Thursday, January 26, 2017

The Hybrids tv series is now available for agents / producers to pick up.

Hybrids - we are human too


The pilot script and tv series bible for Hybrids are now incredible thanks to enthusiastic and discerning feedback from Adam Stern, Director of Development at the Gotham Group, one of the top ten Hollywood production and management companies, who called it 'unique' and 'original'. He feels it's best suited for the millennial sf market, cable, and the theme is a 'hot topic'.

This revolutionary SF thriller set five minutes into the future dramatises for the millennial viewer the popular anxiety that we are being taken over by technology.  

Johnny – half computer – and Kestrella – her hand is her smartphone – are hybrids. Together they battle a conspiracy that will lead them to the top of a country in chaos. 

Hybrids is X-Men meets Mr Robot.

A pandemic is terrorising the country by merging victims with their most frequently-used technology. It mutates their cells so the device regrows beneath their skin. They become 'hybrids' – feared, crippled, sometimes enhanced, sometimes dead. 

Are you wedded to your device?

Hybrids is now available for agents and producers to pick up. Contact: info@cyberium.co.uk

Tuesday, January 24, 2017

Climate change fiction is coming of age

Literature that touches on the topic of climate change is reaching maturity. This is evidenced by the latest collection of work just launched by the Weatherfronts project, called Realistic Utopias, in which I have an 8,000 word story, For The Greater Good.

Whether you call is climate fiction, cli-fi, stories for change or have your own pet name, it really doesn't matter. It is now such a broad church that this collection includes poetry, a very funny children's story (with illustrations), speculative fiction, human interest and domestic drama.


The book is a free download:

There was a previous collection last year:

The Weatherfronts project, run by TippingPoint and the Free Word Centre (where the launch happened) in London, is about using the arts to broaden the conversation about climate change, away from the scientific, polemical or political. Five stories were commissioned for this collection.

It grew out of an event that brought together fifty scientists and thinkers and fifty writers in a series of workshops. (Listen to it here.)

"One thing we have seen very clearly is that over the 12 years of TippingPoint’s life, writers' responses to the subject have grown far more sophisticated and increased in their range and scope," observed the director of the Free Word Centre, Peter Gingold, as he introduced the writers to this sold out event.


The audience arrives for the Weatherfronts climate fiction book launch.
The audience arrives for the launch event.


Peter Gingold introduces the Weatherfronts climate fiction book launch.
Peter Gingold introduces the authors.
Each of the authors then read some of their work:


Sarah Thomas reading from her story Rainfell, Fell.
Sarah Thomas read from her story based on her friendship with the widow of the one man who died in the Cumbrian floods of the winter of 2014-15, Rainfell, Fell.


Emma Howell reading from Thrift: A Love Story
Emma Howell read from Thrift: A Love Story about her father's attempts to go green in the 1970s.


Justina Hart reading from her poem sequence Doggerland Rising.
Justina Hart read from her poem sequence Doggerland Rising, in which she imagines (based on archaeological research) the inhabitants of islands that used to exist in the North Sea having to leave their homes when the sea level rose around 9,000 years ago.
Then I read from my story For the Greater Good, set in 2084, in which I imagine the possible side-effects of Britain achieving a goal of feeding its population and satisfying all of its energy from renewables.

But as I'm taking the photos there isn't one of me! Anyway, a number of people said afterwards how affecting the story is. Which was satisfying, so thank you.


Darragh Martin reading from Thumbelina Jellyfizz and the Elephant in the Bathroom.
Then Darragh Martin read from his hilarious kids' tale Thumbelina Jellyfizz and the Elephant in the Bathroom, with vibrant illustrations from Euan Cook:
illustration by Euan Cook


illustration by Euan Cook


There was the inevitable panel discussion, with Durham University's Harriet Bulkley introducing Jane Riddiford, the visionary founder of the amazing Global Generation, a club for teenagers and kids in King's Cross, central London. She explained how she got the children interested in nature.


