Chris Dolley is a New York Times bestelling author, a pioneer computer game designer and a teenage freedom fighter. That was in 1974 when Chris was tasked with publicising Plymouth Rag Week. Some people might have arranged an interview with the local newspaper. Chris created the Free Cornish Army, invaded the country next door, and persuaded the UK media that Cornwall had risen up and declared independence. As he told journalists at the time, ‘It was only a small country, and I did give it back.’
In 1981, he created Randomberry Games and wrote Necromancer, one of the first 3D first person perspective D&D computer games.
Now he lives in rural France with his wife and a frightening number of animals. They grow their own food and solve their own crimes. The latter out of necessity when Chris’s identity was stolen along with their life savings. Abandoned by the police forces of four countries who all insisted the crime originated in someone else's jurisdiction, he had to solve the crime himself. Which he did, and got a book out of it – the international bestseller, French Fried: One man's move to France with too many animals and an identity thief.
Chris's first novel, Resonance, was the first book to be plucked from Baen's electronic slushpile. His memoir, French Fried, hit the New York Times bestseller list in February 2013. His novelette, Magical Crimes, was the number one bestselling short story at Amazon UK in December 2011. His novelette, What Ho, Automaton!, was a finalist for the 2012 WSFA Small Press Award for short fiction. And his novel Resonance has appeared in the SF and Fantasy bestseller lists of Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and Apple.
Chris's father also deserves a mention. Read the story here about how Chris discovered his father's secret - how he'd been one of the nine sailors who recovered the enigma machine from a German U-boat in 1941.
The Computer Games:
Chris created Randomberry Games in 1981, probably the first UK computer game company. Apple User did a feature on Chris in their June 1984 issue. Necromancer (1980/1) may be the first 3D First Person perspective D&D game. Necromancer was inspired by a First Person perspective maze generator he saw in Practical Wireless - yes, there really was a time when computer magazines didn't exist. In 1978, he wrote the world's most aggressive Chess program, TR George. A name that still strikes fear on every chequered board. Who can forget TR's first match? Playing white, he opened with Pawn to King's Four. Then followed with King to King's Two. A silence descended. What gambit was this? What subtle ploy? By the third move, we all knew. King to King's Three. This was not subtlety, this was a player out for blood. A White King who had but one thought - to fasten his hands around the Black King's throat in the minimum number of turns. Four moves later it was all over. A solitary White King, deep in Black's half, surrounded by enemy pieces and yelling abuse at the Black King. Chess has never been the same since.
Formed in 1990 by a group of ageing, balding wished-they-couldabin rockstars who wanted an excuse to wear wigs, dress up and re-invent their youth. A great success.
(Picture taken from the legendary band's farewell 1991 tour of pubs in Edgware)
In February, 1995, Chris moved to France - a 1,000 mile journey due south to the foothills of the Pyrenees. Thirty-two hours into the move, Chris and his entourage (wife, two horses, three cats and a large constipated puppy) were 250 miles due east - and abandoned in a French hotel after a gust of wind ripped the roof from their horse transport. And then it got worse. Read the account here. And there's more. If you want to read an unfortunately true account of how a man can be impersonated, robbed, arrested, pursued by wasps, stalked by a ten-foot long caterpillar and still have time to solve an international crime and make his league debut in French soccer, then French Fried is the book for you.
The Move 2:
In 1997, buoyed by the success of the first move and having watched too many DIY programs on TV, Chris bought a semi-derelict farm complex in the Normandy-Maine Regional Park and set about rebuilding it. And, in between the plumbing and roofing, appearing in the occasional French film.
JOAN OF ARC
Who can forget his imposing French knight in full armour at the Dauphin's coronation or the dashing English noble at the trial and burning of Jeanne d'Arc? The editor, for one, apparently. We await Luc Besson's Director's Cut.
Playing the pivotal and, until then, little known role of the mysterious Aristocrat in Green to Daniel Auteuil's Marquis de Sade.