Category Archives: Uncategorized

The Forgotten Son by Andy Frankham-Allen

Nice little review…

Trap One

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In the aftermath of the Great Intelligence’s invasion of the London Underground, Staff Sergeant Arnold’s corpse has vanished and Colonel Lethbridge-Stewart’s mother is also missing. All the clues lead back to his childhood village of Bledoe.

It seems like an opportune time for a series of standalone Lethbridge-Stewart stories. With the re-discovery of his debut appearance in The Web of Fear eighteen months ago, and what is likely to be the character’s final appearance in last year’s Death in Heaven, his profile with the younger generation of fans is probably as high as possible.

brigadier

The character Alastair Gordon Lethbridge-Stewart was created for the story The Web of Fear by writers Mervyn Haisman and Henry Lincoln. They retained the rights to the character and were paid for his appearance in all the subsequent stories he appeared in. Arguably they only really named the character, he’s not yet what he would become…

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Producing Who

We’ve all got our favourite era of Doctor Who, but such eras are often voted by Doctor, but that ignores the fact that some Doctors had more than one producer guiding their adventures. So now’s your chance to vote on the best era of Who, by producer…

*Choosing the producers was fairly straightforward, since the 'showrunner' (to use the modern term) has always been well-defined on television. I have, however, included Gary Russell in this list due to one important fact; during the wilderness years of no televisual adventures, he was the producer of official BBC-licensed material featuring the original cast from the TV series and was, arguably,the only real contender for 'true Doctor Who' during the years when Who was off our screens. (You are free to disagree with this, and if you do, then just don't vote for him. No issue.)

2014 in review

The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2014 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

A San Francisco cable car holds 60 people. This blog was viewed about 2,100 times in 2014. If it were a cable car, it would take about 35 trips to carry that many people.

Click here to see the complete report.

Mutually Assured Domination

A little bit of insight on Nick’s book – the fourth of the first batch. Out next year.

It scarcely seems possible

Lethbridge-Stewart. The fellow you’d want on your side in any fight.

Back in the summer I was offered something big. Something very big and very exciting. I was not able to tell anyone about it, however, until now.

So, this is it: I am writing the ‘season finale’ in the first series of a new set of Doctor Who spin-offs featuring the adventures of the young Brigadier Alastair Gordon Lethbridge Stewart, published by Candy Jar Books.

My first novel in ten years! (This was the last).

No, I can’t quite believe it either, but it’s real, as reported on Doctor Who News.

The first book, The Forgotten Son by series line editor Andy Frankham, is out in February 2015 (and I can say with all honesty it’s effin’ brilliant). Then, throughout the rest of the year, comes Lance Parkin’s Horror of Det-Sen and David A McIntee’s The Schizoid Earth…

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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 – Lemons

SecretSo, day two of work on The Forgotten Son, book one of Project Hush-Hush. Yesterday was all about setting up the scene and mystery in the small Cornish village of Bledoe. Which meant research. Hard to believe but there was a time when I hated, and by that I mean loathed, research. These days I rather enjoy it — with every book, every scene almost, I learn something new or reaffirm something I had previously suspected.

Before I got on to talking about yesterday’s research, and shed light on the rather odd subtitle for this blog entry, I want to share a little history about Bledoe. It has a history that goes back to 1997, and a story I once wrote that was originally called The Lake (latterly WATMIB? or Who Are The Men In Black?). They say never throw away a good idea, and I’m a great believer in that. Bledoe was a fictional Cornish village where some strange things happened. I can’t tell you what, alas, since many elements from that story are being recycled for this new book — including the final title, The Forgotten. I have recycled characters from this story before. Pastor Ronald Stone was finally used as the father of chief protagonist, Nathanial Stone, in my Space: 1889 & Beyond series from 2011. A character called James (surname changed from the original book) was later used in the 2006 novella Judgement Day (the character is now closer to his original incarnation once more). So it was inevitable that Bledoe itself would be returned to at some point. The village has changed somewhat since 1998, now based loosely on the real village of St Cleer. Which is where the first bit of research came into it. Sometimes the challenge with writing is to convince the reader that you are familiar with the area you set your story in; not always is it possible to visit said location. In this case I intend to visit St Cleer in a couple of months, do some on-site research to add more flavour, but for now it’s time for the usual research methods; internet sites and, in this case, a batch of photographs sent to me by fellow scribe, Sharon Bidwell, who recently visited Golitha Falls, another key location of The Forgotten Son.