L2R: Harriet Bulkley, Emma Howell, Darragh Martin and Jane Riddiford,
L2R: Harriet Bulkley, Emma Howell, Darragh Martin and Jane Riddiford,

This led to the following amazing film about their work:



She guides them through periods of silent contemplation and then asks them to write about nature. Three of them came to read their work:

Samika of Global Generation reading her poem on nature
Samika of Global Generation reading her poem on nature.


Aisha of Global Generation reading her poem on nature
Aisha of Global Generation


Rania of Global Generation reading her poem on nature
Rania of Global Generation
Then the audience had to do some work – write their own feelings about what nature meant for them, which was a cathartic experience:


That's me in the middle at the front!
It does feel like writing stories about climate change is no longer weird or unusual. Climate change is here, and all stories now react to it or are situated within a climate changed world.

The stories in this collection are all domestic. They show lives, families, affected by the changing climate and our reactions to it. They help us think about what this means and come to terms with the enormity of it. They let us develop and consider our own emotional responses.

Find out more here: https://www.freewordcentre.com/explore/realistic-utopias-writing!


[David Thorpe is the writer of Marvel's Captain Britain, the sci-fi YA novels HybridsDoc Chaos: The Chernobyl Effect and the climate change fantasy Stormteller.]

Friday, January 13, 2017

Writing for Fun and Profit online course

I'm now offering this new online writing course that is based on successful classes run in the real world.

Who is it for?

This course is for anyone interested in telling stories. The aim is to provide a safe, constructive, encouraging environment in which you can get the best from your story, whatever it is.  

How does it work?

It consists of modules with exercises. Students proceed at their own pace although the recommendation is to complete one module per week. If this is done, it should take about six months. Once the exercises are returned you receive feedback and the next module.

We spend a lot of time at the start on character and structure development because this helps to focus on what is really important in the story and the possibilities for how it will unfold.


The principles of the course are applicable to all kinds of storytelling, since they cover plot, character, suspense, dialogue, structure, imagery, pacing, and so on. These universal rules and guidelines work whether you are doing oral storytelling, writing screenplays, novels, graphic novels, short stories or stage and radio plays.

The course is delivered by email and Skype. 

Course content

The modules are:
  1. Developing characters – since all stories begin with characters – and how characters develop storylines.
  2. The four basic plots and the four possible endings.
  3. Ideas and how to evaluate them.
  4. Structure I: the three act structure, and writing your story summary and logline. 
  5. Character design and the inner conflict. Attitude and style.
  6. Mapping all of your characters.
  7. Theme, moral and imagery.
  8. Using the 'story map' to generate and fix the story's details.
  9. Writing the detailed plot synopsis.
  10. The use of suspense. Storytelling and spell-weaving.
  11. The meaning of 'show don't tell'.
  12. First or third person?
  13. Prose style and the art of writing descriptive prose
  14. Writing convincing dialogue.
  15. Structure II: the monomyth, the cosmogonic cycle and the 12 stage story structure. 
  16. Opening lines.
  17. Beyond plot: slice of life, mood, etc., mosaic structure, allegory.
  18. Subplots and minor characters.
  19. Comic writing and satire (optional).
  20. Pacing (mood, time, transitions, flashbacks, framing devices)
  21. Genres and 'literature'.
  22. Endings. 
  23. Editing your work.
  24. Writing for radio, tv, film.
  25. Writing for magazines and websites.
  26. Having completed your work:
    • Finding an agent or editor
    • Finding markets for your work
    • Publishing and self-publishing
  27. Marketing yourself and your work, including the use of social media, book signings, etc.

Cost

The cost of the course is £260, which is £10 per module. Don't forget, this includes individual feedback on your exercises. 

The fee is payable up front. If at any point you decide not to proceed, you will receive a refund for the modules not taken.

 Alternately you can set up a direct debit of £44/month.

