Oliver Stone, Chocolate Hobnobs and Japanese Knotweed

After months of wrangling with estate agents, solicitors, Japanese Knotweed and a very stubborn tree, my family and I have finally moved home. We’ve left the suburbs behind and headed out to the country where I won’t be watching afternoon repeats or the food I eat, but instead working on making a new life here, and writing as much as possible in my mighty man cave (with a lovely view of the washing line)…

 

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The latest news on the Bestseller Experiment is that we’ve finished our latest draft and have sent it to our editor. This is the first time that a fresh pair of eyes will read our work, and it’s always a slightly terrifying prospect, but we’ve worked our nuts off on this book, and when working on the final chapters over the weekend I actually found myself blubbing. That’s never happened to me before, so I reckon we might be onto something (mind you, I’ve been wrong in the past).

A big change to my routine is my commute. I used to get thirty minutes or so on the train each morning to write, then I would write in my lunch break, then again on the train home. Two hours a day of good writing, albeit mostly in a tin can full of stressed commuters, which could leave me wiped out on a hot day. My new commute takes up over three hours of my day, but it’s far less stressful, fully air-conditioned, and ten times as productive. I’m loving it already and wished I’d done this years ago.

Oh, and I’m in a film! Film lover, film reviewer and now filmmaker Stuart Bannerman has a made a documentary called Experiencing Comic Cons. I love going to cons and Stuart spoke to me while at MCM last year. Blink and you’ll miss me, but Oliver Stone is in the film, too, and I think that means me and Ollie are best friends or something (he’s yet to answer my calls, but it’s just a matter of time before I wear him down). It’s a passion project for Stuart and if you love cons, or even if you’ve never been and want to know what all the fuss is about, then I urge you to check it out (also, he very kindly brought me a packet of chocolate Hobnobs while I was signing books, which makes him one of my favourite people in the world).

Back to work now. Mr. Desvaux and I now have been tasked by our editor to come up with a synopsis and blurbs for our book… Wish us luck!

 

A version of this first appeared in my monthly newsletter. To subscribe, click here

 

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Bespoke children’s book written by Piers Torday – starring your child!

Wonderful idea from a terrific author…

Authors for Grenfell Tower: An Online Auction

Piers Torday by James Betts 2017.png

ITEM: A book written to order about your children in the adventure of their choice.

DETAILS: Piers will interview your child/children and write a bespoke story starring them as the main characters in the fictional world of their choosing.

BIO: Piers Torday is the bestselling author of The Last Wild Trilogy (Guardian Children’s Fiction Prize) and There May Be A Castle.

WHO CAN BID: The greater the bid, the longer the story, £1 per word. Minimum bid is £500. Interviews outside London and the UK will be conducted via Skype. The finished story will be published on my website and the successful bidder will also receive a signed and bound copy. I reserve the right to publish it in magazines, online etc, to secure further funds for the appeal. If the successful bid is over £10,000, I will attempt to secure publication, with all profits going to the British Red…

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Carrie Fisher Tribute

This is lovely…

Clairesallotment's Blog

For our family it was a huge shock when Carrie Fisher passed away at the end of last year. We are massive Star Wars fans in our house and it was a sad day for all. We will all look forward to seeing Star Wars VIII when it comes out in the cinema. As a tribute to Carrie Fisher we chimed the Star Wars theme tune at the end of our bell ringing practice the other week. Whoever said bell ringers are boring, clearly hasn’t met the band I ring with. Thank you so much to the other ringers who made this possible.

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Lottie and Dottie Grow Pumpkins

Claire’s new Early Readers book is out this week!

Clairesallotment's Blog

Well, book number 3 in the Lottie and Dottie series is out this week on Thursday 5th May!! I’m so excited!! You can pre order it now from Amazon, or your local book sellers should have a copy. If they don’t ask them “Why?”. It’s perfect for all ages. Now is the time to sow your Pumpkins seeds and Lottie and Dottie will tell you everything you need to know.

Join Lottie and Dottie in the great Pumpkin grow!! Join Lottie and Dottie in the great Pumpkin grow!!

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Robot Overlords DVD and book giveaway on Instagram…

To celebrate the premiere of ROBOT OVERLORDS on Sky Movies UK today (Good Friday), the lovely people over at Gollancz are having a book ‘n’ DVD giveaway.

To enter, just pop over to the post on Instagram (via the link below), ‘like’ and leave a comment. The giveaway closes at 23.59 on 29th March. Good luck!

 

“You’ve got bread on your nose…” Favourite comments from comic-cons 2015

It’s been a hell of a fun year, and one of the highlights has been attending a record number (for me) of festivals and cons to plug and pimp the ROBOT OVERLORDS film and book. If I was lucky enough to meet you, then thanks for taking the time to chat, if you bought a copy of the book, then you have my undying love, and if you torrented the film, then I hope your tiny genitals shrivel and die 😉 winky face!

