Nicely’s Appeal Explained

You can’t beat a good Venn diagram can you? Still love a good Venn diagram – and it’s the perfect method for explaining the appeal of ‘Detective Strongoak’ to readers of fantasy, comedy and detective fiction. So here we go:

The Appeal Of Detective Nicely Strongoak to Different Fiction Readers.
The Appeal Of Detective Nicely Strongoak to Different Fiction Readers.

So there we are! Very informative, I’m sure you’ll agree and clearly illustrating the target audience! Just about everybody who likes a good book! Continue reading Nicely’s Appeal Explained

Words we love to hear #94

Just heard those magic words from a producer: ‘So, anyone optioned the film rights for your book yet?’

Nicely film strip

Of course they haven’t read it yet! But in the same week that you get the contract for writing a feature pilot for a TV series that you helped to create, well it’s not bad news!

Continue reading Words we love to hear #94

World Building Gone Mad?

I love a good bit of world building. I not only want to smell the coffee, I want to know which estate the beans came from and through what small cat-like creature they may have passed through. This is one of the reasons that I was excited by the title credits to the recent TV adaptation of the ‘Shannara Chronicles’. There was a sort of ‘evolutionary’ family tree of how the races, elves, gnomes, dwarfs etc, developed in Brooks’s post-holocaust world. Top world building, even if it was difficult to imagine how exactly all this went on in such a short time period, or why elves were just seemed to be people with pointy ears. I’m sticking with ‘Shannara’ though and see how it err… evolves.

Shanara opening credits

I did wonder if I might have gone a bit far when I delved into the ‘The Paleoanthropological Relationships That Exist in the Hominini Lines of Fairyland’. This examined the ancestry of the particular races that people my own world of Widergard. Not only that but it equates dwarfs, elves, ogres etc with what we know of our own past ‘humans’. Too much world building though I wondered?

Judging by the response though, apparently not. Readers do love an obscene amount of detail about the places they invest their leisure time reading into – including evolutionary family trees.

lord of rings family tree

So if you want to know what really happened to the Australopithecines and Homo habilis go have a look at my longer article on the fab SF Signal.

Continue reading World Building Gone Mad?

Meanwhile back in the Citadel…

The Dragonette ’57 convertible steamwagon was not facing any competition:

Keen Steamliner - cool!
Keen Steamliner – cool!

“I collected my wagon early the next day. It’s a racing-green Dragonette ’57 convertible; the last model with the little wings and the air-trimmed front end. Daddy’s pride and joy, with marble interior finish and leather ragtop. It did my heart good just to touch her. Sceech the grease goblin had done a good job on the shoes, and I took off in a reasonable frame of mind. I had slept pretty well and though I didn’t feel like a million crowns, well at least I didn’t look like buried treasure.”

Continue reading Meanwhile back in the Citadel…

Spoiler Alert!

Spoilers are called ‘spoilers’ because they spoil things. If you let a ‘spoiler’ out of the bag you are going to spoil something for somebody. It does not make you clever or cool to know something and then tell everybody else, it makes you a total d*ck. So thanks newspaper writer who started his bit of smug smart-arsery with ‘as everybody must know by now…’ – no I didn’t!

This is a DUCKhead
This is a DUCKhead

I can’t afford Sky you see because nobody pays me to write drivel for a national newspaper and I have only just bought the physical DVD box set, because it has just been release and I was enjoying it – immensely. Now you have spoiled it for me. Because that’s why they’re called SPOILERS and that’s why nice people write things like SPOILER ALERT above their articles.

So thanks newspaper writer: d*ckhead

Continue reading Spoiler Alert!

The Devil is in the Decal.

I love decals. I even love the word decals. I especially love the fact that the word is derived from decalcomania. What a fab word that is too! ‘Transfers’ just isn’t in the same league, sorry.

