The Walk

I’m really, really excited to announce one of my more recent Things What I Have Worked On…

The Walk is an upcoming iOS and Android game from Six to Start and Naomi Alderman, the people behind the wildly successful Zombies, Run! running game/app.

For those who don’t know, Zombies, Run! is a clever mix of exercise app, game and audio drama: chuck your iPhone (other touchscreen brain-absorbers are available) in your pocket, run around and listen to a drama unfold. You are Runner 5 and you are sent on missions to help restore civilisation after the zombie apocalypse, uncovering a deeper twisty-turny  story as you go. Zombies, Run! has, as it were, run for two seasons so far, and a third is on the way.

The Walk is a similar affair. I’m not even going to insult your intelligence by explaining what exercise it’s encouraging. Although the physical pace might be slower, the storytelling – which tells a tale of international espionage and malfunctioning electronic technology – is not. I worked alongside the sickeningly talented Naomi Alderman in some storylining sessions, and wrote some big chunks of one of the missions. The whole process was a blast: it’s really great to see a game company who place great stock in quality storytelling and scripting. It was really exciting to work with them, and I hope to get the chance to do so again soon!

The full press kit for The Walk, with loads more information, can be found on the game’s website.

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The Book of the Dead

deadI’m very proud to have a story in The Book of the Dead, the latest anthology from Pandemonium Fiction. This collection of stories deals with mummies, those bandaged buggers described in the blurb as “figures of imperial dignity or shambling terror”, and my contribution is called The Dedication of Sweetheart Abbey.

This is the true story of the establishment of the abbey in Kirkcudbrightshire by Lady Dervorguilla, the widow of John Balliol, in the 13th Century. Well, I say ‘true’… They had spaceships and genewitches in the 13th Century, right? There is a mummy or two in it, which is also totes factual.

(It’s a very odd story, and it was not the story I set out to write for the collection. Very literally: you may have seen early information on the collection mention a story by me called She Is Cleopatra. For various reasons (none of them bad!), I withdrew that story at the last minute and made editor Jared sweat while I wrote a brand new one instead. Who knows, maybe She Is Cleopatra will see the light of day somewhere, some other time…)

Anyway, I’m once again pleased as punch to be among such wordy luminaries as Adam Roberts, Paul Cornell, Jesse Bullington, Louis Greenberg and Lou Morgan. The book is published in conjunction with, and sold to raise money for, the (brilliantly named) Egypt Exploration Society,  the UK’s oldest independent funder of archaeological fieldwork and research in Egypt, dedicated to the promotion and understanding of ancient Egyptian history and culture. The society’s vice chair, John J Johnson, has provided the introduction to the anthology. He’s also partly responsible for two thirds of the beautiful cats in my house, so thumbs up.

The embalmed super-limited edition can be bought from Ebook editions will be available from Amazon and… apparently, Kindle aren’t the only ereaders? Who knew!


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Iris Wildthyme: A Lift in Time

Series 4 of the Iris Wildthyme adventures – featuring my story A Lift in Time –  is out now, and available from Big Finish (as a CD or download).

A brief idiot’s guide to Iris Wildthyme: The character was created by the excellent writer Paul Magrs (here’s his Twitter), many moons ago in his debut novel Marked for Life. When Paul went on to write for BBC Books’ Doctor Who range, he brought Iris with him, revealing that she was a Time Lord. Or a sort. It’s metatextually complicated. Iris cropped up in a number of Paul’s BBC Books novels, before spinning off into a series of her own audio drama adventures from Big Finish – of which, there are now four series. In these dramas, Iris is played by Katy Manning, who played Jo Grant, companion to the Third Doctor in Doctor Who. Phew!

