Channelling Life Experiences into Your Writing

by | Apr 5, 2024

When I first met Andrew Chalmers, my next-door neighbour, it was like meeting a hurricane in human form. He bubbled over with ideas and hilarious stories, entertained a room full of people single handedly, juggled 24 balls at once, not dropping any. He left me breathless. His energy was infectious, inviting everyone to jump on board and have the ride of their lives. And he was a writer!

Holy smokes! Imagine having that boundless creativity and drive. The work that could be accomplished would be staggering. Of course, now that I know Andrew better, I realize he too has his challenges. He manages to exist on very few hours of sleep.

“My sleep condition is called ‘Nightmare Disorder’. It is when a person has a sequence of extreme night terrors that affects their quality of sleep. My case is extreme so I don’t really rest, at all. I burn out as I sleep.” 

Well then. That’s not easy. To meet this challenge, Andrew believes that “the day has to give back what the night robs you of”. In his case this means channelling his experiences into his writing. In fact, the move to the quiet village of Pugwash from Ontario with partner Lynda a couple of years ago was partly to give Andrew more time to devote to writing. And he has been busy.

His screenplay, Grace, a four-part series, part psychological horror/part love story, has finally been completed. He has also teamed up with screenwriters Nikita Morris and Marsha Mayer to launch Anam Cara Stories. to get the concept of Grace into production with industry decision-makers. In time, they hope  to ‘help others get their stories made’. The intent would be to help other creatives overcome industry roadblocks, realize their potential and develop their own stories, building a team whose combined skill sets can work to support each other.

This is an ambitious goal but Andrew knows it is possible because he has done it before. When he lived in Ontario, Andrew teamed up with friend and fellow Doctor Who enthusiast, MIke Tamburro, to co–found AM Audio Media, a production company that produced an online fan audio drama series, Doctor Who ‘Dark Journey’,  a Canadian take on the legendary British scifi television show answering the question, what if Doctor Who collaborated with Sherlock Holmes to solve crimes in Victorian England. 

Andrew and Mike had the backgrounds to pull this off. Andrew had studied screenplay writing at George Brown College in Toronto and is a member of the Los Angeles PRO-SERIES ScriptwritingU Alumni. Mike had extensive experience in broadcasting and connections to other creatives who could help them realize their vision. This included professional sound engineer Clayton Turner, aka Claytek, and amateur actors and illustrators who were willing to volunteer their time to make it happen. The series, comprised of 15 to 20 minute episodes, ran for two seasons.

Doctor Who ‘Dark Journey’ was nominated for various awards, and won an Audio Verse Award for Roy Miranda for Best Actor. Andrew was able to channel his flare for the dramatic into, not only writing the scripts, but acting as the iconic time traveler in each episode. This was a labour of love, garnering fans as far away as Japan and enabling them to hob nob with fans at Toronto’s ComicCon. 

Listen to this interview with Mike and Andrew about Doctor Who ‘Dark Journey’: 

While in Toronto, Andrew also co-directed, wrote, and developed a sitcom pilot for the CBC as well as writing and developing a comedy series for Netflix. In Pugwash, he continues the fight to overcome his difficult sleep condition and tap into his life experiences to inspire his writing. When the time is right and the creative juices are flowing, he opens the flood gates and lets the stories flow through him onto the page.