Screenwriters Who Write Novels Too!

All these people have been working with some of the big names in showbiz and have written for some of the most well-known tv dramas and talked about what they have written for, their favourite moments and how they began. Each have now also added the title of author onto their talents.

Charles Harris et-al
*Stephen Gallagher, Simon Booker and Charles Harris, all having fun.

Simon Booker

Simon started his career writing a collection of dramas for Radio 4. He has written for Prime Time for the BBC, ITV and the US. He wrote the screenplays for Just William, The Inspector Linley Mysteries, Holby City and the Mrs Bradley Mysteries. In the US he wrote a couple of romantic comedies starring Anna Friel and Rob Lowe. He has also worked in the field of Journalism.
Simon reckoned his favourite moment was when working on the Mrs Bradley Mysteries, he had lunch with Dame Diana Rigg and Neil Dudgeon. It was a very happy time and then a seagull went and, to put it as politely as possible, did its stuff over the table. This, as Simon was recalling this minute, seemed to make him (and his audience laugh).

He touched a bit on his latest book – Animal Instinct. His protagonist is a traumatised ex-cop, who prefers animals to people. It is available in physical book form and on Audible, where Brendan Coyle from Downton Abbey and Lia William from The Crown narrate.

Simon booker book

Charles Harris

Charles Harris has been writing, for what he says, is forever. He had also been making home movies from a young age. In fact he was still at school when he began this. It opened doors for him to be able to do amateur work, which in turn gave him opportunities to work professionally within the industry. He said of success, that “it came in increments.” He directed the soap Brookside and directed, wrote and produced Paradise Grove, amongst others. He won a number of accolades for Paradise Grove.
Charles also likes Fringe theatre (of course the largest example of this in the world is in Edinburgh, Scotland). He likes it because it gives a platform to try things out.

Having been to Edinburgh many times myself, it is true to say many actors, writers, directors, producers, comedians (both established and those starting out) have tried new material out there before taking it anywhere else.

Charles Harris worked with Rula Lenska and Ron Moody on Paradise Grove and reckoned his favourite moment was bringing them their lines.

Charles Harris said he may create a screenplay. He has written books teaching about screenwriting, short stories for anthologies and a novel, which can be found on Amazon. It is already broken into the Amazon “Genre Bestselling List” and has been nominated for “The Wishing Shelf” book awards.

A little about the novel “The Breaking of Liam Glass – experienced journalist, Jason Crowthorne. He is desperate – his career’s in tatters, his love life on the rocks and his finances a disaster. In one frantic last bid to turn it all around, he cheats his way onto a secure hospital ward and stumbles on the scoop of his career – one that could get him onto front pages across the country.

Charles Harris book

M.J. Arlidge

M.J. Arlidge worked on the soap Eastenders and dramas such as Monarch of the Glen and Silent Witness.
He has written many books and is possibly most notably known for the very successful Eeny Meeny. His latest book, published this year (2018) is titled Down to the Woods.
Mr Arlidge said he already knew someone in publishing, which helped when looking for literary agents.

His Detective Inspector of his serial killer series is D.I. Helen Grace He sets his books in and around the English coastal city of Southampton. D.I. Helen Grace is a tough, determined police officer who rides a motorbike and prefers to travel through life alone, she nevertheless has her personal demons to contend with. She lives alone but takes occasional lovers and is also deeply committed to her work of tackling crime within the pages of these  darkly written books.

He later went on to say that he writes in short chapters, as that is how he structures screenplays.
His favourite moment came when he had to choose between actors Hardy and Fasbender.

MJ Arlidge

Paul Finch

Paul Finch is a former police officer. He later went on to write a screenplay and then landed a job writing for ITV drama The Bill. He later told me that he introduced Mickey Webb.

Paul learnt the ropes from the Script Department on the Bill and he has been writing ever since. He said in his work there, he wrote the dialogue first and interestingly he writes his books in a similar way.

