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Monday, 25 May 2020

Tales of Dark Fantasy 3

Advance review from Publishers Weekly; book launches August 2020, available for preorder now in both a trade hardcover and a limited edition signed by all the contributors.

Wednesday, 1 April 2020

Friday, 28 February 2020

BAFTA omission (2)

That post from earlier this month, the one of me and the crew on the boat...

I found a few screen grabs from the film we were making. It was called Trick Shot. An over-ambitious mini-feature but my first crack at directing, made towards the end of my time working at Granada. It wasn't a Granada production, just a thing of my own involving everyone I could rope in and whatever facilities I could beg, borrow, or quietly make disappear for a while.

If you grew up in the North West, you may know some of these faces. Shot on Eastmancolor negative with processing and neg cutting at Manchester's Humphries Film Lab, now long gone. The film stock was sourced as a favour through the World in Action production office; a professional kindness in itself, and then the bill never came...

Trick Shot: Malcolm Brown, Oslo

Trick Shot: Charles Foster, Diana Mather, Salford and Manchester

 Trick Shot: Jim Pope, Stock Ghyll Force, Cumbria

They say we learn from our mistakes, and I learned a lot. But it was enormous fun, and a serious step up in my education.

(Pictured: Malcolm Brown, Charles Foster, Diana Mather, and Jim Pope. My cast, my teachers.)

Tuesday, 18 February 2020

An Englishman Abroad

...or, Fool, Interrupted. The appearance online of an interview prompts me to a long-overdue blog post about one of the highlights of my 2019. The interview's further down this post and, be warned, I do go on a bit. It was filmed by Magnus Edgarsson on the deck of a floating hotel on the Fyris River, just a short stroll from the centre of Sweden's oldest university town.  The interruptions came courtesy of distant dogs, other residents trucking through, a passing ambulance, and a far-off football match where things seemed to be going well for one side or the other.

I was in Uppsala at the invitation of The English Bookshop along with fellow writers Juliet McKenna, Steven Savile, and R J Barker. Together we played two panels to a packed house on Saturday evening. One was on crime and the other on fantasy, with the audience switching seats around in between.

It's a terrific bookstore, a proper readers' paradise with a deep selection of new and backlist titles and tremendous support from its customer base. As a panel I felt we made a good lineup with a variety of angles and, dare I say it, what felt like a good team chemistry. On the Friday evening we were welcomed into the home of our hosts Jan and Isabella - old-style Swedish elegance and bookshelves to die for - and on the Saturday before the session we had a guided tour of the town. It has a long history but for me this comparatively recent feature resonated the most:

Saturday afternoon found us back on the boat taking our turns in front of Magnus' camera. The range of interviews can be found on his dedicated channel here, but this is mine:

On the Sunday before flying home, RJ was off signing stuff while Julia and I were given a walking tour of Stockholm by Swedish adoptee Steve Savile; all the main sights plus the bank where a siege gave rise to the term 'Stockholm Syndrome' and the stairs up which Olaf Palme's killer fled. I can't think of a better way to make a first-time visit.

Monday, 3 February 2020

BAFTA omission

Friday, 30 August 2019

Thursday, 8 August 2019

Spartans vs Dinosaurs

Spartans. Dinosaurs. Seriously, what's not to like?

Spartans vs Dinosaurs

Monday, 5 August 2019

Upcoming Events

August 31st - at the end of this month - you should be able to find me in Derby for Whooverville, the Annual East Midlands get-together organised by Derby's local Doctor Who group.

The event will be held at the QUAD arts venue at Market Place, Cathedral Quarter, Derby. DE1 3AS. The impressive list of fellow guests includes Sarah Sutton and Sophia Myles.

And on September 14th I'll be chatting, reading, panelling, and doing whatever else may be required of me as a guest of The English Bookshop at Svartbäcksgatan 19, Uppsala, Sweden, in an event that will also feature authors R J Barker, Juliet McKenna, and Steven Savile, who first set the ball rolling.

Friday, 21 June 2019

William James: the new edition

The full wrap. Cover photograph by Joseph T Needles of Leadville, Colorado.

Thursday, 20 June 2019

From The Brooligan Press in July

The first UK edition of Stephen Laws' cryptozoological novel Ferocity, and a second paperback edition of The Authentic William James. More information and links to follow.

Tuesday, 18 June 2019

The Collected Script Links

For convenience I've gathered together links for the scripts I've been making available for download over the past few weeks.

Scroll down through those earlier posts for background and context.

and, hosted elsewhere:

Eleventh Hour: Man Without a Shadow

UPDATE: I've learned that the CBS pilot for Eleventh Hour, adapted by Mick Davis, is also online and can be found here:

Monday, 10 June 2019

Last Script Upload for now: LIfe Line

The last of my script downloads - for now, anyway - is a two-part supernatural mystery that aired on BBC1 in April 2007. It was commissioned by Gareth Neame for Carnival and featured Ray Stevenson, Joanne Whalley, and Jemima Rooper. The director was Jamie Payne.

Life Line began as a short story for Chris Morgan's Dark Fantasies anthology in 1989. I adapted it as a half-hour audio drama for Radio 4's Fear on Four 1n 1994, and then sold it again in 1995 for the never-made second season of Yorkshire TV's Chiller anthology series.

When Gareth asked me to pitch for a BBC1 slot that he was looking to fill, I returned to the premise but completely refashioned my take on the story. The premise was that of a telephone chat line where, it gradually emerged, not all of the participants were among the living. I needed to create something that would go the greater distance, and drive the premise to a decisive conclusion.

It made a slick, good-looking show with a fine cast. My instinct was that it would have worked better at 90 minutes but you go with whatever opportunity you get. The script was instrumental in getting me work in the US. Danny Cannon would later urge me to take yet another swing at it for a feature, but by then the premium-rate telephone chat line had been superceded by other forms of social media, and none of them had that 'voices from the dark' element that had fired me up from the beginning.

But back to the moment. As the air date approached I looked out for any previews and trails, the way you do. Maybe the promotions people were saving all their ammo for a big last-minute push? There was one junction in which a trailer had been run for each of the preceding stories and when this came and went with none, I wondered what was going on. When I saw the schedule for the week, I understood.

Here's what we were up against in the same slot, live on ITV:

Rather than waste their efforts on competing with the live match, they'd effectively written us off.

If, after the unmade Desert Knights and the prematurely cancelled Murder Rooms, it's starting to look like these script downloads all bring with them some tale of woe, let me remind you of what I said at the beginning; I'm limiting them to old material that has no market currency now, with no specs, no recent shows, nothing that's in turnaround.And in this case, something that deserves a little more light than it got on the day.

David Pirie, A New Heritage of Horror
Maybe I should have gone with that feature after all.