An interview with Author Terence Gunn!
As readers of these updates know, I'm a big fan of Grenadier Models, Inc., - a company that produced miniature led figures for role playing games from the 70's to the 90's. In 1996 the company officially closed its doors, although many of their molds and sculpts were purchased by other companies and are still in production today.
The Fantastic Worlds of Grenadier is a book that follows the history of the company, written by an even bigger Grenadier fan Terence Gunn. I was lucky enough to find this book, and even luckier to connect with its author!
H.N. I was a big fan of Grenadier Models, Inc., especially their AD&D, Call of Cthulhu, and Masterpiece Editions miniature lines from back in the day. How did you develop the idea for The Fantastic Worlds of Grenadier?
T.G. Well, first off, I should mention that I started playing role-playing games and book case games in 1978, when I was twelve years old. This was the year I started purchasing fantasy gaming miniatures, too – my first being the Grenadier Models Wizzards & Warriors boxed set Monsters. In 1983 I stopped purchasing miniatures, but continued role-playing up to the early 1990s – though less frequently and with less enthusiasm than when I was younger. I should mention also that I did not keep any of the games and miniatures I had as a youth – save for a couple book case games.
In the year 2000 (the year I started to become familiar with computers and the Internet), I had a fairly well paying job, good credit, and enough spare time and money to get into the hobby again. But what I was interested in most, were the games and miniatures from my youth. When I became familiar with eBay, my nostalgia really kicked in!
I went a bit crazy and not only bought every game and miniature I once owned, but bought many of the games and miniatures I always wanted or was curious about, and some I never knew about. For miniatures, Grenadier Models was at the top of the list. I never did get back into gaming, but I did start painting miniatures again, learning different techniques, and honing my painting skills. I soon amassed quite a collection of miniatures, with Grenadier Models being predominant. Aside from the hobby aspect of seeking out, buying, collecting, and painting, I was getting also quite the history lesson of Grenadier Models and its products. I had no idea how long this company was in business, or how extensive its catalogue of miniatures and other products were; nor did I realize the tremendous impact Grenadier Models had on/in the gaming miniatures industry.
At the time, there was only one fairly comprehensive source of compiled information indexing Grenadier Models’ line of products – and that was on Thomas Pope’s website, The Stuff of Legends. Although a useful resource, I began noticing how many gaps there were in the product listings, and that certain lines were not listed at all, nor mentioned. There was also very little information about the company itself, the founders, and other people involved. Grenadier Models – one of the most innovative, prominent, influential, and pioneering gaming miniatures manufacturer in the history of gaming miniatures, and there was very little known about this company and its vast line of products. I was fascinated by this company and its products, and wanted to learn more. When I did, I decided to write a book on the subject.
No one had written a book about a gaming miniatures company before, so there was no template example for me to go by. I did not have much writing experience, had only a little amateur experience in dealing with image and text layout, and knew only a little about the do’s and don’ts of the publishing industry. Despite these shortcomings, I decided to chance my arm and go ahead with the project, which took over a year to finish. The Fantastic Worlds of Grenadier was completed in late 2003 (hence the copyright date), but the book was not available until sometime in 2004. I sought out a publisher, but as the book was considered of interest to a niche market only, I realized soon that this was a dead end, so decided to publish the book myself.
The next step was to find a quality printer with a good reputation and reasonable charges. After some searching and comparing costs, etc., I decided on one. The book had a lot of colour images so I wanted the book to be printed on heavy weight glossy paper. Even the black and white images looked better on such. But such was expensive, and I could not afford all of the upfront printing costs. I contacted Aaron Leeder of Noble Knight Games and he agreed to a pre-order of 20 books, which helped considerably, given the fact that the first print run was only 40 books. Also, I listed on eBay 10 books for pre-order. I announced the book on a miniatures website, had a simple one page website for the book, and, after the book was printed, sent out a number of complimentary copies to certain people. Other than that, there was very little marketing. Most of the marketing was word of mouth, so to say.
The book was 60 pages long and featured an insightful chronological narrative, glossy colour images of products (mainly box cover art and blister packs), interviews with some of Grenadier’s sculptors and employees, and displayed the most comprehensive Grenadier Models product listings available. The book was also a good source of reference to many of the creations and trends in the gaming and gaming miniatures industry in the mid-1970s to the mid-1990s.
