Things are progressing very well over here in TUA land, so we thought it was time to share some of it with you! For the next thirteen weeks, we’ll be posting Q&As with our writers and artists, as well as revealing the episode titles! This week we start with Episode One: A Citizen of the Universe, written by series co-project lead Ruth Long with Alex Wakeford and Zoe Lance (you can view their dedicated spotlight here), and illustrated by Caz. Enjoy, and make sure to check back weekly for information on each episode and the creators behind them!
Writer: Ruth Long
How did you come to Doctor Who? What’s your journey with the show?
I first started watching the show back in 2006 with Series 2, but although I thoroughly enjoyed following the Tennant era, at that age it was in a very casual capacity, and so I saw the showrunner/Doctor change in 2009 as a jumping-off point. Several years later, however, on a whim I finally got a taste of what I’d been missing since, watching Asylum of the Daleks on iPlayer back in 2013. I loved it, I loved the Eleventh Doctor and the Ponds, but most of all my attention was captured by a certain Junior Entertainment Manager turned Dalek. As you can imagine, once I found out she was to be the new companion, well, I couldn’t not watch on! And the rest is history, really. It started a profound passion for the character of Clara and Doctor Who as a whole, in all its many eras.
What is your favourite thing about the show?
I could easily write a lengthy essay to answer that question, but I think ultimately, its fundamental kindness. Most of us have heard the oft-quoted yet ever-relevant speech by Steven Moffat on what makes the Doctor such a remarkable and important hero, and it’s so very true. The Doctor and their companions have been beacons of hope for so many, and throughout all the ups and downs, the trials and tribulations that the characters go through, there is always this foundation of optimism, empathy, and the drive to do and be better. Beyond that, the show’s scope and versatility is another one of my favourite things. Doctor Who can be whatever you want it to be, from an intimate domestic character piece to a universe-spanning space opera, and sometimes both at the same time! There really is nothing else like it out there.
So, what’s it like writing for TUA? What are you most excited for?
Oh boy, it’s… mad. What began as a crazy idea has become something way greater than I could have ever imagined. It’s A LOT of work, make no mistake, but getting the chance to do this, to make Clara’s post-Who adventures a reality, it’s just a dream come true. I’m getting to work on this with the most wonderful people, whose talents and insight I’m constantly floored by, and every day the project grows into something more special and exciting. As for what I’m most excited about, I think it’s seeing the series fully come together before release and the community’s reaction to it. I’m nervous, for sure, but the love for Clara and the enthusiasm for more stories with her is palpable, and I feel honoured to be one of the people helping to make that happen.
How did your episode come to be? Where did you look for inspiration: Doctor Who itself, other places, bit of both?
A Citizen of the Universe began with breaking down Clara’s journey on Doctor Who - with a particular focus on Face the Raven and Hell Bent - and asking: what’s next for her? Of course, we’ve done this extensively on a series-wide scale, but the opener is in a unique position in that it must facilitate the transition from Doctor Who to The Untold Adventures, serving essentially as a sequel to Hell Bent, which itself functions as a backdoor pilot of sorts. Due to its primary purpose as a conclusion to Clara’s time on the show, Hell Bent naturally doesn’t dwell much on the emotional fallout for her after experiencing a tremendous amount of loss in hardly any time (from her perspective) at all. She puts on a brave face, because that’s her way, but I feel it wouldn’t be right not to explore her headspace and inner conflict in the wake of all that she went through, and that’s precisely what this story seeks to do. Look at the Doctor after they lose a companion, for example: having a TARDIS doesn’t preclude the heartbreak, it merely provides a means to try and run from it. And of course, it often catches up nonetheless.
In terms of inspirations, I’ve drawn both from episodes of Doctor Who (the exact ones I won’t name yet), and other sources, particularly in this case high fantasy. Doctor Who occupies an intriguing space with regards to genre, and I’ve always been particularly fascinated by its delving into myth and folklore through a sci-fi fantasy lens, which is perfect for Clara; a character profoundly tied to such themes.
Sum up your episode in 3 words!
Follow the Stars.
What’s your journey with Doctor Who? Did it inspire your art?
I started Doctor Who around the end of the 11th era and the start of the 12th, and it was definitely a huge inspiration for my art. I didn't draw as much because I was always so busy with school – but I ended up taking a course during that timeframe and my professor was all about cultivating your hobbies and making time for the things you love. So I thought; what better way than to start drawing some fanart for Doctor Who? And then I really fell in heads over heels in love with both Doctor Who and drawing - the show definitely fueled a lot of my creative passion and helped me grow as an artist.
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?
I think the most exciting thing is bringing to life the vision of the writer; creating something that is able to tell the story and give the readers a way to be immersed in the world built by the episode. I think the greatest challenge will be to make something 'perfect' but hey, imperfection has its own charms and I hope I'll be able to deliver good art for the series.
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 Clara obviously. You can never go wrong with too many Claras hehe. I definitely plan – and hope – to create pieces that are brimming with colours and full of wonders of the imagination. I want to create pieces that are going to show certain key moments in the episode... although you'll have to wait to see what those are going to be! ;)