Two new online fanzines are available now, the very different Whotopia and Fish Fingers and Custard.
Now in it’s 29th issue, the Canadian Whotopia Magazine presents an array of articles and opinion, including from one time DWW contributors Matthew Kresal and Dan Tessier! This month’s theme is reboots and restarts…
An Unnecessary War Doctor?
Matthew kresal considers whether this incarnation was needed after all
Innes Lloyd: An Unwilling Warrior
David P. May examines the critical influence of producer innes lloyd
What’s All the Fuss About?
Jez strickley reviews the introductory guide to Doctor Who by Will Hadcroft & Ian Wheeler
The Doctor Who Scholar
Jeremy Remy’s ongoing academic perspectives on Doctor Who – this issue music.
Who You Build
David Etches guides us through his full-scale Dalek model making
Michael S. Collins & Jon Arnold go head-to-head in this conversation review of the Fourth Doctor’s finale
Dan Tessier’s thoughts on the decaying renegade of the Deadly Assassin & the Keeper of Traken
Nick Mellish’s quest to read every Target novel continues
Replay: Terror of the Zygons
Thomas Spychalski puts this classic adventure under the spotlight
Series Nine review: Part Two
Matthew Kresal concludes his thoughts on the most recent series
The Stories That Might Have Been: The Colin Baker Era
Bob Furnell continues his exploration into the scripts which never made it into production
The Curate’s Egg: Meglos
Defending yet another controversial subject, Richard Michael ways in with a prickly word or two
The Audio Archives: Storm Warning
Andrew Screen continues his look at the works of Big Finish
A Tribute to Anthony Read
Bob Furnell pays tribute to former script editor and series writer, Anthony Read
All this and more in the latest issue with can be downloaded at Whotopia.ca
[su_note note_color=”#46a6dd” text_color=”#ffffff”]Fish Fingers and Custard #17[/su_note]
[su_quote cite=”Fish Fingers and Custard” url=”http://www.fishcustardfanzine.co.uk”%5DAfter a tough few months doing absolutely nothing, we’re back with a new issue to inform/disgust you. Coming in at 44 pages, this issue of Fish Custard is certainly worth a read. WARNING: There is PLENTY of writing[/su_quote]
In this Issue:
Series 9 reviews – we review every single episode from Series 9 and question whether this was Moffat’s finest work on Doctor Who
Build-a-Companion – Forget who should be next, what sort of person should accompany The Doctor on his travels throughout time and space for Series 10?
Tim Gambrell chats to Caroline Boulton, who played ‘The Habrian Woman’ in Face The Raven
A look at The Fourth Doctor Past Adventure books. Which one is the best? Which ones are terrible? Which ones would have made a great Doctor Who episode?
The world of Doctor Who spin-offs is a rich tapestry of creative goodness, populated by iconic and enduring characters such as Jago and Lightfoot, Captain Jack Harkness, Iris Wildthyme, The Minister Of Chance and Colonel Lethbridge Stewart. Through the medium of novels, short stories and audio dramas fans have plenty of avenues through which to continue their love affair with all things Doctor Who during series breaks. And that’s without watching repeats or recons of the 230+ tv adventures. New initiates to the worlds of Doctor Who soon discover that like the TARDIS it’s so much bigger on the inside than the outside.
Added to the mix in early 2015 came an anthology of short stories exploring that forgotten and disowned incarnation of the Doctor: The War Doctor – a part of the Doctor’s life that would have remained hidden were it not for Clara’s magical journey across his time stream. The Doctor would not want us to read about his exploits, let alone enjoy them. But in the wake of the hugely acclaimed Engines Of War novel by George Mann it was clear that the War Doctor had fired the imagination of fans. There was a thirst for more in whatever form that took. And quite rightly he looks set to join the pantheon of popular spin off characters and material.
The motivation to read more about the War Doctor comes down not to a fanwank obsession with the time war, time lords and Gallifrey, as obliquely referenced in the new series, but to the brilliance of the character as created by Steven Moffat and performed so marvellously by Sir John Hurt.
This was no leader. This was a reckless, misguided egomaniac. A man who needed reining in. A man who needed to help people, not to destroy. His destructive plans wiped out my entire legion, my entire civilisation and other races that were now no longer in existence. (The Eight Minute War. Rawlings)
As a result, the Seasons Of War anthology is a character driven collection. The younger face of Hurt as seen at the end of The Night Of The Doctor suggested that this incarnation had lived a long life before his regeneration into Christopher Eccleston. This allows the anthology to encompass different stages in his journey through the time war. Each author adds their own nuances to a Doctor who throughout the anthology displays a set of consistent, uncompromising traits.