For a variety of reasons, the book was not intended to be a photo compendium of Grenadier’s remarkably vast line of miniatures. But, at the same time, I was aware that the book did fall short of displaying a significant enough amount of miniatures to satisfy the reader’s curiosity and desire for visual reference, so I put together and included with each book, a supplemental CD with a PDF containing 43 pages of images from Grenadier’s miniature lines and products. This was an efficient way to keep the printing cost down, as well as was beneficial in that one could zoom in on the images to see greater detail of the miniatures featured. But such wasn’t as enjoyable as having all these images included in the physical book, which one could reference and access more easily.
The first print run of the book had a number of typos and grammatical errors (I know – I should have used a proofreader or two, but I was in total do-it-myself mode), as well as some product date and other informational errors. Before going ahead with a second print run (which was another 40 copies, which I sold on eBay in blocks), I revised certain errors I was aware of, but there were errors still – errors I would become aware of years later when I began working on the new (2016) edition of the book.
After the first two print runs ran out in a number of months, I offered the book for a while as a PDF on disc, which included the supplement. For those who had missed out on the print runs, the eBook was the only option. I sold about 50 copies of the eBook, then dropped off the radar, and focused on other things in my life.
A number of years later, my interest in the book returned, and I began working on a new edition of the book. The new edition would be an extended and revised edition of the first book, and would feature loads of images of miniatures. At least, that was the plan. However, and for a variety of reasons, work on the new edition was short-lived, and was put on the back burner.
Fast forward to November 2015. I injured my left knee at the job I had at the time, and filed for worker’s compensation. A major part of my convalescence was to stay off my feet, and to not stand or walk, unless absolutely necessary; and as my job was physically demanding, I was not able to perform my duties. I was looking at months of sitting round at home, and, potentially, knee surgery, so what would I do to occupy my time in the interim? Work on the new edition of The Fantastic Worlds of Grenadier, of course! And I did. Admittedly, at first there wasn’t a great deal of inspiration; but after a few days of working on the project, inspiration really kicked in!
One of the problems I faced when working on the new edition years prior 2016, was getting images of miniatures I wanted to include in the book – particularly, miniatures from Grenadier’s 1970s lines. But not just any images; I had certain specifications in mind. I had put the word out, but to no avail. In 2016 I put the word out again, and this time, a number of collectors came forward. I am really grateful to these people, and for the time and effort they took to photograph the figures they had and email them to me. The book certainly would not have been as rich without their contributions.
In the spring of 2016, I announced on a couple of miniatures/gaming websites that I was working on a new edition of The Fantastic Worlds of Grenadier. I was still in the process of recovering from my job-related injury, but was now also unemployed – my previous job position had been eliminated at the end of January, due to, so I was informed, budget cuts. I really wanted the book to be in print form, but unless I found an interested publisher or financial backer, an eBook seemed to be the only option. Circumstances were different this time round, and the book was going to be a larger volume of work, which would mean higher printing costs, should I find the financial means to go in that direction. Kickstarter – which I knew nothing about – was mentioned to me, and I looked into it. Kickstarter offered a number of advantages over the do-it-yourself pre-order method, so I decided to give it a try. I am glad I did! Not only was the financial goal met, it was exceeded! But there was a period when pledges slowed down, and it did not look like the financial goal was going to be met. And although a couple of backers (I think it was only two) backed out before the financial goal was met, this did not affect the outcome.
H.N. What was the most challenging aspect of this project? What was the most fun?
T.G. Between the research, obtaining material, scanning material, acquiring images of material I did not have but wanted to include; cutting and pasting; editing text and images; doing the layout; doing the writing; fact checking over and over again, to make sure dates and details were as accurate as possible; etc. – all aspects of this project were equally challenging. There was also the challenge of dealing with the limitations and idiosyncrasies of the software programme I used to put all this together – which was, at times, very frustrating to deal with. And the data size of the book was so large, I had to split it into four sections, in order to add to, edit, and save what I added and edited. When each section was finished, I then had to convert each to a PDF, and then merge the four together.
As for what was the most fun, it was the process of creating something I was passionate about.
H.N. How difficult was it to search out former employees, sculptors, and owners of Grenadier?
T.G. The Internet made the search easier in tracking down certain people, but only those who had their own websites and/or social media sites, were active members of an online forum, or were affiliated with a company, etc. that had a website. Sculptor William Watt did not, and still does not, have a computer, and it was Andrew Chernak who put me in contact with him. Of course, not all of the people I tracked down and contacted wanted to talk to me or do an interview.
H.N. As a self-published author, I share the challenge of getting the word out on my works. What have you had to do to win broader exposure and branding for your work?
