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"Allen Sharp" was the author of a series of multiple choice fantasy and sci fi books in the 1980's such as The Stone of Badda and The Night of the Comet. The series of books was called "Storytrails". All the books had a beautiful clear, economical writing style that would have used a first class editor. The only other author who managed to achieve that level of word economy and style in my opinion was Agatha Christie. Each book had the same layout, graphics style and format. Uniquely they were all written in the first person which is rare when death can and did occur in possible endings. I loved these books. Even now they are collectors items for people.

My question is for something so well written who was Allen Sharp? A search finds nothing. So it's surely a pseudonym. I don't have the books at hand now. But I did look in the foreword credits once and there was some Greek sounding name as the author. So it could be him saying he is Allen Sharp. But I don't want to stop there; I've always had a theory:

Since it was published by Cambridge Press/Children's Press could it have been a group effort? Done by skilled, already published authors who wanted to be anonymous while having a go at writing a multiple choice series? I don't see that the homogenous writing style over the whole series precludes this; people that skilled could adjust their writing to be similar and then with good editing multiple authors would be indistinguishable.

For such a great series as well - a classic - Allen Sharp never to my knowledge got interviewed or had any media articles. That again makes me think of the above theory as a skilled, anonymous group creative effort.

I have pondered the above theory for decades since I read these books. Yet my attempts to find sharp answers have all found very blunt results. I've been asked to provide links to the books. Here's The Stone of Badda and here's The Night of the Comet (that one for some reason doesn't show the front cover).

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Allen Sharp is listed in various locations as Allen W. Sharp and flourished as an author in the 1970s and 1980s. At that same time, another (possibly the same) Allen W. Sharp (b.1928?) was writing books about English Literature and working at San Francisco State College as an Associate Professor of English, alongside his frequent co-author, Patricia A. Porter.

We have confirmation on the address of the American Mr Allen W. Sharp from some correspondence that he entered into with another educator and a quick glance at the bibliography of Allen Sharp shows that several of his books, published by Cambridge University Press, were set in San Francisco, which suggests a strong familiarity with the city.

I also found this scholarly reference;

Unfortunately the sole author of the Storytrails series, Allen Sharp, died before I could contact him, and this limited my analysis of that series.

Making a Choice: The Melete Effect and Establishing a Poetics for Choice-Based Narratives - December, 2017

  • Maybe. Allen Sharp also in the storytrails set books in France and Egypt and Scotland and other places. – Snack_Food_Termite Jun 29 at 7:26
  • If I open that I don't seem to get that quote. So which page is it on his thesis? Good find . – Snack_Food_Termite Jun 29 at 7:39
  • 1
    Section 3.6., p80 – Valorum Jun 29 at 7:45
  • OK, I have read that bit. I am not sure to what extent I shoudl take Nicholas Peter Velissaris' quote at face value. I mean, I would need to know what his basis was concluding that Allen Sharp was the sole author. For instance did Velissaris ask the publshers, Cambridge Press, and just get a short response of "sorry he passed?" In which case that not being who he was/pseudonym or multiple authors haven't been eliminated as outcomes. – Snack_Food_Termite Jun 29 at 7:50
  • Im going to tick your answer as being as close as we are going to get. I don't think that everything is settled here. Great work though! – Snack_Food_Termite Jun 29 at 8:02

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