Category Archives: real life

Nicholas Courtney Memorial

brigadierGuys and gals, we need your help! We, at Candy Jar Books, are in the process of putting together a brand new website for Lethbridge-Stewart. One section will be a memorial where fans and professionals can share their memories and pictures of the late, great Nicholas Courtney, the man behind the Brigadier.

If you have a story, or a picture, to share, then please email them to me on andy@candyjarbooks.co.uk (subject: Nick Courtney Memories). Look forward to hearing from you.  🙂

Origin of the Ancestry

The Forgotten Son has been out almost three weeks (or more, if you pre-ordered it) and it has garnered a lot of positive feedback, with mostly four-star reviews. People seem to really love it, which bodes well for the series as a whole.

But there is one point raised by a few readers which I want to address here. In The Forgotten Son I establish that Alistair Lethbridge-Stewart was born in Cornwall. This has confused some readers, who tell me ‘but he’s Scottish’. Which leaves me to wonder; is he? From where did you get this information?

1301aMy first source of reference is, and always will be, the television series. I have watched every story featuring the Brigadier many times, not only since 1988 when I was first introduced to the character, but also for research purposes. The only story which even suggests his origins is Terror of the Zygons, the season thirteen opener which is set in Scotland. In the early moments of the episode the Doctor, Sarah and Harry arrive at the Fox Inn to find the Brigadier in a kilt. What follows is this conversation:

SARAH: Anyway, it’s nice to see you again, Brigadier.

BRIGADIER: And you, Miss Smith.

SARAH: Though I didn’t expect to see you in a kilt.

BRIGADIER: My dear Miss Smith, as you remember, my name is Lethbridge-Stewart. The Clan Stewart.

SARAH: Oh, sorry. I thought you were doing a Doctor.

BRIGADIER: What an absurd idea.

At the end of the story, the Duke of Forgil questions the Brigadier for not taking back the Doctor and Sarah’s return tickets to British Rail and getting a refund; ‘I thought you were a Scotsman,’ he says, and receives a bemused smirk from the Brigadier.

From these two exchanges it would appear that many have drawn the conclusion that the Brigadier is Scottish. Which is, on the surface, fair enough. (Of course, that he was originally in the Scots Guards could be used to back up this conclusion, except not every officer in the Scots Guards is Scottish.) However, a few points seem to be ignored when drawing this conclusion. The Brigadier does not sound Scottish in the slightest, which at least suggests he was not raised in Scotland or the north of England, and, most importantly, his name.

Exif_JPEG_PICTUREI looked it up, trying to discover where ‘Lethbridge’ originates, and it would appear to have come from a place name in Devon that no longer exists. The family name was derived from this place and has, over the centuries, been altered to the current form of ‘Lethbridge’. Indeed, to this day, the Lethbridge Baronets are a large and distinguished part of Devon heritage. From this it is clear that at least half of the Brigadier’s ancestry is English, while the other half is, as stated in Terror of the Zygons, Scottish as a once-part of the Clan Stewart.

None of which suggests he was necessarily born in Scotland – granted, beyond his accent, there’s nothing to suggest he wasn’t born in Scotland either. So, taking my cue from other Doctor Who media beyond the TV, I decided that the Brigadier wasn’t born in Scotland at all, as his accent suggests – an accent refined by schooling, no doubt. I went for Cornwall simply because of its proximity to Devon and the fact that the Brigadier always seems so at home whenever we see in villages on television.

stewart-clan-crestAs an interesting addition, in Lance Parkin’s The Dying Days, published in 1997, we learn about William Lethbridge-Stewart who was a friend of King James VI. Seeing no reason to contradict this, I have merged this information with soon-to-be established information, as seen in this excerpt from a yet-to-be released document called A Brief History of the Lethbridge-Stewarts:

‘The first recorded Lethbridge-Stewart was William Stewart, born in 1567. He was of the Clan Stewart, a relative of the Stuart Kings of Scotland.  He grew up to be friends with James VI, and was with him when the young king claimed the English throne after the death of Elizabeth I in 1603. By this time William had already met and married Mary Lethbridge, the daughter of the influential Lethbridge family in England – a marriage that was only approved on the condition that the Lethbridge name be maintained in conjunction with the Stewart name.’

And thus the ancestry of the Brigadier is explained in a way that does not contradict what’s been established on television, and successfully extrapolates information given and real life fact.

As an aside, William Lethbridge-Stewart was, one imagines, named after Nicholas Courtney himself, whose full name was William Nicholas Stone Courtney. Naming fictional characters after the real life people who inspired them is a fine tradition of authors all over the world, and one I like to keep alive. Indeed, in the Lethbridge-Stewart series I have named several characters after real people, or people that are connected to those who inspire the characters. Like Colonel Pemberton, a character referenced in the television story, The Web of Fear, who was named by writer Mervyn Haisman after his good friend Victor Pemberton, Doctor Who author and script editor. As a tribute to Pemberton’s life-partner I christened the character with the full name of Spencer David Pemberton (Victor’s partner was actor/producer David Spenser, who died in July 2013). There are other characters inspired by real people in The Forgotten Son – whoever can name the most, will receive a special prize from me (responses in the comments below, or email me: andy@candyjarbooks.co.uk).

