Graeme

Writer's Blog

A place where I write about the writing life and writing projects in progress
 

January 25, 2012

  • Screenwriting 101
  • If any of you are in Gatineau or happen to be in need of Anime this weekend, My co-author Robert Smith? and myself will be at the G-Anime convention at the Palais des congrès de Gatineau (just over the Ottawa river from parliament, near the Museum of Civilization). My knowledge of Anime pretty much ends with Star Blazers and Battle of the Planets (though I liked what Cowboy Bebop I saw) but Robert and myself will be selling our books and spending some time there on Sunday.

    In addition to this Robert will be doing his famous “Zombie Math” talk (which is, actually, really amazing. I highly recommend it) and I will be doing a talk entitled “Screenwriting 101”, talking about the basics of writing a script. So if you’re there and you’re curious to see how I stammer through an actual talk for 45 minutes, feel free to stop by!

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    January 24, 2012

  • Writer Held Hostage
  • The Stage 32 website is currently serializing in its blog a gripping tale of a writer on a project that is barely being kept together while not getting paid.

    The writer in question is novelist and screenwriter Doug Richardson, and the film is the 2005 Bruce Willis vehicle Hostage. Richardson set off to spend three weeks doing a probably-unpaid polish of a script…and ended up spending two years on the project, mostly not getting paid.

    It’s one of those nightmare scenarios: a project that just sucks more and more out of you, exhilarating you but not remunerating you either. Well worth a read.

    You can read part one, part two, part three and part four. There’s more to come and I’ll update this accordingly.

    Update (March 11): Part five and a postscript are now available.

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    January 21, 2012

  • Dunzo
  • That’s the heading of the e-mail from our editor, Jen Hale, telling us that, 14 months and a half months after I first sent Robert Smith? my entry for The End of the World (the first episode entry I worked on for the book), Who is the Doctor: The Unofficial Guide to Doctor Who - The New Series is officially done. Our final changes to the proofs are in. Copy edits and structural edits completed long ago. The final checks are done. This puppy is going to the printer.

    I feel like someone emerging from a deep mine, blinking at sunlight, not quite making out shapes.

    Of course we’re still discussing the back cover text, so we’re not quite finished yet…

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    January 11, 2012

  • Blurb Me!
  • image

    Well, by the time you get to look at Who is the Doctor, dear reader, the back cover will have a few quotes from some nice people saying nice things about our book.

    It is a process known in the business as a “blurb”. And in our case we had some great people write a blurb for us including:

    Robert Shearman (writer of Dalek and a bunch of amazing short fiction anthologies, my favourite of which, Tiny Deaths, won a World Fantasy award)

    Mark Shepppard (one of my favourite actors: he played Canton Delaware III in The Impossible Astronaut / Day of the Moon; to me he’ll always be Romo Lampkin from Battlestar Galactica and Charles Walker from Medium)

    Benjamin Cook (the incredibly talented interviewer and writer for Doctor Who Magazine; he’s going to eventually take what he’s doing to the Sunday newspaper magazines and become huge. He also co-wrote The Writer’s Tale with Russell T Davies)

    Oh, and a guy named Neil Gaiman. Apparently he’s written some stuff. Have you ever heard of him?

    Getting a blurb involves getting in touch with the people in question, sending them an advance copy of the book (in our case the PDF of the first five seasons) and a nice note explaining what you’re doing and hoping they don’t mind spending a little time looking at the manuscript and writing a couple of lines.

    Rob Shearman is an old friend, so it was more an issue of getting a hold of him (he has a phenomenally busy schedule). I got to know Ben Cook a little at Chicago TARDIS last November—I’ve long been an admirer of his work—and I contacted him through Twitter. Both Rob and Been have said some really nice things about Who is the Doctor and I owe them several drinks in the not-too-distant future.

    I also briefly met Mark Sheppard in Chicago. I’ve been a fan of his work and love seeing him at conventions because he’s a genuine fan too; he cares about the shows we watch (he’s said really thoughtful things about Doctor Who, for example, long before he was ever a guest star). I mentioned Who is the Doctor to him and he asked if we wanted to interview him (it wasn’t that kind of book, but I didn’t get a chance to finish our conversation). I was able to get in touch via a friend who had his e-mail address. I wasn’t sure if he would do it but he sent us a lovely quote.

    As for Neil Gaiman… I honestly didn’t think we’d get a quote from him. My editor, Jen, and I have a mutual friend who knows Neil so I wrote a note to Neil (that tried not to gush too much about his work) and talked about what we were trying to do with the book and I sent it off to Jen, who looked at it and sent it off to our friend, who sent it off to Neil. I then thought no more about it.

    The next morning, my friend sent an e-mail back with what I thought was my friend’s funny and enthusiastic comments on the book. I chuckled and called to my wife Julie to read them to her. Sent a friendly note back, along the lines of “Another satisfied customer! Happy to help!” My friend wrote back, “That was really nice of Neil. He’s very busy.”

    And that’s when it suddenly twigged: That wasn’t my friend who wrote that. That was Neil Gaiman.

    In the immortal words of comedian Dave Broadfoot, When I regained consciousness…

    All in all I was thrilled to get the response we did. It’s phenomenally encouraging to see that the book has already made a connection. Here’s hoping the rest of you like it as well!

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    January 08, 2012

  • BRAAAIIINNNSSS!
  • imageI have been very remiss in not pointing out that my friend of 16 years, co-editor, co-author (and interrobang fetishist) Robert Smith? had a book of his own out this past fall. BRAAAIIINNNSSS! From Academics to Zombies is a book, published by the University of Ottawa Press which takes Robert’s mathematical modelling of a zombie outbreak and applies it to other academic disciplines.

    It’s a great book. OK I’ve only read 4 essays in it (most notably my old friend Adam Smith’s piece on democracy and zombies—Adam has one the finest brains in political theory alive today) but they’re all great. And even if I haven’t read it all, a reviewer for the Ottawa Citizen did and he gave it a pretty good review.

    As Tom Spears says in his review, Robert has come up with a novel way of bringing some fairly dry academic practices to the masses. The academy needs more people like Robert—and I’d say that even if he wasn’t among my best friends and collaborators.

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