The only way to end it, to stop the unimaginable pain and the agony is to do something the Doctor would never do: Kill a human. (Guerre. May, Jack)
And yet as the consequences of his actions begin to take their toll, we see him developing a softer edge. He is never quite worthy of the name the Doctor and this book is far from being the story of his redemption, but in his ambivalence there is an implied hope that he is after all, still the same man.
I remember my friend as he used to be: passionate, curious, sometimes cynical but always with a core of whimsical frivolity. Behind those ruthless eyes and the inch-thick, war-scarred hide – I could see in his face a glimmer of our old adventures. (Fall. Barber)
With a number of well known writers (including Gary Russell, Paul Magrs, Jenny Colgan, George Mann, Lance Parkin, Kate Orman, Andrew Smith, John Peel and Matt Fitton) contributing to the book it might be tempting to skip to favourites, but whilst each story stands alone, a richer experience would be achieved from reading the anthology in order. The editor Declan May has carefully crafted, selected and structured the stories. He mixes up the themes, styles, scales and lengths of each adventure so that the whole anthology is beautifully paced, with appropriate breathers along the way. The positioning of each story also gives the reader the tiniest morsel of developing hope in the character, as alluded to above.
They’d removed him from the war. He could feel softness creeping into his thoughts, inveigling itself into his mind. His limbs, with their seemingly permanent aches and pains, begging him to simply return to the bed and rest. But that would be a betrayal of his solemn vow after regeneration. Doctor no more, warrior instead… (Always Face The Curtain With A Bow. Arnold)
They say that variety is the spice of life and the fantastical worlds of Doctor Who have always been wonderfully diverse. This collection has something to suit everyone’s tastes from the truly macabre to the whimsical, from tales with more of a classic feel to those that would not seem at all out of place in the new series, from beautifully descriptive pieces to dialogue heavy action, from war journal to poetry.
You come and go, fixing things and leaving them as if they can stay mended. But even after the victory the horrors of war multiply. (The Time Lord Who Came To Tea. Driscoll)
There are returning foes, including of course the Daleks, but some quite unexpected ones too (spoilers). And there are returning friends including Leela, Susan and The Brigadier. The obligatory tie-ins to the new series take their place without being obvious or clumsy. Some of those loose ends and throwaway lines are referenced but are never the reason for a story. But much that you will read will be fresh – even those familiar figures who return in ways you would never expect. They are joined by a host of new ideas, new concepts, new enemies, new friends and even a new companion in the form of Jenny Shirt.
In a time of war a good question to ask is what is our greatest fear? Death and the loss of all we are, who we were, all we could have been? Or is it the uncertainty of when we will die? (Jenny Shirt, The Girl With The Purple Hair II. May, Davies)
The Seasons Of War project is more than a self-contained anthology. It opens with Nick Briggs’ moving tribute to Paul Spragg, known and loved by so many fans and one of the leading inspirations behind the project. It is accompanied by a truly remarkable short film directed by Andy Robinson.
Illustrated by some brilliantly inspired artwork from Simon Brett, Paul Handley and Paul Griffin, Seasons of War also has at its heart a sublime comic strip penned by Jim Mortimore.
Best of all, Seasons Of War follows in the long standing tradition of Doctor Who charity projects, raising money for Caudwell Children. To get your copy of the ebook, pdf or mobi file follow the link below and donate what you can to this worthwhile cause.
The Unofficial Doctor Who Book Guide, a complete guide to every Target novel ever published in aid of the Bobby Moore Cancer Fund, is available for another 24 hours only.
“The Doctor Who Book Guide from Long Scarf Productions is a book collectors dream as it covers every one of the titles released. In this comprehensive guide, the books are presented in story order and each edition of every book has a cover image and ISBN number and a value alongside the year of printing, price in fact a myriad of details that is all explained in context in the comprehensive introduction by [author] Chris [Stone]” – Russell Cook, Brave New World
“It’s [The Unofficial Doctor Who Book Guide’s] indispensability, in fact, which elevates this guide above other, apparently similar titles… This is a useful book, which in the end is the best thing you can possibly say about a reference title… [It] will make a welcome addition to any Who book fans shelves. I’ll definitely be picking up a copy…” – Stuart Douglas, From a Story By…
The book is ONLY going to be available for pre-orders so please click the link below to ensure that you receive a copy.
The book is available in two formats:- Hardback & Softback
For pricing with postage options see below:
UK Hardback: £35 (inc postage)
UK Softback: £20 (inc postage)
EU Hardback: £38 (inc postage)
EU Softback: £22 (inc postage)
Worldwide Hardback: £40 (inc postage)
Worldwide Softback: £26 (inc postage)
After much speculation and anticipation, the War Doctor charity anthology Seasons of War is almost ready for release.
