White Sands, Cemetery Club and other shares

Easter has just passed by and I seem to have reached critical mass with a number of little bits of news about what is happening in my world. So here is one of those occasional news round-up type posts of mine.

I’ve been pretty busy down at Bolton Little Theatre in the last few months. We had an extremely successful screening of The Rocky Horror Picture Show with plenty of the audience in costume and some wild behaviour in the aisles! I must admit I was pretty nervous how this night was going to play, so it was a big relief to hear our guests leaving in high spirits and some lovely feedback on the night. We’ll be showing Dirty Dancing on Saturday evening 9th June 2018. Visit the BLT website for tickets and more details.

But my main job in the last few months has been as sound designer and operator for various productions on both of our stages. Absurd Person Singular by Alan Ayckbourn was a particular challenge, requiring party sounds every time the kitchen door was opened, and that door gets used an awful lot. Another tricky part was that each act opened with a Seventies Christmas pop song, which faded from normal to mimicking the tinny sound coming from an onset radio. But I pulled that off and this brilliant play about materialism and self-delusion was brilliantly acted by an excellent cast. I thought it was one of our best productions in a while. Although The Pitmen Painters by Lee Hall, which I was only tangentially involved with, was every bit as good in every department.

Currently I am rehearsing The Cemetery Club by Ivan Menchell, a witty comedy about love in New York’s senior citizen community. the sound requirements for this are relatively modest, probably the most challenging of which is a whistling kettle and getting the volume of it right. But its still quite a time commitment and will take up most of this and next week’s evenings. I’ve also put together a promotional trailer, which you can watch below:

Overlapping with that production is Agnes of God by John Pielmeier, an intense interrogation drama set in a New York convent. I’ve already recorded some voiceovers for it and will shortly be assembling the choral musical cues with the director. Earlier last year I recorded the three woman cast at a readthrough, and so was able to create a particularly effective trailer, my favourite in a while:

With all this tech work, and editing a monthly BLT newsletter, there has been a knock on effect on my writing but I’m becoming more productive now with a couple of projects. One I can’t discuss yet but hopefully might turn into my biggest theatrical script yet. The other is a short video about my love for Michael Mann’s 1983 horror movie The Keep. I am currently writing the script. This will be the second in a new series Westlake Films is producing. The first episode, in which Carl Bowler rhapsodies about Scott Pilgrim vs The World, has just been released online. Carl does an excellent job in praising what makes the cult comic strip adaptation tick and how it links with his own life. You can find it on Westlake Films’ Youtube channel. Or indeed, right here!

My fellow writer Rik Hoskin has had several exciting projects published lately. His marvellous six-part SF comic Red Rising: Sons of Ares has been collected into a handsome graphic novel. Based on the hit YA series Red Rising by Pierce Brown, the comic tells of the origins of resistance leader Fitchner Au Barca. Born as a Gold, one of the ruling class of a brutal future human solar empire, the misfit Fitchner soon recognises the cruelty of the system. To protect his secret wife and son, who come from the lowest caste, Fitchner’s fight against the Empire leads to tragedy and the seeds of a rebellion. The artwork is engrossing and Rik’s storytelling skills are well in evidence.

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Speaking of graphic novels, the sequel to the New York Times bestseller White Sands, which was also written by Brandon Sanderson and Rik Hoskin, is out now. White Sands Volume Two continues the adventures of a young magician on an alien world where sand can be magically wielded to create and destroy. It is adapted from an unpublished manuscript of Sanderson’s and is a part of his Cosmere universe. Both this and Red Rising: Sons of Ares are published by Dynamite Comics.

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Outlanders may have concluded but Rik is now involved with a new series of action novels – SEAL Team Six, alongside Max KentIt depicts the all action secret missions of a group of Navy SEALS – the proverbial best of the best of the best. Executive Order sees them dispatched to track down a ruthless ISIS group which has got its hands on US drone technology. I’m currently reading it and it’s great entertainment.

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Finally you can learn more about Rik by reading this recent interview, carried out by fellow comic and magazine writer John Freeman for his blog downthetubes.org. Click here for 10 Questions

 

Red Rising – Sons of Ares

In a distant future, man has colonised the solar system, but this brave new era of exploration has led in turn to a tyrannical caste system of genetically modified humans, ruled by the Golds. Down in mines of Mars, a young Red called Darrow decides to fight back. So begins Pierce Brown’s bestselling series of YA SF novels. However I must admit though I had not heard of them until my friend Rik Hoskin told me about his current comic project – Red Rising – Sons of Ares.

