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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.

Thursday 6 June 2019

Casting the Runes

Following the news of Casting the Runes as a finalist in the Drama category of the New York Radio Awards, I've fielded a number of enquiries from people having problems in tracking the audio production down.

At the moment it's an Audible-only release, not available on CD, and can be found along with three other James adaptations under the umbrella title of The Conception of Terror.

The other stories are Lost Hearts, adapted by A K Benedict, The Treasure of Abbot Thomas, by Jonathan Barnes, and A View from a Hill by Mark Morris.

If you're one those who's been struggling to locate the shows, we're grateful for your persistence and now you can follow the link below to find them all.

Monday 3 June 2019

Script upload: Murder Rooms

Continuing my ad-hoc program of old script uploads, today I've added my screenplay for BBC Films' Murder Rooms. The series was created by David Pirie as a spinoff from his two-part drama about the relationship between the young Arthur Conan Doyle and his mentor, Dr Joseph Bell, whose observational methods would provide much of the inspiration for Sherlock Holmes.

The series of ninety-minute dramas played on BBC1 in September 2001. It's never been repeated, nor had anything approaching a decent DVD release in the UK. There was a threadbare set of discs issued by IMC in the 4x3 ratio, VHS quality or worse. To get widescreen you had to shop outside the region, where even the best of the transfers was murky and lacking in shadow detail.

The episodes were actually gorgeously lit and shot on crisp Super-16. They'd look great in HD or on Blu-Ray. I know because I was there.

I loved working on the series. The critical notices were good, and so were the viewing figures. We geared up for second season that would kick off with three stories that had been commissioned but not made. I was asked for another, and put in my pitch. Ian Richardson shared his Joseph Bell research with me. David Pirie got a publishing deal.

Then the BBC pulled the plug and all plans were cancelled.

I later heard that this was the outcome of a turf war between BBC Drama and BBC Films. One insider told me that the show had been "too successful for the wrong department". Co-producers The Television Company offered to take it over and finance it themselves, but were refused.

Instead the Drama department announced their own Holmesian project, a one-off Hound of the Baskervilles with the fine Australian actor Richard Roxburgh, so brilliant in Rake. It was okay, as I recall. A serviceable retread of the familiar material, but nothing special; certainly not worth losing Murder Rooms for.

Murder Rooms was a class production, handsomely made to feature standards. The series producer was Alison Jackson, with Jamie Laurenson as development exec/script editor. My director was Simon Langton - Simon effing Smiley's-People Pride-and-Prejudice Langton. I watched and learned. He shot with graceful, understated, old-school brilliance - terms that could equally describe Ian Richardson's approach to an old-school magisterial role. The editor came on set one day to observe, and confided to me that he wanted to see how it was being done because the footage was pretty much falling together.

I'd love to see it aired again. If only so I could get a  copy with some measure of the quality everyone put into it.

My episode was called The Kingdom of Bones, a title which would later be picked out of a list by my publisher for an unrelated historical novel because she didn't warm to its existing title of Victorian Gothic. Which I still like, but I wasn't going to argue. But it leaves me to explain why there are two KoBs out there, and why they're not the same.

(This post includes material from an earlier entry)

Friday 31 May 2019

Something for the Weekend

A couple of weeks ago I wondered aloud on Twitter if anyone might be interested in seeing some of my old scripts posted online. This was by way of giving myself a less embarrassing retreat if the answer was a deafening silence.

Fortunately not, so I tested the waters last week with Desert Knights: The Birth and Early History of the SAS.

That project was commissioned by Carnival's Brian Eastman in 2001. As I recall it was developed as a miniseries for Sky, who then didn't pick it up. The script's for the ninety-minute first episode covering the ground up to the unit's first genuinely successful operation, the raid on Tamit airfield.

It was something of a departure for me; factually based, heavily researched, needing to stand up as drama without fudging history, neither to glamourise nor criticise. I didn't stop to wonder why I was Brian's choice for the gig. I was proud of the result, sorry not to see it made.

But as I say in one of my most common pieces of writing advice, you learn to bounce.

This week I'm adding a couple of BUGS scripts from around 1995/6. It sobers me to think that there are grown adults walking around who were born after the shows went out. Not that I'm taking any responsibility for that.

BUGS ran on Saturday nights on BBC1 for four seasons and I was with it for three; I left to work on OKTOBER, which took up all of my time for more than a year. BUGS was an homage to 60s ITC dramas - we even made it in a teaser/three acts/tag scene format, despite airing on a channel with no commercials. Our aim was a tone that I'd describe as Glorious Technobollocks, and I reckon we mostly hit the marks.

