Interview with @ReviewinWho! @bigblueboxpcast @comicstitan @bigfinish @DoctorWho_BBCA @bbcdoctorwho @Emily_Rosina @DWMtweets #DoctorWho #doctorwhoislife #Tuesdaybookblog

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Next up is the marvelous Luke East, from Reviewing Who. Today he’s here to discuss reviewing various items from Doctor Who, podcasts, Big Finish Productions, etc.

Welcome!

Question 1) What part of the world do you come from?

9497e7_78c9903e325f41669fd303dca13e149e~mv2I’m originally from the UK, but am currently residing in New Zealand, where I’ve lived for the last decade.

Question 2) When did you become a fan of Doctor Who?

I’m not sure I can remember a time in my life without Doctor Who, but it would’ve been around 2005 when I saw my first bit of Doctor Who. I distinctly remember the scene where the Ninth Doctor and Rose are looking down on the Earth and the Sun from space, which can only be one of two scenes, either the one in ‘The End of the World’, or the one in ‘The Long Game’ on Satellite 5, before being sent up to bed.

I recently picked up some of the Tenth Doctor and Martha hardcover books, seeing their spines lined up on the shelf takes me right back to a memory of being in Tesco in 2006 where I picked out my first Doctor Who book, a Tenth Doctor and Rose hardcover.

Question 3) Who is your Doctor?

This is a tricky one. I think every Doctor is great. Dependent on what mood I’m in some days my favourite can be Sylvester McCoy, the next day it might be Matt Smith, or if I’ve been listening to Big Finish it might be Paul McGann, so I don’t really have a specific incarnation that I consider to be “my Doctor”. Primarily, most of my growing up was done watching the Tenth Doctor, but I really enjoy the Twelfth Doctor especially in Series 10, I’d have liked to have seen another series with Twelfth Doctor and Bill. Hopefully Big Finish will pick them up in the future.

Question 4) What got you started reviewing for Doctor Who?

13687187_284485048578469_191788596_aI’d been a long-time podcast enthusiast, listening to ‘The Doctor Who Podcast’ until it was brought to an end in 2015. It has only been in the last year or so that I’ve found some other Who-related podcasts that I enjoy, shout-outs to ‘The Big Blue Box Podcast’ and ‘New To Who’. I guess it was the influence of these podcasts that got me thinking ‘I could do this’, and so I gave it a try, albeit as articles rather than audios. It’s great fun.

Question 5) Does the studio and/or publisher(s) send you material automatically or do you get to pick and choose what you review?

I get certain things sent through to review and I’m extremely grateful to those publishers and merchandisers who do send me stuff before it’s released in stores. But there are a number of other things that I track down myself for review.

Question 6) What was the first Doctor Who thing you reviewed and who was it for?

514U-iPubRLThe first thing I reviewed on the ‘Reviewing Who’ site was the ‘Tales of Terror’ short story collection. My local library had a copy and I read it over the course of a month or so and then wrote the review, which is perhaps the shortest review on the site, but as I’ve become a more natural reviewer, I’ve found it easier to write more and more.

Question 7) What has been your favorite item to review and why?

I’ve loved getting to review the Titan Comics releases. I’d never actually had the opportunity to pick one up prior to my creating ‘Reviewing Who’, as they’re few and far between here in NZ, so it’s been a great joy to get them in my inbox on a fairly regular basis. I’m really enjoying the Twelfth and Seventh Doctor ranges at the moment.

Question 8) Is there something you would like to review that you haven’t yet?

61o4rs5rdLL._SY498_BO1,204,203,200_I’d love to be sent Big Finish stuff, so that I can review more Big Finish, especially the Jago and Litefoot releases, I’ve only been able to review the first series so far. But something I’ve not been able to review at all that I’d love to review would be the Robert Harrop figurines, they’re so beautiful. The same goes for the Doctor Who Figurine Collection magazines.

 

Question 9) Would you consider reviewing something that isn’t official Doctor Who material, but is related (i.e. a novel inspired by Doctor Who)?

Of course! I’ve recently been reviewing some of the Lethbridge-Stewart books and they’re brilliant. I can say the same for Torchwood, Class, The Sarah Jane Adventures, and any of the Reeltime Pictures releases, none of them are technically Doctor Who, but they’re still part of the Whoniverse.

Question 10) I understand you also have a website, which features interviews with important members of the fandom. What was the most interesting thing you learned?

fileYes, I recently expanded ‘Reviewing Who’ to include feature articles, as well as a feature called ‘Interviewing Who’. It’s been fantastic getting to connect with these truly inspirational people, who started out writing articles as fans, and have since been snapped up by DWM, not to mention they all have really interesting lives outside of Doctor Who. The most interesting thing I’ve learned came from DWM’s Editorial Assistant, Emily Cook, who has established to charitable organisations called Khushi Feet and Khushi Hands, which help women and children in India. It’s such an amazing story of someone of a similar age to myself noticing a void and setting up a charity to fill that void. Something I’ve noticed from a number of these interviews, is that quite a few of us Who fans do a lot of charitable work. For instance: I volunteer to raise funds for a  number of charities here in NZ, and Emily has, as I’ve just mentioned, set up two charities, there are plenty more of us out there doing philanthropic work too.

Question 11) What do you think it is that inspires so many Whovians to get involved in charitable work?

I think it must have something to do with the strong morality shown in Doctor Who. The Doctor effectively shows us that we should help where we can to improve the lives of those less fortunate than ourselves. I’m sure there are many other contributing factors also, but I don’t think it’s a coincidence that fans of a show that places such a strong emphasis on human rights, ethics, and morality, end up involved with charities.

Question 12) Other than ‘Reviewing Who’ and your volunteering, do you have any other hobbies?

Indeed, I do. At the moment I’m directing a show called ‘Blue Box Messiah’ for the local theatre I’m Vice President of here in NZ, it’s a comedy about life, religion, and being a Doctor Who fan. Outside of Doctor Who I’m also pretty politically active, and am currently petitioning the New Zealand House of Representatives to amend legislation so that people with life-long medical conditions that will only degenerate don’t have to reapply for their benefit payments every 3 months. There are a few other bits and pieces I get up to, as well as those I’ve mentioned, so it keeps things pretty interesting.

