Festivals and shadows…

WP_20150826_18_47_39_Pro__highresSummer is drawing to a close, and I thought I’d take a moment to update my blog on a couple of things I’ve been up to…

It was a big thrill to appear alongside Paul Magrs at a sell out Edinburgh International Book Festival event. We read from our most recent novels – Werewolf Parallel for me and Lost on Mars for Paul – talked about fantasy fiction versus science fiction, our favourite childhood books and the pleasure of re-reading and much, much more. I think we could’ve spoken for another hour very easily!

WP_20150826_19_19_44_Pro__highresWP_20150826_19_37_25_Pro__highresIt was great to chat to people afterwards, and I was especially pleased when several of Paul’s fans and readers said they were going to give my novels a go too – and indeed vice versa. I’ve always thought that this was what these sort of team-up events should be about, really — kind of like going along to a gig, discovering you like the first act, and buying their CD at the interval…

Here’s a smashing write-up from the ever diligent Bookwitch and one from Laura who has been a twitter pal for a while and came along to say hello and get her ‘werewolf’ signed…

I also had a chance in August to meet up with fellow Dark Shadows writers Rob Morris and Will Howells and Big Finish producer Joe Lidster. We recorded a podcast discussing the process of writing this year’s audio dramas PANIC (by me!) and THE CURSE OF SHURAFA (by Rob) , the late director Lela Swift, Dorian Gray, Edinburgh, the Dark Shadows Every Day blog and, of course, bacon. Or was it French Toast?

You can find the podcast below – and it’s also available as a MP3 to download or via iTunes.  I hope it’ll be of interest – there’s plenty of clips throughout (including an excerpt from the Daemon Parallel audiobooks) so there should be something to intrigue you, even if you’re not (yet!) a Dark Shadows convert.

Running a workshop on creating fantasy fiction for the Advanced Higher Creative Writing Conference – my fourth year as a tutor! – kicked off September. A great bunch of students as always – and lovely to catch up with Kirkland Ciccone (the brains behind this year’s inaugural Yay!YA+ event).

I’m now working hard on projects new – one of which at least should be released next year. My next writer credit to go out will be the opening episode of The Confessions of Dorian Gray: Season 4 – “The Enigma of Dorian Gray”. Mr Gray himself seems keen — which is a relief, you really don’t want to annoy these capricious immortals — and I hope you will be too, but you’ll need to wait till November to find out what he’s on about…

Screen Shot 2015-07-23 at 17.46.31Catch you later!

Edinburgh Book Festival, Iris and Dorian…

tumblr_nprybu7K4I1tuhgb2o1_1280Some updates regarding what I’ve been working on – and what’s coming up.

Pretty damn pleased to be appearing at this year’s Edinburgh International Book Festival (Aug 26 18.45). I’ll be in conversation with Paul Magrs – a writer I’ve long admired – and we’ll be talking about inventing other worlds and the influence of classic kids lit and Doctor Who on our work… and that’s just for starters. Tickets go on sale 23 June – here’s a link to the event. Hope you’ll come and see us!

That same month – by pleasing co-incidence – sees the release of Iris Wildthyme: Reloaded. It’s an exciting new series of adventures for trans-temporal adventuress Iris Wildthyme (Katy Manning AKA Jo Grant from Doctor Who). I’ve written an episode entitled Oracle of the Supermarket. I’ve consulted the mystical powers of the Oracle, and – – – you’ll need to wait till August to find out more!

iris05_wildthymereloaded_1417sq_cover_largeNovember 2015 sees the much-awaited release of The Confessions of Dorian Gray – Series 4 for which I’ve contributed the season opener The Enigma of Dorian Gray. Details are currently closely under wraps, but I can share this picture from the recording (left -> right actors Sakuntala Ramanee, Anthony Howell, Alexander Vlahos – – and me!). It was a real thrill to watch this talented bunch bring my words to life, courtesy of producer/director Scott Handcock. tumblr_noy8of2cvP1tuhgb2o1_1280Finally, last month’s Dark Shadows: Panic (starring David Selby and Susan Sullivan – see blogs below for more) continues to pick up some lovely feedback from listeners, and even made an appearance in the Amazon.com audiobook horror charts, nestling rather appropriately between Night Vale and Stephen King!tumblr_npq1e5yYB41tuhgb2o1_1280

PANIC!

