About Cold Play (the novel)

Once upon a time...

...probably 1999 or 2000, I wrote a novel called Found at Sea. It was about Chris Davey, an actor, who had run away to sea after his wife had died in a fire and he’d been blamed for it. In his new life, he was a Purser on an old cruise ship, the Star Sapphire. The other characters were Diana Wyndham, an aging and eccentric actress who, through assorted edits and rewrites, turned out to be the main baddie; Katey Shawcross, a travel agent who would ultimately become Chris’s love interest; Sally Jones, the Captain’s Secretary; and Des King, a tabloid reporter who was chasing down the real story behind Chris’s wife’s death.

The setting for Found at Sea was the Caribbean. The story was largely an attempt by me to finally deal with a couple of things from my past that still haunted me… my burnout as a travel agent – I’d been one for 8 years, had followed my dad into the business, and realized, too late, that I wasn’t cut out for that kind of job at all; and the death, when I was 19, of my best friend, in a fire caused by someone else, which shook me to the core and made me realize how fragile human life can be.

My agent at the time did his best to pitch Found at Sea to publishers, but none seemed all that interested in a story about an old ship.

A few years later (2003) I decided to learn how to write screenplays, so I enrolled in a full-time writing program at Vancouver Film School, and Found at Sea became my major project - a full length feature script.. We had a lot of fun with it, filming scenes starring fellow students. There was one scene I remember which involved Diana Wyndham completely overacting in an attempt to convince Junior Purser Quentin MacPherson that she had an allergy to the colour blue and would therefore require the decor in her cabin to be changed, plus free shore excursions thrown in to make up for her pain and suffering. That scene didn't survive into the current version of the story - but I'm sure it's somewhere in the VFS archives, just waiting to be discovered by intrepid researchers.

My instructors thought I was crazy, trying to adapt a novel into a screenplay as my first screenwriting attempt. But I got points for persistence and courage. The main characters were intact – Chris, Katey, Diana, Sally and Des King. The location changed. It became Alaska – I’d been there by then (on a cruise), and it seemed an intriguing sort of place to set a story. And the idea of fire and ice as dramatic thematic counterpoints was a good one.

After I graduated from film school, I entered Found at Sea in a local screenwriting contest. I didn’t win – I didn’t even place – but the script caught the attention of one of the judges, who was a producer – and he contacted me and we began a working relationship that lasted 2 years while we tried to develop the story into something that could actually be produced on a Canadian budget. We failed on all counts. But Found at Sea (now renamed Life Boat) did become my first optioned screenplay, and I was paid a fair amount of money for it. So it was actually quite a worthwhile exercise.

Which brings me to Cold Play. 2012. Found at Sea… revisited.

All of the original characters came along for the rewrite – Diana Wyndham, Des King, Sally Jones, Katey Shawcross…except that Chris Davey became Jess Davey (and then Jason Davey, to avoid gender confusion, since I decided to write the story in the first person, from the main character’s point of view). And Jason was no longer a purser – he was an entertainer on board the ship.

And I added three new characters. SaylerGurl – another baddie (someone 100% inspired by my experiences on Twitter); and Jilly Snowdon (another Twitter character – a psychic “guardian angel”); and Rick Redding, an old rock n roller (who I think actually came about as the result of a discussion I was having with a friend on Facebook, something about Woolly Worms, and Shag Pile carpeting…)

I changed the plot slightly, although the storyline is still, in essence, the same storyline I wrote back in 1999 or 2000… and I added Twitter as a kind of thematic thread, stitched in and out of the narrative.

So there you have it. Cold Play, 2012. 

And I've always thought providing a little guide to all of the main characters in a novel would be a good idea... so here they are, complete with Twitter avatars, should they ever decide to have lives of their own online.

Cold Play's Main Characters

Jason Davey. Ship's entertainer. Main venue: TopDeck Lounge. Ran away to sea after a personal tragedy. Fond of exotic teas and G&B chocolate. 

Jason's Twittername is @Cold_Fingers. This is his avatar - aged 7 (in case Head Office is looking in...).
This is what Jason really looks like.

Sally Jones. Captain's Secretary. Jason's best friend. Runs the ship.

