Long time readers of this blog will know that I’ve been looking back at my diaries from ten years ago, just as we were prepping to shoot Robot Overlords. This entry is from my last day in the day job (I was a sales manager at Orion Publishing) before taking a six-month sabbatical…
Saturday 25th May, 2013
Up early. Too many things rattling around my head. Not least a £1000 VAT demand for money we’ve not received. I’ll have to sort that out with the accountant, pronto.
Yesterday was full-on. It started with a text from Jon. The BFI are coming in to save our VFX and shoot budget, but not our deferred fees. Jon’s really pissed off.
Meanwhile, my agent Katie was apologetic, but at least had news of a meeting with someone at Left Bank in a couple of weeks (they liked Myths & Magic and want a general meeting).
It was also my last day in the office before rehearsals next week, so I was trying to tie-up all sorts of loose ends, while also enduring a launch meeting, and putting together a presentation to Gollancz. All done, though. Now it’s in Jennie’s hands.
To be clear: I got the VAT sorted! You don’t muck around where the taxman is concerned. And the Jennie I mentioned there was my colleague Jennie McCann who is now a managing director at a major publisher and is one of those people who is brilliant at whatever she turns her hand to. I had no qualms about leaving all my accounts in her hands.
Jon and I were so angry about the deferred fees thing. Not least as it was done without anyone giving us the opportunity to properly protest it. You can read more about my thoughts on that here
I don’t recall if that Left Bank meeting happened, but the project they liked — Myths & Magic — was an early version of what became The Witches of Woodville series. Back then, it was a TV series idea set in a modern day village, but I could never quite get it to work. It took years of going round in circles before I realised that writing it as a series of novels and setting it in the Second World War is what it needed to click into place.
Leaving the Orion office on a sabbatical was a big step and the first time I had ever done anything like this. I had fantasies that this was it, and I’d never be coming back, and it was a thrilling and liberating feeling. I was a writer. One who’d been paid to write a movie and a novel, and they were now flying me out to Belfast to rehearse with amazing actors on location. We were off! More on that tomorrow…