Wednesday, 3 August 2016

Star Trek: Shadow of the Machine - Deleted Chapter

Every writer will tell you that writing a book is a long, slow, and sometimes painful, business. The ground is never solid, the foundations are always shifting, and the book that hits the bookshop shelves can sometimes be a slightly different beast from the one you had initial envisioned - especially when the dreaded editor gets involved.

You see, things often change between the first and second draft - often between other drafts, too - but not quite as dramatically or (at times) extensively as after you've delivered that first draft. Sometimes it's only minor changes, like the odd sentence changed here, the odd paragraph cut there, but sometimes it can be a biggy - like a whole chapter being removed.

It can also be the other way round - things being added, expanded upon between drafts, 

Take, for example, a script I delivered only the other day - the page count for the first draft stood at 47 pages, and even when I attached it to the email and clicked 'send', I knew that things were missing, that certain important elements still needed to be added. When I attached the redrafted script to the email a day or two later and clicked 'send' the page count now stood at 59 pages and two new scenes had been added, one introducing a character who will become enormously important to the story that unfolds in the following two episodes.

Sometimes the things you cut are obvious - they either slow down the pace of the book, or take the story off at a strange tangent, or just don't sit right in the story as a whole. More often than not, passages cut from a book are at the request of one of the people - either the editor or the author - seldom are they fully agreed upon by both.

The below chapter - taken from the first draft of my Star Trek book Shadow of the Machine - was cut between the first and second draft as it was thought that the device that the young James Kirk was using was a little too similar to a modern day iPad and therefore might be a bit ditracting. I was sad to see it go originally, believing that it added a vital aspect to the character of Kirk and explained some of the later actions and dialogue with his nephew Peter near the end of the book. But, upon reflection now, I think it was probably the right choice.

This chapter originally followed the scene where Kirk, Peter, Hanna and Abner, all sitting down to dinner, begin to argue and Peter storms out.

Tuesday, 2 August 2016

Update - Anthologies, Audio Plays and Novels

Things have been a bit hectic here lately as I have several writing projects in various stages of development (I'm a bit like those plate spinners on the old variety shows).

Both anthologies are coming along nicely. There are some fantastic stories coming in, and editing work has finally begun on Lost Tales. Can't wait for you to read it (but you'll have to wait until November!). In a couple of weeks I will also begin editing work on Frontier Worlds.

I've been busy writing the scripts for a 3-part supernatural/horror
audio mini-series, which is in the early stages of pre-production. Episode 1 has been delivered, and work has now begun on the script for Episode 2. I should hopefully have more news on this very soon!

I'm also about to start work on two novels for two separate publishers - one is for a TV tie-in franchise, the other is an original novel. Very excited to be working on both of them - but they won't be published until late 2017, so it may be a while before I can give any further details on them.

And, to round things off, I'm also working on a couple of short stories.

To top it off, I realised at the weekend that I'm off on holiday for 10 days in September, so I only have about 5 weeks to get things done before it all suddenly grinds to a halt!

I'd better get on with it then!

Thursday, 2 June 2016

Anthology News - 'Frontier Worlds' and 'Lost Tales'

For the past few months I’ve been busily beavering away on two very exciting anthologies for a
couple of publishers, one book is SF, the other is (for want of a better term) classic fiction.

Well now, thankfully, I’m at the stage in both where I can start revealing a few tantalising details.

The first – the SF antho - is for Snowbooks and will be called Frontier Worlds and will feature twelve brand new stories from writers such as Ken MacLeod, Philip Palmer, Michael Cobley, Eric Brown, Storm Constantine, and the last unpublished story by the legendary Tanith Lee before her sad death last year

Here’s the blurb:

Frontier Worlds

“Earth is no longer humanity’s only home. Slowly they have colonised the galaxy, spreading ever outwards into the darkest reaches of Terran space. To some Earth is now a myth, a fairy-tale; stories told to them by their grand parents when they were children. To others the Earth is still the place they call home: a bleak, inescapable fact that must be endured in order to survive.

In this exciting collection of stories chronicling the turbulent events of humanity’s struggle for survival six hundred years in our future, some of today’s leading science fiction writers take us from the vast depths of uncharted space to the surface of a shockingly different planet Earth, where civilisation is desperately trying to preserve the last shreds of its human identity.”

