‘A Cry In The Night’ set for TV adaption from writer Tom Grieves
Known for writing Channel 4 series The Ghost Squad, Being Human episodes; ‘A Spectre Calls’ and ‘Hold The Front Page’ plus an episode of Sky Atlantic drama Dracula, we caught up with Tom to talk about his new book, his many writing credits, Roald Dahl and that Kirby dance…
What can you tell us about your new book A Cry In The Night?
A Cry In The Night is the story of an investigation into the disappearance of two children, who vanish from a remote village in the Lake District. Two cops come up from Manchester and, with the clock ticking, are disconcerted by the rumours of witchcraft in the area. Indeed, the deeper they dig, the more they become convinced that there may indeed be a collection of women, a modern cabal, who are working together to harm children and escape unharmed.
What inspired the story and Detectives Zoe Barnes and Sam Taylor?
Roald Dahl, to be honest. I love the story of The Witches and thought it would be great to tell my own version but one which is properly dark and scary. I also love crime novels so I thought it would make a potent mix. What I’m trying to do is to tell the classic detective story in an unusual way – so we get right into the heads of our characters and see the world and the shadows as they do.
You must be very happy the book is to me adapted for TV by Touchpaper. How much input will you have in that process?
Well they’ve asked me to write the script, so a lot! It’ll be an interesting (which is code for terrifying) experience because I am going to have to expand the plot in places and dig deeper into some of the guest characters. And this time, there will be a lot of people giving me notes…
You primarily write supernatural thrillers both in TV and books. What attracts you to that genre?
Although I’ve recently been working on Dracula, a lot of my work has actually had nothing supernatural about it at all. But what I like about that particular genre is that it allows you to explore and re-examine worlds which you might not do otherwise. It refreshes stories, I suppose. I never want the supernatural to be ‘the thing’ of the story. It should only be a way of talking about normal things in a more colourful way, and hopefully saying something new and original.
This is your second novel, how different is it writing a book compared to TV?
There’s a surprising amount that is very similar. Audiences and readers want engaging stories with interesting characters and plots which surprise and satisfy. The process is different, of course – it takes me days to read a draft of my book, compared to hours for a script. But I suppose the biggest difference that I feel is that a book starts inside a character’s head and looks out, whereas a script starts behind the lens of a camera and looks in. It forces you to tell the same story in very different ways.
You wrote two episodes of Being Human, whose idea was the Kirby dance in ‘A Spectre Calls’ (which was amazing btw)?
I can happily take credit for that. But the actual realisation of the dance is all down to James Lance and the director Daniel O’Hara. I just dug out the script and all I wrote was “Inside the house, Kirby is doing a terrible spot of dancing” and then say that it happens all around the house. So all credit to James and Daniel. No, hang on, I’ll take a bit…
*Scroll down to watch the video*
You’ve also written for Dracula, is it more difficult to put your stamp on a well-known story?
Well, the ‘stamp’ was all down to the creator – Cole Haddon – and his take on it. I was a very small cog in this wheel (part of a writers room with nine others) but the idea Cole had was to pay tribute to all of those wonderful Dracula movies of the past while completely re-booting the original relationship between Dracula and Van Helsing. I think he saw the tradition as something exciting rather than hindering.
Out of all the characters you’ve written for, do you have a favourite?
I’ll give you two. I wrote a show called The Ghost Squad (a police series for channel 4) and the lead character, Amy Harris (played by the wonderful Elaine Cassidy) was the toughest, bravest woman you’ll ever meet in your life. I feel awful for the things I did to her and miss her terribly (Amy, not Elaine!). And then there’s Hal [from Being Human], an OCD, semi-autistic vampire – need I say more?
What’s this year hold for you. More novels and Dracula episodes?
I am writing book 3 (a ghost story) and hopefully an episode of series 2 of The Musketeers. I also have a script in with the BBC which is a messed up love story. But with writing, who knows?