I especially love vinyl-cut-decals, that’s the peel and stick sort, but I have a problem and it’s this. I like them so much that I can’t peel and stick them, or rub over the dry transfer sort with my biro. I also loved Letraset you see (dry-transfer lettering – other makes are available, probably. Heck I don’t even know if you can still get Letraset!), I just hated to use them. I loved the unsullied, unused sheet. I just like to stare at them! I did it when I was a kid with a sheet of fabulous different trees – just couldn’t stick them down.

comic book rift wars


You see, while the decals are still there on that sheet the possibilities are endless! So many eventualities to be explored and imagined, scenarios to be worked out – and while that’s the case then Schrödinger’s cat is both still alive and dead! The waveform hasn’t collapsed, hurrah!

The same is true with my stories and plots. I carry a lot of ideas around in my head and I explore the different possibilities, varying different scenes and thinking about other eventualities.

Press or stick them down and the cat’s dead or alive. Of course, you have to do that with stories in the end, which is almost kind of sad, but that’s what a story is.

You don’t have to do it with decals!

And this is why I have I still have a reasonably ‘mint’ Worlds Collide Number 1 July 1994 DC/Milestone Comics in printed plastic bag with decals – that have never been used. I could have adorned my cover with my own punch-ups but couldn’t have unpeeled the superheroes to save my life.

Continue reading The Devil is in the Decal.

Me and Tom Stoppard

As a jobbing writer, for all sorts of different media – but mostly now for film and books, ideas I pick up from each of the different skills inevitably inform each other. How useful this might be is debatable. Shouldn’t you stick with one form of writing? Certainly a lot of agents aren’t happy to represent writers who aren’t specialists. I know this because a top agent once told me at a Writer’s Guild meeting that I was ‘too unspecialised’.

website page

This was quite distressing for me to be told because, to be honest, I hadn’t given up science to simply become a one trick pony – even a great one. I wanted to write what I wanted to write: animation, musicals, books, you name it! I may not succeed, but at least I would try.

In a state of gloom I picked up the newspaper the next day and, coincidentally, I read an article by the great playwright, TV, radio, and film writer and novelist, Tom Stoppard. In it he addressed the subject of writing for different media and he concluded: ‘it’s all writing’.

So, I’m with Tom Stoppard – thanks Tom! – and here are a few thoughts that I had about creating great fantasy characters for film and for books that I wrote for the Harper Voyager blog.

Continue reading Me and Tom Stoppard

Mad March Madness!

Yes, Mad March err Madness! Lucky USA! ‘Detective Strongoak and the Case of the Dead Elf’ (former Kindle Epic Fantasy #1) is on esale for $1.99 until March 14th and this time B&N too and some more sellers … I think.Detective Strongoak book cover with banner

Continue reading Mad March Madness!

Getting it.

What is the most important thing in life for a writer?

Paying the bills is nice, having the chance to do more writing is vital, but probably, above all, you want people to ‘get it’. Whatever the ‘it’ is that you are doing, it is important that people – the listeners, the viewers, the readers – someone somewhere, ‘gets it’.

There's been a murder - get it?
There’s been a murder – get it?

You can sometimes read a review and think to yourself: ‘did they actually see my show?’ or ‘did they watch my film?’  – but most especially ‘did they actually read my book?’

You know the one I laboured long and hard at writing that they seemed to have missed completely in favour of a book with the same name as mine, obviously by a completely different author, who just happens to have the same name as me too? People not ‘getting it’ is depressing, it brings you down, it make you think you’ve GULP failed.

Especially lately, judging by the reviews, a lot of people (86%) have been ‘getting’ ‘Detective Strongoak and the Case of the Dead Elf’. What’s more they’ve been ‘getting it’ without necessarily being a fan of the hardboiled detective books it tips its fedora hat at, or the fantasy universe in which it is set. That is great. That is what we live for, And to have that sort of general appeal is really, really important for a ‘genre’ writer. So thanks to all of you lovely people out there that ‘got it’.

Continue reading Getting it.