Question 13) What have you enjoyed the most since establishing ‘Reviewing Who’?

I’ve really enjoyed connecting with other fans from all around the world, primarily via Twitter. We have a great community of fans out there, but it would be remiss of me if I didn’t also not the small minority of fans who make fandom unsafe for others, by spreading abuse and vitriol. We should be united by our love of Doctor Who, rather than engaging in in abuse and mudslinging against one another. So while I’m heartened by the majority of fans who spread good vibes, I’ve been deeply disappointed by that other small minority who spread negativity.

Question 14) If you were asked to write an article for the Doctor Who magazine, what topic would you like to cover?

Di0_ZRZXgAU7yPiMy favourite DWM features have always been Galaxy Forum and the interviews, so I’d quite like to do something in that realm. But readers of ‘Reviewing Who’ will also notice that some of my recent features have looked at Doctor Who on VHS, and also how Doctor Who toys have powered the imagination of at least one whole generation of fans, so I’d quite happily write a feature like those too. I think DWM is a brilliant British institution, it’s been bringing fans together since its launch in the Tom Baker era, and right now it’s got a great team of writers working on it, so it’d be amazing to be asked to write for them.

Question 15) How does it feel to be on the other side of the microphone whereas I’m asking the questions instead of you?

I confess, it is a slightly different experience, I am usually the one doing the interviewing but this has been good fun.

Question 16) Where can others find out more about you and your reviews?

9497e7_23f1801b55c64f8dac8a6a8f628db927~mv2_d_1754_1240_s_2

They can find ‘Reviewing Who’ on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, and Wix, which is also where they will be able to find various links to the ‘Reviewing Who’ website.

Thank you again, Luke! Fans, please make sure to check out his website, and stay tuned next week when I sit down with the very talented artist and writer, Sophie Iles, whose work has appeared in kOZMIC Press’ Children of Time: the Companions of , The Time Travel Nexus and multiple charity works.

 

How You Can Participate!

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Author Interview with @BenjamHope! #gothic #steampunk #Victorian #alchemy

Today I’m excited to present Benjamin Hope, author of The Procurement of Souls. As a fan of alchemy, the premise of his novel intrigued me, and after reading the first chapter, it’s definitely on my to-be-read list!

Benjamin HopeQuestion 1) What part of the world do you come from?

I’m from Hertfordshire, just north of London, in the UK.

Question 2) What do you think makes a good story?

Good stories immerse the reader in their world. In order to do this most effectively, I think narratives need to have strongly imagined characters through which the reader can understand and experience this world. By strongly imagined, I mean characters who develop and grow through the arc of the story; who are fallible in one way or another; and who have a strong sense of purpose, a goal to achieve (and even better if this shifts or changes along the way!), and problems to overcome. In this way, characters not only allow the reader to connect more personally to the story but also drive the pace forward and craft the shape of the plot.

Question 3) What inspired you to write your first book?

I’ve always been inspired to write, even as a very young boy. Although, my first attempt at a full-length novel came when I was about 18 – it was a disaster! I was trying to write with somebody else’s voice; to emulate an author rather than allowing my own natural style develop. It wasn’t until later on, after I truly felt that I had found my voice that I came up with a seed of an idea for The Procurement of Souls. It kept on resurfacing, like an itch that wouldn’t be scratched until I finally put fingers to the keyboard and started getting it down. I can’t say what the inspiration was exactly, only that I have always loved history and fantasy-sci-fi and I suppose those loves combined into an initial idea kept growing until I had the bones of my first novel!

Question 4) What is your work schedule like when you’re writing?

Well, I have a full-time job and an 8-month-old baby, so more recently I’ve been fitting it in as and when I can – lunchtimes, weekends, evenings, etc. I’ve also been on shared parental leave in Berlin for the last couple of months (with my wife’s work) and I’ve been very fortunate to have my mother-in-law with us too, which has enabled me to get cracking with my sequel in between changing nappies!

Question 5) What would you say is your interesting writing quirk?

It’s not so much a quirk as an interesting circumstance, but my wife is an opera singer and so travels a lot with her profession. This means that I’m quite often a mobile writer! The Procurement of Souls was written in London, Madrid, Paris, Vienna, and Berlin! In fact, I finished my first draft of PoS in a smoky café in Vienna – I felt like Hemmingway!

Question 6) Give us the title and genre of your latest book.

My debut, The Procurement of Souls, had its official launch on 1stJuly. It’s a Victorian-gothic-steampunk crossover about the exploits of two opposing bio-alchemists.

Question 7) What was one of the most surprising things you learned in creating your book?

The fact that finishing a complete first draft of a novel is only the beginning of the journey! When you get there, it’s an amazing feeling and one that every writer should be proud of, but then comes the re-writes, the overhauls, the re-jigs, the additions, the exclusions, the copy-editing etc. As an indie author, you are reliant on a huge amount of self-discipline and of course it’s exceptionally hard to be objective with your work – you quickly become ‘snow-blind’ to the words on the page – both in terms of content and technical accuracy and without access to, or the means to employ, a professional editor, the ability to ensure all aspects of the narrative is a good as it can be, is a real challenge. I am a self-confessed perfectionist and to ensure that The Procurement of Soulsreflected the very best of me, I turned to a number of people I knew who could objectify my work, provide that much needed brutally honest feedback and eliminate any technical errors too. 

Question 8) Do you have an excerpt from your current work you’d like to share?

Procurement of Souls Benjamin Hope Cover Art slim.jpgI think it’s best to start at the beginning, so here’s chapter 1!

*CONTAINS EXPLETIVES*

The whites of two wide eyes were all that could be seen in the splinter of light that passed through the crack in the swollen doorjamb. Dr Weimer observed in silence the blind panic that radiated from them as they darted one way and then another, desperately trying to place themselves. The fear was pungent. Smells like he’s soiled himself, he thought with distastebefore throwing open the door and illuminating the room with such a contrasting brightness that the man in the chair audibly gasped.

