Glenn Norman & Michelle Goodeve, television writers

They are the names you see, yet pass over. They are the names self-proclaimed purists will remember only so they have someone to blame. However, they are the names others will remember so they can give credit where credit is due.

I am, of course, referring to the “Written by” and “Adapted by” credits from the Redwall Television Series. And, specifically, Glenn Norman and Michelle Goodeve.

Collectively, the pair are responsible for writing 22 of ‘Redwall’s’ 39 episodes– a very impressive number. This includes #3- “Treachery”, #4- “Sparra’s Kingdom”, #12- “Underground”, #19- “Ironbeak”, and #28- “The Return of Clogg”, as well as many others.

What the casual fan doesn’t know, however, is how much work they and the other writers put into the series and how much they try to make things work. I’m sure many of you think that the writers don’t care how things were done in the book, that they wish to create a Redwall series rather than the Redwall series.

Well, there you’d be wrong.

When I first came into contact with Glenn and Michelle, it was a surprise, to say the least. A welcome one, but a surprise, nonetheless. I have to confess that I’d never thought much about the ins-and-outs of the whole Adaptation process. Then, as I learned more about what it was they did, how they felt about the show, and so-forth, I had a newfound respect for everyone on the Redwall Writing Team. It’s a difficult job and they’ve done it well.

But, enough from me. You’ll be wanting to read the interview to learn all this for yourself. ;)

Please note that Glenn and Michelle opted to be interviewed together and, as such, answered the same questions. However, they answered each question separately and did not see the other’s response until later. As such, they sometimes cover the same point, but with a different perspective. To help you easily discern who’s talking, Michelle’s answers will be in purple and Glenn’s answers will be in brown.

They’re great people to talk to, as you’ll soon find out. If, after the interview, you’re interested in finding out more about them (and, yes, that’s them up in the banner), you can visit their personal website at

Thanks again to Glenn and Michelle for the interview! And so, without further ado, let’s get to it!

Martin (The Long Patrol): First, I want to thank you both for allowing me to conduct this interview. It’s an honor. 

Michelle Goodeve (Redwall Writer): Answering questions about the “Redwall” series is my pleasure :)

Glenn Norman (Redwall Writer): You obviously put a great deal of work into your web site, Martin, so it’s our honour to be asked to contribute.

Martin: Let’s start by giving our readers an idea of what you’ve done in the past. What shows or movies have you worked on prior to “Redwall”?

Michelle: My past, hmm – very eclectic… I started out as a very young dancer, but injured my back in a cross Canada tour and needed a new creative outlet. I tried singing for a short while, with a rock band that was touring the Great White North, but was advised by those nearest and dearest that I should definitely consider a different line of work – one that didn’t require attaining perfect pitch. Then, I discovered Acting, a great love of my life (I played the teacher on the “DeGrassi Jr. High” and “DeGrassi High” TV series [PBS] for four years) and through acting I developed an irrestistible urge to write the words that are spoken on the screen.

(Now – The Truth. One day, I was complaining to a friend of mine, who is an American television producer, that the scripts I was receiving for audition purposes really sucked…. he shrugged and said “Well then, get inside and do some damage.” And I did.)

I started by writing original screenplays for movies which eventually got a buzz and were read as “samples” , which lead to getting a Literary Agent, which lead to getting work on a television series.

Along with shelves of “spec” scripts for movies in various stages of development, here’s a short list of produced television credits:

“White Fang”- original stories + Asst. Story Editor + Actor/series regular. (It was fun to get three separate credits as Guest Star, Asst. Story Editor and Screenwriter.) “Mysterious Island” – original stories + co-authoured series Bible + Story Editor. “The Redwall Series”- screenplay adaptations of three Brian Jacques’ books. “Maggie and The Ferocious Beast”- original ideas + stories adapted or given by producers.

Glenn: Phew! Well, my partner Michelle Goodeve and I are based in Canada, so a lot of our shows have originated from here. However, most of them ended up on US T.V. – Network & Cable – at some point – as well as being shown in many other countries around the world.

I’ve written live action episodes for series such as “The Campbells,” “Danger Bay,” “Night Heat,” “Adderly,” “Diamonds,” “My Secret Identity,” “White Fang,” “Mysterious Island,” and our own “Vulcan E.F.T.S.”

(Note: Adderly, Diamonds, & Night Heat are currently in re-runs on Canadian Cable/Satellite TV & “White Fang” is in re-runs on the Canadian CTV network, Saturdays at 12:30 p.m.)

Michelle & I were also the Executive Story Editors on the first season of “Mysterious Island,” & the second season of “White Fang.”

(Note: As well as Writing and Story Editing, Michelle also wore her “Actor Hat” on White Fang – Guest Starring in two episodes as a Helicopter Pilot.)

My animated series include: “Redwall,” “Mattimeo,” & “Martin The Warrior,” (Which you know [g],) as well as two new series: the french sci-fi “Malo Korrigan & The Space Tracers,” & a bizarre new E.U. comedy, “Howdi Gaudi.” 

Martin: Did you both always desire to become writers?

Michelle: On Writing. I have always written, even as a child. At first, I wrote secretly and destroyed everything afterward. (A psych would have a ball with that one.) I had such a love of books and such a great reverence for Writers that I didn’t dare presume to openly attempt their craft. Then, I grew up and met some of them….

