Vanguard Prime: The Movie

One of the questions I get asked the most is whether Vanguard Prime will ever be made into a movie. And from what I’ve experienced, I’m not the only author to be asked this. I know Stephen King was particularly puzzled when he was asked what the film prospects of Vanguard Prime are, given that he’d never heard of it before.

I may have made up that last part.

In any case, book-to-film translations are always a hot topic of conversation. People don’t seem to feel a work has been truly successful until it’s been rendered cinematically with a running time of 2+ hours, and they get the chance to complain about the filmmakers completely missing the point.

But to answer the original question; the chances of Vanguard Prime ever being adapted to the screen are, safe to say, slim to none. That’s not to say that I wouldn’t be excited to have it happen, but I’m not exactly pinning any particular hopes on it. After all, it took about 30 years for Ender’s Game to be made into a film, and though I’m quite proud of Vanguard Prime, it’s not exactly recognised as a classic of its genre the way Orson Scott Card’s book is.

So now that I’ve couched all of this in a thick blanket of self-awareness, let’s pretend that a Vanguard Prime movie is something legitimately possible. Who would I cast in it, you might ask. And even if you wouldn’t ask that, I’m going to tell you anyway. That’s just the kind of guy I am.


This would be the trickiest part to cast, given that there’s not really much physical description of Goldrush/Sam in the books. I wanted every reader to formulate their own picture of him…which was kind of defeated when it came time to design the cover, but that’s beside the point. The other issue with casting Sam is that it’s a very time sensitive role; anyone I nominate now would probably be too old in just a couple of years. But if we were going with who I had pictured in my head, it’d have to be Jordan Dang, probably best known for his role as Tim Okazaki in Chris Lilley’s TV series Angry Boys.

Jordan Dang Picture


I think I’ve discussed this before, but one of the visual inspirations for Machina was Brie Larson, of Scott Pilgrim vs the World and 21 Jump Street fame. She’s not English, and at 25 she may now be a little too old for the part, but between her roles in Scott Pilgrim and The United States of Tara, she’s what I imagined Machina to be.

Brie Larson Picture

Major Blackthorne

There were a few different actresses who informed my image of the Major, with chief amongst them being Charlize Theron (particularly because of her role in the music video for Brandon Flowers’ song Crossfire).

Charlize Theron Picture

But there were a couple of other faces floating around in my head when creating her, which included Stephanie March of Law & Order fame, Australian actress Emma Lung and, most recently, Haywire star and MMA fighter Gina Carano.

Agent Alpha

Everyone wants Idris Elba cast in everything. Who am I to deny them? And why would I want to?

Idris Elba Picture

The Knight of Wands

David Bowie’s appearance in the video for China Girl was very inspirational for the Knight’s appearance, as was Guy Pearce in Memento, but it comes down to two actors for this role. Either I stick with the Prometheus theme that’s developing and say Michael Fassbender, or I go the Jedi route and nominate Ewan McGregor. Either way, everybody wins.

Michael Fassbender Picture Ewan McGregor Picture

(I can not get these two pictures side-by-side for some reason. Clearly they’ve had a disagreement.)


Outside of a cameo on 30 Rock I have no idea about Padma Lakshi’s acting ability, but she was highly influential when it came to envisioning what Gaia looked like. But I think Freida Pinto could just as easily make the role hers (and once again, their photos are fighting with each other).

Padma Lakshmi Picture Freida Pinto Picture

So that’s the team, but what are heroes without some villains to fight? Here’s a small selection of who I’d pick to be the Big Bad.

The Overman

Alexander Skarsgard. Because obviously.

Alexander Skarsgård Picture

Big Brother

The lead antagonist in War Zone was inspired by singer/actor/general awesome guy Henry Rollins, who may now be a little too old and grey for the role but…well, who cares?

Henry Rollins Picture

I always pictured Phillip Seymour Hoffman as the Emperor, the Knight of Wands’ brother and chief adversary. Obviously, and very sadly, that’s no longer a possibility, and given that I can’t wrap my head around it I figured I’d nominate the next member down the food chain in the Major Arcana. Namely…

The Magician

And this is a bit of a weird one, because I imagine it to be Doc Hammer, the co-creator and one of the lead voice actors from The Venture Bros animated series. He plays a variety of characters on the series, and I’m sure his skills would translate easily to live action. Plus it would amuse me immensely.

And that’s my list. Hopefully this doesn’t contradict too much with what the readers of the series have pictured, and if it has then just bear in mind that this is only my opinion. If you have a completely different vision, I’d love to hear about it. Otherwise I’ll be over here. By the phone. Waiting for that call from Hollywood to come. Which I’m sure will be any minute now. Especially given that international superstar Doc Hammer is attached to star. Box office gold. License to print money. Third salient point.


