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Edward Packard (born 1931) is an American author, in addition to his work as a lawyer, essayist, and poet. He was born in Huntington, New York. He is a graduate of Princeton University and Columbia Law School. Packard is one of the pioneering authors of the second-person fiction style made famous by the Choose Your Own Adventure series of children's books.
Packard wrote one of the first known books of this type, Sugarcane Island, in 1969 and saw it first published in 1976 by Vermont Crossroads Press owned by Constance Cappel and Raymond A. Montgomery, Jr. He explains in the foreword to the book that he developed what he originally called "the adventures of you" fiction format while trying to think up interesting bedtime stories for his three children (Andrea, Caroline and Wells). In Sugarcane Island, the shipwrecked reader travels around the titular island avoiding dangers at every turn. Many of the possible endings feature an unfortunate demise, although escape from the island is possible if the correct choices are made.
Choose your own adventure
The Adventures of You on Sugarcane Island was the exact prototype for books in Bantam’s classic Choose Your Own Adventure series. In 1969, and 1970, the William Morris Agency submitted the book on Packard's behalf to several major publishers, all of whom rejected it. In 1976 Packard was able to get the book published by Vermont Crossroads Press. In its review of the book, Publishers Weekly called it "an original idea, well carried out."
In 1977-1978, Lippincott published Packard's next two books in the same format, Deadwood City and The Third Planet from Altair. Their covers alerted readers to their unusual nature with the rubrics "Choose Your Own Adventure in the Wild West" and "Choose Your Own Adventure in Outer Space."
Seeing potential in Packard's idea of an "interactive book", Bantam Books launched a series called Choose Your Own Adventure in 1979. This contact with Bantam Books was made by Constance Cappel on a flight to the Atlanta ABA Conference with the then Head of Marketing, Jack Romano. Vermont Crossroads Press had first sold the rights to the series to Pocket Books and then had them transferred to Bantam. Packard wrote the first book in the Bantam series, The Cave of Time, a time-traveling story in which the reader explores a cavern that is a portal to different eras. Along with R. A. Montgomery, his original publisher at Vermont Crossroads Press, Packard wrote many more books in the series, contributing well over 60 titles by 1998, when the series ended.
Packard kept the series fresh by changing genres with each title. In addition to the time travel story of the first book, he followed up with the next half-dozen stories based on suspense, spy fiction, space opera, western, mystery, science fiction, and fantasy. Packard himself even appears, in a case of self-insertion, in the Choose Your Own Adventure book Hyperspace.
Packard was the only author to have a consistently recurring character who appeared in many of his CYOA books. A scientist named Dr. Nera Vivaldi frequently appeared as a friend to the reader character. She seemed to be ageless as she appeared in stories set in many time frames, including those that took the reader into outer space, although in later books, she does appear to have aged at least into her fifties. In the aforementioned Hyperspace, Dr. Vivaldi makes an appearance that actually breaches the fourth wall, acknowledging that she is a fictional character that the reader recognized from other CYOA books.
Packard also conceived of the idea and wrote the prototype books for three more interactive series: Space Hawks and Escape, both published by Bantam Books, and Earth Inspectors, published by McGraw Hill. He also wrote a non-fiction book about the size and scale of space and time, titled Imagining the Universe and published by Berkley in 1994, which was cited by Scientific American as one of the best science books for young readers of the year and by National Public Radio as one of the best science books of the year. His educational math book Big Numbers, published by Millbrook in 2000, was cited by Newsweek as one of the best children's books of the year. The six books in the Space Hawks series, dealing with Earth's defense against space aliens, were published in mainland China in 2004 in anticipation of China's first manned space mission.
- Tenopia Island (Escape from Tenopia, Book 1) 1 May 1986
- Choose Your Own Nightmare 2: Beware the Snake's Venom
- Choose Your Own Adventure: Vol 1
In 2010, Packard started a new company called U-Ventures, which began releasing Choose-Your-Own-Adventure-style applications for iPhone and iPad based on some of Packard's books. The first title, "Return to the Cave of Time" was released in August, "Through the Black Hole" scheduled for release in September.
- AP (October 15, 1981). "From law books to kids' books". The Palm Beach Post.
- "Meet the author of "Choose your own adventure" stories". Lakeland Ledger. March 27, 1984.
- "'Choose Your Own Adventure' Gets An iMakeover". August 16, 2010.