His favourite moment was reviving a script for audio.

Paul Finch has written many novels in many genres from horror to fantasy to crime.

His most recent crime novels feature Detective Sergeant Mark Heckenburg, known more commonly as Heck, is Paul Finch’s main protagonist. He  encounters all kinds of creepy killers, including those who seem to like to keep the chase going. The ones that are slow hunters who patiently plan with their complex tasks at hand. Heck is a Sergeant who has done a fair bit of living and had his fair amount of trauma. His work has taken him from the Lake District to the Serial Crimes Unit at Scotland Yard in London. His boss is Detective Superintendent Gemma Piper (also his ex girlfriend) and then there is Detective Constable (D.C.). Gail Honeyford.

Paul Finch book

 

Stephen Gallagher

Stephen Gallagher was the moderator for this panel. He has written for Radio 4 and for tv, he wrote for Doctor Who and several others, including Rosemary and Thyme, which he sounded like he enjoyed. He has written several novels and is currently writing another Sebastian Becker novel.

Stephen Gallagher book

 

To Conclude

All the books sound like they are full of twists and turns, a human touch and have enough action to keep any reader turning those pages. They can all be found on Amazon, bookshops and there are libraries out there that will stock these authors too.

These authors have clearly got lots of experiences to talk about, which makes for an interesting panel, so they are worth spending the time to see.

*With thanks to Stephen Gallagher, Simon Booker and Charles Harris for allowing me to take a photograph of them and for giving me verbal permission to use it for my blog.

This concludes my Morecambe and Vice posts for 2018. So, I thank them for making blogging about the event a very pleasant experience.

@realhughfraser @RobertDaws @urbanebooks @MorecambeVice @LoveBooksGroup #authors #actors #readers Showcasing Hugh Fraser and Robert Daws

A small Showcase of actors/authors Hugh Fraser and Robert Daws

The scene was set for an afternoon of more crime chat and the topic of conversation was “If I Were Not Upon the Stage”. This was the turn of Hugh Fraser and Robert Daws, both known for acting, but for awhile now, they have been making in-roads into the world of books. They are showing page after page, book after book, that they are successful at gauging what is interesting the public right now and that they too can write and do it well.

For those who aren’t too sure who Hugh Fraser and Robert Daws are, or are thinking they seem familiar, but haven’t yet fathomed why, without further ado, I will tell you what their previous work is.

Hugh Fraser is probably best known for playing Captain Hastings in the ITV Poirot series, the Sharpe series and for the theme tune of children’s tv series Rainbow. He has also narrated many Agatha Christie’s audio books.

Robert Daws is probably best known for cricketing sitcom – Outside Edge and hospital drama – The Royal.

I saw Hugh Fraser and Robert Daws in conversation in person for the first time ever at the Morecambe and Vice Festival 2018. They were naturals at this and seemed at ease, whether they really were, who knows, but that is the impression they gave to their audience as the atmosphere suggested, they also relaxed into it. They had a good turnout and no wonder when they gave one of the most entertaining and interesting talks. Then afterwards, it was such a pleasure to meet these two gentlemen.
So, I will continue and write about both authors separately and then together.

 Hugh Fraser

 
Hugh Fraser

*Hugh Fraser now is so synonymous with Agatha Christie, especially playing the role of Captain Hastings when ITV had the rights, but the reality is that this was a role he played, albeit incredibly well and convincingly. He has not transferred Agatha Christie’s writing or styles into his books. Agatha Christie’s books are more of a genteel mystery, trying to find out who done what to whom (although there are some pretty brutal murders in some, such as in the Mystery of the Spanish Chest, but on the whole and in-comparison, the tone is definitely different). Hugh’s series of books are more action packed with the main protagonist, feminist assassin Rina Walker, who is written in the first person and set in the 50s and 70’s between Nottinghill, London and Mexico and features plenty in the underworld such as gangsters and a drug cartel. Readers do get the chance to learn why she became a contract killer. So, as you can see, this series is much further away from any Agatha Christie in style. I would go further into the books, but I would like to take time in reviewing Stealth in a different blog and I will write more about the series there.