Dark Shadows PanicAt long last I can tell you a little more about my next project. It’s another feature-length audio play for Big Finish, and here’s how they announced it:

Panic sees Quentin Collins (David Selby) telling his great-great grandson Tom (Michael Shon) about how he came to be married to Professor Lela Quick. The story is written by novelist Roy Gill.

“I’ve long been fascinated by Dark Shadows. It’s a mixture of gothic horror, mad fantasy and epic storytelling, all of which I love,” says Roy. “Joe liked my work on the The Confessions of Dorian Gray range, and asked me to pitch a story that would explain how and why Quentin Collins got married. It was a challenge I couldn’t pass up!”

Lela is played by Susan Sullivan, currently a regular in the television series Castle. Panic sees her reunited with her Falcon Crest co-star, David Selby.

 

Here’s the blurb – click through to order and listen to the trailer:

The further into the antique shop she explored, the darker it seemed to get, until Lela couldn’t see the walls at all…”

Lela Quick is a busy woman. She’s got essays to mark, journals to edit, books to write…

But every night she is tormented by the same dream: a nightmare of pursuit through a dark forest, the air filled with haunting music.

A chance meeting with Quentin Collins, the enigmatic owner of Pandemonium Antiques, adds to her growing sense of unease. Soon both their lives are in danger – – if they can’t escape the panic…

 

Here are some pictures of the talented and lovely cast:
davidselbyasquentincollinsandsusansullivanaslelaquick_largemichaelshonastomcunningham_largealexandradonnachieashollyarbour_largejohnaskewasrobingoodman_large

This was a fun script to work on and I’m looking forward to hearing the final edit!

I’m also pleased to see my last script – for The Confessions of Dorian Gray – is continuing to pick up some really nice reviews. Matt Cresswell said We Are Everywhere (by Roy Gill) is something akin to Oscar Wilde rewriting the Saw films” while Doc Oho’s review site decided “this cat and mouse game between Dorian and Luke is another example of this series at its peak; uncomfortable, thought provoking and bolstered by fantastic performances: 9/10″

Positive and/or thoughtful feedback means a lot, folks. Keeps this writer going!

Proof!

It’s funny – you can work on a project for ages, and doubt it will ever be finished, then all of a sudden you get proof…

Werewolf Parallel - the proof!

It’s also funny – or maybe I should say alarming – that the process of proof-reading your novel suddenly reveals little errors that you’ve never noticed over the preceding year. Somehow seeing your words in a new font in a new layout gives you a fresh perspective – did I really use the adjective ‘green’ twice in one paragraph?! How could I commit such an atrocity? Luckily a swift email to my editor at KelpiesTeen sorts it out. One click of the mouse, and a main character’s costume changes colour – just like that…

It’s looking good though, and I’m loving  design touches such as the cityscape chapter headers, and the dramatic backdrop to the ‘Ten Years Later’ caption (because, yes, this is a book that moves across time…). Not long till publication now – I hope to have news of the launch, and an ebook sampler, and a special exclusive short story to share with you all very soon!

I51Xc9sp-0UL._SY445_t seems to be a time for the previously intangible to suddenly and magically become real…

Also clunking thrilling through my letterbox this month were the hard copies of two other recent projects…

I’m pleased to have a story in The Further Encounters of Sherlock Holmes. Titan Books describe it as “a brand-new collection of Sherlock Holmes stories from a variety of exciting voices in modern horror and steampunk, edited by respected anthologist George Mann“. I think I quite like being an ‘exciting voice’, all told, and it’s great to share space between these covers with writers like Nick Campbell, James Goss, Scott Handcock, Andrew Lane and Justin Richards (all of whose work I’ve admired elsewhere). My story ,’The Strange Case of the Displaced Detective’, is one of the less traditional, more genre-hopping new adventures. It was enormous fun to write, and I hope it finds favour with the followers of the Great Detective.