Making It Up As I Go Along

Last year, I was asked if I’d be interested in being a guest blogger for Writing Teen Novels. I was flattered to be asked and of course said yes. The aim was to write 12 posts that would run once a month through 2014.

The first has just been posted.

If you’re interested in writing, and writing for young people in particular, I highly recommend checking out the blog. It’s packed full of insightful commentary from published authors, all hoping to share their expertise. And me too, making it up as I go along…which, really, is the definition of storytelling, isn’t it?

Hopefully this will go a little way towards explaining why I’ve been so quiet with the blog lately. The other explanation is this…


This won’t make any sense now, but with some luck it should with time. Hopefully I’m not jinxing myself by talking about it too soon.

I’m planning on writing up both a playlist for War Zone and another entry in the Making of a Superhero series of posts. With some luck that’ll happen before another New Year’s Eve rolls around. But in the meantime, make sure to keep an eye on Writing Teen Novels and please feel welcome to leave some feedback. I’d love to answer any questions anyone might have.

…or at least make up an answer.

Workshops and Sonic Screwdrivers

Your absentee author here, dropping in to say ‘Hi’, ‘How are you?’, ‘You’re looking well, have you lost weight?’ and other assorted greetings and pleasantries.

It’s been a busy few weeks, mostly on the home life front (saw the National Theatre Live international broadcast of Kenneth Branagh and Alex Kingston in Macbeth, caught up with friends, did some writing, played more Arkham Origins than I should have, and so on).

If I was more on top of things, I’d have blogged before now about the fantastic event I had with George Ivanoff at Eltham Library. George has said many wonderful things about the Vanguard Prime series (in addition to writing the fantastic Gamers trilogy…am I saying fantastic too much? Does this make me the Ninth Doctor?…which any reader with even a passing interest in sci-fi/fantasy or video games should check out), so it was great getting the chance to meet and hold both a Q&A and workshop with him.

George Ivanoff with some other guy on the left.
George Ivanoff pictured with another author who’s totally jealous of his Sonic Screwdriver pen.

We kicked things off with a conversation about the Vanguard Prime series (including some questions about Red Alert and the nature of digital publishing) before guiding the audience through the process of creating a story. While George covered what’s involved in creating a cast of characters, I explained the process of coming up with story ideas and how to then structure your plot. With a little luck, there’ll be a budding writer or two who took away a new idea.

Thanks again to George for making the trip out to Eltham and taking the time to chat about Vanguard Prime. If you’ve since noticed that your sonic screwdriver pen has gone missing, it was the butler what done it.


Speaking of sonic screwdrivers, The Day of the Doctor aired while I was off not posting on this blog. As enjoyable as it was seeing Matt Smith and David Tennant on screen together, I have to admit to being one of the seemingly few people who were slightly disappointed by the episode. That said, it was a massive thrill just getting a peek at Peter Capaldi’s super-intense gaze, so I’m looking forward to the Christmas special and seeing 11 regenerate into 12, even if I’ll miss Matt Smith. Also; Sonic Screwdriver would make a great name for a drink at a geek-centric bar. So much so that I’m sure it already exists.


In addition to seeing the National Theatre Live broadcast of Kenneth Brannagh in Hamlet, my wife and I went to see George RR Martin speak during his recent visit to Melbourne. Being the obsessive nerd type, I’d already heard much of what he talked about through all the interviews with him I’d either already read or listened to in podcast form, but one of the things that struck me was how gracious he was. Appearing with Michelle Fairley, he’d often find ways to redirect questions that the audience had asked directly of him so that Michelle had a chance to answer as well. It was a small thing, but it was something I noticed, and it only added to my respect for him.


Listening to: Space Oddity by David Bowie

Reading: Fortunately, The Milk… by Neil Gaiman

Watching: Downton Abbey

Learning As We Go: New Adult & The Digital Revolution

I’ve been thinking about the difference between New Adult and Young Adult fiction this week. For a few years now I’ve been kicking around a story idea that, when I first heard about this blossoming genre called “New Adult”, seemed to fit the idea like a….can I say “glove” and not have my writer’s licence revoked for dabbling in blatant clichés? Yes? Okay. It fit like a glove.

Or at least I thought it did. The longer the New Adult genre has had to gestate, the more it’s been reduced to “Young Adult with sex scenes”. Worse, booksellers seem to be struggling to work out where to shelve New Adult titles, which can’t be placed with the kids books but get lost in the General Fiction section.

The suggestion would be to create a separate sub-section on the Young Adult shelves marked New Adult, but this creates extra work for the store for a genre that hasn’t yet proven that it has a dedicated market and warrants the effort.