The year ended with the biggest one of all, the MCM Comic Con at the Excel Centre in London. I was invited by fellow author and all round gentleman Kit Cox to join him selling and signing books for the whole weekend. Make no mistake, this is a huge event; the footfall on the Saturday alone is over a hundred thousand people, and they’re all eager genre fans, many in wonderful cosplay, and the feeling of belonging and bonhomie is infectious. I started keeping a tally of how many books I sold, but then started jotting down some of the comments made by those who visited my stall. It’s a brilliant snapshot of the kinds of people who come to cons, and I’ve broken them down into three sections: THE WONDERFUL, THE BIZARRE and THE HUMBLING…

THE WONDERFUL

Comments to make an author’s heart swell…

“Such a cool film, there’s nothing like it.”

“You had me at Robots and explosions!”

“I sell your book in Israel!” A passing Israeli bookseller.

“He’s buying this because he torrented the film after I recommended it!” A punter making his friend buy a copy of the book.

“I’d better get some cash!” A punter, after I pitched the book to them… and they actually came back and bought it!

“I’m Chris Lunt’s agent!” Chris is the show runner on the TV version of Robot Overlords!

“This is our first comic-con…” A slightly overwhelmed father and son (who bought a copy of the book).

“Can’t remember the last time I bought a book…” And he bought a copy!

“Where does the food come from? Where’s the booze? Can you imagine a completely dry country? It’ll never work!” A punter trying to pick holes in the premise. He bought a copy after I reassured him that we’d thought all this stuff through and that there was plenty of illegal hooch in a Robot-occupied UK.

“Dystopia is, like, my favourite, evah…” A wonderfully stereotypical emo teen.

“If it’s rubbish, I’m coming back.” A punter after buying a copy. He didn’t.

“I auditioned for this!” Young actor John Otteson!

“That little guy freaked me out.” Job done, Craig Garner!

“I’m downloading it right now.” Someone who bought the audiobook from Audible right in front of me!

“I love your film!” Several people. I love you, too.

THE BIZARRE

From the adorable to the baffling…

“Do you mind holding my bow while I go for a wee?” A Katniss cosplayer.

“If he finishes it, he gets fifty quid!” A father determined to get his son reading books. Who am I to argue with this carrot-on-a-stick version of parenthood?

“Everybody’s sucking Chinese dick.” A fellow writer/illustrator on the current state of Hollywood film production.

“I hate to be the person who asks where another table is…” Several people who mistook me for an information desk. I was happy to help…

“Oh my God! Monkey Magic!” A punter who was distracted mid-pitch by some fantastic Monkey Magic cosplay.

THE HUMBLING

Comments to bring the ego down to Earth with a bump.

Now, bear in mind that these comments came from folks standing right in front of a table with two showcards featuring the book, big piles of the book, and a bloody great quad poster of the film shouting ROBOT OVERLORDS in big shiny, silver letters with the release date stated plainly below…

“Is the film out yet?”

“Are they going to make this into a movie?” You never know!

“Are you the writer?”

“I think I’ve heard of this…”

“And that would make you… Mark?” A punter squinting at the showcard, then the book, then me…

“That’s a bit of a cliché, isn’t it?’ A kid on the title. I somehow resisted clipping the precocious little nerk around the ear’ole… Too many witnesses.

“I can’t finish long books.” A young boy. Try writing them, mate.

“When is this in cinemas?” Sorry mate, you blinked and missed it.

“Doesn’t look anything like her…” A punter looking askance at Gillian Anderson on the poster (who clearly hasn’t seen her in anything since The X-Files).

“Free book?” No. Buy one or fuck off.

“I haven’t got any cash!” from a punter after I spent a good five minutes pitching the story.

“I only brought thirty pounds!”

“I don’t read and I’m broke.”

“I’ve run out of money!” Everyone after 5.30.

“You’ve got bread on your nose…” My son, who pointed out that I still had some of my lunchtime sandwich attached to me after I spent a long and futile five minutes pitching the book to a couple who, perhaps understandably, spent the whole time looking at me funny.

 

I had huge fun at these cons, and sold a ton of books. I’m surprised the major publishers don’t have a presence at these. Certainly plenty of indie authors do pretty well, and I hope to do more in the future. If we should meet, don’t hesitate to ask about the film’s release date, plot holes, the state of Hollywood’s sexual peccadilloes, or where the manga books are sold, just don’t boast about torrenting the film, because I will have to kill you with the bow and arrow that nice lady asked me to look after while she was taking a whizz.