The Year That Was… 2014

So, that was 2014, eh? What a year it’s been. Turbulent. In turns awful, in turns amazing. Personal failures that led to new bouts of personal strength, and the end of one of my favourite publishing jobs which came about just in time for what is almost certainly going to be my most favourite publishing job yet!

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Personally life has been an odd one. Started off in a great place, hopelessly in love, certain I’d found my soul mate, but that soured throughout the year until it totally collapsed in August. Which was fun. I still feel I had found my soul mate, my ‘one’, alas it seems he was only the ‘one’ for the best part of two years. Of course, as one would expect, the ending of it was terrible, with all kinds of emotional fallout, leading to distractions of the worst kind. But I came through it, and I now sit here able to look back and realise that for all the pain, I have grown once again. Probably became harder as a result, less forgiving of people. (Which explains my rather cold response to a family member who sunk into what I can only call alcoholism, to the point where she absolutely failed to take the advice and help offered to her. And also explains the dissolution of long-term friendship with someone who crossed a line I could no longer ‘go along with’.) I think I am now at a place where I’m actually looking to where my next ‘one’ is — I’m sure he’s out there somewhere. Only this time it’ll be someone who isn’t so far removed from my own age — not that I believe in the idea of an age-gap. After all, a number is just that, but the practicalities of a relationship with a large age-gap are something to be considered. And heeded. What’s the point in going through a bad experience if you’re not willing to learn and do better the next time?

horizons2mediumProfessionally life has also been an odd one. I started the year in the same role I’d inhabited for the last four years, that of range editor for Space: 1889 & Beyond, only I could already see the end in sight. Things were falling apart behind the scenes — my relationship with my publisher was souring drastically. Was this connected to what was going on in my personal life? It’s entirely possible. At least, the two things did not help each other.  I still intend, one day, to tell of my experiences and view on how the series failed, but for now all I can say is I was personally disenfranchised by the whole experience, and was determined to see it end, so that it could be reborn in a stronger manner. So, mid-way through the year as Space: 1889 & Beyond limped its way to the final gate, I found myself in the position of being commissioned to oversee an exciting new project. And all because of a simple Facebook status I wrote! Of course, anybody who has read this blog (and many more besides) are aware of the project now — Lethbridge-Stewart, a new series of novel based on the legendary character from Doctor Who. The series still hasn’t begun,  but I have been working hard on it since the beginning on July, pretty much every day since the license was agreed. It has been a crazy six months, working alongside authors who I have always counted among some of my favourites, writers responsible for some of the best Doctor Who prose during the 1990s. The thrill of announcing the series at the start of December cannot be described — the news spread like fire. It seemed everybody was talking about. Including Digital Spy! Insane, I tell ya. My publisher totally didn’t see it coming, but I think I did, as he remarked to me. Because I had been working on for quite a while, I think I started to get a feel for just how big a deal it was, whereas Shaun was busy on other projects for Candy Jar Books. But when the news was out there, well, then Shaun learned just how big this was, too!

Candy_Jar_LS2_Front_BFormat_smallAnd so here I am. The end of 2014, with what may well be my biggest book yet on the verge of being released into the hands of the public (the verge, in this case, being late February), single, but pretty content with how things are. Sure, they could be a lot better, but when I consider all that happened in the last six months I realise I’m a very lucky chap indeed. I’m the controlling element of a series which is going to bring a hell of a lot of readers excitement and fun, and I get to establish the official story of one of the biggest television characters of the last fifty years. I have some amazing people to work with over the next few years — hell, just the following year will see me work alongside some of the best authors out there, and this is only the beginning. So, yes, it’s been an interesting year. At times hard, at times the most fun ever.

So, big thanks to all who have helped to make it such a great and odd year. And I mean to all, even the lost love. Time for my annual sharing of this song, and the words are truly what I believe…

News Update – Lethbridge-Stewart and Space: 1889 & Beyond

merryxmasFirst of all, a very Merry Christmas to all my readers. I hope you all get a chance to spend the festive time with your loved ones, get some lovely presents (including many books!) and have a most awesome New Year!