A Cage for Satan was the season 2 finale. It rounded off a story arc in which our heroes were pitted against  a self-sustaining, multi-location AI called CyberAx. The story ends with a setup that I returned to for Renegades, which closed Season 3. I think Renegades is my favourite of the episodes, though they were all fun to do.

I'm limiting these uploads to old material that has no market currency now, so no specs, no recent shows, nothing that's in turnaround. And obviously I'm limited to material that I have in some digital form, so nothing pre-90s. The UK pilot script for Eleventh Hour is already out in the wild and has been for some time, so I've no control over that, but you can find it here under its original episode title, Man Without a Shadow.

So maybe one or two more and then I'll leave it be, at least for a while. I'm thinking maybe Life Line (BBC1) or my feature-length episode for Murder Rooms (BBC Films).

Script Links:

Wednesday 29 May 2019

Doctor Who: Nightmare Country

"The Doctor wakes up on a planet of relics, a dead world, a hostile world... He has no memory of who he is, or how he got to be here. He'd better remember soon, because the very structure of reality is at risk and it all has something to do with that strange blue tomb with the light on top"

Nightmare Country was my detailed pitch for Season 21 and would have been my third story for the show, but for a terse note from the production office that read, ‘You’ve sent us another million-dollar movie and we just can’t do them’.

Some ideas you can recycle, some parts you can reuse; but where do you find another show like Who? So my million dollar movie went into the files and I moved on, until the day my and the Doctor’s paths crossed again.

Sometimes, it seems, you just have to stay ready and keep the faith.

The full two-hour audio drama in four episodes, available in November on CD and for downloading.

Thursday 16 May 2019

Last of the Red Hot Rollouts

The two short story collections complete the rollout of my fiction backlist under Orion's Gateway imprint. You can find the full list of 14 titles on the Gateway author page here.

From the introduction to Out of his Mind, by Brian Clemens:

“These stories are varied and imaginative, each with a fascinating premise. They take you by the hand and lead you through Steve’s uniquely angled take on the world . . . often embodying stunning twists and featuring real stings in the tail. In one, Steve slips into the head of a recalcitrant driver with terrifying accuracy, and then, in another, he moves just as smoothly into the minds of pubescent boys, with all their fantasies and cruelties. It’s always controlled in masterly fashion and while his characters may occasionally be unable to see the truth their creator always does.”

Tuesday 7 May 2019

New Release: The Spirit Box

The Orion Gateway release for May 7th:

“The finest British writer of bestselling popular fiction since le Carré … Gallagher, like le Carré , is a novelist whose themes seem to reflect something of the essence of our times, whose skill lies in embedding those themes in accessible plots.”—The Independent 

Rachel's in trouble. She's a ticking bomb. A couple of co-workers bullied her into stealing a radical new drug from their employer, and now it's lodged inside her. They're watching her like hawks and her time's running out. John Bishop runs security for the company; as a father who once lost a teenaged daughter to an accidental overdose, his drive to hunt down the thieves and rescue their victim grows more intense with every lost minute. He can never bring his own child back. But he can save someone else's. Then his superiors realise that if the swallowed package bursts and Rachel dies, their secrets are kept safe and their problem goes away. Though Bishop's on the trail, he's an easy man to cut loose and discredit. But now he's Rachel's only hope. 

Gallagher's hardboiled style is pitch-perfect for the tale's grim events, but he leavens it with dislocating moments of powerful emotion that draw the reader irresistibly to the characters. The novel packs a wallop that should make an impact on fans of both suspense and horror fiction.—Publishers' Weekly 

“Stephen Gallagher has carved a highly individual niche with his distinctly psychological approach to the genre.”—Yorkshire Evening Post 

“His prose is clear and diamond-sharp, his imagination dark and vivid... a terrifying walk along the edge of nightmare.”—Time Out 

“One of Britain's most exciting writers of literate, nerve-shredding thrillers.”—Starburst 

“Perhaps the finest contemporary British thriller writer.”—GQ 

“Gallagher has quietly become Britain's finest popular novelist, working a dark seam between horror and the psychological thriller.”—Arena 

Friday 3 May 2019

The Brooligan Press - Current and Forthcoming

Our paperback range. Book details and links at www.brooligan.com.

If it's there, it's current. In the case of Ferocity - first publication in the UK - it's forthcoming.

