The Trainee Goblins of Greengate


Helo adoRing fAns thatts right itt is USS, the GObBlins of ClOVENSToNe, taking over thiss BOLG again to add a bitt of WITT and sophtiStikatoin stophistsicashun soffisti STUFF.  

Ther has been toO much talk about rubBish sofFtling DOCTER WHOO on heer recenTly and NOT ENUGH GObBLINS.

So three chairs cheEers foR MIss ElenOR Chetwynd-KnAgg at GreengaTe Junior scHkOOl in BarRow in CumbRia.  We is nott sure whAt a Junior Sckool is butt it looKs from the phfotos she has seNt as iff itt is a sort of JAOL or PRISSON where the sofFtlings keep their hatChlings locked up uNtil they iss old enugh to stopp bein so annoying. (Here at Clovenstone when hatchlings is annoying we just catapult them off the topp of the tower but thatt soLution does nott seem to hav ocCured to Miss ChetWynd-KnaGg perHaps shee is nott very bright. Or mayBe they does nott have any tall enugh towers in Barrow in Cumbria.)

Anyway, Miss Chetwynd-Knagg has deCided that the hAtchlings she is looKing after neEd proper ROLE MODDELS so she has frorced them to reed GOBbLINS, the well-known betstsellin brilliunt burk about  US. And she has made themm do stuFf called 'WORK' aboutt it.  

Heer is a bitt of their 'WORK' itt is a verry gOod likEness of King KnObBler cor istnt he handsOme? (The gloWy bitts are cos of the SUNN shinin out of his BotTom)

Heer is some more 'WORK'. Cann you thinK of woRds and Phfrases to describe gobblins? (Yes We cann: BRILLIUNT BRAVE FANTNASTIC aNd STRANGELELY ATTRACTIVE are amung the ones which spriNgg to mind...)

Here is some moar pictures an a load of leaves an bitts of oLd bumwipe with worms wriTten all over them dont ask uss what itt is all about...

An finaLly heer is a piCture which may be too DISTRUBING for reeders of a deLickate dispisishun for itt shoWs the sofFtling hatchlinggs at 'work' and as you cann see they are HIDEEUS (MisS Chetwynd-KnaGg has nott sent a pikture of herrself we expec she is even WORSE). Butt it is nice to sEe how haRd they is 'working' and to thiNk they is lerning how to be as TOUGH an COoL as GOBbLINS! (Hopefuly in the neXt lessen Miss C-K wilL get out the CLUBbS an BatTleaXes and they can all start walLopin each other.)


PS: A Note On Punchtuation.  PrinceSs Ned read this and said we shOuld try puttin in some commas an apophstrophopes so heer they are '''''''''''''',,,,,,,,,,,,,,

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.

I've been getting so many spam 'comments' on this blog lately that I've decided to try restricting comments to 'members only'.  I hope that's not too annoying for anybody wanting to leave a genuine comment. If you don't want to sign up as a follower of this blog you can always get in touch with me on Twitter, or Facebook.

Phonicon, Paintwork, and the Heligan Structure


I've done a  short interview about my Doctor Who story The Roots of Evil over on Sarah McIntyre's blog, which she's illustrated with this fantastic drawing of the Heligan Structure, the giant space tree in which it all takes place.

Sarah also asked me which actress I thought should play a female Doctor - but you'll have to look at her blog to see the three I suggested.  In the pictures she's chosen they all look eerily similar - which they didn't at all in my mind's eye; I was thinking more of their personalities or acting styles than their appearances.  But it seems that I subconsciously see the Doctor with a blonde bob...

Thanks to everyone who has re-tweeted and re-posted my bit of Doctor Who news on twitter and elsewhere!

The Roots of Evil is one of the things I'll be talking about at Phonicon, the Sci-Fi extranaganza which is set to take over Exeter's Phoenix Arts Centre this coming Sunday (7th April). Doors open at 10.30 a.m., and I'll be on stage at 11.00, so if you want to see me being interviewed you'll need to be there good an early. (I'll probably be hanging around for much of the rest of the day, though, so feel free to come and say hello).