Over at Type 40, the Doctor Who blog run by me on behalf of Candy Jar Books, we’ve arranged a very special Christmas gift for fans of Sir Alistair Lethbridge-Stewart and The Web of Fear; an exclusive interview with Hannah Haisman, the Executor of Mervyn Haisman’s Estate and the licensor of the Lethbridge-Stewart book series.

badgeSpeaking of the series. Plans are gathering apace; we have a special gift coming early next year to precede the release of the first novel, although I can’t say what it is at this time, but I think it’s something a lot of long-time Who fans will truly love. We’ve also got five books planned for 2016 — yup, we’re planning on moving up to five books a year, although the fifth book of 2016 will be a special event that fans will be able to interact with. More news on that coming late 2015! Of the four novels planned for 2016 we’ve got three of the four authors confirmed, with the fourth confirmation imminent. As per our forthcoming 2015 series, it will feature three names well known to Who fans, bringing back authors who’ve been missing from Who prose for way too long. These authors will probably be announced in the summer of 2015, when the writing of our 2016 season begins. As well as the three ‘big names’, we’ll have a brand new name to Who prose, although this author has form, with novels published elsewhere. Part of our mandate is to introduce new authors, not only new to Who (although possibly established elsewhere) but giving new authors their first published work. It’s something Doctor Who has been doing since 1988, and it’s a tradition we intend to keep up. Without such a policy the world may never have experienced the works of such names as Paul Cornell or Ben Aaronovitch. We’re also mindful of the limited number of female writers in the worlds of Doctor Who, and so we hope, with our increase to five novels a year from 2017, we’ll have more opportunities to vary our author selection to include established names, first-time authors, and bring more female authors to the series. On top of all that, very provisional plans are being made and storylines discussed with authors for the 2017 and 2018 seasons – assuming, of course, the series continues that long. I choose to believe it will. 😉

LogoBeyond_2In other news, the end of the current series of Space: 1889 & Beyond has been officially announced in a somewhat unplanned way on Facebook (the first I knew was when I happened across the post two days ago). This statement was made by Jay Hartman of Untreed Reads: ‘Dear Space: 1889 & Beyond Readers: Due to various reasons, Untreed Reads will not be releasing new titles in the series moving forward. However, this does not mean the series will be ending altogether! Stay tuned to this page as things continue to develop. Thanks so much for your support over the last few years!’ One day I will go into these ‘various reasons’, but for now all I will say that it was a mutual decision made by all the authors of the series following a long period of dissatisfaction with the lack of marketing and promotion for the series, which ultimately affected sales in a detrimental way. The Facebook page has been shut down for now, although it will be re-activated at some point in the near future. As intimated above, none of this means the series as a whole is over… Plans are, tentatively, afoot for a print run of the series, which will lead to the eventual continuation of the mission of HMAS Sovereign and her gallant crew as they traverse the aether beyond the asteroid belt. As well as these we hope to release a series of stand-alone novels set elsewhere in the fictional universe of Space: 1889 & Beyond, making the property more accessible to those unwilling to commit to a serialised set of novels. Alas, until these plans are confirmed and the legal side of things sorted out (which could take a while – red tape being what it is!), it could be a while before the series is taken out of the limbo it has found itself in. Until then, the series continues to remain on sale in digital form, which allows everybody a chance to catch up. 🙂

So, the year ends with a bit of a mixed bag. As one series of novels ends (for now) I find myself moving from one range to another, with the arrival of Lethbridge-Stewart. It’s sad that Space: 1889 & Beyond has temporarily ended like this, as we all spent a lot of time and effort on that series, and I feel we created some really good stories and made some nice in-roads with great themes and characters. But, the future looks bright for me as I guide a legend of Doctor Who and get to work with some authors who inspired me back in the ’90s and I get the joy of bringing back some of the best Who authors out there, some of which have been sadly neglected by Doctor Who prose since 2005.

See you in the New Year!

Andy Frankham-Allen 😀

 

A Real Gentlemen

Nicholas_Courtney_DWI never had the pleasure of meeting Nicholas Courtney, but I know many people who did. And if there is one thing you can be sure of, all of them tell you how much of a gentlemen he was. His contribution to Doctor Who cannot be exaggerated. He has been gone almost four years now, but thanks to his amazing portrayal of Brigadier Sir Alistair Lethbridge-Stewart he will never been forgotten. And so, to honour his memory on the day of his birth, I present this excerpt from my forthcoming novel, The Forgotten Son, the first book in the all-new series Lethbridge-Stewart. Every legend has a beginning, and this is his…

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A Moment in History

Nicholas Courtney: 16th December 1929 – 22nd February 2011.