skinhead-style-1The second important piece of research is the time period. In this case we’re talking late 1960s and, since I wasn’t actually alive at that time, I have no memory from which to draw. Luckily I know plenty who do, and there are a ton of websites out there that give information on the political and popular climate of the late ’60s. Again it’s all about convincing, adding enough flavour to give a sense that the narrative is set when it’s supposed to be set. This not only comes down to small background elements, like key events of the late ’60s mentioned in passing, but in developing the characters. They all need to be believably part of that time period. I have already decided that two of the characters will be twins, who will be based somewhat loosely on two friends of mine (with permission — the fictional twins even bear the middle names of the real twins), and so the next thing to consider is how to make them different and yet very much teenagers from 1969. I was expecting to go for flowerpower but instead discovered that the skinhead movement rose to popularity in 1968. Bonus! If asked, I would never have considered developing a skinhead character (or a lemon, as they were often called, too — hence the title of this post), but I’m willing to try new things when writing — indeed, doing so is a key element of keeping writing fresh. It’s a funny thing, growing up in the ’70s and ’80s I was always aware of skinheads, but what I knew of them doesn’t match with the origins of the movement. Which means developing my fifteen-year-old skinhead should prove very interesting. And reminds me of some of my favourite ska and reggae songs from the period — Desmond Dekker’s The Israelites anyone?

That was yesterday. Today? Today it’s all about introducing the lead character of the series — the single most important scene of the book — which involves a bit more research. Not for the character, so much as what he does and the organisation he’s a part of. Ah, useless clues. Gotta love ’em! 😉

Don’t Forget Me

So, it’s the birthday of Elisabeth Sladen, and to celebrate that wonderful woman, I present to you all my article from the You And Who: Contact Has Been Made book (now out of print).

“Don’t Forget Me”

There is something about The Sarah Jane Adventures that simply shouts out ‘brilliance’. A special and unique piece of Doctor Who history is encapsulated in that series. Like many fans of a certain age, Sarah (lest we forget that was her name long before she got re-christened Sarah Jane in 2006 – a trend that we can probably blame on Terrance Dicks’ The Five Doctors script which has, for the first time, the Third Doctor calling her Sarah Jane throughout), was the ultimate companion.

It’s not surprising, therefore, that she should be the first bona fide character to be brought back from the original series – and what a moment! Even now, seven years on, I get goosebumps whenever I watch the scene in which she sees the TARDIS in the gym cupboard, stumbles out in shock, turns and sees before her that strange new teacher. She immediately knows who it is, and when the Doctor utters the immortal line ‘hello, Sarah Jane’ television history is made. Curiously, up until that point I wasn’t quite convinced that David Tennant was the Doctor, but when Sarah accepted it, so did I. It’s at that moment, for me and for so many other fans, The Sarah Jane Adventures began.

It wasn’t the first time she was brought back, of course. She’s returned to Doctor Who twice before on TV, in a failed spin-off in 1981 and the Twentieth Anniversary adventure The Five Doctors – thirty whole years ago, would you believe! Since then she’s appeared in several novels and even starred in her own series of audio adventures called, conveniently enough, Sarah Jane Smith. I was almost the writer of the second season of that series, but as with these things, plans changed and other than a few ideas which found their way into the second season, my involvement came to nothing. One of a very few things I regret – missing out on the chance to work with Elisabeth Sladen, to help develop the more mature aspect of a character I always considered (and still do) the Doctor Who companion. As it turned out my involvement in that series did lead to my latter involvement in steampunk series Space: 1889, an association that continues seven years later, which just adds another reason why Sarah, and latterly, The Sarah Jane Adventures are so important to me.

It seems to me that even at its weakest, The Sarah Jane Adventures is still better than almost anything else on TV – sometimes even better than its parent show (and, frankly, towers over the other spin-off series, Torchwood). Yes, Doctor Who today is inconsistent as it ever was (although I still love it, and can forgive it of most things), but The Sarah Jane Adventures did something that the original Doctor Who used to do so well; it entertains, mixing comedy and drama with a healthy dose of reality, keeping fun smack bang at its core. There’s always a level of intelligence behind the stories it tells, an emotional centre that all ages can relate to on some level. For the grown-ups there Sarah’s new life as a foster parent, or her failure to find a suitable partner (not that she considers such a need often – since leaving the Doctor she seems to have developed a romanticised image of him as her perfect man, which always jars with me since there was never any indication of romantic interest from Sarah back her time-travelling days). For the youngsters watching there’s the children who help Sarah in her battle against evil alien invaders and mad scientists (a staple of the finest Doctor Who stories).

