Friday, February 03, 2006

Sarah Jane Smith and other Forthcoming Attractions

Thought I'd offer a run-down of my forthcoming attractions due to be released during 2006. These have all been contracted and the work already done on most, so I think it's safe to talk about them. Past experience makes me rather gun shy of talking about projects before everything's signed, sealed and delivered. I was once verbally contracted to write a celebrity biography of Gwyneth Paltrow. I then spent a fair wad of cash acquiring the necessary research materials and watching every film the actress had made to that point - all 27 of them. Alas, the verbal contract never turned into a written contract and all that effort was wasted. The publisher was apologetic, but it taught me a valuable lesson - no job's real until the money's in your account or the contracts have been signed, whichever comes first.

SARAH JANE SMITH: Big Finish is now banging the drums for this series of four audio dramas, starring Elisabeth Sladen as the former TARDIS traveller. It's a year since producer/director John Ainsworth first approached me about writing all four of these scripts as an interlinked quartet of adventures. This was before Doctor Who's triumphant return to television and long before it was announced Sarah Jane Smith would be returning to the show for an episode to be broadcast in 2006. The first series of SJS audios were released in 2002, so the second series has been a while. That fact that these new audios coincidence with Sarah's TV comeback is just that - a coincidence. The plots for my scripts had to be approved by the Doctor Who production office in Cardiff [many thanks to script editor Helen Raynor for giving them the nod], but I still have absolutely no knowledge of what happens to Sarah in her new TV appearance. It'll be interesting to see the differences and similarities in how the show handles the character. The first SJS audio, Buried Secrets, is due out in the next week or two, with three more to follow...

NIKOLAI DANTE: Honour Be Damned! is my third novel starring the swashbuckling Russian rogue in the 27th Century. Created by Robbie Morrison and Simon Fraser for 2000 AD, Dante made his first appearance nine years ago in the weekly comic and quickly became a readers' favourite. I was lucky enough to be editor of the weekly comic at the time and helped nurture Dante's first few years, although the character had been commissioned by my predecessors at the Command Module, John Tomlinson and Steve MacManus. I've had a blast writing Nikolai's novels for Black Flame, but it looks like Honour Be Damned! will be the last. This one's a saucy romp set in future Britain, complete with caber tossing, tourist traps and palace intrigue. I believe the book's due out by the end of this month in the UK, with a US release in March.

THE COMPLETE INSPECTOR MORSE: Work continues fitfully on revising and updating my reference guide to Colin Dexter's detective. My target is to get the text for this finished by February 15, which will require a barnstorming effort in the next two weeks. The cover image shown is for the first edition, published in 2002. The new version will be bigger, better and in hardback - who could ask for anything more? It's due out in March or April, assuming I get the text finished in time.

FIENDS OF THE EASTERN FRONT: Regular readers must be sick to the back teeth of those five words. They certainly occupied most waking moments for me over the festive period. Anyway, the second book of my Fiends trilogy, The Blood Red Army, is due out in April and the sequence concludes with Twilight of the Dead in August. I'm also working on a Fiends comic serial, with Colin MacNeil attached as artist. Originally it was planned as six episodes of eight pages each, but it's now being reformatted as eight episodes of six pages each. I've cut two pages from each of the first two episodes and they're better as a result - tighter and tauter. Rather than try to stretch four episodes of plot over the remaining six scripts, I'll now be able to include some extra sequences into the narrative. Can you say Panzerkrieg?

THE PHANTOM: I've got scripts in seven issues of Fantomen coming out this year - five of my own invention, and two written from Hans Lindahl plots. The picture shown here is the Phantom in the Temple of the Gods, as depicted by Paul Ryan and Tom Smith. Paul is drawing one of my scripts later this year, an episode from the Temple of the Gods sequence. In fact, that's the script I should be writing right now. Must hurry up and finish this blog entry, so I can do some paying work...

RADIO PLAY: Last but certainly not least, my first radio play is due for broadcast sometime this summer on Radio 4. The first draft has been handed in and later this month all five writers contributing to the week-long collection of stories are meeting in Glasgow for some cross-fertisliation of scripts and characters. Then it's on to the second draft. I'm looking forward to working with producer/director David Ian Neville, finding out how I can improve my script and my writing. Right now every nugget of advice is highly prized and I want more.

Now, time to do some work...

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