 

Project Updates

So, what have I been up to in the past two months since post 100? Well, mostly I’ve been working, both on the day job and various writing projects. I’ve also been editing and selecting short stories for the South Wales Short Story Competition which is a bi-annual event run by Candy Jar Books.

forever_a_print_Front_ENFrom an editing point of view I’ve mostly been working on Space: 1889 & Beyond, going through all the books and re-editing them in preparation for the eventual print releases. Hindsight is a wonderful thing, and like so many directors, the print releases give me a chance to clean up a few things I was less than happy with the first time around. In particular, due to the turbulent events of season two (behind the scenes, what with authors dropping out at the last minute, etc), I had to pass the final edits of Leviathans in the Clouds onto another editor so I could tackle head-on the problems facing the next book in the series. Despite the good job he did, it’s quite clear that the editor wasn’t too familiar with the series, and so a few continuity errors remained between the preceding book and Leviathans in the Clouds, not to mention several stylistic choices that do not fit with the rest of the series. The re-edits allowed me to clean this up. The biggest casualty of the behind the scenes chaos was The Forever Journey, and still remains the one book in the entire series I am very unhappy with. It’s not that its a bad book — there is much within the pages to recommend it, and the authors involved did the best they could with the little experience they had. But it is such an important part of the series, a turning point in so many ways, that I’ve always felt it should be bigger and never quite felt like the game-changing book it was designed to be. So that will be my next task, doing a major overhaul of that book. The trick will be not to remove anything from the story, and so change it to the point that it will overwrite the eBook, but to enhance the story, add things to it. I have in mind a whole new sequence set on Earth prior to the journey, which will likely be told in flashback so as not to ruin the present narrative of the book. It was that present narrative that was damaged greatly by the initial release, as the book was released out of sequence and a bookend scene needed to be written so it still made sense when released after A Fistful of Dust.

Work on the re-edits, however, are paused for a short while since I am, due to illness, behind on a few projects. Primarily among them is The Forgotten Son, book one of Project Hush-Hush. The first draft is due at the end of October, which is tomorrow, and I’m still five chapters away from the end. I have spent the last few days re-reading the entire book, as it’s been a couple of weeks since I looked at it in any meaningful way. Re-reading with the distance of a few weeks has revealed to me Bannersome problems in the narrative — not plot holes, or even plot development, but the kind of things only an author would spot. I may just be seeing issues that aren’t there, so I’m not going to tackle them until after my editor gets a chance to read the entire first draft. If they’re really there, I know he’ll spot them.  I think it may also be partly down to the responsibility that is inherent in this series; it’s always there in the back of mind. We’ve got the copyright of something that has been a huge part of peoples lives for so many years now, that we have an immense responsibility to get it right, to do it justice, and to honour the intent of the creator of the property. In some ways I felt the same responsibility when I developed Space: 1889 & Beyond, but this is multiplied by a factor of a hundred.

seeker-preview (2) copySo, that’s two writing projects. Finishing draft one of The Forgotten Son, and enhancing The Forever Journey. After these? Well, it seems the next few months will mostly see me editing — be it on Project Hush-Hush or Space: 1889 & Beyond or on a forthcoming novel for Candy Jar Books. All this seems like a great time to get back to work on Augury, book two of The Garden. This presents me with a few problems. The original plan was to only have a year gap between Seeker and Augury, but it’s been almost four years since Seeker was first released, and it wouldn’t really work to have the second book set in 2012. So I’ve been pondering ways around it — how to make a gap of three years work for the narrative. It’s tough as a lot of the narrative is period specific, and the original year-long gap served a very unique narrative purpose. Part of my solution is to write a short novel set between the first two books, which I’m probably going to call Tales of the Three, which will detail the lives of Celeste, Theodor and Erwyn (and those affected by these lives — including, of course, Frederick, Edward Lomax and Julius), covering the background stories that were hinted at during Seeker. These tales will be surrounded by a framework showing the fallout of the events of Seeker for these three characters. In so doing, I will be able to remove a lot of material originally intended for Augury, this in turn should allow me to advance the main narrative forward a few years and bring it more or less up to the present day once more. Or at least that’s the plan. Fingers crossed it will pan out. Still have several things to work out, but currently it seems the most likely way forward with the series.

So, a little treat for you all, here’s an exclusive scene from the extended version of Serere, the prelude to Seeker, which can now be purchased direct from Lulu.com (and will soon be available globally for order wherever books are sold)…

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‘We’re not liking this, Aly,’ Detective Inspector Carbis said, ‘are we?’

Rowe recognized the look in his dark eyes, but they had been friends since she joined the force. He was responsible for her transfer to CID. He trusted her instincts as much as she did, and he knew that she’d walk down whatever path she had to in order to solve the mystery. She didn’t care how dark a path it turned out to be.

‘You haven’t heard the worst of it, yet, Gary,’ she replied. This was, at least for now, still informal and off the record. They were meeting in a quiet corner of a pub near Hirst Park, Carbis drinking a bottle of Smirnoff Ice while Rowe downed a pint of lager. ‘I managed to track down the identity of the old man. His name was Cliff Goleman, and he went missing in 1917! At the age of nineteen.’

‘The same age as Robin.’

Rowe nodded slowly. ‘You saw Goleman’s body; did it look 104 years old to you?’