T.G. As with the first edition, I knew that the most efficacious way of promoting the work would be to announce the work on miniatures sites, etc., to those who would be potentially most interested. From there word would spread; but I had to remain active, letting people know of my progress on the book, posing questions, answering questions, letting people know what I added, etc. A number of people who had their own blog sites, mentioned on their blog sites the book and the Kickstarter campaign, and I am grateful to them for doing this. Allan Grohe (aka grodog) was particularly helpful in spreading the word.
H.N. This question will start off sounding like an old joke – a person walks into a bar (or convention or bookstore) and bumps into Terence Gunn – what would be your elevator pitch to showcase your work?
T.G. I don’t really have a pitch per se, other than stating the facts of what the book is about and what the book features.
H.N. As an author, it’s sometimes difficult to finally say a product is finished, no matter how many times you review or edit. Is there anything you would go back and change? Were there ideas you had in mind and then decided NOT to include?
T.G. Yes, there are a few things I would go back and change, but such are minor. There were a couple ideas I had in mind to integrate into the book, but did not. And, of course, there were numerous images I wanted to include, but did not. Regarding the latter two, the book has a certain flow to it, and I did not want to disturb the flow too much.
H.N. I have a five year old son and structuring time around him can be challenging! I’ve lost count of the times he nearly pressed the delete button on something I was working on…how do you find time to research and write?
T.G. Being in the state of singleness without children certainly helps!
H.N. Do you have a certain method you use when you write – i.e., a certain room, music, mood, etc., to help get you in the right writing frame of mind?
T.G. It depends on what subject I am writing about. But usually when I write and do research, I prefer a quiet surrounding with no distractions. When my mind gets too busy and noisy, I will turn on some light classical music in the background to pacify it.
As for a room, for the most part, I write in the upstairs lounge of my rental house – where my computer is – using the computer’s keyboard as my writing implement and the internal word processor software as my editorial assistant. And, of course, when doing research, having the Internet at hand is very useful, and is a quick go-to resource; but one has to be discerning when one comes across any information – be such on the Internet, or in any other form or way.
H.N. What are you reading right now?
T.G. Book-wise, I am not reading anything currently. But the last book I read was The Juniper Tree and Other Tales from Grimm (aka the brothers Grimm), translated by Lore Segal with illustrations by Maurice Sendak. I read a number of tales from Grimm in my youth, and wanted to revisit them as an adult. There are a lot metaphors, morals, and alchemy present in these tales, which I find very intriguing.
On a side note, and although they are variations of the stories on which they were based, I really like what Jim Henson and crew did with a number of these tales in the wonderfully brilliant late 1980s TV series The Storyteller.
H.N. Do you have additional works in mind? What’s your next upcoming project?
T.G. The project I am working on currently is a supplement to The Fantastic Worlds of Grenadier. Page-wise, the supplement will be a larger volume than The Fantastic Worlds of Grenadier, and will be more of a photo compendium, featuring images of miniatures and other things that were not included in the new edition of the book. Initially I was planning for the supplement to be a PDF download only, but the more I work on the supplement, the more I am leaning towards the supplement being in print form, as well. This would, of course, require starting up another Kickstarter campaign, and the financial goal would have to be met, in order for a print version to materialise, but I am optimistic. We’ll see! It is too early to start up another KS campaign, as I have no idea how large or what all the contents of the supplement will be. But I am very pleased with what I have put together thus far, as are a number of other people who are interested in seeing this go to print, and willing to back it.
H.N. Where can readers go to find out more about Terence Gunn, The Fantastic Worlds of Grenadier, and the up coming supplement?
T.G. Presently I do not have a website, but for more information, one can go to The Fantastic Worlds of Grenadier Kickstarter project page at:
One can click the Updates section, scroll down to the beginning, and then proceed upwards, to see sample pages of The Fantastic Worlds of Grenadier.
For those who are interested in purchasing the book, they can go to the Noble Knight Games website. The book is listed as Fantastic Worlds of Grenadier, The (Extended Edition). Here is a link:
Regarding the supplement, the sample pages I have posted on the Kickstarter page are viewable currently only by backers of the KS campaign for The Fantastic Worlds of Grenadier. For those who have purchased the new edition but were not backers of the campaign, and who are interested in the supplement, I suggest following me on Kickstarter. When the supplement is finished, I will post on the KS page an update viewable to the public. And, of course, should I start up another KS campaign to raise funds for a print version of the supplement, this will be viewable also to the public.
H.N. Thanks Terence, for sharing some of your time!
T.G. My pleasure, Hugo! Thank you for your interest. And all the best with your next installment in The Forging of a Knight series!