We continue our weekly creator spotlight with Episode Nine: A Quick Succession of Busy Nothings, written by Janine Rivers and illustrated by the brilliant Aralis.
Writer: Janine Rivers
Tumblr: janinemrivers.tumblr.com | Twitter: @janinemrivers
How did you come to Doctor Who? What’s your journey with the show?
My Doctor Who journey started a very long time ago. It was a cold November night in 1963, when…
No, it wasn’t that long ago. But in Doctor Who fashion, I’m a little fuzzy on the chronology (and there’s no beginning -- Doctor Who has simply always been in my life, having been brought up by fans), and I’m forever indebted to the existence of VHS tapes (and later, DVDs) which helped me get into the eras of the show I’d narrowly missed out on. As a result, I grew up with a mix of Doctors and a mix of stories, but the era perhaps most indelibly etched into my childhood memories is Sylvester McCoy’s, which I saw more or less in full and in the correct order. I vividly recall watching Remembrance of the Daleks and Ghost Light most of all, and eagerly thumbing my Target novelisation of Ghost Light for a long time after (I saw the episode on television, so there was no VHS tape to revisit. But I was keen, and eventually, a copy of the novelisation turned up in a charity shop in one of London’s most historic arcades). And it was only a couple of years ago that I finally got to re-watch those childhood favourites!
The new series, on the other hand… oh, I’ve watched those over and over again. Stories forever associated with the best days of my life, with carefree Saturday afternoons and travels across the world, with days off and nights in and family Christmases and the warmth and comfort of more than one home… so the new series, for me, is the Doctor Who I fell in love with most of all. Christopher Eccleston and how his era reinvented the Daleks in a way I hadn’t believed possible, David Tennant capturing the hearts of my friends and making them realise why I loved this show, Matt Smith bringing me into the online community of fans, and Peter Capaldi… oh, Peter Capaldi. The best of them all.
It's hard to narrate my Doctor Who journey because it’s inseparable with another journey: the journey of my life, of growing up, forming my views, finding my purpose, falling in love, all the peaks and all the troughs -- Doctor Who both accompanied and catalysed them. It’s a fundamental part of who I am, the people who matter to me, and the communities I’ve become a part of. It’s not my life, not exactly – but my life wouldn’t be what it is without it.
What is your favourite thing about the show?
Now there's a tough question! Besides saying ‘Peter Capaldi’ -- a valid but not entirely satisfying answer -- I think I have to cite the reason it’s still here at all: it’s always relevant. Always. As long as there’s a world, and people to watch the show, and people to make it, there’ll be a show. Or there’ll be novelisations or audio dramas in the worst case, but Doctor Who will survive. Not because it’s loved (though that’s one reason), but because it adapts, it evolves, and it’s utterly, utterly necessary. It embraces change, it always finds a way out, and it always finds new ways of telling stories and reflecting the world around it. It’s the one show that never gets old.
So, what’s it like writing for TUA? What are you most excited for?
It’s a joy and a privilege. I’ve worked on a couple of other Doctor Who projects, namely [the audio series] The Twelfth Doctor Adventures, which I run. They usually shape up well, and are usually fun, but when you’re working with limited resources and a lack of experience, the behind the scenes chaos is the worst. Worrying about your own deadlines, other people missing their deadlines, things going wrong, people dropping out -- it’s a wonder I’m still signing up to these.
Working with Ruth and Caitlin is nothing like that. They run a tight ship, and in doing so make life considerably easier for everyone. They put hours in, not just writing and editing the series, but hosting meetings, sending reminder emails, offering support… and they make it almost entirely stress-free. It’s such a friendly, relaxed environment.
I’m excited for the bigger picture -- seeing where Ruth, Caitlin and Sam plan to take Clara at the end, what ideas they've got for the whole series, and yes, that finale, those mysterious, elusive last couple of episodes and their tantalising premises. Though I say the word “end” with a few qualifications -- since this is one of those stories that might never really end…
How did your episode come to be? Where did you look for inspiration: Doctor Who itself, other places, bit of both?
I came to this series later than most, filling the slot of a writer whose schedule sadly clashed with that of the series, and taking their premise. This was no hardship for me -- as soon as Ruth said the words ‘Jane Austen’, I was sold. I wrote about the character in an earlier fan-fic, 101 Reasons to Live, but that was only a glimpse at their relationship; so it’s been a joy to revisit it, and explore new aspects of it. Clara and Jane are both much older now, and their relationship has evolved alongside them.
We discussed ways of approaching this episode, and in the end ditched the original plans in favour of a different sort of story. I drew on Series Nine quite a bit, and the relationship between the Doctor and Clara; but I also explored Jane Austen’s work, re-familiarising myself with an author who’s always fascinated me, ever since I was a child. I ended up drawn to Sanditon, her unfinished novel, and what might have really inspired it...
Sum up your episode in 3 words!
Pragmatism, People, Peace.
Tumblr: aralisilustracion.tumblr.com | Instagram: @aralisilustracion
What’s your journey with Doctor Who? Did it inspire your art?
I started watching through reruns from BBC Latin America. I caught bits and pieces from the Tenth Doctor’s era but the first episode I saw complete was The Eleventh Hour and I was fascinated. From then on, I started watching religiously every week, revisiting episodes from the Ninth and Tenth Doctors later on. The Twelfth Doctor’s era, with its acerbic charm and endearing companions, was a big one for me.
Doctor Who has definitely influenced my art; the show is a source of inspiration on so many different levels. It has got arresting visuals, evocative stories, beautiful music, and genuine characters. On top of that, there is a fantastic community of creative people that are equally fascinated by it, just continually building new universes of inspiring work! It is truly amazing.
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?
For me, it was love at first sight with the episode I’m illustrating; from the moment I read the synopsis I was hooked. I just feel so fortunate to be working on a story that I like so much.
I think that the greatest challenge will be to do it justice - and maybe backgrounds, backgrounds are always a struggle.
Can you give us some non-spoilery teases about the look of the episode and the art you’re going to provide for it?
I am aiming for an old-school illustration look, very nostalgic. I tend to gravitate towards the quiet moments, both in my work and as a fan. Hopefully, it will be a charming companion to Janine’s story.