She thinks if you’re procrastinating reading this rather than diving straight into the book, telling you a bit about it might just kick you into action. So, here it goes…
If memory serves, while working through the 24 box sets, I came across an episode where Jack Bauer is being interrogated by someone from a generically evil eastern-block country that I’m sure is, in fact, very pleasant in the high-season and just so long as you stick to the main thoroughfares.
During the punchings to the gut, waterboarding, electrocutions and other unpleasant (but not plot-hinderingly lasting) tortures, Jack’s heart stops beating (not for the first time in the show’s history). The episode ends with the standard flat-line monotone blaring from the monitoring equipment.
To the surprise of absolutely no one on the planet, the next episode begins with Jack being defibrillated back to life by his captors before leaping up and killing everyone in the vicinity.
It was during one of those electrical kick-starts to Kiefer Sutherland’s heart that inspiration struck me like a CTU mole sneaking up on someone in that secluded basement server room:
‘I’m pretty sure I could write this!’
The very next day, armed with an endless supply of naïve optimism and a ‘B’ at GCSE English, I set to work on what would be, quite possibly, the worst screenplay ever created.
But it was a start.
Over the next five or so years, I worked very hard on improving my writing, collecting rejection letters as though they were going out of fashion and planning my life around that eternal carrot on a stick – the BBC Writer’s Room submissions window.
I had so many near-misses: agents liking one screenplay then hating the next, always reaching the final stages with the BBC and then being crushed when I received that cut & pasted rejection.
I’m pretty sure that one such communication actually spent the entire letter saying that the screenplay was brilliant, I surely had a promising career ahead of me and then went on to say that they didn’t want to take things any further at that time.
That’s how I remember it anyway, and it was one of the worst days ever.
I nearly gave up so many times. It just felt like an impenetrable club that I was never going to be a part of, and five years on, I was running low on that initial optimism.
Ragdoll was one of those rejected TV screenplays, just sat collecting dust under my bed with the others – a one hour crime pilot that never truly left my thoughts. I adored the characters, it was bursting with pop culture references, I’d set up a story that would have made that 24 writer’s head implode, and most importantly of all – it made me laugh.
I wanted to know how it ended.
So, that’s how the book came about. As daunting a prospect as it seemed, I just wanted to finish one of my stories for once.
Since then, the response has been incredible and a little overwhelming, as I never realistically expected anyone apart from my family and obligated friends to ever read it.
My wonderful agent denies ever saying this, but I still feel that it’s the best summation of the book that anybody’s managed to come up with so far:
‘It’s like SE7EN… but funnier.’
And if that doesn’t entice you into reading it, I honestly don’t know what will.
DANIEL COLE is the author of RAGDOLL. At 33 years old, he has worked as a paramedic, an RSPCA officer and most recently for the RNLI, driven by an intrinsic need to save people or perhaps just a guilty conscience about the number of characters he kills off in his writing.
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