Monday, 29 March 2010

Interview with Paul Magrs

In the run up to Hub's Doctor Who Special I will be posting a series of small interviews with those writers who have kindly contributed specially commissioned pieces for the Easter Special.

The fourth interview is with bestselling novelist and Doctor Who writer Paul Magrs.

Hi Paul. Your Brenda & Effie series is a curious beast in that it can’t really be pinned down to any single genre, but seems to have its fingers in many pies: crime, science fiction, horror, comedy – there’s even a touch of Sax Rohmer. Is this indicative of your nature as a reader?

I like to read across every genre and dip into all kinds of things. But I think I’d call the Brenda and Effie Series – ‘Comic Gothic Mystery’, which seems to cover all the bases. There’s some Cosy Mystery in there, some Urban Fantasy and some Paranormal Romance. It’s essentially a series about amateur sleuths in a seaside setting with lots of spooky overtones – and jokes.

It’s obvious from reading your blog that you still have a great passion for classic genre television. You recently mentioned Children of the Stones, and there is, of course, Doctor Who. Have any other shows stayed close to your heart as you move further away from childhood?

Many, many TV shows still exert a weird power over me. I watch and rewatch lots of vintage TV. The 1984 BBC adaptation of The Box of Delights is still one of my favourite things ever. I love shows which, when I was a kid, seemed very racey and grown-up – and maybe I glimpsed an episode or two, staying up late when I shouldn’t. I love going back and rewatching those: I, Claudius and The Rock Follies – programmes like that.

As a writer you are quite prolific: Brenda & Effie novels, YA novels, audio plays for Big Finish and the BBC, Tenth Doctor novels, Iris Wildthyme collections and you continue to lecture at the Manchester Metropolitan University (my old university!). You must be very disciplined. Talk me through a typical working day for you.

I like to write first thing in the morning, if I can, and I like to get a thousand words done with my first pot of coffee. Then I’ve got some time for business correspondence, letters, email, blogging – and all that essential day-to-day writer’s stuff. And then usually I have an afternoon project that I have to crack on with – and that’s often a project with a more imminent deadline than the morning project. And when I’m teaching my MA classes they’re always in the evening – till about 9pm – either at the uni or online, from my computer. After that it’s time for reading and some telly. Long days, some times. But I think I’m pretty disciplined. I prefer to think of it as having excellent focus – and knowing how to keep it all fun.

Yeah, it’s a lot of projects – but in the last year or two I’ve been writing for some of my favourite characters in the world…! Brenda, Effie, Iris Wildthyme and Panda, Doctors Three, Four and Five and Mrs Wibbsey, Jo Grant and Tegan and Turlough, and Huxley the Novelizor from Verbatim Six…

Do you remember the first story you ever wrote?

I was writing from a very early age. When I was nine I was sending stories to Puffin and they were very encouraging, which was good of them. I remember embarking on a novel about our junior school class trip to an old house in Ireshopeburn in the Pennines. We went for a week in the February snow and it was just like being in a classic children’s adventure serial and, of course, I wrote a story about the snowy woods we walked in, and the haunted attic we slept in. That was probably one of the earliest things I wrote. Not counting the obvious stuff about the Daleks massacring the Mr Men, etc.

You wrote one of your Doctor Who novels, The Blue Angel, with your partner Jeremy Hoad. How was that? Was it a pleasurable experience, and do you have any plans to do it again in the future?

Collaborations are hard to get right. We did that one because, due to work, we were living in two different cities and it was nice to have a big daft project to work on together. Another big collaboration I did was the Doctor Who audio, The Wormery, which I wrote with Stephen Cole in 2002. Collaborating can be great fun – like a game of consequences.

Who or what has had the biggest creative influence on your writing?

That’s really hard to say. It changes all the time. Individual authors and books, of course – Anne Tyler, Terrance Dicks, Malcolm Hulke, James Blish, Roald Dahl, Alan Bennett, Angela Carter, Susan Cooper, Christopher Isherwood, John Irving, Nina Bawden, JD Salinger.