1501137_10152250078588885_1804204940_oAlso materializing was a boxset collection of The Confessions of Dorian Gray. Originally conceived as a download-only audio adventure series, there’s been plenty of demand from the fans for an edition on shiny disc (once more the intangible turns solid…). Inside are all ten episodes of series one and two, three specials – including my play The Prime of Deacon Brodie  – a bonus Dorian adventure with Bernice Summerfield, and a disc of James Dunlop‘s cracking score.

I’m proud to be part of Dorian’s world – I’m already using the soundtrack disc as writing music, and yes – I do get a special thrill when the tracks composed for ‘Brodie’ come round…).

BfKsrJsIcAAkrq_More news soon!

The Prime of Deacon Brodie and the Dog Days of Summer

Iris Wildthyme FifteenWoah!

It’s been a busy summer. The annual clamjamfry of the Fringe, with friends visiting and shows to see, and events to participate in as well… I read at the Edinburgh International Book Festival (twice!), taught at the Advanced Higher Creative Writing Conference, and worked day and night on my second novel: which now has both an excellent cover and a new title. More news on The Daemon Parallel sequel soon.

I’m pleased to tell you two of my projects from earlier this year are now about to be released. This month you can read ‘Dog Days of Summer’, the closing story in a new anthology of Iris Wildthyme adventures: Fifteen. For those not familiar, Iris began in Paul Magrs’ fiction before cannoning into the world of Doctor Who and staggering just as blithely back out again. She’s an eccentric inter-dimensional traveler with a penchant for gin and causing chaos. As you can see from the cover (by the talented Mark Manley), she’s also a woman of many faces – and one of the great things about this collection was editor Stuart Douglas encouraged us to find our own Iris. You can meet her (all of her…) and Andrew too in both hardback and ebook from Obverse Books. Here’s a tiny extract to whet the appetite:

“It’s winter in the woods,” Andrew said slowly, “because your bus changed size?”

“A very cogent summary.”

Andrew lifted a branch and stared again at the bus. It was a surprisingly perfect model – if that’s what it was – about a metre tall, with amazing amounts of detail. There were tiny splatters of mud on the wheels, and the sides were decorated with billposters advertising the Notting Hill Carnival. The pink curtains round the windows were a bit odd though…

“How big should it be, really?”

The old woman’s eyes narrowed. “Don’t be obtuse, child. It should be bus-sized, of course.”

“And then it shrunk?”

“With indecent rapidity. The old girl seems troubled… We were tracking some unusual visitors to your area, and I think they disturbed her.” She lowered her voice to a confidential whisper. “Smaller things are trickier to hunt!”

“This is completely mad,” said Andrew.

“No madder than my usual escapades, I assure you. Now, if you would, could you see about freeing me? I’ve been wriggling and wiggling all morning, and I’m quite worn out.”

Dorian Gray - Deacon BrodieNext, at the end of October, you can download my audio play from Big Finish Productions – a feature-length season special for the series The Confessions of Dorian Gray. Here’s how Big Finish announced it. (Producer Scott Handcock also blogged about the series here last year, and I’ve written about the thrill of watching my first script recorded).

Dorian too is a character who has broken free of his original source text, and now has his own series of dark, supernaturally-inflected adventures, brought to charismatic life by Alexander Vlahos.

I was delighted to be asked to pitch by Scott, and began with a simple premise and a place: Edinburgh in the 1920s. Edinburgh has long been associated in myth, legend and literature with notions of duality – the respectable and the grand existing alongside the depraved and corrupt – and so it seemed the ideal location for Dorian to visit. I don’t want to say too much for fear of SPOILERS, so here’s how Big Finish describe it:

Edinburgh, 1920. Seizing upon the possibility of a reunion with his closest comrade from the trenches, Dorian arrives in the capital city of Scotland on Halloween! Guisers are out in force, disapproving gentlemen walk the streets… and a sinister department store has a great deal more on offer than it might initially advertise.

You can encounter The Prime of Deacon Brodie this Halloween (and like the rest of the series, it’s worth pointing out it’s not an adventure intended for younger listeners…).

Hope you enjoy these new stories. See you soon!