Peter May on the Bestseller Experiment

Peter May has this uncanny knack of peeking into the near future, writing about it, and getting it right. He did it with his novel Lockdown, which was about a SARS-like pandemic. It was rejected by all the major publishers for being unrealistic… Those same publishers clamoured to buy it when Covid changed all our lives. He’s done it again with his novel A Winter Grave, which is set in a near future that’s been ravaged by climate change.

If this all sounds a bit grim, don’t worry. Me and my guest co-presenter Caimh McDonnell do a good job of lowering the tone with some grounded writing advice. And this is the episode where I reveal why Caimh is thanked in the credits of Unwelcome.

Oh, and if you’re watching the Youtube version, have fun spotting the moments where my internet dropped out and either me or Caimh have baffled expressions on our faces…


Finally that film what I wrote is unleashed upon an unsuspecting public! UNWELCOME is in UK cinemas today (it’s coming to the USA March 10, and the rest of the world soon after). Does this mean I’ll stop spaffing on about it? Nope. Once again for those at the back, here’s the trailer…

The question I get asked the most is, “Are you going to see it?” To which the only reply is, “No bloody way.” I had my dream screening at the Sitges Film Festival, and with all due respect to the good folk munching popcorn, slurping on vats of coke, and checking social media during the screenings at my local megaplex, it just won’t be the same. Plus, I’m a big chicken. And I really want to see The Fabelmans.

I also get asked, “Is it on near where I live?”, like I go around with a list of screenings in my head (I can barely remember what day of the week it is). It’s on 300 screens in the UK/Eire this week, and my podcast colleague Mr Desvaux reassures me that clicking on this link will give you the local screening times/places… Though when my dad tried it, he got listings in Singapore, so I’m now worried that he’s probably been hacked.

If you want to know more about the making of the film, there’s a Bestseller Experiment Deep Dive with me and director Jon Wright. We recorded this back in the summer of 2021, when we were doing what they call EPK (Electronic Press Kit) interviews and had all the cameras and mics handy…

And Jon is also on a special episode of the Film Stories podcast talking about the film and his career…

My thanks to those who were lucky enough to go to the previews on Tuesday and said kind things. I’m keeping track of of the various bits of press and publicity and have bundled them all here on a special UNWELCOME page, which I’m currently updating on a daily basis!

The UNWELCOME publicity bandwagon gets rolling…

UNWELCOME had special previews at Cineworld and Odeon cinemas last night and already people are buzzing about it. I understand that Twitter is not the real world and Mr Musk is doing his best to turn it into a digital hellscape, but it was great to see so much love for UNWELCOME last night. Here’s a sample of my favourite comments…

Also, I was delighted to be on the Dominic King show on BBC Radio Kent last night. I’m on the show twice talking about UNWELCOME: at 42:18 and there’s an extended version at 2:38:04… Here’s a listen back link.

And we had a great first review from Ellen E Jones at The Guardian

This is Straw Dogs by way of Fraggle Rock, essentially; but the script by Wright and Mark Stay weaves in enough anxieties, both contemporary and primal, to sustain suspense even amid the silliness. It adds up to an enjoyably unpretentious Irish-ish folk horror. And not a shamrock in sight.

Ellen E Jones, The Guardian

UNWELCOME is on the cover of FILM STORIES magazine!

Blimey!! Unwelcome is on the cover of the new Film Stories mag! And there’s a five-page feature on how we made it. Grab your copy here, or just treat yourself and subscribe to one of the best films mags there is!

This is a particular treat for me, as I’ve listened to the Film Stories podcast and subscribed to the magazine since it began, and its editor and founder Simon Brew is simply one of the nicest men you’ll ever meet. So do please support one of the great film independent film magazines if you can!

Lou Abercrombie on the Bestseller Experiment

I was rubbish at Maths at school, so it would have been wonderful to have to something like Lou Abercrombie‘s book AMAZING MATHS when I was a wee lad. Lou tells me about this new book and her fab children’s novels, FIG SWIMS THE WORLD and COMING UP FOR AIR and how she’s inspired by water.

And if that wasn’t enough, listeners/viewers also get a sneak peek at a special Deep Dive I recorded a very long time ago when director Jon Wright and I answered listener questions on the making of our film UNWELCOME. That Deep Dive goes live on Friday, which is the same day as the film’s release in the UK! Which are you more excited about…???

In Conversation with Caimh McDonnell at Blackwells, Manchester

Tuesday, 30th March, 2023 — 6:30-8pm

Blackwell’s Bookshop 146 Oxford Road Manchester M13 9GP

I’ll be chatting with that man again, the wonderful Caimh McDonnell about The Witches of Woodville books and the film Unwelcome. Despite what Stephen Hawking might have told you, space and time are limited, so grab your tickets by clicking here.


Tuesday 7th February 2023, 7pm
Waterstones, Trafalgar Square

I’ll be moderating what promises to be an amazing evening of conversation with two of my favourite authors, Caimh McDonnell and Ben Aaronovitch!

They’ll be discussing their recent releases Amongst Our Weapons and Love Will Tear Us Apart.

Amongst Our Weapons by Ben Aaronovitch is the hugely entertaining new novel in the bestselling Rivers of London series, which details the adventures of Peter Grant. In addition to his successful series of urban fantasy novels, Ben is a screenwriter, with early notable success on BBC’s legendary Doctor Who.

Love Will Tear Us Apart is the much-anticipated third instalment in The Stranger Times series from C.K. McDonnell, which combines his distinctive dark wit with his love of the weird and wonderful. C.K. McDonnell is a former stand-up comedian and TV writer, who has performed all round the world and has been nominated for a Kid’s TV BAFTA.

Tickets are bound to go fast, so grab yours here!

Matt Cain on the Bestseller Experiment

Every now and then an author comes on the podcast and says those magical words, ‘How honest do you want me to be?’ Matt Cain doesn’t hold back when talking about the squeamishness of UK publishing to embrace commercial LGBTQ fiction.

Matt endured rejections from thirty agents and fifty publishers before getting his debut novel published… and then it didn’t work out. Matt tells us how he made an extraordinary comeback, breaking crowdfunding records with The Madonna of Bolton, having a smash with The Secret Life of Albert Entwistle, and now he’s back with Becoming Ted, his latest heartwarming novel about following your dreams.

And in the extended version for Academy members and podcast Patrons, the Two Marks discuss writing with an authentic voice, titles, rejection, and much more!


The importance of an author’s authentic voice

Why gay fiction doesn’t need to be literary and serious to sell

And how, after rejection and failure, to make a spectacular comeback…

The Ghost of Ivy Barn by Mark Stay

August, 1940. The ghost, the witch and the traitor… As the Battle of Britain rages overhead, a warlock leader from the Council of High Witches comes …

The Ghost of Ivy Barn by Mark Stay

Cole Haddon on the Bestseller Experiment

It’s common for authors to experience failure and rejection, but if you really want to know what it’s like to be constantly knocked back, then be a screenwriter! So many of the scripts I’ve written will never see the light of day, but that’s all part of the fun of screenwriting. I was delighted to discover that even a writer as successful as Cole Haddon has had the same bumps in the road, but he’s embraced failure as the best way to learn and move forward. Enjoy…