I wasn’t always a writer, you know. I used to be an actor…
Here’s me, playing golf, in a Butterkist Popcorn TV advert from the mid 90s.
Tommy in grave peril (geddit?!)
The Doctor likes playing chess. But, how he’s alone in the TARDIS, challenging himself to the occasional match is starting to get a little stilted. Time to find an opponent… Landing in the Outer Hebrides in the 12th century, our favourite Time Lord discovers much more than he bargained for – including rampaging vikings, a furious princess on her way to an arranged marriage, local villagers eating pre-cooked turtles, a backstory for the Lewis Chessmen, and an alien life-form which lives, breeds and kills through fire. This isn’t going to be the quick stop-off the Doctor first imagined.
JT Colgan (in reality, top romantic comedy author, Jenny Colgan) has written what is one of the most exciting 11th Doctor adventures to date (and I told her so last night, via Twitter!) In Dark Horizons, she captures Matt Smith’s portrayal of the Doctor perfectly, introduces us to some wonderful new characters (Henrik being a particular favourite), and even allows us a glimpse (from a distance) of a holidaying 4th Doctor, Sarah Jane and K9! Add to that quite possibly the most exciting TARDIS sequence you’ll ever read (I won’t say where it takes place – spoilers, and all that) and you’ve got a timey-wimey historical romp that will keep you gripped, page after page.
9/10 – very highly recommended!
Now, I like a bit of action in my fiction – and you don’t get a much bigger action hero than Tarzan! Utterly brilliant screenwriter and author, Andy Briggs, is in charge of the official Tarzan reboot – and he’s planned a blog tour to promote the second title in the new series, Tarzan: The Jungle Warrior.
I’ll be following his posts, and I highly recommend you do the same.
This article was first posted in March 2008…
I watched Sky TV’s production of The Colour Of Magic last night, which I recorded over the Easter weekend – and what a fantastic adaptation it was of the first two Discworld books. David Jason was wonderful as the ever-cowardly Rincewind but, for me, Sean Astin stole the whole thing as the innocent tourist, Twoflower. There was even a cameo appearance by Terry Pratchett himself as one of the astro-zoologists.
Which leads me to this: I need to apologise to Terry Pratchett. Because I lied to him in 1994.
Allow me to explain…
I was a young(er) wannabe writer, and a big fan of the Discworld series. Of course, I was delighted when I heard that Terry Pratchett would be signing copies of his newest book, Soul Music, at my local bookshop – Waterstones in Preston. So, off I went to meet the great man and have him inscribe his name for me. Except…
When I got to the bookshop, there was a huge queue. Round the block stuff. I had vastly underestimated the number of people who would also want Terry to sign their books. Now, any normal fan would have stood in line with the people dressed as wizards and patiently waited his turn. But, I was not a normal fan…
At the time, I was considering a career in radio and so was making any number of demo tapes to send out to stations around the UK (yes, tapes – it was that long ago!) I had my recording Walkman and microphone in a camera bag in the boot of my car, and an idea began to hatch…
Racing back to collect my equipment, I re-entered the bookshop with as much confidence as I could muster and claimed I was here to interview Terry Pratchett for a local radio station. Amazingly, it worked, and I was told I would be able to go in once the newspaper guy had finished.
So, for ten minutes, I subjected Terry Pratchett to the most unprepared, banal interview questions I’m sure he’s ever heard. To his credit, he was gracious, polite and even agreed to sign my copy of Soul Music when I had finished. A triumph, you might think.
But, no. I was awash with power, and proceeded to go back down to the bookshop floor in my radio reporter guise and interview people still standing in the queue I had just jumped about why they were prepared to stand in line for so long.
So, to all those fans and, most of all – to Terry Pratchett himself – my apologies. If you ever want to jump the queue at one of my signings, consider it done.
It’s raining as I type this – and it has been for the past week or so. But that doesn’t stop The Independent from publishing its Top 50 Best Summer Reads – or from fellow author and all round good bloke, Joe Craig, from including Virus – my latest book from Barrington Stoke – in the list!
Here’s what Joe had to say…
“Learn the name Donbavand – he’s quietly become one of the very best children’s authors working today. His books dazzle in their pace, imagination and wit.”
Wow! Thanks, Joe!
Happy Towel Day, you hoopy froods! Each year, 25th May is a day set aside for sci-fi fans to carry a towel and remember the work of the late, great Douglas Adams.
Do yourself a favour, and check it out here: http://www.towelday.org
I’ve spent some time reading back over my old blog posts and discovered some very interesting stuff I’d forgotten writing. So, I figured I’d dust these little gems off and post them anew. Hope you enjoy them!