‘Mr Wade,’ Dr Weimer began as he stepped inside, ‘you must forgive the enforced and abrupt manner in which we make one another’s acquaintance. I dare say that having a bag thrust upon one’s head unexpectedly is most unpleasant and disconcerting.’ His tone was saccharine; sugared with false sincerity. ‘But unfortunately, you hold in your possession something I require. Something important. Something personal.’ He smiled at him, his fat lips parting obtusely and revealing a row of white but stubby teeth, spread with almost uniform gapping in a blood-red gum, before pushing his circular glass frames further up the bridge of his nose with deliberate precision. ‘Nevertheless, this is the situation we find ourselves in.’ He moved a little closer towards him and noticed with curiosity and self-acknowledged satisfaction how the man visibly shrank at his advance.

Wade felt his throat constrict at this sudden and disturbing entrance. Panic took a slightly firmer grip and he tried pressing with all his strength against the back of the chair, to no avail.

His mind clutched at words to try to rescue himself from the situation. ‘Alright, alright, I’ll do whatever you want. Just untie me and I’ll promise to –’ but he felt his voice catch, his mouth dry to gravel. He simply couldn’t seem to keep his sense of dread in check. He’d been in precarious situations before but this whole scenario seemed different. The moment he’d been taken and heard the purr of that woman’s accented voice in his ear, it was clear this was out of the ordinary. This man too; the smell of the place – acrid and chemical – was all wrong. He cursed inwardly for not keeping his cool. It was normally him doing the intimidating, yet his pulse continued to spiral higher as sweat pooled at the nape of his neck and thoughts of what this could be about flickered across his mind’s-eye like a flip-book. ‘Listen,’ he implored, ‘listen. I don’t know what it is you think I have but if you untie me, I promise to help you. I have connections. You just need to untie me first and –’

He was cut off with a single word. ‘No,’ the man said, savouring the roundness of the vowel before continuing. ‘That won’t be possible, I’m afraid. After I explain our situation further, I happen to know you’ll be rather less obliging of my needs. Untying you would be entirely counter-productive.’

Wade snorted a number of times in quick succession. Why him? Why now? It had occurred to him that this could be some vengeful intimidation strategy being exacted upon him by some enemy or other. God knows there were plenty of those. Somebody he’d cheated maybe? Perhaps a harbour-master from one of the dock sites he’d failed a run for? But although a good number of possibilities came to mind, not one seemed to fit this particular glove and looking up at this piggy-eyed psychopath in his pristine white apron, illicit goods and aggrieved dockers appeared to be the least of his worries. No, this was something different and strange: it sickened him to the gut. And as he looked wildly around for some hope of an escape, he thought he began to connect a number of the dots.

A surgeon’s operating table stood in the middle of the room with a tray of instruments waiting next to it. Beside that, a tangle of transparent tubes articulated with rubber joints led to a brass-coloured sphere the size of a carriage with a dozen or so pistons sticking out at a diagonal on either side. Bile rose in his throat.

‘What is this? What are you – a doctor? A surgeon? What do you want from me?’ Anxiety had forced his larynx so far up that the words barely squeaked out. He pulled upwards desperately with his wrists to try and loosen his manacles. ‘I… I really have nothing… nothing worth taking.’

‘That you know of, Mr Wade, that you know of. We all have something worth giving. You need to calm down or you’ll cut your hands to shreds. It’s surgical wire, not yarn; I don’t want you bleeding out.’

‘But… but what could you possibly need me for? I’ve told you, I have nothing to my name, I’m just a… a… nobody.’ He frothed at the mouth a little.

The doctor’s eyes narrowed tightly to slits. ‘That’s precisely why you’re here. You’ve no family either from what I’m told?’

‘Wha-what? No! I don’t – I – fuck! Please! Don’t cut me open! Don’t take my organs, I –’

‘Mr Wade, nobody is going to cut anybody open. What possible use could I have with your organs? I’m not some vulgar anatomist looking to advance his expertise. We shan’t be on the table today. What I want is much more valuable than that.’ He walked abruptly behind his chair and unlocked the wheels. ‘And it’s time to start the preparations.’

Wade’s chair took a sudden jerk backwards and he came face-to-face with his tormenter. He felt the floor slip away beneath him and heard the grumble and squeak of the casters as he was wheeled beside the bed.

‘Now, I should warn you that you may feel a certain degree of discomfort, Mr Wade. It’s perfectly normal. I just need to support your neck a little.’

Mr Wade screamed. Something was clamped suddenly about his thick neck, rigid and tall, pulling his vertebrae fully erect. Cold steel pressed against his skin and held him there unnaturally straight. His hands squirmed despite himself, the wire cutting into more flesh. He had been rendered absolutely useless, and despite his muscular, bullish frame, he was quite at this malefactor’s mercy: a pathetic fly wound tight in the spider’s web.

‘Forgive me,’ continued the doctor, ‘just a precautionary measure to ensure the tubing doesn’t shatter mid-journey. It’s imperative your oesophagus remains in one piece.’ He unhooked a length of tubing from the stand and held one end up to the bare light. An evil metal barb, like the tail of a stingray, flashed as he turned it slowly in his gloved hand. ‘Now listen, you’re an exceedingly large man and I would suggest that the stiller you are, the easier this will all be and the fewer accidents we are likely to have. Open your mouth please, wide.’

Wade’s eyes took on the appearance of twin new moons crossing each other’s orbits as the metal end came towards him.

‘Your mouth, Mr Wade.’

A spike of pain burned unexpectedly at his side forcing him into an involuntary gasp and in that instant the end of the tube found itself secreted at the back of his mouth. He tasted the cold tang of metal briefly on his tongue before it passed back and slipped down into his throat and further still. He gagged to no relief. His tongue lolled inadequately to one side.

The doctor put the scalpel he’d been holding back on the table. ‘Now take slow steady breaths. You will manage that if you remain calm.’

Down the tubing went, like some uninvited serpent, all the way until he felt it in the pit of his belly. The doctor held the other end up vertically above him and with a curt nod looped it through a fine wire coil dangling from the ceiling.

‘Well, we’re in place and anchored at your core. So, let’s begin.’