Testimonials

Comments from 'real world' students:
  • "I thoroughly enjoyed last week's session. I know I'm a professional in the script-writing field, but to be honest I think any writer no matter how much they've done can benefit from a 'reboot' as it were." Julian Dutton, professional tv/film comedy scriptwriter
  • "I lack confidence and belief in myself, you have no idea how much your support and guidance is appreciated." Jacquie Hyde, writer of Young Adult fiction
  • "Thank you so much for all your teaching, most enjoyable and I've learnt a lot." Joy Daniels, playwright 
  • "Your classes have provoked some great ideas." Sara Fox, writer of historical romances.

Interested?

Send an email enquiry with some information about your writing interests.
You will hear back very shortly!

The tutor

David is a successful writer of fiction for adults, young adults and older children, who believes strongly that with imagination we can change the world.  He's the author of Hybrids, "a stunningly clever novel" – The Times – which won the UK HarperCollins-Saga Magazine 2006 Childrens Novelist competition.

He co-founded the London Screenwriters' Workshop and has written many short stories, TV scripts, comics and graphic novels, including for Marvel, HarperCollins, Titan Books and Macdonald-Futura.

He has also worked as a commissioning editor for various book publishers, plus as journalist and news editor, is the author of over ten non-fiction books and is a director of Cambria Publishing Co-operative.

He has a City and Guilds Further Education Teachers Certificate and has completed a City and Guilds course in Contracts and Rights.

He is a member of the Society of Authors and the Society of Childrens' Book Writers and Illustrators.

What children's books will help you survive the apocalypse?

What stories for children told today will still be around in 100 years? What qualities in these books will future generations find appealing?

What's got me wondering about this is that lately I've been looking at remarkable books still popular now that were written either in or about the 19th century.

Amongst these are Laura Ingalls Wilder's best-selling series of Little House books and Lucy Maud Montgomery's series beginning with Anne of Green Gables. Both are still in print.

Wilder based her books on her childhood which was in the northern Midwest US during the 1870s. She wrote eight titles which were published by Harper & Brothers from 1932 to 1943.

Of the Little House books I've been particularly entranced by the first, Little House in the Big Woods. It tells in extraordinary detail how her family – Caroline and Charles, elder daughter Mary Amelia, and herself, aged 6–7 – survived in the frozen woods of Wisconsin in an almost completely self-sufficient way of life.

Charmingly illustrated, it is almost a 'how-to' manual of survivalism, describing in some detail the making of clothes, gathering of wild honey, butchering of animals, how to birth a calf, how to make butter and cheese, and how to keep warm and travel on a sleigh in deep snow (put hot baked potatoes in your pockets and boots).



Most interestingly it describes the collection and refinement of maple syrup from the sap of the trees which is done with Grandpa and Grandma.



When Pa goes hunting he hauls back a deer and this is skinned, the leather cured and the meat smoked for the winter.

If I were ever on Desert Island Discs I think I'd choose this book to take with me to the desert island because it would be both helpful and entertaining!

For it's not all hard work. Most nights Pa tells the girls a story (which we hear too) with them sat on his knee and plays them a song on his fiddle.



Not only can Pa build a house, hunt and make furniture, he is musical!

Little House in the Big Woods was serialised in the BBC tv programme Jackanory in the 1960s.

Little House on the Prairie continues the story in the same style, describing how in 1869 the family moved via covered wagon from Wisconsin to Indian Territory on the prairie of Kansas. Then they had to build a whole new house.

Little House on the Prairie became an NBC network tv series that ran from 1974 to 1983 and revealed much about the pioneers and settlers and their relationship with the indigenous tribes.

Lucy Montgomery's Anne series is likewise a glimpse into a lost world. Although fictional it is strongly based on the real community of New London, Prince Edward Island in North East Canada.

A key moral message of the books is the need for self-improvement, and the civilising values of respect for others.

As a more sustainable version of Disneyland or Harry Potter World, the location for the story, Green Gables farm, became a visitor centre and the seed for the creation of a National Park.




