Dark Edginess

I'm up this early to bake (before going into London for the MCM Expo and Screenwriters' Festival) a sourdough cake called Hermann that's been bubbling away on my work top for the last ten days. It seems odd to name a life form before giving it a feast of apples and raisins, then killing it. There's something vaguely Aztec about it. It has a name because the meme leaflet we were given with the first cloned blob of it called it so.

I thought I'd mention a few spooky events in the shared life of this blog this Halloween. First up episode 5 of the SF Squeecast is now up, a Halloween special recorded without me, in which, amongst other delights, Seanan McGuire brings Halloweentown to the table, and Lynne Thomas talks about It's The Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown. I'm looking forward to actually being there to record our Christmas edition soon.

A whole bunch of us DC Comics writers who are working on the Dark and Edge groups of titles contribute to part one and part two of this roundtable interview about the things that scare us. It includes pictures of some of the writers in Halloween costume (I wish we'd had that tradition when I was young), and an intriguing piece of Mike Choi art from Demon Knights #4.

On November 12-13 I'll be going along to the Fortean Times Unconvention as an attendee rather than a speaker, just for the love of all things weird and wonderful.

In rather less spooky news, Melinda Snodgrass' script for a Wild Cards movie is going to be made. Congratulations!

Speaking of which, the new edition of the second ever Wild Cards book, Aces High, is out soon from Tor, and here's the lovely cover:

Mmm, just got the cake out of the oven. That looks like a success. Hermann's sacrifice was not in vain. The house smells of cake.

Finally, long term readers will know that I'm a supporter of charities that increase awareness of, and research into, Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, or M.E.. One such is Let's Do it for ME and the link directs you to a shop where you can find their t-shirts, mugs, etc. It's a very good cause.

Right, I'm signing in less than six hours. I'd better shave this stubble off. Cheerio!

Friday Catch Up

I should know by now that some of my horrors, where everything seems awful and I'm convinced that I'm not worth the DNA I'm written on, are entirely about something being wrong with the current script, which, this morning I fixed, so hello world, hello trees, hello flowers!

Anyhow, tomorrow I'll be at the MCM Expo in London's docklands, signing your things at 1pm, then dashing up to Camden where (as mentioned in a previous post), I'll be talking at the London Screenwriters' Festival from 3.30pm. So I hope to see some of you there. In the meantime -

I'm interviewed in issue 9 of Comic Heroes magazine, about DC's New 52. That's out now.

If you want to hear my wife, Caroline Symcox, talking about her Doctor Who audio plays, and how she became a vicar, there's a short podcast interview with her here.

And if you want to see the first five pages of Stormwatch #3, featuring Miguel Sepulveda's lovely artwork, you need go no further than here.

And now I'm off to lunch with Kim Newman and friends, which I'm sure will be delightful as always. Until next time, Cheerio!

The London Screenwriters' Festival

I'm back at my desk after Bristolcon, which was absolutely brilliant, a warm and friendly event which was just what I needed. So many attendees for whom it was their first convention, so many authors in attendance. It gets bigger every year and now it feels bustling. I'll be back next year.

Next Saturday at 3.30pm I'll be taking part in the London Screenwriters' Festival, on a panel called 'Writing Fantastical TV' with Adrian Hodges, Philip Palmer and Jason Arnopp, moderated by Tom Hunter. It should be a good do; we've been encouraged to try to offer practical advice about the business of putting SF and fantasy subjects on television.

The Festival itself runs from 28th-30th October, featuring 70 sessions with over 100 professionals. You can't sign up for individual panels, just for the whole thing, which costs £300. But you can get a £30 discount here. Hope to see some of you there.

In other news, the great Jimmy Broxton, artist of Knight and Squire, is funding his new graphic novel project Ashes, written by Alex de Campi, by a Kickstarter page. You'll know of old how highly I rate Jimmy as an artist, and Alex is highly accomplished also. The pages look great, and you get some great bonuses for supporting them, so go along and do so!

And my excellent editor at Demon Knights, Matt Idelson, has said a few words about how the project came about.

Anyway, must get on. Cheerio!

Something in the Water on the iPlayer

Just popped in after a brilliant couple of days helping to look after twin toddler nieces to say that for the next six days you (yes, even you living abroad) can find my Radio 4 horror Afternoon Play Something in the Water on the BBC iPlayer here.

I should also mention that tomorrow (Friday) I'll be signing from noon at Forbidden Planet in Bristol alongside a whole slate of SF folk, including Juliet McKenna and Justina Robson. And that on the day after I'll be enjoying Bristolcon.

Much to tell you about next week, but in a rush now, so until then, Cheerio!

Something in the Water

Those of you who follow me on Twitter may remember, back in March, me talking about recording a radio play at the BBC Oxford Road studios in Manchester. Apart from a lack of sleep and a somewhat sinister painting in my hotel room...