There's no official bookseller at Phonicon, and I'm not really geared up to sell heaps of my own books. I'll be bringing a small selection with me, but if you want to get books signed it would probably be best to buy them in advance, or nip over to WHSmiths or one of Exeter's two branches of Waterstones (all of which are fairly close to the Phoenix).  The Waterstones nearest the cathedral should also have a few copies of The Exeter Riddles, the short book I wrote for the recent Animated Exeter festival.

And finally, here's a haunting short film by one of my favourite contemporary SF writers, Tim Maughan, (with Alan Tabrett and Laurie Eagle, in association with Arc Magazine). It's set in Bristol, in a future so near that it's almost here, and is based on the opening passage of Tim's powerful anthology Paintwork, which I reviewed on this blog last year. Enjoy - and then, if you haven't already, read the book!

Dr Who: The Roots of Evil

To mark the 50th anniversary of Doctor Who, Puffin Books has asked some children's authors to come up with a series of stories - one for each of the Doctor's eleven incarnations - which will be published as e-books monthly throughout the year, prior to the release of a printed anthology in November.  The identity of the authors has been swathed in secrecy, but the stories which have appeared so far are by Eoin Colfer, Michael Scott and Marcus Sedgwick.

When they asked me, just before Christmas, whether I'd like to do one, I was very flattered but thought it probably wasn't for me - my knowledge of Doctor Who is patchy, and my feelings about the current TV show distinctly mixed.  But when I realised that they wanted me to write about the 4th Doctor, played by Tom Baker, I decided that this was something I could do after all.

I came late to Doctor Who, so Tom Baker is the first actor I saw in the role - and, consequently, the 'real' Doctor as far as I'm concerned.  I think the couple of years when I watched the show regularly must have roughly coincided with Douglas Adams's spell as script editor; I remember the scripts being full of irreverent humour, helped by Tom Baker's brilliant, barking mad performance.

By way of research I watched the DVDs of a couple of stories, City of Death and The Sun Makers, and was surprised at how well they've aged - and at how detailed my memories of them were, right down to lines of dialogue.  There wasn't a lot of SF available to me in the late seventies, so I must have watched each half-hour episode of Doctor Who with intense concentration, probably studying the props and costumes to see if there was anything I could replicate in my own Super-8mm movies.

And I expect I found plenty that I could: one of the pleasures of these old episodes is how cheap they are, and how little it matters.  The guards in The Sun Makers carry space guns which are clearly made from old bits of plank with a length of pipe glued to the top, while the clunky futuristic computers have big knobs and dials which were presumably jig-sawed out of plywood. But TV drama in those days was much closer to theatre than to film, and the fact that the sets wobble and the interior lighting doesn't begin to match the exteriors no more spoils the story than would the fact that Elsinore is obviously a painted backdrop when you see Hamlet at the National Theatre: the set-dressers give you the cues, and your imagination does the rest.

Tom Baker as the Doctor, Louise Jameson as Leela
I've tried to keep my Doctor Who story, The Roots of Evil, something that the programme makers of the late 70s could have done without too much trouble.  My approach to writing was pure nostalgia: I just tried to imagine myself back in 1978, lying on the carpet in front of the telly in my parents' living room, and visualised the Doctor Who story I'd like to watch.  My favourites were always the ones set in far flung futures rather than the present day, so I had my imaginary set-builders get busy with planks, pipes and plywood, and sent a mental memo to the BBC special effects department to construct a Convincing Miniature of a gigantic living space-station called the Heligan Structure, grown from a single, genetically modified tree...

Of course the Doctor can't resist visiting such a strange place, but as he explores he starts to realise that it's a Doctor trap, devised by people who have a 900-year-old grudge against him.  Leela features as his companion (she's the first companion I remember - I believe the story where she met the Doctor was the first one I ever watched) and there's also a brief walk-on (or roll-on) part for K9, though the story is only 10,000 words long, so for simplicity's sake I had to leave him in the TARDIS.

The Roots of Evil e-book will be released on 23rd April, and is available from Amazon (UK and US) and I-tunes (UK or AU). The paperback anthology will be released on 23rd November.

(All pictures copyright BBC)