Character Sketch #2 -“The Staircase Is Over There!”

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The voice cut across the hotel lobby with the subtlety of a sledgehammer meeting a sheet of plate glass. Every conversation stopped and a percentage of heads turned to identify the source of the strident location finder.

She stood imperiously at the far corner, as far physically from anyone else as possible with her right arm raised, her be-ringed finger pointing in the direction of the aforementioned stairs.

This was a woman who demanded attention, even if she rarely received it. Physically small in stature she projected a voice that seemed impossible for someone of her build. Her lung capacity must be formidable. The lean worn face wore a haughty air of frustration beneath a layer of inexpertly applied make-up. Her bleached blonde hair fell straight and limp. Her shirt displayed a cascade of fringes and garish embroidered patterns of indeterminate origin. The fashionably torn jeans tunneled into a pair pf cowboy boots which seemed to be equally adorned as the shirt.

The woman shrugged, turned, and entered the open elevator doors behind her. The door slid shut and she disappeared from sight.

Conversations resumed, while a few of the hotel guests looked around to see who the directive had been intended for, yet no-one seemed to move in the direction of the indicated stairs. – The recipient remained a mystery.




Under The Hood of the CARS Comics: Getting to Radiator Springs

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With the Disney publicity machine gearing up for the release of CARS 3 in June I’ve seen a renewed interest in the CARS comics that I was lucky enough to write back in 2009/2010 following on from the original CARS movie. So I thought it might be fun to post a few short articles reliving my time hanging out with the denizens of Radiator Springs  and sharing a few of the behind the scenes insights, and some of the references, homages etc. that we sneaked into the scripts.

Getting to Radiator Springs.


I’m often asked how I landed the gig to write the CARS comics, and my answer is that I simply begged to do it. It was at ComicCon 2008 in San Diego that comics publisher BOOM Studios announced that they would be producing a line of comics based on the Disney*Pixar movies. The announcement also included the news that the editor of the new line would be one Paul Morrissey, who had joined BOOM from manga publisher Tokyopop. It so happened that Paul had been my editor at Tokyopop on the GOD SHOP project.

As a total gear-head CARS was my favorite Disney*Pixar movie, I also think it is a straight forward fun movie with a great message even if you aren’t that interested in cars. So at San Diego I tracked down Paul and basically begged saying something along the lines of, “I don’t care what anyone else is pitching for, I want to write the CARS comic.” It turned out that most people had asked about writing The Incredibles, or Toy Story*, so the list I was competing with was shorter.

As we walked and talked I pitched Paul a story I had in mind that he seemed to like, so he asked me to come back the next day with four story ideas. I was back at the BOOM booth at 8:00am the next morning with five, the last one being a throw away idea of doing a ‘prequel’ to the movie that told Lightning McQueen’s back story that I knew that Disney would never let me do. I mean if anyone was going to do an ‘origin’ story for one of their lead characters it would be Disney. Right?

Paul reviewed the ideas and took them to Disney, who also approved them. The last day of the convention I got the news from Paul that I was to be the writer on the new CARS comic book series, oh and Disney wanted to kick things off with the origin story.

It was time to start writing – Ka-Chow!


* I also  also asked to pitch for Toy Story and developed a four issue story arc that was approved and even announced and promoted, but that never saw the light of day – but that’s a whole other story for another blog entry.









Character Sketches #1 – The Boy Who Watched

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When I was sorting out various boxes from our recent move I came across a collection of my old notebooks, and of course I had to take a look through them. The first few I pulled out dated back to my early writing days and contained several ‘character sketches.’ These weren’t sketches as in drawings, but rather short written observational pieces.

One of the earliest pieces of advice I’d been given about writing was to carry a notebook and at least once a day sit down somewhere; a park, mall, train station, coffee shop, or similar and just watch people. Then pick out a person and use them as a visual prompt for creating a quick 200 word piece. How would you describe them? Why were they there? What bought them to this point? Did they suggest or spark ideas for alternate stories?

While I’ve stayed in the habit of carrying a note book (although I wasn’t using it as much as I should) over the intervening years I’d stopped doing those short sketches.  Until now. I’ve committed to myself that for 2017 I’m going to get back into the habit of ‘sketching’ and will post the results on this blog.

So to start the process here’s a little something I wrote over lunch today:

The Boy Who Watched.

At first glance he appeared to be about fifteen years of age, or maybe even a few years younger. It was a misconception that he used to his advantage, for who would take such a young boy seriously? He kept to the edges of the room; watching everything, but noticed by none.

Standing about five feet tall, he had a rounded, almost cherubic, face and smooth features that had yet to display any signs of stubble or beard. The eyes were bright and shone with the promise of youth, yet the lids were heavy and he wore an aura that suggested a lifetime of experience well beyond his apparent years.

He wore a simple combination of a black buttoned down shirt and clean boot cut jeans without any adornment. On his feet he wore simple black sneakers that allowed him to circumnavigate the room without sound.

There were several others in that crowded room dressed in a similar manner. Men and women mostly in their early to mid-twenties. The careful observer could discern that these patrons would occasionally glance in the direction of the boy, who with an almost imperceptible nod or shake of the head would approve or reject some proposed action.

The quiet boy by the wall didn’t just watch the room, he controlled it – and everyone in it.

The Last Ramble of 2016 – Actually it wasn’t all that bad after all.

