Friday, 30 November 2012

Destination Mars

It has been - more or less exactly - a year since I finished Super Maxwell 3, The Isle of the Dead, and lost my publisher. Over the last 12 months I've struggled to write some other stuff, never really quite achieving what I'd hoped, and, to be honest, thinking about what I'd lost by no longer writing about the adventures of Maxwell, Billy, Dr Arcania, Juggernaut, and all of those characters and places I fell in love with.
Well, after a year out I've decided to once again return to Maxwell's world - no, I don't have a publisher, and yes I do have three effectively unpublished book sitting in my desk drawer, but writing is, essentially at best folly, and probably closer to madness than anything else - and in the end you've just got stand square and do what you believe in. And I believe in Maxwell Jones.
So in January I will start work on Super Maxwell 4: The Crimson King. This will be by far Maxwell's most ambitious adventure, and will see him returning to Mab (the ruined home of the ancient gods) on a rescue mission, then on to London (though a very different London from what you may know) and finally to Mars to meet at last the mysterious Crimson King.
It will take me a good two years to write The Crimson King, and in the meantime I will be working hard to get a publisher for Super Maxwell 1, 2 and 3 - so realistically it will be at least 5 years before you sit down to read the first page of Super Maxwell and the Crimson King. But one thing I can absolutely promise you - it will be worth the wait.

Thursday, 31 May 2012

Another swift about turn - straight into the clouds

Yes, I have finished my new play, Dead Funny, and No, I haven't returned to writing Lonely Emily.  It's the lure of the sun, I'm afraid, but I will be starting Emily again soon, with the intention of finishing a first draft by the end of June (always full of good intentions and bad deadlines, that's me!).  But first I had an idea for a short story, which I will print in full here when complete.
In the meanwhile, here's a little snippet. The story is called "I Wish I Could Fly" and it's about - well, probably not what you think it's about...


I Wish I Could Fly

‘I wish I could fly.’
            I look up from the bright black eyes of the tiny little bird in my hands.  Granda sits on his deck chair in the tiny, cold shed, he has his favourite pigeon, King Charlie, in his hands, fat and content and white and grey, and I can’t see his eyes under the perfect white of his flat cap.
            For a minute I’m not sure he has spoken at all.  At our side through chicken wire a dozen pigeon burr and purr filling the air with the warm, dry smell that only smells of pigeons and nothing else at all in the universe.  Outside it is raining, the noise of the drumming rain as loud as if we were standing in it, but Granda’s shed is clean and cold and bone dry.
            Then Granda looks up and smiles, his cat green eyes shining from a brown face that is nothing but wrinkles and scars and teeth as brown as conkers.  He holds up King Charlie, and lets him go.  The big fat pigeon flutters across the little room and lands on its perch with a comfortable shiver.
            ‘Would you fly away, Granda?’ I ask slowly.
            Grandpa lifts his mug of Bovril Plus to his lips.  I don’t know what the Plus is, but it is an amber liquid that made my eyes water when Granda told me to sniff it.  Granda drops it in his Bovril as generously as someone putting cream in their coffee.  Before he drinks he smiles again.
            ‘Where else would I want to be?’ Granda replies.

Friday, 25 May 2012

Sunshine and blisters

I have finished my new (well, new-ish, heavily rewritten "old" play) Dead Funny, despite the lure of that strange orange thing hanging in the weirdly discoloured blue sky. I'm now going to have a bit of a barbie break, have a toast to Queen Liz and then return to writing Lonely Emily on June 6th.
Who said I'm not organised?

Tuesday, 24 April 2012

Back to the past

I have finished the first half of Lonely Emily, and moved on to rewriting one of my old plays which I never finished, and hit a ... er ... slight snag.  I discovered the play - originally called The Man Himself and now renamed Dead Funny - was on floppy disk.  This wonderful piece of 20th Century technology is now as redundant as a pencil - more so, you don't have to download a pencil - but luckily a friend of mine had a piece of kit that saved my bacon and got my play onto that lovely piece of 21 Century tech - a memory stick.
My advice, stick with a pencil - and keep your fingers crossed that pencil sharpeners never become redundant.

Wednesday, 22 February 2012

It's just an allusion

I haven't blogged for a while as I have busily writing (the curse of the writer is that you have to write stuff, sadly) but I am now at the half way point of Lonely Emily (formerly Emily Alone and Lilly Alone). I was trying to get a first draft in the bag by the end of February, but unless I suddenly discover a time machine (unlikely, but not impossible) that probably isn't going to happen now.
It's a bit odd writing a book when you don't have a publisher, but oddly liberating too. Original Emily (alone/lonely/Lilly) was aimed at the under 12s - now, it's moved more towards my usual readership, 12-15 year olds, which means I can make it very, very scary - which is fantastic!
Part of the reason it has taken me a little longer to write is that I decided, as it was aimed at older readers, to be a bit more experimental, and add a some literary allusions to Charlotte Bronte's brilliant Jane Eyre - which I haven't read in over 20 years, so I was forced to read again. Believe me, it's not a chore, buy that book and read it, you'll thank me.
While Jane Eyre had a mad woman in her attic, my character, Emily Crow, has something far, far worse lurking in her attic...

Wednesday, 25 January 2012

Lonely, but not alone

After struggling a bit with general post-Christmas can't-be-bothered-ness I have started writing again. My aim is to put the new book into the Northern Writing Awards, and hopefully get a bit of support (but mostly to give me a goal, now I don't have a publisher). The book is now (probably) called Lonely Emily, and is aimed at a slightly older age group than I had originally intended, and will therefore be a LOT more scary!
What has inspired me most to start writing again is the news that my old playwrighting mentor Peter Straughan, along with his late partner Bridget O'Connor, has been nominated for an Oscar for his screenplay for Tinker, Taylor, Soldier, Spy. Peter helped me write my first play, Surf City, which indirectly led to getting my first book published, so I am very grateful to him for his support and guidance in those early days.
And it's nice to know that the good guys make it!

Thursday, 5 January 2012

Feeling Earnest

You could say the last few weeks have been a bit tricky.
After dissolving my contract with my publisher (more a matter of common sense than choice) and then managing to pick up another publisher, I have now managed to lose that publisher.
To misquote Oscar Wilde: "To lose one publisher, Mr Kerr, may be regarded as a misfortune; to lose both looks like carelessness."
I was, frankly, a bit fed up and considered throwing in the towel. But then Christmas came, I had a bit too much to drink and eat, got sick, got well, watched some good telly, watched some terrible telly, read The Wind in the Willows and A Christmas Carol, and watched a lot of Laurel and Hardy, and felt a bit more optimistic.
So, I go into 2012 determined to pick up my pen and do better. I don't know if Maxwell or Emily Alone will find a publisher in 2012, but I am certain that I should not give up - to quote old Oscar again:
"The aim of life is self-development. To realize one's nature perfectly - that is what each of us is here for."
I've known what I was here for - to write stories full of adventure, fun and humour - since I was five years old ... and I'm not about to stop now.
Happy New Year!