‘I don’t think I’ve seen a body that old, Aly, living or dead.’

At this Rowe smiled. ‘Okay, fair point. But according to the autopsy, the heart, liver… all the internal organs are consistent with a man of no more than sixty years.’

‘Then it can’t be the same man. DNA records didn’t even exist in… when did you say? 1917? This is insane, Aly. Insane.’

‘I know.’ Rowe grinned, and finished the rest of her pint. ‘The DNA results led me to Goleman’s grandson. He’s fifty-eight, by the way, and the spit of Cliff.’

Carbis shook his head. ‘No, I’m not buying it. How could you even have found out about Goleman’s disappearance? Our own record keeping was bad enough thirty years ago, let alone eighty-five years ago.’

‘Harry Goleman is a lifer at the Scrubs, so his DNA is on the system. Seeing his picture was a bit of a shock, since for a moment I was sure I was looking at our corpse. A bit of research later and I’m reading about his grandfather going missing at nineteen, only three months after his marriage, leaving behind a wife who was, unknowingly at the time, two months pregnant. The gears shifted in my brain.’

Carbis narrowed his eyes. ‘Knowing how your brain works, I’m not surprised.’ For a moment he looked down at the bottle in his hand, while Rowe watched his rapidly thinning crown. ‘What do you propose we do?’

‘Let me continue to investigate this. A man presumed dead eight decades ago turns up, healthy as a sixty year old – well, other than the complete loss of blood – next to eight pints of blood that should, by rights, still be in Robin Turner’s body, which is now missing.’ She paused for a minute, before delivering her final card. ‘We’ve not seen the last of Robin Turner.’

‘This is quite a limb you’re out on.’

‘I know, but it’s my limb. And I know I am right,’ Rowe added with complete certainty.

Project Hush-Hush – Creating Real People

SecretThis is my 100th post! Yay. And so I shall be talking, a little, about one of the most important reasons why I write fiction…

Today I want to talk about characters.

Now, what with the secrecy surrounding this project I cannot be as open about the process of writing as I’d like. There are key elements of the story, and the world I’m building, that I simply cannot talk about. Which is annoying and exciting equally. So today I want to talk about the characters in the book, at least a little bit, and quite possibly in some vague terms as to be more detailed would spoil just that bit too much.

Characters are the most important part of any piece of fiction, more so than plot in fact. Characters drive the story — indeed, they are the story. The emotional journey each character takes is the journey the reader takes, thus why I call them the story. But for me characters are not just ‘types’ of people, they’re real, as real as you and me (but not you over there). I don’t create characters that only act a certain way, who have specific traits from which they cannot deviate, because people aren’t like that. Any one person can act in a variety of ways depending on the situation they find themselves in. People like to say, ‘oh, I’d never do that’, but it is nonsense. No-one, and I mean no-one, knows how they will act with any given situation until they are there being tested by it. Just as anybody who says ‘I am who I am, and I’m not going to change’ are talking even more nonsense. We change every day, with every single situation. People are in a constant state of flux, reacting and changing to every new situation that comes along. We all have our core beliefs, our default settings, but we’re all adaptable and open to change. My characters are exactly the same. They are determined by their experiences, not by specific traits. And with each new experience they grow, they change, they become either a better person or a worse one.

What follows is a list of characters from Forgotten Son, and a little something about them. This list is not definitive since it won’t contain the licensed characters (too important to reveal just yet) and neither will it include characters who have not appeared yet.