And my Mam was the biggest influence because she always told me I’d be able to do what I most wanted to do in my life. She has always been a reader and encouraged that love of books in me, and it always felt like an obvious thing that I would become a novelist.

What piece of advice would you give to an aspiring writer?

Think about your audience, all the time. Who are you picturing when you put this book together? Think about giving the reader a good time.

And: if you’re bored and cross writing the thing – then, chances are, they’re going to be bored and cross, reading it. Lighten up.

One of the mistakes people starting out – in fact, all writers – often make is that they equate serious with earnest. Important with pompous. Entertainment with superficiality. Overwrought unreadable nonsense with cleverness.

Just make it readable. And remember that style is something that doesn’t draw attention to itself.

You might even want to make people forget that reading is what they’re doing. You might want to make them think they’re inside the story itself, and it’s all kicking off around them.

Do you still have any writing ambitions that remain unfulfilled? A TV script, perhaps? A script editing post? Or your own TV series?

Yes, given my passions, I’d love to have some stuff on TV. It’s a shame that hasn’t worked out yet. My TV episodes – of whatever it was – would be brilliant. And worth waiting for.

You can catch up with Paul at his website & blog at

His latest Brenda & Effie novel Helle's Belles is available from Headline on April 1st in paperback.

Paul's YA novel Diary of a Doctor Who Addict is available now from Simon & Schuster.

The fifth and final interview will be with Torchwood and Sarah Jane Adventures scriptwriter Joseph Lidster.

Thursday, 25 March 2010

Interview with Mark Morris

In the run up to Hub's Doctor Who special I will be posting a series of small interviews with those writers who have kindly contributed specially commissioned pieces for the Easter Special.

The third interview is with Mark Morris, bestselling horror novelist and Doctor Who Magazine poll-topping author of Tenth Doctor novels Forever Autumn and Ghosts of India.

Hi Mark. There are quite a few writers and critics out there who believe that the Horror genre shouldn’t be taken serious and that the modern Horror novel has no place amongst ‘proper’ literature. How would you respond to this?

In my opinion, most of those critics have never actually read any horror fiction, because they consider it beneath them, and so are preaching from a pulpit of ignorance. I read very widely – horror, science-fiction, crime, mainstream, non-fiction – and have found there to be good and bad writing right across the board. Good horror, like all fiction, deals with big human issues – life, death, love, madness, alienation, grief, anxiety, hope, despair – and indeed, many so-called literary or mainstream writers have written ghost and horror stories. MacBeth is a horror story. Similarly The Tempest and A Midsummer Night’s Dream are full of dark, fantastical elements. Charles Dickens wrote ghost stories – A Christmas Carol, The Signalman etc. Many modern literary writers delve frequently into the supernatural: Ian McEwan, Rupert Thomson, Kingsley and Martin Amis, Patrick McGrath, Bret Easton Ellis, John Harwood, Haruki Murakami…the list goes on.

The Horror genre today is a very different beast to the one that was thriving in the Seventies & Eighties. Do you see this as a good or bad thing?

In the 70s and 80s horror was really booming, and as such there were lots of cheap rip-off novels based on the various trends of the time. After Rosemary’s Baby and The Exorcist, for instance, we got a million and one novels about evil demonic children, and after Jaws came a slew of books about killer dogs, cats, crabs, spiders, crocodiles, rats etc. Unfortunately after this incredible boom came the ‘bust’ period of the 90s and the early 00s. There was still a lot of good horror fiction being written, but most of it was being published by high-quality small press publishers like PS and Subterranean and Cemetery Dance. This was fine for discerning readers, but it’s been very tough for writers. It’s much harder to make a career as a horror writer now than it was fifteen years ago. There are, happily, palpable signs of recovery, in that various mass market publishers are actively looking for good quality horror fiction again. But hell, the whole market has changed in the last fifteen, twenty years. People in general – mainly young people – just don’t read as many books as they used to. It’s a worrying trend.

