Friday, November 14, 2014

R.I.P., R. A. Montgomery, Author and Publisher of the "Choose Your Own Adventure" Series

Posted By on Fri, Nov 14, 2014 at 11:20 AM


I suppose this one of those Gen X/Gen Y things, but the Choose Your Own Adventure series, generally purchased via the Scholastic Book Club, were a big part of my reading youth as I kept a finger on the last choice, turning to page 77 to see if I managed to avoid the clutches of the Abominable Snowman.

The original author and publisher of the series, R.A. Montgomery died in Vermont on Nov. 9 at the age of 78.

The story of the series, from Wikipedia:

According to Packard, the core idea for the series emerged from bedtime stories that he told to his daughters every night, revolving around a character named Pete and his adventures. Packard stated, "I had a character named Pete and I usually had him encountering all these different adventures on an isolated island. But that night I was running out of things for Pete to do, so I just asked what they would do." His two daughters came up with different paths for the story to take and Packard thought up an ending for each of the paths. "What really struck me was the natural enthusiasm they had for the idea. And I thought: 'Could I write this down?'"

Packard soon developed this basic premise into a manuscript titled The Adventures of You on Sugar Cane Island. He set out in 1970 in order to find a publisher, but was rejected by nine different publishing companies, causing him to shelve the idea. In 1975, he was able to convince Ray Montgomery, co-owner of Vermont Crossroads Press, to publish the book and it sold 8,000 copies, a large amount for a small local publishing house. The series was later marketed to Pocket Books, where it also sold well, but Montgomery believed that it would sell better if a bigger publisher could be found for the books. After some discussion, Montgomery was able to make a contract for the series with Bantam Books. Packard and Montgomery were both selected to write books for the series, including the contracting out of titles to additional authors.

Poetically, the font on Montgomery obit on the CYOA site should be very familiar to fans of the series.

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