A comedy detective fantasy; CSI in the land of Widergard, where fantasy has grown up a bit and Nicely Strongoak is just your average Master-detective-for-hire, if your detective happens to be a dwarf with a handy hand axe. In a city filled with drug-taking gnomes, goblins packing heat and a serious case of missing-persons, Strongoak might just be what’s needed, because this is one dwarf that is never going to leave a single cobblestone unturned.
I never really thought about writing for children. I don’t necessarily think you do. All of my stories – the ones in my thoughts, my notes and my daydreams were very adult.
No, not that sort of adult!
I mean they were complex, very ideas-based, plot heavy SF novels or knowing, reference-rich fantasy mash-ups. They weren’t children’s books!
And then there was one. It came unexpected and unlooked for and it really was a joy to write. I loved it. The book is called WHEELWORLD and I now need to find it a home, but I will persevere. WHEELWORLD isn’t actually what I’m writing about here today though.
It was just that writing WHEELWORLD put me in a completely different mindset about exactly what writing for children involves and what it is all about. And I enjoyed doing it.
Since then I have written a five-part children’s animation series about two little princesses, a selection of fun verses for a book of lovely child-friendly illustrations and had a commission for a glorious tale about a young boy and his elephant called ‘The Duke of Delhi’.
That’s what I do want to write about. ‘The Duke of Delhi’, it may surprise you to learn, is set in my own East Sussex countryside, in an entirely imaginary Topley Castle Indian Wild Life Park. A young Anglo-Indian boy, Safin, has to live with his maternal grandfather at Topley Castle and his life there is changed around when a baby, Indian white elephant, rescued from an animal trafficker, also comes to live.
A boy and his elephant, and a group of likeable school friends, what more could you want in a children’s book? Some fun black and white illustrations from the pen of illustrator Les Garrett, just like many classic children’s book of old, of course.
The result is what will hopefully be the first in a series of books featuring the lovable ‘Duke of Delhi’ and his chum Safin. Available in both paperback and ebook, everybody involved hopes children everywhere will fall in love with this first book: ‘The White Elephant’.
I have noticed a couple of people asking the very reasonable question: what will you be reading this Christmas? While thinking on this it occurred to me to pose the equally relevant question: where will you be reading this Christmas?
With the shortest days upon us there aren’t that many consolations on offer. Dark mornings, gloomy afternoons and then the blinds get close early. Not much to get excited about, but then again…
So this is where I will be reading this Christmas. Life is tough sometimes eh?
Oh and this is what I will be reading too! And probably what I’ll be drinking as well. So, as the song says: ’Let it snow, let it snow, let it snow.’
Detective Strongoak and the Case of the Dead Elf by Terry Newman
The world turns and changes, as it has an annoying habit of doing, and Widergard changes with it. History becomes tradition, becomes fable and is reborn as the main feature at your local Seeing Stone Picture House. This is the shiny, bright New Age, you see. In modern Widergard they’ve got steam wagons, speech horns and performance art. And in Widergard the various peoples, men, goblins, elves, gnomes and the pix, have to get by as best they can – especially in the seething metropolis that is The Citadel.
Crime is still with us too, but now that goblins carry shooters, down those mean cobbled streets a dwarf must walk tall. Yes, dwarves are still around as well; dwarves like Nicely Strongoak, Master Detective and Shield for Hire, and this is his toughest case.
Have fun this Xmas!
OK – it was pointed out to me that I may be a little bit more interesting than I made out the other week.
Yes, I did go to Andrew Lord Weber’s ‘The Other Palace’ for a social networking evening and Lord Andrew was there and I did wave, but he missed me I think. Great contacts though.
And (unconnected) I had a great day in the studio going through songs for a fantastic (other) musical that sounded great on the studio speakers with a full(ish) orchestra. Worked on a new song on the way home too.
And this is a photograph of me being interviewed for my first big screen appearance – talking about football. Uh huh, that’s right.
And this is a link to a very interesting animation I wrote for the film and another to a great game I am involved with (oh and I just finished a great classic SF shoot-the-aliens game).
However, honestly, I don’t feel very interesting – well, not like 20 years ago when I captured an excytosing heart secretory granule using a helium-cooled copper block.
For those of you who might have wondered what the sound of modern dwarf music is like, these examples are very good approximations. First off ‘These New Puritans’ and the aptly named ‘We Want War’. Note: big drums and almost discordant brass – all at ear piercing volumes.
We then have what has been dubbed ‘Acid Brass’, which is very close to the dwarvish style which translates as ‘head-banging’ music, as it involves a lot of, err head banging.
An excellent example of this is the ‘Williams Fairley Brass Band’s version of “What Time Is Love?”
Interestingly this is as a very close partial translation of the well-known dwarf expression: ‘What time is love as I need to get down to the pub?” Nobody has ever accused the dwarf race of being overly romantic (except other dwarves).
Nicely himself, as has been noted, finds dwarf music can get a little repetitive and is quite a fan of gnome swing bands and something with a more complex rhythm, or a good tune!
I have just completed a really great film script with a writer living abroad and it’s about – well, I can’t actually tell you what it’s about, but it’s great, believe me.
Later next month I am writing another film script. It’s an adaptation of a novel, which I am really enjoying. It will make a great film. It’s about – well, I can’t actually tell you what that’s about either.
In the meantime I’m writing a game story for a client that is absolutely fantastic. The idea behind the story is totally unique and the artwork is stunning and … I wish I could tell you some more about it.
But I can’t.
What about the series of children’s poems? Not a word from me, unfortunately.
The Non Disclosure Agreement (NDA) is a vital and necessary part of a writer’s life. So – I am told – is building your ‘brand’ as a writer. Make your readers interested in you, as a person, with information about the things you like and do.
Well, I write a lot – a lot of the time, in different areas and media. And it’s all pretty damn interesting, and thanks to the NDA I generally can’t breathe a word about any of it.
So – tonight I am going to a performance about a woman who died in 1979*. That’s about it.
But I am interesting, believe me!
I am dead chuffed that a short story of mine ‘Time’ is a runner-up in ‘The Cornish Writing Challenge’. This is the first ‘non-genre’ short story I have written for err … ages. Strangely it seems that my writing has ended up rather compartmentalised. The serious stuff (even with humour) becomes plays, while film script writing takes up a lot of my plot-heavy, action story ideas and fantasy and science fiction is dominating the book writing.
‘Time’ has no elves, dwarfs, detectives or spaceships – not so much as a single alien. I was doubly pleased then that the story found favour with the judges and I might even try my hand at more mainstream writing again! After the next 2 Nicely books get published of course.
Cornwall has always been rather a special place for me, thanks to some wonderful childhood holidays and some memorable teenage ones too. It’s the latter that provide the inspiration for the short story. Not very much to say about the childhood holidays, although Camomile lotion featured a lot! They were always magic though, so perhaps it’s not much of a stretch to be writing about magic now. Continue reading ‘Time’