After a decade and a half of writing children’s TV shows, Mark Huckerby and Nick Ostler have written a book together. ..and in the process learned about a whole ‘nuther world:
by Mark Huckerby & Nick Ostler
What’s the difference between writing a script and writing a book? That was the question we were nervously asking ourselves when, after 16 years of scriptwriting for a living, we decided to embark on our first novel.
It couldn’t be THAT different, could it? Well, yes and no. We’d been lucky enough to be on the writing teams of some fantastic children’s TV shows, including Danger Mouse, Thunderbirds are Go and Shaun the Sheep. Those are some pretty fun sandboxes to be allowed to play in, so why the sudden desire to strike out into unknown territory? We’ve always believed that an idea will tell you what it wants to be.
Sometimes it’s TV, sometimes radio or even a movie – and we’d written all of those. But when we came up with Defender of the Realm – a reluctant young heir to the throne discovers that he is also a secret superhero charged with protecting the U.K. from a host of monsters and super-villains – it kept “telling us” it wanted to be a book. That way, we figured, we’d have the room to establish the world of our alternative Britain, the origin of our unique superhero’s powers, and an adventure with epic scope and endless possibilities. The only question was could we do it?
Writing scripts is a little like writing poetry. It’s all about economy of style – saying as much as you can with as few words as possible. Now, as we started writing our book, it felt like we had an ocean of words at our disposal. That was exciting and scary. Plus, there were TWO of us. Did writing partners even do books? Fortunately we had already been writing prose for years without realising it. Before a producer gives you the green light to start a script, you have to write something called a “treatment” – a few pages “selling” your story. We’d learned early on that a treatment had to be an entertaining read in its own right. Somewhere along the way we must have developed a joint “voice”, because our first Defender pages were coming out sounding surprisingly similar….