Suddenly, I discovered that Writers came in all different shapes, sizes and colors with differing degrees of talent (and social skills.) Writers were people who came with Missions or World Views or a simple desire to see their personal view of the world reflected back to them. Some were plagued by angst or driven by a creativity that just ‘needed out.’ Meeting them led me to the keyboard to risk the inevitable rejection…

(The Truth. I had a great idea for an original movie (a female buddy road picture) and Glenn was too busy to write the screenplay for me to star in… so, I stubbornly sat down and wrote it myself.)

Glenn: Not really. I wanted to be a pilot – So, I left school and got a job at a film company in order to pay for flying lessons. I worked my way up to Film Editor, then moved to the CTV network where I eventually became a News Film Editor for “The CTV National News.”

About the time I got my Private Pilot license, I fell in love with the writings of Aviation Writer, Richard Bach. Michelle and I were fortunate enough to become friends with him and it was during our flying adventures across North America with Richard that I caught the bug to be a Writer.

Things evolved from there.

Martin: Who are some of your influences?

Michelle: Influences. Well, I know how Glenn Norman will answer this one. Richard Bach.

But, I’m a little strange about admitting to or feeling… influence. I get ‘inspiration’ from seeing something done extremely well. The television screenwriter/producer I think is getting it done would have to be Aaron Sorkin (West Wing) and I have a host of favorite authors including: Timothy Findley (Inside Memory, Piano Man’s Daughter), Michael Ondaatje, Ann (sp?) Michaels (Fugitive Pieces) Ray Bradbury (Zen in the Art of Writing) and, of course, over the last few years – Brian Jacques!

Glenn: Put simply, I became a writer because of Richard Bach’s influence. And I became a Screenwriter because of Michelle Goodeve’s influence.

Shortly after we met Richard, I sheepishly gave him a story I’d written and asked if he’d read it. He read the story on his flight home, called me that night and offered to buy it for “Private Pilot,” the aviation magazine he was editing.

Being somewhat compulsive [g], I decided to quit my job at CTV the following day to become a full-time writer. That night, Richard called to say he’d had a fight with his publisher and quit the editing job – so, that was the end of my story [g].

The day after that, I crashed my antique biplane and tore off one of the lower wings. Then, on the way home from the airport, I seized the engine in my VW van.

So, I used my severance pay from CTV to buy a new engine for the VW, sold the van to buy a new wing for the biplane, then, eventually had to sell the airplane in order to stay alive through the LONG year I suffered through before making my first real sale.

Certainly a big factor in my life was watching Richard go from a well loved, but relatively unknown aviation writer, to one of the best selling authors of all time with his 1970′s phenomenon, “Jonathan Livingston Seagull.”

Watching something like this happen to a friend had a tremendous impact on me. It showed what was possible if you had a dream, held it fast in your mind – and most important of all – learned how to persevere.

BUT – I was making a BIG mistake. I was trying hard to be “Richard the Second” in my writing, and both Richard & Michelle knew that was wrong.

It took me a long time to see that – And I found my way to Screenwriting through a very circuitous route. Michelle had been working as a dancer in a Gershwin revue when her dance partner, Delroy Lindo (now, world famous star of such movies as “Get Shorty,” “Ransom,” & “The Cider House Rules,”) had a fight with the producer and the show was cancelled.

I figured – as I was a writer, I should be able to write something to replace it – and, as a result, (and with a LOT of help from Michelle [g],) I accidentally became a playwright!

A producer who saw our multi-media play said I should try my hand at Screenwriting.

Michelle agreed.

So, I did.

And that’s how I became a Screenwriter [vbg]!

Martin: How was it you came to be associated with “Redwall”?

Michelle: I came to be associated with “Redwall” by way of my friend, Steve Roberts. When Glenn and I were Story Editing the “White Fang” televison series on location in New Zealand, the producer flew Steve in from L.A. to work with us.

Glenn and I are both pilots and share a huge passion for flying rare, vintage aircraft. (I own a Pietenpol Aircamper, an open cockpit high wing monoplane based on the Jenny, which I fly from a farmer’s field on the edge of my village.) In New Zealand, Glenn & I discovered, to our amazement, that Steve is also a pilot and also smitten by unusual, old aircraft. The three of us connected on many different levels, and our friendship was immediate and lasting.

After the “White Fang” series wrapped, we visited Steve in L.A. and in England, and he visited us in Canada. All of us kept our eyes open for a project we could work together on again.

In the summer of 1998, Steve called to ask if Glenn and I would like to write screenplay’s for the “Redwall” series. After reading Brian Jacques books, my answer was a resounding,


Glenn: We met Redwall’s Head Writer, Steve Roberts, when Michelle and I were working as Story Editors on “White Fang,” a Canadian action series shot on location in New Zealand.

Steve was world famous as creator of the “Max Headroom” phenomenon of the 1980′s . And I’m pretty certain the only reason he agreed to write for Fang was because he wanted to fly old airplanes around New Zealand [g].

Once Steve discovered Michelle and I were also antique aircraft pilots, we became great friends – And we try to work together whenever possible.