The syringe was not like anything Wade had ever seen before. For one thing, the needle was curved, and flexed at the touch.

‘We need to introduce the antithesis of what we require in order to act as a lure. It is the simplicity of opposite attraction.’ The doctor held the syringe a little higher and squirted a touch of the scum-coloured fluid into a kidney-shaped tray. ‘Human brain to be precise, mixed with a unique compound of my own design – the cerebrum is quite dead you see and just what we need to draw our target out.’ He depressed the plunger, introducing the liquid steadily into the tubing. This he unlatched from the wire loop and secured the opposite end to a panel at the bottom of the brass sphere behind them. Mr Wade blinked violently in protest, his teeth vibrating against the glass. His mind swam. What was he talking about? What did he mean? Surely, he would realise he had the wrong man.

Suddenly a terrible cramp grasped at him somewhere near the pit of his stomach. For a second, he had the notion that he might soil himself. The cramp grew. He felt an excruciating wrenching of something pulling apart; could actually feel involuntary movement in his abdomen. A tearing was faintly audible. ‘Sthh-sthh’ he hissed with his tongue on the tubing.

He could feel the doctor’s eyes upon him, observing. His apparent composure was chilling, as he stood, hands formed into a cage at his chest, simply watching. And then a peculiar stillness came over him too: an emptiness and sensation of release, much like the feeling after vomiting. Was this it? Would he let him go now? His eyes searched sideways for an answer.

‘The calm before the storm,’ noted the doctor.

A crippling, violent spasm shot through Wade’s body, radiating from his centre so that, despite the length of glass-tubing inside him, he stretched out awkwardly against his wire restraints, his frame rigid as steel. He couldn’t breathe, not at all. He tried to suck in air. His lungs burned. Blood rose to the surface, covering his skin in raised veins and capillaries: worms of red, threatening to burst at any moment. I’m dying, he thought. This is it.

An audible popsounded from within him, the noise making even the doctor jump slightly. Wade’s body slumped as far as it could in the chair and then movement shook the tubing. Something viscous issued from his mouth along the length of glass. Pink, yellow, plum, red, green: its colour seemed to morph as it moved rapidly towards the brass sphere, like light refracted through water. It gave off a haze or glow that bathed the room in a peculiar tint before disappearing again inside the machine.

Question 9) What can we expect from you in the future?  

Benjamin Hope midshotI’m currently busy writing the sequel to The Procurement of Souls. It’s called A New Religion and I won’t give too much away about the plot except to say it features more steampunkesque inventions, a host of new characters, and a few familiar faces along the way! I also have plans for a collection of gothic-influenced cautionary fairy-tales. I released one for World Book Night this year, The Rookery at Smeaton Abbey, which you can read on my website here. I have also sketched out the bare bones of a full-length cautionary fairy tale. So, with the addition of my regular blogging and book recommendations, there’s lots going on but I am focusing my energies on A New Religion at the moment, which should be set for publication in 2019.

Question 10) What was the best money you ever spent as a writer?

Well, The Procurement of Soulsis my debut so I’m yet to experience that joyous moment but I did treat myself to a new laptop a few months ago. As I said earlier, as I travel a lot, it’s important that I have something reliable and portable, so that I can write wherever I am.

Question 11) How can we contact you or find out more about your books?

You can check out my website, www.benjamin-hope.com where you can find out about my latest work and read my regular blogs about the writing process. You can sign-up to my mailing list there, follow me if you’re a WordPress user, or follow me on Twitter or Instagram @BenjamHope.

The Procurement of Souls is available as a paperback or eBook (in most formats) from your local Amazon and most online bookstores.

Quick links:

USA Amazon

UK Amazon

Procurement of Souls Benjamin Hope Cover Art slim.jpg

Interview with @BlueBoxAlliance! #WhoAgainstBullying #BlastBullying #BlueBoxAlliance #DoctorWho #cosplay @WizardWorld @whoandcompany #doctorwhoislife

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Next up is the amazing Blue Box Alliance, who have an important message to share with Doctor Who fans. Today their founder, Jeremy Wheeler, will talk to us about some of the different ways one can participate in the fandom including cosplay, fan-films, podcast, comic cons, and .

Welcome!

Question 1): What part of the world do you come from?

bluebox1I (Jeremy Wheeler) currently reside in a small river city town in eastern Kentucky called Ashland. However, most of the members of Blue Box Alliance reside in Columbus, OH. One member lives in Florida, and another in British Columbia, Canada. We also have a small group of members in the United Kingdom.

Question 2): When did you become a fan of Doctor Who?

I was born during the middle of Tom Baker’s era as Doctor Who (1978), and my earliest memories of TV as a child were watching Doctor Who late Saturday nights on PBS. My oldest sister watched it every week along with Star Trek. She is a zealous sci-fi fan. I remember watching Doctor Who until Peter Davison took over the role in 1982, and I was confused why the Doctor didn’t look like the floofy haired one that I first knew. I didn’t know how the show worked, and I wasn’t aware that the Doctor regenerated and changed looks when mortally wounded.

Fast forward to 2013. I was a senior in college at Marshall University, and a number of my fellow classmates were enamored with the new Doctor Who. I was surprised to learn that the show was still on the air after many years, because I quit watching it in the early 80s. After being pressed to watch Doctor Who I finally gave in to the pressure. I learned that a 50th Anniversary Special was airing in a few months, and I had some time to catch up on Doctor Who leading up to the show. I binge-watched all the “new” Doctor Who I could find, and quickly became a fan of Chris Eccleston as the Doctor. I was a bit disappointed that he regenerated after only one season, but it explained to me how and why the Doctor changes his appearance from time to time.

The big day of the 50th Anniversary special came, and I was glued to my TV all day watching the festivities live on BBC America. Although I was slightly caught up on “new Who,” there were still a ton of story arcs I wasn’t familiar with (River Song in particular).

Imagine my surprise when “The Great Curator” came on the screen during the final scene of the 50th anniversary special. The moment I saw Tom Baker make a cameo as a Doctor-Not-Doctor character made me weep with tears, because in that moment MY Doctor was on screen. I wept with joy and excitement, and in that precise moment I became a dedicated and rabid fan of the show, and it’s been a upward spiral of joy ever since then.