When the producers Mark and Cavan asked me to write for the series, I was absolutely thrilled – I’ve been a fan of Paul and of Iris for such a long time, it was great to get a chance to play in the toy box. I had such a blast, I cannot tell you, writing the script. It’s the funniest thing I think I’ve written, but if it is, that’s only because I was writing for such a great cast in Katy and David Benson, who plays Iris’ companion, Panda. I was even more thrilled when Mark told me they’d secured the lovely and brilliant Simon Fisher Becker to play the villain (the villain is an AI who lives in a lift and has gone more than a little doolally). Simon, you may remember, played the blue-faced Dorium Maldovar in recent Doctor Who episodes.

If I’d known Simon was playing the character before I wrote the script, I don’t think I would have changed a single word: that’s how perfectly he is cast, and I am over the moon with his performance.

Thanks to the cast, and Gary Russell’s admirable direction, A Lift in Time has turned out to be one of the things I am most proud of. I really hope I get the chance to write for the series again one day.

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Pandemonium: Lost Souls

I have a story in the latest Pandemonium Fiction collection, which is out now on Kindle. (Amazon UK and Amazon US links.) To say that it was an unexpected commission would be an understatement, but I am very proud of the result – as well as the fact that I am (as I understand it) the only living author in the anthology. My fellows include such luminaries as Arthur Conan Doyle and Benjamin Disraeli.

Lost Souls is, to quote the publishers, “a collection of forlorn and forgotten stories… [It] brings together tales of woe and angst, loneliness, redemption and humour, featuring starving artists, possessed Popes, damned kings and hopeful prisoners.”

And a man in a chicken costume.

My story is called The Devil’s Age and it is a retelling of a retelling of an old Basque fairytale. (The editors have included a little introduction to the story, explaining its origins.) I had huge fun working in a very different style, with the kind of story I don’t think I’d ever have told myself – but, like I said, I am madly proud of it.

A super-limited hardcover edition is also available – I think they have some copies at Forbidden Planet in London. A share of the proceeds from sales will be donated to the SamaritansClick here for more information on the book and details on how to order it.

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Doctor Who Magazine #446

Jenna-Louise what? The Twin Dilemma, people. THE TWIN DILEMMA.

The latest issue of DWM – out now in the UK – features my Fact of Fiction (credited to my old name, oops) on Colin Baker’s first story. Everyone’s favourite. You know the one. (I had a lot of fun writing this one. There was much balancing to be done between being realistic and being positive.  A good chunk of a first draft got thrown out when I realised I was being too snarky. I hope the finished version is just snarky enough.)

The magazine is also running a competition in which you can win a PlayStation Vita (nom) and copies of Doctor Who: The Eternity Clock.

Which is out when? you ask. (I saw the launch trailer this week – very exciting. But I have no answer to your question.)

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Doctor Who: The Eternity Clock

This was announced late last year but I’ve been busy doing other things, chief among them not this update. But lo! My latest big project is revealed!

Doctor Who: The Eternity Clock is a downloadable game for the PlayStation 3 and PC (other versions possibly to follow, I’m not sure), due out in spring 2012. The game stars Matt Smith as the Doctor and Alex Kingston as River Song; they feature in a number of cut scenes and throughout the gameplay, voicing the actions of their in-game characters, which you will be playing. (Yes, you. I don’t care. Go and buy one.)

I was approached to write the script in July last year. “Keen” doesn’t even begin to describe my reaction. I wrote the scripts for the cut scenes and in-game dialogue (not just the Doctor and River – a number of yet-to-be-revealed favourite monsters, too), and some extra material which helped shape the development of the Eternity Clock’s story beyond this first game. (Oh, yes, there’s more to come. Much more.)

The game is being developed by the wonderful Supermassive Games and published by BBC Worldwide. I have had tremendous fun working with both teams, and am looking forward to the next steps. There’s not much anyone can say about anything at this stage, but keep an eye on the game’s Twitter feed, as well as the pages of Doctor Who Magazine and the gaming press/news websites, for further updates.

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(Pandemonium: Stories of the) Apocalypse (on sale) Now

Pandemonium: Stories of the Apocalypse is on sale now, available as an ebook from Amazon UK and Amazon US. It features 18 stories about the end of the world, inspired by 19th-century fire-and-brimstone drama queen painter John Martin.