(NOTE: Aside from the obvious benefits of working with people you like – Once you’ve written together for a while, you tend to learn each other’s “short hand.” And that saves an enormous amount of time in the writing process. Because a word, a raised eyebrow, or even the inflection on a word in a Story Meeting, speaks volumes when you know and trust the people you work with.)

So, the long answer to your short question is – It was Steve who first contacted us and asked if we’d like to write episodes of “Redwall.”

Martin: Did you need Brian’s approval before being hired or was the decision solely that of Steve Roberts?

Michelle: As far as I know, the initial group of writers on the “Redwall” series was chosen by our Story Editor, Steve Roberts, according to the rules and needs of a television co-production between several different countries. Each stage of each script is approved by Brian Jacques before progressing from script form into production.

Over the years, Steve has very kindly informed us that everyone in production highly values the “Redwall Writing Team” and we appreciate their confidence in us.

Glenn: I guess that’s a question for Steve [vbg]. But, what we do know is that Steve ALWAYS passes Brian’s comments and concerns on to us and that we take them VERY seriously.

After all – these are Brian’s books we’re being asked to adapt to the screen and (despite the fact that you probably think I’m just “kissing up,”) the truth is, none of us take that role lightly.

I’ll touch more on this in one of your later questions.

Martin: How much work on the series is done when you get involved?

Michelle: As the Story Editor, Steve determines a schedule and breaks each book down into a season of thirteen episodes. Each writer is assigned an episode with specific Start and Stop chapter numbers and it is our job, as the series writers, to adapt those chapters from the text in Brian’s novel to the screenplay’s visual blueprint.

The first stage of a teleplay is the Outline, which basically contains the so-called “black stuff” or “Action.” Each scene is laid out with specific “Beats” (ex. Cluny is captured. Or, The Rat Army charges! etc…) including Act Breaks (+ cliffhangers – don’t touch that dial!) but, no dialogue.

The second stage is the 1st Draft, where the scenes are flushed out to their proper length (approx. 1 min. of screen time per page) and the dialogue is added.

The third stage is the 2nd Draft, where Steve will collate notes from Brian and different members of the production team and send them to the writers. Necessary changes are then made for animators needs or monetary concerns or for the purposes of keeping your specific episode consistent with the overall plot development and character arcs over the run of the entire series.

The final stage is The Polish, which is usually just tweaking small concerns to make the episode come together as smoothly as everyone possibly can.

Glenn: A LOT! Steve did an enormous amount of work getting the series up and going – and continues to do a huge amount before each new season.

Roughly what happens is – Nelvana & Brian decide which book will be adapted, then Steve sits down and creates a “Writer’s Bible.”

This is an enormous undertaking – Steve has to find a way to break the book down by chapter and sequence into 13 equal parts. He also has to give a character synopsis for each and every character, give scene location notes, story points, producers’ concerns, etc.

Steve always writes at least the first and last episode. Since Season Two, his son, Toby Roberts, Michelle and I write the remainder.

The division of episodes depends on how busy we all are [g]. We were busy in the first season, so did 3 each. Steve and Toby were busy in seasons 2 & 3, so we did 4 each.

Martin: What sort of guidelines were set down for you? Were you told to be especially vague in violent scenes and so-forth?

Michelle: The episodic television screenwriter’s guidelines are set out in the series “Bible”. In the case of the “Redwall” series, the Bible has been written by Steve and specifically outlines the do’s and don’t’s that have been agreed upon by the author and the production house and it’s team. (In some series, the negotiations include the broadcaster, but I don’t know if that is the case here.)

The Redwall “Bible” addresses the issue of violence directly in it’s own chapter: the first word of which is simply, “Don’t.” And I quote the last sentence of that chapter: “We will flatly refuse to diminish the Redwaller’s communal respect for life and each other by using death or injury as entertainment, Redwall is head and shoulders above that.

Glenn: The Writers Bible contains a lot of guidelines for writing the show – most of which pertain to the problems of adapting a novel to the small screen – but, you are correct in realizing that violence is indeed the greatest concern.

And that is no comment on Brian or any of the Redwall books. Their continuing popularity clearly shows that readers have no problem with the level of violence.

This is solely a response to the realities of network television. It would be quite simple – a lot easier, actually – to transpose the battle scenes, as written, from the books. But, if we were to do that, many networks that currently show Redwall would reluctantly decline to air the series.

So, it becomes our job to find ways of implying the violence without actually showing it. I think Michelle’s handling of Cheesethief’s death is a good example – done with shadows and silhouettes that clearly told the story while avoiding graphic violence.

Martin: Have you read any of the books themselves?

Michelle: Yes, I read and re-read Brian’s books. I know GN does this differently, but I read the whole book end to end before I start writing. In some cases, I have been lucky enough to find audio tapes of Brian himself reading his books. (These I have passed onto my nephew, Tyler, who is an avid Redwall reader.) In this way, I imprint the important moments (what one remembers most about a film or an episode is it’s ‘moments’) and turning points into my mind in order to give them their proper due on the page.

Each book plus the writer’s bible are my constant companions throughout the writing process. My Redwall paperbacks are filled with scribbled notations, bookmarks, and post-it notes and are proudly displayed on the bookshelf in my office.

Glenn: This is an innocent, but very interesting question.

The truth is – When Steve called and asked if we’d like to write “Redwall,” that was the first time we’d heard of the books.

