Sunday, 22 August 2010

Russell Williams – Q & A

As promised here is the interview with Russell, talking about both his series 1 stories and what's coming up in the future – including his own spin-off from series 2....

Hi Russell. You've just seen your second - but really your first - story for 'Consequences' go public. Were you nervous at all about Sunday [Russell's Tenth Doctor story], considering the short time you had to write it in?

Good question. Actually, I was less nervous with this story than I was for the Eleventh Doctor one. With this, I had two of the best characters created in Doctor Who to work with – throw in Wilf and it practically creates itself! But with the 11th Doctor and Amy (and Rory), I was less self assured about them. Obviously, I had the whole of Series 5 to watch back, but when you compare it to Tennant's four seasons. I was a lot more self assured.

I can see how it would be easier in that sense, and I think you've pulled it off very well. So as regards the 11th Doctor, what made you choose to write for that particular incarnation when you first put yourself forward? Did you regret it at any point bearing in mind the lack of 'research material'?

Thank you. I suppose when I initially accepted, I think I was either working on my first script for the Eleventh Doctor Script Series, or had just finished it, so I thought I'd take the challenge of writing for the newest Doctor. As a fairly new writer, I like to challenge myself, and picking a prose story for a newish Doctor is as challenging as it can be. I think I may have had regrets in the early stages of writing, as the series was still broadcasting and I didn't really click with Smith's Doctor and Amy until the end of Series 5. But once it was finished, there was no stopping me, and actually writing in the post-Series 5 timeframe is even more exciting.

What made you decide to include Rory in the mix? Your Tenth Doctor story includes both Donna and Wilf. Do you have a preference for more than one companion, and if so, what is it about the dynamic that you especially like?

I'd never really noticed that trend until you pointed it out, but I suppose I do have a preference for the two companion set-up. I discovered Who in 2005 and I just loved the Rose and Jack combination, and later on the Rose and Mickey combo. Later moving on to the classic series, my all-time favourite combo was Ian and Barbara. Moving to Amy and Rory, I believe it is a more interesting dynamic

to cover, about how they relate to each other and the Doctor in turn. However, Wilf's appearance came out of the fact that the scene on the hillside was the first thing I thought about with this story. And let's face it, who doesn't love Wilf?

Indeed! Your series 2 story has another double companion team (I won't reveal it here though – spoilers!), but your series 3 story only features one. How do you think this will affect the story? Will it change the way that you write it?

I'm not too sure really. My series 2 story will actually have the Doctor travelling with three companions for a time, so that will add an extra element to the dynamic. I believe that the 10th Doctor and Martha had an interesting relationship anyway, and the "random elements" in my story will alter the dynamic of that relationship. But as you say, we can't discuss too much.

Do you have a particular preference for the new series Doctors, or do you think you'd be happy to write for any of the other incarnations? If so, who would you like to try next?

I think that the new series Doctors are the ones that I am more familiar with, and Tennant is my favourite or second favourite Doctor depending on what day it is, and what story I'm watching. But I won't limit myself, I mean I'd seriously consider writing for the 4th Doctor, my alternate favourite/2nd favourite. He's just so mad and zany, and I absolutely love that, especially with Romana and K9 in tow. Barring that, I'd consider writing for the 1st Doctor with the aforementioned Ian and Barbara combo. Certainly a challenge.

So, what else do you have coming up? I believe you've got another 11th Doctor script coming soon. Can you talk about it at all?

Well apart from the stories from the next two series of Consequences, I do indeed have another script for the 11th Doctor Series. Not too much to say about it at the moment due to the fact that I haven't started writing, but it's entitled "Terror from the Deep" and is a story set in the present day, and features some nasty beasties at the bottom of a pond or lake. In fact some of the ideas for the script grew out of my original ideas for this short story.

Very intriguing! I know we talked before - briefly - about a series spun off from your series 2 story. Is this something you think might happen?

