When I heard that R.A. Montgomery had died, my first reaction was something like “Should I know who that is?” The name didn’t really ring a bell, but I’m like that with more famous people than you’d think, so I didn’t give it much thought because I had a headache and had to get ready to go somewhere. But then somebody happened to mention that he was the Choose Your Own Adventure guy, and I got a little sad.
I don’t remember ever seeing a Choose Your Own Adventure in Braille and I’m not sure such a thing even exists, but I do remember hanging out at nights sometimes with one of the staff from the school for the blind who would read them aloud to me and let me do the choosing. It was always fun, especially when she had time to go through the same book more than once so I could pick different things.
Montgomery created Choose Your Own Adventure in 1977 when he spun Edward Packard’s interactive kids’ story, Sugarcane Island, into a concept for an entire series. He started publishing the books with Bantam 2 years later.
The series has now expanded to 230 books, selling a total of 250 million copies worldwide. Although Montgomery eventually brought on other writers, he initially split the CYOA writing duties evenly with Packard. Starting with book #2, Journey Under the Sea, he went on to write more than 50 books for Choose Your Own Adventure and its various spinoffs.