We continue our weekly creator spotlight with Episode Four: As You Like It, written by Tori Das and illustrated by the fabulous Sugarize.
Writer: Tori Das
How did you come to Doctor Who? What’s your journey with the show?
I first heard talk about it among my classmates at university in 2013, and came across Who content on Pinterest. Fast forward to 2015, I decided to watch an episode, try it out like a dress, when I wasn’t in the state for anything else. Turns out that was one of the best decisions I’ve made in my life. The Moffat era of Who, particularly the Capaldi and Coleman era, changed me. Or, more accurately, it encouraged me to strip away the inessential in me, and live life more fully, as more aware of life itself.
What is your favourite thing about the show?
It’s scope for reinvention and fantasy. Doctor Who can be anything you want, provided you stay true to its foundation as a children’s show that adults also enjoy, as a story of hope and grace above all. The show encouraged me to lose myself in fantasy, to enjoy non-realism without feeling self-conscious about it. This is particularly thrilling in the case of TUA, since ‘Clara Who’ is based on the same premises – it’s a gift from Steven Moffat and Sarah Dollard to the fans, to go lose ourselves in love and dreams like Clara always does.
So, what’s it like writing for TUA? What are you most excited for?
To put it in one word: incredible. I can’t get over how surreal it is that I’m working with this bunch of ridiculously talented writers and artists and making up stories with them for my favourite character. It’s transformed my life, definitely for the better, and it’s the work of writing and brainstorming itself, the journey, that feels hugely gratifying. I think I’m most excited to read the other writers’ stories, and fangirl about them with every other reader of the series. I want us all to share that crazy thrill of going on imaginary adventures, this time with Clara Oswald.
How did your episode come to be? Where did you look for inspiration: Doctor Who itself, other places, bit of both?
The idea I started with – theatre in space – came from meta on Clara from Caitlin, TUA writer and co-showrunner, and one of our favourite critics of Clara Oswald, as we fans often say amongst ourselves. Apart with that, basically I used ideas, no matter how small, from everything I came across, every story that impressed me. Shakespeare's As You Like It - obviously - Japanese folklore, Electra and Antigone, Mayan and Egyptian mythology, Hannibal, the 1999 and 2001 Mummy films. I can’t even tell them apart in the story most of the time, I just get on with the writing.
Sum up your episode in 3 words!
Theatre, Memory, Interpretation.
What’s your journey with Doctor Who? Did it inspire your art?
I began watching Doctor who when I was 13 and Matt Smith was at the end of his tenure. Back then my art was sloppy and terrible, but I really liked Doctor Who and I began writing (admittedly bad) fanfiction, coming up with different adventures for the Doctor and his companions. From there I starting doing little drawings for them, and I really enjoyed it! That kickstarted my interest in art and I began trying to improve.
What are you most excited about when it comes to doing art for this series? What do you think are/will be the greatest challenges?
Just being able to put my Clara-drawing skills to good use is exciting enough! And I'm really looking forward to seeing everything finished, so I can read the stories myself! The biggest challenge so far has been adapting my art style to the story. I'm stepping out of my comfort zone a bit to draw something more realistic and less cartoony. It's been challenging but fun!
Can you give us some non-spoilery teases about the look of the episode and the art you’re going to provide for it?
Lots of winter-y colours, blues, purples, spooky backgrounds, fantasy elements and a looser, painterly style. And a lot of Clara of course. :)