… Thought I’d better add that to the blog ‘cos it’s beginning to look like an art blog and, more than that, a Brushes/Youtube blog.
So, for the benefit of new readers, I also write books. I mention that for a couple of reasons: one I’ve been asked to spec up a book that I’m excited at the possibility of working on, especially if I get the chance to do a couple of the stranger, sillier things I’ve suggested, especially one silly idea which I’ve sort of nicked from comic books in a vague sort of way. Two: I’ve got a new book out in October – although I have a meeting about that next Monday to work out the timings and all and three: it’s something I’ve actively come to enjoy doing, although mainly by the back door and only recently.
When I wrote my first book (Dr Sylver and the Library of Everything) there was a purpose: I was trying to tell a story to youth group members that would help them where they were at. Some kids were struggling with bullying so I added a little of that, others with teenage pregnancy so that went in and so life sort of dictated the story, I just copied the words from the air onto the page. Book 2 (Repository of the Past) came along and one specific kid pushed the story along in and out real life so, again, I felt like I was doing something for someone else in a way. Then I wrote Messenger, but that comes into the story later.
I’d finished Messenger and was taking it around places, occasionally, over the course of a year when Spring Harvest came around and gave me a brief for teaching materials. It changed a couple of times and a couple of deadlines were left to pretty late notice but I loved working with them and was pretty happy with the result: The Exile Road. It was the first collaboration, surprisingly, of my writing and drawing in one place. I was signed up to do Exile 2 but, part way through production it was cancelled and although that was thunderously disappointing I carried on doing other stuff. The idea for Exile 2 was something I was excited to be carrying out and I hope it comes to fruition one day, somehow.
Then comes Messenger, published last year. A story written entirely in chat room text speak it was.. a funny one to work on. Loads of fun but the layout: that was a hospital pass and DLT did a fantastic job of putting it together and out on a shelf. It’s the strange story of a week of relational chaos for teenagers told only by the conversations they had after each days events.
In October we see the end of the Dr Sylver trilogy (although not necessarily the end of her stories, we’ll see). It’s called Dr Sylver and the Tapestry of Time and… well, this is the thing y’see: I like playing with conventions and Tapestry is my most playful book yet. The end… Well, I’ve seen some how to write webpages and documents that say an ending shouldn’t take more than two or three chapters – for what reason I don’t know – and Tapestry has an end sequence that’s… a little longer than that. I also get a chance to play about with the design of words on the page again and that’s something that’s come across from Messenger.
Anyhow: I’ve just started enjoying it… And the reason for that is a little circuitous: I met up with a student recently who said that I was his favourite teacher (naaaaaaa) because I wrote the best briefs. They felt more like stories that the students participated in and because of that encouraged a greater response. Truth to tell I probably do wind up some of my teacher colleagues because I’m not happy with a brief to be given to a class unless it has ‘the hook’: something that they’ll look at and say ‘cool, I want to do that.’ I wasn’t happy with a recent collaborative CD cover project for example because… well… CD covers are a part of our wallpaper, 12 x 12 cm squares of design taken for granted. After a good few meetings we extended the brief to add a caveat: mid-way through the designers work with the band the musicians had made it big and the record company was now paying for a special edition CD to be created. We gave the students the nets and said re-engineer the imagery to fit that. It was the hook I needed to get excited about it and that transferred over to the guys we were teaching. It was also more true to real life than some of the briefs we get and though the students moaned when we changed things half way through it taught a valuable lesson 🙂
Next year the course changes a lot (mixed feelings about that one and lots of good people are affected) and I (think I but we’ll see) get the chance to write the year. Looking forward to that loads. Not that it’s for anything more than a limited audience but I like the collaborative stuff loads 🙂
Which also brings me to the Guildford Big Book Draw and busses as ‘the zone’… But those are posts for later. Need to get onto non-computer stuff for a while…