Oh definitely, I was so fired up about it when you originally detailed the brief to me. Mad, barmy old me, I've planned out the whole series practically. The twists and turns, companions, and more importantly, the regenerations. I have to get this off the ground!

When do you think this might happen, and what form will it take?

Hopefully, I can start something rolling towards the end of the year. As for the form, I'm not too sure yet. Ask me a month or so ago and I'd have immediately said script form, but after working in prose and seeing that I can actually do it, it's seriously made me reconsider that position.

What do you see as the benefits of each form? Why did you originally prefer script form?

I suppose my preference for script form originally came from the fact that you don't have to put in flowery descriptive language, which I hate, and don't consider myself to be an expert in. However, I've learnt that you don't have to use it in prose. In fact I believe my style of writing (thus far) has been very straight-forward. This happens, that happens, he does this, she looks like that, bang, bang and you're done. I must admit, I like writing dialogue, so my preference would still hinge on script form, but I can certainly see the more relaxed and varied style of prose.

A few quick final questions to end then.

Favourite Doctor and why?

Oh that's a tough question. It's like picking your favourite child, but it has to be either Tom or David, depending on what day it is.

Favourite companion and why?

Favourite companion has to be Miss Donna Noble. She had everything, she was funny, she could break your heart and she stood no nonsense from the Doctor. She had that rapport and friendship with the Doctor that hadn't been seen since the 2nd Doctor and Jamie. It's certainly a testament that it's been over two years since her memories were erased and I still often feel sad and even teary whenever I catch a Series 4 repeat.

Top 5 Doctor Who stories? Why do you like them?

Top 5, sweet lord. I'd certainly rate The Daleks' Master Plan as possibly my number one favourite – it was the longest serial ever (until The Trial of a Time Lord) and it was so epic! Throw in Mavic Chen, Daleks and the Meddling Monk. Top! This is so difficult, but obviously The Talons of Weng-Chiang and Pyramids of Mars have to be in there. Hinchcliffe-Holmes era, never a better time. Love

gothic-ness and the mummies and the Victoriana. Remembrance of the Daleks also comes pretty close, the best serial of the 1980s, steeped in nostalgia and the Daleks were good for the first time since 1967. To round it off for the new series, I'd probably go for Midnight. So gripping, so scary. RTD's finest script.

Favourite author/s? Favourite book/s?

Weirdly, I'm not a great fan of reading. The only reading I generally do is for tie in fiction relating to Who or Star Trek. On the Trek side my favourite authors have to be David Mack, Keith R.A. DeCandido and David R. George III. Mack and DeCandido for the excellently suspenseful Wildfire and George for Crucible: Provenance of Shadows. Excellent read, bit of time travel, brilliant.

How about for Who then?

I've not read many Who novels, but from what I have read, Terrance Dicks obviously gets kudos for his Target novelizations and Timewyrm: Exodus, a great novel featuring the War Lord and an alternate reality story where the Nazis have conquered Britain. Add into that World Game, a sequel to The War Games, featuring Napoleon. Also the 8th Doctor novel Genocide, which sees the return of Jo Grant.

What do you like about Doctor Who? What keeps you hooked?

I like the variety, which in my eyes, makes it head and shoulders above all competition. One minute you're in the year 100,000 BC, then you're on Skaro then in 13th century China. It keeps the programme fresh and keeps me coming back for more. Add to that, the distinct British-ness of the Doctor. He isn't an ultra-cool sophisticated action hero, he's an average guy, bumbling around in a stolen time ship, and who leaves the brakes on.

And lastly, what would be your top writing tip?

My top writing tip would be to keep challenging yourself. Even when you hit a block, try and keep going, but if not, go for a walk, listen to some music, clear your head. Plus, a second opinion never hurts. I've had work which I thought was crap and someone else has thoroughly enjoyed it and told me how brilliant it was. Perseverance is the key.


Russell Williams, thank you very much.


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