Question 3): Who is your Doctor?

As already alluded to before, my only exposure to Doctor Who that I watched regularly was Tom Baker – the 4th Doctor Who. Perhaps it was his childlike nature, or his floofy hair, or his colorful scarf. Or maybe it was his robot dog K-9 that kept my attention. Whatever it was, the 4th Doctor is and always will be Doctor Who for me.

Question 4): What started your interest in cosplay?

I suppose cosplay was something I was mildly aware of that existed, but I assumed that it was for hobbyists with ample disposable income to burn. I mean, creating costumes requires a talent I don’t have, and money that I didn’t have either. It also requires plenty of money to buy tickets so you can show off those awesome costumes at conventions. It wasn’t until I fully immersed myself in to Doctor Who fan communities online that cosplay became fully aware to me, and that fans spent very little, or no money at all constructing props and costumes with whatever they could find. Of course, I also discovered that fans were hiring professional costume makers to make their costumes too.

21765180_491947221183001_5851959713668637794_nWhen I discovered some comic and pop-expo conventions were making their way close to where I live I decided to research the cost of costumes and props, and then I easily chose the 4th Doctor to be my one and only form of cosplay. I didn’t act immediately, though. I spent a couple of years trying to piece together the right 4th Doctor costume, but found it nearly impossible to find any jacket that resembled the ones Tom Baker wore, and I also found it nearly impossible to knit my own colorful scarf like the 4th Doctor wore. I wasn’t aware at the time that there were online vendors who custom make scarves and other bits and pieces for cosplayers to dress up as their favorite Doctor. I discovered online cosplay retailers just a couple of years ago, and saved the right amount of money purchasing a wig that closely resembles the 4th Doctor’s curly hair, and a costume that is as screen accurate as I can afford to get.

Question 5): How important is it to you to have authentic materials and patterns for your cosplays?

At first, having as costume and props that were as screen accurate as I could get was a top priority. But when the challenge of finding patterns and materials for some of the 4th Doctor’s vests and jackets proved to be an impossible feat, I gave up and settled for just finding costumes as close to screen-accurate as I can get. Plus, only professional cosplayers who compete in contests are more concerned with authenticity and accuracy when it comes to their contests. Since I do not compete in contests, I have settled for just looking as close to the 4th Doctor as possible without having vests and pants that match the exact same ones as the Doctor wore in the 70s and early 80s.

DZenmnHVwAMJZDBAs a mission dedicated to STOP BULLYING, our mission isn’t to impress other cosplayers or compete in contests, but to share a message of love and acceptance. Everyone who has ever encountered us at a convention has never ridiculed us about anything minor as a costume inaccuracy, because they realize we represent a group who loves Doctor Who and is only concerned with giving fellow Doctor Who fans with an experience of meeting the Doctor and his/her companions as they’ll ever get. Casual convention attendees don’t grade you or care if your vest matches perfectly, or if your costume is screen-accurate or not. They see someone dressed as one of their favorite characters and they are content with that, and so are we.

Even our TARDIS prop is not screen accurate. We built a TARDIS using plans and blue prints from a woodworker who designed a generalized TARDIS. Since we have so many variations of the Doctor at all of our appearances, having a TARDIS design that is specific to one Doctor and not another didn’t seem fair or economically possible. Instead, we erred on the side of building a generic version of the TARDIS that fits all the variations of the Doctor and not just one. And as usual, when fans of Doctor Who see our TARDIS at a convention, they never comment with “that’s not the TARDIS from [insert a Doctor’s name here] era.” It’s always, “Oh wow! Look! The TARDIS! Can I get a picture with it?” Of course, we oblige. Selfies with our TARDIS are always free, by the way.

Question 6): What inspired you to start Blue Box Alliance?

I give credit to two factors: 1. Mr. Ronn Smith, creator of the YouTube series “Doctor Who: The Classic Series Regenerated.” and 2. Heroes 4 Higher (a DC and Marvel Cosplay group dedicated to speaking out against drug abuse, bullying, substance abuse).

Ronn Smith is a fellow fourth Doctor cosplayer, and when I watched his YouTube video for the first time I though, “I’d love to do this!” A couple of years later, Ronn and I crossed paths on social media and we connected. I learned he lived not too far from me, and we met a couple of times so I could learn more about what he has done with his YouTube series, and what he plans to do in the future. Ronn is just as eager a fan of the fourth Doctor as I am, and so we quickly became good friends.

Heroes 4 Highter, LLC is a group that I have observed locally for quite some time. John Buckland is a former military firefighter who is retired and now spends his time cosplaying as Batman. He visits sick and injured children in hospitals, speaks at schools and churches, and also drives around in a replica Batmobile that he has dubbed “The Hope Mobile.” Because of their efforts, and the changes in people’s lives that they’ve made, I became inspired to assemble a group of people who had the passion and vision to do the same thing.

Unfortunately, I’m not a passionate fan of DC or any other comicbook characters, but I knew I wanted to do something similar to Heroes 4 Higher. The only logical thing I knew to do was find a group of fellow Doctor Who fans who was interested in social activism, and who wanted to represent the Doctor Who brand with a strong message of just being kind to other people.

I also work in the public education system, and seeing young students be victims of bullying was something that tugged at my heart. After initially conceptualizing my idea to combine Doctor Who, teaching, activism, and a desire to change people’s lives, Blue Box Alliance was born.

In November of 2016, I joined a few private Doctor Who cosplay fan forums announcing my vision of connecting Doctor Who cosplayers who wanted to speak out about the issue of bullying. Only one or two people responded, but fortunately they were very close to where I lived, and we connected and further conceptualized what is now known as Blue Box Alliance.

In the Spring and Summer of 2017 we started making appearances at as many conventions we could get ourselves in to. Some conventions invited us as guests, and others we had to petition to become participants in. Wizard World in Columbus, Ohio was our big break.