@Jilly _Snowdon
Jason's Twitterfriend and Guardian Angel. Has taken temporary lodgings near Caterham in a cottage with a thatched roof, three hens and two cats. Almost psychic.

Twitterstalker and Blippist. Fond of bad poetry and lilac notepaper. A little too fond of Jason.

Diana Wyndham. Aging actress. Has a large collection of garden gnomes and at least one stuffed monkey. 

Katey Shawcross. Accident-prone travel agent. Good at facing her fears. Quite fond of Jason.

Rick Redding. Former member of 70's folky-pop group Figgis Green, current musical manager of Shag Pile. Husband of Carly and friend of Glenfiddich.

Carly Redding. Rick Redding's missus. Wishes she was in the Caribbean.

Jemima Vickers. Cruise Director. Aussie. Known for enthusiastic power walking. "Come on you lazy slackers! I'm going to make you hurt!"

Barnaby B Ayre. Friend of Imogen, rock star, Twitterist.

Imogen. Aged five. Daughter of the Staff Captain and good friend of Barnaby B Ayre.

Barrie Charles. Chief Purser. Endless patience.

Captain Robert Callico. Excellent leader. Reluctant participant in passenger events. Would never abandon ship without first making sure everyone else was off safely.....
DJ Pedro. Usual venue: The Disco. Famous for his leather duster, rakish black cowboy hat and low slung holster.

Quentin MacPherson. Purser. From Scotland. Has never learned how to swim.

Kevin. Chief of Security. Spent many years doing highly classified things with the British Navy.  Fan of Diana Wyndham's early "arty" films.

Annie Baysting. Chronicler of all things ship-related. Never without her writing bag and notebook.
Des King. Notorious reporter from the notorious British tabloid, London Daily Chronicle. Knows how to dig up a notoriously good story.
Avatar credits:
All avatars except Barnaby B Ayre and Jilly Snowdon were created by Winona Kent using http://pickaface.net/
Barnaby B Ayre's image came from Barnaby, Jane Gallimore and Caroline Rosebery.
Jilly Snowdon's avatar is from http://www.sweetclipart.com

For a list of some of the other characters who were suggested and inspired by my friends on Facebook and Twitter, please visit the Credits and Acknowledgements page.

Music Notes

I've always put tunes into my stories. We're surrounded by music in real life, so it's second nature for me to include songs and tunes that I like, and that my characters like, in my writing. Cold Play is a little different because it's actually about a musician - but that just gives me more to work with!

So here, from  beginning to end, are the song titles that I mention in Cold Play.

The Love Boat Theme
Kiss Me, Sailor by Susan Maughan

Telstar by The Tornados
Beyond the Sea by Bobby Darin
Orinoco Flow by Enya
North to Alaska by Johnny Horton
Sea Cruise by Cliff Richard and the Shadows
Sailing by Rod Stewart
The Hustle by Van McCoy
Honey Honey by Abba
Seasons in the Sun by Terry Jacks
My Old Man's a Dustman
by Lonnie Donegan
by Fleetwood Mac
You Were Always on my Mind
by Pet Shop Boys
Star of the County Down
El Bimbo
by Paul Mauriat
There’s a Storm A Comin’
by Richard Hawley
The Crying Game
by Boy George
Minor Swing
by Django Reinhardt
I'll See You in my Dreams
by Django Reinhardt
Faithless Suitor and Careworn Lady
by Figgis Green
Roving Minstrel
by Figgis Green
If I Were Not Upon the Sea
North to Alaska (Instrumental)
Norwegian Wood
by the Beatles
Aria Sopra la Bergamesca by Marco Uccellini
In the Hall of the Mountain King by Edvard Grieg, Sounds Incorporated and The Who
Symphony No. 40 in G Minor
by Mozart and Waldo de los Rios
Every Breath You Take
by The Police
I Feel Love
by Donna Summer
Feeling Hot, Hot, Hot
by Buster Poindexter
Wired for Sound
by Cliff Richard
The Lonely Goatherd
(from The Sound of Music)
Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious (from Mary Poppins)
Kiss Me Sailor by Susan Maughan


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