But for me it’s the essence of the show; it carries that unidentifiable magic that attracts millions to Doctor Who. I can’t say I’m totally in love with everything they do with the character – witness her jealousy when the Doctor is comforting Jo in Death of the Doctor – that always seems to be beneath the character of Sarah, but then I suppose this a woman who has got used to being the only ‘old love’ in his life, and she’s faced with someone who she, herself, once replaced, and in turn feels replaced by, decades later. Speaking of Jo, that’s another thing about The Sarah Jane Adventures, it simple sparkles with nostalgia. Mentions of Sontarans before they even returned to the parent show, mentions of UNIT and the Brigadier, even Harry. Sarah is imbedded in the history of Doctor Who, and as a fan I can’t help but love that. It’s through Sarah we get re-introduced, finally, to the Brigadier, a character whose return to Doctor Who had been building up for years – it’s such a shame we never got to see the Doctor, the Brigadier and Sarah reunited in The Wedding of Sarah Jane Smith; that would have been a supreme moment of nostalgia for everyone watching. Alas, real life tragedy interceded, and a heart attack prevented Nick Courtney from returning a second time. But we did get another returnee from the Pertwee Years – one Josephine Jones, nee Grant. Yes! What a moment. Katy Manning is well-known for what she thought would happen to Jo in the years since leaving the Doctor to explore the Amazon with her new husband, but fortunately Russell T Davies stayed true to the real character of Jo, so that when she stumbled into the Doctor’s funeral service in Death of the Doctor there was no doubt it was the same woman. The same clumsy girl who’d first introduced herself to the Doctor back in 1971 by ruining his experiment. Brilliant. Nostalgia and comedy in one.

The final thing that will always be a personal point of interest for me is, conveniently, the final episode of the series. Many years back, in about 2003, me and my then partner asked Gary Russell to hire James Dreyfus for a Big Finish Doctor Who – we didn’t care which one, any one would do, as long as Gary would introduce us to him. Gary gave us a good reason why this would not happen, which I can’t really say here, and we were a little disappointed. Lo, in 2012 the boxset of series five comes out and who do I see in the very last episode but James Dreyfus? Some years late, and still haven’t got to meet him, but he did get to appear in the Doctor Who universe – and in a series Gary was involved in. Did Gary do that for me? It’s doesn’t seem likely, but I secretly think he did. He’s nice like that.

So, The Sarah Jane Adventures, for five years it stood as the best kind of spin-off we fans could ever ask for. It had nostalgia, it had clever use of continuity, it had fun, it had heart, and it had the essence of Doctor Who in every single episode. But most of all it had Elisabeth Sladen receiving the attention she was long overdue. It’s such a shame that the fifth series got curtailed, but more of a shame that the life of one of Doctor Who’s best companion ever had to end so unexpectedly. No one saw it coming – not even her daughter and husband. The diagnosis of Lis’s cancer was so sudden. It was kept private, and rightly so. The fans had no idea, and when the news of her death hit – well, it hit. Hit every single one of us. It certainly smacked me down. Perhaps because I almost got to work with her, perhaps because I know so many people who were part of her personal and professional life and I knew how it would hit them. Or perhaps it was simply because a world with Elisabeth Sladen, without Sarah Jane Smith, scarcely bears thinking about…

Sarah Jane Smith. She’ll live on, because Lis created in her such an amazing character. There’s not a single scene that Lis doesn’t liven up by simply being in it. All the way from the research centre in The Time Warrior to Aberdeen in The Hand of Fear, through her brief returns in 1981 and 1983, and all the way through every appearance since School Reunion in 2005 up to The Man Who Never Was in 2011.

I can hardly watch The End of Time without shedding a tear. Sarah’s looking across the road at the Doctor, who is standing outside the TARDIS. A silent moment passes between them, and Sarah just knows she won’t see him again. Not in that incarnation. That’s how it plays out. But now when Sarah’s eyes well up with that certainty, mine do, too. Because I know we’ll never see Elisabeth Sladen in any new Doctor Who again. The show’s fiftieth anniversary, and Lis should have been a part of it.

