Home Again

Sarah, Sam and I have been in Menorca for the past week, and very nice it was too: they have SUN there and everything (also giant beach onion things, see pic above).

What they didn’t have (or I didn’t, at least) was internet access. It was very nice to be unplugged for a week, (and I still haven’t properly got back on to Twitter or Facebook, so apologies if you’ve left comments or queries there) but it did mean that I haven’t had a chance yet to post links to all these nice things…

Oi! Superheroes! NO!

First, a short piece what I wrote about Geekery for Laura Heath’s ‘Sister Spooky’ blog. It was part of a whole ‘Week of Geek’ guest posts on the same subject, so make sure you check out the others too. Many thanks to Laura for asking me to take part.

Second, here is an interview I did recently with Laini Bostian for Cynsations, a very good YA literature blog run by Cynthia Leitich Smith, the author of the Tantalize bookss and many others.  It touches on subjects like gender and romance in the Mortal Engines series, Larklight, and Here Lies Arthur.  I’m very grateful to Laini for doing the interview and to Cynthia for finding room for it on Cynsations. The photos of me looking mysterious on the moor and trying not to laugh are by Sarah McIntyre.  And I’ve just found out that Laini is starting her own blog, Made Up Librarian.

And last but not least, illustrator Thomas Fummo has taken Sam’s inspired casting suggestion for Doctor Who (as mentioned in my previous post) and made it the starting point for a whole set of Doctors (I’m not sure what the collective noun for Doctors Who is?). You can see the ones he’s drawn so far on his blog.

Laureates and Time Lords

New Children’s Laureate!

Malorie Blackman,
Photo: Clara Molden

I was pleased to see that Malorie Blackman has been chosen to be the new Children’s Laureate. I’ve never met her, but everyone who has says that she’s lovely, and she’s a very good writer. There’s a nice piece about her by Martin Chilton, here.  And here’s a word from the outgoing Laureate, Julia Donaldson, in which she talks eloquently about the lack of coverage which children’s books receive in the press and media – one in four book sales, but only a fortieth of the coverage in the mainstream press.  Which is a bit rubbish, isn’t it? It’s been nice to see all the coverage of Malorie Blackman’s appointment, but it would be nicer still if the media could pay a bit more attention to children’s books when there isn’t such an obvious hook to hang their stories on.

New Doctor Who…

Somewhat less important than a new Children’s Laureate is the news that the search is on for a new Doctor Who. All over the internets people are suggesting the actors they’d like to see in the role. I hadn’t planned to join in with this merriment, because, frankly, I’m not sure we really need another Dr Who. I lost interest in the new version of the show a while back. Instead of a new Doctor I’d like to see a whole new sci-fi/fantasy show commissioned – maybe one which doesn’t carry fifty years of baggage.

At least, that’s what I thought until I discussed it with my son Sam. To my surprise, when I asked him who the new Doctor should be he instantly said, ‘Tom Waits’. Which, of course, completely convinced me.

From the cover of the album ‘Mule Variations

I love Tom Waits‘s music. It always makes me feel as I’m waking up with a hangover in a cheap hotel room where someone is playing polkas on a clapped-out old radiogram while a mad tramp sings along in the street outside (but in a good way). His lyrics are superb too (and he’s the author of the only bit of ‘writing advice’ I’ve ever heeded: ‘Sometimes you write a song and the only thing it’s any good for is to chop up and use as bait so you can catch other songs’). He’s also a pretty good actor in the right role. Here he is as the Devil in Terry Gilliam’s The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus

…and here he’s playing Renfield in the Francis Ford Coppola version of Dracula:

(Incidentally, I don’t think any Tom Waits song would make it anywhere near Sam’s personal top ten nowadays – he’s more into hip-hop and such –  but Tom Waits was probably the first musician he was ever aware of. At a very young age he came across a picture of TW singing – as is his wont – through a bullhorn, and assumed that he was something to do with the emergency services. He made himself his own bullhorn out of Duplo and went stomping around the house bellowing a Tom Waits-ish song of his own invention which went, “SOME-ONE’S IN TROUBLE IN A BIG STORM OF RAIN”. To this day it remains the best pastiche Tom Waits lyric I’ve ever heard.)

So anyway, if I were in charge of Doctor Who, Matt Smith would be regenerating into Tom Waits as soon as contractually possible. Not only would Waits play the Doctor, he would record a new version of the theme tune, featuring a wheezing harmonium over a percussion section of hobos banging dustbins. The interior of the TARDIS would look like the lower decks of an ancient tramp steamer, and it would materialise and de-materialise with a sound like a broken accordion. The Doctor’s current assistant would be so appalled by his smoking, whisky consumption and greasy hat that she would flee, to be replaced by someone a bit more interesting.

After that it would be pretty much business as usual: the Doctor visiting a bunch of planets and seeing off marauding aliens with his trademark ruined growl and battered umbrella.  The settings would be seedier than we are used to: abandoned farm buildings, rusty freighters and low-end spaceport bars would feature prominently. A few familiar villains would turn up so that they could say, “So, Doctor, we meet again,”, but there would be no ‘story arcs’. All the stories would end bleakly.

Viewing figures would plummet, of course, and the show would be abruptly cancelled half way through the season, never to return. But it would be WORTH IT, dammit.

Tom Waits for Doctor Who. You know it makes sense.

Dr Who Video

Here’s a video I recorded at the Puffin offices a few weeks ago, in which I natter on a bit about my forthcoming Doctor Who Story. It also features a couple of nice clips of Tom Baker and Louise Jameson as the Doctor and Leela.

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