One day I’m a novelist working on my next novel and the next day I’m jumping into the deep end of the pool, getting ready to write my first children’s television script. It’s an odd journey, this going from writing horror and murder mystery novels to writing for children’s TV. I knew a little about screenwriting. I’d studied it now and then and pounded out a couple of truly awful screenplays. But here I was actually hired to write children’s television teleplays!
I was fortunate – there’s that word again – because I had a mentor in Jean Chalopin. I suppose Jean was fortunate he had found me. He was looking for writers who could tell great stories and I think he liked me because I was a novelist. Importantly, our very different personalities somehow clicked. Jean was and still is one of the most even-tempered people I’ve ever known. He would remain calm standing in the midst of a Category 5 hurricane. I’m passionate, enthusiastic and over the top – our personalities were and still are diametrically opposed, except that we both have a relentless work ethic and love what we do.
I think he also liked that I was fast; always in a hurry. Being talented is important in television, but being fast is almost as important because writing for a television series is like being on a runaway train.
It would be a business marriage that worked, spawning literally hundreds of episodes of television, a lot of laughs and a friendship that’s endured for forty years.
And it all happened so fast…