For those who’ve missed it, Seasons Of War – Tales From A Time War is a Doctor Who fiction anthology and film, an unofficial project, raising money for the Charity Caudwell Children.
The collection will feature work by a who’s who of Doctor Who writers – including names such as Lance Parkin, Gary Russell, David A. McIntee, Jim Mortimore, John Peel, Kate Orman, Jenny Colgan, Paul Magrs, George Mann, Matthew Sweet and Andrew Smith.
With the excellent trailer for the accompanying film already available, created by Andy Robinson and with original music by Timo Peach, excitement is building for both instalments, ten teasers having been released alongside a text extract , set photos, an audio reading by Osgood herself Ingrid Oliver and more.
1. “What happened on Karn was unforgivable but necessary. I’m sorry. There could be no witnesses.” 2. Booyakasha! (Curious and curiouser) 3. The Army of TARDIS 4. “If you’re going to rummage around in my head without asking, be careful what you find there. I don’t use that name. Not any more.” 5. The Two (Non) Doctors. 6. 800 years old at the end, over a thousand at the beginning. That’s war for you. 7. Rassilon’s return will make you sick. 8. “Call me Foreman”. 9. Nothing at the end of the lane. A good omen. 10. Shooting, stabbing, poisoning, death by a sentient second-heart… Welcome to hell.
…and he looked at his reflection and said: “Doctor no more”.
Ohila of the Sisterhood Of Karn regarded him as he studied his new face. She noted that he did so, not with curiosity, but with a sort of cursory, functional glance. An appraisal. Like a Major inspecting a cadets uniform. He turned to her.
“Beyond the wreckage. When the gunship crashed, it materialised on the far side of the tundra.”
He looked at Cass, her dead body lying on the mortuary-slab-like-rock, her youth and fire extinguished.
“You’ll bury her”
Ohila noted that is wasn’t a request. An order.
“Yes, Lord.” she nodded in deference.
“In which case, I’ll be off.” he said. He adjusted the bandolier slung across his chest, and began to walk westwards. However, after a few steps, he stopped and turned. His black eyes met Ohila’s.
“You’ll tell no one of this.” he said. Again, not a request.
“Who would we tell?” Ohila replied, keeping her voice steady. “The Universe is in its dying days and time itself threatens to collapse, fold and crumple taking all history with it.”
“If the Daleks come..?”
“Then they will come. They will learn nothing from us. Nor will the Time Lords.”
He laughed then. Hollow and bitter.
“The Time Lords are the least of your worries, Mother Superior.”
“You mock still, Doctor.” Ohila replied.
“THAT IS NOT MY NAME!” he screamed with a ferocity so intense that Ohila, and the remnants of the Sisterhood present, fancied they felt the very ground beneath them tremble. Then, in a quieter, almost whispered, timbre: “Not my name.”
Ohila, determined not to appear cowed before her sisters, drew on her centuries of meditative study, took a deep breath and approached the new born Gallifreyan.
“I should hope, Time Lord,” she began, her voice low and steady so as not to seem to reprimand. “That this anger is a sign of post-regenerative stress rather than a true indication of the man you have become.”
The Time Lord considered this. Briefly.
“Whatever you put in that potion,” he replied. “By whichever strange augmentation or perversion of Time Lord science you developed that made my regeneration thus, I can safely say that the hangover is practically non-existent. I can, for once, see absolutely clear. I know what I must do. And I know what must happen. If my anger shocks you, then you have only your own manipulations to blame. You could have left me for dead, like the girl…the girl…”
The Time Lord shook his head in frustration. Already, he had forgotten.
“Cass” said Ohila, gently.
“A name,” he spat. “Another damned name. And what are names, pray, when the universe stands at the precipice?”
“Yet you can save it. You can save us.” Ohila said, her deep blue eyes beseeching him.
The Time Lord looked up at the stars, sniffed the air, closed his eyes and smiled. It was not an appealing smile.
“The Universe, yes.” he said, opening his eyes and meeting Ohila’s gaze. “You? Unfortunately not.”
Ohila took a step back. Was the Time Lord mocking her once again?
“There’s a Dalek ship, a Skaro Dreadnought, just pulling into orbit around Karn.” he said, his face now serious and his jaw held tight. “They must’ve detected the TARDIS, you see?”
Ohila looked up at the night sky and, sure enough, saw the pinprick yellow lights, arranged in a circle like carriages on a Ferris wheel, hovering on high, obscuring part of Karn’s second moon, making a crescent.
“I did tell you, Sister, that the Time Lords are the least of your worries.” he said. Not cruelly, but sadly.
“Can you help us?”