During the Columbus show, David Tennant, Catherine Tate, and John Barrowman were booked as guests. The majority of the convention attendees were there specifically to meet the tenth Doctor and his most popular companions. Of course, we had a prime location that intersected with the lines that lead to all three stars. With our TARDIS on display, and our various Doctor Who and related characters, we had a non-stop line requesting picture and photos with us and our TARDIS the entire weekend. Meanwhile, we were able to tell folks exactly who we were, what we were, and why we were doing what we were doing. The response and acceptance of our mission was openly positive, and since then we’ve continued to grow our online presence through Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and YouTube.

Question 7): How can Doctor Who fans help spread the word about #WhoAgainstBullying?

DZenmnHVwAMJZDBWe are active on all of our social media platforms. Doctor Who fans can first follow us on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram @BlueBoxAlliance. We are easy to find.

Next, in the coming months we will be premiering our very first Doctor Who fan-film that fans can share. The show will present a strong message about friendship and battling bullying.

Another way Doctor Who fans can help spread the word is using the hashtag #WhoAgainstBullying or #BlastBullying along with #BlueBoxAlliance.

Question 8): The Blue Box Alliance was a guest at Wizard World Columbus. How did that come about?

bluebox2It was a pure stroke of luck for us since we were just getting started in early 2017. Fortunately, someone who’s a member of our group has a relative who follows Wizard World on Facebook. The powers-to-be posted on their page how they were looking for fan groups to appear as special guests at their 2017 Columbus show. I believe someone close to one of our members tagged us in the post, and within minutes a representative of Wizard World contacted us personally and invited us to be a part of the show.

Surprisingly we were a huge hit at the 2017 show. Of course, it helped that three top stars from Doctor Who were there that year. As the months grew closer to the 2018 Wizard World Columbus show I contacted the same representative who booked us the year prior, and she graciously allowed us back. Wizard World is our top favorite show, and we look forward to it each year.

Question 9): Recently I learned about Who and Company, which is a Doctor Who podcast. How can fans tune into this show and/or be a guest?

height_90_width_90_WHOandCompany-01Who & Company is an online podcast hosted by two American fans, Brent and Drew. The podcast is a fairly new show, but they cover all sorts of news regarding Doctor Who – classic Who, current series, and future series. The hosts found us on Twitter and were impressed with our #WhoAgainstBullying campaign and wanted to feature us as a guest.

We gladly went on to the show, and now we proudly support them in their effort as a top-tier Doctor Who podcast. Fans can tune in on Apple iTunes, Google Play, Stitcher, and everywhere else podcasts can be listened to.

If you want to be a guest on the show, you can contact Brad and Drew directly through twitter: @whoandcompany

Question 10): I understand you are also into making Doctor Who fan films. What decisions go into choosing a particular film to produce?

Producing a Doctor Who fan-film was a tough decision to make, because there are so many fan-films already online. Everyone out there who is a fan of the show is doing their very best with what they have to work with, and it’s fabulous what they are producing.

I’ve been working in independent film-making for a little over three years now. The first thing to consider when producing a movie, or a fan-film in particular, is “How do I make mine completely different from everyone else who’s making a Doctor Who fan-film?”

This was an easy answer to find. First, we wanted to write a script that would emphasize our strong stand against bullying. So what could we do with the Doctor that hasn’t been done before, or how could we re-do a scenerio the Doctor has faced before, but in a new way?

Most of the fan-films out there feature a unique and personal version of the Doctor. I’ve yet to see a Doctor Who fan-film that features an attempt at recreating one of the canonized Doctors we all know and enjoy. It’s usually someone creating their own version of the Doctor and exploring brand new stories with their extended universe version of Doctor Who.

In our Doctor Who fan-film we are focusing on the fourth Doctor; mainly, because I’ll be portraying him and we don’t want to have to develop a new version of the Doctor like other fan-films. Second, our story is set during an unknown period of the Doctor that we as fans may or may not ever know about. It’s an extended universe story, and it takes place following the Doctor’s departure from Leela, so he’s all alone traveling all of time and space as usual, but we don’t really know where and what the Doctor does in his down time between adventures, so we sort of explore that.

For the sake of our story, we chose to create new companions for our film. When you see our film you’ll understand why we chose to create all new companions, because our story takes place in a setting that the Doctor rarely ever goes to, if ever.

Next, we wanted our script to not only feature an exciting adventure and conflict for the Doctor to encounter, but we also wanted the script to feature a message. Our script isn’t just an adventure on just another planet with just some more companions facing just another threat. No. Our threat is real. We are relying heavily on magical realism in our film, and we hope the audience will lose themselves in the story. Of course, we don’t have hardly any money to spend on this project, so we hope the audience will be forgiving on the special effects side of things and focus more on the story.

Question 11): On social media you have posted about another Doctor Who fan film. Can you tell me a bit more about it and how fans can audition?

Our first attempt at a fan-film is a story called ‘THE CELESTIAL FRIENDMAKER.’ It’s an extended universe story featuring the fourth Doctor, and although he precisely set the TARDIS coordinates for another location, he somehow ends up in present day rural United States (2018/2019).

Meanwhile, two teenaged girls – Heidi and Amber – are at each other’s throats. Amber is the high school bully and she has it out for Heidi. But is there something more insidious behind Amber’s behavior towards Heidi, or is it just a part of the psycho-social order of teenaged development? Tune in to find out!

As the girls go at each other, a dark shadowy figure is following Heidi around until an encounter with the Doctor leads both girls to stop fighting each other for a moment and seek refuge for their lives from the dark shadow figure. Somehow, they make their way in to the TARDIS where the Doctor tries some conflict resolution between the young ladies in attempts to negotiate peace. When it seems like the negotiations are going to fail, the Doctor takes his time to both girls the value of life in only the way the Doctor can.

At the present, July 9th, we have most of the cast and crew of the fan film already in place. We do have space for the part of Amber, an adult teacher role (can be male or female), and the role of Heidi’s uncle Barry. It should be noted that this is a fan-film, and it’s as low budget as it comes. Everyone is strictly volunteer and must not anticipate financial compensation for acting or performing behind the scenes work for the film. The fan film will be release publicly and for free on YouTube and Vimeo for general audiences to enjoy.