Sarah… Lis, you left too soon. But you go on always.

Happy New Year!

Well, this is it, the end of 2011. It’s been a rather interesting year for me personally, and a brilliant year for my career – although, even that is only a stepping stone to bigger things. Roll on 2012, I say!

Big thanks to all my loyal supporters!

To wrap the year up, here’s a rather amusing episode of Comic Guru TV (stay for the end, that’s hysterical!).

Publishing Prescott Style

Self Publishing by John Prescott

Hmmm, I feel honored to be asked to be a guest blogger on Andy’s page.  I promise I won’t keep you long. I will share some of my insights, successes and failures with self-publishing.  So here goes….

I did a ton of research when I got serious about my writing.  I studied the market, the publishing industry, and other avenues that writing takes.  I became pretty frustrated with the ‘state’ of the industry and decided to do a book of short stories to try and get somewhat of a fan base started and since traditional publishers don’t take too kindly to short story collections the decision was pretty much made up for me by going the self-publishing route.  I want to say now that it’s a choice I am happy I made.

I want to stress that if you do go the self-publishing route be prepared for A LOT of hard work, but its rewarding hard work and as my grandfather always told me, “There’s nothing wrong with hard work.”  I agree with that 100%.  This will also be a big challenge for you and you need to make up your mind that you want to do it way before actually starting it.  You are basically starting your own business and if you’re not 110% dedicated to it you won’t succeed.  I know that sounds harsh but it’s the truth, plain and simple.

The good thing about self-publishing is that you reap all the profits from selling your work.  You don’t have to split royalty payments which are very slim with a publisher.  The downside to this is that you don’t have the marketing dollars to spend that a big publisher does, but thanks to web and many other useful online sites this is becoming less of a problem.

Ok, so now you’ve made up your mind, I’m going to self-publish…now what?  There are numerous questions you need to ask yourself and the most important one is, what do I want to achieve with my writing?  Do I want to sell just a few books for some extra cash or do you want to aim higher and do this for a living?  All are good questions but you need to decide before you take the plunge.

So, now you’ve got your mind made up and you’re ready.  Now what?  Well, hopefully you have a novel or short story collection ready.  The options available for self-publishing now are tremendous thanks to new electronic technology.  You have plenty of choices to choose from such as: Print on Demand, E-books, and PDF sales. A lot of choice are there before you and you can pick and choose as you wish.  I chose to go through Amazon’s Create-Space with their print on demand service (one I HIGHLY recommend), and through their Kindle store front as well.  I do want to say that Create-Space is a breeze and a pleasure to work with.  They go over all the steps and the process if pretty simple and explained for everyone to understand.  Once you upload your book (to be printed) they will send you a confirmation they have received your files and will tell you if they are ok to print.  If they are ok you are ready order a proof and wait for it to come in the mail.  Once you ok the proof (it usually comes to your house within a week) it goes live within 24hours to the world on their website and you also have your own e-store through them.

You can then order books directly from them to sell yourself.  This is one option I highly suggest you do.  I will give examples why in a few.  The Kindle process is pretty much the same way, except you don’t get a proof mailed to your door, but what you do get is a preview on your computer of what your book will look like on the Kindle. So any changes can be made on the fly.  I do want to say there are other book selling sites out there; one good example is Smashwords.  Many of my author friends have stuff up there and are doing quite well with that website.  So do your research and hey, why not put your book up on all of them?

 

Now you have your books (assuming you ordered some physical copies to sell to people) and are wondering what to do.  I am going to list the things I did once I got my books in.

