Charcoal

2022 has begun with a very optimistic project – writing my first film script. I’ve wanted to make a film for many years but it’s been too daunting to even start, so focusing purely on a script rather than the entire film-making process has made it more realistic. I’m aware that some writers are against adapting either short stories or novels for the small or big screen, and I appreciate that point of view as it can feel dismissive of writing as its own craft, as if it’s a writer’s ultimate goal. For me, as a lifelong film fan, it’s a natural thing to dream of doing – complete with Ray Harryhausen (impossible now, of course) taking care of the special effects! – but the written word has a magic of its own and should never be dismissed as a stepping stone to anywhere else. Therefore, despite the temptation to adapt an existing story, I’ve decided to write a story specifically for a script. It will make for slower progress but means I can think and write in a more cinematic way (although it could be argued that my stories are very visual anyway). The format and the terminology of a film script is very alien to me but I’m picking it up as I go along and am approaching it in a far more organised way than I do my fiction – writing backstories for my characters etc, rather than getting to know them en route as a short story progresses and doing much more planning. There’s only a certain distance I’ll go down that road, though, as I’ve no intention of adhering to a hugely rigid structure. The other major possible pitfall I’m very aware of is that many contemporary horror films are including a ‘folk-horror’ element, to the point where it’s becoming a lazy option, I think. I’m happy to admit that the term ‘folk-horror’ applies to a lot of my writing, but the script for Charcoal is deliberately focussed more on dark fantasy with a strong Surrealist and arthouse element. Dreams are such a big part of my life that they naturally weave themselves into my fiction, so a recent dream – where four owls flew into my home through an open window – will feature strongly. I’m not going to think too far ahead with this; the script, the story, is the thing. And the setting – an old Council housing block c1890, in a non-sensical location (a bleak moor) – is becoming more and more attractive given the insane political and social decay we’re experiencing.

C+NTO

I’m delighted to announce that Joelle Taylor has won the 2021 TS Eliot Poetry Prize for her collection C+nto & Othered Poems. I’ve known Joelle for a long time and have worked with her on several occasions, most recently at Swallow Your Pride in 2019 and it’s fantastic to see such talent recognised. As you will see from the clip above, the piece is very powerful and emotional but somehow there’s humour in there, too. You don’t have to be a lesbian to enjoy this! I want the whole world to see it.

Many of the people I knew in Hackney/London are making names for themselves after so many years of hard work, without compromise. I’m deeply proud of all of them.