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Monday 27 October 2014

No Ann Radcliffe at the BBC


After Saturday's mass signing at Forbidden Planet, and catching up with old friends at the enjoyable British Fantasy Society open event afterwards, a less pressured Sunday included a visit to The British Library's exhibition Terror and Wonder: The Gothic Imagination before the drive home.

The exhibition follows a path from Otranto to the present day that will be familiar to the dedicated reader of horror and the fantastic, and which provides a crash course in the essentials to anyone new to the field. Where the BL excels is in its access to original materials - first editions, letters, manuscripts... if you don't get a kick from a note written in Poe's own hand, or original Frankenstein pages in Mary Shelley's handwriting with Percy's additions crowded into the margins, then this kind of thing is probably not for you.

It's atmospherically presented, driven by literature (obviously) but with further coverage of the films, art and architecture that extended the Gothic sensibility into wider culture. I doubt that many of us read Frankenstein and then were moved to seek out the movies; it tends to work the other way around.

A few years ago I proposed an adaptation of Ann Radcliffe's The Mysteries of Udolpho to the BBC. Not an easy book to 'find the movie in', as anyone who's ever picked it up will know. Got nowhere with it then and, with the way that drama commissioning has moved since, I don't expect to, ever.

So, inspired by Terror and Wonder, I'm putting it online. This was my pitch document - making the case, breaking down the story, outlining a production approach. Should you happen to be interested.

Monday 13 October 2014

I'm Here 'til Tuesday...


It's called a Kindle Countdown Deal; the price of an e-book gets slashed to the bone for a couple of days and then rises in increments over a week or so until it's back to full price again. Grab 'em, do; they're going for about 99p/99c but the clock is ticking.

The Spirit Box and Nightmare, with Angel are on offer from Amazon UK, while White Bizango and Red, Red Robin are on promotion from Amazon.com.

In other news, this new edition of The Bedlam Detective. "Only bad thing about his books is that they eventually end. Brilliant." (Jonny Lee Miller)

See the previous post for an update on the next Becker book.

Friday 10 October 2014

The Accidental Blogger

I know I haven't updated the blog for some time, and if you've been checking, I'm sorry. It's partly laziness - so much easier to fire off a quick snarky mindbite on Twitter than to actually organise a thought or two into something worthwhile - and partly personal, but mostly it's business.

The personal - this summer I forced myself to take weekends off, and decided I rather liked it. If I don't consciously remove myself from the proximity of the study I can find myself drawn back to the keyboard. I'm not even aware of it happening, but I get pulled in by its gravity like one of those rolling coins spiralling down into a charity collection tub. And then, because I've sat myself down without a plan, I don't actually achieve anything when I get there - I just check my emails and fart around on Twitter.

I still check my emails and fart around on Twitter. But at weekends I do it on my phone, somewhere nicer.

The business part - well, last year was weird, including a bunch of projects you'll never hear of because they didn't happen. None of them was my own. In each case I was brought on board to develop a property which never made it to launch. For a while that suited me, again for personal reasons, but it quickly grew frustrating. I've developed stuff I didn't create before now, Crusoe being a case in point. But it's not what I'm in the game for.

So I blocked out some time and wrote a spec TV pilot, which no one in the UK wanted but which a producer friend took to MIPCOM where it was picked up by one of the US networks. More about that in due course.

Now that I had something to plan around, I could wind up the third-party commitments and schedule-in something of great importance to me, and that's the third Sebastian Becker novel. It's been on the stocks for a while, devised and researched and planned down to pretty much the last detail.

But here's the point I always have to make about novel writing and screenwriting; their working rhythms are totally different, and they can't coexist. They can't for me, anyway. A screenwriting career is a constant juggling of drafts, pitches and projects. For a novel I need to be able to dedicate big blocks of dedicated weeks.

The Becker books are complicated beasts to conceive and plot. If you've read either The Kingdom of Bones or The Bedlam Detective you'll appreciate that each is an ambitious one-off, not the kind of series where you can turn a handle and crank them out.

And their history is a complicated one too - of film rights bought and sold, of auctions and ousted editors and wound-up imprints and orphaned acquisitions... and for these reasons among many others the Becker books have a special importance to me, like the puppy that survived the hurricane. So much of this summer was set aside for the completion of The Authentic William James, and I'm happy to say that the pieces fit together.

None of which is what I set out to tell you.

The actual aim of this post was to shill for a Kindle promotion for the novels next week. It's to mark my birthday (don't ask). On Monday October 13th the price of four of my ebooks (two on Amazon UK, two in the US) will be slashed to... well, buttons at first. But only at first. The prices will rise by increments over the following week until they're back at the regular level. Apparently this enthuses people to jump in and buy early. Well, Amazon seem to think so. And they seem to be rather better at this than I.

These are the titles:

The Spirit Box and Nightmare, with Angel will be on offer at Amazon.co.uk. White Bizango and Red, Red Robin at Amazon.com.

I'll post a reminder and links on Monday.

Happy weekend.