A few years ago, I adapted the Heather Brewer Vladimir Tod books into Graphic Novels for Penguin Teen, and then, as is the way with writers, I sat back and waited for a while. Years, in fact, as I realised this week that I started the first adaptation, Eighth Grade Bites, exactly three years ago this month. That came out almost eighteen months ago, and I have to say I worried that the others wouldn’t appear. And then this week, the second in the series, Ninth Grade Slays came out.
Last week I was at Houston’s ComicPalooza Con, or rather the ‘Texas International Comic Con’, and it had possibly one of the most awesome beginnings that I’ve ever had at a convention, and possibly may corrupt any idea in my wife Tracy’s mind on what to expect in the future on one of these trips, as on the Thursday before the convention, I got to live a dream and travel behind the scenes at NASA Houston.
So a few years ago, Sam Hart and I wrote a book for Walker Books called Outlaw: The Legend of Robin Hood, a retelling of the classic tale for a modern audience. A couple of years later we were asked to write another, this time about King Arthur, and Excalibur: The Legend of King Arthur came out.
After that, we started to think about who could be next. We wanted a female. We wanted a story that people knew, that I could put a new spin on – and within weeks we had it. Joan of Arc.
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.
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.