As many of you know, for the last few years I’ve been doing a lot of work with reluctant readers in schools around the world, and it’s become quite a passion of mine. Which was why I was honoured and overjoyed last year when Danny Pearson of Badger Learning, a division of the Haven Book Group asked me if I’d be interested in contributing to their ‘Teen Reads II’ series of books, a series of books aimed at reluctant readers of 12 – 15 with a lower reading age.
So today I was at a school in Hertfordshire and, with a Year 9 class of children, we did a workshop on normal characters in fantastical situations, allowing the students to make the decisions based on what they’d *really* do in a particular setting. The setting in this case was Vampires attacking their school, with the class the only people in the building.
Over the following 40 minutes they worked out what weapons they needed and how they could get them. They fought for control of the group, some betrayed the group to help the Vampires, and some used their faith to save their school friends.
And one of these latter students amazed me today.
So a couple of weeks ago I was in Los Angeles for an entire week, partly due to the fact that I was a guest at the Gallifrey One convention (from Thursday night to Sunday evening) but also for a variety of meetings, catch ups and get togethers across Los Angeles on the Monday night to the Thursday evening. This is my second year of solid meetings on those days, and I thought I’d talk a bit about them, and what I did – and more importantly what I learned.
I’m sitting here trying to put words to screen, as I’ve just heard that Syd Field passed away today at the age of 77.
For those who don’t know the name, Syd Field is recognised internationally as one of Hollywood’s greatest ’script gurus’. He’s the ‘expert’ that the Final Draft DVD aims you at when you need help. He’s written several books on the subject of screenwriting, and held workshops and seminars around the world that helped aspiring and professional screenwriters produce the kind of screenplay that will sell in Hollywood. His ‘Screenplay – The Foundations Of Screenwriting’ book sits proudly on my shelf ever since I managed to attend part of one of his seminars on screenwriting, way back in 2004.
Yes, it’s that time of the year again, as in just over a week, next Friday in fact it’s the 14th of November. Now, anyone with a calendar is going ‘so?‘ but people in the UK will know from the television adverts that it’s something far more special than just a usual Friday, because its Children In Need night. And anyone who knows me well will know my absolute, total and utter unconditional love for BBC’s Children In Need. Three years ago I donated my personal copies of my Tenth Doctor run of the Doctor Who IDW comic, all signed by me for several hundred pounds as part of the Children In Need Ebay auction, last year at Starfury’s The Eleventh Hour convention I (with Jim Swallow) auctioned off a first edition Star Trek: TNG / Doctor Who – Assimilation2 #1 signed by myself and Matt Smith, with Jim agreeing to name a character after the winner in an upcoming Big Finish audio, the winning bid £2,013. Now, I know that I can’t beat that, but I can still add to that – and this year as part of the Children In Need Ebay auction I’m auctioning off a first edition Winter’s Dawn, Season’s End Hardcover, the first I’ve ever signed - and it can be found here.
Ever since I was a kid, it was the only show that I was allowed to watch until early in the morning. But that’s not the main reason why both Children In Need and Pudsey the smiling bear have a special place in my heart for me. Actually, it’s because Pudsey Bear helped me through one of the toughest periods of my life. He literally saved it, twenty one years ago.