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Posts Tagged ‘dr who’

Mondy (him on the left, tormenting Rob Shearman) has written Dr Who stories featuring the Dr and Bernice Summerfield for Big Finish Productions. He’s been Tuckerised in Kate Orman’s novel Blue Box.What else do you need to know? Is that not enough to elevate him to the position of demi-god in the Nerdverse? I thought so. He also has opinons. Lots of them. About everything. And he shares here. I say this not to mock, but to genuinely point you in his direction for his opinions are informed, intelligent and nicely articulated. So much so that he was nominated for a William Atheling Jnr award for criticism – and you don’t get that just for telling someone their ass looks big in those pants.

1. What was your first experience of Dr Who?
You know what really annoys me?  Doctor Who fans who can pinpoint that first time when they first saw the show or read their first Doctor Who novelisation.  I mean, I have this vague memory of being shit scared by the rubbery fake spiders in Planet of Spiders (which was being repeated on the ABC in 1977 when I was three years old) and I know Genesis of the Daleks frightened me to the point where I actually lived the cliché by hiding behind my parent’s couch, but there’s no way I could put a hand on my heart and say either of those events was my first Doctor Who experience.

That said, I do distinctly remember the first Target Doctor Who book I bought:  It was Nightmare of Eden (I was drawn to the novel by that crappy monster on the cover (a Mandrel) and the dour look on Tom Baker’s face).   But the cover that excited me the most when I was about seven years of age (and not longer after I bought Nightmare of Eden) was Death to the Daleks.  I mean just look at it – an explodey Dalek all the colours of the rainbow.  I mean, what seven year old kid wouldn’t be excited?! 

2. How did you end up writing Dr Who books for Big Finish?
Basically, it’s all Rob Shearman’s fault.  But then, what isn’t these days.  Anywho, on a visit to the UK in 2003, Rob introduced me to Ian Farrington one of the editors on the range of the Short Trips Doctor Who anthologies.  We get on so well that on that very night, between our fourth and fifth pint (and by Christ was I sloshed so it’s a miracle I remember what was said) he offered me the opportunity to write him a story for his new Doctor Who anthology.  The great thing was that it was more than just the chance to pitch.  He wanted a story, and he didn’t care if my first few ideas were non-starters.

In the end I wrote eight Doctor Who short stories (the first two with Danny Oz, who was lovely to work with).  I even wrote a glorious (but genuinely awful) bit of fanwank that featured both the 7th and 8th Doctors.  Writing that scene where the two Doctors bitch at each other was a moment pure of fangasm, even if I knew it had no artistic merit at all. 

Probably my favourite story out of the bunch was called Direct Action, where a time travelling film director is given the task of filming a less than famous advisor during the war at Gallipoli.   It not only gave me the chance to write for Tom Baker’s Doctor (my all time fave… yeah, I know… cliché) but it also gave me an excuse to actually research what the ANZACs faced at Gallipoli.  I think it’s the best thing I’ve ever written.

3. You get to be Dr Who for the day: who do you choose as your companion and where do you go in the whole of time and space?
Well, I’d like to go with my son and visit every single major Australian sporting event.  I mean, how cool would it be to sit in the crowd with Joshi, watching Don Bradman and the Invincibles beat the Poms for the Ashes in 1948.  Or being one of the 121,000 people at the MCG to watch the Carlton Football Club come from 44 points down at half time to trounce Collingwood in the 1970s AFL Grand Final.  And how awesome would it be to be standing shoulder to shoulder with Bob Hawke when Australia II won the America’s Cup!?!? 

Come on people, stop rolling your eyes.  Sport is GREAT!!!! 

4. If I didn’t write, I would …
Probably play more computer games. 

Actually, without getting all self confessional here, but the thing is I don’t have the desire to write that much fiction these days.  I get the odd idea from time to time, but mostly I’m interested in writing reviews (and the odd critical essay) on my LiveJournal (http://mondyboy.livejournal.com).  I was overjoyed when it was nominated for the William Atheling Jnr award for criticism.  And it was at that point that I realised that I really do like telling the world (or at least the 140 people that read my LJ) my opinions.

