Garden Poll

Thursday 1st December will be the day I officially start writing book two of The Garden saga. I’ve got a new publisher for it, although I can’t say any more than that at this point. However, before it’s release I shall be releasing an exclusive e-interlude, a short novella focussing on one of the lead upyr, in the same way that Serere, the e-exclusive prelude, focussed on Frederick and how he came to be obsessed with finding the Seeker.

Here’s your chance to influence the focus of the new interlude. Vote below for the upyr you’d most like to read more about, and if you want to tell me what it is you wish to learn more about, then please comment in the box provided.

 

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Space 1889 – Looking Back, part 2

In the second part of my look back at the Space: 1889 audio series, I talk to Richard Dinnick, my co-author on the final release from Noise Monster Productions, The Lunar Inheritance.

1) What interested you in Space: 1889 in the first place?

I am a complete sucker for “what if” scenarios and Space: 1889 slotted into that very well. The moment you and I got the gig from John, we ran all over the internet (metaphorically of course) seeking out information about the franchise. What we found really spurred us on: a fascinating environment with some wonderfully colourful characters and a huge scope for expansion. What else does a creative person need?
2) What difficulties did you face in converting a Role-playing Game scenario into a fully-fledged audio drama?

As John has said, he used the role-playing game books as a series bible. He sent this to us and we took a look. Remember, this isn’t a case of adaptation, this was merely a case of coming up with a story within the confines of someone else’s universe. In that respect it is just like writing for Doctor Who or Stargate with all the brilliant possibilities and sometimes limiting factors that come with that.

The one thing I was keen to do – having played a few role playing games myself – was keep that element of “how do we get out of this one?” or “in what way are they going to pull the rug from under us?” that embodies that relationship between player and games master. I guess I saw us as games masters and hopefully we managed to pull the rug by revealing that the Selenites were the Silanteans’ (the moon men) modems.

3) Who are your favourite characters?

It must be said that Frank Chadwick has done a superb job in fleshing out his vision of a Victorian Space Opera with very three-dimensional characters. This made our job a great deal easier. Annabelle was great; she’s feisty and well-capable of handling herself. Helen Goldwyn brought her to life splendidly. Her uncle – who was played by Garrick Hagon- wasn’t in our story very much but Doctor Cyrus Grant had a key role to play and you – who wrote the prison cell scene – brought him to life magnificently.

Of course, I suppose I am bound to say that I liked the characters that we came up with best because we had created them and fleshed them out. If I remember things correctly, you were behind the creation of William Brooker while I handled Captain Nathaniel Blake. Originally the Naval officer commanding Indomitable was going to be James Carter played by Anthony Daniels from the first Space: 1889 (Jonathan Clements’ Red Devils) audio drama! Alas, his schedule meant we had to create our own officer, which was a boon because I think he’s a great character. Yes, Blake is my favourite.

4) Your three favourite moments in The Lunar Inheritance are…?

I don’t think I will ever forget the email that said we had got the job. This was my first audio commission and I was extremely excited! So that has to be highlight number one.

The actual writing of the play took an age. We had a first draft and then a second (with changed and new characters to slot in and a new sub-plot to add) and then we had notes on that which had to be incorporated. It took a while, but it was an invaluable learning process and John was incredibly supportive, nurturing and positive.

There was one scene in the great elevator where I wrote a stage direction saying that there was balalaika music playing in the background. John said, “I’m not sure we’ll be able to get that, Richard!”, and that was when I realised that all the sound effects and music would have to be sourced and the job involved in that. It made me think about the ensemble team a lot more and served me well when I went on to write for Big Finish’s Sapphire & Steel range. So, the second highlight? When I got the CD and sat down to listen to the finished version, there was the balalaika playing in the background as Blake and K’chuk try to bluff Colonel Molatov. Simon Robinson had come up trumps! I was stupidly happy about that!

Finally, being in studio for the recording was a massive buzz. I will never tire of hearing a script brought to life by a talented group of artists marshalled by an equally gifted director. That recording was great for so many reasons. It cemented my friendship with John and he introduced me to Nick Briggs, who has become a great friend and person to work for.

5) What’s coming next from you?

I am beavering away at so many things right now. I was a finalist in a BBC Writers’ Room opportunity to create a TV Show for CBeebies and I have been asked to deliver a revised script and tone document. I have a script and a book to write as well as a graphic novel idea and a drama series idea to pitch to the right people! And this is all by the end of November!

