Friday, May 23, 2008

Harlan Ellison's watching

So... I just spoke to Harlan Ellison on the phone.

I may have imagined the whole thing, as I'm dosed up on 2 Beechams Flu-Plus caplets, 2 ibuprofens, along with some sort of multi-vitamin pill for horses - it was half the size of my head, God knows what was in it. Yes, the Space Virus suddenly arrived yesterday. Sore throat, streaming nose, and sinuses that feel like I've had two six-inch nails hammered into my face. Please excuse any babbling in this post. I'm spaced out, and delirious with excitement. I just spoke to one of my heroes, someone who is so well known, he almost feels like a fictional character. But he spoke to me. On the phone. I'm still in shock.

Anyway. You may remember I did a big interview for Doctor Who Magazine a while back. They asked me which writer, living or dead, I'd most like to share a pint with. My answer was: "Dead: Douglas Adams, probably my biggest influence. Alive: Harlan Ellison, because he's the daddy. But I'd also love to get Captain RTD and The Moff (there's a band name for you) down the pub, and just listen to them."

Now, since then, I've had the chance to talk at great length with both Captain RTD and The Moff (like the Captain and Tennille, but without the catchy tunes), not together but separately. They're fantastic company, and I could listen to them all day. Never, ever, did I even imagine that I'd get to speak to Harlan Ellison.

Yesterday, I got several emails, letting me know that Harlan was "looking for you." My first reaction was: "Shit! Pack a bag! Go on the run!" What if I'd angered him somehow? But he had posted a bulletin on his official website - he'd seen the interview, and was happy to go for a coffee with me. Holy. Fucking. Shit!

Naturally, I'll be flying over as soon as I possibly can, purely for the chance to have a chat with him. If you know who he is, then you'll know why I'm prepared to do that. If you haven't heard of him, then (a) I despair for future generations, and (b) no amount of my explaining will help. You'll just have to go and read his work.

So I sent my contact details to his webmaster, and received his in return. Today, around 8pm, I realised that if I was going to call him, it should be now, while the time zones are aligned. But I have a full on Space Virus attack, I thought, I don't want to be sniffing and coughing at him. Maybe I should leave it till Monday, when I'm better? Then the phone rang. I panicked. Bizarrely, I found myself saying out loud: "Christ, I hope that's not Harlan Ellison"... I wanted to be on top form, to impress him with my sparkling repartee, to have fascinating insights about his work that would impress him. But it wasn't him. Then the phone rang again, and it *was* him. Somehow, my throat and nose magically cleared up for the duration of the call. Can noses and throats get scared? It's the only explanation I can think of.

We chatted. We laughed. He's a Doctor Who fan. Apparently he's seen my episode, and my Torchwood too. I couldn't believe I was really on the phone with him. He assured me I wasn't imagining it. He was incredibly friendly, witty, and amused at the thought that I might be scared of him. I could have talked to him for hours.

I think I offered to kill one person of his choice, if he wanted - you know, just to break the ice. I think he might take me up on it.

So when I get over there, we're going to go for lunch, and have a proper chat. I can't wait. It'll have to be in a month or so, because I have TV script deadlines and so on. But as soon as I can get away for a few days, I'm going.

And now I'm on the sofa, dazed, chuckling to myself. It feels like I imagined it. But I know it was real. Because Harlan Ellison said so.

Friday, May 16, 2008

Comic Maker

I'm in the middle of several things at the moment, which is why I still haven't posted part 2 of the TW process. It's pretty much done but I want to double check it, and don't have the time yet. Will also chuck in the Gallifrey report soon, which is in a similar state. But not right now, because it's Friday night, baby, and I got plans! Yeah! BIG plans! That's right - I'm getting a takeaway, and firing up the PS3! Out of control, man! I'm a maverick! I'm a loose cannon! I hate the paperwork, but I get the job done, dammit!

Shut up, I can pretend what I want.

Anyway, one of the smaller, secret things I did recently was for the BBC's Comic Maker. The news article has just gone up here, and you can read my comic here. The brief was to do a short, fun 6-page comic using only the things in the Comic Maker - they gave me a list of backgrounds, characters, monsters, and props that were available - to show what the application can do. So go and have a play with it if you like, it's all free and pretty flexible.

Me? I got some business to attend to... Now, where's the takeaway menu?

Wednesday, May 07, 2008

Doctor Who and interview pimpage


It is now safe to announce that I've got a short story in the upcoming Short Trips collection, "Transmissions", which will be released on July 31st. It's my first ever published short story, not counting school magazines, and it features the 4th Doctor and the 2nd Romana, or Romana II if you want to get technical.

Why those two? Because they were the ones I grew up watching, and much as I love the first Romana, I didn't see her adventures until much later. City of Death is my earliest Who-related memory, so it was only natural that I set something around that time with those characters.

The current issue of Doctor Who Magazine, issue 395, has got a big feature on the Pompeii ep, and a mini interview with me. The current issue of SFX has details on series 3 of Primeval, and the new series Spooks: Code 9, both of which have an episode by me.

I've done another podcast interview with the ninjas over at Geek Syndicate, which you can find here. We mainly talked about the Pompeii ep, although for some reason I managed to mention Nazis yet again, which is starting to become a worrying habit.

And there's a massive interview with the good people over at Den of Geek, in which I talked about writing for all of the shows, how I got started, online reactions, meetings, and so on. No mention of Nazis, although I did use the phrase "I was just following orders", so clearly they were on my mind.

Oh, and I've just done an interview for "Nazi Chat Monthly" magazine, but I'll let you know when that's out.

Thursday, May 01, 2008

9.04 million

The final viewing figures are in: The Fires of Pompeii officially got 9.04 million viewers in total, including repeats and so on. It was the 4th most watched thing on BBC1 that week, and the 10th most watched thing on any channel for that week. I am gobsmacked. My gob is well and truly smacked. Nine... million... people... No, I can't get that through my head, it's too big and bizarre.

The full length commentary is now available, for anyone who wants to have a listen - it's online here, although not for download, you'll have to play it in the browser and watch the ep on the telly at the same time. Or just listen to the commentary. Or ignore all of it, and have a cup of tea. You can do anything you like! Just put your mind to it! Etc.

I'm very pleased to say that I'll be back at Gallifrey next year, so hopefully I'll get this year's report posted before then. If you're in the area, or nearby, then drop in and say hello.

Now, for you US viewers, the Pompeii episode will be on the Sci Fi channel tomorrow night, Friday, 2nd May, at 9pm EDT, or 11pm PDT. You US folk will understand what those numbers and letters mean, I don't because I come from an impoverished country that can only afford one timezone. So watch it! Unless of course, you have already resorted to Commie Nazi illegal downloading, which helps to fund TERRORISM and WASPS and PAEDOPHILES, probably, according to the adverts.

But seriously, here is a proper anti-piracy warning, so please watch this before you go a-pirateering: