Bernice Summerfield: Secret Histories

Apparently I don’t update this blog enough. Which I don’t, so that’s fair comment.

Readers will recall that ten weeks and an embarrassingly small number of updates ago I posted about Venus Mantrap, the Bernice Summerfield audio play that Lance Parkin and I wrote.

Well, I’m not finished with Bernice just yet. Out in December this year is Secret Histories, a short story collection edited by myself with contributions from… well, see below about that. Click on the link to read the blurb. Rather than an over-arching theme which might tie the authors down, I opted for a framing sequence which threads the stories into a larger narrative. The framing sequence is written by myself, but doesn’t lock the stories so tightly together that the reader can’t dip in and out and read the actual stories in whatever order they please.

I’m delighted by how the book is coming together. By way of an easter egg hunt, and to try and fan the flames a little in advance of the book coming out, I’m announcing the stories and authors one-by-one across various Who fora, starting with the soon to be dead Outpost Gallifrey Forum. You can read that announcement here. More to come, on Outpost Who, via an agent of chaos on my behalf on this place, and possibly even the Jade Pagoda if I feel like it – they could do with a post or two now and again. If you don’t care to chase these up, worry not – full details will be on the appropriate page of the BF website in due course.

As well as being able to pre-order Secret Histories on its own, you can also buy it, along with Venus Mantrap and the other audios in this season, as a 2009 bundle with this excellent Special Offer. That’s a mere £40 for not only Histories and Mantrap, but also three other audios.

You. Know. You. Want. To.

Anyway, that’s enough for now. I’ll try not to leave it so long next time.


June 27, 2009. Tags: , , , . Uncategorized. Comments off.

Bernice Summerfield: Venus Mantrap

Big Finish have now put up the cover art to mine and Lance Parkin’s Bernice Summerfield play, Venus Mantrap:
Pretty awesome, huh? I love Adrian Salmon’s stuff, and he absolutely nails the tone of the play. Cheers, Ade! Also, many thanks to Lance for buying the artwork for me and Mags as a wedding present. So cheers to both of those guys.

OK, that’s enough insular backslapping, let’s widen the circle to the other ten of you reading this with a little background, or more to the point a sales pitch.

I can’t recall which came first, but there were two things I knew I wanted to do with a Bernice audio when I pitched to producer Eddie Robson: co-write the audio with Lance Parkin, with whom I’d first written for Bernice in Beige Planet Mars; and write a follow-up of sorts to that book. Venus Mantrap isn’t a sequel to BPM, and you certainly don’t need to have read the book to enjoy the audio, but it has a similar tone and one recurring character.

In terms of tone and setting, we’re back in the solar system (Venus Mantrap was a title I came up with back in the late 90s, which has been searching for a project ever since), and it’s still a future where people live and work as they always have done, but in a heightened, alien landscape with heightened, alien problems. Lance and I always liked that aspect of BPM and wanted to revisit it – that there was action and drama and things blowing up, but that the everyday life in the future was still going on, albeit disrupted. In BPM the characters worked in hotels and attended academic conferences – not everyone was a space marine or spy. In VM… well, that would be telling.

The choice of which character to bring back alongside Benny… well, there really wasn’t a choice to make. Professor Scoblow, academic and love rival, tweedy space rodent and over-sexed self-mythologiser, wasn’t even in the original plot outline of BPM, but I wrote her in for some minor expositional reason (I can’t remember what, it was over a decade ago) as a throwaway and she ended up taking on a bigger and bigger role in the plot. So we wanted to bring her back, and force her and Bernice to work together on a common problem. I haven’t heard an edit of the finished play yet, but having been at the recording I can honestly say that Jo Castleton just is Scoblow, and she and Lisa (Bernice) Bowerman spark off each other very nicely indeed.

(To slide into backslap mode again for a second, director John Ainsworth cast the whole play very well, and hit exactly the right tone in his direction.)

Anyway, the play isn’t out for another four months so I won’t go into any more detail at this stage as there’ll no doubt be future posts on this in the months ahead. In the mean time, please pre-order the play on its own, or if you so wish subscribe to the whole season. (Highly recommended, as all three other plays are written by excellent writers, and the last of the season has the legendary Doug Bradley in it, and everyone loves Pinhead, don’t they?)

A bargain at £9.99 (or an even more bargainous £35 for the four-play sub), and American listeners should benefit from the pound’s parlous state against the dollar these days.

Anyway, I’m off to get married and go on honeymoon, and will return some time towards the end of the month. Not that with my recent posting rate the difference will be that notable.

Au Revoir,


April 16, 2009. Tags: , , , , . Uncategorized. Comments off.