One of my favourite podcasts - The Screenwriting Life with Meg LeFauve and Lorien McKenna - always ends interviews with guests by asking the same question:
"What gives you joy in your writing life?"
It's a question I've been thinking about recently. I keep a lot of plates spinning, jumping from comics to prose to audio and screen. Then there is the practical side of the job, running a small business, while also constantly thinking about promotion, outreach and networking. But what makes me happiest? What keeps me coming back to tell more stories?
However I frame the question, the answer is always the same: collaboration.
Last week was a case in point. Strange Matter, the production company I founded with George Mann, is currently developing a TV show for a major streamer and so George and I decamped to London to break the story and feedback our progress to the executives that have commissioned the work.
We holed up in an apartment in Kensington and covered the walls with index cards filled with characters, themes, springboards and concepts. The days were long (although we did make time to see a couple of plays in the West End, including Steven Moffat's hilarious The Unfriend starring Lee Mack and Sarah Alexander) and the work intensive... and I absolutely loved it. The back and forth as the ideas started to bounce, the eureka moments when you see the characters come to life and plots fall into place, the cracking up as we laughed at our own jokes...
Well, if you can't make yourself giggle, how can you hope to make anyone else laugh?
My happiest moments have always been working with other people; with Mark Wright in the early days writing Doctor Who for Big Finish Productions, creating Shadow Service with Corin Howall or dreaming up Star Wars: The High Republic with my fellow story archetects at Skywalker Ranch. I thrive on the energy and excitement of those moments, which is probably why I find it easier to work on scripts than prose. A script is never for the final audience, but for your collaborators, for the artists, actors, engineers and directors, a way of getting what's in your head into their hands and watching all that combined energy create something greater than you could achieve alone. Just yesterday, Nick Brokenshire sent me artwork for a new idea we're developing and the feeling was the same. The excitement. The thrill. The sense that you're on the brink of something fantastic.
What about you? What brings you joy in your creative life? Let us know in the comments section.
❤️ THIS WEEK'S GOOD THINGS
- I was so happy to wake to the news yesterday that my ER meets Hellboy graphic novel The Ward: Welcome to the Madhouse, co-created with Andres Ponce, has been longlisted for the 2023 Bram Stoker Awards! What an honour!
- Over at 2000AD.com artist Alex Ronald reveals how he recreated the aliens from Enemy Earth for the incredible cover of last week's prog.
- I was blown away by this majestic fan art of the High Republic's Stellan Gios by Instagrammer _chocomars:
- Staying with Stellan, Instagrammer Rebels Resistance shared her cuter-than-cute plush Jedi poster boy:
- Finally, my pal Jake Bartok posted this stunning portrait of Master Keeve Trennis, star of the current run of Star Wars: The High Republic comics from Marvel:
🙋♂️ QUESTIONS AND ANSWERS
Before I go it's time for more of your answers. Keep them coming in!
Subscriber Harvey Hamer asks:
Favourite Lego set? When did the collection begin?
I always find favourites hard to pick. One of my recent favourite builds was set 10273, the LEGO Haunted House. Obviously influenced by two of my favourite Disney rides (Haunted Mansion and The Tower of Terror) the attention to detail was superb!
As for where the collection began, I think it was probably a bucket of standard LEGO bricks back when I was knee-high to a minifigure. In fact, it was probably even before the minifigs were introduced in 1978. One of the earliest sets I actually remember getting is Set 918, the first space LEGO I'd ever seen!
I still have that one, although it is in pieces in my brick boxes (which really need organising when I have the chance. Hmmm. Maybe I should finally put Set 918 back together!)
Comic writer and colleague Charles Soule asks:
This is a good idea! My question: can I steal it and use it for my own newsletter? I would cite you!
You'll be hearing from my lawyers in due course, Mr. Soule.
Over on Instagram, follower 29365anfhd asks:
Will Lourna Dee and Oppo Rancisis meet again?
I receive a lot of questions like this, including recently 'Why/How is OrbaLin in two places at the same time?' from alacritious13, 'Any Jaxxon news for 2024?' from owencallais and 'Are you going to write more audio dramas like Dooku or Tempest Runner?' from sw.unlimited.
Unfortunately, they largely always prompt the same answer which is best summed up with this gif:
As with most of my work on properties such as Star Wars, I'm just not allowed to answer questions about things that haven't been officially revealed or announced yet. I realise it's frustrating, but Non-Disclosure Agreements are powerful and scary things!
But, to give just a little more detail to the questions asked above: it's a big galaxy but you never know, ask me again in a few months, nothing to report yet and I'm always keen to write more audio drama, it's where I began!
Thanks for your questions. If I haven't answered yours yet, keep checking future newsletters and if you want to ask your own question simply add it to the comment section below.
👋 THAT'S ALL FOLKS...
Another newsletter finished! Thank you so much for reading! As always, if you think someone you know will enjoy these posts please forward this email or share online. Your friend or loved one can subscribe here.
In the meantime, speak soon and stay safe!