Sixty-second audition videos, or requests for auditions, can be emailed to: postcardpoet@outlook.com

Question 12): What can we expect from you in the future?

We aren’t counting our chickens before they hatch, but the intent is to continue to create Doctor Who fan film content that fans will love and enjoy. We intend to write scripts that will carry a strong and encouraging message and lesson in each one.

Our hope to expand our presence nation and world wide. We understand that our efforts are a tad bit niche, but we can at least make a small impact on Doctor Who fans by emphasizing the principals of kindness, acceptance, love, laughter, and bravery.

We intent to attend and appear at more conventions where we will have our TARDIS and other props on display. Photos with us and our props are always free. We never charge for anything. We’re not out to make any money. We’ve been to conventions where other prop displays charge $25 or more for a non-professional photo with their TARDIS or other props. We’re not interested in profiting. We’re interested in rejoicing together with other Doctor Who fans, making friends with people who love the show as much as we do, and reminding people to “run fast, always be kind; hate is foolish, and love is always wise!”

Lastly, we hope to begin making presentations and taking our TARDIS and props to public schools and offering our services as entertainers and educators to where the heart of our mission is aimed.

Question 13): How can others find out more about you and your work?

Facebook is our primary way of advertising and interacting with fellow Doctor Who fans. We also post enlightening quotes from Doctor Who, and the latest statistics about bullying and its effects.

In the coming weeks, we’ll be posting videos discussing things relevant to Doctor Who and bullying, and that will be posted on our Facebook page as well.

We’re also active on Twitter and Instagram: @BlueBoxAlliance

We have a blog and tells a little bit more about us, and also features articles written by the members of Blue Box Alliance. You can check that out at:

http://BlueBoxAlliance.wordpress.com

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Thank you again, Jeremy! Fans, please make sure to check out their Word Press, and stay tuned next week when I sit down with Luke East from Reviewing Who to talk about reviewing Doctor Who, Big Finish Productions, etc!

How You Can Participate!

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Author Interview: Caytlyn Brooke @caytlyn_brooke #ya #interview #scifi #contemporary

To celebrate the recent release of her new book, Wired, I’m sitting down with award-winning author, Caytlyn Brooke.

Welcome!

Question 1) What part of the world do you come from?

Caytlyn_BHC_WebHello! My family is from English decent and I have the freckles and pale skin to prove it. I have lived in six states, but currently reside in the Southern Tier of New York where camouflage is the epitome of fashion and everyone drives a Ford F150.  I’m working on convincing my husband to move south to the beach, but for right now I’m enjoying rolling hills and cornfields.

 

Question 2) What do you think makes a good story? 

It’s amazing how much thought and planning goes into creating a story. My favorites, in both what I read and write, are stories that make you feel as if you’re right there running alongside the characters. Description is the biggest thing for me. I want to be able to picture everything and everyone as if I’m watching a movie. I enjoy books with a fast-paced plot that make it impossible to put down. I especially love cliff hanger endings! I know many readers who like deep, complicated plots that make you think and analyze, however that’s not me. I don’t have a lot of time to read, so I prefer exciting stories with an immediate hook that aren’t afraid to jump right in.

Question 3) What inspired you to write your first book? 

Dark_Flowers_C_Brooke_FCI’ve wanted to be a writer since third grade. I loved when my teachers would assign a prompt and let our imaginations go wild for half an hour. My friends would barely craft a paragraph and I’d be on my fifth piece of paper. Growing up, I was obsessed with fairies, goblins, nymphs, you name it. If it involved any mythical creature I was hooked. It was out of that love that I created my first novel, Dark Flowers. Every little girl dreams that she finds fairies in the woods, dreams that she dances with them and is invited to be one. I took that idea and layered it with a touch of darkness. I’m a big fan of the Grimm Brothers and enjoy taking innocent stories and twisting them to keep my readers on their toes. Not every story has a happy ending and in Dark Flowers I changed the beautiful fairies everyone is familiar with, to sinister creatures that will make you rethink walking alone in the woods.

Question 4) What is your work schedule like when you’re writing? 

Trying to find time to write is a job in itself! I have two small children and a full time job so most of my writing gets done on my lunch break and at ten o’clock at night after I get everyone to bed. As you can imagine with that schedule it’s pretty slow going so I taught myself how to type pretty fast. Most nights I’m up past midnight writing, but I love it. I feel bad for my husband because he waits up for me and my, “I’ll be done in ten minutes” always turns into another hour and a half.

Question 5) What would you say is your interesting writing quirk? 

Hmm an interesting writing quirk. I guess that all my novels originate from my notebook, old school pen and paper. I always keep a notebook by my bed because most of my story ideas come from my dreams. As soon as I wake up I jot down the idea or image and then expand upon it from there until I have a solid concept. Then, I just start writing. Rather than create an outline and detail step by step what will happen, I just sit down and let my mind wander and craft the story as I go.

Question 6) Tell me about your latest book. 

Wired is a mix of YA contemporary/scifi.

Question 7) What was one of the most surprising things you learned in creating your book? 

Wired_Caytlyn_BrookeOne of the most surprising things I learned after writing Wired was how spot on my imagined world was! I started writing this novel three years ago and back then cell phone usage and dependency was annoying, but nothing to the degree it has reached today. In the slightly futuristic world I created, people have iJewels which are essentially Smart Watches. I remember last year hearing my co-workers talk about how they had to have the new Apple Smart Watch and my eyes bulged. It was exactly like the technology from my book! Wired focuses on cellular device addiction and when Maggie isn’t “connected” she experiences the same withdrawl symptoms as a drug addict. Come to find out, people are actually going to rehab for cell phone addiction and there is even a term called Nomophobia that explains the intense fear and anxiety people have if they become separated from their phones. I wrote this book because I noticed an unhealthy dependency people were forming with their phones and now it’s actually coming true. Maybe this means I’ve predicted the future?

Question 8) Do you have an excerpt from your current work you’d like to share?

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I look around at everyone seated. All of them are staring at me blankly, colorful Vertix H2’s all implanted successfully on their necks. It’s like they’ve been brainwashed. My heart rate speeds up as fear grips my stomach. “I want to leave,” I whisper, pushing back further in my chair, but the feet are stopped and when I turn around, another rep is staring down at me.

