Archive for August, 2014

60k Done

The number 60 in fireworks

60k done. Smug mode engaged.

Feeling smug now.

A good long weekend on the writing front. I’ve broken through two barriers: I’ve now got a manuscript of 200 pages (double-spaced, TNR 12), and I’ve also passed through the 60,000 word barrier.

On that basis, the draft of the book should be ready this time next month. Then I have a month to edit the bejeesus out of it and sell it.

Granted, in the edit, there are things I’ll need to change – need to add a couple of short, two-paragraph scenes in, but I know what they are and more or less where they should go. I also know roughly what the next 50 pages need to accomplish.


Going to have quite a mad week – have a magazine to finish, and a couple of online articles to write, but if I can reach 75k by Friday, I’ll be satisfied. Let’s see, shall we?


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Deep Breath Reviews

The Twelfth Doctor, Peter Capaldi.

The Twelfth Doctor has landed.

Capaldi’s first explosion onto the screen with a magnificent “Shush!” and a slam of the door answers the question we’ve all been wondering for months now – if you were going to sum up the Twelfth Doctor in a single word, what would that word be? Is he a warrior, a survivor, a manipulator, a chatterbox? No – say hello to the Schoolmaster Doctor.


The Schoolmaster Doctor landed on screens nationwide tonight. Tony supplied Deep Breath reviews to both the Combom site and WarpedFactor. Capaldi imbues the Doctor with a gravitas, an intensity and of course, attack eyebrows.

Read the WarpedFactor piece here.

Read the Combom piece here.

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WarpedFactor – Debut: The Christmas Invasion

David Tennant in his debut as The Doctor, looking out of the Tardis

Did you miss me? Ohhhhh yes we did.

This was New Who’s Trouhgton moment. Eccleston and Piper had conquered the cynics, turned a nation of women and girls onto Doctor Who by the equality of the companion, and got us all weeping or clutching our hearts with their chemistry, their loving care of each other, and that goodbye. Now some interloper was coming into the Tardis, all teeth and spiky hair and the body of a whippet on a crash diet. How could he possibly take the place of everyone’s new favourite Doctor? Especially if he was going to lay about in bed for the vast majority of the episode?

Continuing WarpedFactor’s look back at some of the best debuts in Doctor Who history, Tony Fyler pulls on his Santa Claus hat and delved into The Christmas Invasion – the first story of a relatively indie actor called David Tennant.

Read the piece here.

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WarpedFactor – Debut: Rose

The Ninth Doctor and Rose Tyler

The Doctor and Rose: ‘Run!’ – and we ran with them.

There are debuts, and then there are debuts. The risks involved in resurrecting Doctor Who in the 21st century were huge. The TV Movie had shown that even the most well-intentioned attempts to bring back the Doctor could flounder and die in the age of the internet, mobile phones, new lads and ladettes. Aliens wandering around looking like Bill Hickock, companions who screamed and needed rescuing all the time, cackling villains and monsters that looked like cruet sets all began to seem a bit twee, a bit 20th Century.

The reinvention of the show in 2005 would probably be the last throw of the Doctor Who dice. If it didn’t work this time, it would probably be regarded as an idea whose time had come and gone.


As WarpedFactor continues its look back at some of the best debut stories in the history of Doctor Who, Tony Fyler gets lucky and lands Rose, the make-or-break first episode of the reinvented show from 2005. On this episode depended the future bueprint of what the show would be going forward, and Fyler argues it was a superbly judged and impeccably written piece of television that stamped the show’s new values, most notably that the companion would be front and centre, and of equal value with the Doctor, firmly on 21st century Who.

Read the piece here.

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Meet Clint McCallister, from Happily Ever After

Clint McCallister, the new Cinderella - a weedy, depressed-looking man in a cowboy hat.