As I was writing and as I thought about the event more, it struck me that it is very true about what was touched upon during the conversation on the festival’s “stage” and how people do seem to like to look for similarities in such instances as this. In my opinion, the only similarities would be that both Agatha Christie’s and Hugh Fraser’s books they would both sit in the crime section and both are cleverly written for their genre. They also both absolutely have their unique place in book selections up and down the country and indeed across the world, for people to read.

It’s always interesting to hear how people get into writing books, or at least I think so. Hugh Fraser said on the panel that he had started to write plays, but really  got into writing after applying for a short course he had seen advertised and soon he was enrolled in creative writing courses with the University of East Anglia, the Guardian: Masterclass Program. It turned out he was rather good at it and his first book, Harm, was published. He has since gone on to publish 4 books in this series. The fourth being Stealth, which I am, at time of writing, over half way through reading and is available now to buy. As soon as I sat on one of many trains home, I opened the book and started reading a lot of it. It is a very good read so far. I don’t want to go too much into it at this moment in time as I shall write a review of it as soon as I can, it is definitely worth that.

Hugh Fraser will also be appearing at the Thames Art Literature Festival on 21st October. If I could go, I would. Hugh Fraser may be able to “grow 4 arms” and I may be able to seem like I can “be everywhere”, to some people with all that I do and places I visit, unfortunately I haven’t mastered the capabilities of being in many places at once. I won’t spoil Hugh’s mystique. Find a profile pic of him and you will see.

 

                                                                       

 Robert Daws

 

Robert Daws
*Robert Daws, wrote plays and co-ran a theatre. Funnily enough, he said these plays would be showing in his theatre. He still does some acting work in theatre to this day. He has also done tv and radio, as mentioned before. For Outside Edge he was nominated for Best Actor at the British Comedy Awards, which is no mean feat. He was also in Roger, Roger, Jeeves and Wooster and more recently, Doc Martin to name but a few.
Robert Daws, interestingly said writing crime novels presented itself to him, he didn’t particularly go looking to write in this genre. He went on to talk a little about his novels, which I have to say, immediately sound very intriguing. He went on to tell the audience that they were novels that had some history to them, but moved forwards to the present day. He said of this that his books, although set in the past, have consequences to the present day. It’s actually a thought provoking fact, when you think about it because everything that is said and everything that is done in life has a consequence, that’s not to say consequences are all necessarily going to be bad or good. Going back to the books however, Robert Daws said that his books are primarily set in present day Gibraltar. His latest however is set in L.A. but has repercussions in Gibraltar. His main characters are Chief Inspector Gus Broderick and colleague Detective Sergeant Tamara Sullivan. In the first novel their relationship is tested to the limit on the case they have to solve. Tamara Sullivan is on secondment from the Metropolitan Police and there are reasons why she is in Gibraltar…

In 2012, his first novel, “The Rock” made it to the list of Top Amazon Bestseller 5 times. These, when I get chance, also deserve reviewed in greater detail, especially the latest one of course.

There was a “Hidden Talent” section at the festival, which is very different and rather fun. Robert Daws’ hidden talent is singing. I think everyone was taken aback a bit about just how talented as singer he actually is. There’s a real richness to his voice when he sings and is completely in tune. Why we don’t hear more of this, I just don’t know!

 

                                                                       Agreements

Both of these actors have now turned their hands to writing as you can see. That is not to say that they have turned their backs on acting. It was really interesting to hear that neither Hugh Fraser or Robert Daws have actually made a conscious decision to write over their acting careers. If there was an acting job they wanted to do or asked to do, they would do it or they’d work on their books. They didn’t seem to favour one art form over the other.