First – here’s ‘How I Learned To Finish My Projects, With A Little Help From Jim Carrey‘, which I wrote back in January 2008!
It occurred to me after reading back over the previous post about finding a literary agent that I neglected to include one vital piece of advice: finish the book first!
It may sound glaringly obvious, but I’ve known so many writers who have an idea for a book and start to pitch it before they’re even at the end of chapter one. They figure that, as it can take so long to hear back from agents, they have plenty of time to write the thing. This attitude, however, can easily backfire.
What if your query letter for child-becomes-robot novel lands on an agents desk just as she’s getting off the ‘phone with Mr Big Publisher who’s been saying that what he really wants is a book about an android that used to be a small boy? Bingo – the agent is going to want to read your book now! If it’s not ready, you’ve wasted both her time and your own. And you can bet you won’t get another chance at that agency.
Even more likely is that your book will change as you write it. Characters will develop, plot twists will happen and, on occasion, the finished book will look nothing like the idea you started with. If you’ve already pitched the book as one thing and it’s become another – you simply can’t send it out.
Years ago, when the movie Ace Ventura: Pet Detective first came out, I was carrying around a vague idea for a comedy screenplay set in a theme park. As soon as I saw Jim Carrey on the big screen it hit me – this story would be perfect for someone with his talents! So, I wrote a query letter and sent it to his agent in Hollywood thinking, at best, I’d end up with a pretty fancy rejection to show around. It didn’t happen like that.
Three nights later – just three – the ‘phone rang. It was Jim Carrey’s agent. Jim liked the idea and wanted to read the script. Sh*t! I stalled for time, saying it was going through another draft at the moment and I could send it over in two weeks’ time. Then I got off the ‘phone and I wrote. I wrote and wrote like my life depended on it, trying to stick to my original pitch – the one Jim Carrey liked, no less – and complete a feature length comedy screenplay in two weeks. The result was a mess and, as you can imagine, I never heard back. Lesson learned.
So, finish the thing before you query. Yes, it’s hard. Yes, it takes time. But it will be worth it.
I get dozens of emails each month from young readers asking where they can buy my Scream Street books. My answer is always the same – you can get them at any local bookshop (if they don’t have the copy you want in stock, they can order it in), you can buy them online or, perhaps best of all…
You can get them in your local library – FOR FREE!
I love libraries and run events in them as often as I possibly can (and yes, I’m a member of my local library, too – as are my wife and sons). Long before I was a writer, I was a reader – and that all happened thanks to the library in my home town of Leyland in Lancashire.
If you haven’t visited your nearest library lately, you may be surprised at just how much is going on there. There may be reading groups, creating writing classes, after school clubs and more. Plus – you can read everything I’ve ever written without having to pay a single penny!
So, what are you waiting for? Pop into your library today and see what adventures it has in store for you!
Today I finished the first draft of my 32nd book – and the eighth I’ve written entirely in Scrivener – http://www.literatureandlatte.com/scrivener.php. I’ve also used Scrivener to write dozens of short stories, a handful of magazine articles and countless book proposals. I’ve got a stage script or two on the go, and I’ve even had a shot at my first comic book script.
As a writer, changing software is a big deal; I’d got used to how to write in MS Word, even if that meant the usual glitches I’d come to expect from the industry standard software. I was used to scrolling through page after page of manuscript to find that one spot where I wanted to rename a minor character, or drop in a clue to the identity of the villain. I knew I’d have to spend time juggling with formatting before submitting my work. I accepted that I’d have to deal with a couple of force quits, and bring a manual back-up of my book to life, kicking and screaming. It’s all just part of the job and, after all, Word isn’t exclusively for writers – it has to fulfill a thousand different roles for a thousand types of user.
Then I discovered Scrivener – software created especially for writers. That’s why I use it. It was designed with people like me in mind. You’ll read on their website that Scrivener allows you to split your work up into chapters, scenes and even paragraphs; that it’s a place where you can keep all your research material within easy access; that you can view two versions of a scene on screen at the same time, putting an end to the laborious copying and pasting between different files; that you can reorganise your plot quickly and easily via the cork board; that you can export your work to dozens of different formats, each with a seemingly unlimited list of potential customisations; that the software saves your work every time you pause from typing, and makes automatic back-ups in case things go wrong. It’s all true – Scrivener does all this and more. But I use Scrivener simply because it allows me to write without worrying whether the program I’m using will let me write.
Whatever you want to write, give Scrivener a try. I’m certain you won’t regret it.