Nowadays, adults probably read these books now more than children, but they may be reading them to their own children simply because they themselves read them when they were kids.

They are fascinating because they provide a window onto another way of life. There is a nostalgia or a longing for those simpler times and the simple morality they espouse. It seems a marvel that the ways of life described are only three or four generations ago.

And there's a feeling that perhaps, if the apocalypse comes, we or our children may have to learn to live that way again: close-knit, close to nature, relying on our wits, fitness, morality and skills. I think that's why I put some of these practical tips about survival in my own apocalyptic novel Stormteller.

Maybe in 100 years it will be these kind of books that will still be read. What do you think?

[David Thorpe is the writer of Marvel's Captain Britain, the sci-fi YA novels HybridsDoc Chaos: The Chernobyl Effect and the cli-fi fantasy Stormteller.]

Saturday, December 17, 2016

Post-Brexit Britain is in crisis. But where is Captain Britain?

It's 40 years since Britain got its own Marvel superhero. To celebrate this anniversary Marvel has put out a new collection of stories, Captain Britain: Legacy Of A Legend. And guess who has written the introduction and some of the stories? 

This pick of stories from 1975-86 is a perfect introduction to the Union Jack-clad hero, and also strings together a virtually seamless single epic that launches the Brobdingnagian cast that has formed the bedrock of all his subsequent narratives.

But right now, Captain Britain does not have his own comic book, tv series, film or anything else except the odd appearance in other comics. There was talk of a tv series or a movie, but Marvel Studios has no plans for either (I asked them – even sent a script).

Is he having a mid-life crisis?

With a name like Captain Britain the character inevitably taps the many resonances of British culture. Different creators have picked up on different aspects: Spidey clone, Arthurian hero, secret agent, trans-dimensional warrior, Carrollian surrealist, and protector against the paranormal threats... 

Perhaps it's no coincidence that, right now, Britain itself is having a kind of identity crisis.

Since the 52%-48% vote to leave the European Union the country has been riven in a way not seen since the 1980s days of the miners' strike. Crimes of racism and homophobia have increased as queues at the food banks have lengthened and wage levels stagnated, and nobody knows where the country is heading. Political leadership is nowhere to be found and the country is stumbling to find its way in the world.

In the media, arguments rage over what it means to be British. Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland are frequently at odds with the English government. Post-Brexit, here we are in our time of need.

But where is Captain Britain? Could he save us?

The character has, in some writers' hands, sometimes strayed far from his own core identity. Perhaps that is why he has never been as successful as Captain America or Spider-Man. His very name is problematic: what is he a captain of? Unlike Captain America he was never in the armed forces.

He is an orphan, a twin, from an aristocratic family fallen on hard times. He is a physicist who practices a form of magic. He is a liberal who wears the flag. He is the husband of a psychic half-fairy gypsy. He embodies, in other words, a mess of contradictions. Just like the United Kingdom.

Lately I've been thinking a lot about him. I've been trying out all kinds of storylines, including a reboot in the manner of Marvel's Ultimates series. I'm still thinking.

I have come to believe that key to his potential mass appeal is his ability to be a slate onto which others will project their hopes, wishes and fantasies about what he might be and what values he might represent. Yet he himself is his own man, picked for his heroic qualities by the wisdom of Merlyn and Roma, who back him up, and he is able to draw on the possibilities and lessons to be learned from the other versions of Britain in parallel dimensions, and on the legendary Celtic magic of Otherworld.

I believe a Captain Britain tv series should be made in Britain. In the context of Brexit and renewed soul-searching up and down the country about national identity, I think funnily enough that the country actually needs one. 

Just as, in his time, Captain America has been a prism through which writers have viewed the politics of their country, a national British superhero series could also act as a focus for our national hopes and anxieties to play themselves out. 