To receive the digital ebook version, you can visit www.justgiving.com/declan-may1 to donate (leaving your email address) or you can wait to donate a set amount for the print edition. The digital edition will be released in January 2015, along with the film. The details for the pre-order of the limited print edition will be released, initially, to those who have already donated, in January 2015 and then to the general public afterwards. Seasons Of War is a Chinbeard Books publication, edited by Declan May.
Earlier this week we reported on the exciting social media announcement of a new fiction anthology. With an impressive line up of authors telling the hitherto untold adventures of the War Doctor, Seasons Of War is set to become a fan favourite. The book will be available from Mid-December in ebook, paperback and deluxe editions with all proceeds going towards the children’s charity Caudwell Children. The ebook is available for pre-order now by making a donation towards the charity on the Just Giving Page: https://www.justgiving.com/declan-may1/
We are delighted to welcome the Seasons of War originator and editor Declan May for an exclusive interview about the project.
Declan, thank you for agreeing to chat with us in what must be an incredibly busy time for you and your editing team. Can you start by sharing a little bit about yourself – how long have you been in this industry and what have been your greatest achievements to date?
I’ve been in the industry – in one form or another – since 2002 and a fulltime freelance writer since about 2004. So just over ten years. I started my career in France, writing English dialogue for French sitcoms and soaps and terribly short-lived drama series’. Also did the English adaptations of the narration for a French erotic TV series. All good practice though. Best advice I ever had as a writer was “Take on any job. It’s always good practice and helps you perfect and hone your skills”. So basically, I just accept most things that come my way. Not that I’m some sort of ‘tart’! Just that every opportunity, for a freelance writer, leads to another.
I’ve done comedy for the BBC (both TV and radio), script rewrites for movies, ghost-writing, joke writing for panel shows, synopsising scripts for producers, screenplay rewrites for films never intended to be made and, well… whatever pays the rent. As for my greatest achievements so far, I’d probably say it was writing the English language scripts for some of the live action Asterix films. By scripts I mean the dialogue for the English dubbing actors and the English language subtitles for the films. Essentially I had to rewrite the script – as jokes in French don’t translate into English easily – come up with puns, one-liners, throwaway gags and so forth. Really good training. Besides that, I’d say my greatest recent achievement was getting Seasons Of War together. It has really been all-encompassing for the past few months. But I’ve had to work for a living at the same time by finishing a novel before the deadline (released next year) and working on another ‘passion project’, a biopic about the actor and writer Dirk Bogarde, which, finally is getting off the ground. Four or five years of work and, fingers crossed, it’s being made this year. But Seasons Of War and all the people involved… that’s what I’m proudest of.
Dirk Bogarde is one of my Mum’s all time heroes (bizarrely he features alongside Freddie Mercury above the fireplace) so she would be made up with that (Come to think of it – how about a Freddie tribute too?)! It’s an impressively rich range of credits, no doubt invaluable experience when it came to putting together such a diverse collection for the anthology.
With a bewilderingly enormous number of worthy charity causes out there, all in need of funding, what motivated you to select Caudwell Children as the beneficiary?
There are a few reasons why. The main reason being that my son continues to benefit from the support given by Caudwell. He is 7 years old and autistic. Caudwell offer on the ground, real support for children with disabilities, learning difficulties and all sorts of illnesses. Also, I wanted to bring attention to the fact that, for many families with a disabled child or a child with a condition such as autism, epilepsy, ADHD and so on, it can be very difficult. Financially, emotionally, in maintaining relationships, connecting with the rest of the world, getting the right support and keeping your head above water. Depression and isolation is a big factor for carers… living with a child (or an adult) with a disability can be a very stressful and difficult thing and Caudwell help with all this. Providing material support, helping to build and encourage and help families in an extremely difficult situation. It can be a very violent thing, you know? The upheaval and change in your life and lifestyle when there’s a person who depends so much upon you, who is so vulnerable, who needs constant help and stimulation and support. So that’s why I chose Caudwell. They help. They are utterly fantastic. And they need our help – the help of the public at large – to enable them to finance this support.
With all of time and space at your disposal, what was it that inspired you to make John Hurt’s War Doctor the subject of this anthology?
Well. After the 50th anniversary episode Day Of The Doctor I found myself wanting to know more about this man. Wanted to see more. But, I realised, as we’ve seen his ‘birth’ and ‘death’, story-wise it is complete, you know what I mean? We saw Paul McGann regenerate into him and we saw John Hurt start to become Chris Eccleston. So that story, in a way, has been told. Plus it’s John Hurt and it’s highly unlikely he’ll be popping up on Doctor Who every so often. Also, ever since the series began in 2005 and they’d talked about the Time War, I’d always imagined what it’d be like to see, at least some of it. But with the War Doctor character, this incredible idea by Steven Moffat, this rich and layered character, I thought: well, there’s plenty of scope for new ‘untold’ adventures. Missing adventures, if you will. Lost episodes.
