Saturday, 10 January 2015

A good start to the year!

 My byline in this month's Doctor Who Magazine!

As anyone who’s read probably more than a couple of entries in this blog will know, I am a card-carrying, lifelong Doctor Who fan. As a part of this I have, for the past twenty years, been a reader of Doctor Who Magazine, the august journal which has been published – originally by Marvel, and latterly by Panini – continuously since 1979, impressively even managing to survive the series being off-air for sixteen years during that time.

I first bought DWM, as it is known to fans, in December 1994, picking up a rather tatty copy of issue 220 in WH Smith’s in Worthing. And I’ve been a reader ever since, non-stop. I’ve been an occasional contributor to the letters page and had some comments published in the round-ups of annual polls and the like – even being “Letter of the Month” on a couple of occasions, first at the age of 13 in 1997, and then again in 2013 in the 50th anniversary special, which was very pleasing.

However, this month, something rather wonderful has happened of which I am very proud – after all those years of reading and occasionally writing to DWM, I have become one of their writers! For one month only, but it still counts. A proper, professional piece of writing for them, which is rather nice!

 DWM 220 from December 1994, the first issue I ever bought, at the age of ten, and issue 482 from January 2015, with my piece in - coincidentally, they both also contain interviews with Peter Purves!

It’s an interview with David Fisher, a scriptwriter who wrote four stories during Tom Baker’s time as the Doctor. I actually originally interviewed Fisher as part of my day job, for my Doctor Who 50th anniversary features for BBC Radio Norfolk. However, he’d led such an interesting life and had so much to say that I thought he was worth a longer piece than a radio package could allow, and I asked if he’d mind me writing up an interview with him for DWM.

He said that was fine, so I wrote up the feature and eventually submitted it to the lovely Peter Ware, the assistant editor of DWM, who I’d briefly met in November 2013 when we sat next to each other at the BFI première of An Adventure in Space and Time. He liked it, the editor Tom Spilsbury evidently did as well, and with a few tweaks it sat waiting for its opportunity for a slot in the magazine… Which came with this month’s issue, published on Thursday!

Rather pathetically, I can’t stop looking at it. I’m very proud of it, having never really thought I’d get the opportunity to write for DWM. Although I can certainly turn a good article, I’d thought that pretty much every angle of Doctor Who I could write about had already been covered by other people or could be covered by people who knew a lot more about it than I did. So I’d always been more of a bystander than a participant in Doctor Who writing, but I must admit that the excitement of having this published has kicked off another idea in my head, which I’m going to try and sufficiently research to work up into an idea for them… We shall see!

In other writing news, just before Christmas I received a rejection for Another Life, but it was at least a personal one. They’d clearly read the book, and had well-explained reasons why they didn’t want to take it on – and there were some nice comments, such as “I was impressed by the intensity and depth of your novel that demonstrates a very careful and literary approach…” But at the end of the day a rejection is still a rejection.

I’ve sent off an e-mail of enquiry to another publisher to see if they’re interested – like the one who rejected it, a small publisher I’ve had some correspondence with before. If they don’t want it, I may then start on agents rather than publishers.

Also through the day job, I had the opportunity to meet a proper writer this week – the winner of this year’s Costa Book Award for Best Debut Novel, no less! It was Emma Healey, who lives in Norwich and won for her book Elizabeth is Missing. I’d actually briefly met her last summer, when the novel was published and she came in as a guest on the show I produce during the week, but on Monday after we had the embargoed press release about her win I was able to pop round to her house and record a piece. She was very nice, very friendly, and clearly extremely talented. I, needless to say, was sick with jealousy! But I don’t think I let it come across too badly in the interview, which you can listen to here:

Aside from that, I’m plotting the next Alice Flack story which I am hoping to write soon, and doing some initial research on that possible new piece I’d like to submit to DWM. I’d like to get the first Alice Flack story up online soon, probably as a giveaway e-book on Amazon, but I’m told it really needs an appealing cover to help catch the eye of the browsing reader, and I need to somehow get that sorted first.

But a good start to the year, anyway. Even if I haven’t so far done much actual bloody writing in it!