My own story, The Architect of Hell, takes as its inspiration Martin’s painting of Pandaemonium, the capital of Hell, and wonders how Mr Martin might have been involved in the city’s creation. I’m very proud of it – and even more proud to be nestled among such an excellent collection of stories. There’s some real corkers in there, from writers including Jon Courtenay Grimwood, Lauren Beukes, Sophia McDougall, Jonathan Oliver… I won’t go on. But I will recommend you buy it.

If you’re still dithering, here and here are a couple of reviews.

An exhibition of John Martin’s work is currently on display at the Tate Britain gallery. Although Pandemonium was not published with the cooperation of the Tate, they have been monumentally supportive of the project. Tonight, Tate Britain hosts a launch party for the collection and, in a couple of weeks, a very limited, hardback edition of Pandemonium will be on sale at the gallery’s gift shop.

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Pandemonium Launch Night

As the release of Pandemonium: Stories of the Apocalypse draws closer, so the involvement of Tate Britain increases. It’s great that the gallery has been so supportive of the book – even going to the extent of combining the launch party with one of its special late-opening evenings.

This free event on 4th November 2011 is a combined gallery-mooch, apocalypse-art-fest and official launch for Pandemonium. The ebook goes on sale on the same day, while an extremely limited edition print version goes on sale at Tate Britain’s gift shop two weeks later.

There are more details of the event at the Pandemonium-Fiction website, where you can also register for your free tickets. I can promise you it will be worth every penny.

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Doctor Who: The Brilliant Book 2012

It’s out! At last!

This year’s Brilliant Book of Doctor Who (or however you want to order those words) hits the shops today. It has felt like the longest wait to see it in print: I wrote my bits for it back in spring and early summer and it was printed back in August, but it’s been under a pain-of-death embargo until after the broadcast of The Wedding of River Song.

I wrote the episode guide for this year’s volume, which was an absolute blast. Sitting on all the secrets of this series has been tough! I love doing these pieces, as they’re similar in some respects to the twisty-turny connection-making I have to do when writing Fact of Fiction features for Doctor Who Magazine. Sadly, I was too busy to provide anything further for this year’s volume, but I’m hoping that – should there be a Brilliant Book 2013 – I’ll be involved again!

You can find the Brilliant Book at Amazon, of course, or your friendly neighbourhood bookshop. As well as my guides (featuring cut scenes and other behind-the-scenes secrets), the book features more information on the making of this year’s series and a bunch of lovely fictional pieces. I think everyone involved – especially editor Clayton Hickman and designer Paul Lang – should be very pleased with themselves.

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Doctor Who Magazine #439, etc.

Bit late with this (the new issue’s out in two weeks!), but the current issue of Doctor Who Magazine features my interview with Tom MacRae, writer of The Girl Who Waited. Tom was one of the nicest chaps I’ve ever interviewed – I’d put him up there with Dervla Kirwan, to be entirely honest, and believe me that’s high praise – and I really enjoyed our meandering conversation. We spent far too long talking about the nature of comedy – what makes things funny, why is one word more comedic than another – but most of that had to go. But anyone who loves Barry Cryer and Marty Feldman as much as I do is okay in my book.

If you want to find out more about DWM head over, as ever, to their Facebook page or their Twitter account. The latest issue also features, among other things, a preview of The Wedding of River Song, much good may it do you now.

Just around the corner is Pandemonium: Stories of the Apocalypse, featuring my short story The Architect of Hell. I’m very excited by this, and there is more news on this to come, which I can’t quite talk about yet. What Pandemonium Fiction/Pornokitsch are doing with their new fiction projects is very exciting: if you’re interested in quality genre fiction, keep an eye on their site.

There’s much biting of tongues going on at the moment. The big project taking up all my time will remain top secret until December or thereabouts. (I worry that the announcement may slip till January – I have good reason to think so, but can’t say why as that alone might give it away!) When I can finally talk about it, I will not ever shut up about it again. So there’s that to look forward to!

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