By way of explanation – Michelle and I have very different ways of writing – and reading.

I shouldn’t speak for her, but I will tell you that Michelle is a voracious reader – Extremely well read – takes stuff like Proust to bed with her! – and her literary library includes, for example, all the works of Tolkien, whom she adores.

I USED to read voraciously, but when I became a screenwriter, I discovered that once I slip into the world of the author I’m reading, I have a VERY hard time getting back into my own stories.

So, sadly, the only time I get to read novels any more is when I’m on vacation (which happens rarely!)

Of course, I DO still read – Several newspapers a day, plus a steady stream of technical books on Astronomy, Aviation, or The Workings of the Human Brain – topics I find fascinating but can put down and pick up without any real involvement.

I have to admit, I also adapt the Redwall books in a somewhat unorthodox manner.

Because Steve has done SO much work in the Bible, I know in advance what chapters I have to cover from the book. So, I read the chapters leading up to the episode I’ve been assigned – but (and don’t tell Steve this [g]), I DON’T read the whole book in advance.

Why? Because I want to be SURPRISED.

When the time comes to read my chapters, I don’t want to know where the various events will eventually lead – I want to find those parts of the story that JUMP OUT at me and DEMAND to be included.

I’ll stress here that this would be impossible if Steve hadn’t already mapped out the important parts of the book in his bible – but as he has, it allows me to discover the best moments in Brian’s books just before I write them.

And, I believe “MOMENTS” are what TV & The Movies are all about. These are Visual Mediums and the more great MOMENTS a show contains, the more memorable it will be for the viewer.

Think of Casablanca. Is it the whole convoluted story you remember? – or is it Bogart slumped next to the piano, telling Sam, “You played it for her, you can play it for me!” Perhaps it’s when he holds Ingrid Bergman in his arms and says, “We’ll always have Paris,” and “Here’s looking at you, kid.” Maybe it’s Bogie walking off into the night with Claude Rains saying, “This is the beginning of a beautiful friendship.”

Those MOMENTS last in our minds long after the importance of “the letters of transit” have faded from our memories.

And it is those MOMENTS that any good screenwriter searches for and builds her/his story around.

A final point – Not reading the book also means I’m excited about writing every new episode because – just like the reader – just like the viewer – I’m dying to know what happens next!

It’s unorthodox, I’ll admit – but it’s worked well for me … so far [vbg].

Martin: What’s a typical day of work like for you?

Michelle: My typical writing “day” is, I suppose, atypical… I know Steve likes to get an early start on the day, as does Glenn. But, when I have the luxury of working at home, as is the case on “Redwall”, I like to write deep into the night, as late as 4 a.m. sometimes. The night is magic time for me. The rest of the world is asleep. The phone won’t ring. There are no other demands on my time and I can slip into that other fictional world where the series characters are my friends whose stories I’m helping to tell.

So, about mid-morning, GN (who has already put in several hours writing) wakes me with a cup of coffee, I try not to growl too much, then we have drive off for breakfast at a local restaurant in the nearest town. We read the newspaper and plan our day, then come home, make calls, return “E’s” which starts the creative juices, then progress into the script at hand.

Glenn: Again – Michelle and I are very different. And, again – my writing style is quite unorthodox.

For the Redwall adaptations – as I mentioned – I’ll read the episodes leading up to mine, then sit down somewhere quiet and read my own chapters for the first time.

I’ll highlight the passages that surprise, intrigue, or excite me – then, I’ll put the book down and go do something else … sometimes for hours – sometimes for days!

But, all the time I’m cleaning the cat litter [g], or dragging the telescope outside for astro- photography – or tinkering with airplanes – I’ll be daydreaming about my episode.

And, when I finally see the shape of the show – sense the flow of events and characters – I usually sit down at my computer and write the whole thing in one sitting!

Mind you, there IS a structure to the way these episodes are developed. Off the top, Steve suggests which episodes he’d like us to write – but, we’re free to trade eps with each other if there’s one we’d really like to do (Steve has the last word, of course, but that’s never presented a problem.) Then, we submit an “Outline,” which sketches out the way we intend to adapt our assigned chapters. Steve “fiddles” with our Outlines, then sends them on up the line for comments and notes from Producers, Directors, Animators, and, of course – Brian [g]. (Note: As Story Editor, it’s Steve’s job – and his right – to change things that he knows Brian or the producers will not accept {i.e. using “hands” instead of “paws.” Describing a death in too violent terms – that sort of thing.}

Steve then receives notes back from EVERYONE, and here’s where he REALLY earns his money – for one producer could absolutely LOVE a certain sequence while another will DEMAND it be removed.

After the poor man has found a way to keep everyone happy, Steve ships us his version of all the valid gripes and concerns.

We then have to find a way to adapt our original outlines to include these changes before going ahead on the First Draft – the first run at writing down the entire episode – Dialogue – Direction – Everything that makes up a screenplay.

Once the Draft is done, we’ll ship it to Steve who goes through his “fiddling” routine again before sending the Draft out for more comments.

More notes will come back. Steve will assemble them, and we will include those changes in our Second or Final Draft.

Even after we are done and have moved on to write our next episode, Steve will still be fiddling with minor changes until the script is finally approved and ready for production.

As I said – Steve really earns his money [vbg].

