Writer and Author

Tag: About Me (Page 5 of 5)

On the Enduring Attraction of Dr Who…

I ended up getting completely distracted yesterday afternoon by the impending announcement about the next actor to be cast in the role of Dr Who.  I ended up in a texting conversation with the brother-in-law trying to guess the name as we both waited for the announcement to be made.

Ever since I can remember I’ve been mad about Dr Who.  The earliest shows I can remember watching were part of that familiar Saturday evening line-up in the seventies…Basil Brush, Star Trek and Dr Who. The doctor was the stand out highlight.  I like science fiction but I’m not a complete sci fi nut but with Dr Who it was different.

As a child of my time, I’m very much in the Tom Baker camp when it comes to naming my favourite Dr.  It’s very much a matter of age since the series has been running for more than 40 years and the role itself has been played by ten different actors.  Matt Smith, the new guy is number 11.  Ask someone who their favourite doctor is or was and they’ll invariably mention the actor who played the part in their childhood so for me it’s Tom Baker, but the husband, being a few years older, leans towards John Pertwee.  My nephews on the other hand, being eight and nine are firmly in the David Tennant camp, though at least their dad has made sure they’re familiar with the old series as well.

Forgive me if I’m sounding geeky, I’ve been a Dr Who geek long before the current hysteria.  It was always the highlight of the week when I was small and I still look forward to the Christmas special with way too much enthusiasm.  I  might not hide behind the sofa these days but still find it easy to suspend disbelief and get into the adventure.

I can remember visiting friends and acting out our own scenarios.  I seem to remember arguing to toss quite heatedly because I never got to play the doctor myself, reluctantly conceding that the doctor had to be a boy (something the show’s producers obviously agree on!).  I remember how I cried when the robot dog K9 was retired for the first time to cheer loudly when Tom Baker wheeled in a large cardboard box stamped K-9 mark II.

The one toy I wanted to quite obsessional levels, and never got, was a battery operated K-9 like this one.

Years later, once the show was revived and the husband finally got me a remote control K9 – it quite made my Christmas – even if it had arrived almost thirty years late.   For some reason the show had a special place in the imagination that no other science fiction show before or since has ever managed to quite match.

When a friend who was also an avid fan and used to act when he was younger got a part in a show with Patrick Troughton.  I was far more jealous that he had got to act with a former Time Lord than over the fact he had a main part in a high profile tv series.

I think my appreciation has changed over the years.  Since the new series started I watch it with as much appreciation for the writing as the whole Time Lord mythos.  When I was a kid I wanted to be in Dr Who.  I wanted to be a companion (once I got my head around the fact I couldn’t be the doctor) and take part in the adventures I watched every Saturday teatime.

These days I’d prefer to write the adventures.  I’ve been known to daydream about how the circumstances might come about (once I’d managed to become a best selling author and media darling etc, etc, etc.).  Well when you’re sitting in your pajamas in front of a blank page struggling to find the words you need for that first paragraph when the deadline’s far too close and you’re wondering why you ever got yourself into this in the first place, you need the odd carrot!

The idea of actually putting dialogue into the mouths of the doctor and his current companion is ludicrously attractive.  To maybe write a classic episode that people remember just as I can still remember episodes that went out in the mid seventies.

But I’ll just have to keep dreaming about that.  It’s not as if I’m even a script writer.  But you never know.  When I was a kid I never really thought I’d be an actual published author.  And a person has to have ambitions!

Getting ready to write…theoretically…

It happens every year, during those dead days when the presents and the turkey and the Christmas pud start to feel overly familiar.  The last few days when the New Year has been rung in but the tree’s still up and tedium reigns supreme.

We stick to the old twelve days of Christmas in our house.  The new year doesn’t start in earnest until January 6th when the tree is brought down for recycling and the decorations get zipped back up into their Ben & Jerry’s cooler bag and stowed in a cupboard while the days gradually get longer.

I’ve always waited until the 6th to take down the decorations.  January 6th was my dad’s birthday (he died when I was a baby) and it always seemed in some way appropriate to celebrate Twelth Night for him.  The husband holds a similar superstition and so up stay the decorations and all resolutions are put off until they’ve gone away.

To be honest, there’s not really much choice.  We live in a little terraced house and once the tree’s gone up, there’s limited room in the main living area.  With other drawers and cupboards hidden by laiden branches, my desk (in a corner of this main room – would probably be an idea to move but I like where it sits, in a little cubby hole under the stairs) become the repository for all the festive detritus that doesn’t have a home.

As I write I’m looking at three presents that haven’t yet been given, a bowl of Christmas chocolates and another one of nuts, various festive cds and dvds, a cat pencil sharpener that squeals whenever you sharpen a pencil by sticking it up it’s bum (ok that sort of lives there and was a Christmas present), various lengths of ribbon left over from present wrapping and six rolls of Sellotape and two tubes of Araldite glue.  I might not be the most consientious house frau but even by my standards that’s pretty ridiculous!