So, as I was casting around, trying to think of a book, an anthology in order to raise the most money and interest for the Charity, using the War Doctor seemed like the perfect solution. And, discussing it with some people who were involved in the show and fandom in one way or the other, I realised that there was an appetite for this. Also, I’d been watching on DVD the series The World At War and the scope of the thing – its 25 episodes or something – showed me that within a war, (even within one individual battle like the Normandy landings or Stalingrad or the Anaheim) there are so, so many individual stories. Plus the War Doctor is supposed to have been fighting in the Time War for 400 years or something, so that’s a hell of a lot of ground to cover – so many stories. So what we have in Seasons Of War, whilst being in no way official or anything like that, is just ‘some’ of the stories from the adventures of John Hurt during the ‘story arc’ of the Time War.
John Hurt’s performance was almost universally lauded at the time, and no doubt the majority of fans were hoping that following The Day Of The Doctor we wouldn’t be saying War Doctor No More. Certainly the initial reaction to the announcement has been really positive.
How did you go about assembling such a high calibre of writers and contributors, all willing to give freely of their time and talents for the anthology? Were there any particular joys or set backs along the way?
It’s been nothing but a joy from start to finish. From soup to nuts. At the beginning I was helped informally, conversationally, over chat and instant message, by someone who helped me out with email addresses, contact details, possible lines of enquiry and the like. This was Paul Spragg, who sadly died a week or two after those discussions. But we’ll come back to that. Basically, I just asked, or got other people to ask. And people are, really, just very nice and enthusiastic and willing to help, you know? Especially for a worthwhile charity. And that’s the important thing: the charity always comes first – before ego, before reputation, before storyline or pitch or whatever.
Little by little, we got some really fantastic names. But I can’t take credit for all that alone. I was helped by so many people. For example, Simon Brett, one of the editors and writers in the anthology as well as the main illustrator, he put me in touch with the wonderful, funny, humane and gentlemanly Andrew Smith (author of Full Circle and so many great Big Finish audios) and the bloody amazing author Paul Magrs put me in touch with the equally bloody amazing George Mann, author of so many things but, Doctor Who-wise, the War Doctor novel Engines Of War which is absolutely cracking. A work of art and which, as we got further down the line, acted as a sort of standard or template. This was the first ‘Time War’ novel, so we looked to that for inspiration. Then there were people like Gary Russell, Jenny Colgan, Matthew Sweet, Kate Orman, Jim Mortimore… I just asked. John Peel too. He delivered a story in a matter of days. Same with Lance Parkin. Incredible work. I can’t wait for people to read them all.
Anyway, short answer: I just chanced my arse and asked! I mean, what have you got to lose? The worst someone can say is “no”. One of the things I’m most proud of is that we’ve got contributors of all ages and from all over the world. UK, Ireland, United States, Canada, Australia, Israel, France, the Netherlands… Very diverse and varied bunch. Two of the best pitches and stories I’ve seen, and are included in the Anthology, are by an 18 year old Israeli girl. If I was writing like that at 18, I’d be a lot richer now, I can tell you. Big future for her. Also, there’s a fantastic writer called David Carrington, who’s ostensibly a comedy writer and hasn’t really done much in the way of sci-fi prose or short stories. His story is glorious. I reckon he is going to be massive.
Without giving away any spoilers, can you give us an idea as to the style and variety of stories we can expect and will there be a running arc tying it all together?
Christ. The style varies. We’ve people from all over the world, different types of writers from diverse backgrounds. We’ve fairy tales, horror stories, thrillers, cyberpunk, steampunk, hard sci-fi, Ballardian ‘inner space’ science fiction, comedy, Shakespearian pastiche… But there is a consistency. And there is an arc, of sorts. It all ties together and there are thematic overlaps and connections. It’s a very satisfying collection, if you know what I mean. It builds up, sometimes in subtle ways, sometimes in overt ways, to a conclusion. So the Doctor we see in Arcadia in Day Of the Doctor…well, we see a little how he came to that point. How he got there. But in such a way that there is a lot of scope for a thousand other stories to be told about this version of the Doctor. We’re not plugging every gap. But it should all work out and you’ll get the feeling of having read the story of a life at different points. But, being Doctor Who, that can be in a very Timey-Wimey way…
The anthology is not officially endorsed by the BBC but how conscience have you been of maintaining links and continuity with the ongoing show? (For example, has the reference to The War Doctor in Listen impacted upon any of the stories). Is the current production team aware of the project?
