R.A. Montgomery - Author
R.A. Montgomery’s life has been as adventurous as his Choose Your Own Adventure books. He started skiing when he was 3 years old; and since then he has hiked in the Himalayas, climbed mountains in Europe, and scuba dived in Central America. But his “most exciting and ongoing” adventure has been being the father of two sons and a grandfather to two granddaughters.
RIF: What are the names behind your mysterious initials?
R.A. Montgomery: My initials stand for Raymond Almiran. Almiran is a family name that, legend has it, has been passed down since the defeat of the Spanish Armada in 1588.
After the war, Spanish sailors were taken to British homes to recuperate. Supposedly, my ancestors took care of a sailor named Almiran who later married into the family.
RIF: You’re now 71 years old. What do you do for fun?
RM: I read a lot and really enjoy swimming. I swim for about 50 minutes every morning.
RIF: What was your favorite book as a kid?
RM: I loved reading the stories in my Raggedy Ann and Andy book. I read that book so much that the cover got really worn out!
RIF: Why did you start writing the Choose Your Own Adventure series?
RM: My sons were younger then and I wanted to find a way to make reading more interactive for them.
RIF: As you were working on the first book, was it weird writing in second person?
RM: It was exciting because I knew it would give kids an opportunity to really feel like they're the main character in the story.
RIF: What do you like most about writing Choose Your Own Adventure books?
RM: I love the research. I enjoy reading books about the places and subjects I’m writing about.
RIF: What, in your opinion, are the elements of a good adventure story?
RM: The key element is that there must be a task that needs to be completed and/or a crisis that needs to be resolved. For example, in the story about Jason and the Golden Fleece, Jason goes on a journey to find the Golden Fleece—that’s his task. What makes that story a great adventure are the forces that try to prevent Jason from finding the Fleece.
RIF: Like the characters in your book, you’ve lived a wonderfully adventurous life. What is the riskiest thing you’ve ever done?
RM: I’ve gone hang-gliding. I’ve skied down treacherous slopes. But to me, none of my “adventures” is the riskiest. I’m glad I took the risk, though, because they were all great experiences.
RIF: Do you have any future adventures in mind?
RM: I’d like to go around the world and encourage writers and illustrators to write their own Choose Your Own Adventure books that reflect their country’s history, cultures, and traditions.