When I sat down to write Becca, which I then referred to as "the multiplied scifi," I took a few CYOAs out of the library. On a drive to dreary Erie, my guy and I worked our way through one of them, Completist. It was about mutant ants in the Everglades. It was really, really bad. Another one set in China was full of History as Exposition, which pained me but is part of the reason I have a vast scattering of historical trivia.

As a children's librarian, I was thrilled to discover the series has a new younger edition, confusingly named Dragonlark in some publishing databases. I read all of those, and they were better, but the readability wasn't low enough for the audience and the choices could be weirdly disconnected from the storyline. I mean, if I wanted to walk down to the beach, why is my next set of choices to go play with the kids or go do my homework? Stuff like that. I wanted to go in the water!

As I mapped out the pattern of choices to see how the author branched the story and how many layers of choices she wanted, I became aware of just how layered each story stem would have to be, and how little I could give away at first. In the end, because my stories are far more character based than any of the CYOAs, I feel my books are contributing something new to the genre, and not just riffing on the gimmick. I like the gimmick, don't get me wrong. But I don't want it to excuse a sound, satisfying story.

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