  1. Always keep copies of your book with you.  You never know when a potential sale will happen.
  2. Schedule some book signings. I do want to say don’t waste your time with the big chain stores i.e. Barnes & Noble, Bordes, etc.  This I foresee will change in the future but as of right now a print on demand book is still scoffed at by the big boys.
  3. Think of all the places that might be willing to sell your book for you.  You will NEVER know if someone will take your book in their store unless you ask!  In my home town I have my book in every hotel gift shop.  This has really been a blessing and a gold mine for sales.  Just think of all the people coming and going or stuck there for a week or more on business and need something to read and if that person has fellow friend(s) there on business with them…another sale!  The best part about this is that the book leaves the hotel with the guest and is more than likely passed on to someone else.  So your book is now being seen by more people in a totally different location that your home town.  Hopefully they like it enough to get their own copy or maybe just by word of mouth sales.  This is a great promotional tool and it only cost you about 30 minutes talking with the owner of the hotel.  Not too bad eh?
  4. Schedule some readings at your local library/coffee shop/ or anywhere you can think ok.  Everyone I’ve met so far gets excited when they can say they personally know a writer/author.  You will be surprised at the turnout.  Don’t be discouraged if you don’t have a lot at your first one.  You have to let the word get spread around a bit, but I can say that your next one you will see more people and if they like your stuff your next one will have even more people.
  5. See if your local newspaper will do a small article about you.  They surely won’t ever do one if you don’t ask them to!
  6. Always, ALWAYS be thinking of how to promote your work and then get out there and do it.
  7. If you are serious about your writing get a nice website done or start a wordpress blog to promote your work. WordPress is highly customizable to the point where it actually becomes a website.

Well, there is enough there above probably to have your mind going in about a million different directions.  I do want to add one more list for you.  It is as important as the list above.

  1. Network with other writers.  Don’t be afraid to ask for help.  Most were in your shoes at one time.
  2. Sign up and get a Facebook account and spread the word.  Facebook has been a godsend for me.
  3. Make sure you get a good editor for your work (even if you have to pay a little for it). This is one area I wish I had taken more time with.  Not that I’m complaining about the editor I used with my first short story collection. He’s great and he did me a wonderful job, best of all it was free.  But I wish I would have let a few more people see it in the writing world before it went to print.  I have however gotten it re-edited and touched up and now it’s in tip top shape.  So let this be a warning or hint on one step to that you do before putting your book out!
  4. Another place to help get the word out is a site called Scribd. You can put up a story there for free and let people come to your page and download it.  Smashwords allows you to put up stories for free as well, and I can tell you that some of my friends are seeing further sales because of this very thing.
  5. Keep on writing.  Please don’t stop just because you have a book out, unless of course you don’t plan on writing another one.
  6. If you do plan on making writing a career, write and keep submitting to places that will accept your work.  Usually the online mags give you a little section for your bio and HEY why not plug about your book there!
  7. Set a goal for yourself with sales. I’ve found I’m more apt and willing to get out there and sell my books with a goal sheet hung up on my wall above my laptop.
  8. Don’t get discouraged! Keep at it!
  9. This is probably the most important thing to me.  THANK the person that buys your book.  REALLY thank them for opening up their wallet and buying something that you wrote for their entertainment.  It goes a LONG LONG way, trust me on this.  I know you can’t thank everyone, the Kindle and Amazon sales don’t let you see who purchases your book, but the one’s you sell in person you can and you should!

 

Ok, I’ve taken up enough of your time.  I am going to provide links to the various sites I mentioned above.  I hope this has helped you in some way, even if only a little bit.  I want to thank Andy again for letting me be a guest on his blog, Thanks man! I appreciate it!

One last thing I want to do here and if I didn’t do it I wouldn’t be practicing what I preach.  Here are the links to my books I’ve self-published. If you buy one, THANK YOU for purchasing them.  It means more than I could ever say!

Before Sunrise (both the physical and Kindle links are there): http://www.amazon.com/Before-Sunrise-John-Prescott/dp/1451537913/ref=sr_1_3?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1290329867&sr=1-3

M is for Monster: Paperback- http://www.amazon.com/M-Monster-John-Prescott/dp/1453865675/ref=sr_1_82?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1290330015&sr=1-82

Kindle – http://www.amazon.com/M-is-for-Monster-ebook/dp/B0049P1QOQ/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&m=AG56TWVU5XWC2&s=digital-text&qid=1290330084&sr=1-1

You can also visit my website here: www.john-prescott.com and my Publisher’s website here: www.darkcontinents.com

Links for sources mentioned above:

Amazon Create-Space: https://www.amazon.com/gp/seller-account/mm-product-page.html?topic=200354160&ld=AZOnDemandMakeM

Amazon Kindle Author Page: http://forums.digitaltextplatform.com/dtpforums/kbcategory.jspa?categoryID=2

Scribd: http://www.scribd.com/

Smashwords: http://www.smashwords.com/

Facebook:  www.facebook.com

 

Best,

John Prescott