It's the Peter Cakebread half of Cakebread & Walton. Thanks for all the lovely words I can't really express how much the support and encouragement means to me, I'm passionate about our games and know that you all are too!
Long story short, C&W is still on hiatus, although our stuff is still available. Whether I'll be able to resurrect the company and get back to publishing new material is very uncertain. I really want to find a way to move forward, but, as some of you have guessed already, things are not that simple.
Long story, long...
The really good news is that Ken is in remission from cancer and all seems clear so far. He is still suffering from diabetes and sarcoidosis. Unfortunately the sarcoidosis is of the severe and debilitating kind. So Ken retired from the company in 2015, although he still helps me by sending files and things (more on that in a bit!). He knows if he ever is up to it, there is Ken shaped hole ready and waiting for him to fill.
Before Ken officially left, he had been getting increasingly unwell for quite some time.
As a little insight into how we worked, Ken and I would regularly meet to bounce ideas off of each other, then structure our books and decide who was writing what. Then for the duration of a project, we'd gee ourselves up over the phone and via email, batting ideas off each other, re-writing, going "wow" at each other's extra ideas for a project, reviewing the evolving final book layout, etc.
We probably worked more than standard f/t on the company, as do most business owners - although our reasons were more to do with being consumed with our flights of fancy than having any real business acumen or spending time doing the sorts of things that people who want to be really financially successful do. In fact, those important but boring things were pretty much anathema to us - we just wanted to make stuff up that we found cool.
Anyhow, I'm a Luddite. I got to 40 and suddenly lost all tech ability to use anything other than rudimentary word processing software - oh, how the mighty had fallen, I used to be the go to person to sort out people struggling with their Amiga's and could layout an agitprop fanzine in Quark Xpress in a heartbeat... Anyhoo, Ken hadn't been hit by the same stupid stick, so he did all the technical things - layout, print uploads, dealing with publishers and download platforms, our website, etc. While I got on with doing the lion's share of the writing for most of the books and the art haggling. We still had lots of input into each other's spheres (Ken would tell me if I wrote something that didn't work and I'd tell him when something didn't look right - well, obviously it was a lot more complex than that, but you get the idea).
Even at the point we were working on Dark Streets, Ken was already contributing less to the writing side of things. After the Pirates & Dragons Corebook, it became clear that he wasn't really able to work on anything other than layout. At this stage, neither of us knew how seriously ill Ken was, although he was obviously physically exhausted and mentally frazzled. He was seeking help and we hoped things might get back on track. But he felt increasingly worse and couldn't get the layout and print liaison side of things done either. When Ken finally had his cancer diagnosis, he had already retired due to ill health.
I kept the company producing for a while, and Gary Buckland (who has done quite a lot of our covers and some of our interior art) helped out with the layout of the final few books. He put in great work, but was busy with other things and the finances weren't healthy enough to bring him on board for as much time as was needed. It became increasingly less fun - I think Ken and I had a working style that fitted very neatly. I could still edit and release other people's work (such as OneDice), and write my own solo efforts, but once Gary got a full time job, I couldn't even do that. And I missed the regular contact with Ken to go "Squeee" about how things were progressing.
So, for the last three or so years, things have drifted terribly. I still want to take things forward, but I want to do it at the right time and in the right way. Whether that will be possible is unclear. Frustratingly, I have about a dozen projects in various stages of writing, and already have the art for three books which have not been completed. I still love the hobby (and still game a lot), still want to write for it and have plenty of mojo for writing. The reality is that it is not a lucrative job. I don't really mind that, I can live quite happily on half a wage, but I can't afford to buy in the expertise necessary. Also, I like working cooperatively - it's hard to get the mojo - we went into business because we could support each other and because we loved each other's ideas, buying that in is not impossible, but somehow the balance isn't the same.
Where I go from here is genuinely unclear. I'm unlikely to ever be bothered to skill up on Indesign. I also don't really want to plough on alone. I am bursting with ideas and still have the discipline to write, so things aren't necessarily finished for good. It's possible that the same synchronicity that bought Ken and myself together, or Gary into the tribe, or all the other wonderful writing and art contributors, will throw something up. Or, I might get over myself and just take up the keyboard again and finish off the outstanding projects and buy in the tech side. Nothing might happen. Who knows? At the moment, I'm putting new releases on hold and keeping our stuff out there - trying to decide what to do and not putting pressure on myself to do a half-assed job. I only work part-time, so I'm not time poor and could go back to C&W full-time.
I hope you don't mind me massively oversharing. I'm happy to answer any questions, and, if there is any new news, I'll let people know straightaway.
Once again, if you've got this far, thank you all. So, perhaps more undead than dead or alive, but more lich than zombie.