Sunday, 19 December 2010

MY DOCTOR WHO RADIO PLAY


I had always wanted to try my hand at scriptwriting. After the publication of Anne Droyd and Century Lodge in 2002, I approached Gareth Preston, who ran an amateur dramatics group called Fine Line. Over a ten year period, Gareth's little company of amateur and semi-professional actors had produced a series of Doctor Who audio plays and put them online for free download.

Of the adventures already produced, I enjoyed Present Infinite by Lawrence Ahlemeyer, Trick of the Light by Gareth Preston and Second Chance by Adrian Hudson. The last adventure of that 'season', Final Frame by Lawrence Ahlemeyer, saw the Doctor (Joe Binks) parted from his male companion, the mysterious Raman (prn Rah-man).

Gareth secured actress Amy Elizabeth to play female companion Jenny in a second season of adventures, which meant the next batch of stories would feel more like 'proper' Doctor Who.

Jenny is introduced in Walkabout by Adrian Hudson (a good jumping on point if you're new to these fan tributes). The second story is Madhouse by Zoltan Dery, and the third in line is The Chattath Factor by yours truly.

Concerned that my play would be weak compared to those that preceded it, I deliberately endeavoured to mimic the best of the classic TV series. I set it in the 19th century and indulged in my preoccupation with man's dual nature and the spirituality-versus-reason debate. So if my dialogue turned out to be awful, the play could at least fall back on the sounds of clip-clop horses' hooves, a posh clergyman and a nutcase scientist.

I completed the three 20-minute episodes in 2003, but it wasn't until 2006 that Gareth Preston assembled a cast and recorded it. Both he and I were thrilled when John Ainsworth agreed to play Dr Joseph Winston.

My only bugbear with the stories that preceded mine was that they were at times a little too light on background music. This was because the composers were producing the music free of charge in their own time and would supply Gareth with stock tracks (fast paced, slow paced, eerie, gentle, etc) for him to drop in. The trouble with this method was certain themes repeated a bit too much, and, on occasion, a scene that needed music to underscore an emotion was left bereft.

So, for my story, I asked if we could try Peter Dudley, who thought he might be able to write to the drama scene by scene and mimic the style of the classic series incidental scores.

It is the music that has held up the story's release for the last year, as Peter has had to take longer than usual to consider each scene.

Thankfully, Episode One is now available to download. I think it sounds terrific. Episode Two will follow in a month or so.

To hear Episode One, go here: www.westlakefilms.co.uk/fineline

A full write-up of the story's production is there to read too.

The above artwork was produced by Bill Hollweg. Doesn't it look stunning?

Wednesday, 1 December 2010

November 2010 Signing


On Thursday 18 November 2010 I signed copies of both my Anne Droyd books for my workmates. It was a successful day. My agent and I shifted 60 copies in total, with 30p per sale going to the charity Childline.

We also visited Waterstones in Bolton and Manchester, and both shops expressed keen interest. They are hoping to arrange signings in the new year.

Feedback from the November signing has already started to trickle through. 10-year-old Olivia, daughter of security guard Mike, read House of Shadows in a week, and when Mike asked what she thought of it, her review consisted of two words: "Well cool!"

That'll do me :-D

Monday, 11 October 2010

Anne Helps Cubs Achieve Their Book Reader Badge




A while ago, my agent Theresa Cutts asked if I would visit her Cub Pack and talk to the children about what inspired me to become a writer and help them to complete their Book Reader badge. It wasn't really practical for me to do this, but I did offer to record a CD and explain my motivation and read an excerpt from Anne Droyd and Century Lodge, leaving it on a cliffhanger so they could finish the story off as a competition.

Well, they played the CD and were spellbound by it. Theresa produced order forms so the children could request personally signed copies of either Century Lodge or House of Shadows, as well as button badges and A3 posters.

News of the concept spread, and I'm pleased to say that a number of Cub Packs and Scout groups have requested the CD (the introduction to which is re-recorded to address the relevant pack/group) and they have enjoyed a lively evening as a result.

The top photograph shows Theresa's group, Wayland Cub Pack in Norfolk, and the second one shows the winners from 2nd Seaton Delaval with their signed posters. Many thanks to Alan for running the presentation.
If you lead a group and would like to make use of the CD, you can contact Theresa at waylandscouts@gmail.com.

Friday, 9 July 2010

Anne Droyd Video Online


The video Theresa Cutts and I made exhibiting the real life locations that inspired Anne Droyd and Century Lodge is now online.

The wastelands are in Mosley Common/Tyledsley, and the railway embankments and den are in Walkden - both areas are in Greater Manchester. Century Lodge and mill are in New Bury, Farnworth, Bolton.

All budding writers take note: Anything and anywhere can be turned into a story!

