West Port Book Festival / Book Week Scotland

A quick blog update to tell you about some upcoming book festival appearances…

On Sunday 25 November 2012 at 3.30PM, I’m at the West Port Book Festival in Edinburgh for ‘Young Adult Fiction – a discussion’ (with Keith Gray & Daniela Sacerdoti). You can see the full programme here and reserve your FREE tickets here.

West Port Book Festival is run with a great deal of enthusiasm – and very little money! Please do come along, browse some fascinating bookshops, and join in the debate.

The following Saturday (1 December), I’m reading at a Pop-up Festival organised by the Book Trust as part of Book Week Scotland at the Mitchell Library in Glasgow (4PM approx). Full details to appear here

Hope to see you at one of these events – come over and say hello!

Guest blog: Scott Handcock’s Next Big Thing!

The ‘Next Big Thing’ chain of book-and-writer recommendations continues…

(Previously: Paul Magrs told us about Brenda and Effie Forever; I blogged The Daemon Parallel; Joe Lidster blogged Wizards vs Aliens. Confused? You won’t be, after you read on…) Usually the chain jumps from writer’s website to website, but for the second week running, I’m pleased to be able to introduce a guest blogger. Take a bow, Scott Handcock!

Scott’s work includes a wealth of audio plays and readings for the Doctor Who, Bernice Summerfield, Sarah Jane Adventures and Dark Shadows ranges. But what can he tell us about his Next Big Thing?

• What is the title of your new book?

Not a book, as such – rather a series of audiobooks under the umbrella title The Confessions of Dorian Gray.

• Where did the idea come from for the book?

I’ve always loved the horror and I’ve always loved audio, particularly the output of Big Finish Productions. Their Dark Shadows range is sublime, and plays upon the soap-opera traditions that made the original format so successful, with a whole host of established characters. I wanted to do something a bit more contemporary, that could pack a little more punch when it needed to, and didn’t have a continuity to fit in with. Oscar Wilde’s original tale, The Picture of Dorian Gray, instantly came to mind as something elegant yet brutal, and that’s the style I wanted to evoke.

What genre does your book fall under?

Primarily, it’s very much a horror series, focussing on our antihero. He’s genuinely difficult to get a handle on. He can be noble, amoral, sweet, violent… It’s as much a thriller as anything else due to his unpredictability in any given situation.

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

Ah, already sorted on this one as we have the astounding Alexander Vlahos playing the lead. I love working with Alex, and was thrilled when he agreed to take on the role for the series. I wouldn’t cast anyone else…

What is the one sentence synopsis of your book?

‘Dorian Gray was a real person – deal with it!’

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

It’s been released on download by those lovely chaps at Big Finish.

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

They’re five, half-hour instalments, and I decided very early on that I didn’t want to write them all but encourage as much variety as possible. I think I was so geared up when I came to write my first draft, I did so in a matter of days. It really was a pleasure to write… but also rather daunting as all my other writers wanted something to take their lead from!

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

Obviously it’s very closely associated with Oscar Wilde’s original, The Picture of Dorian Gray. Otherwise, Jake Arnott’s The Devil’s Paintbrush isn’t wildly dissimilar tonally. It’s a tricky one because every one of The Confessions of Dorian Gray is wildly different in tone, setting and subject matter. Our lead is the only constant.

Who or what inspired you to write this book?

For a few years now, I’ve been very fortunate to work on existing franchises, and alongside some brilliant, brilliant people. It’s a safety net, writing to someone else’s rules – and I wanted to challenge myself and see if I could create a brand-new formula (albeit by drawing upon an iconic literary character). I think the series respectfully acknowledges the original novel, but takes the character to some new and exciting places.

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

There are some lovely overlaps with The Picture of Dorian Gray – we hint at how the real Dorian’s story might be linked to the novel, for example, and how much of the book was true – but there are also some surprising revelations about Dorian’s personal history that people won’t be expecting…

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

Annoyingly, quite a few of the people I’d have suggested have been tagged elsewhere (small world, huh?) but I know David Llewellyn – and Una McCormack – are up for it. More to follow, hopefully!

Thanks Scott!

Episodes 1 & 2 are available now, with new installments uploaded weekly. From what I’ve heard so far it’s a highly atmospheric production, with a suitably charismatic lead. I can imagine Dorian’s murky, supernaturally-inflected world appealing to fans of Dark Shadows, Sapphire and Steel and Mark Gatiss’s ‘Lucifer Box’ novels, amongst others. I look forward to further ‘confessions’…

NB Publishers Big Finish advise the series “contains adult material and is not suitable for younger listeners” –  younger blog-readers should be warned!

Images courtesy of Scott & Big Finish / Dorian Gray title-page via Bookride