Friday, March 23, 2007

Good King Billy

I mentioned a while back about the mini opera I was writing with the very talented Jules Maxwell about King Billy - and then everything went quiet. I had sort of guessed that the opera folks who commissioned it might have dropped it because it was (in their view) (a) ridiculous or (b) a bit of a hot potato, but it seems they're having a few administration changes at the top of their company, and once they have a new boss in place, King Billy will proceed. It ain't over till the fat bringer of our freedoms sings.


I had a call a few months ago from the makers of 'Rebus', the tv series based on the character created by Ian Rankin to see if I'd be interested in writing a script. Now I've gone off tv a bit since the fiasco over 'Murphy's Law' - fired from my own series, no less! - and generally find meetings with TV people quite stressfull/humiliating/embarrassing. But I like Ian Rankin's books, and Ken Stott is very good in the TV series, so I was having a good think about it when, the very next day my good friend David from No Alibis bookshop called and said Ian Rankin was calling into the shop the next day for a cup of coffee, and did I fancy meeting him. I took this as A Sign From God (you know, God, small round bloke, beard, looks like Van Morrison, but his songs aren't as good)and scooted off to Belfast. Turns out that Ian Rankin, Best Selling Author, Cultural Commentator, is a very decent bloke and I'd a good natter with him. I somewhat hesitantly raised the issue of me writing for Rebus - because we authors can be notoriously protective of our stuff - and seemed more than happy for me to have a crack. 'Just don't change his taste in music,' was his only request. So, I've written the script, it's called (at the moment, anyway) The First Stone, and it started filming in Scotland last week. I think it will probably be on in the Autumn. It's made by SMG in Scotland, and I can honestly say it's the best experience I've yet had working in TV. No bullshit, in other words. I mean, knowing me, we'll probably have a huge fall out somewhere down the line, but at the moment everything is smelling of roses.


The next children's book, TITANIC 2020, is officially published in July, although there should be copies available in June. This should/could/may be the first in a series of adventures set on a 'new' Titanic sailing into the End of Civilization as We Know It. But, naturally, quite funny as well. It's aimed at the 9-12 age group. The new Harry Potter has a print run of something like 13 million in the USA alone. I expect nothing less of my publishers.


Oh, promises promises, I should really get my finger out more often and keep these things up to date. It's a brave new world out there and I have to get with the program (sorry, does that sound very Sixties?)

Anyway, May sees the publication of the new book, 'I Predict A Riot'. Whole new look, whole new concept. I am now, officially, 'Bateman'. This was sold to me with the idea that I was becomming something of a cultural icon requiring only one name to be instantly recognized anywhere in the world. Think 'Madonna' or 'Prince' - is it the rather more modest Northern Irish in me that causes me to think 'Noddy' and 'Tintin' instead?

Whatever. Not sure exactly what's coming in the way of publicity, but I know for one thing that the Hay on Wye Festival has had a committee meeting and decided to lower its standards for this year only, so I'll be appearing there towards the end of the month of May.

If you're in Northern Ireland there will probably be another launch party at No Alibis in Botanic Avenue in Belfast - probably the first week. I'll keep you posted on that, or knowing how crap at all of this I am, you could try the No Alibis website.

There are also a couple of readings lined up - May 10 in Newtownabbey and May 25 in Armagh.