GO TO YOUTUBE AND TYPE "ANNE DROYD" TO WATCH THE VIDEO.

Sunday, 4 July 2010

Five Minute Documentary in Production


On Wednesday 30 June 2010, my PR Theresa Cutts and I visited the main real life locations that inspired my writing Anne Droyd and Century Lodge, with the intention of making a little documentary film.

We went to "Brickie Lodge", "Devil's End" and the coal wasteland at Mosley Common in Tyledsley, Greater Manchester; then to the disused railway embankment and the site of the air raid shelter den in Walkden; and finally to Century Lodge itself in New Bury, Farnworth, near Bolton.

When we reviewed our recordings at the end of the day, we found that a tiny insect had landed on the lense during one of the sequences and it looked as though it was crawling up my nose! Thankfully we were able to re-shoot that bit the following afternoon.

Once the film has been edited together, we will upload it to YouTube.

In the meantime, here is a new publicity photo taken at the mill lodge.

Saturday, 15 May 2010

COLIN BAKER & HIRST BOOKS


Saturday 15 May 2010 saw my visit to the Who shop in Blackpool to meet the hero of my teens, Doctor Who number six, Colin Baker (whose endorsement of The Feeling's Unmutual can be seen to the right) and publisher Tim Hirst.

Tim's company, Hirst Books, has published a couple of memoirs by Anneke Wills (companion to Doctors one and two in 1966), a collection of fanzine articles, and an ensemble of Colin Baker's newspaper articles for the Bucks Free Press. His book, Look Who's Talking, has been described as "Jeremy Clarkson but with a brain".

My PR Theresa Cutts met with Mr Hirst a couple of weeks ago to pitch some of my work. At Blackpool, it was a delight to meet him face-to-face and discuss my plans for world domination. Hirst Books will definitely be publishing a couple of titles of mine over the coming year, and we have also discussed the possible future of Anne Droyd.

Things are looking good.

Saturday, 27 March 2010

Ladybridge High Get a Two Hour Session


My school presentation "Writing is Exciting" was given to pupils of Year 7 at Ladybridge High in Bolton on Thursday 11 March 2010. It was exhilirating to talk to the whole year this time. There were 165 students present and I held their attention for two periods.

Continuing the format as before, I spoke of my early achievements and how I wrote for fanzines and semi-professional magazines, how I went on television, and how eventually my books were published.

It was nice to discover that some in the audience had already achieved some of these things.

One girl asked how easy it is to create a story. To illustrate just how easy it can be, I directed the class in divising a plot there and then. I'm sure the process will have inspired some.

The new element to my presentation was the use of a Powerpoint slideshow. In this I highlighted the real life locations that were incorporated into my Anne Droyd stories.

Pictured above are the winners of the cover art competition. Each recieved a signed A3 poster.
NB. My visit to Wayland has now been covered in the Mid-Norfolk Times. Go to their web site, and you'll find it on page 21.

Wednesday, 10 March 2010

My Visit to Wayland Community High


On Friday 5th March 2010 I visited three classes of Literacy students at Wayland Community High School in Watton, Norfolk.


I talked about how writing can open doors to opportunities that otherwise remain closed (highlighting my Blue Peter badge once more!). I showed them my name in Doctor Who Weekly and related how it felt at age 10 to see my name in print.


I then explained how I came to have Anne Droyd and Century Lodge published in 2002 by CK Publishing, my journey to Jessica Kingsley Publishers in 2004, and self-publishing Anne Droyd and the House of Shadows in 2008.


I finished each session with a reading from chapter seven of my upcoming novel The Blueprint.


All three teachers showed great interest; one asked if she could create a story writing competition and forward the entries for me to judge.


Some of the students were keen to get a look at the copies of my books bought by the school. One boy in particular kept asking the librarian if Shadows was ready to loan.


I look forward to returning to Wayland when The Blueprint has been published.

Saturday, 20 February 2010

THE FIRST TIME I SAW MY NAME IN PRINT




The first time I saw my name in print was when I entered a competition in Doctor Who Weekly (published today as the more mature Doctor Who Magazine). Entrants had to come up with a gun noise for their comic strip. I couldn't think of anything, so my Mum suggested "Zweeeeeesk!"


I've no idea if the strip's writers ever used it, but I was one of a hundred winners. The prize was BBC Records' Doctor Who Sound Effects LP. It was designed to be used by amateur radio and film makers, but on receiving it I played it as a regular album!


Once I'd come by a tape recorder I began making my own Doctor Who plays, radio style, with the sound effects record and Geoff Love's orchestral arrangement of the theme music.


But at age ten, seeing my name in print had an impact. And even as an adult it's a warm feeling.


I now use the comic in my "Writing is Exciting" presentation when I visit schools to inspire youngsters to pick up the pen.