Graeme

Writer's Blog

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

August 30, 2012

  • Second Printing!
  • Too late for Fan Expo (alas) but finally here! The second printing of Who is the Doctor has arrived!

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    Yes, that is a TARDIS shaped mug on my desk at work.

    What’s different about the second printing? Mostly, we’ve fixed a bunch of mistakes, like the really embarassing one that inadvertently claimed Sydney Newman was responsible for Coronation Street and a bunch of airdates we got wrong (worst offender: The Time Warrior which was broadcast in 1973 but we said was broadcast in 1974. Every time!). We clarified a couple of convoluted claims. And we now correctly spell Gareth Roberts’ last name in one key instance.

    It looks even more lovely than the first printing. Why not order it and own two copies of Who is the Doctor!

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    August 28, 2012

  • FanExpoed!
  • Wow. That was some weekend.

    For those who have never been to Fan Expo Canada in Toronto… it’s hard to explain. It’s several hundred thousand fans of TV shows and comics in a ginormous convention centre. It’s crowded, but often the person in front of you is dressed like Yvonne Craig’s Batgirl (or something similar) so you find yourself not minding quite so much.

    Dr. Smith? and I were there to promote Who is the Doctor. The Doctor Who Society of Canada were nothing short of amazing. They rounded up a huge consignment of copies of the book to sell. Lucky thing. ECW Press were hoping to have the 2nd printing of the book in but it got delayed getting across the border from the printer in the US. Consequently, the only copies of the book at the con were at the DWSC table.\

    Right from the start Robert and I were thrown into the maelstrom, beginning with being interviewed by SPACE. I did slightly better than my interview at the launch (though I still look pained on air!). Dr. Smith? however handled it like a pro…

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    I hate him and his easy, telegenic manner…

    In the midst of the insanity, two cool things happened: the first was that I found a beat-up copy of Justice League of America #3 for $50. (Not bad for the third issue, published 50 years ago!). The second was that, after several interminable line-ups and sitting in on the InnerSpace panel, Robert and myself got tickets to go to the special screening of Asylum of the Daleks a week before it airs on TV! Here’s me with my “Charlie found the Golden Ticket!” pose…

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    I signed my life away in non-disclosure agreements and agreed to turn in my phone before the screening (and they had security patrolling the screening with night vision goggles to ensure no trouble), so I can’t really say much about the episode. Except that it’s awesome. Oh you’re in for a treat.

    The big day for us was Sunday. That’s when Dr. Smith? and myself did our big panel…Here we are with panel moderator, the Doctor Who Society’s Mike Deed.

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    We knew from our Doctor Who Society friends that FanExpo had booked a room too small for the crowd. (They tried to negotiate a bigger space, but failed, though their effort was valiant). Which was frustrating because we filled a 200+ seat room at Toronto Comic Con and it was the only panel talking about Doctor Who all weekend. People lined up over an hour to get in. In the end it was standing room only. I counted over 170 people. Our editor, Jen Hale, had to beg to get in!

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    So we’re in a room that’s packed to capacity. Good thing we know how to talk about Doctor Who…

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    It was a fantastic panel, and everyone seemed to love it.

    We had a great signing afterward. Indeed we had great signings every day. It’s humbling to be told there’s a 12 year old boy waiting at the DWSC table to have his copy of Who is the Doctor signed. We also had an unbelievably enthusiastic teenaged girl come by having already throughly read the book. And there were all sorts of people who came and brought their copy having purchased the book before and having noticed we were there, which was really cool.

    We had all sorts of people come by. In the end we sold every copy the Doctor Who Society brought. Woo hoo!

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    I had a lovely time hanging out with people I don’t get to see often, like Mark Askwith from Space and author J.M. Frey. Probably the nifitiest thing that happened all weekend was being able to have the opportunity to hang out with Dan Slott, the writer of the Spider-Man comic book for Marvel. (Who is also a massive Doctor Who geek. Yes, I gave him a copy of my book!)

    We also had a great time talking with our pals from ECW Press, especially our esteemed editor, Jen Hale, who had some great news for us (that we’ll tell you about later).

