It’s been a very busy few weeks, and hey, I’m still getting over being given the job of writing Excalibur for Marvel Comics, but we’re off to Japan for three weeks on Tuesday, so I thought I’d better blog now and sum everything up.
Last weekend we had the pleasure of attending MeCon in Belfast. Relaxed to the point of a few of us guests having to get together and invent new panels for luminaries such as Ian McDonald and Catie Murphy to be on (them having been invited, but not scheduled), it was nevertheless a warm and lovely do. Iain Banks was friendly and funny (we added two panels for him too). It’s always good to see Leah Moore and John Reppion. Many new friends were made. And there was an SF pub quiz on the Friday night. My lot came sixth, or was it eighth? Ian’s now the proud producer of the Ulster version of SesameStreet, and has been tasked with designing his own Muppets. So he’s happy. I finished the new Harry Potter in the B&B, just in time to rave about it on a panel. In a short weekend, we got that feeling of how strange it would be not to see a roomful of SF writers every breakfast time, and that’s the mark of a feelgood convention, even if this one wasn’t so much organised as declared.
Midweek, I delivered the second of two ‘how to write comics’ lectures at the Victoria and Albert Museum of Childhood, as part of a comics workshop project headed by Dr. Debbie Challis, then spent the late afternoon having drinks with my agent, the current and former editors of SFX magazine, and the great editor Peter Lavery. Then I ambled over to a hastily-organised party of everyone in British comics, all of whom wanted to meet the head honcho of Marvel, Joe Quesada, popping in on his way to Chicago. Joe and his retinue are charming.
Later in the week, I was pleased to surround a lovely birthday dinner with my fellow Doctor Who writer and Best Man Stephen Moffat and his wife with a series of three significant meetings. One was with my agent concerning the first draft of the novel, and was hugely satisfying, putting us very much on course. (I want to jump right in and sort out the second draft, but there are things I have to finish first.) The other two were TV meetings about two of my own series pitches, both of which were also very promising. So it was a good couple of days that way.
Since we’re touring Japan by rail, I’m looking forward to being able to write a bit while on holiday, glancing out the window at the countryside. We’ve sorted out our schedule, and will be journeying as far down south as Hiroshima, and hopefully climbing Mount Fuji to see the dawn there. Interestingly enough, Doctor Who begins its first run on terrestrial Japanese TV while we’re in the country, which should be helpful when it comes to Worldcon in Yokohama, which will take up roughly the last third of our stay.
Here’s a provisional panel listing for what I’ll be up to at the convention itself:
Thu 1200 The Aardvark Panel The first panel of the convention. We talk about aardvarks or whatever other fancy comes to mind.
Sat 1000 Is Science Fiction Necessary? Haven't we won? Aren't science-fictional ideas, vocabulary, themes and predictions now deeply embedded in the popular culture? Aren't a disproportionate percentage of popular movies from our genres? Don't mainstream authors dip into the slipstream every day? So, what's our mission now? What worlds are left to conquer, and why?
Sat 1200 Heroes: The TV Series Heroes has made the world safer for comics culture. The creators say they've got five more seasons scoped: is there enough depth to sustain that? There are more unanswered questions than ever before, not the least of which is who's cuter: Hiro or Niki? (Or Jessica?)
Sun 1000 Writing for TV So, you want to get something on TV! What does it take: Character? Plot? Action? Romance?! Some industry veterans discuss what it takes to get there.
Sun 1400 A Survey of Readers Farah Mendelsohn has surveyed 900+ readers. After a summation of her findings, she and the panelists will discuss them.
Mon 1000 The History of Your World The layers of deep history underlying Lord of the Rings gave it a depth and richness missing from Conan. Does a world need a history which rarely shows up in the stories. If so, how is it built? On what is it based? Can there be too much history?
