If you are interested in blogging or want to promote your book, please contact E. B. Davis at writerswhokill@gmail.com.

April Interview Schedule:
4/3 Connie Berry
4/10 Malice Domestic Anthology 14 Authors
4/17 David Burnsworth
3/24 Grace Topping

Saturday Guest Bloggers: 4/6 Edith Maxwell, 4/13 Ellen Butler

WWK Satuday Bloggers: 4/20 Margaret S. Hamilton, 4/27 Kait Carson


Congratulations to our writers for the following publications:

Please read Margaret S. Hamilton and Debra Goldstein's short stories (don't ask about their modus operandi) in a new anthology, Cooked To Death Vol. IV: Cold Cut Files

Congratulations to Shari Randall for her nomination for the Agatha Award for Best First Novel. Her book, Curses, Boiled Again was published by St. Martin's last year. Read the interviewabout the book here. Yay, Shari!

The Malice Domestic conference participants have nominated Annette Dashofy for an Agatha Award for her Zoe Chambers mystery Cry Wolf, published in 2018 by Henery Press. Read E. B. Davis's interview with Annette about Cry Wolf here. Will four nominations be the charm?

Warren Bull's Abraham Lincoln: Seldom Told Stories was released. It is available at: GoRead: https://www.goread.com/book/abraham-lincoln-seldom-told-stories or at Amazon: http://a.co/d/jdSBKdM

Grace Topping's mystery, Staging is Murder, which will be released April 30, is available for pre-order.

KM Rockwood's new short story, "Map to Oblivion," has been included the anthology Shhhh...Murder! edited by Andrew MacRae and published by Darkhouse Books. It was released on Sept. 12.

Warren Bull also has a story in Shhh...Murder! Look for "Elsinore Noir," Warren's short story, in this anthology.

Shari Randall's third Lobster Shack Mystery, Drawn and Buttered, was published February 26, 2019. Available for sale.


Tuesday, September 27, 2016

Care for an Adventure?

Do you remember those choose-your-adventure novels? Mine were all paperbacks that I kept in a stack in my reading corner. In those days before e-books and hypertext, I found the idea of one book containing multiple stories irresistible, especially since I was the protagonist.

My choices created the narrative. The most insignificant-seeming interaction could result in happily-ever-after or total nightmare, and so I bit my nails over every little A or B decision. Did I talk to the spooky old woman at the edge of the graveyard or pass her by? Take tennis lessons or go horseback riding? Visit the bell tower or explore the dusty attic? And the suspense! I would have closed my eyes and turned pages if I could have.

And so now I'm a writer. I'm at the helm of my own stories every step of the way (assuming my protagonists cooperate). And while I love immersing myself in the world of Tai's Confederate gun shop and Trey's corporate security firm, keeping them on track through multiple plot combinations and series-long character arcs is hard work. I miss those well-thumbed paperbacks!

And so now, in my fifth decade, I am discovering the world of online gaming. My teenager loves these immersive games, but I didn't really take them seriously until she convinced me to try the steampunky Fallen London, a darkly clever and smartly written adventure in a very Lovecraftian Victorian London. Fallen London is a browser game which can be played online on your computer or downloaded as an app for your phone. Either way, it's utterly addictive (and because it’s online, you can play with others who are also addicted—it's also free to play for the basic version). I am currently making my way through the Veilgarden, progressing nicely in my seduction of a charming jewel thief, and working on Ladybones Road with the Implacable Detective to solve the mystery of the Secret of the Face-Tailor. I've found a series of Compromising Documents and have an Infernal Contact (who may or may not be a devil) so I should be okay as long as the nightmares don't get me. Or the hell goat. Or my addiction to psychedelic honey.

Another great game is Oxenfree, a downloaded adventure that can be played from start to finish in a couple of hours. Once I got going, I was hooked immediately. Unlike the video games of my youth which were all spastic flash and bang, Oxenfree is languid and dreamy (until the possessions start, that is). With a muted nocturnal palette and subtly spooky soundtrack, it quickly immersed me in the narrative. Soon, I was making my way through a deserted ocean-side park at 3 AM, trying to save my friendships—and eventually my friends' lives—while battling a ghostly menace. Sometimes I had choices, sometimes I didn't, and sometimes my choices were fraught with disaster no matter what decision I made. Rich with backstory and character development, Oxenfree drew me into its unraveling, time-frayed world. I'm not sure I completely returned.

