IN OFFICIAL SELECTION ‘COMPASS MURPHY’ WRITTEN BY STEPHEN POTTS - SHORTLISTED FOR THE AFA
Stephen Potts: Award winning screenwriter and author.
Seven books published, one feature film produced, two feature screenplays optioned. I’ve also written for radio and the stage.
Day job: From 1996 psychiatrist at Royal Infirmary of Edinburgh, working in ER and liver/kidney/pancreas transplant unit.
I took up writing at medical school in Oxford, becoming gradually more serious about it during my junior doctor years. Initially I focussed on chidren’s adventure fiction, and after publishing my trilogy The Running Tide (of which Compass Murphy forms the first part ) I branched out into screenplays, seeking to specialise in historically set adaptations for children and adults.
Compass Murphy is my first completed screenplay, though I now have a growing portfolio.
The Butterfly Tattoo (Dynamic Entertainment 2008)
On the Water
The Dog Walker
Hunting Gumnor (Egmont 1999, Republished 2004, itunes 2010)
Compass Murphy (Egmont 2001, Republished 2004)
The Ship Thief (Egmont 2004)
Abigail's Gift (Egmont 2006)
Shorter illustrated books:
Tommy Trouble (Mammoth 2000, i-tunes 2010)
Into the Storm (Barrington Stoke 2008)
Operation Hope (Barrington Stoke 2009)
On the Bench (in Family Tree ed M Hodgson, Egmont 1999)
Abigail's Gift (in Love From Dad ed M Hodgson, Egmont 2000)
12 pieces of short drama and one act plays, performed 1995-2004 in
Of these, The Enemy Within won the Hydrae Prize 2003, and was later adapted as a short film script.
Grandmother’s Footsteps (Island Blue) BBC Radio 4 2006.
Genre:Historically set adventure story for a family audience
Format:Feature film for theatrical release. (Live action/CGI animated)
My successful children’s novel of the same name, the first volume of The Running Tide trilogy
A farm-boy with a hidden gift stows away on a whaling ship to brave the Arctic ice in search of his father.
Protagonist: JOSHUA MURPHY (10/11). In the course of his quest for his father, Joshua grows from a meek bullied farm-boy, learns new talents as seaman and hunter, and discovers deep wells of courage within. He becomes comrade to his crew-mates; he finds an enduring love; and he earns his place in the world.
Location: Yorkshire, the North Sea. Orkney Greenland - Arctic ice.
Plot Synopsis: Whitby, England: 1828. The whaling fleet has left for Greenland, and among them sails Thomas Murphy, head harpooneer. He leaves Joshua, his son, in the care of uncle Flint, who beats him and puts him to farm-work, until Joshua flees, seeking shelter in dark Whitby stables, and biding his time till he finds a ship of his own - the Aurora - to stow away on.
He is soon discovered, and the captain proposes to put him off at the next port, Orkney. Wisely, a sailor blamed for Joshua’s arrival, threatens retribution before then. But Joshua has learnt something during all the nights he spent longing to join his father in the Arctic: he simply knows where North is. This talent saves the ship from wreck, and earns him the nickname Compass, as well as a place in the crew, and the undying enmity of Wisely, who calls down a terrible curse: “You will find your father, boy, but you will wish you had not!”
As Aurora sails North, Joshua sees at first hand the terrible beauty of the icebergs, and the bloody slaughter that is whaling. When the ship is frozen in for the winter, Joshua proves himself in seal-hunting trips, till he is caught in a blizzard, and rescued, unconscious and frost-bitten, by Simva, an Inuit girl, whom he befriends.
As the spring sun returns, Joshua still has no word of his father. Once the ice thaws the ship should be free but Joshua is torn: what more can he do to find him? He and Simva mark his departure by climbing a nearby mountain and building a cairn: but a blizzard snows them in, and when it clears they see it has opened a channel by which the ship could get free.
Racing down the mountain, they are chased by a polar bear, and get lost in escaping. And now they find what Joshua dreads: the wreckage of his father’s ship. Her logbook tells the awful story of her fate.
Joshua returns to the Aurora, where his grief hardens into an iron will to free her from the ice that killed his father. His efforts inspire the crew, aided by the Inuit, until, after much labour, the battered vessel slips free, and is guided southwards through moonlit ice-channels by Simva in her kayak. As he waves farewell, Joshua knows, as surely as he knows where North is, that from now on the only home he’d ever have would be the deck of a ship, at sea.