So. 2012 is finally ending, and the newborn 2013 is already starting to make it’s way around the world as I write this, my summary of the year. A year where I began at my lowest ebb and slowly clawed my way back up.
Well, that might be a little melodramatic – after all, I wasn’t ending the year at the end of a second act in some kind of epic disaster movie, but in December I had a couple of career body blows; the first, a chance to take over a Big Two book was finally scuppered after months of waiting around and the second, sorting out the fifth Vladimir Tod book, something pre-determined and budgeted for the end of the year became indefinitely delayed due to publishing caution. With hindsight, the latter was a wise choice but at the time, it wasn’t the best of things for me. I’d also been waiting for three of four other paid gigs to finally sort themselves out, and the rule of life is always that when you need something to sort itself out fast? It never will. And so at the start of the year I was seriously considering leaving writing and moving into something new. As it was, I stayed in writing, but I did do the latter.
January though changed my view immensely with a decision (after lunch with fellow writer Andy Briggs) to return to schools to work with reluctant readers. Those who read this blog know that this is something passionate to me, as I too was what would now be called ‘reluctant’ when I was a child. Returning to this started to inspire me once more, meetings with TV writer chum Phil Ford also convinced me that my future needed to diversify, and that I needed to look into other mediums, something that was solidified a week later when Alison Finch of the JFL Agency agreed to represent me for TV and film work.
The day before the SFX Weekender, I learned that Danger Academy had been optioned to be developed into a cartoon series in the US – I recently saw the bible for it and if it happens, it’ll be awesome. And of course the Weekender itself was much fun. Dynamite offered me the adaptation gig on Amanda Hocking’s Hollowland, and I spent much of February editing and re-dialoguing Star Trek / Doctor Who: Assimilation Squared. When I wasn’t writing, I was visiting schools, and beginning what became my ‘Change The Channel‘ tour, something happening still across the UK.
In April I helped organise an event at the Lyceum Theatre for Bram Stoker’s Centenary, including speeches from noted historians and members of the Stoker family – and with the help of the Lyceum staff even had original playbills out for people to see.
I was given the green light to finally write the next of my ‘Heroes and Heroines‘ GNs, Pirate Queen: The Legend Of Grace O’Malley, something Sam Hart and I have had ready to start since 2009, and many of the first few months were spent deep in MacGyver territory, with new artist Will Sliney hitting the ground running.
And while I was working on these, I also started to look towards TV and film. I finished the sixth draft of the Hope Falls screenplay. I put together some spec scripts for TV, including Echoes, Silver and Finders. I wrote a horror screenplay called Stowaway. All of these are currently out with producers.
I won an Eagle Award in what looked to be the last ever Eagle Award ceremony. Actually that’s not totally true, both Paul Grist and I won the Eagle Award as it was for Doctor Who #12, our silent, Christmas issue. The first issue of the Star Trek / Doctor Who comic came out and I found myself at my biggest ever signing at Forbidden Planet, London.
I was given a great honour when I was invited to join the Sherlock Holmes Society of London‘s Council. Also, with the society I had dinner in the Houses of Parliament, no small thing.
2012 was a year of cancelled conventions – I had to drop out of Gallifrey One, San Diego Comic Con and New York Comic Con this year, but at the same time I attended new ones, including the excellent 2D Festival in Derry and Starfury’s 11th Hour and Midnight conventions where I caught up with a lot of old friends. And I can’t forget talks – I gave my first ever Apple Store talk, in the Regent Street branch. Terrifying.
It was also a year of dropping projects – I left the Star Trek / Doctor Who book after issue four as I felt that three writers worked slower than two, and that Scott and David Tipton (the other two on the book) would feel less restrained without me. I also halted two novels I was writing when I felt that for the moment, I simply couldn’t get them right.