As for links to the current ongoing show, we have been very careful. For example, during the pitching process back in June and July, someone submitted a story set in that barn from Day Of The Doctor. Now, because of my job and because I know people involved with the show, I knew that that would be coming up in Listen. So I said “We can’t use that” and they changed it to somewhere else. Same with the Doctor’s childhood and so forth. Some things were out of bounds. It was all in a ‘writers guide/bible’ thing I gave out to prospective authors. I’d things like “no Rani, no past-Doctors, no sequels or prequels to TV episodes”. Seems to have worked out ok.
As for the BBC, well I’ve been in touch with them throughout and, as long as it is all for charity and nobody earns a penny out of it and as long as we do not make any claims to it being ‘official’ or ‘canon’ or whatever, then we’re ok. I use the analogy of a charity fete where the local am-dram group puts on a stage production of… Midnight. Same with all the fan-fiction on the net. Like us, it’s absolutely free. Anyone can access it. The difference is we’re doing that, but making sure those who read it donate to the charity. But, all along the process I’ve made sure to check up and run things past certain people now and again.
Having contributed three stories to the anthology, what was it like for you to write about The War Doctor? And do you have any advice for would-be new writers?
It’s liberating. It really is. And also, because Steven Moffat’s writing of the character was so strong and John Hurts portrayal was so bloody good, you find that the voice comes easily to you. He’s a sort of ‘posh bohemian gone to pot’. You can see him propping up the bar in the Colony Rooms with Francis Bacon and Jeffrey Barnard. But with a hint of steel. He’s still the Doctor (even though he strenuously denies it) but he’s a warrior. He can be gruff, but there’s still this English gentleman underneath. That’s how we’ve been writing him. Everyone seems to have gotten him spot-on!
As for advice, it wouldn’t be my place to say except what I said earlier. Go for everything. Every opportunity. If you’re offered a chance to stretch your writing muscles, then do it. And be sending stuff off everywhere ALL THE TIME. There shouldn’t be a day that passes where you haven’t sent off a pitch, a synopsis, a chapter, a treatment, a few jokes, a request for work. People wont come to you unless they know you. So, make yourself known. Be a pain in the arse. Also, don’t be a snob about it. Don’t say “Oh well…I only write sci-fi” or “I only write drama”. F**k that! If you want to be a writer, then write. Send stuff off. It can’t just be a hobby. You need to take it seriously like any other trade. As for writing a Doctor Who short story, the only advice I would have is that ideas and concept should come first. See if there’s a story in it. Then see if you can add Doctor Who to it. The other way round rarely works. The story shouldn’t serve the Doctor; The Doctor should serve the story.
Any project like this generates a hell of a lot of submissions and I imagine you were swamped with synopses. How many did you receive and how difficult was the task of whittling down the stories? Are there any memorable stories that for whatever reason didn’t make the cut?
In total, I received something like 330-340 submissions. Pitches for the most part, but a few full stories as well. Quite a few were clearly already written with another Doctor in mind and then changed to “the warrior” or “the Time Lord”. But you can always tell. A lot of really good ideas. Really. There are a lot of really creative people out there. But we wanted to make sure that a great idea could be backed-up, followed on by good writing. It’s often the case that you’ve someone who has great ideas and concepts but who can’t really write prose. Sometimes it’s the other way round. We needed people who could do both. So there I was with a couple of other editors looking through the submissions. Far too many “the Doctor arrives on a strange planet and discovers a Dalek superweapon” or stories based around Romana or Drax or Leela and Andred, or just generic sort of stories where nothing much happens. No story…just people talking a vast screed of canon and Gallifrey references. Dull as dishwater to read.
What I did want to avoid – and submission-wise, we did receive a lot of these – were stories set within the Doctors head, or in the Matrix or in some ‘dreamscape’. We received far too many of those. It’s very difficult to read or to hook in the reader, if all that is happening is the War Doctor walking through some fantasy dreamland, talking to wise old characters who are aspects of himself or something like that. We needed stories with a start, middle and end. Antagonists. Action. Story coming first. But any story where it was just the War Doctor by himself, wandering round his own head or the Matrix, talking to himself with nothing much happening… Not interested. But Christ, there were quite a lot of those. And we had to refuse any pitches that changed the lore or the history of the show too much. I can understand totally why people would want to write a story like that, the temptation is huge, but we didn’t feel it right or appropriate to do anything too drastic (like blow-up Karn or kill Romana) in the anthology.
The other thing was people sending-in pitches and work and saying: “I am a brilliant writer and my Doctor Who fan-fic is highly praised at such and such a website” or “You should choose my story because everyone who has seen it thinks it’s the best thing they ever read.” or “My writing is better than Steven Moffat’s” and they’ll send a story that demonstrates painfully clearly that that is categorically not the case. A lot of that. And a lot of very angry people who, when you politely reject their pitch and say why, get quite abusive and there’s personal attacks and so on. If you want to get on in this business, you have to learn how to take rejection (on a daily basis!) and don’t be a rampant egoist, throwing your toys out of the pram if your story doesn’t get chosen. But, for the most part, people were lovely. And out of about 300 pitches we narrowed it down to about 35 and, the stories and writers chosen…well, they really are the best. Some absolutely remarkable work.
