Wednesday, 27 October 2010

Rachel Morgan Q & A

As promised to tie in with her first story of series 2 is an interview with its author, Rachel Morgan. Enjoy!
How do you find writing a story knowing it has to be ready within a shorter space of time? How does this effect how you plan and construct it?
Sometimes I already have the plan in my head, I know what I want the characters to do and where they have to go so I just sit down and let the whole story write itself from start to end. Other times I'll come up with the middle, a key scene that makes the whole story; then I'll break it down into steps working back to the start and forward to the finish, sometimes writing the ending before the start; or sometimes some of the beginning, some of the middle and some of the end and then dot back and forth adding scenes in here and there as inspiration strikes me.
Does any factor draw you to write for particular Doctors, and if so, what is it?
For a short story you don't have time to really write in-depth character analysis of the Doctor, you kind of have to get a quick flavour of that Doctor, a certain way of speaking, a feel to the scenes, something that gives the reader the immediate connection to the Doctor and their era. The 6th Doctor is very passionate and has a very grandiose way of speaking; he likes to use long words, where as the 5th Doctor does some very great hurt reactions. If you can convey that with a few words of speech then it saves an awful lot of descriptive text.
What particular difficulties do you face in writing for established characters against those you've created yourself? Is it easier perhaps?
I guess the main thing is with original characters is that they can exist as quite complete individuals in the writers minds. I certainly could write Trudiode's [the central character in series 1's Trudiode and the Doctor] reactions to any event in an instant without consciously sitting down for an hour and wrestling with her emotion files. Her driving force is curiosity and she likes making new friends and she's very loyal, up to a point, but I guess it's trying to tell the audience all of this without the luxury of a novel-length story to tell it in that is the hard part. A pre-existing character such as the 3rd Doctor exists pretty much in every fan's mind and thus when we say, "He made his Venusian karate yell", we all know it's 'Haiiiii!' and not 'Yoooo!'
You seem to be quite prolific, with non-Who fiction as well, and even have your own store on lulu. Tell us about some of your other work.
I like experimenting with what a story can be, I like to push the common consensus of what literature is. I like to generally take an idea and twist it around to make it into something else: e.g. a simple girl meets boy story is revealed to take place just before an air raid in World War 2 and they realise that they might never see each other again after they kiss. I just like to see what I can do, what works well, what doesn't, why it either does or doesn't and try and generally improve myself each time.
Do you have a preference in terms of what you write? Is Doctor Who fiction a good testing ground for other ideas for example?
Fan fiction of any sort is a good process to me, it certainly helped me to find my style and I sometimes find that a story just doesn't work with the Doctor in it. Take him out and suddenly it works, and vice versa. Sometimes a story starts off quite innocently as something original but it just lacks something and then with the addition of the Doctor hey presto it has a fire in it that turns a dull deletion-worthy story into something worth keeping, perhaps even posting.
Do your methods of planning vary based on what you are writing, or do you have a set way of working no matter what the subject matter?
Sometimes I just make it up as I go along and other times I spend days, even weeks, planning a story (I currently have a couple of stories in their planning phase that I've gone back to again and again over the last few years and when I'm ready to write them then there's a lot of notes and stuff to work with). Sometimes I just cannot be bothered with writing, I'd rather play World of Warcraft or read a book, but that doesn't mean I'm not thinking about the story. Sometimes a rest is necessary in order for a story to go forward. Other times I'll stay up all night to work on a story when I'm 'in the zone' and the ideas are running out of my mind as fast as I can type them.
In terms of what you write and how you write, who would you say your biggest influences are?
Music is my biggest influence, not even the lyrics, the way a song makes me feel can get me in the right mood to write a certain type of scene. The Holy Bible by Manic Street Preachers is perfect for writing dark moody stuff like pain, torture, suffering.

A few quick questions to finish:

Favourite Doctor and why?
The Doctor – each part of him is but a facet of the true person.
Favourite companion and why?
Peri. She and Sixie are the blue print for all the Doctor/Companion team ups that have followed.
Top 5 Doctor Who stories and why?
The Caves of Androzani .The best of the Doctor is revealed in this story.
Midnight. It's just such an insight into human nature, each character goes through several fundamental changes of nature.
Vincent and the Doctor. It's the best 11th Doctor story so far in my opinion.
The Natural History of Fear. Not so much a story about the Doctor as a story about Doctor Who, and bloody good too.Attack of the Cybermen. The 6th Doctor will always be my Doctor and his tale really begins here.
What do like about Doctor Who? What keeps you hooked?

A different type of genre with a different guest cast and a different look and feel to it every story. The infinite variety I guess – anything can happen...
Favourite author/s?

Lawrence Miles. I dislike his personal opinions about the show and fandom almost as much as I like his writing. If ever the phrase tortured genius was to be applied to anyone it's him.
Favourite book/s?

Faction Paradox: This Town Will Never Let Us Go by Lawrence Miles; Space by James A. Mitchiner, everything ever written by Terry Pratchett; Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince by JK Rowling.
Top writing tip?

Go for it!
Rachel, thank you.

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