I’m a big fan of Mad Men. One of my favourite characters is Ken Cosgrove. He’s often overlooked but I like him because, although he’s just a boring accounts guy at work, he secretly writes short stories at home. The creator of Mad Men has said that the series will end in the modern day and we’ll get to see what all the characters are up to. I always get the feeling that Ken will have left the advertising industry to become a full-time and very successful author.
Anyway, I read this blog and it reminded me a lot of Ken. Turns out Dr Seuss worked in advertising before becoming a children’s author.
The past 365 days have been a particularly great year for me.
There are all the obvious things that most of you already know. I’ve had my first book published to critical and public acclaim. It was even shortlisted in the BGE Irish Book Awards – (that was a shocker!) Because of the book, I’ve had the chance to meet a lot of new and fascinating people, including several fellow writers who have had nice and encouraging things to say. But the real joy has come from my many visits to schools and libraries. Meeting the children to have read or are reading my book is a pleasure incomparable to anything else. The enthusiasm kids today have for books is infectious and makes me want to go home and read/write even more.
I’ve spent a lot of the time in the past year learning how to be a writer. When I wrote the book in 2010, I kind of just stumbled into everything, feeling my way blindly. But at the start of 2011, I set myself some writing targets and got into a habit that I keep to today. Right now, I have the first drafts of the next two Arthur Quinn books complete and am working on a whole other story that I hope people will get to read one day.
My friends and family have been so supportive to me all year long that I can’t thank them enough. The same must be said for my publishers, Mercier Press, fellow authors and all the kids book enthusiasts I’ve met along the way.
But what else did 2011 mean to me? Well I thought I’d have a look back at some of my highlights. What were yours?
For anyone who’s read my book Arthur Quinn and the World Serpent, you’ll be aware of the importance of the River Poddle in the plot. In one major scene, Arthur, Ash and Will explore the river under the city of Dublin.
Here’s a great clip from an RTE documentary a few years ago that tells you all about the Poddle, as well as giving us a glimpse of the river itself. Watch it to the end to see the grate that features in the book, too!
And here’s the actual programme that inspired me to write Arthur Quinn. When I saw the Poddle in this, I just knew there had to be some sort of monster hidden there! (The Poddle part starts from the 4 minute mark.)
For those of you who don’t know, I studied Film & TV production in college. I, like most of my class, leaned more toward the film end of the course. I suppose we liked to think of ourselves as artists. Some of us still do. And some of us are artists.
Anyway, for our final year grad projects, the majority of us worked on short films or music videos. But two students – Paul Curran and Padraig Whitmore – conceived and produced this fantastic little kids quiz show. I thought of it recently while watching an episode of Horrible Histories. It’s got the same irreverent tone and a fantastic host in the disembodied floating head of Zorlax. Read the rest of this entry »
Joe Hill is one of my favourite new horror writers. His work is always so original and manages to meld fantasy and terror as well as Neil Gaiman. He writes characters you care for and the plots keep you guessing right up till the last page.
So I was thrilled when I heard that Fox were adapting his comic-book series Locke & Key for TV. I was even more thrilled when I heard that the cast would include the much underused Nick Stahl and Ireland’s own Sarah Bolger and that it would be directed by Mark Romenek (‘Never Let Me Go’, Johnny Cash ‘Hurt’ video, etc).
On the 26th of March 2005, I settled down to watch the TV. It was a sunny Saturday evening and the television was tuned into BBC One. An ad came on; ‘Coming up next, the new series of Doctor Who.’ Doctor Who? I thought. Interesting. I’d seen the TV movie a few years previously which had cast Paul McGann as the time travelling Doctor and set him off on an adventure in America. And I had fake recollections of seeing the odd seventies episode on UK Gold or some other satellite channel when I was younger. But that was as far as my knowledge went so I figured I’d leave the Beeb on and check out the new series.
Christopher Eccleston was the Doctor, Billie Piper played Rose – his new companion. I learned what the TARDIS was and that you didn’t call him Doctor Who. You simply called him the Doctor. It was a fun adventure with shop mannequins coming to life. Not the greatest piece of Saturday night television I’d ever seen but fun nonetheless. At the end, there was a trailer for the second episode. The Doctor and Rose would travel to the end of the universe to watch Earth blink out of existence. There was a character featured briefly in the teaser called Cassandra. She consisted of a face on a piece of flesh stretched across a frame. And she was the last human. This simple but ingenious character is what got me hooked on Doctor Who from that moment. Cassandra – although she’s long been disposed of – still signifies most what I love about the show.
The producers behind The Tudors and Camelot look set to shoot another historical fiction in Ireland called Vikings. The TV series is expected to have a budget of about €28m. It will follow the exploits of the Viking warriors from the late 8th to mid-11th Century. Filming is likely to begin in Ireland next year.