Martin: Do the two of you influence each other’s episodes in the writing phase, such as offering your insight to the other as to what would suit a character/scene better?

Michelle: Yes, Glenn and I rely on each other for input. It’s extremely valuable to have another story editor type person in the office across the hall. We trade screenplays and give what I like to think of as ‘insightful notes’ (I bet I hear Glenn laughing out loud when he reads that!). Sometimes elements you mean to include in a screenplay inexplicably remain inside your head and another writer will see what is not “on the page.” Whoever’s screenplay it is has the final nay or yea to include or ignore each other’s notes. Then, in the case of “Redwall” , we “E” our teleplay to Steve, who in turn passes it on up the line to the production company in Toronto, Nelvana.

Glenn: Well, yes and no [vbg].

When Michelle started writing her own screenplays, we decided the best way to protect our relationship was to write separately.

But, when we were offered the position of Executive Story Editors on White Fang, we realized the only way we could do that 24/7 job was as a team.

This worked well for us, so we did it again when asked to Story Edit “Mysterious Island.”

In terms of Redwall, what this means is – Michelle and I live in a rambling old preachers’ manse in rural Ontario, Canada. We each have our own separate office. And we write our episodes on our own. But – Once we are done with the outline, draft, whatever – we DO ship our stuff off for comments to the Story Editor sitting across the hall [g].

We are free to ignore or agree with the notes we give each other – but, it gives us an extra edge to know that our scripts have been “Pre-Screened,” before they go off to the “Real” Story Editor.

If I had to summarize our strengths, I’d say mine is Story Structure and Michelle’s is Character Development.

Which works out quite nicely for both of us [vbg].

Martin: How much does what you write affect what’s shown when animated? For instance, Cheesethief’s death in Episode #8 (written by Ms. Goodeve) stood out to me as very dramatic in the cinematic sense. Do you describe the scene, such as switching between a close-up on the heroes to a bird’s-eye-view of Cheesethief’s silouhette in the distance, or is that left to the director?

Michelle: Good question.

Hmm. Gotta find the stool under that pile of papers… find another place for that pile of books… reach for the top shelf… searching… episode #8…

Got it. Okay … Let’s see…

“BATTLE PLANS” 1st draft. July, 1998…


INSIDE Cluny’s tent, Cheesethief greedily LICKS his greasy lips and lifts the cheese toward his mouth…


Matthias holds his breath.


as the setting sun lines up perfectly. The tent flushes blood red.

Cheesethief’s shadow, in Cluny’s wargarb, is perfectly spotlighted inside the tent.


Constance as she sights down the arrow.

She BREATHES out slowly and RELEASES her grip.

The huge arrow FLIES…


The arrow WHISTLES through the air. It travels straight and true, flies, then RIPS through the tent…


Constance LOWERS her bow slowly and stares into the distance.

Fade to black.


That’s what it looks like on the page… 

Glenn: As writers, we always have to be VERY careful in writing “direction.”

In the end, the Director will decide how s/he wants to shoot (or animate) a scene – so, we don’t write: Close on Martin’s eye, then pull back to reveal his nostril. Pan down to his paw – etc. Something like that wouldn’t get any farther then Steve [g].

But, that doesn’t mean we can’t imply direction. For example, if we wrote:


As Matthias clutches desperately to the eavestrough, it begins to tear away.

He reacts with shock and disbelief.


A group of Redwallers gather in the courtyard and look up in horror!

Well – we didn’t give any direction – but – if Matthias is watching the eavestrough tear away, you’re not going to see that from the ground – so, we’re implying a medium shot.

If he reacts in shock and disbelief – that’s gotta be a close up if you want to see it.

And, if the horrified Redwallers are gathered in the courtyard looking up – that pretty much nails how that shot’s going to go.

Bear in mind, the director can change all of this if it doesn’t work for him/her – So, our job, as writers, is to “run the movie” in our heads, then describe as clearly as possible what we are imagining.

The clearer our notes, the easier it will be for the director to understand the way we see the episode unfolding then s/he can take it from there.

In other words – The writer is the architect. We draw up the plans then hand them over to the people who actually do the building [g].

Martin: Speaking of Cheesethief’s death, that portion of the book is rather infamous among fans as it is the only time a beaver (“The Solitary Beaver”, as he is known) has been used in the Redwall Series (helping Constance construct the giant crossbow). As such, many of us were disappointed when he didn’t make it into the TV show. Why was his role cut?

Michelle: Oh no, my apologies regarding “The Solitary Beaver”. It’s agony to have to exclude anything from Brian’s books, but it’s also impossible in TV time to include everybeast. I can only extrapolate that “The Solitary Beaver”, having such a short visit to the book, was too expensive to animate and give voice to.

Glenn: I’ll leave this one to Michelle.

Martin: As readers of my “In-Depth Reviews” will have undoubtedly noticed, I’m a big fan of the tapestry-closings. I feel it’s that point in the episode where everything is given the “Redwall” touch. It’s also home to some very emotional moments, such as Matthias standing over Methuselah’s grave. Are the tapestry-shots written/described by you, the writers?

Michelle: Tapestry Shots. (I love them too.)

Searching… Ah, Sorry… couldn’t find Methuselah’s ep. (I agree. Very touching moment.)