In terms of releases: The Big Finish Companion is out and we’re launching it at the Dimensions convention in Newcastle before flying off to Chicago. Also before the end of November! The tour continues at the Gallifrey One convention in LA come February and thence at Big Finish Day 2, Invasion and Regenerations.

December sees my adaptation of The Hound of the Baskervilles released in the Big Finish Sherlock Holmes range. That’s followed by my adaption of David Stuart Davies’s The Tangled Skein. I am very proud of this series as I was also assistant producer on them under Nick.

Then I’ve got my First Doctor Companion Chronicle due in May – The Wanderer. At some point next year my Stargate audio will see the light of day along with three unannounced projects I am working on or will be working on soon!

Thanks to Richard for his time, and if you’re curious about his latest work, why not pop over to the Sci-Fi Bulletin and check out their review of The Big Finish Companion.

Become a Villain Competition Results

And it’s all over. Our first Space: 1889 & Beyond competition closed yesterday. A big thank you to all who took part and sent your answers in. The question we asked was simple enough; “which world bookends series one?” and the answer was, of course, Luna (featured in both the opening and closing stories of series one)! We had many responses, some wrong and some right. But, as is the way of things, there could only be one winner. And with the help of Mark Michalowski, author of this month’s The Ghosts of Mercury, we picked out three names at random.

The 1st Prize was a chance to be immortalised in literature by becoming a villain in the second series of Space: 1889 & Beyond, and receive a free copy of the new book, The Ghost of Mercury. And the winner of that first prize is… LISBETH LARIVIERE!

The two runner-up prizes were free copies of The Ghosts of Mercury, and the winners of those are… GASPAR QUELHAS LIMA TAMEERIS and JASON HILTON.

Well done and congratulations to all three winners, and a final big thank you (again!) to all who took part. 🙂

Read the wonderful reviews of the latest book, at Sci-Fi Bulletin.

 

Mark Michalowski is BACK… with ghosts!

Thank you all for bearing with us, but now, at long last, we can announce that The Ghosts of Mercury is live!

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Born in 1963 in Chesterfield, Derbyshire, Mark Michalowski studied sciences at school with the bizarre idea of becoming a parapsychologist. He studied psychology at Sheffield University for two years and then hung about for a couple of years, having decided that his future lay in graphic design, and moved to Leeds.

He worked as a graphic designer for three and a half years before deciding that his future lay in teaching, so he got a BEd at Leeds Metropolitan University before doing a year’s teaching – which convinced him that his future certainly didn’t lay in teaching.

So, together with his then-partner, Mike, he started up Shout!, a gay paper for Yorkshire, which has been going steadily since 1995.

His first paid-for piece of writing was a short story, Digging Up The Past in the anthology, The Dead Men Diaries in 2000. Since then he’s written several more novels, short stories, magazine article – and even a comic strip! These works includes the likes of four Doctor Who novels, and a novel based on the hit-BBC TV series, Being Human.

You can discover more about Mark’s varied career at his official website, www.markmichalowski.co.uk

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I recently asked him a few questions about his work on Space: 1889 & Beyond

AF-A: What interested you in Space: 1889 & Beyond in the first place?

MM: There was something fascinating about the mash-up between the Victorian era, with all its rampaging colonialism, repression and desire for exploration (and assimilation) – and space travel and futuristic technology that appealed to me. And once I started thinking about it, it seemed to fit perfectly with the philosophy of ‘The Big Bad’ in The Ghosts of Mercury. And what philosophy was that, you ask? Spoilers!!!

AF-A: What difficulties did you face in converting a Role-playing Game scenario into a fully-fledged prose novel?

MM: To be honest, I’d never played the game, but I’d heard – and loved – the Space: 1889 audio adventures – they had a real sense of wonder and derring-do about them. And, for me, there’s always something more interesting about confronting a cast of characters with things utterly beyond their previous experiences, and having their worldviews challenged in a way that there isn’t with experienced space-travellers.

AF-A: Who are your favourite characters?

MM: All of them have their fascinating sides, but – and I’ll just take my modesty hat off for a moment and sit it on the desk beside me – I adore Arnaud Fontaine, a character that you asked me to create specifically for the series. In fact, I may be a tiny bit in love with him: he’s irreverent, cheeky and seems to be the perfect foil for Nathanial.

AF-A: Your three favourite moments in The Ghosts of Mercury are…?

MM: Three favourite moments, hmmm…? There are so many to choose from (he says, eyeing up his modesty hat) – not necessarily great big whopping moments, but lots of little conversations and moments. I love writing dialogue more than action scenes, and my favourites are quiet scenes where the characters show us a little bit more about themselves.