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  • John James — A minor character, at least for now since I have plans for him. A ten-year-old boy from London who is named after an old school friend of mine from Hackney.
  • Ray (Raymond) Phillips — This is a character carried over from the original version of Forgotten Son written back in 1997, although he was called Phil Raymond back then. He’s not much changed since his original iteration, except that now he’s a moderately successful author haunted by his past. But still the childhood best friend of or lead character. Oh, and he’s forty-one years old.
  • Owain & Louis Vine — Seventeen-year-old twins. These two came out of discussion between my publisher and I, as he felt I needed some younger people in the book, two characters who were polar opposites in their core beliefs. One who wanted out of the village of Bledoe and into the bright lights of London, and the other who never wanted to leave Bledoe. They’re also my way of having a tongue-in-cheek look at the misconceptions surrounding twins, a task made very easy by the fact that they’re based on two twins I know, Owen and Damien.
  • Charles Watts — A late addition to the book. Another seventeen-year-old, he was created to be the pull for Louis, to ratchet up Louis’ desire to leave the village. Charles is from London, and a teen who’s fallen into the relatively new skinhead movement. Being from London he also serves as a direct link to the events going on in that city, and a way to anchor the early Bledoe scenes with the larger story.
  • Thomas Hamilton — Big player in the larger story, but there’s little I can reveal about him without spoiling the series. So, moving on…
  • Sally Wright — At the start of the book, and thus the series, she becomes the fiancée of the lead character. She’s also Hamilton’s assistant. Beyond that, there’s little more I can say for now.
  • Walter Douglas — Best friend of our lead character, and has been for just over nineteen years. Which, of course, means I can reveal no more about him. Yet.
  • Mabel — Mary’s neighbour in the small village of Coleshill. Barely a cameo character, but chances are she’ll return at a later date. Named after my paternal grandmother.
  • George Vine — Father of the twins, and a typical gruff ex-military man. Concerned by his son’s behaviour, but is more likely to be at the pub joking about it than actually doing something about it.
  • Mrs Vine — She doesn’t have a name yet. Mother of the twins, typical housewife of the 1960s, also concerned about the twins but understands they’re young men and so she tends to give them their space. While quietly fretting about it.
  • Ahsen Khan — A Hospital Attendant (or orderly, as they’re usually known in the US) at St Mark’s Hospital in Harrow. From Pakistan and named after an old school friend of mine. Only a cameo role, and a way to allude to the institutional racism of the 1960s.
  • Alf & Ralph — Two brothers in their mid-fifties. Delivery drivers who move goods and supplies for the NHS. Bicker a lot, with the elder (Ralph) often teasing the younger (Alfie, as Ralph calls him). Only a cameo role.
  • Henry Barnes — Landlord and owner of The Rose & Crown pub in Bledoe. Easy going chap who welcomes anyone into his pub, except ‘nancy-boys’, who he has no truck with that at all. A nod to the institutional homophobia of the 1960s, especially among older people. Believes men should be men, and won’t stand for all this ‘long hair nonsense that the young men seem to go for so much these days’. Like George, he’s every bit a man of his time.

And so those are the players thus far, with a few notable omissions, of course. A bit of insight into my thought process behind creating characters and naming them, and a few non-spoiler hints about the story. 🙂

Candy Jar Book Festival

I’m very pleased to announce I’ll be a part of the forthcoming Candy Jar Book Festival. Not only will I be joining Benjamin Burford-Jones for a talk on monsters and aliens in fiction, I’ll also be on hand at the Stall in the Hayes, Cardiff, at various points throughout the week to meet with readers, sign my book, and discuss Doctor Who with whoever will listen. But there’s much more going on than just that. Take a look below!

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The festival runs from Saturday August 9th through to Saturday August 16th. Candy Jar Books will at the Hayes, Cardiff, ever day with authors signing books. On top of that many events are running throughout the month; including an exciting range of discussions, author meetings/signings and workshops to offer something for everyone. Right click here to save and download the PDF timetable or alternatively look at the list below to find out what’s going on!

31052013844At the Hayes you will be able to find;

  • Eileen Younghusband (Sat 9th from 11am)
  • Mark Brake (Sat 9th from 3pm)
  • Anthony Ormond, Andy Frankham-Allen and Cardiff Jack Sparrow! (Sun 10th)
  • Laura Foakes and Emma Taylor (Tues 12th from 12:30pm)
  • Michaela Weaver (Weds 13th from 10:30am)
  • Joanne Teague (Weds 13th from 1pm)
  • Penny Richards (Thurs 14th, 11am-1pm)
  • Benjamin Burford-Jones (Sat 16th from 12:01pm)

Plus special guests throughout the week!

Timetable for discussions and workshops is;

Saturday August 9th

THE SCIENCE OF DOCTOR WHO

(ALL AGES)

stmm360-copyMark Brake and John Chase (Cardiff Central Library, 12pm and 2pm)

The Doctor Who universe is one of aliens and time machines, cyborgs and supermen. Conjuring up evidence on the themes of space, time, machine, and monsters, author Mark Brake and TV presenter Jon Chase deliver their verdict on the science of The Doctor.

Mark’s books include Space, Time, Machine, Monster (an irreverent look at how science fiction has impacted and changed our lives), as well as Space Hoppers, Really, Really Big Questions about Space and Time and The Alien Hunter’s Handbook.

Monday August 11th

MAKE YOUR OWN PICTURE BOOK

(6+)

Danny-Down-the-Drainpipe2Lynda Nash (Cardiff Central Library, 2pm)

Lynda Nash invites you to join her in this creative workshop and have fun bringing your stories to life.

Lynda teaches GCSE English and Creative Writing. Her work has been published in various magazines, including Penumbra, Square, First Edition and Mslexia. She contributes to Buzz Magazine and runs Little Writers Inc, a Newport-based writing group for budding authors.

Danny Down the Drainpipe is her first book for children.

Tuesday August 12th

HOW TO BE A FIBBER EXTRAORDINAIRE

(6+)
lafa360Laura Foakes and Emma Taylor (Cardiff Central Library, 11am)

A workshop designed for the liar and fibber in everyone. Come and meet Laura Foakes to discover how lying can produce a winning novel. She will be joined by illustrator Emma Taylor. Between them they have conquered Everest, danced with dinosaurs, and fought off ferocious ninjas.