Whilst in conversation, both of these actors/authors both compared writing to working on tv or the stage. They agreed that writing is more of a solitary process from the beginning to acting. They said in acting you are all in it together going for the same aim as a team with rehearsals, travelling and filming together. With writing it can be just you (at least to begin with), we all know that there is a collaborative process later with editors, publishers etc, but in the beginning, it is, as they both made the point of saying, essentially solitary.

                                                           Writing Characters

When reading both these great author’s books, you may notice that there isn’t a great deal of character description, they’re not overloaded with (as they discussed) a certain type of nose etc. This is because both want the reader to use their imagination.
We of course get a sense of what Rina Walker looks like on the front covers of Hugh’s books, but in the writing, the rest is very much up to the reader’s imagination. Personally I like that neither have gone into the absolute finer details of the description of character appearance, as somehow, in the way they pace their books, it would have made them a bit more laboured perhaps and the tone would have changed to something very different to what we readers are now accustomed to in these particular series.

                                                                 Conclusion

So, after an excellently interesting and entertaining talk by them and meeting them, would I see them again? If the opportunity arose, absolutely and they were most definitely worth every moment of time, which went far too quickly. It is so easy to become absorbed by what they are saying (even after seeing many events over a weekend). They brought a great sense of fun to their stage piece as well as being informative in an engaging manner. My hope would be that they will continue to pursue their writing career and hopefully they will also do some acting here and there again too.

* I give thanks to Hugh Fraser and Robert Daws for giving me verbal permission to take photos of them and for kindly allowing me to use them in my blog.

Peter Robinson on DCI Banks and Writing @Inspector_Banks @Hodder Books @EllyGriffiths @MorecambeVice #Morecambe #Lancaster #Author @LoveBooksGroup #Bookblogger From An “In Conversation with” panel

Closing the first day of the weekend at the Morecambe and Vice festival was Peter Robinson, author of DCI Banks as part of summer/autumn tour in England. He was on a panel “In Conversation” with Elly Griffiths.

Peter Robinson
Peter Robinson

 

A Little About the Author

Peter Robinson was there to promote his 25th DCI Banks book called Careless Love, which is available to purchase now. He began writing, or at least getting the series published in 1987 and writes a novel approximately once a year. He also writes stand alone novels. He likes food and wine and Scandi-Crime as well as a few US authors. He grew up in Leeds and now divides his time between the UK and Canada. He has won notable awards including CWA Dagger in the Library Award.

The Book

Careless Love UK

 

Banks and his team find themselves with two suspicious deaths. One involves the apparent suicide of a young local student, whose body is found in an abandoned car on a lonely country road. She didn’t own a car. Didn’t even drive. He also talked about the inconsistencies multiplying in this case and that Annie’s father’s new partner, Zelda, comes up with a shocking piece of information that alerts Banks and Annie to the return of an old enemy in a new guise. There is also another case which concerns a man in his sixties found dead in a gully up on the wild moorland.

Peter Robinson says that Zelda is the protagonist here and he talked of how she is a character who has been through a lot but has put herself back together again. In other words, he feels Zelda carries on and can do for a bit more time. He spoke of Banks and how he felt he too could go on a bit longer yet! He says at the end of this book, that there’s enough to say there’s more to come…
Of DCI Banks he says that he has a personal life but he is married to job. He also says of Banks, which I personally really liked and there’s something profound about it:
Banks is ordinary, but, as the series goes on, finds he is more extraordinary, which means we all are.