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It seems to be the general consensus that the last twelve months has cumulatively amounted to a pretty shitty year. It’s definitely had its moments, and most of them have seemed bad.  On a personal front we as a family have had some down times in 2016, but we’ve also experienced some profoundly incredible moments.

Writing wise I’ve also had some disappointments this year with work not getting published as originally planned; but that’s all part of the game. The year finished strong with two new books published that contained some of my work. So keep a look out for:


Quatermain: The New Adventures Vol. 2 – that contains my new short story “Stones of Blood,” that takes Quatermain from the streets of London, and an encounter with a certain young consulting detective, to the battlefields of the first Boer War in search of diamond smugglers.


Outside In Boldly Goes – that includes “Trouble in Tombstone” – An alternate report of the events of the classic Star Trek episode Specter of the Gun.

Some of the other highlights of 2016 have included (in no particular order):

  • My weekly blog post series at the OpenText Blog, as well as a new monthly column at CMS Wire.
  • A return to doing movie reviews for RevolutionSF
  • Fun times at various conferences and conventions including the Content Marketing World, Lavacon, DX Summit, Peoria Comic Con, Comicpalooza, Armadillocon, and WizardWorld Austin.
  • Guesting on several podcasts such as Batman vs James Bond, Pros@Cons, White Rocket and more.
  • Having two of my stories recorded as Audio Book versions on Audible.
  • and of course writing a lot of stuff that’s still in the pipeline that will be published next year.

Talking of next year I’ve decided to drop the (mainly) monthly Ramble format for this newsletter and instead I’m planning on diving back into my archives to present some behind the scenes stuff, as well as some insights into current projects, on a  (hopefully)more frequent basis.

Look out 2017  – it’s going to be fun.



November Rambles.

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I’m in the middle of doing some research for an essay that is scheduled to appear in a friend’s business book, but decided to take a quick break to do my monthly update post (Although I just realized I missed last month – oops).

The essay in question is the last of the various essays and short stories I had scheduled for 2016. By my count I now have the following work sitting at various publishers waiting for projects to be completed and published:

  • Short story featuring Rick Ruby, Private Eye
  • Short story featuring Allan Quatermain (and special guest).
  • Essay on Action Man
  • Essay for a Star Trek Original Series project
  • Essay for a Star Trek: The Next Generation project
  • Essays for two business books

Hopefully some of these see the light of day over the coming months.

For 2017 I’ve decided to take a short sabbatical from accepting these sort of short side assignments and focus on completing my four major ongoing projects.

  • The FORGOTTEN CITY comic book series (of which I have the final three issues to write).
  • Complete the revisions and additions to the James Bond Lexicon
  • Complete the research phase for the U.N.C.L.E. Lexicon
  • and get a polished draft together for my novel-in-progress.

So here’s to focus and a productive year ahead at the keyboard.

September – Rambling Around the Web

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ajp-comicpgSomething a little different this month. Instead of an update of various writing topics, I thought it was about time I did an updated collection of notes about where you can find me online.

I’m doing a lot of business related writing at the moment, particularly around the subjects of Content Strategy, Content Marketing, and Customer Experience. You can find new blog posts weekly at the OpenText Blog, as well as a new monthly column at CMS Wire. I’m also re-posting selected blogs on LinkedIn and The Content Pool website. If social media is more your style I post links to most of the articles on @TheContentPool Twitter account, and on The Content Pool Facebook page.

Several of my pop-culture projects have their own dedicated sites online.

  • Batman – Check out the ongoing history of Batman publications at “Batman on the Cover” on Tumblr, or Instagram.
  • James Bond – For updates on the progress of the James Bond Lexicon, general Bond news, and a weekly Bond Trivia quiz follow the BondLexicon Twitter account; of follow us on Tumblr for Bond related artwork.
  • U.N.C.L.E. – Likewise we have Twitter and Tumblr accounts charting the work underway on the U.N.C.L.E. Lexicon project.
  • Although not directly related to any writing projects I also have a Tumblr account that celebrates my love of plastic model kits, and their box art.

For more general writing news, as well as this website, you can follow my writer’s page on FaceBook, or via my profiles at Amazon or Goodreads.

And for general day-to-day stuff, wacky observations, the occasional bit of news, and to experience my passion for motor-sports, space, history, and many other strange things you can follow me on Twitter, Instagram, or Tumblr.

So hope to see you around the web somewhere…




August Rambles

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Wow where did the year go? It’s definitely been an interesting and eventful one for us, with more fun still to come.

If things work out to plan the following books will be heading to a store near you or available on-line before the year is over:

  • The Joy of Joe – with my essay “So Who Is This Joe Fellow You’ve All Been Talking About,” on my recollections of  Action Man.
  • Outside In Boldly Goes – which will contain my take on the classic Star Trek episode “Specter of the Gun.”
  • Quatermain Adventures Vol. 2 – containing my story “Stones of Blood.”

In the meantime you can find a new page on this site with direct links to some of my existing books for sale on Amazon.

Work is continuing on editing the James Bond Lexicon project and compiling information for the follow-on U.N.C.L.E. Lexicon, and I’ve made a return to movie reviewing in my Editor-at-Large role for RevolutionSF. You can find my thoughts on the recent Suicide Squad movie online HERE.


A lot of my focus over the last few months has been around my business writing with several white-papers under my belt as well as developing regular series of weekly blog posts which you can find HERE. This has lead to a couple of additional opportunities to write a regular monthly piece for a leading industry thought-leadership website as well as an article for another prestigious media industry magazine. More on these as stuff is published over the coming months.




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