Did everyone finish reading through Shaun’s uncollected plays over summer? For those die hard fans, maybe you noticed:
– “The Great War and How it Got That Way” was originally featured as a cold open sketch in Mad As Hell
– “Visiting Rites” appeared as “(A Visit)” on Shaun’s His Generation album
– While most of the introductions were tongue-in-cheek, there was a very raw quality to the introduction of “Marx Will Be Deducted” which touched on his casting in the play Boeing Boeing
In other book talk, Shaun hinted recently that he’s working on another book, roughly based around the story of the Pied Piper. Tentatively titled “Rescuing Hamlin’s Children”, it’s aimed at the same readers who enjoyed Tales from a Tall Forest.
Shaun has written a whole bunch of random plays into a new book! As he told News Breakfast, when he was first was approached by a publisher, he thought he’d go to his drawer of actual uncollected plays – but found they “were a bit rubbish”. So he penned some new ones, and here they are, on paper and bound in a hardback cover.
In the midst of writing, editing and starring in two TV shows, Shaun has whipped up a new book for our grubby little hands.
Once upon a time being, forever and ever ago, there lived a forest tall of tales … ? When an innocent princess wanders into the forest, she finds herself trapped between a wolf with a ravenous appetite and a sweet little house with a secret. Meanwhile, a desperate fisherman enters into a very bad bargain with a power-hungry monkey. And meanerwhile still, a tiny tricksy tailor promises a promise that not even the most magic of beanstalks can help him escape.
In the same style as those he used to invent for his kids, Shaun has written woven traditional fairy stories into new and surprising adventures. It’s aimed at “tweens”, but there’s something to enjoy for any fan of Shaun’s style or work. I’m a good part through it, and it’s fun and meandering; and not as much of a mind-bend as his previous novels.
The stunning illustrations are throughout by award-winning artist Jonathan Bentley.
Previously we spoke to Stephen Hall, one of the cast members of Mad As Hell, about many things, including the fact he was a quiz show champion!
He has taken all of the skills he learnt, plus hours of interviews with former game show champions, hosts, question writers and producers, and put it all into one eBook: “How To Win Game Shows“. It also includes behind-the-scenes’ tips from ‘Family Feud’, ‘The Price Is Right’ and ‘Who Wants To Be A Millionaire’. Even if you don’t fancy yourself as a contestant, the inner workings of some of the most successful quiz shows makes for great reading. You can find out more at Stephen’s website.
A few years ago, Shaun contributed a story called “The Moment” to a collection called “Humanity: A Short Story Collection” (and it’s still available on Amazon). It is the story is of an old man who night after night is torn from his slumber by a horrible and unshakable vision, all while watching the days of the week disappear – a departure from the style of Shaun’s well-known work, but not outside his wheelhouse.
It was made into a short film around about the same time by Triptych Pictures (who also made The 13th House), and was featured at a number of short film festivals. It sort of slid under the radar after that, but the kind people at Triptych have made it available online to watch for free! The website has more information on the making of the film.
While Mad As Hell is on hiatus, the team behind the show are busy working on other projects. You may have seen Emily Tahini on Open Slather on Foxtel (with writer Tony Moclair involved in a few episodes), and Francis is of course filming The Ex-PM with Shaun.
Michael Ward, writer on the show and resident Kraken, has written a book: “Zombie McCrombie from an overturned Kombi”. It’s an illustrated story of Zombie and his zombie dog pals, who roam the empty streets, sniffing the wind for bones they might gnaw on. Firmly tongue in cheek, it’s sure to suit fans of Shaun’s style of humour. Read all about it and get a copy through the website.
Finally, The President’s Desk is now available in all good, bad and indifferent bookshops.
Did you know that Woodrow Wilson was a Transvestite? FDR was killed on the orders of Churchill? Grover Cleveland almost married his own daughter? The White House was burned to the ground by Herbert Hoover? Bess Truman came from Outer Space?
Perhaps not, but if you like your history with a bit of spice, and a lot of humour, then this altered history of the American Presidency since the 1860’s, told through a piece of furniture – The Resolute Desk, is for you.
If not, look out of one of Shawn Micallef’s books, such as Stroll: Psychogeographic Walking Tours of Toronto.
Despite that fact that it won’t be available until October 6th, there’s been a bit more information recently on Shaun’s next book “The President’s Desk”. During a conversation last week, Shaun was kind enough to share some information about it with me, as well as appearing with Francis on stage at the Williamstown Literary Festival to delight the audience with a reading.
Shaun says it’s a book you can “dip-into”, with each chapter revolving around different American Presidents, with the desk being a central theme. He pointed out that just like people now days can watch a film in any order (with the power of time-shifted TV), so too can you read this book in any order. It’s a bit like a history book, with “some bits made up” to be more interesting.
A lot of the ideas in the book seem to have been hanging around for a while, with parts of the book having been “played out” with Kim Gyngell at the Festival 2 years ago, as well as some of it being published as part of Tony Martin’s former website.
Shaun prefers to only shop a book to publishers when it’s complete, for fear of promising something he later feels is a bit rubbish.
At the Willy Lit Fest, he read a part of the book pertaining to the last voyage of the HMS Resolute (which later became the Resolute Desk, used by the President in the Oval Office) and the crew’s penchant for dugongs (or is that mermaids?). Francis countered with an excerpt from the chapter on Reagan, which seemed to be Shaun’s soapbox for how he felt about actors as people (ie. selling their whoredom)!
He didn’t have a copy of the finished book to show at the Fest (it’s being printed overseas), but he did produce a mini-replica, which was presented to the Hill family, who’d travelled from Newcastle to be in Williamstown!
The book also has a glossary of pro-nouns and a biography of Shawn Micallef (ie. the Canadian one who writes about architecture and spaces).