Lottie and Dottie Sow Pumpkins

My good lady partner’s new book is available to pre-order now!!

Clairesallotment's Blog

I’ve just got all the pictures through for my next Lottie and Dottie book from the wonderful Marijke Van Veldhoven. They are absolutely amazing and I love each and every one of them. Marijke is so brilliant at capturing everything so brilliantly and making what I’ve written so much better. Lottie and Dottie Sow Pumpkins is out on 5th May 2016, but you can pre order it now if you like, just by clicking HERE.

Here’s a little preview picture to get your green fingers twitching!!

Lottie, Dottie and a mystery bot all growing Pumpkins in their next adventure. Lottie, Dottie and a mystery boy all growing Pumpkins in their next adventure.

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GollanczFest 2015 – behold the awesome line-up (and, er, me!)…

GollanczFest 2015: 16th-18th October – Manchester and London

 

**STOP PRESS: LONDON AND MANCHESTER HAVE SOLD OUT, BUT THERE ARE STILL TICKETS AVAILABLE FOR THE WRITERS’ DAY ON SUNDAY 18TH**

This is going to be awesome, with an amazing line-up of authors including Joe Hill, Joe Abercrombie, Brandon Sanderson, Joanne Harris, Ben Aaronovitch and Sarah Pinborough, spread over four days starting Manchester and ending in London.

Day one: Friday 17th October, Waterstones Manchester Deansgate

I’m in the CLASS OF 2015 bit with Aliette De Bodard, Alex Lamb, Al Robertson and Tom Toner and it should be great fun…

Manchester - Room 1
Manchester – Room 1 (click to enlarge)
Manchester Room 2
Manchester Room 2 (Click to enlarge)

Day Two: Saturday 18th October, Waterstones Piccadilly.

This has officially sold out, but if you’re a lucky ticket holder, then I’ll be in the Class of 2015 bit again, with a slightly different, but no less awesome, line-up:  Antonia Honeywell, Alex Lamb, Al RobertsonTom Toner and Catriona Ward

London Room 1 (click to enlarge)
London Room 1 (click to enlarge)
London room 2 (click to enlarge)
London Room 2 (click to enlarge)

Day Three: Sunday 18th October, Waterstones Piccadilly – Writers’ day

This has just been added so grab your tickets now! If you’re a writer, this day is gold dust. If I weren’t already going, I’d be first in line for tickets. Top writers and agents (and, er me!) talking about their craft. Unmissable…

What a line up! (Click to enlarge)
What a line up! (Click to enlarge)

Friday and Sunday, Prince Charles Cinema screenings of Minority Report and The Prestige.

And after all that, why not kick back enjoy a couple of classic movies with introductions from Pat Cadigan and Joe Hill?

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prestige

Really hope to see you there. It’s going to be a blast.

 

I’ll be at the London Screenwriters’ Festival on Saturday 24th October…

London Screenwriters’ Festival, Saturday 24th October, 9-10am (Yes! AM!).

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Join me for a post-breakfast panel (bring your own croissants!) – should be good fun. Here’s the blurbery…

Robot Overlords is an unusual beast: a British indie family science fiction adventure movie starring Sir Ben Kingsley and Gillian Anderson, with a hefty (for the UK) VFX budget.

Join co-writer Mark Stay to see how this idea evolved from a two-page pitch to a finished film that premiered at the London Film Festival and topped the home entertainment charts.

Topics Mark will cover in-depth include:

Writing pitch documents

Working and writing with a director

Writing for VFX

The perils of British distribution!

Read the script (available in the booking & submissions page) then watch the movie on DVD/Blu-Ray or digital download ahead of the session to get the very most out of this in-depth dissection of one of the most ambitious UK genre films of the year.

For more info click here.

Film Nuts – Jon Wright and I chat to Mustapha Kseibati

Jon and I took a break from writing top-secret-new-thing the other day to chat with filmmaker and all-round good guy Mustapha Kseibati for his podcast FILM NUTS.

Mus is one of the most passionate filmmakers I know, and there’s nothing he loves more than a great, heartfelt, commercial movie. Just, whatever you do, don’t get him started on BACK TO THE FUTURE:  if you think I can go on about STAR WARS, you ain’t heard Mus bang on about BTTF!

Jon and I had really good laugh chatting to Mus about how we got started and how ROBOT OVERLORDS got off the ground. You can download the podcast from iTunes here, or stream it on Soundcloud:

Oh, and if you’ve not seen Mus’s latest short, MOHAMMED, you’re missing a real treat. Watch it here!

mohammed poster

Enjoy! Oh, and Jon – who’s not a podcast listener – isn’t convinced there’s anyone out there with the endurance to sit through an hour of us waffling on, so do please let me know if you do!