...(I mean, seriously, that was looming over my bed) it was a lovely experience. The play is called Something in the Water, and it's going to be broadcast this Wednesday (October 19th) at 2.15pm, in the Afternoon Play slot on BBC Radio 4. Sometime after that it'll be available (yes, internationally) on the BBC iPlayer (I'll post a link). It's the second in a series of three horror plays, the All the Dark Corners season, broadcast from Tuesday to Thursday, the others being Andrew Readman's The Desk and Rosemary Kay's The Dying Wish.

The play concerns a famous science writer, James Woolmer, who, following a scandal, moves with his novelist wife, Erica, to a house beside a lake. James doesn't believe in Lachey, the lake monster of local legend. And then... well, bad things start to happen.

Something in the Water is my second collaboration with the wonderful producer/director Nadia Molinari (the first being the Iain M. Banks adaptation The State of the Art). Here she is communicating between the control room and the studio floor.

The play stars James Nickerson as James, and Zara Turner as Erica. They were both tremendously enthusiastic, and put so much thought and consideration into their parts. One of the surprising things about radio drama is how much physical acting is done. Here's James preparing to 'fix the plumbing under a sink' with Zara and our wonderful young lead Joel Davies (who plays their son Ben) looking on. The lady in the headphones is studio manager Vanessa Nuttall.

While Nadia alternated between directing on the studio floor and returning to the control room, studio manager Paul Cargill stayed at the desk...

Paul was also the sound designer for this play, so a lot of what you hear is down to him. His other life is as a member of DJ Mark Radcliffe's band Pogue Mahone.

As well as bringing such thoughtfulness and strength to his role, James also brought a certain... between-takes exuberance...

Here's what I mean by physical acting, with James getting into some rough action with the excellent Conrad Nelson, who plays PC Ruskin, the other major part.

To be joined, a moment later, by Ruth Alexander-Rubin, who plays Helen, and the very funny Stephen Hoyle, who plays Batley.

The other member of the cast, who I didn't manage to get a photo of, was Jonathan Keeble, who plays Peter.

Apart from enjoying the company of fine actors showing off their craft, the best thing about recording a radio play is the sound effects. Check out, for example, this collection of slamming doors and squeaky hinges...

And when there's a need for the terrifying sounds of something moving in the lake...

All of which is very convincing, I might add.

It's rare that I've so thoroughly enjoyed the experience of putting something together, and I think the enthusiasm and care of the whole team shine through in the finished product. Please give it a listen and tell me what you think. Cheerio!

Saucer Country

As revealed today at the New York Comic Con, I'm writing a new ongoing series for Vertigo, DC's mature readers line. It's being drawn by the amazing Ryan Kelly, whose promo image this is:

It's called Saucer Country.

It's about Arcadia Alvarado, the Governor of New Mexico, who, on the eve of announcing that she's running for President... is 'abducted by aliens'.

Those speechmarks are because she's not exactly sure what happened. But she's going to use all her staff and resources to find out. What happened to her might also be a threat to US security.

It's The West Wing does The X-Files.

Saucer Country is a trip through UFO mythology, a subject I've always been fascinated with. It's a dark, suspenseful, serious thriller with, I hope, some warm, very human characters at the heart of it. Between arcs that feature Arcadia and her staff venturing into the murky worlds of flying saucer lore, we'll be featuring one-off 'true story' issues, a short version of which already appeared in the Strange Adventures one shot earlier this year.

Saucer Country starts in early 2012. Do look out for it. Cheerio!

Demon Knights #2 Out Today

It's in your comic shops today, and from tonight at 7pm available digitally too. You can see a preview with four pages of lovely Dio art here.

My new project is still going to be announced at the New York Comic Con, and the artist will be there to do it. So look out for that on Friday. (I'll blog it immediately after.)

And China Mieville was kind enough to mention my work in his recent interview about comics.



Firstly, I should offer my apologies that I won't, after all, be attending the New York Comic Con.

Stormwatch #2 is in your comic shops today, digitally from 7pm UK time. You can find a preview here.

I'm proud to say that the Superman: The Black Ring #2 hardcover, which finishes my Lex Luthor Action Comics run made number three in the New York Times graphic novel chart.

The latest SF Squeecast, recorded live at Convergence (without me this time), can be found here.

There are three interviews with me new to the net now, an (excellent and very psychologically intimate) long audio chat with Tony C. Smith which forms the latest Sofanauts podcast, a quick chat when I was at FP Glasgow and a follow up with additional questions at Comixology.

I'll be at Bristolcon, hopefully, on the weekend of the 21st, and will be appearing on several programme items.

Excellent SF site Strange Horizons is having a fund drive. Donors get and can win many cool things, and I've donated a prize (the two signed Lex Luthor hardbacks) myself.

And finally, Joel Meadows, editor of Tripwire magazine, is seeking crowdfunding for his London: A Year in the Life photo book.

And that's it. See you soon.