If you could travel back and give the yet-to-be-published Mark Morris one piece of advice what would you say?

Don’t spend all your big advances at once! Save for the future. Your career will be full of ups and downs. Remember, this writing lark is a marathon, not a sprint… that kind of thing.

The walking dead, or zombies, is a theme you’ve revisited a couple of times in your novels, are there any other popular Horror ‘monsters’ you’ve considered using?

I love werewolves, and if I came up with a really good, original werewolf idea I might give it a go. I have written one werewolf story in the past – Immortal, which appeared in the Mammoth Book of Werewolves back in 1994 and has just been re-issued as the Mammoth Book of Wolf Men to cash in on the recent, very disappointing movie. Re zombies, I ought to say that, although I love them, they have been imposed on me a little bit just recently. I submitted an idea to Big Finish about a zombie virus created by the Daleks and distributed in the form of acid rain. When this was originally rejected, I then decided to do an all-out, no-holds-barred zombie fest in my Torchwood novel, Bay of the Dead. Then Big Finish came back to me and asked me whether I’d like to do my Dalek/rain zombie story as part of their Stockbridge trilogy. And then Big Finish employed me again for another project (which I’m not allowed to talk about at the moment), because part of the story arc involved a mad scientist who brings the dead back to life, and they thought I’d be ideal for that.

So I’m now officially zombied out. For the time being, at least.

Which book do you wish you’d written?

Oh, lots. Far too many to go into here. Part of the reason I write is to try to re-create and convey the sheer pleasure I’ve gleaned over the years from the work of writers like Stephen King, Ramsey Campbell, Peter Straub, Jonathan Coe, James Lee Burke, Rupert Thomson, Jonathan Carroll, Magnus Mills…oh, many, many more.

From this moment forward you can only read one book, listen to one album and watch one film, what would they be?

I hate these kinds of questions. So much of what I want to read or watch or listen to depends on my mood at the time. However, if pushed, I’d say my book would be a great big, hand-picked anthology of my favourite horror short stories; my album would be a Stranglers compilation (my favourite band of all time); and my film… this is a tough one. I’m tempted to say Psycho, because in many ways I believe it’s the perfect film. But I absolutely adore the old Hammer and Amicus films I grew up with, and so I’d probably choose a huge, 10-hour long Amicus portmanteau movie – an amalgamation of From Beyond The Grave, ‘Asylum, Tales From The Crypt and The House That Dripped Blood, starring Peter Cushing, Christopher Lee and Vincent Price, and co-starring lots of lovely character actors from the 60s and 70s.

Who or what has been the biggest creative influence on your writing?

There are lots of influences: my old 3rd year English teacher, Mr Hodgson; Doctor Who – and indeed, many of the seminal TV shows I grew up with in the 70s; the Pan and Fontana books of Horror and Ghost stories; the work of Nigel Kneale, Brian Clemens, Stephen King, Ramsey Campbell and (in my teenage years) James Herbert; The Sex Pistols, The Stranglers, The Damned, The Clash… all of this stuff filters through in one way or another.

What piece of advice would you give to an aspiring writer?

Write every day. Write as much as you can. Be Flexible (I meet so many people who just want to write for Doctor Who). Keep submitting your stuff. Listen to advice from editors, publishers, agents, etc. Don't take rejections too personally. Be prepared for a long, hard road, full of ups and downs.

Mark's official website is at

His Doctor Who novels Forever Autumn and Ghosts of India are available from BBC Books.

To download and/or order Mark's Big Finish audio plays go to

The next interview will be with Doctor Who writer and author of the popular Brenda & Effie novels Paul Magrs.

Monday, 22 March 2010

Interview with Andrew Cartmel

In the run up to Hub's Doctor Who special I will be posting a series of small interviews with those writers who have kindly contributed specially commissioned pieces for the Easter Special.