What a great mix of established and new writers and I would like to echo Declan’s words about dealing with rejections – keep plugging away and respond with grace and humility, but be absolutely confident that you do have stories worth telling. You have to find the right place for them and take on board all the advice you can get from experienced editors and writers.
This will sound cheeky Declan, extremely so… but can you give Doctor Who Worldwide any exclusive teasers or quotes?
Well… as far as teasers go, I can give you a few to whet the appetite. There’s a comic strip, drawn by one of my fellow editors and writer Simon Brett, with a script by the New Adventures and BBC Books author Jim Mortimore, based on notes and ideas from Russell T Davies! It was going to be used for something else a few years ago, but that fell through, so now it’s being included in Seasons Of War. It is fantastic – a thing of beauty. We’ve stories that will utterly astonish you and really question the War Doctor and show just what utter incomprehensible hell the Time War was. As for plot details, we discover how Rassilon got brought back from the dead (and it is horrible) we learn why the Doctor’s age is what it is (the War Doctor says he’s 800 in Day Of The Doctor, the 7th Doctor was 953 or something) and it’s a fun and interesting plot point with a lot of retconning.
You also will get to see how the War Doctor tried to keep his beloved planet Earth away from the Time War, although he doesn’t always succeed. And there is a delicious cameo from a future Doctor and his companion which all fits in with the continuity of the show. There are stories that had me weeping, there’s great pieces about how war affects the little people and there are some mindblowingly creative villains and alien races and planets and concepts that, I think, is some of the best Who prose fiction I’ve ever seen.
Another teaser is, of course, the short film that will accompany the book’s release. All done by professionals, directed by a fantastic director, scored by a well known musician and… Well, I can’t say too much about that. Oh, we’ll also be announcing some very familiar names who’ll be reading extracts from Seasons Of War. But I won’t say who.
Dec – you are such a tease! Lots of jaw dropping stuff there with the promise of more announcements to come once certain funding milestones have been reached (so readers – you know what to do!)
The anthology is dedicated to Paul Spragg, familiar to some of our readers but for those who never had the pleasure of knowing him, can you tell us a little bit about Paul and why this particular anthology is particularly fitting for such a dedication?
I never met Paul Spragg, but we had a few mutual friends in common. Like everyone, I’d heard him on the Big Finish podcast and had talked to him via email or chat. But, while I was thinking about the anthology, it was he who right at the beginning really helped me out getting in contact with writers, and with his infectious enthusiasm and optimism offering suggestions, encouraging me to see how far I could take this. Really fired me up, you know? He was such a lovely man. Then, a few weeks later, he was gone. And I think that is a massive blow for so many people, even people like me who didn’t actually really know him outside of ‘virtual communication’ and text messages. But for his partner, his family, his colleagues, his family and his friends it was awful for them. So very sad. But, beyond the shadow of a doubt, the Anthology had to be dedicated to his memory. I think that’s right, isn’t it? I haven’t yet found anyone who could disagree with that. And, in some way, his name will live on through this Anthology, read all around the world and contributed to by people from all over the world. All in the spirit of charity, enthusiasm, love for the show. Part of Paul Spragg’s legacy I think.
I am sure readers of DWW will echo your sentiments Declan. As one of the contributors to the anthology I remember the enormous wave of positive support from all of the writing and editorial team when you first proposed it, along with so many moving and personal stories of Paul’s generosity and kindness. Here is a great opportunity for our readers to ‘spread the love’ by supporting Seasons of War and the staff and beneficiaries of Caudwell Children.
Thank you for such a candid and insightful interview Declan, you have given us a great understanding of the writing and editing process as well as some exciting teasers about the forthcoming anthology. But above all you have given us the opportunity to reflect upon and consider the wonderful work of the staff and supporters of the charity Caudwell Children.
Look out for more announcements over the coming two months and don’t forget to sign up to the Facebook Page:
On Friday, September 5th 2014, James Wylder’s long awaited unauthorized book of Doctor Who poetry, An Eloquence of Time and Space was released in print and digital form on Amazon. A massive undertaking, the book contains a poem about every single Doctor Who story from An Unearthly Child to The Time of the Doctor. Not to mention the book contains a poem about each story of Torchwood and The Sarah Jane Adventures! Together it forms an episode guide for the show in the form of poetry.
Clocking in at 500 pages, the book also contains a cookbook by Caterer Taylor Elliott, Essays by James Wylder and Andrew Gilbertson, a short story by Wylder, and bold illustrations by artist Olivia Hinkel.
