We continue our weekly creator spotlight with Episode Seven: A Feast for the Nameless, written by co-project lead Sam Maleski and illustrated by the marvelous Bianca Maria Costa Barbè.
Writer: Sam Maleski
How did you come to Doctor Who? What’s your journey with the show?
Well, a bit out of nowhere. I liked sci-fi and British old shows (my mum made me watch The Avengers when I was a wee kid), caught Sherlock on French television, thought it was pretty nice, looked up what else Steven Moffat was involved in, and finally got the push to get into the show when 2013 and the PR storm of the fiftieth came around. I started watching live with Capaldi, and while I wouldn't say he's necessarily the Doctor I connect with the most, his era really is the apex of the show for me - not that I'm being completely objective, of course.
What is your favourite thing about the show?
That it can be anything. It can sprout an absolutely insane amount of side narratives and spin-offs that all feed into the same themes, the same beautiful and crazy universe. It's a show that's able to be incredibly metafictional, and largely "about" stories, while still keeping a very human, raw, emotional edge, and that's utterly beautiful - it's incredible escapism, but above all, it's intelligent and engaged escapism.
So, what’s it like writing for TUA? What are you most excited for?
It's daunting and stressful. As all writing is. But it's also a lot of fun, and damn, that team is really fantastic and carries you through things, it really does - Ruth and Caitlin are absolutely invaluable helps in mapping out stories, outlines and character arcs. These character arcs are the thing I'm most interested in seeing develop, by the way - it's tricky, in a way, because "Hell Bent" is such a... wide opening, it's hard to create rules of drama that really allow you to tell a continuation of it. But at the same time, it offers you so many tools, and I feel like we have gone in really interesting directions that allow us to explore these fascinating characters in new and unique ways.
How did your episode come to be? Where did you look for inspiration: Doctor Who itself, other places, bit of both?
Oooooh, this one has been bouncing around my head for a long-ass time. 2014, I think - when I was imagining, as one does, what I would write about if I could suddenly be picked up for Series 9. I've always been fascinated by certain literary and cultural myths, and giving them a Who make-over is just a great and compelling challenge for a writer – it's more complicated than just taking the narrative and going through the same beats, there's a lot of thematic work that goes into it. As for the inspiration... Well, I "would" tell you, but it might be a bit too big of a clue - I'll just say I looked a lot at my notes from compared literature classes, and have listened a couple of times to Marc Platt's excellent historical audio, "The Flames of Cadiz".
Sum up your episode in 3 words!
Music, Immortality, Spain.
Artist: Bianca Maria Costa Barbè
What’s your journey with Doctor Who? Did it inspire your art?
I was introduced to the series four years ago. I’d just finished my studies and it immediately gave me inspiration for many of my art pieces.
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?
The space, the new stories and the mysterious adventure is a great challenge for me as an artist: I’m not as experienced when it comes to designing within the world of sci-fi, but having Clara as the protagonist (I have a unique love for her) and these fantastic adventures written by other fans has pushed me to try.
Can you give us some non-spoilery teases about the look of the episode and the art you’re going to provide for it?
Something not yet seen in the TV series, perhaps...