Wednesday, 28 July 2010

PUNKY, the new animated series

The first episode of my TV series, PUNKY is now being animated by Monster Animation. There should be rushes to see - though I'm sure they're not called rushes in animation - by the middle of August.

I left the series as writer a few months ago. Hence the radio silence on the subject. The target market for the series had switched from the 9-11 year age group to pre-school (3-6 years). Try as I could, the pre-school market is one area of writing for which I don't seem to have the knack. The scripts I wrote and rewrote were being honed from larger stories, from a larger canvas, from a more complex series and I wasn't sure at the end what it was that I was meant to write. It wasn't a pleasant experience, despite the wonderful relationships I had with Monster, and was quite heart-breaking.

The writer they brought on board after this is Andrew Brenner, who created and wrote HUMF (78 episodes), which is also pre-school. He makes it look easy and maybe it is easier, if that's an age group for whom you want to write. I hadn't, but I fought that and came a cropper. Learning curves, don't you just love 'em!!

Once I'd come to terms with it, the pressure came off. Once I'd seen the first script, which is sweet and lovely and has the spirit I was trying to capture in my proposal, I knew it would be a fantastic series.

Now, I can't wait now to see my adorable Punky come to life. I invented her back in 2007 and yes, the project changed and some aspects that I loved, were lost en route to a series that would work and would sell.

And now she is finally being 'born'. How cool is that!?

Sunday, 25 July 2010

40,000 Words in 15 Days...

I think it's a record... at least for me!

So far, this means I've written 80,000 words since the 6th of June, ie rough drafts of two new children's books, which are loosely based on scripts that have not been made. It's such a buzz!

Realised last night, however, that I am totally whacked so taking a break this week, if I can. But it is very comforting knowing I have that material to play with and that I will have two (hopefully polished) books to offer someone by the end of the year.

It was actually quite a relief to write books after so many years on screenplays and in development, but it has meant that everything else that wasn't necessary got sidelined. The work went with me into bed, dragged me out of bed in the middle of the night and trotted along everywhere I went. When I wasn't writing something, I felt slightly adrift. I even managed to write while my family were watching TV, which shows how much it gripped me/ took over my life!

My daughter went to camp for six glorious hours a day and I buried myself in the office, only coming up for air - reluctantly! - when my daughter needed to be collected and fed. The poor child was very understanding and quite excited but she did puzzle why I had "suddenly turned into a workaholic?"

Now she has started her own book now, about a dragon keeper. Her last one (it ran to one third of a copy book) was about the Holocaust and yes, she is only 11 but I refuse to fear or squash the competition just yet. And she knows that she will be my first reader, when I've polished them up, so it's in her interest to encourage me or, at least, put up with my absences in the evenings. (7-10 are two very productive hours, for some reason.)

I can't wait for her feedback. I'm not sure whether I should let her read them herself or to read her a chapter a night. One will test the book from a reader's perspective but the other way, I'll hear what's wrong and know what needs to be fixed. I suspect it will a bit of both.

And I can't wait for these books to be done so I can get on to the next one and the next! There are several exciting projects that might stem the flow a bit - which is why these two months are precious - but that's cool too.

Hope everyone else's work is going well too?

Sunday, 18 July 2010

On Worms and Writing

My daughter and her friend were worms last night, desirous of being dragged from room to room in their sleeping bags. it was fun. Squeals and sniggles coming from red and blue worms are fun!

This is how the sleepover operated. They were in their pyjamas and sleeping bags at 5pm, four hours before even regular bedtime. They had a picnic of pizza, rocky road and ginger ale on a table cloth between their sleeping bags at 6.30. Then there was the infinitely discursive and difficult task of working out which position to lie. Followed by pillow fights, sliding down the stairs in same sleeping bags, watching a film - we forgot the popcorn - becoming worms, telling stories, and deciding where to put the clock and the solar lamp.

By nine, they wanted to be officially 'going asleep'.

I crept out to my office again. I managed the guts of an hour. It was one of those rare and wonderful times when you could go on for ever, only to realise you have to stop because to stay working would mean stumbling over two children to get to bed. It wasn't on. They were meant to sleep.

So, at ten, we had hot chocolate and made up stories about a girl called Rebecca, imploding brains that came from bums and a gazebo who wore a light-bulb on her head.
(And yes, I know a gazebo is a garden structure, probably the size of my entire back garden but, having said it, I claimed it was half-giraffe, half-zebra. I think we even gave it a name.)

By eleven, they had decided the floor was too hard and came upstairs to sleep. And now I'm in my office again, to leave room for some very complicated treasure hunts.

And guess what, I can't write a word!

Tuesday, 6 July 2010

The Buried Blog

Yup, underneath all the work I'm doing is a blog, glaring at me balefully, making me feel his neglect - don't ask, today it just feels like a 'he' blog.

So, guilt aside, I can honestly say that it's because I've been writing too much. Which is a good complaint, if not an entertaining one. I've been working on a new TV series proposal that could/ should/ may just get funding and it has nudged much else off the table. Can't say more but it will be entertaining when it happens. (See, that positive' when' creeping in!? That's the Blog talking, grateful for being roused.)

In every other moment that's free I'm trying to finish a first draft of a new novel. It's for pre-teens - the main character, Jessie, is eleven - and it's such fun to write. Some parts just write themselves; others skulk around waiting to be yanked into plain sight and then quite enjoy themselves. I did 29,000 words last month, as well as the rewrite of the play and working on the early treatment for the TV series. I've a feeling this month will be slower. The aim is to have a rough draft by the end of the month.

Why go in this direction after 13 years writing screenplays? Because there seemed to be an increasing waft of hints and comments from so many disparate sources suggesting I should write books for children. And I've always wanted to. There's a shelf of files to prove I always wanted to, but any idea I've had the time or confidence to finish became animation series. The others sat in the 'to do' file, winking at me.

The pleasure of this book is that I can play with words, as many words as I like. I can dive inside Jessie's head and dance with her. If she'd dance, but she's a bit grumpy at the moment.

I have no idea if it works as a whole yet. I have to finish it first. That's where faith comes in. And then the rewrite. And then the test audience - my daughter. Who told me she didn't want me to read it to her until I had two chapters finished. Then, if I read a chapter a night, it would force me to keep writing until the end.

Naturally, every other moment is creatively spent... traumatising younger neighbourhood kids with their first experience of Cleudo - "It's about death? I might have murdered someone?! How do you kill someone with a rope!?" -, playing a live Cleudo game - where you have to interview my daughter as each character -; walking the dog, playing with the snail and drinking coffee.

And trying to get back to the book.