January 1st, 2010 | station ident

Happy new year. May this one be kinder, funnier and more interesting than the last.

Photo by my good friend Brian Wood, who’s away with his family tonight. My family’s asleep, and I’m sitting here with whisky in the glass and Michael Cashmore’s SLEEP ENGLAND on the speakers, brushing the last traces of a brief snow flurry off my shaven head, and thinking about the future. Annual tradition, maybe, or perhaps just something coded into my bones. It’s the only way I know to break the new year in: to sit in the quieter part of the night and think.

This is Warren Ellis dot com, broadcasting into 2010.


And Finally

December 31st, 2009 | daybook

2009, it turns out, was not quite done with me. Fell over with a repeat bout of Mongolian Terror Trout Flu a couple of days after Xmas, and am only now back on my feet today. This is what happens when your child constantly brings back disgusting diseases from other children and your immune system never has time to recover. I ought to laminate the little horror and hose her down with boiling water and bleach before she re-enters the house every day.

I read today that auld acquaintance Patrick Stewart is to be knighted this new year for services to drama. This pleases me immensely. Patrick told me many times that Spider Jerusalem is his role model. I trust he won’t be headbutting any members of the royal family or vigorously wiping his arse on the Queen’s skirts during the ceremony.

Messages have piled up while I’ve lain in my pit semi-conscious and re-watching the (original, only) THE PRISONER box set, so, annoyingly, I have a bit of work to do this morning. A question on a film option, a couple of interview requests. I am, technically, Not At Work for a while longer, but not everyone gets the message.

New Year coming. This’ll be the first one in 25+ years where I’ll be asleep shortly after midnight. Roll on 2010. Raise a glass for me, because I’ll be raising one to you, and to a better year for all of us.

See you on the other side.

Not A Creature Was Stirring, Not Even A Mouse. Because I Ate It.

December 25th, 2009 | brainjuice

And, with the house cleared and shit wrapped and an unwise number of wine bottles emptied, I’m out. See you on the other side of little Winterval. Have a good break. Try not to stab anybody important.

About My Power

December 24th, 2009 | daybook

Musician/writer Christine Hart felt it necessary to preserve this Twitter exchange from earlier in the year:


I have just been informed via the power of Twitter that I’m on io9’s 2009 Science Fiction Power List, alongside, um, Lady Gaga. Actually, it’s kind of an interesting list — and an interesting, if peculiar, concept. Doubtless, by the time you read it, the comments section will have filled with snark. But the article itself is worth a read (not least because it includes Lady Gaga. I think even Bill Gibson was talking about that last video).

I’ve just been informed that Bleeding Cool will be broadcasting all through Xmas Day.

Me? I will doubtless still be ruminating on the fact that five minutes ago I was selecting children’s books for my daughter, and that apparently with the passage of no time whatsoever I am now wrapping a MOCK THE WEEK: UNCUT DVD for her. Not sure how she went from Maurice Sendak to Frankie Boyle yelling "cunt" overnight, but suddenly she’s 14 and arguing with me over rap/rock, guitarists and what the best track on the Florence & The Machine album was. It’s brilliant, frankly.


December 23rd, 2009 | daybook

This is me with local musician Carolina Fasalo of The Voronas. Caz dumped a load of old photos on to her Facebook account and turned this up. Last summer, I think?


I was reading this interview with David Simon the other day — he gives good interviews, see if you can find the one he did with THE BELIEVER magazine sometime — and something he said stuck with me a little bit. As it often does in Simon interviews, as he’s good with a bon mot or two. I’ve hacked some connective tissue out to present it as a complete thought:

There would be a series of planning sessions. First, at the beginning of every season, we did a sort of retreat with the main writers, the guys who were going to be on staff the whole year. We’d discuss what we were trying to say… we weren’t cynical about having been given ten, 12, 13 hours — whatever we had for any season from HBO. All of that was an incredible gift.

So goddamn it, you better have something to say. That sounds really simple, but it’s actually a conversation that I don’t think happens on a lot of serialized drama. Certainly not on American television. I think that a lot of people believe that our job as TV writers is to get the show up as a franchise and get as many viewers, as many eyeballs, as we can, and keep them.

What we were asking was, “What should we spend 12 hours of television saying?”

Which, yes, should sound blatantly obvious. But it’s easy, when working in fast and deadline-intensive serial formats, to forget that bit: to trust to the process of pulp writing and the form’s innate effect of whatever you’re really interested in leaking out into the work regardless. It’s easy to forget what you turned up for.

It’s also an interesting process note. A good 95% of longform serials, I’d guess, turn up not knowing what they want to talk about. Sometimes they don’t discover what they showed up to talk about until the third or fourth season. And I don’t mean so much the working out of what’s now called "show mythology," the actual overarcing storyline — and we can all name shows that suddenly realised they’d payed out all the rope they had and they didn’t know where the plot went next. I mean the serials where they finally open their mouths and nothing comes out. They made the show because they were allowed to make the show.

In other news, Karl Urban has apparently been signed to RED. This brings the cast up to something like the eight thousand most popular actors in the world.

Tonight I am mostly clearing the house. Not enough strength left in me for proper writing. I’d actually really like to be digging into the outline I wrote for the GRAVEL film, and fixing all the stuff in it that looks broken. I’m delivering it at the end of the second week in January, so there’s plenty of time, and it’s actually in reasonably good shape overall. But the thing about distance from a thing — and this is actually not bad advice for any new writer — is that it gives you essential and often surprising perspective once you’ve been away from it for a few days. Walking away from something for a few days or a week is sometimes the best possible thing you can do for a piece. Again, not something we always have time for in the deadline game.

I’d also like to be working on the animated series I have in development, but, like I said. Burned way the fuck out. So I’m going to content myself with clearing the house, catching up on my RSS feeds, scheming about getting a new phone out of Vodafone, and making a few notes on loose ideas. Proper writing can wait a couple of weeks, now.