Rewrites ago-go (and other updates from the writing desk)

You may recall that I have a movie on the way! The last few months have seen some fun and frantic rewrites prompted by the usual pre-production budget and scheduling shenanigans. During all this I’ve seen concept art, storyboards, set designs, creatures and all kinds of exciting stuff. I’m hoping to be on set soon (once I get my COVID test results) and I reckon I might have some fun stuff to reveal to you all… 

New Books…

Apologies for being so cagey, but I do have a new book series on the go… It hasn’t officially been announced yet, so I’m not how much I should tell you, but if you were to, say, click here you might find out a little more…

I’ve just finished a draft of the second book in the series and it’s going out to a couple of trusted readers for their brutal feedback. I’ve also been shooting a trailer for the first book in the series. I hope it conveys the fun spookiness of the books, though I suspect the scariest thing in it is my lockdown hairdo. Here’s a still from the video and I hope to have the finished edit for you soon…

“Keep ’em peeled…”

The Bestseller Academy

The other thing that’s been keeping me off the streets is The Bestseller Academy. The brainchild of my co-presenter and m’learned colleague Mr Mark Desvaux the academy is a mix of craft and inner game coaching based on everything we’ve learned in nearly four years of the podcast. Our first intake is completely full, but if you want to know more you can sign-up with no obligation here…

Speaking of the Bestseller Experiment podcast, we’ve had a great run of guests recently, including Sadie Jones, James Swallow, Adele Parks, Rachel Winters and Patreon Deep Dives with Caimh McDonnell, Paul Ardoin and more. Have a listen and get inspired!

What’s Been Keeping Me Sane… 

Books

I’m still doing a lot of comfort reading and I dipped back into Pratchett again with GOING POSTAL, a book I didn’t really enjoy first time round. This was released at peak Pratchett, with two or three books coming out a year, plus spin-offs, and I think I took them for granted and whizzed through them. I gave it the time is deserved and it was a much more enjoyable read. Worryingly prescient too, what with certain orange-hued world leaders tinkering with the post office…

I was partly inspired to re-read Going Postal by Marc Burrows’ excellent biography The Magic of Terry Pratchett, which really reinvigorated my love of the man’s writing. Highly recommended if you’re a fan.

I also really enjoyed Ian W Sainsbury’s Bedlam Boy series. Released as three novellas in quick succession these are pacy and super violent and grimly satisfying.

Film & TV

I loved the first episode of Lovecraft Country, which ticks so many boxes for me: monsters, social commentary, monsters, a mysterious quest, monsters… I’ll definitely be watching more.

My son and I have been rewatching the James Bond films in order. Favourites so far are From Russia With Love, Goldfinger, On Her Majesty’s Secret Service, Diamonds Are Forever, Live and Let Die, and The Spy Who Loved Me. Octopussy is up next… ah well it was a good run.

Music

Did you know that Janelle Monáe write science fiction concept albums? I only just discovered the joys of Dirty Computer. This track is like Prince crashed the set of Tron and Bladerunner and I love it…

Neil Young’s Homegrown is a time capsule from his Harvest days and it’s truly magical…

And I’ve been brainstorming ideas to the score from Tales from the Loop by Paul Leonard-Morgan & Philip Glass. It’s as hypnotic as you’d expect…

Stay tuned…

Coming soon: shots from the set of The Little People, news on my book series, and a recipe for jam roly-poly. Tell your friends!

Till next time…

Mark

A big, ballsy declaration (don’t be chicken)

Howdy, this month’s chicken centrefold is Giz. Say hello to Giz…

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Visitors are always welcome to the writing room…

We’ve learned quite a few things on the Bestseller Experiment podcast, but the one lesson that’s really chimed with me is the importance of a deadline. And not only a deadline, but a big, public bastard declaration of a deadline that you can’t go back on without making yourself look a complete pillock and suffering big heapings of public shame when you don’t meet it.

It focuses the mind of a writer, forces you to make difficult decisions, doesn’t give you much time for self-doubt, and increases productivity. Just have a look at Brandon Sanderson’s website: he has little progression bars for each of his projects right there on the homepage, and I’m sure this plays a big part in maintaining his incredibly prolific output. Deadlines can be terrifying, but after a year of writing for the podcast I can tell you they bloody work. I still haven’t decided when I’ll make my next stupid declaration. Maybe by the end of this newsletter…? Who knows?

During the meanwhilst, our novel has been through an edit, another rewrite, and is currently with our copy editor. She’s currently getting forensic on its ass, and we look forward to getting a document riddled with notes pointing out our poor grammar, punctuation and identifying massive plot holes.

It’s also with a couple of advance readers. Just a handful at first, then we’ll take on their feedback and widen it out to others. The truth is, we don’t have much time, so if they come back with ‘It stinks, rewrite the whole thing and set it in 12th century Mongolia,’ then we’re kind of screwed. Fortunately, so far we’ve had ‘This isn’t what I expected, but I’m really enjoying it,’ comments (it really is unlike anything I’ve written before).

We’ve also had our first meeting with our cover designer, which was incredibly exciting and promises to be the most enjoyable part of the experiment if for no other reason than it’s our chance to torture a fellow creative. There will be some kind of cover reveal in the next month or so. Follow us on the Twitters, Facebook and Instagram to be the first to know.

I’ve also gone back to look at a couple of projects that I put aside in order to concentrate on the Bestseller Experiment. The first is a middle-grade science fiction adventure novel. I finished the first draft of this almost exactly a year ago, and I’m happy to say that it stands up to scrutiny pretty well. I’m giving it a light polish before sending it to my agent. My hope is that this will get picked up by a children’s publisher and be the first in a bestselling series, leading to big budget movies, action figures and inordinately expensive Lego kits.

The other project… Well, maybe it’s time for a big, stupid, ballsy, public declaration of a deadline? This project started as a book in 2008, then became a TV pilot script, then went back to being a book again, then was reduced to a treatment for another version of a TV show. It was an idea in search of a format and was in danger of being completely abandoned, but whenever I went back to it I knew that it had such rich potential. Another big lesson learned from the Bestseller Experiment is that a good series can be hugely successful. And it occurred to me that this project didn’t need to be just one book and it didn’t need to be restricted by TV and film budgets. It could be a series set in a single precinct, much like Robert Rankin’s Brentford, or Terry Pratchett’s Discworld where anything could happen. A kind of Midsomer Murders with magic, with a roster of characters and situations that will allow me to write about pretty much any theme I want to. It’s current working title is The Woodville Project after the school where I grew up (my parents were the school caretakers and I had the run of the fields and adventure playground… it was bloody brilliant).

So, my big, stupid, ballsy, public declaration is that I will write and self-publish three Woodville novellas in 2018. The first one in, pfft, I dunno… shall we say April? Fine, that’s a deal. Here we go!

Shit, what have I done?
Till next time!

Mark

PS. Of course this could all be scuppered by a really good film or TV deal coming along. I reserve the right to sell-out to Hollywood.

PPS. What’s your declaration? I promise not to tell anyone, but I will hold you to it. Life is short, what are you waiting for…? Ticking away the moments that make up a dull day…

PPS. Subscriber to my newsletter get this news first, so why not sign-up now? It’s Mailchimp, so no selling to spammers.

 

Welcome To Woodville…

Strange doesn’t even begin to describe it. To be the first to get news on this exciting new book series, sign-up to Mark Stay’s newsletter here.