An Example:

    Pg. 1- Mattimeo – A Tale of Redwall” by Brian Jacques.
Ep.#19 First Draft – “IRONBEAK”
Adapted for the screen by – M. Goodeve.




1. Slagar’s victory dance on the cliff.

2. Warbeak examines the “Top Abbey Crow.”

3. Matthias prepares to thrust the axe handle into the rockfall.

MORPH into….(The rest of the script goes here.)

Then on Pg. 28…


Ironbeak spreads his black wings wide till his looming shadow seems to fill the roofspace.


FREEZE FRAME on the Raven as his threatening words echo through the rooftops of Redwall Abbey.

The freeze frame morphs into the…


1. General Ironbeak threatens Redwall.

2. Mattimeo climbs the Great Southern Cliffs.

3. Constance battles the “Invaders.”

…the battle to save Redwall continues….

FADE OUT. Episode #19 Ends.

That’s what the Tapestry “bookends” look like on the page.

Glenn: We all saw, very early on, that Steve’s tapestry sequence was a wonderful way to link all the episodes together – and since then – all the various Redwall shows.

We do, indeed, choose the main beats from the show and describe them in the opening and closing … Though one small snag turned up when we realized that we would, of course, have to match our opening with the previous writer’s ending … However – Because of the way we’d divied up the chapters, once or twice, the previous episode hadn’t been written yet!

Still – the few times that did happen, Steve looked after those changes for us (And Steve, of course, can choose to feature some other beat from the Episode if he feels it will look more dramatic on the tapestry.)

Martin: I couldn’t help but notice, Ms. Goodeve, that your name is often associated with Warbeak episodes. You wrote Warbeak’s introduction to the series (Episode #4), an original episode (#10) where Warbeak is captured by Cluny, as well as her eventual death in “Mattimeo” (Episode #21). Was this by happenstance or did you form an attachment to the character and request episodes involving her?

Michelle: Initially, the episode including Warbeak’s introduction was assigned to me by Steve. I immediately identified with her feisty, flying ways and enjoyed playing with Brian’s Sparra- speak. (Especially when she dubbed our Hero – ” Crazee-Mouse!”)

In the second Warbeak episode, I have a distant memory (correct me if I’m wrong, Stinson-Steve) of a phone call where Steve said he enjoyed what I did with the first Sparra ep. and asked if I would like to write another. I jumped at the chance.

By the time “Mattimeo” was rolling, I had indeed formed a fierce attachment to Warbeak and distinctly remember requesting the opportunity to bid her farewell on the page. (On a personal note: Warbeak’s last episode was partially written in the emergency ward of the hospital where my Mother was receiving emergency chemotherapy for a missed diagnosis of Burkitt’s lymphoma. We both knew that this was the last script of mine that my Mother would ever read. Warbeak’s touching departure was in part a tribute to my Mother and my farewell to two feisty females.)

Glenn: Well spotted, Martin. You really DO pay attention [vbg]. This, of course, is a question for Michelle to answer – but, I’d just like to say that I think her “Death of Warbeak” was one of Redwall’s best episodes. When she handed me the script for notes, I was moved to tears by the ending. Steve had the same reaction and, from what we heard, so did most of the folks at Nelvana.

What they don’t know. but I (and now you) do, is that, because Michelle had a deadline to hit, she wrote that episode sitting on the floor of a Hospital Emergency Room. Her Mother had just been diagnosed with cancer, so Michelle plugged her laptop into the only outlet she could find and wrote her script sitting in the hospital corridor while her mother was in the next room having her first chemo treatment.

How Michelle found the strength to do that is beyond me.

(NOTE: Michelle lost both her Mom and Dad to cancer in an 11 month period. Before they passed away, both parents became HUGE Redwall fans. They watched every re-run, over and over again, and soon knew the dialogue better than we did [g].)

Martin: Were there any characters either of you grew especially attached to?

Michelle: See above. Warbeak’s a fave + I’ll also admit to having a soft spot for Matthias.

Glenn: In truth, I grow attached to all the characters – and it’s terribly difficult to write the scenes where some of them have to die.

I guess I have a special affection for Matthias, as he was the first Redwall “hero” I came to know – Plus – we got to write him all over again in Mattimeo.

As I was born in England, I guess I’d have to say Basil Stag Hare was also a fave. It was so easy to write his dialogue, Wot, wot?

And, an interesting trivia note – I felt TERRIBLE that we couldn’t work Ambrose Spike into the first series. I remembered Hedgehogs from my childhood in England and was delighted by Ambrose – But, there were so many characters – and we had restrictions on the number of speaking roles we could use, so poor old Ambrose fell through the cracks.

In Mattimeo, we tried extra hard to make sure he was used and when we saw the final product we were delighted we’d made the effort – because we discovered the character was voiced by actor Paul Soles, a very good friend of ours – and yet another antique airplane pilot! 

Martin: To take a quick break from questions, I’d like to thank you, Mr. Norman, for Episode #12. After Silent Sam’s introduction, guiding Matthias back to Redwall, was cut out of the series, I’d given up hope of ever seeing him on the show. To have him appear in all his “silent” glory like that was a real treat.

Michelle: The “Silent” glory of Sam – I like that. (I think GN did a good job too.)

