Monday, 27 August 2012

Writing For New Big Finish Range

Delighted to see that the first of my audio scripts for Big Finish has finally been announced on their website – this one for a brand new audio horror series called The Confessions of Dorian Gray inspired by the classic novel written by Oscar Wilde.

My script is called ‘The Houses In Between’ and will be the second episode released in October. Here’s the blurb from the Big Finish site:

Big Finish Productions is pleased to announce details for its brand-new audio horror series - The Confessions of Dorian Gray. Inspired by Oscar Wilde's classic story of hedonism and corruption, The Confessions of Dorian Gray imagines a world where Dorian Gray was real, and his friendship with Oscar Wilde spawned the notorious novel.

          The Confessions of Dorian Gray begins with their final encounter in Paris at the dawn of the twentieth century, continuing right through to 2007 and the present day.

          Alexander Vlahos (The Indian Doctor, Privates, and soon to make his debut as Mordred in Merlin) will star as the eponymous antihero.

         'We couldn't have been luckier in the casting of Alex,' says producer Scott Handcock. 'I've worked with him a few times now, and he's one of the most instinctive and exciting actors I've ever seen in studio. He's a real pleasure to work with and has been wonderfully committed to the project from day one! We have demons, romances, possession, ghosts - you name it! All of which offer fascinating glimpses into the mindset of Dorian Gray. And Alex has most certainly risen to the challenge!'

          A series of five half-hour episodes will be available to download weekly from October this year (priced £2.99 each or £12.99 for the series) and has been written by regular Big Finish contributors David Llewellyn, Scott Harrison, Gary Russell, Scott Handcock and Joseph Lidster. A Christmas special will then follow in December.

Here’s the details about my episode:

1.2. The Houses In Between


London, 1940. As German bombs begin to fall, Dorian's past starts catching up with him. Something is gathering in the rubble-strewn streets of the capital: something dark, malevolent and all too familiar. Something with a score to settle...

Written By: Scott Harrison
Directed By: Scott Handcock


Alexander Vlahos  (Dorian Gray)

Note: The Confessions of Dorian Gray contains adult material and is not suitable for younger listeners.


Friday, 17 August 2012

TV Novelisations

I was chatting on Twitter this morning with a few friends about TV novelisations something that’s been on my mind a lot of late, after I found the wonderful Open All Hours book from 1981 by Catherine Sparks (a writer, I’m informed by Stuart Douglas, who also penned one of The Good Life books – something I’m going to have to keep my eye out for!).

This find (in a little second hand book shop on the Yorkshire coast) was a complete surprise to me as until last Saturday I didn’t know it existed. This, naturally, got me wondering about all the other novelisations out there that I’ve no clue about.

Then, yesterday, I stumbled across news of a new Life On Mars novel being released as an eBook in September, and how brilliant it would have been had its cover been a parody of those fantastic 70s/80s paperback covers we used to see – especially those adorning the front of the TV tie-in novels I used to devour when I was growing up.

I’ve already spoken about the heaving book cupboard in our old house growing up which was full of my mother’s books (see here for more details), which became my training ground as both a reader and a writer. One of the things she used to have in there – besides a collection of wonderful old horror and SF titles – was almost the entire collection of James Blish penned Star Trek books and The Professionals series by Ken Blake.

I used to love those novelisations, not least because this was in the days when video hadn’t quite caught on and these books were the only way to relive your favourite TV shows. Even when we did get a video player*1 we only had a handful of The Professionals episodes on tape*2. So reading those books over and over was a good way of keeping the images of those episodes alive in my mind. Star Trek wasn’t as bad as it was repeated every Wednesday evening at 6pm on BBC 2 seemingly throughout the entire 1980s*3.

I guess you could say I caught the novelisation bug off my mother*4, and as I was growing up I used to read these books voraciously. I still remember quite vividly sitting in the living room of a top floor holiday flat in Bridlington during one particular two weeks' holiday, waiting for the rain to pass over; sitting next to my mother reading Star Trek 4 & 10 while she read the novelisation to series 1 of Auf Wiedersehen Pet. When we’d finished we swapped books.

Another time (in a different flat this time, round about 1983, as I remember seeing the trailer for the original V - mini series on the TV in the kitchen) I remember getting back to the flat after a day at the beach with a big bag of fish and chips and reading Terry Nation’s novel of Survivors for an hour or so before an episode of Tales of the Unexpected came on the TV (I was only 9 then and staying up this late was unusual for me, but as it was holiday I was allowed to stay up past 10 and watch it). I remember being creeped out by both the book and the Tales of the Unexpected episode and getting very little sleep that night.

These are all in my own collection now – either the above copies were given to me by my mother or I have replaced them as and when I’ve found them in bookshops.

I have gradually and lovingly built up a nice little collection over the years, scouring second hand and rare books shops for titles like The Sweeney 2: Regan & the Manhattan File by Ian Kennedy Martin, Robin of Sherwood & the Hounds of Lucifer by Robin May, Quatermass by Nigel Kneale (1979 series) and Sapphire & Steel by Peter J. Hammond (a novelisation of Assignment One).

I miss those times when a British TV series almost always used to get an accompanying novelisation, and so, it seems, do most of my writer friends on Twitter. It was a different time back then, when TV was much more than something you’d just sit and stare at, it was something you read about too - in books and comic strips and in the Radio Times. Something that was shown once, repeated, then seemingly gone forever.
I’m just glad that certain TV shows out there today have, or have had, their own range of novels for us to enjoy, such as Doctor Who, Torchwood, Primeval and Being Human, even some making a welcome come back, like Blake’s 7 and Life On Mars. It makes me feel like the tradition of an accompanying TV novelisations is continuing in some form or another.


*1 In 1985. The first thing we ever videoed was episode 4 of ‘V’ the series (actually shown as episode 3 as the real episode 3 was pulled because it was considered too violent – so now the character of Kyle Bates is introduced twice!)

*2 For anyone interested they were: Operation Suzie, Foxhole On The Roof, You’ll Be All Right and Spy Probe.

*3 Until possibly 1988/89, when it became The Invaders and Quantum Leap slot.
*4 Later, I rescued The Professionals books when my mother was throwing away a huge pile of books moving house. They now form part of my collection.

Wednesday, 1 August 2012

Countdown to November

In this month's issue of Vortex Magazine