Mystery Writer Turned Gamer

When I was a child I loved the “Choose Your Own Adventure” series, especially the mystery titles. My personal favorite is “The Cave of Time” which is still selling for a new generation to enjoy.

“The Cave of Time” inspired a love of interactive fiction, a seed had been planted. A few months ago I saw the original paperback, with its now-vintage cover sitting sadly on the free shelf at my local library. I just had to rescue it. I brought it home and my kids were all over it. I watched their glee with wistfulness. I sure wished I could enjoy that experience now, as an adult.

That’s when I renewed my pledge to create an interactive book of my own, except that I now had a plan for how to make that happen: Why not create a game based on my mystery series? A companion to the established series that my readers already knew, I could offer it as an HTML-based interactive reading experience, free on my website. Eventually I’d bring the game to Kindle and apps, but for now, I could start small.

Well, well, I didn’t realize how much fun this would be! I was hooked from the first page! I had a ball finding images for the stories, spinning the plot lines, and imagining readers clicking on the wrong door. I threw in some humor, surprises, and playfulness. The glee I saw on my kids’ faces when they gobbled up the well-worn paperback of “The Cave of Time” was now on my face as I clacked away at the keyboard making my first Serena Wilcox “Choose Your Own Mystery Game”.

Is anyone playing my new game? Oh yes! The gamers are adults, most of whom loved the same books I did. They are so into the game that they are competing with each other to see who can solve the mystery with the fewest tries. While it’s not necessary to read my books to enjoy the game, those who are familiar with the series have an added bonus of knowing the characters and seeing series-related references pop up from time to time. The game has already inspired new characters who have been written into the series, in titles not yet published. I didn’t expect that to happen! The game has altered the course of my books, and I’m addicted to writing the game itself.

I’ll be adding more segments to the game, and more characters. The game is played from the POV of my protagonist Serena Wilcox. Each segment involves a different assistant, a character from the series. The stories are completely different depending on which character is assisting. This game has endless possibilities and the interaction is only a click away. I have officially added Gamer to the many hats that I wear, not only because the game is working well as a companion to my series, but also because I’m having way too much fun to stop now!

Play the Serena Wilcox Choose Your Own Mystery Game free online:


Natalie Buske Thomas is an author, artist and entertainer. She is best known for the Serena Wilcox mystery series, but has penned several other titles, including non-fiction works. Her oil paintings have been on exhibit in public galleries and tours. Natalie is part Irish and enjoys that culture. She was born in upstate New York, raised in Indiana, lived in Germany for the first three years of her married life, and now resides in the Twin Cities area with her husband and three children

Twitter: @writernbt