The second interview is with Andrew Cartmel, Doctor Who's script editor from 1987 - 89, novelist, playwright and comic book scribe.

Hi Andrew. You’ve had a very varied career so far; written books, TV and audio scripts, a stage play and worked as script and magazine editors. Do you have a preference for working in one of the above formats? Perhaps one is slightly more satisfying than the others?

Two are more satisfying than the others, and not just slightly — writing novels and writing stage plays. Here the writer is king and retains creative control. The main difference is that with plays you’re dead unless you find a sympathetic and talented director to collaborate on your work. Tennessee Williams had Elia Kazan. Harold Pinter had… who the hell did Harold Pinter have? Anyway, luckily I’ve found one in Conrad Blakemore who directed my political thriller Under the Eagle. As for novel writing, I’ve just completed a hot new spy thriller which my hot new book agent, Julian Friedmann, is in the process of selling.

I notice from your blog that music plays just as big a part in your life as reading and writing. To what degree has music been an influence on your writing output over the years?

I’ve always loved music. It used to be the Rolling Stones. These days it’s mostly jazz or film music, although I’ve been known to slip in some Stravinsky when no one is looking. It was Ben Aaronovitch who gave me the idea of listening to music to set the scene of what I’m writing, although I’m not very rigorous about that. I listen constantly while I work, but the music doesn’t have to precisely match the mood of what I write, it just has to engage me, and hopefully excite me on some level.

As script editor Terrance Dicks’ philosophy was get the first draft in, get the writer to do a second draft, then he’d take care of all rewrites after that. Russell T. Davies on the other hand has been known to push the writer to do as many as ten rewrites. How do you approach the job?

After three or four drafts the only reason a script goes on being rewritten is if the goal posts are being moved, which will demoralise and destroy a writer while exhausting the script editor. If, on occasion, I’ve gone beyond three or four drafts it’s because I was working with a novice writer whom I was very eager to help make their debut. As a rule I always tried to get the writer to do their own rewrites. This not only maintains their interest and sympathy, it involves less work for the script editor! On occasions when I wrote scenes or dialogue for other writers I tried to do it with their consent and cooperation, usually over the phone.

There are some writers who write when the mood takes them, others need discipline and structure just like any other job. Talk me through a typical writing day for you.

I tend to work a day on and a day off. On my day off I frequently go to the movies. On my day ‘on’ I start work after breakfast, or even during breakfast, sitting at the computer with a bowl of cereal. At that stage I basically just want to get the story back into my mind so I can think about it, although I might do a little light tinkering and revising. Once I’m thinking about the story I like to go and do some mindless physical activity, like hoovering the house. While I’m doing this undemanding work I’m turning the story over in my head and deciding what to do with it today. Then I turn on the music, sit down at the computer and get to work. I work fairly steadily until I’ve achieved my goal for the day. For prose that might be one or two thousand words. For a script it might be five or ten pages. In any case, a substantial chunk of whatever’s in hand.

When you sit down to write a novel do you work from a detailed plot outline or do you just sit down with a basic idea and see where the story takes you?

I know some writers follow the ‘where the story takes you’ route and that’s what I used to do. But I’m now a convert to working from a detailed storyline which is a map of the entire novel. I divide the novel into a fixed number of chapters, work out roughly what will go into each chapter and then create a bunch of blank documents, one for each chapter. I chop up the storyline and cut and paste the appropriate chunks into each document. Crucially, I give each chapter a title which not only serves as a reminder to me of its contents but also, if I get it right, makes it an inviting prospect to write. If I hit on a title I like, I’ll be looking forward to writing that chapter. The more lurid or funny the title, the better. Often the titles survive into the text of the book. I’m a big fan of Dashiell Hammett and Kurt Vonnegut, both of whom used chapter titles.

What’s the most untrue, outrageous or hurtful thing you’ve ever read about yourself either online or in a magazine?