    Both Robert and myself would really like to thank the Doctor Who Society of Canada, especially Mike Deed and Cindy Peters, for their incredible work in making everything—our attendance, our signings and our panel—happen. Their work was absolutely astounding. And we’re very grateful to them.

    And we really had a great time talking to fans of various sorts. For all the madness that is FanExpo what can’t be denied is that it’s populated by creative, thoughtful people who care about popular culture. What’s not to love about that?

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    August 21, 2012

  • FanExpo!
  • Well, isn’t this kind of cool: Robert and myself among the Author Guests at this year’s FanExpo in Toronto! FanExpo is the mega mega convention in Toronto. Huge guest list (including Doctor Who and Torchwood’s John Barrowman!), loads of exhibitor space, and tons of cosplaying crazy kids!

    Robert and myself will be doing a panel on Who is the Doctor (the only fan panel on Doctor Who the whole weekend) on Sunday at 3 pm. We’ll also be signing at the ECW Press booth (556) at 1 pm on Sunday, and signing after our panel at the Doctor Who Society of Canada table (L94) on Sunday at 4pm. There will also be a signing on Saturday at the Doctor Who Society table as well at some point, and we’ll be at the Elephant and Castle on King Street for the Doctor Who Society FanExpo after party on Saturday night.

    Plenty of opportunities for you to say hi, ask us any questions about Doctor Who or or book and even get us to sign your copy. If you see us, stop by and say hello! Don’t be shy!

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    August 13, 2012

  • Break the Format
  • I was interviewed at an ungodly hour today for the Preacher’s Podcast, (which is a Doctor Who podcast and nothing to do with religion). Along with a lot of questions about Who is the Doctor I was taken aback by being asked “What advice would you have to aspiring writers?”

    I fumbled through a somewhat decent answer, but it did make me think: what was the best advice I was ever given as a writer?

    Once again, I go back to Andy Lane. Poor Andy has no idea how influential he’s been to me. Not only did he write my first rejection letter, not only did he inspire my first published short story, but he gave me the best bit of advice on writing fiction I’ve ever been given.

    imageIt was 1998 and I was living in Britain at the time I was out with him and some other friends, drinking somewhere, probably at the Fitzroy Tavern. (As I recall, it might have been when Dave Owen was in London on a visit). I was loudly complaining about some reviewing I was doing for Dreamwatch magazine at the time. I was the go-to guy for reviewing “uncategorized” materials (stuff that weren’t Star Trek. Doctor Who, X-Files and the like). At the time, one of those things was a recent series of novels based on the film The Crow. I had read two or three of them by that point and I was sick to death of them.

    “The trouble with them is it’s impossible to write a good one.” I opined, probably with the aid of dreadful Samuel Smith beer, “Every book rigidly sticks to a formula.” The formula being (and forgive me if I don’t have this quite right, it’s been almost 15 years): a person in love is murdered, and the violence of their murder and the intensity of their love cause them to be resurrected by the power of the Crow to wreak terrible revenge. Every novel closely hewed to it. No matter what trappings they added to it, it never escaped the format.

    Andy looked at me and said. “It’s easy. Break the format.” A micro-second’s pause and he demonstrated it to me. “Two people in love with the same person die violently and are resurrected by the Crow, and they wreak revenge on their killers while trying to kill the other to get their love.”

    It was staggeringly brilliant.

    Ever since, anything I’ve done—short stories, screenplays, non-fiction, even my professional communications work—has stopped and asked the questions: What’s the format? and How can I break the format?.

    It’s a beautiful piece of advice that says you don’t have to be beholden to anything in writing. The best things to write are the things that challenge a common assumption.

    I’ve only seen Andy once in the past decade (in Los Angeles in 2008). I hope I bought him some drinks then. I still owe him some now for that.

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    August 01, 2012

  • Briefly…
  • I’m back from a cycling holiday on Prince Edward Island. 7 days, 308 km (191 miles). Muscles I never knew I had are currently aching. Here’s a picture of me on the road, by the sea. (Not seen: the road.)

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    Not much else to report… oh, just one thing: Who is the Doctor is getting a second printing. That’s rather gratifying to hear.

    Once I’ve recovered from cycling (and get caught up my day job) I’ll try to get back to writing some columns for this website. No, really!

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