As promised, David Wingrove’s big Chung Kuo news. Good times ahead.
Of The Passing Hours – Endings And New Beginnings
Not for the first time, I’ve recently found myself in a kind of limbo as far as the CHUNG KUO books were concerned. With Corvus hanging on to the rights to the first eight, there was little we could do, unless we wanted to put out the rest of the sequence – Books 9 to 20 – in different covers. That is, if we chose to go the self-publishing route.
Of course, we could have continued the sequence in the same jackets, only at £1500 each new jacket image and a further £500 a time for the special cover design, that’s £2000 a cover, times 12, or £24,000 just to keep that wonderful visual look. And that’s not including what it would cost to buy the old formats off of Corvus!
So we decided to wait – until we had the rights reverted, making the project mine once more. And then we’d make a decision on how to proceed. All of which was deeply depressing as the days dragged along and the months passed, and the years…
In terms of writing, creative writing that is, it was a good job I had the third and final book in the ROADS TO MOSCOW trilogy to finish and re-work, and polish and copy edit. Which is what I got on with, re-casting the original Book Three – written in most part more than ten years ago – with a whole new ending – one that was darker than before. All of which is now done, the final polish made, the book – THE MASTER OF TIME – two weeks off being ready for its early April publication date.
But that wasn’t the only thing I did during that latest hiatus. For a start I helped get the material together to go out in the new website which will be launched in late November early December. A website that’s almost ready to go, and which my daughter Amy’s incredibly gifted web-designer boyfriend, Ben, has made for me from scratch. Oh, and before you ask, OF GIFTS OF STONES will still function alongside, utilising the same kind of material it’s featured these past five years. You’ll still get the chance to make your comments on how you see things going.
But where was I?
Oh yes. In anticipation of getting the rights back, we’ve launched a new venture, FRAGILE BOOKS, thanks mainly to the efforts of my wife, Susan, my second daughter, Amy, her boyfriend Ben and, last and very much least, me. Having finally got somewhere in our negotiations with Corvus to get the rights back, we finally got word from them that they were willing to revert.
One week later a letter came – an official document – saying that CHUNG KUO was now mine once again! You can’t imagine how that felt. To not be at someone’s mercy or whim. To have control over all that wonderful material once more.
And two days after that…
No. I have to go back four years to tell this next part of the story. Because this is what I’ve been keeping from you throughout this long silence.
Four years ago I had a wonderful three hour lunch with a man named Stewart McKinnon, who – in partnership with several others – runs a media company called HEADLINE PICTURES. We got on well back then and talked about developing CHUNG KUO for either film or television. For various reasons, however, that wasn’t to be, and I signed rights over to a big American TV producer, who bought them for three years and did…. Nothing.
Those rights reverted to me in December 2015. The same day I emailed Stewart. Are you still keen on developing CHUNG KUO? I asked. He said he was and took me to lunch for another wonderful long session. Only this time we took things further, meeting up in Headline’s offices in Golden Square in the middle of London, once or twice a month for the next six months, slowly building a whole new CHUNG KUO scenario. In fact, not just one, but four different synopses came out of this process, the final one of which was IT. What we had been working to all that time.
A contract followed. As luck and coincidence would have it, just two days after the reversion document plopped through the letterbox.
Now, before some of you out there ask the question, HEADLINE got a lot of praise, and several prestigious media awards, for making and producing THE MAN IN THE HIGH CASTLE, and in the six/seven months we worked – as a team – on developing CHUNG KUO for television, I understood why. It’s rare to find a group of people so intelligent and keen as Stewart, Jess and Christian at Headline. Right now they’re putting together a funding package. And then?
It’s exciting, but hardly a given. One doesn’t count chickens and a lot of wood has been touched. Against which the time seems one hundred per cent right to make CHUNG KUO for television. All of you know how rich it is, how darkly yet accurately it reflects the world in which we live.
So what can I tell you?
I’m afraid the answer is… nothing… not yet. We’ve a long way to go and it would be hubris indeed to say it will get made, but I have a great trust in the team I’ve been working with. I imagine it’ll take a good 12 to 18 months to get to the stage where you could see something. IF it ever gets made. But in the meantime I’ve several other CHUNG KUO related tasks, like getting the first 16 books out in new packaging, and re-writing the last four books in the sequence.
Towards the last, we should be getting the new jacket design this week, and the logo a few weeks after that – courtesy of Hugo award winning artist Jim Burns.
So the coming months are going to be busy. Busy, busy, busy. So wish me luck. We’ve pencilled in a re-publication date for the first eight books – in the Spring of next year – maybe even the same day as MASTER OF TIME is put out. Then it’ll be one new book roughly every two months until the end of the year (which’ll take us up to book 12, maybe 13).
At which point things might slow a little, if the TV project gets off the ground, because I’ll be acting as creative advisor if we get things going. Which won’t involve me writing scripts – that was established very early on – but will see me have a kind of steering role in things. The gentlest of hands on the tiller, if you like.
So this is to thank Jewell, Random Dude, Luke, Angel L., Kaneda, Brendan, Zaroff, John, Brad, Goonda, Jesse, Frank, Neil and everyone else who has helped me – by their encouragement – through this latest barren stretch and out into those sunlit vistas. I’ve a message for you all –
WATCH THIS SPACE
David Wingrove – Tuesday 25th October 2016