Glenn: Yes, Sam was a real joy to write. Brian did a wonderful job on him and the little guy just seemed to take over … as some characters will [g].

Martin: Did you know how important some scenes would be to later books and, thus, later (possible) seasons? For example, the need to keep Chickenhound’s death vague for his eventual return as Slagar. Did you know about that when you wrote Chickenhound’s death or did you find out about it later?

Michelle: Over to you GN. (I love the moment of surprise in the book when you discover Slagar is Chickenhound.)

Glenn: As mentioned above – I only read the books as I wrote them, so, I found out about Chickenhound later – and was VERY surprised – which, of course, is exactly the reaction I was after [g].

NOTE: Bear in mind that Steve DOES know what’s coming, which is why he is our “Keeper of the Flame.”

Martin: Do the two of you have any favorite scenes or episodes out of your Redwall work?

Michelle: Favourite Scenes.

The fall of Felldoh in the battle for Marshank touched me and I’m partial to scenes with the RAF (Redwall Air Force). The search for Martin’s sword in the Abbey roofspaces and the closing victory roll/fly by. The return of Warbeak’s flying wing when she releases them before her final battle and, of course, her final moments and tree top tribute. (Whew, nice alliteration there!)

Also, some of Steve’s dialogue for Basil makes me LOL. And I love Brian’s introductory speeches that are airing on some PBS stations. He has this fabulous voice.

Glenn: Actually – My favourite eps are Michelle’s. The Death of Warbeak was an amazingly moving episode – especially as we are talking animation, here. And I also loved the way she deftly handled the very tricky episode on Cheesethief’s demise (And I wasn’t alone. That Episode was nominated in the Best Children’s Drama category at the International Animation Festival in Amalfi, Italy.)

I loved the Redwall eps where Matthias goes to retrieve Martin’s tapestry from Cluny. I loved the subterranean eps of Mattimeo. And I get a big kick out of Clogg’s slide into madness in Martin The Warrior (currently airing on the Teletoon network in Canada.) 

Martin: Was it difficult to learn Brian’s dialects, such as Molespeak, Harespeech, and Sparra, so that you could use them in original scenes?

Michelle: I took to Sparra-speech right away, but, when I was first reading Molespeak, I had to consciously break the words down very slowly in my mind. As for Basil and Harespeech, I try to use as much of Brian’s dialogue from the books as I possibly can, then rely on my favourite Brits (GN & Steve) to cover any Canadian-isms that might inadvertently intrude.

(When I finished my very first scripts, I had to initiate a “paw check” along with the traditional spell check. I was constantly writing lines like – Matthias grasped the scabbard in his hand…. Oops… So a “paw check” was a computer word search to replace “hand” with “paw.”)

Glenn: As noted, I kind of speak like Basil already, doncha know , and Molespeak is so much fun to write that it comes out very easily (though it drives our Spell Checkers absolutely crazy [g].)

However – when it came to Sparra speak, we all turned to Michelle if we were uncertain. I remember a frantic phone call from Steve one day. He’d spent hours trying to find just the right way to phrase something in Sparra speak – then finally gave in and phoned Michelle.

And it makes sense that Michelle should be our expert there. After all – She is the only tiny (“five foot, half inch”), flying female we have on our writing team – so, who would understand Warbeak & co. better?

Martin: Which did you find more difficult: writing the original scenarios or adapting what Brian wrote?

Michelle: In a novel to screen adaptation, I try to remain conscious of the author’s intention at all times. For me, turning Brian’s chapters into scenes means a writer is on firmer ground with regards to the spirit of the book, as opposed to coming up with original scenarios to fit Redwall characters and overall history.

Glenn: Both presented their own unique problems. During the first season, we were trying as hard as possible to paraphrase Brian’s words and protect his original intentions. Whenever we had to write something “original,” our first thought was always to ensure that it stayed true to the spirit – and the tone – of Brian’s work.

Quite frankly – the first season was a lot more nerve wracking because we were all feeling our way – and NONE of us wanted to accidentally offend Brian.

It may seem like a fairly obvious solution to change, as we did in the second and third seasons, from paraphrasing Brian to trying our hardest to lift material right out of the book – But, novels and screenplays are very different creatures and adapting in this manner frequently ends up taking more time than writing something original.

All TV, in some way or another, has to stick to a fixed format, and the Redwall series is no different.

We have to cram three acts into a little over 22 minutes – That includes opening & closing credits AND the tapestry sequences.

We have to have “cliff hangers” at the end of each act for those networks and countries that will include commercials. If we don’t, viewers who aren’t devout Redwall fans, start punching that remote, and if they find something else they’d rather watch – they’re gone! If that happens too often, down go the ratings and there goes the show.

And, sometimes, things that work WONDERFULLY in a book just won’t fit the tight constraints of Television.

Personally, I prefer adapting Brian’s books for the simple reason that, over the years, I have written a lot of my own original material and I know how much it hurts to see your words changed around.

And, let’s be clear here – Redwall, Mattimeo, Martin The Warrior and ALL the Redwall books were WRITTEN by Brian Jacques. Those are his wonderful characters. That’s his witty dialogue.

Our job is to try and get as much of that wonderful material out of his books and onto the screen as the medium will allow.

Which is why I’m a lot happier now our credit reads “adaptation by …”

For that is what we do.