Soon after I started work on Doctor Who I found my name in all sorts of fanzines. This was a thrill — for about thirty seconds — until I read something about myself which annoyed me. It stuck in my head for days. It struck me then that reading about yourself is a mug’s game. I’ve scrupulously avoided it ever since. The only time I’ve subsequently read anything about myself or my own work was when I was doing the publicity for one of my own plays and was obliged to read the reviews to see if there were any useful quotes. (There were: “Bitingly funny” — Time Out.)

What piece of advice would you give to an aspiring writer?

I used to prepare for a project by writing notes about the events in the story or biographical notes about the characters. These notes were written as if I was preparing for an essay — in an abstract, remote, objective kind of way. By the time I’d written such notes I found I’d pretty much killed the urge to write the story. The problem is that the analytical part of the mind which is good at that kind of detached, methodical, rational thinking isn’t the same as the subjective, intuitive, artistic part of the mind you need to write well. Now I have a completely different and vastly better approach. When I write notes these days I try to write them absolutely in the world of the story. For instance instead of making notes about the plot, I’ll write a fragment of the story itself, or better yet, have a character talk about what’s happening. As for the characters themselves, I never write any kind of biography. Instead I try and catch a bit of dialogue in their authentic voice. Just one line of good, idiosyncratic dialogue can bring a character emphatically to life. A good, vivid, memorable name is also crucial for a character. In fact, sometimes a good name is enough.

And finally…What does the future hold for you in the writing arena? Are there any more novels in the pipeline, or have you plans to return to television?

I mentioned my spy novel, which is entitled Operation Herod, and is kind of James Bond for the 21st century, though it has a sardonic sense of humour which is a departure from the Bond books. In tone it’s perhaps more like Flashman. That’s out there with publishers. Interestingly, I wrote one other espionage story, some while back. It was an original novel based on The Prisoner TV series from the 1960s. It’s called Miss Freedom and it’s about to be printed, after some delays, and if you remind me I’ll give a link to the publisher’s website. I’ve also completed two stage plays which are vying with each other to go into production on the London fringe, with a bit of luck the first one will be staged this autumn. Lastly my television agent Janet Fillingham is busy placing me on a huge hit drama series. I don’t want to say which one until a contract is signed, because I don’t want to jinx it. Maybe not even then!

Andrew's blog can be found at

Similarly Andrew's agents can be found at (Book) and (Screenwriting)

For more information on Andrew's forthcoming novel The Prisoner : Miss Freedom check out Powys Media's website : His book Script Doctor - The Inside Story of Doctor Who is still available from

Next interview will be with British Horror author and poll-topping New Who novel writer Mark Morris.

Thursday, 18 March 2010

Interview with Simon Clark

In the run up to Hub's Doctor Who special I will be posting a series of small interviews with those writers who have kindly contributed specially commissioned pieces for the Easter Special.

To kick off with we have bestselling British Horror author Simon Clark.

Hi Simon. There are quite a few writers and critics out there who believe that the Horror genre shouldn’t be taken serious and that the modern Horror novel has no place amongst ‘proper’ literature. How would you respond to this?

Literature and story-telling is involved with people who are experiencing extreme situations that provoke extreme emotions. Love is an obvious one. But dramatic situations often involve fear, or out-and-out horror. For example, fear of attack, fear of failure, fear of losing control of our lives. So, if you look at the myths and stories that have evolved with humanity a huge number involve some horrific situation whether it be plagues, monsters, vengeful gods unleashing disasters. We’re hard-wired to expect confrontations with horror at some point in our lives. Reading about horror or watching horror movies is perhaps a form of rehearsal for that big dramatic event we subconsciously anticipate is just around the corner.

The Vampires in your popular ‘Vampyrrhic’ saga are based rather heavily in Norse mythology. Was this a conscious decision on your part to make them different from Vampires in other novels?

