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Greg Mosse - Criterion New Writing and The Coming Storm Interview

Founder and leader of the Criterion New Writing script development program at the Criterion Theatre, playwright, teacher and novelist Greg Mosse has spent over a decade teaching script development to a diverse community of writers, actors and directors in London. Since 2015, when the programme was launched, over 100 playwrights have completed the course with a number of showcased plays now in commercial development.
A talented playwright and producer in his own right, Greg Mosse has also written and produced 25 plays and musicals, at playhouses including Chichester Festival Theatre, Portsmouth Guildhall and Worthing Theatre. As the husband of bestselling novelist Kate Mosse, Greg has also been involved in the stage adaptation of Kate’s books including The Taxidermist’s Daughter and The Ghost Ship. 
With theatres closing during lockdown Greg turned his hand to novel writing, publishing his first novel The Coming Darkness in 2022, to critical acclaim, with his follow up novel The Coming Storm coming out in April 2024.

We caught up with Greg to discuss the script development programme as well as the forthcoming novel.

Where did your career in the arts begin?
I attended a comprehensive boys school in Chichester, West Sussex, and absorbed by a kind of devious osmosis that I should go into the army. But, at 10 years old, I had played a snake on stage at the world-famous Chichester Festival Theatre and, later, sang a lead role in a joint school play with the girls’ comp. That prompted me to change my university application to all the drama degrees I could find, ending up at Goldsmiths College, part of the University of London, in 1979. While there, I began performingwriting and producing on the London Fringe, my first paid creative work (bums on seats).
How did you approach a career in the arts?
It felt like I was floundering around, but I was very driven, making my own costume for a Restoration drama on my grandmother’s treadle sewing machine, for example, trying to get reviewers from City Limits and Time Out to notice what I was doing. I subsidised my rewarding but cash-poor theatrical career with modelling (naked) for the sculptors at Camberwell School of Art. Then I felt things were evolving too slowly so, on a strange whim that I still don’t fully understand, I moved to Paris.
How do you feel the arts have changed (for better or worse) since your career began?
In the private sector, if you want to be paid for your creative work, you have to make stuff people want to buy – that hasn’t changed. With public funding, most of it used to go to small organisations; now most of it gets swallowed up by big organisations and I don’t think that strategy always givevalue for money.
What can you tell me about the Criterion New Writing script development program?
Criterion New Writing is a script development program for mid-career playwrightsdelivered live onstage in the West End. We welcome three groups of six writers each year and employ dozens of actors reading the brand-new scripts in the empty – but magnificent – Italianate auditorium of the Criterion Theatre. I have the great good fortune to be assisted in this Felix Mosse, an excellent actor and writer, I hope inspired by his parents, myself and the amazing Kate Mosse.
What led you to setting up the program?
My late friend Peter Clayton and I were brainstorming ways to help good writers change their focus from small casts and black-box auditoria to mid and large venues. We decided being welcomed in those special spaces for an extended period, with story development support and quality actors, would fit the bill. The program exists because of the immense support of the Criterion Theatre Trust.
What makes for a good script?
A good script needs characters with competingmutually exclusive objectivesexplored in a sequence of dramatic  scenes that reveal layers of character, with a powerful overall narrative structure that ebbs and flows to a compelling unifying climax, set against backdrop of panoramic drama – and everything important to the story should happen live on stage.
As a playwright and producer, you’ve also turned to novel writing, what led you to decide to begin writing a novel?
Circumstances. In early 2020, theatre became – along with many other wonderful ways of enjoying one’s time – illegal. As soon as I was off the treadmill of writing and producing, I found I loved my laptop and my chair and have since published five novels.
How different (or similar) is the process of writing a novel to writing a script?
The overall shape of a play is: set-up (where we get to know the world and what’s at stake); development (where we deepen our understanding of character and motivation through action); crescendo (where things get louder and faster); climax (where all the remaining suspenseful narrative questions are answered in the same dramatic sequence of events). That would make a good novel, too, but a novel is maybe five times as long as a play ...
You also teach stage writing, what would you best piece of advice be to anyone who wanted to write for the stage?
Find ways to get your work on. While you or someone else is producing it, write something else. Whatever the question, the answer is always ‘write something else’.
With your second book The Coming Storm being released in April, was there any pressure that comes with writing a sequel to an already successful book?
My first draft of the first novel in the Alex Lamarque trilogy was 170,000 words. We published 98,000. Pressure comes from having too much story and not enough books to fit it intoBecause of my excellent agents BKS and my superbpublisher, Moonflower Books, I have enjoyed every stage.

Greg Mosse.

How do you prepare for the writing process?
write something like nine days out of ten from six-thirty in the morning to about ten or maybe ten-thirtyThe Alex Lamarque trilogy of The Coming DarknessThe Coming Storm and The Coming Fire (that I have already written) needed a lot of research. Unlike my brilliant wife Kate Mosse’s exploration of the past, however, I had to read and digest all kinds of projections for the near future. Happily, there’s a lot of excellent scientific and journalistic futurology out there that informs the ‘reality’ of my imagined 2037.
If you could have dinner with 3 famous people, who would you invite and why?
I would invite the writers who have meant most to me and my development: Kate Mosse, Lee Child and Anthony Horowitz.
If you were a biscuit, what biscuit would you be and why?
I would be a garibaldi because it commemorates a revolutionary general and contains squashed flies.
What do you hope an audience takes away from reading either of your novels?
I hope anyone who reads one of my novels thinks there are worse ways of spending an afternoon than reading another one.

The Coming Storm by Greg Mosse is published on 25th April, £9.99 by Moonflower Books. Available online here:

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