Thursday, 14 July 2011

Andy Weston - New Q & A

It's a year to the day that Consequences first launched, and in addition to the finale of series 3, Consequences' writer Russell Williams has been kind enough to ask me a few questions about the series and its future. I hope the answers are to your liking, but if there is anything else anyone is curious about, please feel free to comment or contact me on Gallifreybase or via Twitter using @ColeHawlins. I'm not saying I'll divulge everything, but I'm happy to give answers where I can.

Hope you enjoy!

So, Andy, Consequences has now reached its first anniversary.  Back in the beginning, did you ever envision the series carrying on for a year and three series (with a fourth on the way) of stories?

I really didn't! At the time I wasn't even sure that one series would work, let alone a second or third. I think I always hoped that it would carry on beyond one series, but the success (if that's the right word) of series one and beyond very much surprised me. Obviously I immensely pleased - and proud - of everything so far, and it's really heartening to see the series still here one year on. That said, the next series will be the last.

That is a shame to hear, but then I suppose, given Consequences’ format, that a return could indeed be possible.  You touched on the success (and I do think that is the right word) of series one, and indeed subsequent series.  Do you feel that the success of the series has made it easier to attract writers to the series, as you said in a previous interview that was one of the toughest jobs starting out?

I think it may have done. What was also good was that I had a bank of writers to ask back for series two, knowing they could commit and make the deadlines required. Obviously there were some new faces, and it was very good to have some 'new blood' in series 2. I don't know how much of the attraction was because of the success of series one, since series two was already being planned while one was being posted.  I’m not sure that the name of 'Consequences' has been that big a draw as I've still struggled to fill slots. I've written 4 of series 3's stories for example.

Going by that last statement, is it possible that some of the problems you spoke about in a previous interview about people who would drop out or you would lose contact with altogether has persisted throughout?

There’s been a certain degree of that, yes. People who I'd given second chances to let me down once again, and although it's all just for fun, it's more than a little annoying when it happens more than once. I think there may have just been a lack of interest too, which is a shame. I do think that series 3 has some of the strongest stories thus far though, so maybe it was for the best.

Indeed it has.  I suspect that a number of factors played into the struggle to get people to sign up.  After all, there is a limited pool of writers and perhaps others were just unsure about writing in prose.  Let's not forget that before Consequences began, the Land of Fiction section [on Doctor Who forum site Gallifreybase] was largely dominated by script-based series.  Are you pleased that that trend seems to be changing and that prose is starting to find a place again?  And, do you think that Consequences has greatly inspired this change?

I don't know how much influence Consequences has had on that, but since I prefer to write and read prose personally, from my point of view it's a very good thing. I've made my views on reading and writing scripts for fun clear though, so I won't open that can of worms once again!

Ah yes, good point!  Consider me as one of the converted.  Going back to the subject of Consequences, the last two series has really pushed the boundaries story-wise and has told tales of alternate Doctors and alternate timelines.  What was your inspiration for pushing the series in that direction?

The idea all stemmed from the series one finale where I knew I wanted to head in that direction. I wanted to do something a little different, and while I know there have been alt-universe series before, I thought it'd be interesting to do one using all of the Doctor's incarnations (thus far at least!) rather than sticking to just one. Mixing them up so they're not in chronological order gave it a bit more randomness too, which I'm a great fan of.

Indeed, it has certainly been very interesting to write for, with all the twists and turns which really add an extra thrill.  Will the alternate timelines continue into the final series, or will we see a complete change of pace?

Well since the series 3 finale is now out there, the alternate timelines are wrapped up, but that's not to say I wouldn't revisit them again in the future. As for series 4, we're back in the regular universe, and it'll finally be revealed who's behind all this messing about with the Doctor's timeline...

Intriguing.  Well, I'm sure I can speak for all of Consequences’ readers, when I say that I can't wait to see how it all plays out and just who the Big Bad at the end is.  Any possible teasers you can give us for the upcoming series?

Well, there will be some hints seeded throughout about the identity of the 'big bad', not everyone is as they seem (so pay VERY close attention), and...River's back! How could I not use her again? There's also something else that needs to be paid attention to too, but it won't be something that many - if any - will pick up on. Needless to say it's very important...

