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Author Patrick Ness talks about A Monster Calls and Doctor Who spin-off Class

By Johanna Christoph Dec 14, 2016
A Monster Calls - 2016 Photo by REX/Shutterstock

Award-winning author and creator of Doctor Who spin-off series “Class” Patrick Ness looks forward to seeing his work come alive in his first movie adaption, starring Liam Neeson and Felicity Jones.

A Monster Calls is the story of 13-year-old boy Conor, brilliantly portrayed by Lewis MacDougall, whose mother (Felicity Jones) is suffering from cancer. He refuses to come to terms with the fact that his mother will not live for much longer, thus he has no idea how to handle his sadness and anger. He is bullied in school and does not get along with his grandmother (Sigourney Weaver). One fateful night, he meets the Monster, voiced by Liam Neeson. And the tree monster takes him with him on nightly adventures full of suspense, chaos and heart-warming moments of humanity and kindness. The original idea of A Monster Calls was by Siobhan Dowd, who was not able to realise it as she died in 2007 at the age of 47. The idea was picked up by Patrick Ness who turned it into a novel and published it in 2011.

Ness also wrote the screenplay for the movie that will come out January 1st, 2017. He was involved in the whole production of the film. It was directed by J.A. Bayona.

He described his experience when he walked on set the very first day. He went to see the set-up of a scene in the motion capture studios and was thrilled as one of the assistants described to him where the branches of the tree monster would be.

“And I thought: I made that stuff up, I made it up and here is it and it’s amazing. I wish every writer could experience that,” Ness said. 2016 has been a busy year for the author. He created the BBC Doctor Who spin-off series Class, which was released in October on BBC Three. Class is a refreshing new instalment in the vast Doctor Who universe that focuses on groups of mostly young protagonists, students and staff members, of Coal Hill Academy.

Fans of the franchise recognise it as the school Clara Oswald (Jenna Coleman), companion of the Eleventh (Matt Smith) and Twelfth Doctor (Peter Capaldi), was a teacher at. The school also appeared in the very first episode of Doctor Who in 1963.

Ness said that he had been worried about the release of his spin-off series.



Patrick Ness, author of A Monster Calls and creator of BBC's Class. Photo: Johanna Christoph
Patrick Ness, author of A Monster Calls and creator of BBC’s Class. Photo: Johanna Christoph


“What was I especially worried about? The thing is I’m always worried, because trying to make something good is so hard, I mean so hard, so with this I felt the same, you know. In no way I wanted to disrespect this universe ever,” Ness said.

He also said that worrying makes you pay more attention to what you are doing.

“It’s always a risk, you’re always worried, but all you can do is: Really try to make something you’re proud of. And that’s it, everything else is extra. So that was my goal, make something I’m proud of, which I am,” he said. The movie adaption of his Chaos Walking trilogy, a young adult science fiction drama set in a dystopian world, is currently in the works.

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