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Gwenevere - poster and trailer

It was December 2021 when I announced my half-baked to make my own Arthurian film , inspired by all the other Arthurian films I’d been watching for this blog. Now it’s May 2023, and the project is very nearly finished. Here’s the poster for Gwenevere , with artwork by top shield designer and location catering whizz Sarah McIntyre. I’ve also cut together a short trailer for the film, which you can see here on YouTube . 
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Gwenevere: Destination Bude

I’ve been at work on editing our Arthurian movie Gwenevere since the beginning of the year, and it’s very nearly finished now. The last thing we needed to get was some flashbacks to Gwenevere’s love affair with Lancelot, which will crop up as brief montages at a couple of points in the story. We didn’t have time to shoot these in our main blocks of filming back in the autumn, so it seemed to make sense to leave them till spring - they’re meant to be taking place in a different time to the rest of the film.  We also needed a different setting - the film is about Gwenevere’s journey through the wilds, and it’s all shot on Dartmoor. So we thought a beach would make a nice change of scene, and since Laura Frances Martin , who plays Gwenevere, comes from north Cornwall we decided to find somewhere near her to film. That’s how we ended up in Bude, just down the coast from Tintagel. There are some lovely beaches there, and there’s also a handy castle called The Castle . It isn’t an actual ca

Coronation Day, 2023

Strangely moving scenes in the village churchyard yesterday, were the people of this valley gathered in the twilight among the gravestones of their ancestors to watch fireworks marking the coronation. I don’t know how many of them are ardent royalists. I know at least a few are proud republicans. Some, who hold their farms on lease from the Duchy of Cornwall, had the former Prince Charles as their landlord for decades, and may have more reason to grumble about him than most. But they weren’t there to celebrate Charles’s enthronement. They were coming together as a community to mark a national moment, which is also of course a local moment, and a personal moment. I tend to feel that having strong opinions either way on the subject of the monarchy is the sure sign of a crank. Royal fans and ardent republicans, like Brexit enthusiasts or people with #FBPE in their Twitter handle, are best edged away from at parties. I suppose if you’d asked me when I was twenty I would have said, ‘down wi

Tales from the Perilous Realm

One of the stories in this collection is Leaf by Niggle, an allegorical tale about an artist in which Tolkien is plainly expressing his anxiety that his work of creating Middle Earth will never be finished and that what fragments he does manage to produce will be ignored by most people and eventually forgotten altogether. It’s quite affecting, and I suppose he never did finish it, but there seems little danger of it being forgotten, since all his notes and half-finished stories are now available as pricey books. This one, Tales from the Perilous Realm , comes with a beautiful Alan Lee painting of a hero confronting a dragon on the front, perhaps designed to nudge the unwary purchaser into thinking they’re buying something Lord of the Rings related. What they’ll actually be taking home is an anthology of short tales which were mostly available as separate small volumes when I was a young ‘un, bulked out with Tolkien’s essay On Fairy Tales . Farmer Giles of Ham is the central story,

Picard (Season 3)

  A few years ago, when the first season of Picard came out, I gave it a fairly damning review on here . I gave up on season 2, but season 3 seems to have turned things around a bit, so it seemed worth a look. And it is indeed much more fun, which is what I mostly look for in a space opera.  I’ve seen people argue pretty convincingly that this new, improved Picard is really just fan service, and to be fair it does exist primarily to drop loads of references to Star Trek: The Next Generation.  But it’s still an improvement, I think. The first season  of Picard seemed to have been made by people who were a bit embarrassed by Star Trek’s baggage, and now it appears to have been wrenched from their grasp and placed in the hands of someone who absolutely loves it, which has to be preferable. And cunningly, I have forgotten most of TNG , so I probably didn’t spot most of the references, and was able to enjoy this series as a bit of straightforward (if fairly generic) Star Trek .  The sto

Adventuremice set sail!

There’s great excitement in the Mouse Islands, because today is the day that Otter Chaos is finally published. The   first of my new Adventuremice series with Sarah McIntyre is in UK and Irish bookshops NOW, and it’s looking lovely, packed as it is with Sarah’s beautiful watercolour illustrations. It started out as a series of nautical mouse paintings she did during the pandemic lockdowns, and you can find out more about it at our snazzy new website, , which features videos, quizzes, drawing guides, and a handy classroom pack of free, easily downloadable resources for teachers . You can even read the first chapter of Otter Chaos  there for free there, to find out whether it’s Your Sort Of Thing. Several young reviewers have already decided that it is their sort of thing: here’s a very in-depth appreciation by six-year-old Jesse for Books Up North , while the discerning Peapod over at Bellis Does Books awards it an impressive ‘four hundred and eleventy hundred out

Emirates Festival of Literature 2023

Earlier this month, Sarah McIntyre and I were lucky enough to be guests at the Emirates Festival of Literature in Dubai - our third visit. There’s nothing much I can add to Sarah’s account: she’s a good journalist as well as a great illustrator, so for details of what we did and all the lovely people we met, head on over to her blog. But here are a few photos I took during our stay. One of the things I was talking about at the festival was my Railhead trilogy. I think I’d just finished the first book the first time I visited Dubai, and this extraordinary city had a big influence on the next two books. I’d sort of forgotten that, but returning was weirdly like stepping back into the world of Railhead . I really liked the architecture of the new Mohammed bin Rashid Library (the open-book-shaped building in the sunset view above). The library was a festival venue this year, and pecked with visitors when I was there to help Sarah with her Comics Workshop. But we had a nose round earlier