Monday, April 18, 2016

Thursday, January 14, 2016

2015 - What a year!

2015 was an extremely busy and productive year, and so before I lose the memories forever (no doubt due to one too many whiskys at the bar), I thought I'd better chronicle them here.

Flawless success
So, my short film Flawless. Remember that? Well, it had a pretty good run last year. It's been shown at 23 film festivals across the world, including in New York, Lanzarote, Serbia, West Bengal, Puerto Rico, at Cannes in one of their screening tents, and at Aesthetica in York.

It was also selected for CERN's film festival Cineglobe, which meant I got to travel to Geneva and not only treat my lungs to the freshest air there ever was but also check out the facilities. The festival is dedicated to the connection between creativity and science and it was inspiring to learn more about the research that is taking place, as well as being introduced to the Borscht Corp, a film collective in Miami with some amazing films such as this one.

14/48 Leicester
I was also exposed for the first time to Leicester premier dramatic community, via 14/48 Festival - based on an idea from a bunch of cool people in Seattle, this is a festival where 14 plays in total are created, produced and performed in front of an audience all within 48 hours (7 plays per night). I took part as a writer, writing a new play through the early hours of the morning based on a theme drawn from a hat that evening, which was then assigned to a director and cast the following morning and performed later that evening. It was an amazing experience; it made me realise completely that fantastic things can be created with little time and no sleep, and also realise how lucky I am to live in such a great city that has this kind of arts community.

Circle of Two
This was a short film written in a night (albeit Jim Worrad did most of the hard work) and then filmed over 2 days as part of Colchester Film Festival's 60 hour Challenge. We were assigned a title "Circle of Two", a line of dialogue and an action that had to be included. Here is the finished product.

New films in development
I've been working on a new full length film script with Keith, Jim (aka the Flawless team) and Alison, which will hopefully be produced in 2016. Watch this space...

Novel updates
I've shelved the Banshee idea, and now am concentrating on the novel based on two sisters who are no longer witches but instead superheroes (earlier drafts are tagged "Matti"). Draft 1 is done, so as I move into 2016 it's editing time. Joy!

So that was 2015, in a nutshell. There's probably something I've left off the list, but all in all 2015 was pretty good. My plan is to keep up the momentum for 2016. Wish me luck, and good luck with your own writing projects!

Tuesday, September 02, 2014

Editing and commitment issues

I have become fickle in my middle age and seem to have developed commitment issues.
I'm talking about my writing of course. Whilst the film stuff is all chugging along nicely, The Novel has stumbled again. Having taken a little break from my Banshee novel, re-reading it plunged me into despair - so many plot holes, clichéd characters and saggy bits. And I do find it difficult editing my own work at the best of times.
So I am cheating on Banshee with Dorcas Grubb, a former lover I set aside a few years ago when I decided I wanted to write a novel for adults. So with Dorcas I have a story of just under 50000 words for 10-14 year olds that needs a new middle. 
I have also started on a new piece I have been toying with for a while called Three Sisters that is a YA novel set in the village of the title, which blends fairytales and myths with present day village teen life. With family feuds. And Grim Reapers.
My writing routine is improving, and I am hoping to finish the new version of Dorcas by Christmas. I'm sure nothing else will distract me before then...

Monday, August 11, 2014

Films (plural)

Flawless, the short film I co-wrote and mentioned in my previous post is still doing the rounds for various national and international festival submissions so isn't on general release yet. However, if you are based in Puerto Rico, you may have seen it at the end of July at CineFiesta festival. If you are based in the UK, Flawless has been accepted at the Worcestershire Film Festival (16-19 November) and at The Short Cinema Festival in Leicester on 27 August. SO FAR. I think it has been submitted into around 60 festivals worldwide. I will keep you posted.

In the meantime, I've been keeping busy. My second film (or more correctly mine and James Worrad's second film) is called Atonia, and it's a bit out of my comfort zone. It's a horror film about a girl's struggles between dream and reality. That's about as much as I can say at this point. I wasn't able to go and watch the filming for this one (aside from the last scene), and so rather than deprive you of the excitement of it, I'm going to redirect you to Jim's blog where he's written a fab summary about the filming process. Plus: pictures!

Really excited about this one, simply because it involves special effects and that's always cool. The young lead actress Jess O'Brien is amazing, and so I am really looking forward to seeing it once it is all pieced together.