That said, I probably will get back to writing fiction one of these days.  It’s just not my focus anymore and I’m cool with that.

5. Donuts or danishes?
Everyone in my family has said Danish.  I think they’re all crazy.  The answer, of course, is Donut.  There’s nothing like a just out of the oven ponchka absolutely bursting with jam.  Especially when you squirt that jam everywhere!

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I am on retreat with a bunch of awesomely talented writers, in a gorgeous undisclosed location. I am sharing a cabin with Rob Shearman – he doesn’t eat cereal with milk! Nor does he drink coffee! I know, scandalous.

Is good here. Quiet and retreaty, waterish. Food is excellent. So far, no serial killers. Nor daleks. Wonderful.

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Add to my Christmas list

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Snurched from Amal …

Ze rest lives ‘ere.

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Robert Shearman is a nice man. He’s also an amazing writer – allow me to quote from a review of his first collection, Tiny Deaths, “The dialogue is witty and wise, the settings believable, and the characters… well, they’re all people you know, even the multiple Jesuses (what is the plural of Jesus?). The humour is dark but never nasty. These stories display their brilliance in ways both sly and shy, as if lifting their skirts to show off their knickers and then acting as though nothing happened.” Okay, admittedly I wrote that review, but the fact remains that the book won a World Fantasy Award. He has also written for stage and television – including Dr Who. Dalek showed us how daleks evolved to conquer their greatest enemy, the stairs.

Now Love Songs for the Shy and Cynical, his second collection is currently stuffing its swag full of awards: the Shirley Jackson and the Readers’ Award in the Edge Hill University Short Story Competition, thus far. He is coming to Australia for AussieCon4. Go and meet him, buy him a drink.

 Here he takes time out from his very busy writing schedule to answer my silly’ish questions:

Now Love Songs for the Shy and Cynical, his second collection is currently stuffing its swag full of awards: the Shirley Jackson and the Readers’ Award in the Edge Hill University Short Story Competition. He is coming to Australia for AussieCon4. Go and meet him.

1. What are your writing fetishes, i.e. what can’t you write without?
Well, I’m remarkably superstitious about writing. And when I first started, I seemed to come with about twenty or so superstititions already fully formed. I could only write outside at night time. I could only write with a certain type of pen in a certain type of notebook. I could only write listening to one specific artist on my CD walkman to one specific project. Dear God, it was annoying.

And over the years, as I’ve grown older and less tolerant of myself and my stupidities, I’ve been weening myself off them. Writing outside at three in the morning was fine when I lived in Devon with nothing but sheep for company and very lenient policemen; it’s less sensible now I live in London and I share the early morning streets with prostitutes and gangland warfare and – bizarre, but true – hordes of twelve year old children who try to scare me by riding bicycles at me. So I still write outside – but I do it in the *day*time, and now only so I can get away from the twin distractions of Facebook scrabble and television game shows. I still listen to music, but they’ve invented a thing called an ipod now, so it can be any old nonsense on shuffle… so long as it’s ambient and dull. (I’ve bought an awful lot of very dull albums over the years, which would be *achingly* awful were I not wanting to write to them.) And I still use the same exercise books – but only because I accidentally bought a joblot of eighty of them a few years ago when I thought I was only ordering half a dozen… and I have a lifetime to get through them.

Otherwise, I’m really very normal.

2. When I was first asked to write for Dr Who, I …
…was on a bus in London. And it’s against the rules of London buses to dance up and down the aisles – they say it distracts the driver. So I was obliged to sit squarely in my seat and wait until the bus came to a complete halt before I could get up and do the dance thing.

I’d been a huge Doctor Who fan when I was a kid – really, genuinely obsessive about it between the ages of twelve and fifteen, the sort who could recite every single story title in order. (Actually, I still can.) And the affection for it never went away. The original BBC series was cancelled in 1989, and although I was at university by then, and was just a little too old to love it in the same way I once had, it caused me genuine distress that it was no longer on the air for the next fifteen years. It just seemed *wrong* in the scheme of things. So when the BBC announced the series was to be revived, way back at the end of 2003, I was over the moon. When my agent phoned me up a couple of weeks later, on that London bus, I was rather higher than the moon and somewhere in the vicinity of Pluto.