Funded on Kickstarter.com, the book has been featured on The New York Daily News website, Kasterborus, Bare Bones Entertainment, the Elkhart Truth Newspaper and Media Bitsro.
More information on the book, as well as sample poems and illustrations, can be found at www.jameswylder.com
“The Unauthorized, Unofficial, poetic guide to 50 years of Doctor Who Doctor Who has been around a long time, but this episode guide give you a whole new way of looking at it. Every single televised Doctor Who story has a poem about it in this book, guiding you from wiley William Hartnell to dapper Matt Smith through versatile verse, and wondrous illustrations by artist Olivia Hinkel. If you’re a fan of Torchwood, the Sarah Jane Adventures, or K-9, all of them have a complete episode guide in poem form to! An episode guide like no other, poet James Wylder (Cascade, Cryptos) will help you celebrate Doctor Who’s 50th Anniversary — and see the show in a whole new way. Also featuring more 50th fun: A Doctor Who cookbook by Taylor Elliott Two essays by author Andrew Gilberston Four essays by author James Wylder A short story in the spirit of the TV show by James Wylder”
An Eloquence of Time and Space is available now via the Amazon link below.
The online worlds of Doctor Who are buzzing this week after the surprise announcement of an exciting new anthology. Hot on the heels of George Mann’s acclaimed Engines of War, Seasons Of War brings us more hitherto untold stories, charting the adventures of the enigmatic and previously hidden War Doctor.
When the eighth doctor regenerated in Night of the Doctor we saw a glimpse of a much younger John Hurt. Seasons of War will take the reader on a journey from his early years to those war torn moments that led up to The Day Of The Doctor.
The collection is headlined by a remarkable array of the best of Doctor Who writers – including names familiar to readers of the New Adventures and Eighth Doctor novels such as Lance Parkin, Gary Russell, Dave McIntee, Jim Mortimore, John Peel and Kate Orman. Add to this star studded roster authors such as Jenny Colgan, Paul Magrs, George Mann, Matthew Sweet and Andrew Smith and we are surely in for a treat.
Edited by Declan May, Warren Frey, Simon Brett and Nicholas Hollands, the anthology is a non-profit enterprise with all proceeds going towards the children’s charity Caudwell Children http://www.caudwellchildren.com
The full line up and further information can be found on the project’s Facebook page:
There’s been a major update to the Temporal Logbook blog discussing stories wanted, cover letters, female writers, story status and other bits n’ bobs.
The blog is the best place for the most up-to-date information on the project. Any news or information that we think is important for you as a contributor to know will be posted on the blog first before our Facebook page or other sources we’re posting status reports on.
The Temporal Logbook is an unofficial and unauthorized not-for-profit short-story collection featuring original Doctor Who fiction by new and upcoming writers. The stories will involve the first eleven television Doctors, in a series of exciting adventures across space and time.
The collection will be published by Canadian publisher Pencil Tip Publishing.
The May 2014 issue of Panic Moon fanzine is available now.
It’s a real mixed bag this time, but has an unintended – but nevertheless welcome – slight first Doctor bias, with articles about An Unearthly Child, Marco Polo, The Time Meddler and The Savages. We also look at The Time of the Doctor, Doomsday and The Girl Who Waited, Doctor Who in Germany, missing episode animations and space opera in Doctor Who. As if that weren’t enough, we speculate on a connection between The Daemons and Ghost Light, and write in praise of Carmen Munro, Michael Grade, the Raston Warrior Robot, Tanya Lernov, the TARDIS doors and moments from Planet of Giants and The Enemy of the World.
The issue is lavishly illustrated with beautiful original artwork. The issue comprises 36 monochrome pages in Panic Moon’s distinctive A6 ‘pocket-sized’ format. Just right for reading on the bus (or in the loo!).
Pencil Tip Publishing is pleased to announce the unofficial Doctor Who charity short-story collection, The Temporal Logbook.
It’s been said that Doctor Who has one of the most flexible formats in television drama. With the basic premise of an alien who travels throughout space and time in a box that is bigger inside than out, and which is disguised as a 1960s police public call box, it can’t get much simpler than that. One week the show can be a gothic horror, the next it can be a comedic satire, while the next it could be a base-under-siege thriller – the possibilities are endless.
The Temporal Logbook is a new short-story collection featuring original Doctor Who fiction by new and upcoming writers. The stories will involve the first eleven television Doctors, in a series of exciting adventures across space and time. The collection will be published by Canadian publisher Pencil Tip Publishing.
100% of the proceeds from this publication will be donated to our chosen charity Positive Living Society of British Columbia (formerly BC Persons with AIDS Society) http://www.positivelivingbc.org).