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Special Projects

This page describes things that James is doing or has done that don’t fit anywhere else.


Diana Jones Award

In 2000, despairing at the poor show by existing games-industry awards, James created the Diana Jones Award to celebrate ‘excellence in gaming’. Awarded annually by a mostly anonymous panel of judges, the award goes to a single product, company, person, event, trend or any other identifiable facet of the games industry and hobby. It has been described as the Nobel Prize of gaming.

James ran the award for twenty years, building it into one of the world’s premier awards for tabletop games, before stepping back from it in 2020.


Interactive Fantasy

One of the first journals of games design, and definitely the first to focus on narrative and storytelling in games, Interactive Fantasy was co-created by James Wallis and Andrew Rilstone in 1994, and published by Hogshead Publishing. It is still cited as a milestone in the development of analysis and criticism of interactive narrative design. Contributors included Greg Costikyan, Allen Varney, Greg Stafford, Jonathan Tweet, Robin D. Laws and Ray Winninger. The four issues of Interactive Fantasy are available as free digital downloads from DriveThruRPG.


Paige Turner Project 

The Paige Turner project was a methodology created by James that allows a small group of writers to create a full-length work of fiction in a ridiculously short time. Five writers and an editor can create a modern thriller of 100,000 words from first concept to edited ready-to-print manuscript in ten days. Four writers can create a YA novel of 50,000 words in five days. No tricks, no prewritten texts, no elaborate software.

The Paige Turner system was devised and trialled with the support of HarperCollins in early 2009, which led to the creation of Red Chamber by the pseudonymous James Saxon. Subsequently the system has been used to rapid-prototype YA manuscripts for the book packager Fabled Lands LLC.

Using a variant of the same system, James has had a room of 50 writers create a 7500-word short story in half an hour, and has pitched a concept to a radio producer for harnessing the internet and a pool of 1,000 volunteers to create a novel in sixty minutes.

The Paige Turner Project and its pool of talent are available for hire.


146 Miles Without A Map In the summer of 2006 James attempted to recreate the route of the Pilgrim’s Way, by walking from Winchester Cathedral to Canterbury Cathedral along the ancient pathway known as the Old Road. He did not use a map, but navigated by sight, knowledge of the terrain, and a system of track-following originally devised by the Edwardian poet Hillaire Belloc. The journey took him eleven days (accompanied, for some of it, by the authors Dave Morris and David Hughes, and the artist Martin McKenna), and raised £10,000 for cancer charities.

Along the way he wrote an acclaimed blog, ‘146 Miles Without a Map’, which is no longer on the internet but which he still plans to turn into a book, when he gets some time.