't even like touching the books! The contrast was pretty keen with the UK versions, which had natty Peter Jones covers and were generally pleasing to handle.

Ever since, there's been a fairly dedicated fan following for the Legends, and copies of the UK editions, especially of the later, rarer volumes, have traded on eBay for what I regard as astonishingly high prices. A few years ago the Italian publisher Armenia decided to translate the Legends and release them in the form of five omnibuses; these are pretty damn' handsome, and according to my royalty statements have performed well. For the Italian edition I prepared "director's cut" versions of the texts, re-editing quite a lot and in particular restoring some elements that had been chopped out at a time when our editor, at what was essentially a mainstream children's/YA publisher, couldn't believe anyone would ever want to read a fantasy novel that was over 256 pages long, well maybe 320 at the outside . . .

And now, at last, there's going to be an English-language reissue of the entire set of The Legends of Lone Wolf using those revised texts. Well, more or less: I'm an inveterate tinkerer, so I'll doubtless fiddle with them a bit more . . .

An extra source of joy is that at last the books will be coming from a publisher with expertise in this field: Dark Quest Books, the fiction-publishing offshoot of celebrated games creators Dark Quest (whose publisher, the excellent Neal Levin, is on LJ: dqg_neal
). It's as if they've finally come home.

The plan is to issue the novels at least initially in omnibus form, Italian-style, with the first volume appearing early next year; whether there'll be an individual-volumes version in the wake of the omnibuses will, I imagine, depend upon reader demand for such a thing.

If only I could get hold of a few bottles of Chateau Tesco Grand Cru in this benighted land there'd be champagne corks a-popping in Snarl Towers, I can tell you. This is the first time in my life I've signed a twelve-book contract, and I really like the feeling: more, please.

Tags: dark quest books, i (heart) duodecimals, insufferability quotient hits new high, joe dever, legends of lone wolf, neal levin
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