Curiouser and curiouser.  It's great news to hear that Ms. Song will be back as she has been quite a welcome presence throughout this series.  As you've wrote extensively for River over the three series, did you come up with your own idea about who or what she was, and did the recent revelation in A Good Man Goes to War change or enhance that viewpoint?

I did and I was pleased to say that I was proved right! I thought it was a great revelation and it was perfectly in-keeping with what had been revealed up to that point. It's bound to inform my writing of her from now on though, which is no bad thing. Not least since...SPOILERS!

Well, I'm glad to hear that you guessed correctly.  Unfortunately, I'm one of many to have guessed completely wrong! As Consequences enters its second year and final series (for now), looking back, what would you say have been your personal highlights over the last twelve months?

I think once series one was finished, that was a personal highlight as it meant that I had something under my belt so to speak. On a personal level the series two finale, A World Without Angels, was very special since it was written pre and post the birth of my new daughter (my second), so I have very happy memories of that one. As regards other people's stories, I've enjoyed them all, though I've been really pleased to get such great writers onboard in general - and thrilled that Matt Fitton has written for Big Finish now! And even better, I've managed to snare him back for 'The Last'!

That's great to hear that you have such fond memories and achievements that you've had to look back on, as well as having worked with great writers who hopefully you can work with in future.  Before I move on to 'The Last', I feel I have to ask the flipside to my previous question.  Have there been any regrets or avenues that hadn't been explored over the last twelve months?

I think only in the sense that I've not pushed myself enough. I could certainly have done better work with some stories if I'd pushed myself more. That said, since Lyra (my youngest) was born I've had less and less spare time, so I'm not going to beat myself up over it!

Well, that's certainly good to hear.  After all, this is all just for fun and family comes first.  Moving on to 'The Last', can you reveal any details about the series?  When it is due to go out? etc.

Well, it's essentially the last series that I'm running (in solo terms at least!) and does have a strong running element, which I won't reveal just yet. It's a shorter series than previous ones and as such won't contain all the incarnations of the Doctor. The stories will be slightly longer though, which will give people more space to explore their ideas. I'm very pleased that everyone I've asked to take part has said yes too!

That's fantastic.  I'm glad to see that there will be a final hurrah for you as a head writer.  Beyond Who fanfic though, are there any other projects that you are working on (that you wish to divulge, at any rate)?

I'm working on something with another writer, but it's in the very very early stages at the moment, so I can't say much about it - not least as there's not much to tell! Aside from that, I'm planning a sci-fi/supernatural/detective sequence of stories which I've had in mind for a while and which I'm really hoping to do some more work on over the summer.

Well it certainly sounds like you'll be a busy man even though Consequences is coming to an end.  I'm sure I speak for all readers when I wish you luck with your endeavours.

Thank you very much.

I'd just like to finish off with asking you a couple of obligatory questions for every Who fan.  Firstly, which is your favourite Doctor?

Right now? It's a three way tie between Hartnell, Davison and Smith. It does change though, usually depending on who I'm exposed to most during any one period of time!

I imagine it’s the same with a lot of fans.  Personally Baker and Tennant are always fighting it out for my top spot!  In a twist to the last question:  Which has been your favourite Doctor to write for?

That's easy - Hartnell. He's so well-defined in my head now, he almost writes himself, so I hope my characterisation comes across well!

Well, I've certainly never heard any complaints, and writing Hartnell is an art in itself – you can't make him all crotchety, he has to have the grandfatherly touch.  Next questions:  Who is your favourite companion personally and to write for?

Hmmm, that's a tougher one to answer. I've really been enjoying a lot of the Hartnell companions more recently, and I love the pairings of Ian and Barbara, and Vicki and Steven. As for favourites to write for....I really enjoyed writing for Leela. She has such a specific speech pattern that it's quite a challenge to capture her voice accurately. Again, you just have to hope you do it justice!

That's great.  Thank you for taking the time to speak with me Andy.

You’re very welcome.

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