Yes, when I decided to write a vampire novel I wanted my vampires to be completely different to the fictional vampires that were around at the time. My vampire-like creatures are the product of Viking gods seeking revenge on humankind for abandoning them. On a broader note, mythology’s deeply tangled up with my imagination. Much stems from my history teacher father who would regale me with the beliefs of Vikings, who invaded the area of Yorkshire where I grew up. He talked about legends in the same breath as he talked about historical fact. The two became fused into one for me. It still seems to me that humanity’s ideas about creation, life after death, heroic deeds, and so on, are as much a part of human history as road-building, windmills, cities and the rule of law. To pop in an analogy here: humanity is the glass orb of the light bulb, mythology is the electricity that makes it radiant (equally, to a dispassionate alien observer of Earthlings, sport, dancing, music and other arts would appear irrational behaviour. But we need ‘em. File that need under Man Shall Not Live By Bread Alone.)

If you weren’t writing Horror what would you be writing right now?

I’d be writing in any other genre. BUT it would always emerge as horror. I’ve written crime and sci-fi in the past and it always slides into the horror zone.

Do you meticulously plan your novels or just set out optimistically with a vague plot line?

I guess I’ve got a sixth sense that tells me that an idea for a novel will erupt into life. Generally, I try and allow the idea to gestate; as it does so I start jotting notes; those notes come faster and in more detail and suddenly it feels I’ve logged onto a fully formed story. The trick is to get it out of my head and onto the page. However, as I write the novel I then tend to map out the plot, so I know where I’m headed.

Which writers had the biggest impact on you growing up, both as a reader and an aspiring writer?

When I was a child I loved reading spooky stories, and the classical myths and legends. The first ‘adult’ writers I got myself hooked on were Asimov, Arthur C. Clarke and John Wyndham. The first writer that triggered a kind of epiphany where I truly began to understand the sheer power of words was Arthur Machen (1863-1947). This Welsh wizard wrote in such a way it has the power to transfigure mind and soul (at least I think so!). As an aspiring writer, Machen was so important to me. I loved his autobiographies that chartered the struggles and excitements of a fledgling writer.

You’re throwing a dinner party and you can invite anyone, living or dead. Who would you invite?

Shirley Jackson, Arthur Machen, William Hope Hodgson and Edith Nesbitt. All these writers have a visionary element to their work. Arthur Machen is a brilliant, mellifluous wordsmith. Shirley Jackson is first rate at writing chilling fiction. Just check out The Haunting. William Hope Hodgson wrote the mighty Night Land (1912); this features adventure and monsters, and a vast pyramid shaped fortress that sits in a desert at the closing of the world. Both Hodgson and Machen influenced HP Lovecraft who in turn influenced many a famous horror writer. Edith Nesbitt wrote her fiction over a hundred years ago and it is incredibly sassy, sexy and powerfully horrific.

We’d pour the wine and talk late into the night. Ah, I can dream, can’t I?

Which book do you wish you’d written?

If I’d written Machen’s The Great God Pan, which is one of my favourites of all time, then I couldn’t have enjoyed it in the same way. It’s superb, transcendent work. I’m glad I didn’t write it, though. This way I can sit back and enjoy the magical prose.

Which one of your novels so far are you most proud of and why?

That’s like asking a parent to name their favourite child. However, Blood Crazy produces a twinkle in my eye. The book has such a cult following world-wide and generates fan mail every week. Blood Crazy almost has a life of its own now and has been translated into Russian, Greek and Japanese.

What piece of advice would you give to an aspiring writer?

Never give up. That is, if you truly want to become a writer. Persistence is the key. If you keep trying to write you will keep learning, and you will get better and better. It’s alright if your stories are awful to begin with. They will improve.

What can you tell me about what you’re working on right now?

