UNWELCOME spoiler special coming soon…

Save the date! 27th April, 2023, 8pm BST we’ll have special livestream episode of the Bestseller Experiment on youtube where Mr D will be grilling me on the making of the film UNWELCOME! I’ll answer listener questions about the making of the film, and especially *that* ending! Warning: there will be spoilers, so if you haven’t seen Unwelcome already, then rent/buy it now and join us for a fun hour of mayhem and redcaps. It’s all on Youtube, so click on the link below for more info…

Experiments in AI Audio (and Romance) on the Bestseller Experiment

When I prepared my interview notes for this week’s guest Jayne Davis, I was expecting to talk about the finer points of Regency Romance fiction (which we did) and earning a living as an indie author (which we did), but experiments in artificial intelligence audio was a surprise topic. But I guess that’s typical of what’s happening now. AI’s reach is expanding into all corners of society. To be fair, though, Jayne started out as an engineer and has a fascination in how new things work and AI is another tool that she’s working with in a very successful career. In this case, she used an AI narrator for one of her audiobooks, with mixed results. You can download a sample from Bookfunnel here (you might need an account).

And the rest of this week’s podcast is here.

The Bestseller Experiment according to ChatGPT…

I asked ChatGPT to transcribe a typical episode of the Bestseller Experiment podcast. This is what it spat out (I swear, I have not tinkered with this one bit!)…

[Intro music]
MARK: Hello and welcome to the Bestseller Experiment, the podcast where we discover what makes a bestselling novel and inspire you to finish your book. I’m Mark Stay, and today I’m joined by…
MARKUS: Markus, hi, great to be here again.
MARK: It’s great to have you here, Markus. Now, today we’re going to be talking to a fantastic guest, an author who has sold over a million copies of her books worldwide.
MARKUS: Wow, that’s incredible. Who is it?
MARK: It’s none other than Jane Smith.
MARKUS: Oh, I love her books. This is going to be a great interview.
MARK: Absolutely. So, before we get to that, Markus, how has your writing been going this week?
MARKUS: Well, I’ve been struggling a bit with the second act of my current novel. It’s been tough trying to figure out how to keep the tension high without it feeling contrived. How about you, Mark?
MARK: I’ve actually been working on a short story this week. It’s a bit of a departure for me, as it’s a sci-fi story, but it’s been really fun to write.
MARKUS: That sounds interesting. Have you got any tips for writing sci-fi?
MARK: Definitely. I think the key is to start with a strong concept. You need to have something that’s going to capture people’s imagination and make them want to keep reading. And then, once you have that, you need to really think about the world that your story is set in. The more you can make it feel real and believable, the more your readers will be invested in the story.
MARKUS: That’s great advice, thanks.
MARK: No problem. So, let’s get to our interview with Jane Smith. Jane, thank you so much for joining us today.
JANE: It’s my pleasure. Thank you for having me.
MARK: So, first of all, congratulations on selling over a million copies of your books. That’s an incredible achievement.
JANE: Thank you. It’s been a bit of a whirlwind, to be honest.
MARK: I can imagine. So, what do you think has been the key to your success?
JANE: I think it’s a combination of things. Firstly, I’ve always tried to write stories that are emotionally engaging. I want my readers to care about the characters and what happens to them. And secondly, I think it’s important to have a strong brand. When people see my name on a book, they know what to expect.
MARK: That’s really interesting. How did you go about building your brand?
JANE: It was a gradual process, really. I started off by writing in a particular genre, and over time I developed a style and a voice that people could recognise. And then, as my readership grew, I started to focus more on what they wanted from me. I made sure that I was delivering the kind of stories that they were looking for.
MARK: That’s great advice. So, what’s next for you? Are you working on a new book at the moment?
JANE: Yes, I am actually. It’s a bit of a departure for me, as it’s a historical novel. But I’m really excited about it.
MARK: That sounds great. Well, we’ll be looking out for that one. Jane, thank you so much for joining us today.
JANE: Thank you for having me.
MARK: That’s all we have time for today. Join us next week when we’ll be speaking to another bestselling author. And remember, keep writing and never give up on your dreams.
[Outro music]

