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Suffolk author’s creepy thriller lands ‘mega’ TV deal

PUBLISHED: 11:01 22 January 2020 | UPDATED: 00:50 30 January 2020

'I take a disturbed character and put them into a humdrum situation. Then wind them up and see where they go'. Felixstowe author Iain Maitland    Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWN

'I take a disturbed character and put them into a humdrum situation. Then wind them up and see where they go'. Felixstowe author Iain Maitland Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWN

Archant

Story is about a father and son in a normal house in a normal street. One is a psychopath…

Iain Maitland and son Michael two years ago, when they launched their new book Out of the Madhouse: An Insider's Guide to Managing Depression and Anxiety   Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWNIain Maitland and son Michael two years ago, when they launched their new book Out of the Madhouse: An Insider's Guide to Managing Depression and Anxiety Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWN

I'm not going to let Iain Maitland escape with a comment that writing is "just what I do". I want to know exactly what makes his stories work. So I can filch his magic formula and secure a TV deal of my own. (Though I fear it's all beyond me, truth be told.) Amazingly, he obliges.

"I take a disturbed character and put them into a humdrum situation. Then wind them up and see where they go. I work on the pacing, so it rattles along. Crank up the tension, add a twist or two and provide a thought-provoking ending. It's a mix that seems to work well."

Certainly does. He's just had creepy thriller Mr Todd's Reckoning optioned for TV by AbbottVision, producer of dramas such as No Offence and Exile.

We say "optioned", but the stars are already aligning. Six hour-long episodes - perfect for this twisty story - are on the cards.

Part of the cover of Iain's thriller - set to become a TV series   Picture: SARABANDPart of the cover of Iain's thriller - set to become a TV series Picture: SARABAND

Channel? "I can't answer that one! The broadcaster will make that announcement, with bells and whistles, hopefully later this year."

People will think a TV deal means megabucks. Have you ordered a new Porsche?

"A six-part TV series, back-end deals, overseas sales, increased book sales, sequels, more book contracts, a higher profile - yes, of course, it's mega.

"I have to say it's never really been about money though - I just wanted to have my books published and be recognised as having some talent. I've achieved that and more. All of this TV and film stuff is a glorious bonus; beyond my wildest dreams."

Mr Todd's Reckoning, published by Saraband last Easter, has the tease-line "Norman Bates is alive and well. And he's living just next door".

It's about a father and son in a normal house in a normal street... slowly driving each other insane. One is a psychopath…

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You can see why TV folk see dramatic potential.

Felixstowe-based Iain began writing fiction in 2017, following non-fiction works including some close-to-home books about mental health: Dear Michael, Love Dad and Out of the Madhouse. His debut thriller was Sweet William.

How did he feel when AbbottVision said yes? Whoops of joy?

"I should say thrilled, delighted, over the moon; all of that stuff. But it was relief, actually. I've spent the past two or three years being told by agents, actors and TV people that my books would come to TV and do well, and I'm relieved it's all now happening."

How did it come about?

"I've been writing a TV adaptation of my memoir, Dear Michael, Love Dad with a TV actor. One afternoon, I gave him a copy of Mr Todd's Reckoning to read on the train home.

"The next evening, close to midnight, he texted me, bubbling over with enthusiasm, to say he loved the book and wanted to play Mr Todd. As he's worked with AbbottVision, he took the book to the team there, and to cut a long story short - here we are today."

What is it about writing that gives you a buzz?

"It's just what I do; Monday to Friday, 9 to 5, these days. I started creative writing back in 2014 and had 18 months of solid rejection. That was really hard. It brought me to my knees. But I just got up and kept going - it's either that or quit - and I got a literary agent late 2015 and it's all rolled from there."

Next?

"I'm writing a dark literary thriller, 3 Bluebell Lane, set in Felixstowe. My novel, The Scribbler, featuring two detectives, Roger Gayther and Georgia Carrie, is out in May.

"TV is a small world and words get around. As well as Mr Todd's Reckoning and Dear Michael, Love Dad coming to TV, my next book has been chased by two TV companies and one film company even before proofs were available. We're now in talks."


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