I also helped people – Jim Swallow and I raised £2,013 for Children In Need at the 11th Hour convention, and I also (with Matt Smith’s help) managed to surprise a young boy at his school, giving him a signed comic and talking to his class about how awesome being a writer was, after he wrote to me (and his teachers confirmed that he was single handedly using Doctor Who comics to get his classmates reading…)
I attended the Chap Olympics, and in being disqualified from the Pipeathalon (for pandering to the paparazzi) I managed to get my photo in the magazine.
It was at this time that I sat down with Frazer Hines for a lunchtime catch up. By the end of the day, I’d agreed to write a film for him with the caveat that ‘he got to ride a horse’. Within a month I’d created the first draft screenplay of The Mild Bunch which currently has some big names interested in it and people like Colin Baker, Anjli Mohindra and Vicki Michelle agreeing to be in it if it happens. But this of course is the world of TV and film, so it’ll probably end up with the cast being made up of One Direction and The Krankies.
I visited Christopher Marlowe’s rooms in Cambridge and had a personal tour from the porter there. I attended weddings. I officiated weddings too, dressed as Captain Haddock. Don’t ask.
Audio wise, my Bernice Summerfield audio play, Vesuvius Falling came out from Big Finish. And in addition, I was asked to write a very special Christmas one shot for The Confessions of Dorian Gray, that pitted him against Sherlock Holmes, played by Nicholas Briggs (who also played Holmes in the Big Finish audios). This came out in December and had Alexander Vlahos, fresh from his stint as Mordred in Merlin playing the lead.
Unfortunately at this point I parted ways with Simon Kavanagh and Mic Cheetham as my Literary Agent – Simon’s a great man and he’s amazing at his job, but the novel I was writing with them halted when I hit a roadblock, and the one I replaced it with while I waited to kickstart it a) was more fun to write b) was more saleable in my eyes and c) wasn’t in his realm of expertise. When its done, I’ll be speaking to agents who are more used to historical fiction.
I ran a comic masterclass at FantasyCon, where I was so flu’d up that, when (half way through the talk) I saw Mario, Luigi and the Princess cycle past the window, I had to pause and ask the attendees whether they too saw this. They did. We were in Brighton, after all.
I also ran a comic masterclass at the London Screenwriters Festival, something that’s led to a full day comic course in March for Raindance. I love the London Screenwriters Festival, and anyone who claims that they don’t get anything from it really isn’t trying. The networking alone is beyond compare.
MacGyver: Fugitive Gauntlet #1 came out, and immediately sold out of its first printing. as I write this issue #4 is going off to print and there’s only one more left to do.
In November I was mostly in America, with Hurricane Who and Chicago TARDIS. I attended the Dracula Society‘s Bram Stoker Dinner and met Anthony Higgins, best known for his role in Young Sherlock Holmes as Professor Rache / Moriarty.
And then we come to December. The school talks are as strong as ever, and I’ve had more than a dozen comments from teachers telling me that how, after watching my talk, the troubled readers are returning to the libraries. I’ve been working on new TV pitches, including one with Richard Dinnick that could be spectacular. I’m pitching for films and audios and for the first time in a while I’m actually optimistic about working in comics again.
Was 2012 a good year? It was a year of change to be sure. I had some knock down fights, I’ve had fluffy hugs. I’ve been inspired beyond reason and the same time let down badly by people in the industry. But such is life. I’m healthy, I have a roof over my head, a wife who loves me and a job that I adore.
Will 2013 be better? Hell yes. Already I know that there’s massively upward progression on several of my screenplays and TV scripts, including a yet unannounced TV project that’s close to my heart with LA novellist and screenwriter Robyn Schneider. I wait for a green light (or a no) on two new comics, one a dream project. I already have a dozen new school talks planned and next week I’m being filmed by the BBC about reluctant readers for a show on the 28th January. My novel is almost ready for an agent. I’m re-jigging an old project with rob ‘Chew‘ Guillory that was never printed by the DFC as a possible one shot / GN for a US publisher, and I have three possible adaptations already locking themselves in for the year.
Of course, the world of the freelancer is a scary one, and this time next year? I could be working in a shop. Let’s hope not though!
Have a very happy New Year, and I’ll see you in 2013.