I have a few projects at a nebulous state, so wouldn’t want to go into detail just yet, as I don’t have titles and so on. However, one book that is released in March, 2010 is Humpty’s Bones from Telos. I started this as an exercise in short story writing. Happily, the lives of the characters fascinated me so much that a short story became a novella, and I’m just so thrilled with the power of this piece. The idea began simply with a woman discovering what appeared to be an ancient shrine at the bottom of her garden. As she digs deeper she discovers a skeleton that becomes increasingly peculiar as she tries to piece the bones together. Then come some very strange events…

Thank you Simon for taking time out of your busy writing schedule.

Thanks for inviting me to be part of your blog, Scott!

Simon's official website is

Simon Clark's latest novel Whitby Vampyrrhic is out now in hardback from Severn House.

Tuesday, 16 March 2010

Exclusive Interviews

Very busy time at the moment. As well as my other writing and editing commitments I'm preparing short interviews with the writers who are contributing to the Hub Doctor Who Special. Rather generously all the writers have agreed to take a little time out of their busy work schedules to participate in a brief Q & A about themselves and, more importantly, their writing. These interviews will be published exclusively on this blog. I'd like to thank them all for their time and effort.

I am hoping to get an interview posted on to my blog every few days during these last three weeks until the Hub Special at Easter. The first of these interviews should be going up at the end of this week, with the others following soon after.

First up will be Horror author Simon Clark, script editor Andrew Cartmel and novelist Mark Morris.

On the downside, though, my own writing is taking a bit of a bashing which is a real bitch. My short story for Big Finish is being chipped away at in my free moments and my novel has been put on hold until other projects have been completed.

On the plus side I've been approached to write reviews for another online magazine site, but I'll have more details on that when things have been sorted.

Saturday, 13 March 2010

Hub Easter Special (part II)

I'm now able to confirm that the fifth contributor to the forthcoming Hub Doctor Who special will be bestselling British novelist Paul Magrs. A regular contributor to the Big Finish audio range, writer of 5 Doctor Who novels (including the recent Tenth Doctor book Sick Building) and numerous Young Adult novels, Paul is perhaps best known for his excellent series of Brenda & Effie sci-fi/fantasy detective books. Set in the North Yorkshire town of Whitby the series has seen guest appearances by HG Wells' Martians, Frankenstein's Monster, Dracula and the wife of Fu Manchu!

His latest novel Diary of a Doctor Who Addict has just been released and will be reviewed here soon.

Also, in the run up to the release of the Doctor Who special there will be a series of interviews with the contributors published exclusively on this blog!

Interviews will begin THIS WEEK with bestselling Horror author Simon Clark and Doctor Who script editor Andrew Cartmel.

Friday, 12 March 2010


Within the next few days I will begin posting regular reviews of novels and short story collections on this blog starting with Simon Clark's latest terrifying hardback Whitby Vampyrrhic and Paul Magrs' new YA novel Diary of a Doctor Who Addict. Please keep popping back.

Hub Easter Special (part I) UPDATED!

Work on editing the forthcoming Hub Magazine Doctor Who special is going great guns. Currently at work on the Fifth Doctor article which will be appearing in Issue 15 next weekend. The Special should be hitting your inboxs on Easter Weekend. Meanwhile contributions are coming in thick and fast from some great names that have been linked with the programme both past and present in one way or another.

Andrew Cartmel was script editor on the show from 1987-89, the entirety of the Sylvester McCoy era, and was instrumental in injecting the show with a darkness and mystery that had all but vanished since the mid to late 70s. He has also written a novel based on the cult 60s series The Prisoner, four Doctor Who novels and an audio play for Big Finish.

Simon Clark is one of Britain's highly regarded horror authors with over two dozen novels under his belt including the much acclaimed Vampyrrhic saga and The Night of the Triffids, the official sequel to John Wyndhams classic. Simon also wrote the novella 'The Dalek Factor' for the popular Telos series of Doctor Who books. His latest novel Whitby Vampyrrhic has just been released in hardback.

Joseph Lidster wrote the fantastic series 2 Torchwood episode 'A Day in the Death' as well as The Sarah Jane Adventures episodes 'The Mark of the Berserker' & 'The Mad Woman in the Attic' not to mention more Big Finish Doctor Who audio plays and short stories than you could shake a green slime-covered tentacle at.

