The one down side of being in New York for over a week is that I return to find that in two days, the 14th of November is 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. Over the last few years I’ve raised thousands of pounds for it, donating my signed personal copies of my Tenth Doctor run of the Doctor Who IDW comic; 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 and last year I auctioned off a first edition Winter’s Dawn, Season’s End Hardcover, the first I’d ever signed. This year I’ve decided to make my own, personal payment, my own thank you to both Children In Need and Pudsey the smiling bear – for they both have a special place in my heart. And for those who are new to me and my work, who don’t know why? It’s because Pudsey Bear helped me through one of the toughest periods of my life. He literally saved it, twenty three years ago.
So a while back, I spoke about how I’d started to write a screenplay called The Mild Bunch after a conversation with Frazer Hines. But when the producers we had on board took eighteen months and got nowhere, it was placed back in turnaround in May. That’s when a new producer, Damage Cat Productions came on board. Since then it’s sped along – we have a director in Niall Johnson (Keeping Mum, White Noise), we’ve revamped the screenplay to add some new characters and situations and it’s now speeding towards the finishing line. And I realised that because of the length of time we’ve been doing this, some of you might not know what it is.
It’s a kind of Expendables style movie but starring people I watched throughout my childhood, and it’s awesome, surreal and terrifying, all at the same time. The script’s done, the casting has started and the producers are being spoken to. The whole thing’s speeding along at a great pace.
So in a couple of weeks I’m returning to Raindance to run my one day seminar on Writing for Graphic Novels and Screenplays, and part of my seminar is about networking, and more importantly what not to do. They’re rules I’ve used all my career, and now I’m moving into film and TV, I’m finding that they’re even more vital for a screenwriter.
Today, I write about how knowledge in one market can help in another – in this case how being a salesman can help someone be a writer. Not in every manner of sales, but by looking at some of the basic skills that a salesman is taught to do, and showing how it can help you at a convention.
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.