The irony was that I was with a new agent, and someone who had no idea of my Doctor Who geekery. And someone, too, that I had told rather stiffly I had no interest in working on anyone else’s television series – from now on, I’d said, I’d only write self-created work. So when she phoned to tell me an offer had been made, and that I was to bring back something called… what was it they’d said, Daleks? – I jumped on her right there and then to ignore all I’d instructed her and to accept. (I think she might already have done so. Every good agent knows to ignore me most of the time.)

3. The worst thing that’s ever happened to me at a con/reading was …
Conventions are a bit awkward and embarrassing if you’re there as a very minor guest, and no one has the faintest clue who you are. If I go to a Doctor Who convention, I’m treated (rather wonderfully) like minor royalty. Doctor Who fans are terribly loyal. They give you free beer, and free pastries, and free head massages. But if it’s a *general* sci-fi convention, and I’m only there to represent the Doctor Who contingent because I’m incredibly cheap – if I’m surrounded by lots of actors from American shows, and I’m just a *writer* from something made in *Wales* – then I can feel a bit like a village vicar in a room with the Pope.

I was at a con in Toronto once where that was most acutely obvious. I was in the green room, walking about helping myself to nibbles, in the company of several Star Trek actors, guest stars from The X-Files, and that lady who was in Babylon 5 who was also in Lost. (My God, was she grumpy.) I think they all thought I was some crazed fan greedy for snack food. I then had to appear on a live television show alongside George Takei. George Takei was a charming man who spoke about the great innovations of Gene Rodenberry, and how all the fictional gadgets he’d come up with like the communicator had been so prophetic. I was then asked by the interviewer whether Doctor Who was similarly advanced, whether that too would inspire the great inventors of the future. Whether the TARDIS could be something that’d be the blueprint to a whole new technology our children might enjoy. “Nah,” I said. “It’s a load of old bollocks, really, isn’t it?”

4. I hate being a writer when …
That’s hard. I don’t think I ever hate being a writer. Not any more.

I used to. There was a period when I just found the whole *effort* of filling a blank page to be torture. And then there were the deadlines. And then there was the editing. And then there was the awful self-realisation, upon finishing every single script, and every single story, that you hadn’t revolutionised the art form after all, and that what had made the journey from brain to paper was about five per cent of what you’d hoped for.

But now I just find the idea that I’m a writer terribly funny. I became a full time writer when I was 22. I was very lucky. I’m now 40. I realise I’ve spent 18 years for someone to tap me on the shoulder and tell me it was all a mistake, or a very odd joke – that I’m not allowed to do this job after all, that I have instead to go and do something that involves cash registers or heavy lifting. It’s bound to happen one day. My shoulder is ever waiting. But until my shoulder is tapped, I’m determined just to enjoy the whole thing – deadlines, editing, self-doubt and all!

5. Donuts (or doughnuts) or danishes?
Hmm. Doughnuts. I like toying with the hole in the middle, and pretending its calorific content extends to the entire ring around it.

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Ah, Mitchell and Webb … one of my favourite skits … http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oP-rkzJ6yZw

Where’s Dr Who when you need him?

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Or something like that. This looks exciting anyway:

Chain Gang

There’s a new series starting on BBC Radio 7 on Saturday September 26th, and they want you to help out.

Chain Gang, written by Rob Shearman is looking for help. They’re going to make the first two minutes of a story and transmit it on Radio 7 – and then want you to tell them what happens next. Each week Rob will dramatise one of the storylines that people send in to create the next episode.

You can find out more at the Chain Gang website, where you’ll also find instructions after the first episode transmits about how to send in your storylines.

From Piers Beckley over here http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/writersroom/2009/09/chain_gang.shtml

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