Mark Morris is a bestselling Horror novelist as well as the Doctor Who Magazine poll-topping author of the Tenth Doctor novels Forever Autumn and Ghosts of India. Along with over a dozen serious Horror novels to his credit including Toady, The Secret of Anatomy and The Deluge, Mark first entered the Doctor Who arena in the mid-1990s with the publication of his novels The Bodysnatchers and Deep Blue.

More contributors will be revealed over the next few days, so please keep popping back and checking out my blog.

So far everyone's been so helpful, keen and eager to be a part of this Doctor Who special and it's been a pleasure working with them. All of the above names and those still to be announced are huge fans of the show, classic as well as the new series, and are only too delighted to devote some of their precious time to making a small, but vital contribution to the collection and for that I am very grateful. It has even given one or two of them the opportunity to indulge in their DVD collection when otherwise they would be chained to their writing desk or staring out of the window for inspiration. I'm just glad I've been able to liberate them, if only for a brief period of time!

Between now and Easter I'm also planning on reviewing Simon Clark's latest novel 'Whitby Vampyrrhic' as well as 'The Diary of a Doctor Who Addict' the new Young Adult novel by genre novelist Paul Magrs

Tuesday, 2 March 2010

Werewolf Lament

Over the weekend I accidentally stumbled across a bargain. While shopping in Sainsbury's I managed to pick up the 2009 2-disc release of the 1981 horror classic An American Werewolf in London for only four of your earth pounds. Like the man who had fallen on to the railway lines I was chuffed to bits.

Now, when it comes to movies and literature I have two great passions: Sci-Fi and Horror. Certain aspects of the horror genre are thriving nicely at the moment; the slasher flick, zombies, George A. Romero remakes...but what of the humble vampire and werewolf? Vampires are, arguably, going through a bit of a rough patch what with Stephanie Meyer's fucking dreary teen-vamp angst-fest that's slowly rotting its way into both literature and TV/Film. It would appear that the world and his wife have jumped on a bandwagon that appears to be hurtling out of control, with writers such as P.C. Cast, Claudia Gray, Ellen Schreiber and Richelle Mead all vying for their piece of this lucrative market.

If it wasn't for such important genre writers such as Simon Clark, Charlie Huston, John Ajvide Lindgvist and Kim Newman blazing a, frankly, refreshing and vitally crucial rail, vampire fiction would be completely fucked for anyone above the age of 13 years old!

But what of the poor werewolf? It would appear that this particular creature of the night has been relegated to playing second fiddle to it's more 'teen-friendly' brethren, continually taking supporting roles in the novels of authors such as Sherrilyn Kenyon, Tim Waggoner, Kelley Armstrong and the aforementioned Ms Meyer.

And in the movies...not a sniff. Apart from the Universal remake of The Wolfman, which, and lets be honest here, looks absolutely awful. On the big screen too the werewolf has become the 'guest star'. The disappointing Underworld series, the awful Van Helsing, the cheap and nasty Twilight series...just background characters or the shady villains battling against the 'misunderstood' vampires.

Werewolves are scary. Vampires may be a lot more interesting, complex and multi-layered, but nothing chills the blood like the howl of a werewolf. Forget your lurching zombies, knife-wielding maniacs or little Japanese girls that climb out of your TV, there's nothing like the cracking-boned, stretching-limbed, hair-growing transformation of a man into some snarling, eight foot beast that will have you lying awake at night, peering from under the covers and listening to every creak and moan of floorboard out on the landing.

I bought An American Werewolf in London on DVD on Saturday and watched it that night. It's still brilliant. It's still chilling. It's still terrifying. And you know what...there wasn't an angsty, misunderstood, broody teenager in sight. Why aren't people still making werewolf films like this anymore? And just why are we putting up with this seemingly unstoppable landslide of teen-angst vampire rubbish?