Tuesday, 27 March 2012

Childhood Memories

If, like me, you're a child of the eighties, you'll remember a whole slew of children's films that inspired us. From 'Labyrinth' and 'E.T.', to 'Goonies' and 'The Monster Squad'.

I own a lot of them on DVD and Blu Ray, but I caught one on TV a few days ago that I had (sort of) forgotten about. Who remembers 'Flight of the Navigator'? A young boy disappears in a forest and finds himself waking up eight years later with no knowledge of where he was. Long story short, it turns out he ended up with all the star-charts of a UFO in his head. Of course, the UFO wants them back...  (Believe it or not, I still have one of the original posters from its VHS rental release!)

What follows is a wonderful little adventure crammed with mystery, humour and excitement. Watching in retrospect, the story feels surprisingly straight forward and personal. I don't want to imply it was lacking in any way, quite the opposite. The difference is that unlike many modern films, it does exactly what it says on the tin. This isn't an ensemble piece about a group of kids, or a film intended to lead into sequels. It's a straight-up feel-good adventure that speaks to the child in all of us.

It's difficult to see a film like this working with today's audiences, who expect all sorts of angst and drama with overblown action scenes. I would imagine that if released today, the critics would complain about the lack of back story or lament that the UFO didn't have a terrible hidden agenda.

I say forget all that, and enjoy it for what it is. While writing children's science fiction it serves as a wonderful reminder about how mystery and wonder can be created without the need to always be 'bigger and better'.

All work is the © copyright of W.D.Lee and/or the respective companies, individuals or organisations to which the work is related. No infringement is intentional. No reproduction or copying is permitted without express permission.

A New Beginning

I'm fast approaching completion of the first draft of book one of The Christopher Tyson Adventures. Having spent years writing half-finished novels, it is a joy to finally have one of them nearing a conclusion (albeit as an intended first book of six).

Let me explain. I took the somewhat drastic decision last year to cease writing my main novel. I had been been working on it for so many years, that I realised it had become a millstone. It was no longer my 'big chance' and had become an unwieldy blockade to progress. I felt like I was getting nowhere.

I do intend to come back to it one day. It's over one hundred thousand words of thoughts and dreams and ideas that I have no intention of ditching. However, it needed to be put on indefinite hold. My greatest worry was at having done this before.

It's all too easy to start something fresh when you have a great idea, but it is often to the detriment of your half-finished work. 'Should I do it?' I asked myself. My lack of major progress in the past few years made the answer simple but no less daunting. How do you put away such a large amount of work to start on something else from scratch?

As some of you reading this will know, my mother passed away last year. At her funeral I reacquainted myself with an old friend. When we were around eleven or twelve my family moved, but we maintained contact on the phone and through letters (No email back then!). In amongst those letters, we drew and wrote stories of our 'alternate' reality. We intermingled our real lives with a science fiction world of adventure in which we were the heroes.

Having been reminded of those stories, it all fell into place in my mind. My mother used to encourage me in the writing of those tales. Some became primitive comics, others I wrote by hand with occasional illustrations. It seemed fitting that my literary 'fresh start' should be a children's adventure story using the core of those dreams and fantasies that she encouraged. My hope is that since it clearly appealed to me at that age, it will appeal to modern children as well.

The rough structure flowed out into my notebook; A plan for six novels in a series, a chapter-by-chapter breakdown of the first book, characters and creatures... The vast bulk of ideas emptied out in a mass of scribblings over two days.

Since then, I have been writing like mad. My characters have grown, taken on lives of their own and frequently dictate their own paths regardless of my opinion. The story is there, and the first adventure is nearly complete.

What does the future hold for 'Christopher Tyson' and his companions? Well, of course I know what happens to to them... The real question, is will children enjoy reading these adventures as much as I enjoy writing them? Only time will tell...

All work is the © copyright of W.D.Lee and/or the respective companies, individuals or organisations to which the work is related. No infringement is intentional. No reproduction or copying is permitted without express permission.