Or possibly, because this is also on at the same time, and I’m meant to be on it too…
Mon 1000 Blogging and Live Journals in SF Blogging (and related activities) are having an impact on the world at large, and the SF community in particular. Blogs tell us more about the people in the field, the way the field works, and who is who, and at a pace and a distribution that few if any fanzines ever matched. Blogs influence the directions of our community, can impact awards by making works or their creators better known, and perhaps even influence the works being created. Or is the impact overstated, as all things net related seem to be? Can writers use blogs to market themselves? Are blogs a way to engage the community? And is this true worldwide, or is it just an US-centric fad? Or even the English speaking world?
I’d rather do the second, but I haven’t heard back yet. There are some interesting and wonderful folk with me on each of those panels, but I’m following tradition by not mentioning them before they’ve confirmed that they’ll be there. I also hope that I’ll be able to collect, on behalf of Russell, Toby Whithouse or Moffat, Doctor Who’s second Hugo Award.
At any rate, I’m sure that in Japan I won’t be lacking for wireless internet access, so I may well pop in from time to time. Until then, Cheerio.
ITEM! The band my wife plays bass and sings with, who now call themselves Both Feet Forward, have started a MySpace page with samples of their music:
I'm very pleased to say that, as announced by Marvel Comics head honcho Joe Quesada yesterday at the Wizard World convention in Chicago, I'm going to be the new writer on the ongoing series Excalibur. For those of you who don't follow comics, this is the monthly adventures of (basically) the British branch of the X-Men. And that's all I'm going to say about the content (or anything else, really) for now. It's been an absolute pleasure to work with editor Nick Lowe on my Wisdom mini-series, and I'm looking forward to that relationship continuing on this new book. This is something I've always wanted to do, the one big current comic book I really wanted, and I've got many, many plans. If you haven't given super hero comics a go for a long time, or ever, I hope I might have a go at luring you to do so.
I'm planning to blog at greater length about all sorts of things tomorrow (having had three huge and splended meetings in the last two days), but tonight I just wanted to leap up and down and whoop a lot about this. Current mood: ecstatic!
Well, I had a wonderful fortieth birthday, packing my local with people from all over the place, despite the fact that the storms had hit the night before. My fan friends were exposed to the best of our town’s musical talent, a curry was distributed, a barrel of real ale was consumed. Those from different parts of my life met, befriended, and in at least one case, copped off. The whole thing ended in a pile at my house in the early hours, and a dozen of us remaining had a groggy breakfast the next morning. I couldn’t have been more pleased.
I’m in the middle of everything at the moment, having delivered the first draft of the novel to my agent, and completed work on both my Primeval episode and the 100th Big Finish Doctor Who audio release. I’m having a gentle canter through some comics work that I can’t talk about yet, and looking forward to some nicely significant meetings in the next couple of weeks. Then I’m very much looking forward to our trip to Japan. We’ve bought Japan Rail Passes, and will be sorting out our first few hotels in advance, which we’re told is a good idea. It may be muggily warm there right now, but anything approaching a proper summer would be good, and I’m sure Worldcon, with a number of friends such as John Courtenay Grimwood, Lou Anders and John Picacio, will be beery as always, plus air conditioned.
Talking of Lou, this week I got a parcel of many copies of the new Monkeybrain Books edition of British Summertime. Always the best moment, cracking them open and having a long sniff. Lou, and someone very kind I don’t know, have been expressing themselves about the book here
This week I also had the pleasure of listening to an interview I did with the Doctor Who: Podshock crew, which is now available as part of their latest podcast, either here or via ITunes. It’s a great interview, very relaxed, and I do go on a bit.
And tomorrow, already if you’re in the States, the trade paperback of the collected Wisdom is in your local comic shop.
Oh, and this weekend I’m off to Belfast for MeCon, guesting alongside Iain Banks, and sharing the company of many old friends from previous Irish conventions. Iain is an expert on Irish whiskeys, so I expect to benefit from his experience. I shall, of course, share the results with you. Until then, Cheerio.