Okay, this week I’ve a break from the day job, and nothing difficult scheduled for my days, which gives me time to attend to the major writing project of the month (last month’s was finishing off the draft of Hiram Grange and the Nymphs of Krakow for Shroud Publishing). That project is to finally complete the novel Craven Place.
There’s quite a history to this piece. The original story was co-devised by myself and my then partner-in-crime Mitchell Morgan, director and screenwriter, and at the time also a producer with Splendid Films ltd. Having successfully written, directed, and released (to video in the States) his first feature length movie Only Darkness, Mitch was looking for a second project. For reasons to complicated to explain, he already had a location, an old farmhouse in North Wales, sitting next to the Menai Straits, but he didn’t have a story.
We got together. Beer happened. There was an inspiration involving cows that we could never quite remember the day after (fortunately), and the supernatural murder mystery Craven Place was born. Having plotted it out together, I took the outline away and spent a caffeine and nicotine fuelled 72 hours turning the idea into a full script (those were the days). Scarcely a week later, we were on location, filming with a small cast and crew on 16mm. We were there for a splendid couple of weeks, and Mitch and Jon, the co-director, got the thing in the can.
I’m not entirely sure what happened next. I’ve seen a rough cut of the movie, which looked dandy for what it was, though the sound quality, especially the exteriors, was awful. As far as I’m aware, the project ran out of what limited budget it had before it completed post-production, and it was never released. The company moved on, producing at least two more films, the bonkers crime / zombie flick Jack of Diamonds, and the genuinely intriguing Requiem with Jason Connery, and no more was ever heard of regarding Craven Place itself.
Which is where the story would stop, except that I own the rights to turn the thing into a novel. While Mitch had carte blanche to film the script as he saw fit, making changes and asking for on the spot rewrites while we were in Wales, and profiting from the movie however he saw best, I asked for, and happily received, all rights to adapt the story into a novel. In 1999, I began that process with a couple of chapters, until another project forced me to put it aside. Later, in 2006, I went back to the story, hoping to finish it off, and brought the whole thing up to the 50,000 words mark before getting pulled away again.
Now, I’d like to finish it. I like Matthew, Tanith, Nicholas, and the crowd. I like their story. I think it deserves another shot at being aired, between pages rather than on screen. Over the last couple of weeks, I’ve been quietly going through the first 50,000 words, amending, tweaking, reminding myself of what had transpired, and what is still to come. This week, I’m hoping to get it most of the way to a full draft, and you’re welcome to watch.
Of course, there’s no publisher awaiting this manuscript. When it’s complete, it will be submitted to slush piles the world over, and you’re welcome to follow that process too. We’ve a way to go before then though. As I sit down today, there are 50,936 words to the manuscript. I think there’s at least 30,000 words to go, at a rough estimate (who knows – it could yet be longer or shorter). I can’t promise I’ll get it done before March lands on us, but if I can even progress it, I’ll be happy enough. Craven Place is unfinished business, and I need to clear it before I can move on to other things.
So, I’m sitting down and going back to that old cottage in Wales. Some people have died. Some have fled. Some have stood their ground, and are waiting to confront the thing that haunts the stones of Craven Place…
Time to go and see how they’re getting on.