It wasn't the puzzles that captivated me, though I can do some of them in my sleep, now. It was the story of Henry Stauf, the Depression-era toymaker who made a bargain with evil spirits for fame and fortune, then brought six equally desperate people to his house to compete for the right to their "heart's most secret desire" captivated me. I even collaborated with my fellow writer and good friend, Jewel E. Leonard, to write a parody of it for a Halloween installment of the stories we were weaving together during my senior year of high school.
College came before that Halloween, however, and with it, a parting of the ways which is now very deep water under the bridge. I knew I needed to keep writing, but the characters I had been tending to were all so tightly linked to Jewel's creations that I didn't feel comfortable using them: all but two: the man I had created as my own homage to one of the denizens of Stauf's mansion, and his daughter. They were the very first residents of Aviario, and the plot of my first novel grew slowly around them, with help from a tarot card reading on a stormy night.
That first novel has been written and rewritten three times, and the end result is In The Cards, which is due out just in time for next Halloween. It's very far removed from The 7th Guest, now, and the only thing which remains is the house on the edge of town, full of secrets. But its owner speaks with Stauf's voice: a low, musical lilt that invites you in even as it raises the hair on the back of your neck. I won't mention him by name, though: that would be spoiling things. And I do know how readers love surprises.
As my Halloween gift to you all, I invite you to enjoy my favorite game. It has been remastered for the advent of its 20th anniversary, and can be found on GOG.com (for $1.49, WOW), and as an Android app for tablets. It's also available on Steam! If you decide to indulge, I do hope you enjoy your trip through Stauf's mansion. Tell 'em Ang sent you. And don't forget to try the soup.