The second anthology, for Valley Press, will be called Lost Tales and will contain ten brand new stories from writers including Stephen Gallagher, Juliet E. McKenna, Philip Palmer, Gary Russell and Wayne Simmons

Here’s the blurb:

Lost Tales

“What if Bram Stoker had revisited the character of Mina Harker one final time before his death? Would the events of all those years ago have left her a broken woman, the tainted curse of Dracula still surging through her blood? What if Lewis Carrol’s Alice had stumbled again into the surreal world of Wonderland, or Lemuel Gulliver’s extraordinary adventures not stopped after his dramatic rescue from the country of the Houyhnhnms, but continued with something even more bizarre, even more shocking?

Somewhere in the darkest corner of a vast, forgotten library, on a high dusty shelf, sits the book of Lost Tales…

This anthology brings together stories from some of today’s finest genre writers: ten lost tales that were never written and yet could have existed in another time, another reality.”

Frontier Worlds will be published in hardback in early 2017

Lost Tales will be published in hardback in November this year.

Obviously I’m very excited to be sharing this information with you, and will bring you all the updates as soon as I get them.

Tuesday, 9 February 2016

What I watched in my holidays - by Scott Harrison aged 42

I was only 6 years old when the Hammer House of Horror TV series originally aired nearly 36 years ago.

But let’s not dwell on that.

I can’t really recall where I was at the time. Instinctively I want to say on holiday – down in Cornwall, sitting at a table in a B&B eating fish and chips while watching TV – but I guess that’s just my default position as a number of my more important childhood viewing memories were made while on holidays in the late 1970s/early 1980s. Tales of the Unexpected, for example. I distinctly remember lying there on the fold out sofa bed in the living room (this was about 1981, remember), a glass of coke in one hand, the novelisation of the film A Spaceman in King Arthur’s Court in the other, watching Roald Dahl sitting there in his armchair and introducing the next nasty little bit of half-hour macabre fluff on offer. Or there’s the original mini-series of V. I distinctly remember walking into the kitchen of the B&B (or guest house, it might have been a guest house) and seeing the trailer for V on the small black and white portable that was sitting on the foldaway kitchen table. The first episode was broadcast later that night.

But back to Hammer House of Horror.

We can safely say that I can’t remember where I was when I first saw this series. It was early September, so I must have been at home. But watch it I did. I remember that much at least. In fact, I remember it all too vividly. I also remember being utterly terrified by it!

Revisiting TV series and films that you watched when you were just a nipper is an odd feeling. Especially when those memories are strongly linked with such potent feelings – be they happiness, sadness or, as in this case, absolute terror. The first thing that struck me when rewatching this classic series (and, yes, it is a classic, mark my words) is how much of it I remember, and how much of it terrified me as a child of six going-on seven.

Scenes such as aging estate agent and would-be adulterer Denholm Elliot trapped within an endless, ever-changing dream of lust and murder; or Leigh Lawson and girlfriend Angela Bruce desperately trying to break the curse of the African statue before it caused the death of their friends and, inevitably, themselves; Rosalyn Landor dressed in virginal white and desperate to escape the Black Magic ceremony which will end her life; or Kathryn Leigh Scott’s slow decent into insanity as she is convinced that the man she has accidentally killed has returned to haunt her…

I think I also have a vague recollection of Diana Dors and her small brood of ragged werewolf children keeping two unsuspecting travellers prisoner in their house, but seeing as I actually watched this episode about thirteen years ago in a hotel room down in Brighton with Lee Harris after having lunch with author Robert Rankin I can’t, hand on heart, say that this memory is from it’s original transmission.

But most of all I remember the episode The Two Faces of Evil. Oh my god, how I remember that episode! The family driving along country lanes, seeing the ‘scarecrow’ in the field, the car crash, the father being dragged from the car by the ‘scarecrow’, the father replaced by the doppleganger, the doppleganger father being unable to speak and blaming it on the bandaged throat…the memories just go on and on. And as a six year old (almost seven year old) boy I had never been so terrified. So much so that it actually made me a bit weary of my own father for several days afterwards.