It’s really hard to choose, but I’ll go with…

The first scene between Annabelle and Nathanial, as they’re unpacking, seems to sum up the relationship between the two of them: a little bit sparky but with humour and real compassion for each other. They bicker like a married couple – almost like newlyweds on their honeymoon.

Annabelle’s first proper encounter with a ghost – because it seems to sum up Annabelle’s pluckiness with her genuine surprise and fear.

Our heroes’ encounter with Hermes – where I get to have lots and lots of philosophising and talking! Science fiction, for me, is a genre of ideas, rather than action, so to have a whole chapter which is little more than dialogue is lovely.

And, of course, any scene between Nathanial and Arnaud! Ask me again in a few weeks and I’ll probably find different scenes to pick.

AF-A: So, what can your fans expect next from you?

MM: Next? Well I’m already working on a story for the next season of Space: 1889 & Beyond in which I get to pick up one or two threads from The Ghosts of Mercury and take them a little bit further. I’ve been sprucing up my website, too, and have been asked to pitch for a short story collection edited by Paul Magrs, which, as always, should be great fun.

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And so, now, allow me to share with you an excerpt from The Ghosts of Mercury

There was a sudden, sharp knock at the door. Nathanial looked from one colonel to the other. There was a moment of awkwardness before the ghost colonel suddenly caught on.

“Oh, you think I should go?”

“Probably wise,” said the Shawbridge with a curt nod. “Whoever it is, seeing two of us in here might be a bit much—for now at least.”

The ghost nodded. “Fair enough. I’ll, um, see you chaps later then?”

“I do hope so, Colonel,” said Nathanial.

And then, without a sound, the ghost simply winked out of existence. There was another, firmer, knock.

“Come in,” said Nathanial, and the door was opened by Iris McConnon, looking very pale and shaken.

“Colonel,” she said. “Professor Stone. Sorry for the interruption, but something very strange is happening and I thought you ought to know.”

“What is it, Iris?”

“These ghosts, sir…”

“What about them?”

“You need to come and see. They’re everywhere.” Her eyes were wide and her face pale. “It’s like we’re being invaded.”

*

Shawbridge and Nathanial followed Iris out into the gloom; in the distance, they could hear much muttering and a few astonished cries.

“They’re everywhere,” Iris said as they reached the main square of Princess Christiana Station. Little huddles of people were standing around, pointing and crying. Some of them were shouting, their fists raised.

And around each little group, there were ghosts.

Some of them were as solid and concrete as Shawbridge’s own ghost had been earlier, but most of them were hazy phantoms, displaying the same flickering and shifting that had been reported in earlier sightings.

“Right!” bellowed Shawbridge at the top of his voice. “There’s no need to panic.”

A woman in a nurse’s uniform with a coat wrapped around her shoulders came running over. “Sir,” she said, her voice heavily accented. Nathanial caught sight of her name badge: Nurse Juanita Lopez. “I have seen one—and it was me!”

Shawbridge threw a glance at Nathanial. “Is that so, Nurse? Well trust me, there’s no need to worry—”

“But it was me!” she repeated, patting her chest. “I am going to die, aren’t ? I’m going to die!”

Mercury: a planet of two faces – one side cloaked in eternal darkness, the other blistered by eternal sunshine. And balanced between the two is the World River, encircling the globe.

Professor Nathanial Stone and his ward, Annabelle Somerset visit Mercury for what they imagine will be a pleasant trip to visit Annabelle’s uncle.

But tragic death precedes them – a death that provokes a chain of mysterious and terrifying events that challenge Nathanial and Annabelle’s long-held beliefs. Before long, they – with the assistance of French geologist, Arnaud Fontaine – discover something ancient and powerful that has designs on humanity.

“Michalowski inserts some soul into this latest steampunk adventure.” – Sci-Fi Bulletin

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The Ghosts of Mercury is now available from the following e-stores;

The Untreed Reads Store (http://bit.ly/sGWqDu)

Amazon.com (Amazon Canada, Amazon Germany, Amazon France, Amazon UK)

Scribd

DriveThruFiction.com

OmniLit.com

Barnes and Noble

Apple iBookstore (32 countries)

Lightning Source (a distributor, primarily North America)

… and will soon be available in every other e-book stockists out there.

The Ghosts of Mercury © 2011 Mark Michalowski and Untreed Reads Publishing.

Space: 1889 & Beyond © & ™ 1988/2011 Frank Chadwick.

All Rights Reserved.