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Published by Dynamite Comics, Sons of Ares is a prequel series, exploring the early life of Fitchner au Barca, the leader of the resistance movement calling themselves the Sons of Ares. The first two issues are out now and it has been well received by fans of the series. Rik is working closely in collaboration with author Pierce Brown, just as he did with Brett Sanderson on last year’s graphic novel White Sands. The splendid artwork meanwhile is by Eli Powell.

You can see a few preview pages and find out more details on this page. The series is available in comic shops and also on the Kindle.

More recently Rik has been interviewed by Dynamite about his latest series, and looking forward to issue four.  Its a great read too. You can find it here. I’m hoping to post some impressions of it soon.

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Talking about my old mate Rik also prompts me to talk about the latest addition to this blog. If you look to the left of the screen, you will notice I’ve added a new permanent section, containing downloadable copies of our original audio series – Agents of Psyence. These MP3 files used to be available at Westlake Films’ site, until I took them down during that site’s revamp. Now I’ve brought them in-house so to speak. At the moment the page is fairly bare-bones but I intend to expand it in time.

Agents of Psyence is an action adventure series based on Rik’s early self-published comic Psyence Fiction. Set in present day Britain, an enigmatic billionaire called Sebastian Hayward has assembled a team of unusual specialists, including a cybernetic warrior, an ex-MI6 agent and an occult expert, to investigate supernatural crimes. It’s mixture of horror and SF, with an emphasis on pace and thrills. My own approach was definitely influenced by the work of radio director/producer extraordinaire Dirk Maggs (Hitch-Hiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, Radio 1 version of Batman: Knightfall amongst many others)

The first story Truth and Bone was adapted by Rik from the pages of the first two issues, and the second, Bloodlines, written exclusively for audio by Rik and myself. I think they’ve got some of my best production work in them and its always been an intention of mine to continue the series. Several other scripts were written by ourselves, John Isles and Peter Grehen. I released the series under the label Phantom Frame, which is where the title of this very blog comes from.

You can experience both stories for free, playing them on this site or downloading them. Hope you enjoy them, whether you’re a new listener or a returning fan.

Discover the Agents of Psyence by clicking this link

April 2016 news round-up

It’s time for another quick collection of announcements about what my friends and I have been up to creatively and in some cases professionally too.

Last year I did an email interview about my times with BBV and writing three Doctor Who spin-offs, for a chap called Dylan Rees. Dylan is writing a book about the vibrant audio and video spin-off market which arose from the final years of the show’s original run and filled in the so-called “wilderness years” between the original and the revived versions of Doctor Who. It will be published later this year by Obverse Books. I’m looking forward to it, not just as a contributor but as a fan of that era. The cover has been already been released:

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Notice Sylvester as The Foot Doctor on the cover too! You can pre-order it from Obverse Books now. I’ll review once it is out.

My ever busy mate Rik Hoskin has had several projects out recently, including the first of a new range e-books based on 90’s cult TV show Hercules – The Legendary Journeys. I enjoyed Storming Paradise enormously. It captures the feel of the show very well. You can try a sample and order it from Amazon. He’s also written a second motion comic episode of Wolfblood, the hit BBC children’s series about werewolves. You can watch a trailer of it here at the BBC website.

Finally I recently made a new trailer for the next Bolton Little Theatre production. Taking Sides by Ronald Harwood is an excellent drama based on real events surrounding a US army investigation into suspected Nazi party members, following Germany’s surrender in WWII. Was famous conductor Wilhelm Furtwangler just a patriot on the losing side of the war, or an active member of the Nazi party? Colonel Arnold, traumatised by witnessing the aftermath of Auschwitz, is determined to find some culprits. For this trailer I decided to create a movie style one which sold the story, rather than a behind the scenes talking head piece. The results I think are pretty successful and I intend to make all subsequent BLT trailers story based too.

News round up

This is one of those weeks with plenty going on, but none of it really making an significant post in itself. So forgive me if I just bring a few items to your attention and – hopefully – interest.