Getting Confessional with Nadine Matheson

There’s something about chatting with bestselling thriller author and podcaster Nadine Matheson that made me all confessional! We talk about all sorts, including being made redundant, dealing with Amazon, being skint, being old and going for job interviews, why I insisted on getting a proper lunch break and much, much more! This is one of my favourite new podcasts, and I was honoured to be a guest. It’s available on all the usual podcast providers, or you can click on the link below…

Disney’s Black Hole Warped My Mind

I was delighted to be invited on the Fifty Years of Shit Robots podcast to discuss one of my favourite robot movies, Disney’s The Black Hole. This film really messed with my mind when I was a kid (still does now, to be honest) and I had a great laugh chatting with hosts Matt Brown and Stephen Murray through our favourite and not-so-favourite bits. Click here for links to listen to the podcast and click on the Tweet below for a slap-happy sample of what we discuss (best enjoyed with the sound on!)…

Grammar Free in the UK on the Bestseller Experiment

Something very different on the podcast this week. I spoke to Dave Dawson who with his dad, under the guise of Dave and Derek Philpott, has been writing funny letters to pop stars about their lyrics. Their first book, Dear Mr. Kershaw, became a cult hit and the follow-up Dear Mr. Pop Star was released by Unbound Publishing to more acclaim. And now they return with a Punk edition, Grammar Free in the UK, which is raising money for the charity Crisis. A few writing tips on building a community of readers, crowdfunding and such, but mostly this is a good laugh about 80s music and punk…

Robot Overlords: Test Shoot at Pinewood 16th March. 2013

I’ve only recently realised that Robot Overlords is nearly ten years old, and that we started shooting in May 2013. But before that we had a day of test shoots at Pinewood Studios. It was to see how the kids worked together, and so a set was built of a sweet shop for the scene where the gang stock up on fireworks and sweets and decide what to do next. At that point we had two of our eventual cast, Ella Hunt as Alex and Milo Parker as Connor, and two cast members who wouldn’t be in the finished film: Harry Lawtey as Sean and Eros Vlahos as Nathan. Not sure why it didn’t work out with Harry and Eros, who were very good, but such is the nature of the movies and they’ve both gone on to great things.

Jon workshopped the scene with them all day. As screenwriter, I wasn’t really needed (but there was no way I wasn’t going to be there) and so spent most of the day wondering just how much grub I could pinch from craft services before I was evicted from the studio.

Here’s one entry from my diary for that day…

The big surprise was Milo, who — once you stopped him looking at the camera — was just terrific. Funny, watchable and full of energy.

Here are a few pics from that day on Stage H, Pinewood (and more to come throughout the year)…

GEISTERZAUBER is out today in Germany

The third Witches of Woodville GEISTERZAUBER (Ghost Magic — aka The Ghost of Ivy Barn) is out today in Germany! I love what they’ve done with the covers and they all look amazing together. Grab your copies from all good German bookshops. There’s more info on the Heyne website here.

Ghost of Ivy Barn readings on Bookable Space

I was delighted to be invited by Yvonne Battle-Felton to read three extracts from The Ghost of Ivy Barn on her splendid podcast Bookable Space. I reveal the real locations that inspired the Witches of Woodville and why the series might not be as cosy as it first looks.

Download from your preferred podcast provider, or click on the link below to listen…

UNWELCOME available to rent in the UK

UNWELCOME is available to rent on digital in the UK today! A mere £4.99 for a slice of Redcap mayhem. Just pop along to Apple, Amazon, Sky or wherever you rent your digital movie! No blood sacrifice necessary… unless you *really* want to…

It should be popping up to rent across the world in other territories this week. Tomorrow is the USA and I think from Thursday we’re on Paramount+ in Australia!