Time Shadows Anniversary Edition Interview
One of the 'bonus features' of the Time Shadows Anniversary Edition was a series of interviews by Jolyon Tuck.
Here they are with my answers...
Jolyon Tuck: It wasn’t until I got to the end of your story that I realised I have next to no experience of zombies in fiction – what films or books would you recommend to a newcomer to the world of the undead?
David Black: Well, I'm no expert either but Shaun Of The Dead is a great gateway drug. Night Of The Living Dead is always worth a watch, 28 Days Later is better than its reputation and The Walking Dead comics are superb. The zombies in my story, however, are not the shambling corpses of Romero films, but rather a mindless mass robbed of their individualism. More like Invasion Of The Bodysnatchers or The Faculty.
There was a Doctor Who Role-Playing Game called Time Lord and the example scenario in it called The Templar Throne. When a character sat on the throne they lost their mind, and what's more terrifying, they could never get it back. Until fairly recently I had forgotten where that came from but that concept really stayed with me. It always frustrated me that in these sorts of narratives, everyone is always so sure that with the removal of the malign influence everyone will return to normal, and they are usually correct. I decided instead that it would be the malign influence itself that sustained these people and the only way to end their misery was to end them too.
Jolyon Tuck: It’s always nice to see a base under siege – and you give the Doctor less than an hour to solve the zombie apocalypse – why do you think we love this kind of storytelling?
David Black: It's true, isn't it? A base under siege is a wonderful thing. There's something very evocative about these structures we build to protect ourselves having the opposite effect. We want to keep danger outside, we fail and trap ourselves inside with it. It's a phrase synonymous with Doctor Who to the point that no one ever uses it to describe any other fiction, but it would be a perfectly good description of the Alien films and definitely The Thing too. You can see the appeal for the budgetary concerns of episodic television, limiting the number of sets required to make the programme. For the viewer, or the reader, it provides a sense of claustrophobia that really helps the storytelling.
Jolyon Tuck: For those of us who have been Big Finish fans for years, there’s nothing unusual in a fifth Doctor and Nyssa story, to the point that it’s easy to forget that it didn’t really happen on television. What made you opt for this pairing and why do you think they work so beautifully together?
David Black: Famously Peter Davison saved Nyssa because he felt her character worked best with his. Often the relationship between Doctor and companion is one akin to teacher and pupil. You can see it with the Fourth Doctor and Leela or the Seventh Doctor and Ace, but it's present in many more. The Doctor shows his companions the universe, but with Nyssa it never seems to be about broadening her horizons by exposing her to the extraordinary. Instead their relationship, particularly in the hands of Big Finish, seems to be about revealing the universe to her one emotion at a time. In recent years, Nyssa has gained the depth that it could be argued that she lacked on television. She witnessed Event One and essentially took it completely in her stride, but she has been drawn into a more emotive show than it ever was between 1981 and 1983. It's often pointed out that the companion is the representative of the audience in Doctor Who, but Nyssa almost never fulfils that role. The Fifth Doctor has become our eyes and ears far more than other Doctors ever do, while she is more aloof and awkward than the average companion. Nyssa and the Doctor have arguably swapped those roles altogether.
Time Shadows Anniversary Edition raised money for a good cause and I would be grateful if you would consider making a donation to Limbforge, a charity that provide 3D-printed prosthetic limbs for those who need them.