Wednesday, April 02, 2014

My First Film

So you're probably wondering what I've been up to lately. "Long time no see" and all that. Well, I've been working on a few things, not to mention trying to liaise with my day job to actually try to reclaim something resembling a "work-life balance" in the hope of being able to have time to write something half decent.
Anyway, the project that I'm most excited about, the one that is almost completed, is my first short film Flawless, co-written by the wonderful Jim Worrad and produced by Badshoes Films.
Jim approached me back in January I think it was to see if I'd collaborate with him on a film project pitched by his amazingly brilliant director friend Keith Allott. The project, after much discussion and refining, was to be about a woman genius who tries to prevent her father's death when she was a young girl. It was to be a modern sci-fi fairytale. The script went through a couple of edits, with Jim building on my initial structure and adding his script for the "woman genius" sections to my script for the "young girl" sections and generally doing a bloody good job of blending the two together. And that was our part done really. Just like that.
And then the magic happened.
Keith gathered together a band of nomads and renegades and artists in the form of the production team and actors, and they created something so beautiful and touching it has reduced pretty much everyone who has seen the rough cuts to tears.
I think the current plan is to send the film off to some festivals once it is finally finished, but here is a photo from when I visited the crew on location to whet your appetite.
Keith with the actors on the soon to be famous bench on New Walk

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

My Humble Musings post-World Fantasy Con

I know it's been around 3 weeks since I went to World Fantasy Con in Brighton, but I'm still benefiting from its effects.
I'm not going to give you a run down of the Con itself, not the sessions I attended; my friend Selina has done an amazing job chronicling most of our adventures already.
I also won't comment here about the organisation of the event; this was my first big convention and so it's a shame to read reports about all the negative aspects of the event.
What I will share with you is what I learned from attending the event, one of the main inspirations to my sudden burst of writing drive.

1. Most people are lovely.

I think I can truthfully say that every person I spoke to was wonderfully welcoming and friendly to me. I went with the preconception that it might be a bit cliquey, especially as I'm new, but people were happy to engage in conversation, and even the famous authors I met were really generous with their time. I know this experience was not shared by all who attended the Con, and so I count myself lucky that I was surrounded by amazing people and didn't encounter and of the dross.

2.  No one knows shit about upcoming literary "trends"

This is something Neil Gaiman talked explicitly about at the World Fantasy Awards ceremony, but the theme was visible throughout the event. With medias changing and the "word of mouth" phenomenon growing (aided by the internet), no one can really predict what's going to take off in the next few years or even in what format or media it will appear. This hit home for me as I was reminded of about 4 years ago when I was told by an agent quite bluntly that girls don't read dystopian fiction and that no one would buy my book because there was no market for it, so why not try my hand at Steampunk instead?  Fast forward, post-The Hunger Games, and "dystopian SF" is the latest, hottest genre in the YA category. Don't get me wrong, in no way am I saying my novel would have been the next Hunger Games, but it did make me think: actually, people can be wrong, and that leads me into my next point...

3. Write what you love and write it well

This is advice I'd read or heard before, but after realisation number 2 above, it became much more apparent to me that now there is more of a free market, you should spend your time writing those stories that you love and with all the new publishing options out there, if it's good enough it will find its market. Be the trailblazer! Buck the trend! Create good art! That is the only way to combine creativity and personal happiness. Do what you love, and hopefully it should resonate with others who will love it too.

I was surprised by how happy I was at the convention - hungover, tired, yes, but happy - and rejoining the real world was a jolt. Attending the convention has strengthened my resolve from "wannabe" to "will be". I will finish Banshee and seek publication. It will be accepted and published and read. I will write a sequel, and a standalone, and another, and I will go to more conventions where I hope they will continue to inspire me and thousands of other "will be"s, way past the point where we become "I am"s.

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Status Update

So regular readers will know that I've been working on my Banshee novel for a little while now.
I'm starting to pull together my pitch and marketing ideas now, and for those of you who don't know, the premise of the story is that Caoimhe is a "normal" maths student, living with her best friend in London, until she is involved in a mugging that goes horribly wrong and she transforms into a banshee, keening a soul into the afterlife. You see, banshees in my mythology are actually more similar to grim reapers than flyer ghostly hags, and when they sing, it opens a portal to the otherworld. Hearing a banshee's song can kill a human or drive them insane, hence the bad press I suppose. Anyway, so now Caoimhe isn't who she thinks she is and has to work out why she is a banshee in exile, as well as deal with the new threat posed from this undercover community (someone's not too happy with her transformation), and to add complexity to the situation, she also has to try to save her best friend's arrogant boyfriend from becoming her next "victim".

As for the novel itself, I am about four chapters away from finishing this current draft, and have had to make a few changes. One of my characters was supposed to die at the end, but after the death of my grandmother in May, I just couldn't do it. Before you start telling me to "kill my babies" and all of that, actually this decision has led on to a healthy sub-plot for the sequel, so it's rather enhanced my story than diminished it.
After this draft is finished, I owe the manuscript another edit for language, consistency and grammar, and then I hope it'll be in a fit state to show the world. Hooray!