For example the tv series Sherlock and Dr Who both have a wit and dynamism that energises British themes and experiments imaginatively with quintessentially British icons. These echo throughout the world and are wildly successful.

With fantasy, it's possible to project and reflect different extensions of modern real-world trends without being didactic or partisan. That would never do.

Captain Britain is a cipher. A powerful vehicle for playing harmlessly but fruitfully with ideas about British culture now and in the past and even in the future. 

As for the man behind that mask.... what would he think of all this himself?

Now there is a good question....


[David Thorpe is the writer of Marvel's Captain Britain, the sci-fi YA novels HybridsDoc Chaos: The Chernobyl Effect and the cli-fi fantasy Stormteller.]

My writing course can be taken online. Contact me if interested.

Tuesday, December 13, 2016

For the Greater Good

I wrote a short story for the Weatherfronts commission. The brief was to respond to the themes and the discussions arising from a two day Weatherfronts event that took place at the Free Word Centre earlier this year.

This event brought 50 writers/artists and 50 climate change scientists together to discuss creative ways to respond to climate change.

My 8000 word story was called For the Greater Good and I've just had feedback for it from the editors:

"We really enjoyed reading it! This was a great read. The human relationships here were very believable and there were some strong emotions conjured quickly, to pull the reader in to this new, alternate world. This was a great unpicking of the moral and societal dimensions that were raised at Weatherfronts, and it broached pertinent moral questions in a plausible and non-didactic way."

That's a relief!

The story will be published next month and there will be a launch event at the Free Word Centre on January 19. Maybe see you there?

Saturday, December 03, 2016

The 12 stages of the Hero's Journey – Are they real?

This month I thought I would publish the slides from a presentation I gave this week at my writing course.

I wanted to delve deeply into the idea of plot and structure and then test the popular technique writers are taught that quest, discovery or journey type stories all have 12 stages. I did this by analysing two recent films and book that are very different indeed: The Girl On A Train and Doctor Strange. If you haven't seen these: spoiler alert! Don't read the penultimate two slides!

















[David Thorpe is the writer of Marvel's Captain Britain, the sci-fi YA novels HybridsDoc Chaos: The Chernobyl Effect and the cli-fi fantasy Stormteller.]
My (12-stage, of course!) writing course can also be taken online. Contact me if interested.

Friday, July 29, 2016

New course: Writing for Fun and Profit

You know what they say about those who teach? So I'm teaching a writing course again...



Wednesdays 7pm to 9pm, YMCA, Gerwyn House, 19 Market Square, Llandovery SA20 0AB. From September 7th.

I'll be running this course – which I've run before elsewhere and has proved very popular – from September 7th. It's for anybody with an interest in writing.

It will offer support and constructive feedback and aim to build an enthusiastic, supportive group, whatever type of writing you are passionate about.

For those who have an interest in being published there will be advice and pointers about the different kinds of markets.

All types of writing and genres will be covered, from children's and adult fiction to scriptwriting, online (e.g. blogging), interactive computer games, comics, journalism, non-fiction and specialist technical or business-to-business writing – except for poetry, as there is another group which specialises in poetry in Llandovery.

It will begin with a taster session on September 7th, price £3 to cover costs. After that it will be £5 per session, £4.50 concessions, or £42 (£38) for 10 sessions, on Wednesdays 7pm to 9pm.

I am a full-time professional writer and have taught hundreds of hours of creative and scriptwriting classes. I'm a novelist and winner of a HarperCollins contest to find a new children's writer with his young adults novel Hybrids.

I've also written, edited and commissioned many comics and graphic novels including for Marvel, and am a co-founder of the London Screenwriters Workshop.

On the non-fiction side I'm an author of thousands of journalistic articles on renewable energy and sustainable development and of over ten practical or technical/academic books on how to live more sustainably.

I'm also also a director of Cambria Publishing Co-operative and a member of the Society of Authors.

If you want to find out more before coming along, phone me on 07901 925671 or 01550 721476.



Here's a Facebook event link to share.