The series may not have the same impact now as it did when it was originally broadcast (that was, after all, thirty-six years ago…but, as I said, let’s not dwell on that!!) but it is still a visceral little gem, a series with a huge set of balls swinging between its legs, a series with bags of imagination and verve that is sadly lacking from our TV screens today. It’s a series that still shocks with its gore and refreshingly adult nature (some of the episodes even have decapitations, murders and nudity in the pre-credit sequences alone!!) which smacks of a time when TV audiences were still happy to be shocked, disgusted, or totally creeped out without feeling the need to immediately reach for the telephone to complain about how disgusted they were that a TV programme had the temerity to make them feel an  – gasp! – emotion.

It’s just a pity that it never carried on past a single series of 13 episodes. Sure, four years later the same company gave us Hammer House of Mystery and Suspense (or as my dad always called it, Hammer House of Mystery and Suspenders – my dad had a habit of doing that, renaming TV titles, so that you just couldn’t quite take them seriously anymore, no matter how hard you tried), but it was never quite as good, not quite as balls-out due to the gradual taming down of British TV that was happening at this time. No, by this time sex, violence, nudity and swearing was slowly being outlawed on British TV until, by the end of the 1980s / beginning of the 1990s a strange blandness had spread across the airwaves – a time in which Carry On films were unofficially banned and classic sitcoms were hacked to pieces in case they offended…well…anyone at all really.

I miss TV series like this. And I think British TV misses them too. What I wouldn't give to see an anthology series nowadays with half the courage, attitude, swagger and talent that's on display here. Come to think of it, what I wouldn't give to write an episode for a TV series half as good as this one was!


Thursday, 8 January 2015

Star Trek Book Cover Reveal

There's no lovelier or more exciting way for me to start the new year than finding that the cover of my forthcoming Star Trek book, Shadow of the Machine, has been revealed over on the website!

And it's a real beaut.

Not only do we have Admiral James T. Kirk dressed in his Admiralty uniform from Star Trek: The Motion Picture, but we also have a naked (sans cloud covering disguise) V'Ger hovering over the Earth.

The back cover blurb for the book reads:

"After its recent encounter with V’ger, the U.S.S. Enterprise has returned to dry dock to finish its refit before commencing its continuing mission. The crew has been granted a two-week period of shore leave before preparations for their next voyage begins. Shaken by their encounter with V’ger, Kirk, Spock and Sulu travel to their respective homes and must reflect upon their lives—now forever changed."

Star Trek: The Original Series: Shadow of the Machine,
an eNovella, will be released on March 9th this year and will cost $3.99.

You can pre-order copies at, and iTunes 

Tuesday, 24 June 2014

SOMETIME NEVER wins an award!

Crikey, blimey and shiver me timbers, if it hasn't just gone and happened again!

For the second time in the space of a month another project I have worked on with SpokenWorld Audio has only gone and won another bloomin' award!

My audio play, SOMETIME NEVER, starring SIMON JONES and ROSALYN LANDOR won the Best Drama Award at the New York Awards last night. I'm sure I don't have to tell you how excited, thrilled and downright gobsmacked by this I, and everyone involved, is.

The audio play, which was directed and sound designed by the mighty NEIL GARDNER, with music by the fab JAMES DUNLOP, is the first in a series of 'own brand' audio dramas that I'm writing for SpokenWorld, and was an absolute blast to work on from start to finish.

I'd like to thank Neil, Simon, Rosalyn, James and everyone involved for doing such a wonderful job, and for making it something that I am truly proud of.

We are currently turning our attention to the second audio play, so watch this space for more details as and when!

I'd also like to offer Neil's other company, Ladbroke Productions, a huge and hearty congrats for winning a Gold New York Award for their documentary Living With Memory In Rwanda. A well deserved win, my friend! A double celebration for Mr Gardner tonight!

Meanwhile, I'm just off to crack open a bottle of bubbly!

Friday, 20 June 2014

Incoming News - Part 2: THIRTEEN Wins An Award!

Secondly, I am very excited, not to mention totally stunned (in a good way) to announce that THIRTEEN, the portmanteau audio horror anthology I edited and wrote for, has won the Award for Best Original Work at the 2014 Audie Awards in New York last month!

A massive thank you to all thirteen writers who provided such wonderful stories and all the narrators who brought them to life so brilliantly – and special thanks must go to the mighty Neil Gardner, producer and director of the anthology, and Barnaby Edwards, who’s reading of my linking story Hidden Track was just spot on in every conceivable way!

Splendid fellows, all of them!

You can find out what all the fuss is about by getting your hands on a copy of THIRTEEN either over at the SpokenWorld shop or on Amazon.