Guest blog: Joseph Lidster’s ‘Next Big Thing’!

Last week I took part in the ‘Next Big Thing’ blog chain. One of the five fab writers I tagged doesn’t have his own blog, so I offered to host his response right here…

I’m pleased to welcome my first ever guest blogger – the lovely and talented Joseph Lidster. Joe’s work has included scripts for The Sarah Jane Adventures and Torchwood on BBC TV, and audio dramas for Doctor Who, Dark Shadows, Sapphire and Steel, The Confessions of Dorian Gray… But what’s his Next Big Thing?

• What is the title of your new book?

My next big thing is a story in the new childrens’ television series Wizards Vs Aliens. It’s called Rebel Magic and it’s told over two episodes that are broadcast on 12 and 13 November.

• Where did the idea come from for the book?

Russell T Davies, Phil Ford, the other writers and myself had a big storyline meeting where we batted ideas back and forth. As the title suggests, the series is primarily about some Wizards versus some Aliens. It also tells the story of a 16-year-old boy who suddenly has to become a hero because of the events in the series. I was interested in that aspect really because it’s about growing up. Suddenly, Tom, the hero, can no longer use his magic to do homework or win at football – he has to use it to save his family. The series is also about the growing friendship between him and the school geek, Benny.

I thought it would be interesting to tell a story about Tom meeting a wizard who appears, on the surface, to be everything he wants to be. The wizard he meets, Jackson Hawke, is attractive, cool, more-grown-up and has no responsibilities. There’s a loneliness and darkness to Jackson, though, which means that his and Tom’s friendship soon becomes very destructive both for themselves and for everyone they know. The thing I really wanted to do was to show how easy it is to be tempted by something or someone that is wrong. You laugh at what Jackson and Tom do – and it’s important that the audience find it funny because it is funny – but then Benny points out that actually what they’re doing is bullying. It’s about blurring the lines, that you sometimes get in kids’ fiction, between good and evil and good guys and bullies and so on.

• What genre does your book fall under?

I suppose, technically, it’s science fiction meets fantasy. Is that science fantasy? As with a lot of my work, though, the science fiction elements are quite minimal. It’s probably best described as a coming-of-age story.

• What actors would you choose to play the part of your characters in a movie rendition?

Obviously this question doesn’t apply so much to me. What I can say is that the cast are fantastic. Scott and Percelle who play the regulars, Tom and Benny, are both just amazing. Proper stars in the making. And Andy, who plays Jackson, is just stunning. He manages to be both fantastically likeable but also terrifying. The three of them on screen together are, if you’ll forgive the pun, magic.

• What is the one sentence synopsis of your book?

Tom Clarke is about to discover that the grass isn’t always greener on the other side.

• Will your book be self-published or represented by an agency?

It’s a BBC Wales/FreemantleMedia Enterprises co-production. And I’m represented by The Agency.

• How long did it take you to write the first draft of the manuscript?

The first draft of the script was handed in on 11 July 2011 and the shooting drafts were completed on 4 May 2012 although there were a few minor rewrites after that.

• What other books would you compare this story to within your genre?

The series itself is a bit of Harry Potter, a bit of Doctor Who, a bit of The Sarah Jane Adventures… but it actually reminds me more of the spy adventure books I read as a kid. It’s a big exciting adventure series basically!

• Who or what inspired you to write this book?

I was lucky to be asked to write for the show. What inspired me, as always, was telling a good, strong, character-based story.

• What else about your book might pique the reader’s interest?

I think it’s so important that kids get good quality drama. At the moment we’ve Wolfblood, Young Dracula, Tracy Beaker and so on and I think Wizards Vs Aliens continues along those lines. It’s a fantastic set-up in which to tell stories that have a real heart to them. Plus it’s got Brian Blessed playing a big giant magic-eating alien.

• Which other writers would you like to tag to tell us about their Next Big Thing?

Simon Guerrier

Scott Handcock (also guest-blogging here!)

Thanks Joe! I’m hugely looking forward to your episodes. And I couldn’t agree more that good quality children’s television – like good quality children’s literature – is vitally important.

You can catch Wizards Vs Aliens on CBBC and the BBC iPlayer. The season opener – which went out this week – shows we’re in for a slick, funny, action-packed series. I loved it!

You can also check out four other great writers’ ‘Next Big Thing’ by following these links: Daniela SacerdotiLari DonPippa Goldschmidt:  Emily Dodd – and you can find my own post right here (or just scroll down!).

disclaimer: all the Wizards Vs Aliens shots above have been taken from the BBC website. Please don’t sue me!

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3 thoughts on “Guest blog: Joseph Lidster’s ‘Next Big Thing’!

  1. Hi Joe – your answers are fascinating. The sentence which grabbed my attention was the one about the storyline meeting, with you all batting ideas back and forth. That sort of teamwork on a story sounds wonderful, and I think I’m a little bit jealous. I tend to write my adventure novels as a collaboration between me and my characters, so I suppose we have storyline meetings in my head (occasionally at bus stops, which can be a bit disconcerting for other folk on the street) and I don’t get creative with other human beings until I involve my editor much later in the process. And I do appreciate my editor’s questions and input, but really the plot and structure are pretty settled by that stage. So I wondered – do you ever feel the story is completely yours? Or does this more collaborative process mean your own ideas are always diluted a bit?
    Great blog post, and glad Roy tagged you for this…

  2. Oh, it’s very collaborative but yes, it totally feels like my story as it’s a very writer-led show. It’s such a fantastic experience!! jx

  3. Pingback: Guest blog: Scott Handcock’s Next Big Thing! « Roy Gill

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