Let me tell you a true story...
Is the Striker screenplay nearly ready? It should be because that was the project I'd decided to embark on when I wrote my last update back in June. But after writing the synopsis and first few scenes, I hit the same hurdle I ran into when I started tackling a Striker novel.
In both scenarios, adapting events that occurred in the strip over many years into a book or screen format would require some significant changes to the story arc. To give just one example, a book or screen adaptation doesn't work so well if Li Ming disappears for two years, as she did in the strip. But would the fans accept that? I don't know because I don't have an objective person in the form of a literary agent to discuss these things with - and that's what I feel I need now.
I remain convinced there's potential for both a Striker novel and a big or small screen version - but having made starts on both, I'm just not convinced that either of these should be my first project.
So where does that leave me if I've put both plans A and B on the back burner? Actually, I'm probably on plan G or H because there's a pile of other ideas I developed over the years that were also being considered as my first post-Striker project. But I believe I've finally found a plan I can stick with.
A few years back, a couple of long-time friends (I do have a few) had suggested I write my life story. I wasn't keen for two reasons: one, Striker was still being published, so there was no closure to my story in that respect. And two, though it's fair to say I've had an extraordinarily eventful life, many of the decisions I've made along the way have been reckless to the point of possibly seeming self-destructive.
So that got me thinking: why was I such a hot-headed teenager? Why, after serving a jail sentence, did I then go on to blow so many career opportunities as a journalist? Why did I almost kill myself by jumping off a ferry in the Irish Sea? Why, after becoming the highest-paid creator of a newspaper strip, did I walk away from a fortune and risk my house on starting a weekly comic? Why have I always had such a problem with authority?
My surprising solution was to see a psychotherapist. And although I've only had three of six sessions, one of them provided a remarkable insight to an incident 50 years ago to which I had previously attached little significance.
So, after 35 years of telling Striker stories, and armed with an understanding of what turned me into a rebel without a pause, I've decided to tell my own story. And I'm hoping it will lead to further projects - including Striker - once I've found an agent who will accept the autobiography and represent me.
Although I'll be including the therapy sessions in my book, this won't be a self-indulgent, navel-gazing exercise. I'd like it to be fascinating , funny and, by the last chapter, hopefully inspiring.
So there it is. After several false starts, I think and hope I've finally found a path to follow. I know some Striker fans will be disappointed that I haven't been able to announce the imminent publication of a Striker novel or development of a TV series, but I still want those things to happen.
I've already started my story and I'm reasonably happy with the way it's going. All being well, it could be finished by June, by which time Volume 15 of the Striker Collection will have been published.