I was saddened this week to hear of the passing of R. A. Montgomery, the author and original publisher of the Choose Your Own Adventure series.
Several years back, my brother and my sister-in-law decided to give me nostalgia for my birthday, so they sent me a copy of The aMAZEing Labyrinth and some Choose Your Own Adventure books. I unwrapped my present and discovered a window straight into memory.
I wrote dozens of stories when I was little, the kind of stories that are written on very broad-ruled paper with a stick-figure illustration every page or two. They typically featured princesses, unicorns, and dogs, all wandering through a patchwork world built from fairy tales, King Arthur legend, Greek mythology, and Xanth.
And some of them were Choose Your Own Adventure-style stories, because I loved Choose Your Own Adventure books. They taught me that narrative didn’t have to hold still, that you could flip backward and forward and make decisions that would make a difference. I would blithely order the reader to turn to page 24 and trust that I would write 23 pages in between.
The Choose Your Own Adventure series was ridiculous and marvelous and fun, and it existed because Raymond Almiran Montgomery loved games and books alike. Montgomery was the publisher who saw the potential for magic in Edward Packard’s interactive manuscript Sugarcane Island. Sugarcane Island became the first book in the Adventures of You series at Vermont Crossroads Press. After Montgomery sold his interest in Vermont Crossroads Press, he brought The Adventures of You to Bantam Books as the Choose Your Own Adventure series. He was also a writer of Choose Your Own Adventure books, taking equal writing responsibility for the series with Packard.
Thank you for all the adventures, Mr. Montgomery. I hope you found a happy ending.
R.A. Montgomery’s full obituary is available at the Choose Your Own Adventure site.
This year’s IFComp has been dedicated to his memory.