The Rivals 5 – 12 March 2016

A few weeks ago I shared a promotional video about this local production of Richard Sheridan’s restoration comedy The Rivals which I had made. Little did I know then that I would now be starring in this play myself! Due to a cast member pulling out, I’ve been prevailed upon to play the role of Bob Acres. Acres is is one of the rivals for Lydia Languish’s hand in marriage. A buffoonish but essentially good hearted squire from the country, his attempts to fit into Bath high society go awry when Sir Lucius O’Trigger encourages him to challenge his competitor to a pistol duel, not knowing that his romantic rival is in fact his friend Jack Absolute in disguise.
It is quite a challenge learning a part in little over a week, particularly when the language is archane 18th century English. But with the support of the team and some edits to the more verbose speeches I think I’ll make curtain up. Thankfully the costumes fit me with just few tucks.
The Rivals is on at Bolton Little Theatre 5 – 12 March and if you are interested you can find out more and order tickets at the official website.

Kolchak online audio drama

Sometimes an old job comes back to haunt you. I was recently reminded by my friend Bill about a fan radio version of Kolchak – The Night Stalker which I appeared in. I played a vampire called Pitov. It was an especially fun script and hearing it again I’d forgotten what a polished production it was. As usual I recorded my parts at home and then sent them to be blended in. So it’s certainly worth promoting again. You can download all four episodes from Broken Sea Audio Productions right now.
I’ve had a great relationship with BSAP over the years. As well as my own fan Prisoner radio series, I co-wrote a story called Turf War for their Doctor Who series, and I’ve guest starred in several shows including Escape from New York, Planet of the Apes, The Maltese Falcon and Saga of the Grog and Gryphon.

Rik Hoskin talks Dean Koontz’s Frankenstein

My talented writing pal Rik has been on the publicity trail recently talking about one of his comic strip projects – Dean Koontz’s Frankenstein – based on the series of novels created by bestselling author Dean Koontz. Most famous for horror blockbusters like Watchers and Midnight, Koontz has increasingly pushed into mainstream thrillers/suspense books. Frankenstein however is a return to his pulp roots, a reimagining of the famous story of the scientist and his monster, in which the Monster is the hero and defender of humanity, whilst his creator has become a near-immortal evil, mad scientist. But I ought to let Rik explain it better and you can find out more with these website interviews below:

Bleeding Cool and The Collector’s Guide to Dean Koontz

A couple more projects in the pipeline for myself which I want to tell you about soon, once I’ve finished with The Rivals! Thanks for reading.

 

 

 

Shapeshifters and crime – “Hopcross Jilly” the first Mercy Thompson graphic novel

Mercy Thompson GN

Mercy Thompson GN

I’m delighted to learn that the first run of comics featuring were-coyote Mercy Thompson has been collected together into one hardback volume. Based on the popular series of horror-fantasy novels by Patricia Briggs, this series has been written by my good friend and in-demand comics scribe Rik Hoskin, based on a storyline by Briggs. Illustrated with marvelous artwork by Tom Garcia.

Mercy Thompson is a beautiful young woman by day, and coyote and honorary member of the Tri-State werewolf clan by night. When the pack uncover a mass grave of children’s skeletons, it leads her into conflict with a terrifying supernatural being. Worse, Mercy’s stepdaughter Jesse is now endangered.

You can find out more from the Dynamite Comics website – http://dynamite.com/htmlfiles/viewProduct.html?PRO=C1606906682

In addition to the comic strip, this collection also includes Rik’s original script for issue one, which is interesting reading for writers like me wanting to more about how storytelling works in such a visual medium and how it is formatted. Recommended reading!

Brand new Mercy Thompson comicbook

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My good friend and fellow writer Rik Hoskin (creator of the Agents of Psyence, whose audio series I produced) has just told me about his latest project. He’s scripting the Mercy Thompson horror comic for Dynamite Publishing, working alongside author/creator Patricia Briggs.  Mercy Thompson is the heroine of a series of popular urban fantasy novels. A young Native American woman who can shapeshift into a coyote, and who’s life inevitably brings her into touch with mysteries and dangers within Washington’s hidden supernatural community

You can view some excellent preview art here:

http://www.bleedingcool.com/2014/07/31/exclusive-first-look-at-patricia-briggs-mercy-thompson-1/

Issue 1 (of 6) can be ordered now and will be out in October.  A full listing of Dynamite’s October titles is here: http://www.dynamite.com/htmlfiles/previews.html

Rik’s been an inspiration to me as a someone who’s made that transition from part-time amateur to full-time professional writer. He’s done it by not only being very good at writing, but by his versatility, working on many children’s comic titles, horror short stories and SF novels, sometimes under pseudonyms.

And someday I will return to the Agents of Pysence audio series. Yes, someday…