The Liars’ and Fibbers’ Academy stands out as a truly original story, with drama, humour, twists and turns, weird and wonderful escapades and so many fantastic standout characters. Honest!

Tuesday August 12th

HOW TO WRITE A PAST LIFE AUTOBIOGRAPHY

(ALL AGES)
mohicanreborn360Simon Marcus Caines (Canton Library, 2pm)

For those who have always wanted to document your past life, this is the workshop for you! Simon, a Native American in a past life, tells the story of the death and devastation brought about by the white man, and how he became one of the greatest swordsmen in pre-revolutionary France.

Mohican Reborn is an autobiography with a difference. The book tells the story of Simon Marcus Caine’s Native American past life, Arion Lightfeather.

Wednesday August 13th

SEE YOU IN SEPTEMBER – TRAVEL WRITING DISCUSSION

(ALL AGES)
september360dJoanne Teague (The Corner House, Caroline Street, 10:30am)

A workshop to help you turn your travel memories into prose. Joanne will talk about writing her moving, hilarious and uplifting book See You in September.

When Joanne learned that she may only have a few months to live, she decided to take her three children out of school and, with her husband, spend six months travelling around Europe. Why not come along meet Joanne to find out what happened next?

Wednesday August 13th

MANIC MONDAYS – CREATIVE WRITING DISCUSSION

(ALL AGES)
manic_mondays360bMichaela Weaver (The Plan, Morgan Arcade, 3pm)

A workshop for aspiring writers. Michaela is creative in all aspects of her life: her work, her writing and her hobbies. Having studied creative writing – and written a book herself – Michaela knows all too well the pressures aspiring writers often endure. She also recognises the benefits of thrashing out creative difficulties in a group setting, so whatever stage your novel’s at, feel free to come along for a chat over a cuppa.

Manic Mondays is Michaela’s first book.

Thursday August 14th

TOP SECRET – HOW WOMEN HELPED WIN THE WAR

(ALL AGES)
oww_paperback_2013_book_prizeEileen Younghusband B.E.M. (Cardiff Story Museum, 11am)

The Second World War is dominated by heroic tales of men defending their country against a formidable enemy, but what about the women who also played their part in the fight for freedom? Eileen Younghusband (93) was just 18 when she joined the Women’s Auxiliary Air Force (WAAF). She quickly demonstrated her keen intellect and mathematical skills, and will be discussing the crucial role played by the women in Fighter Command’s top secret underground Filter Room.

Eileen has written three books: Not an Ordinary Life, One Woman’s War and Men I Have Known. In 2013 her writing was recognised by The People’s Book Prize when One Woman’s War won the non-fiction award.

Thursday August 14th

MONSTERS, MAGIC AND MICHELLE BRISCOMBE

(6+)
silentmountain360cMichelle Briscombe (Cardiff Central Library, 2pm)

Tying in with the Summer Reading Challenge, Michelle invites you to share your favourite magical books and monstrous characters. Why not bring yours along.

Michelle likes to turn her dreams into stories. These dreams may frighten her, make her laugh or wake her up. To explain these dreams, she finds it difficult but sometimes, she is able to write them down. Silent Mountain is her first (of many) books.

Friday August 15th

MONSTERS AND MIRRORS

(6+)
mirrorman360eBenjamin Burford-Jones and Andy Frankham-Allen (Cardiff Central Library, 2pm)

Whether they are under the bed, in the wardrobe or behind the mirror, monsters feature heavily in TV and books. Benjamin Burford-Jones is joined by Andy Frankham-Allen to discuss how monsters have inspired their writing.

Whilst working late nights at the BBC, Benjamin would often spend his time thinking of stories and ideas, one of which being that the people on the television were in fact in the television. His début novel for children, Beware of the Mirror Man explores this idea.

Friday August 15th
A PERSONAL PORTRAIT OF THE ROYAL FAMILY

(ALL AGES)
royalpreviewColin Edwards (Cardiff Central Library, 2.30pm; WHSmiths, 11am-1pm)

A familiar face at royal events, Colin Edwards has collated his vast collection of photographs of the Royal Family to create a new book.

His book A Personal Portrait of the Royal Family features never before seen images of Her Majesty the Queen, the Queen Mother and Diana, Princess of Wales at public events. The author also provides emotive, personal accounts of his meetings with the Royals.

Colin will be sharing some of his memories at Cardiff Central Library on Friday and signing copies of his book at WHSmith on Saturday.