Clint McCallister, the new Cinderella, in his father’s Stetson. Image by

‘What?’ said Clint.
‘Well, you’ve heard of Cinderella?’
‘The fairy tale?’
‘Exactly. Heard of Snow White?’
‘Yyyyyes,’ admitted Clint.
‘Sleeping Beauty?’
Clint nodded.
‘Clint McCallister?’
‘All the girls? All real,’ said Tubal Cain. ‘You… next.’
‘What?’ said Clint again.
‘Every now and then, we in the fairy community perform an outreach to you in the human world. We pick one lucky lad or lady and we turn their humdrum little life upside-down. They all live happily ever after (terms and conditions apply), and the human world gets a timely reminder of how cool it is to share a planet with us fairy folk. Capiche?’
‘Ca-what?’ said Clint.
‘You wanna turn me into a fairy story?’
Tubal Cain looked around the kitchen. ‘You’re already a fairy story waiting to happen. You just need… y’know… the fairy. Ta dahhhh!’
‘Stop that.’
Tubal Cain grinned.
‘And you can cut that out when you like, an’ all. Gives me the heebie jeebies.’
There was a thing Clint should be doing, he knew. A morning thing.
Tea. He filled the kettle and put it on, scrolling to ‘Make Johnny’s Tea’ in his mental Stuff To Do list and crossing it off.

There’s a mad man in our kitchen, his brain chuntered. And you’re making tea.

Meet Clint McCallister. He’s a thirty-five year-old ‘paperboy’ in the East End of London, oppressed by his frustrated brother Johnny, terrorised by his would-be Sister-in-law Mary, and almost certain never to live up to his potential in the shadow of his late father, the Cowboy Newsagent of the Mile End Road. Your typical Disney princess, he is not. But the hero of Happily Ever After he is, after a fashion. Can Tubal Cain, the worst fairy in the world, arrange things so that this man lives happily ever after?

Seems unlikely, somehow…

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WarpedFactor – The Ways of the Doctor

All twelve Doctors in a line.

How many other entirely different interpretations could there be?

If you look at any of the many ‘collected Doctor’ images that were circulating last year, it’s a mark of the various visions throughout the history of the show that you can sum up each Doctor in one or two words, denoting the overall core tone of their time and their portrayal. The Mystery, the Clown, the Action Hero, the Benevolent Alien, the Young Gentleman, the Bombast, the Manipulator, the Romantic, the Warrior, the Survivor, the Geek and the Nutty Professor. With all the signs from the production office being that Peter Capaldi will play the role as the Dark Lord – imperious, alien, prone to Tiberian melancholy maybe and relishing danger and dark places as a way of atoning for the mistakes of his long life, one question forces itself on the viewer: how many other interpretations of the Doctor can possibly be out there?


Tony’s relationship with the WarpedFactor geeks continues to grow. Here, just days before the official launch of the Capaldi era of Doctor Who, he casts a speculative eye over some of the ways in which the Doctor has yet to be played, and asks – how many more original interpretations are there available?


Read the piece here.

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Tony Fyler – Now On Combom Too

The new place to find Tony Fyler's views on all things Who.

The new place to find Tony Fyler’s views on all things Who.

Thanks for a real spoiler free review. This little glimpse into series 8 is what the Doctor ordered.

Best review I’ve read of this episode so far – really heartfelt. Thank you.

As the timeline of this news feed makes clear, Tony writes a lot for, an online home for geeks of all persuasions. But after offering the geeks at the Combom site a different version of the spoiler-free review of Deep Breath (episode 1 of the new series of Doctor Who), they were kind enough to report back that the review had gone down very well with some readers, and the site was looking for writers.

As a result, Tony is now a contributor to that site too. As such, anything he writes for Combom will now appear in the news feed. Twice the exposure, twice the geekiness. Get your anorak on, it’s nearly Who time.

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Hammersmith, Hark and Bailey on Morality

The demon Hammersmith with hair below the ears

Hammersmith the demon.

‘Man may not live by bread alone,’ said Hammersmith, ‘but he’ll get a damn sight further with it than he will by The Word. You can’t eat The Word, Hark. The Word can’t keep you dry, or safe, or alive until tomorrow.’

