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Current Status

The quieter I am on my blogs and social media, the busier I normally am behind the scenes. Here’s what I’m working on right now:

  1. New novel: 25K in. Everything is more or less planned, so I know where I’m going but I’m still making fresh connections in my head and the characters are still surprising me from time to time.
  2. Movie adaption: 30K in. Got a script to work from but the fun is in reading between the lines and fleshing out the characters and the world.
  3. The Truth About SEO #2: At the planning stage.

I’m really excited about all of these projects, the new novel most of all. My last two books were set in the pre-existing Lethbridge-Stewart Classic Doctor Who universe and whilst there was plenty of scope to add my own creations to that universe, building something from the ground up is a special kind of exciting. There aren’t many jobs where you get to create an entire world.

Meanwhile, I’m reliably informed that work is ongoing to finish the final sound mix for Offworld, after which the film will be going direct to the distributors. It’s going to be a little strange to see the move finally out in the world, but it’s also very exciting.

Attack of the Quarks announced

Exciting news this week as Candy Jar announce that my story “The Arcade of Doom” us being re-released as the kick off story in a new collection, “Attack if the Quarks”.

If you’re not familiar with the Quarks, they are some pretty unassuming looking robots from Classic Doctor Who. I love their weird, squeaky, slightly childlike voices and the brutalist boxy appearance.

With a crunch and a clank, the box stepped out into the arcade. Except that, now, it wasn’t a box at all. It stood on two stout metal legs, its rectangular metal arms outstretched, the spike on top having risen up to reveal a spherical head underneath. More spikes stood out proud from the sides of the sphere, pointing in all directions.

There was something so simple, so basic about the thing that it should have been comical, but it wasn’t. No, it wasn’t simplicity – it was brutality. A machine built to kill didn’t need graceful sweeping lines, a bold colour scheme, or a fancy logo. Lucy had seen enough to know this for certain. A machine built to kill needed only to kill and could be as
simple and as brutal as it needed to be. A machine that moved, a machine that killed, a machine that folded itself away when all the murdering was done. Simplicity, brutality, efficiency… All hidden away in a cupboard in Porthcawl, just waiting to be found.

Lucy’s first encounter with a Quark, from “The Arcade of Doom”

I originally wrote “The Arcade of Doom” for the Lethbridge-Stewart “Lineage” collection and it seems to have inspired at least one other person in the form of Tim Gambrell, who picks up the ball from where I leave it at the end of Arcade and runs with it into a series of adventures pitting Lucy against the Quarks.

Hear what “Travelling the Vortex” had to say about Lineage and Arcade of Doom

Candy Jar are releasing Attack of the Quarks as part of the promotion for the hardback edition of Kiss of the Ice Maiden by Michael Sloan and as a standalone book shortly after.

I loved writing Arcade of Doom, completing the first and second drafts in a single sitting (I’m a pretty quick writer, which is good as I get very little time to write!) and it was a popular story with reviewers of the collection. It’s really exciting to now be reading what Tim has written and how the seed of an idea I planted in a small arcade in Porthcawl grows into a wild series of adventures.

You can find out more from the official Candy Jar website. In the meantime, here are some more Quarks…

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Round up of the year: 2020

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Is it weird to do a roundup of the year when that year was 2020? Well, it may have been the year that none of us could wait to see the back of, but it was still quite an exciting year for me on the publication front.

In fact, it’s probably one of my most productive years so far as a writer and its been, despite its deep weirdness, a great springboard for me creatively.

Although, it may be a while before I can write another dystopian story…

Offworld 10K Milestone

Yes, I’ve passed the 10K milestone and that means it’s about time that I passed the Offworld novelisation over to my co-scriptwriter Terry and our publishers at Candy Jar for them to give their feedback.

Stepping back onto the flight deck of the Tantalus II has been a daunting experience. I’m now working from a version of the script that Terry painstakingly put together as a transcript of the final edit of the movie so I know precisely what is said and not said, done and not done. I know what’s on the cutting room floor and I have the hard decision on what to bring back, what to leave lost, and where to expand the story to create a richer and deeper experience than is possible in the movie.

The “world of Offworld” is getting bigger with every chapter that I write, as all the motivations and manipulations we see on the screen are committed back to the page and the secret histories of the characters that we couldn’t delve into the film are laid bare.

It’s also very interesting finding the different voice for each character as our point of view shifts from one to the other. The internal monologues of each character are, hopefully, different in tone and flavour, each providing a different viewpoint as the story unfolds around them.

Right now, it’s time to take these 10K words and package them up for a little journey of their own – off to Terry and the our mutual publisher to see if they pass muster!

The Offworld Novelisation has a cover

One of the interesting things about writing the novelisation of a film is that things can happen in the wrong order. I’m only around 4.5K words into an estimated 60K for the project, but I’ve already got every piece of dialogue, I already know what every character will do, and I know not only how things will end but also exactly how we get there.

If I had to pick, I’d say I’m a “pantser” more than a “plotter”. I like a rough outline and I normally have a fair idea of “beginning, middle, and end” when I start a story or book, but far more of them deviate from the plan than stick to it. Even with a book like The George Kostinen Mystery, which being part of a trilogy had to stay fairly close to plan, had a fair few deviations from the original concept to the finished article.

Another thing that has happened out of order is the cover for the book. As there’s no need for the designer (in this case, Offworld supremo Terry Cooper) to wait for me to have some image or other in the story for the cover to hang off, we’ve already got the cover for our novel fully designed.

I have to say, I think it looks rather good! I am wondering if, by the time the book is written, if we’ll be able to change “Official Movie Novelization” to something like “As seen on X” (where X is a well known network/streaming service) or even the famous “From the major motion picture” line.

Only time, and another 56.5K words, will tell…

Work begins on Offworld Novelisation

So, this is exciting… With the Offworld movie now deep in post production, the time is right for me to start work on the novelisation!

I’ve had a few projects to complete before getting to this one but we wanted to wait until the final cut of the movie was ready before starting work so that the script and rough cut I’m working from would be as close to the final movie as possible. I’ve read novelisations in the past that don’t only add to the source material but also deviate from it quite significantly; a confusing experience with a novelisation of Tim Burton’s Batman has never quite left me… Whilst we’re used to movies made from books cutting and changing the source material, I don’t think it should work that way when novelising a film. My job here is to turn the film into a book, not write a book using the film as inspiration.

Stuck in the middle with two? Novel on the left, script on the right.

That doesn’t mean that the book is just going to be a shot for shot retelling of the movie though. This is a chance to dig deeper into the characters, their motivations and backstory, explore some of the things that happen “off-camera” and build a more complete universe around the Offworld story… a world that’s going to include at least one significant surprise.

Although we couldn’t allude to this too overtly in the movie itself, Offworld is part of a much larger universe… a universe that will be more than a little familiar to readers of my other work with Candy Jar Books.