Saturday August 16th

TIME TRAVEL IN FICTION

(6+)
tommyparker360(Anthony Ormond, Cardiff Central Library, 12pm and 2pm)

Whilst the idea of time travel seems like great fun, an innocent trip to the 1940s could have devastating consequences. Anthony Ormond delves into this fascinating subject – where paradoxes, time warps and anomalies have inspired countless TV shows, films and books.

Anthony’s début novel, Tommy Parker: Destiny Will Find You! is a youthful adventure that gives an unfamiliar twist to the time-travel genre, with the characters travelling not only through time but also through memory. Make sure you’re on time!

Throughout August

NOT THAT KIND OF ART (ALL AGES)
Nathan Wyburn (Art exhibition in Cardiff Story Museum throughout August)

Nathan is renowned for his original take on pop culture artwork. He’s created portraits of Simon Cowell using Marmite, Stephen Fry using egg-fried rice, and even Paul O’Grady out of dog biscuits. He has made numerous TV appearances, and a number of celebrities have commissioned his unusual pieces. This is your opportunity to view some of his wackier pieces, a number of which will appear in his book Not That Kind of Art, to be released in 2015.

Nathan first came to public attention when he appeared on Britain’s Got Talent in 2011. He reached the semi-final, and despite not winning the show, this catapulted him to success. He is launching his exhibition in Cardiff Story Museum on 1st August.

Project Hush-Hush – Here From Six

Prepare for one of the more odder entries, as I enter my own version of the twilight zone. Kind of.

SecretTalking to Shaun last night about the ’60s and he expressed how odd he found it that I remembered so little about that time — even though I was born in ’72, a lot of the ’60s vibe still existed during my first few years and I should, really, has some idea about that time. Some kind of memory, right? You’d think so.

Fact is I’m pretty sure I didn’t exist until I was six years old (of course, if I didn’t exist then I couldn’t be any years old, just looked like I was), like something out of a John Wyndham novel, perhaps. I have vague memories of being younger, I think, like falling down the stairs and banging my head on a hot radiator (which is funny since, according to others, I never lived anywhere with a radiator at the bottom of a staircase). But the thing that confirms it for me is that there is no photographic evidence of me any younger than six. I’m serious. Now, knowing my family, the chances of no photos being taken of this handsome little version of me would be astronomic. Yet, nothing exists. I seem to recall a picture of toddler me holding a gun and wearing a cowboy hat, sat on a furry carpet of some sort, but I’m convinced I made that up since such a picture does not exist and no-one else can remember it. So if I’m right, then I didn’t exist until 1978, which explains my complete lack of familiarity of anything pertaining to the late ’60s.

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Me and my step-brother…

When the boss quizzed me on certain things, like what I do I remember of the red telephone boxes, I could only pull up a few visual memories. Peeling paint, tattered phone books hanging off hooks, felt-tip graffiti, stuff like that. But you know, I could have picked that up when I was about six or seven; such things still existed. Or kids — did I remember how grubby kids were back then? The messy streets, rubbish on the pavement? Vaguely, perhaps. Certainly I know I wasn’t a messy child (as you can see in the picture to the right). No grubbiness here. Or was I? I don’t know. I didn’t exist before I was six. Perhaps I was, until that point, the forgotten son? That would fit.

So today I’m looking up all kinds of things from the late ’60s. I’ve seen a few cars I recognise, although most of the radio shows from Radio 1 mean nothing to me at all. As for the money… Well, what can I say? I was born the year after the UK went onto the decimal system — thank god! Damn, I feel as confused as Ace did in Remembrance of the Daleks. ‘Oh this is a stupid system.’ You said it, Ace.

In terms of actual writing, I’ll be moving on to chapter two, which will involve a very strange train journey, an old woman hearing a disembodied whisper, and the discovery of a missing corpse. At the moment I seem to going for a bit of a The Midwich Cuckoos meets Danger Man feel. As I said in a previous post, I’m all about blending genres.

See y’all tomorrow.

Project Hush-Hush – Feedback From the Boss

Secret‘If it was anyone else I’d say let’s accept that.’ My boss’ way of complimenting me on the first draft of The Forgotten Son chapter one. Of course, what followed was a comment about because it’s me, and the series is what is is, we have to be better than just great. A sentiment I absolutely agree with.

After a very long phone call about the ’60s and how to capture that vibe in prose, I swear, if I didn’t know better I’d think Shaun Russell lived in the ’60s. Except he’s a little younger than me! (Not that you’d know it to look at us — see pic below.) 😉

So that was tonight’s little update on the progress of the book. Chapter one, draft one, is complete and comes in at just under 5,000 words. Tomorrow I shall be listening to The Who, The Kinks, Small Faces and Jehtro Tull, as well as looking at pictures of 1960s ephemera such as money, phone boxes, cars, rubbish strewn streets, and grubby kids. Who says my job isn’t fun?

Shaun and I, heading to London for... something important.
Shaun and I, heading to London for… something important.