The slipshod arsetangle that has been my working life of late has finally, oh-so-gorgeously, stalled in its tracks for the holiday season. Ahead lies too much booze, a Viking-worthy feast of dead things and interesting sauces, and ten days of Not Thinking About Work if I can help it. Which I probably will.
At any rate, all this winding-down malarky gets me all good and nostalgic, so I figured this was probably the perfect moment to explain precisely what's been going on over the last few hectic, cryptic months.
So: as frequent readers will know, I've been commissioned by my publishers - the highly excellent Hodder Headline - to produce a second novel to follow Contract. Not a sequel, per se, but something crime-y and Spurrier-y.
Thanks to a miscommunication between myself and my (former) editor, the syntax and style of this proposed novel made me come a-cropper somewhat, early in the year. The short version of the story is that I spent 6 months writing a complete novel in a similarly stylised/snappy/innovative/annoying-as-fuck voice as Contract, on the grounds that that's what drew my publishers to it in the first place. Having thus devoted a large amount of time to the project, I was... disappointed, shall we say... to learn that - in fact - what was really wanted was a crime novel with more "universal appeal". I should note that I have no problem with that - in fact I'm really excited about it - but I was (justifiably, I think) a bit peeved to've wasted so much time over something that really should've been communicated somewhat earlier.
So that was a bit of a shitty way to start the year.
Since then I've inherited an editor who's been understanding and sympathetic and frankly rather lovely about the whole thing, and who understood the grim reality of Having To Earn Some Cash In The Short Term, and Letting The Deadline Slide. Without any novel-income on the immediate horizon, I began 2008 with the dire need to Find Some Moolah Quick.
Thank goodness, then, for Marvel comics, which have given me a series of amazing opportunities which have - I think - paid off really well. Everything I've done for them so far seems to've gone down pretty well with the fans, and it's been an absolute joy to collaborate with so many talented artists and editors. Long may it last.
More recently, though, my real saviour - monetarily and creatively - has been the "MFS Writers' Training Scheme".
It started in June: a six month course intended for "Emerging Talent" to learn, hone and perfect Screenwriting Skills. I was selected as one of ten "students" from an applicant-list of about 200. I've never really done screenwriting before, but it's a world I've been flirting with since Contract was optioned and my awesome screen agent Matthew Bates started getting me meetings. This MFS thing came like a bolt out of the blue, but it was oh-so-very-very welcome. The idea was that we would spend 6 months learning the craft, writing a screenplay along the way (for which we would retain rights), and we'd be paid for the pleasure.
Like I said, it was enormously lucky that my novel editor is so great, because I really couldn't turn down an opportunity like that.
So that's pretty much it. Since June I've been working intensively - and I mean intensively - on a batshit insane screenplay titled Joie De Vivre. It's set in 1893 Paris, it's awash with zombies, absinthe and dynamite, and it is - quite simply - my favourite thing ever. I've been working very closely along the way with justifiably celebrated script editor Kate Leys, under whose influence I've gained more grey hairs and endured more sleepless nights than seems entirely healthy, but thanks to whose brilliance I've learned more about story, structure, theme and... well: everything that a good writer should know... than I ever though possible.
As part of a final pitching-drive just before Christmas - to round-off the course - I got my good pal Frazer Irving to mock-up a poster for me, so here's a little taster of the weird shit that's been keeping me busy for so long:
2009 is going to be a whole different kettle of arse-eels. Joie De Vivre will keep rumbling along in the background, no doubt -- and I'll keep you informed -- but the Priorityometer is swinging back towards comics and, most especially, novels. The new crime book is provisionally titled "A Serpent Uncoiled", and I think it's going to be a really dark, creepy affair. I can't wait to get properly stuck into it.
There should be some big lifestyle-altering news coming soon, and - hopefully - plenty more work with my spandex-loving droogs over at Marvel too. More Gutsville joining us soon as well, if Frazer can actually manage to work for more than an hour on the trot. There's also a super-secret project I'm cooking-up with Superstar In Waiting Declan Shalvey. As ever: I'll keep you informed.
So that's me, I guess.
Folks: have an awesome, awesome holiday wherever and whoever you are. Love the living shit out of each other, because We're All We've Got, and be... y'know... Merry.