Newspaper for Crossmaglen, South Armagh, Newry and Down.

Newry author’s Irish fantasy novel becomes a board game

The Newry author of teen Irish fantasy novel, MourneQuest, says he is “blown away” that his dream of turning the story of his book into a board game can now be realised.   Garry McElherron’s popular MourneQuest books, based around the Mourne Mountains, has been turned into a prototype Board Game by Backspindle Games after the project was successfully backed on Kickstarter,  the world’s largest funding platform for creative projects.

MourneQuest follows the adventures of the book’s heroes, Jack, Cobs (a 437-year old clurichaun) and their friends as they journey into the Mourne Mountains to work together to banish the Nightmares and save the Kingdom of Mourne by defeating the evil Shimnavore.  As they race towards their goal, they gather power from the land, with granite, blackthorn, flax, dandelion clocks and gold fueling their quest boosting their skills. 

Speaking to The Examiner, the local author explained that he was encouraged to develop the story into a board game whilst attending a gamer’s convention after completing the Mournequest books.  Garry set about securing an Arts grant from Newry Council to produce his version of the game, and, once funded, the team of talented artists, Mark Maher, John Farrelly and Alan Perry, who completed the original artwork for the books, along with talented sculptor Phillip Hynes, set about creating a board game, which they took to Q-Con gamers convention in Belfast in June 2016. 

The MourneQuest game caught the eye of Backspindle Games, publishers of family board games, whose founders, David Brashaw and Leo Boyd, played it on the day and immediately fell in love with the game’s back stories, declaring it “Ireland’s Hobbit.”

After reading Garry’s books, the Backspindle team and the Newry author went into partnership and, along with the original artists, created a stunning version of the MourneQuest story.  A slick marketing campaign featuring a trailer-type ad from movie maker Alan Stewart, with voice over by renowned south Armagh actress Susan Lynch, launched the project on Kickstarter last month, to raise funds for the production of the game. 

Now with the full financial backing reached, MourneQuest is expected to go into production in China soon with two versions to be rolled out by May of next year:  a deluxe game with hand crafted mini-sculptures which can be painted by gamers and a family friendly version with cardboard figures.

The talented author told us he was first inspired to write the MourneQuest story ten years ago by a question asked by his then 4 year old son Jack about where dandelion clocks go when they blow away. Indeed, the project was family led from the start, with Garry constantly deriving ideas from conversations and stories with his children. Son Jack, daughters Tess and Grace and wife, Martha, all feature in the book and board game, as well as many other locally derived names. 

Having reached its Kickstarter target of £24K by Thursday last (7 June),  the first ever board game to hail from the area is now set to go into mass production,  with an initial run of 2000 games to be rolled out into stores by May 2019, after a launch at the UK Expo next year. 

To win a signed copy of Garry McElherron’s novel “MourneQuest – Secret of the Silver Orb” just answer the following question: What type of character is Cobs in MourneQuest?