Tuesday 30 April 2019

White Bizango

This week's release on the Orion Gateway ebook list:

A new kind of predator is on the loose. When the middle classes began to adopt vodoun as a lifestyle fad, their doors were opened to a ruthless white male with a command of the religion’s darker practical secrets.

Rescued from the morgue and a bizarre and unpleasant end, Louisiana detective John Lafcadio owes his life to the Cult Crime Co-ordinators. Known also as the Voodoo Cops, their job is to dispel superstition and nail crimes of ignorance.

But how do you hunt down a killer whose victims are also his protectors?

And how can Lafcadio hope to identify a man whose eyes he once stared into, but whose face he can’t remember?

“Fast-paced, beautifully crafted, sinister, funny and cold… …unhesitatingly recommended”—Infinity Plus  

"There is no doubting the tension that is built up across the events of White Bizango, and I defy any reader not to feel compelled to read on when confronted with chapter endings that expertly throw out new information, create new plot puzzles and introduce new levels of threat”—Matt Hills, Interzone 

 “His work has that kind of beat and boogie that only writers of character and style have. He plots well. But his strength is in the purity of his storytelling and in the development of his characters… Man, this book is easy to read, and it’s wonderful”—Joe R Lansdale

Wednesday 24 April 2019

The Painted Bride

The Painted Bride is the latest backlist release under Orion Publishing's Gateway imprint, available on various ebook platforms here.

“Stephen Gallagher’s tense melodrama is spun from the mysterious disappearance of auto dealer Frank Tanner’s wife Carol, the stalled police investigation into Frank’s possible guilt—and the complications ensuing from the obsessive actions of Carol’s burnt-out, former drug-taking younger sister Molly, who knows Frank did away with his wife, and devotes her dwindling energies to protecting the children now in his care and bringing him to justice.”—The Washington Post

 “Cold-blooded murders follow in the race to the climax. Chalk up another winner—brief, merciless and punchy—for Gallagher.” —Publishers’ Weekly

Also in paperback, available here:

Chimera ARC Prize Draw

The random retweet picker has laid its blessing on Kulvinder Gill and Øddli, God of Snacks for the CHIMERA paperback ARCs.

They'll be sent out as soon as the address details are in via Twitter DM.

Monday 15 April 2019

Easter Promotion

Orion's takeover of the backlist has diverted me from banging the drum for the historical novels, but now's my chance to correct that. Here's an ebook promotion for the coming Easter weekend:

On Friday April 19th (Good Friday), for ONE DAY ONLY,  the Melody James novella will be available as a FREE DOWNLOAD.

Then on Saturday 20th the ebook price of The Authentic William James will drop from £5.75 to £0.99.

At 1pm on Sunday 21st, Easter Sunday, the price will rise to £1.99.

On Easter Monday it will rise again, to £2.99, finally returning to the regular price on Wednesday the 24th.

And details of all Brooligan Press titles can be found at www.brooligan.com.

Talking Point: Chimera

My pal and sometime collaborator Malcolm Brown was sorting out some old VHS tapes and came across this, an off-air recording of an ITN News studio discussion between Dr Bob Williamson and me. John Suchet was in the chair. The year was 1990 and the occasion was the screening of my ITV miniseries based on the novel.

We talked about my culpability or otherwise in sensationalising emergent gene therapy and I pled guilty, but with purpose. In a three-decades-on esprit d'escalier what I might have concluded was that we both wanted the same thing - Bob didn't want to see his science abused, and neither did I. Lively though it was, it was a discussion without acrimony and I believe we parted on good terms.

I was subsequently asked to argue the case again, in an event organised by the Wellcome Trust; there the post-event discussion in the hotel bar would lead, eventually, to the creation of pro-science drama Eleventh Hour.

I'd never seen the clip before. Didn't want to know how much of a dork I might seem on TV.

But I don't care what anybody says, I had GREAT HAIR.

(Apologies for the sound. If a better clip emerges, I'll switch it in)

Friday 22 February 2019

Gollancz Gateway

I'm happy to announce that the good folk at Orion Publishing have acquired my ebook backlist for their Gateway imprint, with title releases taking place over the next few weeks. It's a move that will considerably widen availability across platforms beyond Amazon to include Apple, Google Books, and Kobo.

You can find all the titles listed with their respective release dates on the Gateway author page here.

First up, these two:

And March 2019 will also see publication of the Brooligan Press paperback edition of Chimera. More details and a link soon, but for now, here's a preview:

Saturday 16 February 2019

Casting the Runes: Sci-Fi Bulletin Review

"The original was chilling enough; what’s done with it here ratchets that up considerably. 10/10"