Martin: Did the two of you know when you accepted the job how much your episodes would be scrutinized by the fans of the books?

Michelle: I think it’s wonderful that Redwallian book fans have taken the TV series to heart, but, I don’t think anyone on the screenwriting team knew that our episodes would be scrutinized to such an extent.

Glenn: Didn’t have a clue. And let me tell you what a shock it was when an innocent evening surfing the internet for Redwall sites uncovered some guy who was critiquing each and every one of our episodes … HUH? [g].

Still – As I didn’t get trashed too badly, I don’t think I’ll complain that much [vbg].

Seriously – As time has gone on, all of us have become very aware how much Brian’s books mean to the fans – And all I can really tell you is, we DO consider that, very seriously, as we write these shows.

And knowing Steve, Toby & Michelle as I do (and leaving me out of the equation [g]) – I’d say Redwall is in very good hands indeed.

Martin: How does it feel to see the finished product air on television?

Michelle: The moment you actually get to “see” the characters you’ve been writing come alive on the screen is always a surprise. It’s like meeting old friends again.

The screenwriters received some initial character and location sketches from the animators when we first started out, but, it’s always a thrill to see it all come together with the animation, the music, and the actor’s voices… Ah, that’s the Abbey!

Glenn: Shocking. It’s always a surprise to see how animators have decided to draw a character, and it’s inevitably different than the image you held in your head – But, then, I’m sure that’s the same for all Redwall readers. We ALL have our own individual idea of what Matthias REALLY looks like – We are all surprised to discover Basil’s voice sounds “like that.” Not at all the way we’d expected.

But, as with most of the shows I’ve written over the years, doesn’t it seem true that, after a while, it’s difficult to imagine Matthias looking any other way than we see him drawn. And how else WOULD Basil sound than the way we quickly get used to hearing him?

What really seems to matter is how you feel about a show when you look back at it years later. And, for myself – I’m very pleased with this series – and very proud to have had the honour of playing a small part in bringing Brian’s books, by way of television, to millions of Redwall fans – and new friends – all around the world.

Martin: What’s the word on Season Four?

Michelle: Mum’s the word on Season Four.

Glenn: In Absolute Honesty – I really don’t know. Not that this means much. Mere writers are not party to the decisions made by those “higher up” [g] – and the way it has happened in the past is – There is no word at all – then there is a sudden frantic phone call from Steve to see if we are available and can start writing yesterday. Tis the nature of the business. You get used to it … But, I sincerely hope that phone rings again soon – because we really are enjoying the Redwall experience.

Martin: Do you have any advice for aspiring writers?

Michelle: Advice for aspiring writers… The first thing that comes to mind is – just do it. Wrestle your fears to the ground then sit down and write.

If you are interested in writing screenplays in particular, buy some of your favourites and read them. Try to figure out what makes them work. What draws you in? What are the moments? What touches you?

Find out what a screenplay format looks like or get a software program that takes care of all that – we use “Script Thing” on Redwall, but, there are others, such as “Final Draft”.

Then, write from your heart.

Never Surrender.

Glenn: Sure. One word – PERSISTENCE.

I’ve known lots of extremely talented writers who didn’t make it because they gave up. And I’ve known lots of semi-talented writers who did make it because they didn’t give up (including the one who stares back at me from the mirror [g].)

I read somewhere that one out of every four people in America is “working on a screenplay.” That’s approximately 70 Million people!

Should that intimidate you? No way.

Because nearly all of them will give up when they find how hard it is to make that first sale. Only a very few will want to be writers badly enough to put up with the inevitable years of rejection.

But, if you DO want it bad enough – AND – if you’re prepared to learn from your mistakes – You WILL make it.

BUT YOU GOTTA REALLY WANNA !… Or the bad times will just plain tear you up.


That’s all there is to it.

Piece of Cake [vbg].

Martin: Well, that just about does it. Thank you again for taking the time for this. Any last words for all the Redwall fans out there?

Michelle: For Redwall fans: What a lovely tribute to Brian Jacques’ that such loyal fans care enough to lavish attention on this particular incarnation of his work. Kudos to you all!

Glenn: Who me? Ask Michelle. She’ll tell you I ALWAYS want to have the last word . So, I’ll say – I hope my overly long responses [g] gave you some insight into what goes on behind the scenes from a screenwriting point of view and please feel free to visit our web site for more information on Michelle and I (and lots of really cool flying pictures [vbg].)

Next – My congratulations to YOU, Martin for this web site. There are many fan-based sites on the Internet (punch “Degrassi” into a search engine and see what you get back [g],) but few have the thoughtful, in-depth coverage you have given to Redwall.

I think that’s reflected in the time and energy you took to prepare the well thought through questions in this interview. My thanks for that.

Redwall fans are lucky to have you.

And finally – my sincere best wishes to Brian as he recuperates from his stroke – and my most sincere thanks for the wonderful stories he has created with such obvious passion and heart, for little and big kids like us, all over the world.

And just to finish up from both of us …

It’s been our pleasure to take part in these interviews. Our thanks for your interest.

There you have it. This was a very enjoyable interview to work on- my sincerest thanks to Mr. Norman and Ms. Goodeve for taking the time to answer my questions. You can learn more about them at their website, Thanks for reading!