Setting

This book is set around North Yorkshire. Eastvale is modelled on Richmond and Ripon with cobbled market squares, which he does expand. They are familiar places if you know that part of the country, even though he has added the likes of buildings such as a college in Eastvale, which continues to expand. The thing that both amused and bemused me was that he when he was talking about the setting he mentioned that people ask him if Yorkshire really exists. I can tell you, reader, that it definitely exists in a very large part of the north of England, where there is much to see and do and many a famous author has lived and still do live in, including Peter Robinson himself who grew up Leeds, which is is one of the main known cities in the county. Other writers have too, around the county, such as Joanne Harris, Kate Atkinson, Susan Hill, the Bronte sister, to name but a few. Playwrights such as Alan Bennett and Alan Aykbourn and many a poet such as WH Auden and Ted Hughes also resided in Yorkshire. There are many writers who have written dramas for tv here too, such as Kay Mellor and Sally Wainwright.  So, as you see, it definitely exists and is a wonderfully talented county of England with its cities, which have a rich history, culture and more rural places with their rolling hills and dales. I could go on about what to do, but this is about a panel at a book festival. I will say, it’s a great area of England to explore if you haven’t already!

Music

Music within his books was touched upon and how Banks has a wide range of music tastes that can be developed, he said.
I have myself noticed there are a few series of book which use music within books and there was an entirely different panel devoted to that subject.
Peter Robinson believes that there is a playlist linking to Banks’ musical tastes on Spotify.

 “Only in a novel can you be with someone who is alone and follow them through life.”

He talked about this in the context of having characters being alone, doing things like listening to music and the reader knows. When you think about it, it is so true, only in writing can you see someone’s inner thoughts that the author wants to be revealed to a reader. Obviously too, as a reader you are looking into someone else’s world. In reality of course, alone, is exactly that, so I think this was the most profound statement made within this talk and put in a way that not all readers really think of. It can almost be something that the reader can take for granted, but when someone points this out, as Peter Robinson did, it turns it into something a bit more thought provoking…

Writing Style

Peter Robinson also spoke of his writing style, which was very interesting. It turns out that normally he does no planning, so there is no fully plotted outline, but he said writing 3 books like this means he is doing a bit more pre-planning than usual. He also said it is rare that he begins with violence, normally he begins with the time after all that would have happened, citing that the victim and place is most important. He also uses forensics to move the story forwards in his police procedural tales. He said he also likes the measured, longer sentences style of writing and talked of P.D. James also writing in this style. When setting the scene he talked about how most authors write about where they know and how he once decided to set a scene in a book in Peterborough, he didn’t really know the area, so that prompted him to do a bit of research.
To get ideas he said he looks at the world around him to keep things contemporary.

TV Success

With all his success in his writing career, he couldn’t perhaps not talk about the TV adaptation of his DCI Banks books. I was quite pleased it was brought up because I find it fascinating to find out what the author thinks about their creation being shown in visual form, once they’ve handed over the rights. He said that it was exciting at first when he heard from the TV company wanting to make his books into a drama. He had no involvement in the casting. For any who don’t know, Stephen Tompkinson was cast as DCI Banks. He acknowledged that he wasn’t how people saw his lead character in the books, but thought as the series went on, he could see Stephen being Banks, more and more as he felt that the actor brought out the character of Banks. He had however said he was a more emotional character on TV than in the books. He didn’t seem to think this was a really terrible thing though. It was just a fact and one that I got the impression he didn’t mind so terribly. What was interesting however was that he wasn’t too keen on the 3rd series due to too many changes and what was omitted from the books as they transferred the 3rd series onto screen. All in all though, certainly for earlier series I thought the author sounded good that the chance of having the opportunity for his work to be televised had happened.

Is Peter Robinson worth seeing at a literary event? I would say yes. He has interesting aspects to say to his audience and comes across well.

*Peter Robinson gave verbal permission to me for his photo to be used in my blog and for that I thank him very much.

_____________________________________________________

Elly Griffiths who I mentioned was the moderator is worth seeing. She asked great questions and allowed time for her interviewee to talk and it all seemed effortless and at ease.
Elly Griffiths is known for winning the CWA Dagger In the Library Award in 2016 with her book The Chalk Pit. She has 2 series that I know of. The Ruth Galloway novels and The Stephens and Mephisto novels.
Elly book