I still love my paper pages of course. Emily Dickinson was right—there is no frigate like a book. But I am discovering that game designers are creating some very intriguing stories in other mediums. Give one a try. And if you want meet me in Fallen London, head to the Singing Mandrake and ask for Maddusa. I may or may not be pawing through the reticule of an ambitious Artist's Model, looking for the scraps of Stolen Correspondence the wench filched from me in the House of Virtue.


Margaret Turkevich said...

I loved the choose your own adventure books, as did my kids. Great for long car trips.

I'm writing about a family with teenagers and need to brush up on the teens' use of social media and on-line gaming.

Thanks! I'll give it a try.

Art Taylor said...

Fun post here! Those choose-your-own-adventure books were among my own favorites (still have copies and sometimes pick them up and explore anew), and I like the connection between these and online gaming. Need to check some of these out!

Grace Topping said...

You have been on quite an adventure. After hearing how addictive these games can become, I may be wise to avoid them. I have a difficult time now trying to get things done. If I try them, I may become hooked.

Tina said...

They are addictive, I will admit. I'd always rejected online games as simplistic and reductive (probably because I conflated them with video games) and some are, but these are shining examples of games that are like the best books, only the reader is the protagonist (sort of sometimes). I've always said the biggest twist that a mystery could provide is for the reader to be the culprit -- these games come close to achieving that level of immersion.

My own seventeen-year-old introduced me to these, so yes, they are excellent research into world of teen media, Oxenfree especially. The language in Fallen London is deliberately faux-Victorian, but in Oxenfree, the teen characters talk like teens do. And react like teens do.

Kait Carson said...

I've never heard of the adventure stories or played a computer game. Looks like I am going to have to start these sound fascinating!

Gloria Alden said...

I'm much older than you Tina, so I didn't read the choose-your-own adventure books, although my oldest son did, and some of my third grade students did, too. I remember once reading one of them to my students and then asking them to write in their journals why they'd choose the one ending and what would happen. As for online games, like Grace, I have no time to add anything to my busy life.

Tina said...

I ended up playing them during my reading time, which sounds weird, I know, but the narrative nature of them makes them feel like a novel. Like reading, they are active, not passive, entertainment. And like e-books, they are portable. I did not think I would enjoy them so -- neither did my teenager -- but I'm a fan now. A picky fan, but a fan nonetheless.

Carla Damron said...

I am tempted to discover these worlds, though I'm worried I'll like them too much!

Warren Bull said...

Interesting I dd not know about games like these.

Tina said...

That is always a danger, I'll admit. If you're the type to pick up a novel and not be able to put it down until you're finished, I'd recommend online games like Fallen London (which limits you to 20 free actions and then shuts you off unless you're willing to pay more -- your actions refresh over the next hours). Of course, if you're the type to punch in that credit card number (which in that case of Fallen London, I was...at least for one month. I called it a birthday present to myself).

Shari Randall said...

Tina, these sound fascinating. I'm afraid I'd get hooked. But how tempting...hmm, that psychedelic honey looks good....

KM Rockwood said...

I remember the Choose Your Own Adventures. And a rather seedy knock-off of pornographic ones.

Video games can be addicting. I remember kids playing things like The Sims and getting really into the games. Including doing things like killing off unwanted characters by having them set off rockets in small rooms or putting them in a swimming pool and removing the ladder. Likewise, I remember them playing Age Of Empires and competing to see who could build the largest armies, with was elephants tromping across the land and seas s crowded that the war ships could hardly move.

I'll have to take a look at these. I have studiously avoided Pokemon Go (besides, I don't think my phone would support it.)

Tina said...

Well well well. My adventure books were very G-rated. I did not know such illicit riches existed. I too have avoided Pokemon Go. I'm afraid the appeal is lost on me.

I highly recommend the psychedelic honey. And the mushroom wine. And any activities involving devils....except the dinner party. DO NOT ATTEND THE DINNER PARTY!