A good working year, 2012. Broadly speaking, it was the year in which I tiptoed away from previously established franchises like Doctor Who and began to carve my own furrows, while continuing to collaborate with others on new things.
My latest spec feature script is a horror beast called, you guessed it, Evil Eye. I polished it off this year and look forward to my agent Matthew Dench sending it around in 2013. It's my favourite feature script of mine: a nasty and supernatural affair, so will be crossing fingers for it.
During the Summer, I decided to see how the whole Kindle 'indie publishing' thing worked. I wrote a 25,000-word novella called Beast In The Basement, based on an old TV spec script Happy Ever After. I was pleased to discover that it worked better in prose: for me, prose's real USP is its ability to take the reader right inside character's heads in a very direct and immersive way, and that's what I wanted to do with Beast, using the present-tense first-person virtually throughout.
Caroline Fish's wonderful book cover was such a classy finishing touch. In case you were wondering, that demonic thing on the cover is an actual 3D, physical paper model, with the book's title repeatedly typed upon it. My love for it is unconfined.
Beast In The Basement received great reviews at fast-reacting, author-friendly sites like The British Fantasy Society, Starburst, El Dink, The Eloquent Page, Byte The Book, The Fiction Stroker and The Reluctant Geek. I'm indebted to pretty much everyone who reviewed the book, whether on a site like those or at Amazon, for keeping spoilers under wraps. No mean feat.
Thanks to the magic of Twitter, Beast also opened doors at a traditional publishing company: an opportunity which I'll be investigating further in 2013.
Beast In The Basement came out fighting in September. The following month, I released this 10,000-word short story. This was perhaps unwise in terms of timing, coming so soon after Beast, but sometimes evil just needs to get out. One of the questions people often asked about Beast, before reading it, was "How scary is it?". I found that question quite hard to answer without spoiling the story (part of me suspects that Beast's old-school horror title has perhaps put off suspense-thriller readers, for instance, who might otherwise enjoy it.)
With A Sincere Warning About The Entity In Your Home, I wanted to write something which might justify me answering that same question with "Yeah, it's scary". Or at least I hope it is. The feedback has certainly suggested as much. Whereas Beast was about things like personal responsibility, censorship, hypocrisy and revenge, A Sincere Warning... is a ghost story, pure and simple. I don't believe stories always have to be about Big Things. No doubt there are a couple of themes floating about in there, but they're most likely highly unpleasant. Because I wanted the artwork to be simple and lo-fi, reflecting the story's assumed form, I created the cover myself with design help from John Higgs. That was quite the morning, sitting there cutting letters out of a newspaper and gluing them into place. The lack of an author's name on the cover was deliberate, as was the fact that the ebook starts immediately without the usual preamble blurb.
A Sincere Warning... was written as a letter to you, the reader, from the previous resident at your home. With that in mind, I thought it would be fun to also offer an alternative, premium edition: an actual letter, personalised to you and snail-mailed to your home! Why not? That's got to be fun, right? I honestly expected one in 500 buyers of the ebook to order these Paper Editions, but initially the Kindle and Paper Editions were neck-and-neck in terms of sales! I reacted to this unexpected demand by grabbing the URL ScaryLetter.com. I also grabbed ScaryLetters.com, so perhaps there may be another Scary Letter story in 2013/4, who knows...
This is my latest TV spec pilot, a non-genre piece about a female drug addict who leaves prison and struggles to stay clean and reconnect with her addiction counsellor husband and embittered teenage daughter. Again, this will be waved under the noses of production companies in 2013.
I've always liked comics but never got around to doing much writing for them (beyond the Eleventh Doctor story Earworm for Doctor Who Adventures magazine, which you can read for free here on this site.) This changed in 2012 when smart and switched-on editor Mike Garley got in touch about a new zombie anthology series called Dead Roots he was putting together. To be perfectly honest, I very much suffer from post-28 Days Later zombie fatigue, but that merely posed more of a challenge to try and find a different story to tell. The result is the seven-page Consumed, with brilliant art from Sarah Gordon. You'll get a chance to see it in 2013 and I hope you 'enjoy'. It's really quite grim. See below for a preview of Page One, minus speech bubbles and wordage.
This epic Big Finish production emerged in October. A four-hour mini series of audio plays which I wrote alongside Nicholas Briggs, Dominion stars the mighty Sylvester McCoy as the Seventh Doctor and The Thick Of It/Inbetweeners star Alex McQueen as the mysterious Future Doctor. There are also a several popular Big Finish characters involved, such as Elizabeth Klein and Raine Creevy, plus various new military types. It was so exciting to be involved with such an ambitious project, create new monsters like the Skyheads, Lava Spiders and marauding Cubes, and of course write for not just one, but two Doctors. I've been delighted by positive fan response to this audaciously globe-spanning affair and it's very nice indeed, as we enter Doctor Who's 50th anniversary year, to have a brand new release on the shelves.
Top genre site Bloody Disgusting let the lion out of the bag in October, reporting on the presence of a British feature film called Safari at the American Film Market. This is a script I've written for Round Table Productions, working up a fully fleshed story from their original brief and having a great time collaborating with script editor Ellis Freeman. I shouldn't say much more about it at this point, other than to confirm that it will be a horror film and is almost certainly much what you might think it is from that title! Gnash, munch, roar. We hope to have it shooting in 2013.
In 2012, I also drew a Dalek for charity and was very happy when it sold for £38, contributed to Lee 'Budgie' Barnett's Fast Fiction Challenge alongside the lofty likes of Neil Gaiman, Amanda Palmer and Warren Ellis, managed to find time to write two large pieces for my beloved Doctor Who Magazine (The A-Z Of Dread for the Halloween issue and the Review Of 2012, in the current issue at the time of writing) and became convinced that my building was on fire in the dead of night, thanks to the nefarious and excellent writings of John Higgs, whose KLF and Brandy books you really must read before everyone's doing it and you end up looking like some late and bedraggled copycat.
What next, for 2013? Some of the chunks above, like New TV Thing, Liberty Clothes and Safari, are obviously ongoing. I'm slowly but surely writing two non-fiction ebooks. The first is a big old pep-talk called 101 Writers' Fears And How To Deal With Them, while the second is a presently-untitled collection of my favourite articles I wrote as a rock journalist, back in the mists of time. This will include such merry tales as the time I found myself surrounded by angry men with submachine guns in Vatican City.
101 Writers' Fears will be finished first. I may run a pre-order scheme for it: perhaps something which allows you to order it in advance at a reduced price. We. Shall. See. Drop me a line and register interest in such a scheme, if you feel moved to do so. And as ever, keep your eyeballs trained on this very blog, as well as my official Facebook page, my Google+ and my Twitter.
Have the finest of all possible New Years. If you're a writer, then please ensure you attack 2013 with maximum zest and passion, or I shall hunt you down and physically force you into the Devil's toast rack. And you won't like that.
Want to feel afraid in your own home? My 10,000-word short story A Sincere Warning About The Entity In Your Home can help. Presented as a letter to YOU which is delivered to YOUR house, this grave warning from the previous resident tells you things you really don't want to hear. A Sincere Warning... can be purchased as a low-cost ebook or as a uniquely personalised physical letter which is mailed to your home address! Full details at ScaryLetter.com
Amazon UK, Amazon US and more. More details here.