I know the obvious answer is to have a more minimalist Christmas but that’s something I just can’t bring myself to do.  For me Christmas is a puddle of light in an otherwise grim season and it’s a festival I always embrace wholeheartedly.  The other eleven months the house work can go hang if I’m on a deadline or the inspiration is actually doing what it’s supposed to.  But for the few weeks from the second week of December until the end of the first week in January I morph into a Stepford Wife and the writing tends to take a back seat.

Consequently once the end of the season is only a few days away the tension starts building.  Quite apart from all the work I know I have to do starting Monday (invoices to write, emails to send, a book trailer to shoot and some heavy editing to get stuck into) I’m itching to get the hoover out and vacuum up all the pine needles (my inner Stepford hasn’t quite evaporated yet).

I feel quite irritable all the time, waiting for the year to get started and to clear the festivities away for another year.  Because at the end of all, while I love Christmas and I wouldn’t change the way we do it for love or money, after a few weeks off I’m brimming with ideas and I can’t wait to get back into that zone again and start work.

In the mean time I’m doing what I can.  This is one resolution I can keep up in the brief interludes of peace I can find and the rest will follow next week.  Roll on the 6th!

Back From the West…

I got back from Ennis yesterday.  It was a pretty quick turn around just long enough for another round of signings and an interview with John Cooke on Clare FM.  I’ll post the interview when I get the chance.

I stayed the night with the sister of an old friend, who’s now a new friend and her lovely daughter Rachel.  It was a great night, just good food, nice wine and interesting conversation.  8-year-old Rachel paid me a massive compliment, using the presence of a real life author in the house (by which she meant me) as an excuse to stay up late.

It really made me think, talking to her about writing.  She writes stories herself and I was telling her how I had done the same when I was her age, in fact I don’t remember a time when I didn’t want to be a writer.  I may have been a journalist for a decade but it’s only now I can really call myself a writer as well.

I’ve spent so long, over the years of being an aspiring writer, reading interviews with published authors talking about how they were always writing stories as children and knowing I had done the same gave me hope.  Seeing the same hope on Rachel’s face was a weird feeling, knowing that somehow over the last couple of months I’ve gone from aspiring to actual writer.

Now granted, Devil in the Red Dress is not a novel.  It might tell a fantastic story but it is one hundred per cent true.  But a story like that is easy to tell and I’ve tried to make the book the lively read it should be.  It’ll be a while yet before I turn to fiction although it’s something I have been interested in for a while.

My apologies if this post is completely all over the place.  I’ve had a raging cold for the last few days and my brain is still in a bit of a heap.  Hopefully normal service will be resumed in the next couple of days.  I’m getting a bit fed up with coughing and sniffling my way around and anyway, there’s work to be done!

Less than 24 Hours to Go

By this time tomorrow night Devil in the Red Dress will be launched and will have officially been sent on it’s way.  As the launch gets closer I’m reminded of the days I spent working backstage in the theatre.

I thought I would be more nervous about tomorrow night but I suppose growing up as a theatre brat has prepared me for first nights.  My folks are both actors and I spent a lot of my teens going to both first and last night bashes.  My first jobs, in my summer holidays, were ASMing (Assistant stage manager if you’re not familiar with the term) for shows they were in.

Actually my title tended to be student ASM but came with the the same duties.  I would organise the props and change the scenery and help the actors with quick changes.

I’ve seen plenty of actors suffering from first night nerves but being back stage just felt the adrenaline rush of knowing that you’ve done all the preparation you can and now it’s in the lap of the gods.

That’s how I feel about tomorrow night.  The book is written and printed.  There’s nothing more I can do about that; the editing is finished and tonight it’s probably already on the shelves in some bookshops.  Now it’s up to me to step into the spotlight and play my part.

As the hours pass and we head towards tomorrow my mind keeps going back to those provincial theatres and the feeling as the audience took their seats when the play was about to start.  It was my job to call the time for the actors; the half, fifteen minutes before curtain up, ten, five and finally three – overture and beginners to the stage.

I remember sitting staring at the back of flats in the blue light of backstage beside the prop table.  Taped to the back of the flats were the prop lists, marked out scene by scene and the prop table was covered in a sheet of paper, similarly marked with outlines of the props drawn on to make keeping track easier.

There was always a hole somewhere on the flats through which you could peer out into the audience unseen and unblinded by the lights.  This time however I’m going to have to take centre stage.  It’s my name on the cover of the book and it’ll be me doing interviews to publicise it.

But when it comes down to it, this is the bit I recognise.  The waiting for reviews, getting an audience, talking it up.  This might be the first time I’ve had a book published but I feel as if I know where it goes from here.

So tomorrow night I’ll put on the slap put on my costume and step out.  And we’ll see where it goes from here.

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