It’s a shame, because I think there’s a great deal of potential for New Adult. As buzzwordy and marketing-driven as that term sounds at first, I think it correctly captures the mindset of the high school graduate/first year undergrad who’s out there looking for stories to read that reflect all the pressures and challenges they’re facing as they make that transition into adulthood.

But perhaps I’m being too Old World in my thinking about this. Shelving isn’t as much of an issue for e-books, and if the readership for a title is from the Millenial generation, who’s to say a bricks-and-mortar store would be their first destination in searching out a New Adult book?

As with everything in the Digital Revolution, we’re learning as we go. My sincere hope would be that this genre is used for more than Romance + Naughty Bits and actually takes advantage of its potential for looser boundaries and richer thematic material.

Not that I’m opposed to Romance + Naughty Bits. In fact, I may go copyright that as a book title right now…


In case you haven’t checked the Events page in a while (and really, why would you?), I’ll be at Eltham Library on October 20 (aka THIS Sunday) with George Ivanoff. We’ll be discussing Vanguard Prime: War Zone, taking questions from the audience, and then leading a workshop on Where Ideas Come From, which will cover genre, story structure, and creating characters. Bookings can be made through Eltham Bookshop. I’ll be bringing lollies with me, so expect plenty of sugary bribes to be made from the front of the room.


Listening: Champagne Supernova by Oasis

Reading: Gamers’ Quest by George Ivanoff, The Tournament by Matthew Reilly

Watching: ER Season 3, Adventure Time


EDITED TO ADD: I meant to mention that I’m actually using my Tumblr account now. I continue on in my cluelessness, however, by basically running it like it’s a Pinterest account, but if you’re curious to see what material I’m drawing on for my writing, then check it out;

Speaking as an Author

A lot of people think that the life of an author involves nothing but writing. If only that were true!

Setting aside the fact that most authors don’t make enough money from their writing to do it full time (and thus have to hold down another job in addition to their writing career) there are a lot of other components that go into being a professional writer that often go overlooked. And public speaking would have to be the big daddy of them all.

Before I was published, I’d heard of writers being provided with media training by their publishers and thought I may experience something similar. As it turned out, I was more or less thrown in the deep end and had to learn along the way. Thankfully, I’d attended enough author events to have an idea of what was expected of me, but it’s one thing being an audience member and something completely different to actually be the focus of attention.

In high school, I’d been a bit of a drama nerd, acting in a few plays and even writing one (it was our Year 12 production and it was terrible…but hey, I was 16! Or 17. I think. It gets harder to remember as you get older).

I was really thankful that I had that background to draw on when heading out on the promotional trail. I used my experience on the stage to help channel my stage fright, to project my voice, and to keep the audience’s attention.

That doesn’t mean I didn’t have a lot to learn…and still do!  As with many things in life, you only learn through doing, and you only get better through experience. As it stands now, I still get nervous before an event, and think of all the things I should have said afterwards.

But as it turns out, the in-between part? Where you’re actually onstage, interacting with the audience? It can be a lot of fun.

So if you’re looking to be a professional author, there are a few things you’ll have to make peace with now. Unless you’re very lucky, your contract won’t be of the “Rich and Famous” variety. They reserve that for high-profile non-fiction writers (aka celebrities), self-published authors with phenomenal sales numbers to back them up, and vunderkind [vunderkinds?].

The rest of us will be published almost anonymously, and you’ll have to fight to get people’s attention. In doing that, you should say ‘Yes’ to every opportunity you’re offered to go out into the world and talk about your book. And you’re going to have to work out for yourself how to do that in a way that’s both entertaining and informative.

The first step in developing those skills (short of attending a public-speaking course) is to go see other authors and pick what works best. Discard the rest.

It may not be what you imagined the life of a writer to be, but I promise you that it’s essential. And along the way, you may even have fun. 


I’ve been meaning to write a new post for some time now, and while my usual excuse has to do with ‘Life’, this time it has to do with writing. Unexpectedly, I’m about a quarter of a way into writing a new book that I hadn’t planned to tackle at this stage. I’m still very much in that honeymoon period, where the ideas are rushing out of you and the whole endeavour is proving strangely enjoyable (I say strangely because I still vividly remember the painful process of getting both War Zone and Wild Card out into the world). Fingers crossed that the words continue to stream out of me and this becomes a story I can share with you all before too long.


The Goodreads competition for War Zone has now closed – congratulations to those who won and thanks to everybody who entered! In case you haven’t seen it yet, the first review has gone up on Goodreads, though be warned that it contains some mild spoilers. If you don’t want to know one of the main mysteries of the book, I suggest waiting until after you’ve read it yourself before checking it out.


Listening: Theme from Shaft by Isaac Hayes.

Watching: ER Season 2.

Reading: Railsea by China Mieville.