Happy new year everyone! I had a fun 2019 both here in this community and in life. It is also the start of new decade and I have to say it is very different from the past decade. Back in 2010, I had barely discovered the TTTE wikia. Fast forward to now, and I'm completely familiar with the wikia. My writing has also changed for the better. I had a lot of fun writing all twenty-six stories that were released last year and I hope to bring more this year. That being said, here's a bit about what's to come.
- All twenty-six stories have been compiled into the first volume of The New Adventures on Rails which is really just a continuation of Adventures on Rails. Really, it is just a page to catalogue all the episodes which allows easy access to any particular story. I have a couple things to figure out before I consolidate anything. The reality is that I just wanted a page that lists all the stories and then I might make it series twenty-one or something. For now though, the New Adventures on Rails is any story written after Ceremonium which was the series finale. You see, back then, 2015 to be exact, I was going to just focus on shorts due to other obligations as well. But, as I was developing That's What Friends Are for, came the idea for Work and Play and then other story ideas which I originally going to hold off until the release of You Lucky Engine. I realised that that was not a good idea and decided to write them out and release them with no scheduled release date, no constraint of the length of the story. It was just whenever I could release it if I felt it was ready for release. Added to that, with the release of Real Engines, I had officially established the character base I wanted to use. All the elements were there, and these episodes follow everything I've established. There's also changes in my writing style. Perhaps the best example is James and Percy. Compare the 2014/15 and 2019 versions and there's various changes in my style. Of course, the characters included is different too, and that has also changed my writing style. And more than ever, my standard has been raised. I think I got a grasp on my own writing around 2013/14, but it still took years for me to define everything. Now I have and that's what these stories do. They all adhere to everything I've established. I hope you've enjoyed them. Perhaps someday I'll share a bit more about how I write and more about how these new stories came to be. But I will say that I am most inspired by the Awdrys. Both the Rev. and Christopher managing to blend reality with fiction and still keeping it entertaining is something that I follow constantly. They do it so well it is almost unbelievable. But that style proved effective seeing as we remember The Three Railway Engines seventy-five years later. And they were meant to memorable. Stories told over and over again and never get old. And it doesn't. The Railway Series will be remembered forever - trust me, especially as long as we're around with so much content with our favourite characters.
- Now, onto the stories themselves. Well, this month, there will definitely be two stories. The first might be released on Sunday. Depends. It is the final day of Christmas, and I have been releasing stuff to coincide with Advent and Christmas, so who knows. And what is Advent? Yeah, I usually don't bring in stuff I do in my life, but I am Catholic and I was like, maybe I should release something every Sunday 'cause we have these four candles and each one is lit every Sunday. The first week saw the updated Thomas and the Avalanche, then Emily and Molly, then fake PSAs, then Christmas with Friends, and closed off with Thomas's Snowplough. So, keep an eye out for new stories. Possibly Sunday, but again, that is subject to change. It is also worth noting that the next story will begin the second volume of the New Adventures on Rails or series twenty-two, still need to figure that out (hopefully soon).
- Now, how about Best Engines Ever - the seventy-fifth anniversary short. Work is going great. Once again, it'll use the Railway Series format of four stories. I will say that Henry will have a leading role in one the stories. The past few years have really sent him to the side-line which is shame as he is one of my favourites. I will also say that like most of stories, the short is going to be well-written. Like, I don't know what else to say. Nothing matters if it isn't well-written. Yeah, there could be action or drama or heartfelt moments but it doesn't matter if it is not well-written. I do want to put in some action, heartfelt moments, humour and such as well as realism as per most of my stories. This short is meant to be something that reminds us why we look back at the Railway Series so fondly. Seventy-five years - that's three-quarters of a century. Yet every time I read the books, it never feels old. And whilst the Rev. Awdry had kids in mind whilst writing them (it was for bed-ridden son during WWII), he realised he also had to appeal to adults. Hence, the inclusion of so much railway realism. Given the amount of realism, does it make the stories boring? Heck no. The Railway Series is entertaining because of its realistic elements used along with the fictional setting of the Island of Sodor. When you set out to write your stories like that, people will appreciate it and remember it. So with Best Engines Ever, it will remind you of the elements that made the Railway Series such a well-written series of books that are memorable, and in them, give very valuable lessons. Just think of any book. Like, The Eight Famous Engines. It has humour, some accidents to create a bit of action and each story has a lesson nicely woven in. Percy takes the Plunge for example. Percy disobeys a danger sign and falls into the sea. This is based on a true incident "some time, some where" that teaches an important lesson about safety and following the rules which is something that resonates very well because it is just part of daily life that we have to follow orders. Now, given the recent Thomas series, I will say that if you're looking for something grand, big, spectacular, and over the top, then I suggest not reading it or you will be disappointed. As I mentioned, and will continue to maintain - the short will be well-written, will adhere to basic railway operations, use the best of each character featured, and just use elements the Railway Series used which I have established.
- As for the following two shorts. You Lucky Engine will be released January 2021 and Visiting Engines either late spring or summer of 2021.
- I would also talk about the TV series but I don't know. If you haven't heard, Jam Filled is no longer animating the show and there's no season twenty-five in the works. Honestly, I'm quite fine with that. I've been saying for a while that a break is pretty much necessary and in fact should have been back after series twenty-one. S23 proved to me that this reboot was just a publicity stunt to desperately hide the fact that Thomas sales have fallen. Well, that is what happens when you cheapen the merchandise just because it doesn't meet your expectations. I'm pretty sure sales were the same if not better at the time Mattel bought out HiT, so around 2012-13. So whilst HiT looked at that and said good, Mattel for some reason thought it was bad and cut costs to try and increase revenue. Eventually, they turned and blamed the show and undid all of Brenner, McCue, and the writing team's work to increase the quality of the series. Like series nineteen and twenty are like top-tier children's programme writing. Yes, a few weak episodes but a vast improvement over S13-16. I still have no idea why in an attempt to compete with other shows, they would make Thomas similar to other shows. Thomas was great because it was in its own world. With that style, Thomas can outlive other shows easily because most modern kids shows aren't meant to be memorable but Brenner and Co. did. Above I established everything that made the Railway Series great and S17-20 strive for that. I can tell the effort is there and for the most part, I was satisfied. There were things for the kids, the parents, and the fandom. Not sure if my little nitpicks were inflated or something. Like, no, Edward's station is not supposed to be a designated stop for the Express but whatever, I can live with that. It is nothing compared to the poor morals in S15 or BWBA. There are so many problems with the past two series that I don't want to list them. For now, I'm glad the show is ending - hopefully in a grand way, but I don't know.
- I'd hate to conclude on that so I will say that I've found myself with some appreciation for The Great Discovery. The song, Thomas, You're the Leader is a lot of fun too, especially the German version.