‘I dunno,’ said Bailey, belching quietly again. ‘Doesn’t “The Word” inspire charity? Doesn’t The Word make people help their fellow man? Give him shelter? A roof? A meal?’

Hark looked at him, frowning.

‘No,’ said Hammersmith. ‘Being alive does that. Look at it this way – you’re out for a drive, and you come across a guy whose car has gone off the road, and he’s hanging off the edge of a cliff. If you walk away, he’ll fall to his death. What do you do? Do you help him, or do you look up Ecclesiastes, Chapter Four, to see whether it says you should help strangers hanging from the edges of cliffs?’


‘You help him, because that’s what people do for people. People that don’t do that are psychopaths. Or bankers. Or believe it’s the will of their deity that the other man dies. If you think you need The Word to make you act that way, you’re missing the opportunity that being alive gives you.’


It’s been a good writing day – d was supportive when, early in the morning, I suggested we might, in fact, not spend our Saturday together, but instead that I might dash to Starbucks to write. Which I did – got about 5,000 new words written, and more importantly, conquered a scene that troubled me the last time I tried to write this book, to the point that I stopped writing.

The snippet above is of course still very raw, but it’s part of a conversation in which Hammersmith the demon, Hark the angel and Bailey the suicidal human sort out the business of morality and religion’s part in it. As I say, still raw, but I’m feeling rather pleased with it in the immediate aftermath of writing it. On to tomorrow, which should involve interrupting the Moon landing.


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An Appreciation of Peri Brown

The Doctor's first American companion, Peri Brown.

The Doctor’s first American companion, Peri Brown.

Being a Doctor Who companion can be a tricky business. Only eleven in the history of the show – eleven in fifty years – have had to cope with the central mystery of the show: regeneration. Ben and Polly are confused for about five minutes, then jump on board with the idea that Hartnell has become Troughton. Sarah-Jane and the Brigadier seem to shrug and the line ‘Here we go again’ covers the miraculous change. Adric, Tegan and Nyssa barely comment that the Watcher ‘was the Doctor all the time’ before helping Davison back to the Tardis. Peri Brown, was the first companion to whom regeneration came as a complete and terrifying shock.


As part of an ongoing series giving in-depth appreciation for the companions of the Doctor, Tony Fyler wrote an appreciation of Peri Brown, the Doctor’s first American assistant, for


Read the piece here.

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The Evolution of a Demon

A quiet day on the writing front – the demands of my remaining day-job occasionally mean there’ll still be days like this.

The illustrations below, both as ever by PS Brooks, show the evolution of a demon – my lead demon from Wonderful, my comic fantasy novel.

Hammersmith was human once, but that was a long time ago and he doesn’t like to talk about it.

For the last 1200 years, since winning the diabolic lottery, the former blacksmith to King Offa (yes, he of the Dyke) has been a demon, getting into trouble both in Hell and on Earth.

For once, the illustrations have been less about giving me inspiration to evolve and change the character than they have been about capturing what’s already full-formed in my mind.

On the left is the first visual of Hammersmith that Patrick drew for me. To be fair, the long hair was something that was in the manuscript, and about which I was certain – until I saw it. Hammersmith when the novel begins has been on Guardian Demon duty for 80 years, looking after a suicidal human in whom Hell has a vested interest. I felt he needed to look grumpier and more exhausted. On the right is an evolution of Hammersmith’s face – older squarer, more fundamentally miserable. and the coat he wears needed to be a lot less tasteful. Not to be a complete artistic pain in the neck, our emails crossed, and I told Patrick I’d found some images of people who could ‘play’ Hammersmith in the movie version – a game I think most authors play. The thing they all had in common was a boyish smirk. So Patrick’s working on a slightly tweaked face that as well as looking exhausted and miserable, is also smirkable, and capable of a childlike joy. You’ll get to see the finished Hammersmith next week, but for now, here he is in evolution.

The demon Hammersmith in a multi-coloured coat, and with shoulder length hair

Hammersmith as he started out – Hair by Anne Rice.

The demon Hammersmith with hair below the ears

Hammersmith – older, squarer, more exhausted. Much more like him.

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