Mortal Engines Q&A

Robert Sheehan in The Misfits

The actor Robert Sheehan is playing the part of Tom Natsworthy in the Mortal Engines movie at this moment (well, it’s happening in New Zealand so I hope he’s tucked up in bed while I write this, but you know what I’m driving at). Anyway, the lovely people who run his online fan community The Sheehab got in touch with some questions which I’ve answered here. (I don’t know much about the film, and couldnt discuss it even if I did, so we mainly concentrated on the books.) They’re good questions! I hope I’ll be able to do more with the Sheehab as the movie’s 2018 release date draws nearer…

The Mortal Engines Movie

I’m finally able to share some big news for fans of Mortal Engines (and indeed, writers of Mortal Engines). I’m not sure how much I can say about it at the moment, so I’m just going to leave some salient bits of the press release here.

Peter Jackson and Fran Walsh (The Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit trilogies) are making the feature Mortal Engines, based on the award winning book series of the same name from British author Philip Reeve.

Mortal Engines

Jackson and Walsh have co-written the screenplay with collaborator Philippa Boyens (The Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit trilogies).  Christian Rivers is attached to direct.  Christian has spent the majority of his 25-year career working closely with Jackson, beginning as a Story Board Artist, later moving into supervising visual effects and finally serving as Splinter Unit Director on The Hobbit trilogies.  Christian won an Academy Award® for his work on the 2005 film, King Kong (Best Achievement in Visual Effects). He also recently served as second unit director on the remake of Pete’s DragonMortal Engines is his first project as Director.

“Christian is one of my closest collaborators,” says Jackson, “The combination of emotion and jaw-dropping visuals in ‘Mortal Engines’ makes this the perfect movie for his move into feature directing.  What Christian intends to do with Philip Reeve’s terrific story is going to result in an original and spectacular movie. I wish I could see it tomorrow!”

“’Mortal Engines’ is one of those stories that was made for the big screen,” says Rivers.  “A fantastical, futuristic world that has to be seen to be believed.  At its heart though, it’s a beautiful love story and a richly complex character driven adventure.  To be the director who gets to bring Philip Reeve’s incredible universe to life is a dream come true.”

“I’m thrilled that Christian, Fran, Philippa and Peter are bringing my book to the screen,” said Philip Reeve.  “They’ve created some of the most memorable imaginary worlds in modern cinema, so I can’t wait to experience their vision of the world of ‘Mortal Engines.’”

Exciting times! The movie is scheduled for release on 18th December 2018. You can read Peter Jackson’s Facebook post about it here.

Railhead: Bristol fashion


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Just back from Bristol, and my Railhead event at the Old Vic theatre. Oxford University Press sent editorial assistant Debbie Sims along to look after me, and she took some photos during the event, but the lighting wasn’t really up to much. The show mostly consists of me reading from the book, accompanied by videos and slideshows and the music of Lufthansa Terminal AKA Sarah Reeve.

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I thought it would be difficult to find enough footage to make videos or slideshows for all the readings, but Jeremy Levett found me lots of footage of Katyusha rockets and other explodey military goings-on to accompany Sarah’s power-chords during the train-vs-train battle sequence. And Justin Hill’s photos of deserted Brighton beaches make very good stand-ins for the deserted beaches of Desdemor.

I also tried learning one of the readings by heart, which seems to work well, so if I do more of these events next year I must try committing some more of the book to memory.

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We were in the downstairs studio theatre at the Old Vic (the ‘studio pit’), and very well looked after by the front of house team and by the technician, Jay, who was able to get the slides and videos running without any trouble (always a worry). There were about sixty people in thew audience, which I don’t think was bad at all for a pouring wet November morning. If you were one of them, thank you for coming! I think it went well – here’s an eyewitness account from book blogger Jesse Owen. And here’s another from the North Somerset Teachers’ Book Award blog.

Also in the audience was graphic designer Maria Quintin, who had brought along some great pieces of Mortal Engines work which she did while she was at art college. Here she is in a rather harshly lit corner of the Old Vic’s foyer, holding up one of her beautiful link-cut Guild logos…

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Here’s the whole set (Historians, Engineers, Geographers, Merchants)…

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And here are Hester Shaw’s identity papers, issued in stroke just before the book begins!

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Thanks to Sharon Clark and her team at the Bristol Old Vic for inviting me to be part of the Saturday Stories.

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