Monday, 30 March 2009

You know, for kids

Ian Chesterton had already jumped across the chasm but he was roped to Antodus, the cowardly Thal, who of course made a hash of it, slipped and fell, almost dragging Ian down with him.

Now it wasn't actually Ian, it was Roy Castle, but I was willing to look past that for the pleasure of Daleks. In colour. On a very big screen. And just as he had in the original, Antodus sucked it up and sawed through the rope holding him, allowing Ian to scramble up to safety.

And then... and then... we heard a plaintive cry from below. Antodus was clinging to a rock and there were smiles all round as he plaintively called up, "Hey, get me out of here."

Smiles all round? From Roy and co maybe, not from me. I was outraged. I'd watched the TV version when I was six years old, and with all the Biblical ruthlessness of children I expected Antodus to fall to his death in the movie version too, his fear of everything redeemed by that one act of self-sacrifice. Even though it was Roy Castle he was saving, not the real Ian, that moment of courage meant something. Having him live meant something too... it meant the movie producers were treating me like a little kid.

It scarred me forever, that little bit of bowdlerization. Which is a good thing btw. We are nothing without our psychic scars; like Kirk, I need my pain. That particular scar means that I will never, ever voluntarily patronize my readers. Children respond to honesty in storytelling. Doctor Who was dark, bleak, fascinating and often violent. You want pratfalls and cosy outcomes? Go see a pantomime.

When I'm writing for kids, I'm writing for the kid I was. And kids like me like it without sugar-coating.

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