“It’s an incredible experience,” Brad says, his smile growing wider. “And you’ve already paid for it. Just try it. If you still don’t like it, we will give you a twenty-five percent refund.”

I can feel the rep behind me grip the back of my chair and I realize he’s sliding me forward, back to the table. The copper device still whirs in my hands, the green light seeming to grow brighter and brighter. A cool breeze grazes my neck and I stiffen as the rep pulls my hair away from my neck, depositing the heavy bulk onto my chest.

“Have fun,” he whispers in my ear before stepping back.

Brad is still staring at me, waiting for me to follow his instructions. With shaking hands I lift the copper Vertix to the back of my neck, wincing as the searching sensors brush my fingers. It’s going to be fine, you’re going to be fine, I tell myself over and over again as I breathe steadily through gritted teeth. Just do it for a minute, then they’ll let you go.

The device slips from my sweating fingers and lands with a solid thud onto the back of my neck. Involuntarily, my hands grip the smooth edge of the table and I close my eyes, anticipating the sharp pain I witnessed everyone else endure to make the connection. The bug-like legs dance atop my skin, settling into place. Then, without a sound, the sensors still and then plunge into the soft skin on either side of my spinal cord.

My eyes flash open and my fingers stiffen into claws as a burst of pain washes over me. I can feel the sensors inside my body, reaching, reaching for some unknown destination. A moment later, all four seize upon my brain stem and the Vertix H2 deepens its hold. My vision blurs and the eerie blue up lighting spins and swirls as the Vertix infiltrates my brain.

The connection has begun.

Question 9) What can we expect from you in the future? 

More books! I have several in the works, including a YA fantasy trilogy that I’m super excited to release next year. My other novels revolve mostly within the fantasy realm with mermaids, trolls, and witches and all border on the darker side. You can also check out Dark Flowers, if you’re into creepy fairies and muggy swamps. 

Question 10) What was the best money you ever spent as a writer? 

DI4oQC2VAAEfEEpThe best money I ever spent as a writer was when I went out to South Dakota last year for the Literary Classic Book Awards. Dark Flowers won the silver medal in the YA Horror category and I was invited to attend the awards ceremony. I didn’t win a cash prize, but I was able to tour the Black Hills of South Dakota, wear a pretty gown, and meet a fantastic group of authors from all over the country. That was such a fun experience and I’m hoping I get the chance to go out there again.

Question 11) How can we contact you or find out more about your books?

You can find me on Facebook and Twitter at the links below. Some days I have some fun things to say:

https://www.facebook.com/Caytlyn-Brooke-659444394222760/

https://twitter.com/caytlyn_brooke

You can also find me at my publisher’s website www.bhcpress.com to learn more about me http://www.bhcpress.com/Author_Caytlyn_Brooke.html and http://www.bhcpress.com/Books_Brooke_Wired.html

Thanks for having me!

 

#Interview with @TARDIScabinets! #DoctorWho #DrWho #TomBaker #Tardis #woodworking #doctorwhoislife

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Next up is the amazing Whovian cabinet maker, Gary Dorr, of Tardis Cabinets. Today he’ll show off his incredible talent, talk to us about #DoctorWho, and prove that sooner, or later, you’re going to need a TARDIS.

Welcome, Gary!!!

Hello, and thank you, Mackenzie.

Question 1) What part of the world do you come from?

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Beautiful Eugene, Oregon

Question 2) When did you become a fan of Doctor Who?

In my college days, in Boulder, CO. way back in 1975.  The show was followed by a devoted few and broadcast on the local Public Broadcasting Station in the afternoons.

Question 3) Who is your Doctor?

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My FIRST Doctor was Tom Baker, still love him, but “Who” is my Doctor is sort of the answer to the question for me.  My Doctor is the current Doctor.

Question 4) How did you get into woodworking?

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An art school background made me interested in many mediums but I gravitated to wood.  Carving and cabinet making as a hobby for a long time before offering my builds to the public.

Question 5) What inspired you to craft Tardis cabinets and boxes?

A natural, really.  A Whovian cabinet maker, what would he build?  My first few TARDISes were for myself. A 3/4 scale book cabinet, a wine cabinet, a table lamp.
Friends told me, as they do, to sell these.  My home WAS becoming crowded with blue boxes, so I set up shop.

Question 6) What process goes into selecting the wood and paint?

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All my builds are solid wood, and the painted boxes are Poplar, Birch, and Hemlock for straightness of grain.  I will occasionally build a natural hardwood cabinet, such as “The Rosewood” Jewelry Cabinet.

The paint color varies as does the colors of the various Doctor’s boxes.  I do my very best to match the selected Doctor’s hue.

Question 7) How long does it typically take for you to make one of these cabinets?

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I offer ring boxes (very popular) that take 5 days to ship, and a 1/2 scale cabinet ready to ship in 3 weeks. There are currently 23 products in my shop.

Question 8) Do you handle special requests?

Yes, from small additions like a custom message, to full builds.  A limitation to big builds is the shipping cost.

Question 9) Are there other Doctor Who items have you crafted?

Yes, you can find in my online shop a  River Song’s Diary Keepsake Box  and a “Power of Three” inspired Black Cube Jewelry/Gift Box

Question 10) How did you react when you learned about Keith’s marriage proposal to Sarah at Awesome Con in the presence of David Tennant, Catherine Tate and John Barrowman?

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I was thrilled!  I wish I had been there.  I knew in advance the groom-to-be was going to attempt this, but the photos, and David’s reaction to the TARDIS Ring Box was great. 

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Question 11) Are there any other cool stories like this you would like to share?

I have many clients write with their, and their loved one’s reactions.  Here are the reviews and stories.

Question 12) Is there something you would like to craft, but haven’t yet?

Oh yes! So many things!

Question 13) Where can others find out more about you and your work?

Thank you for asking,   www.tardiscabinets.com

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Thank you again, Gary! Fans, please make sure to check out his website, and stay tuned next week when I sit down with Jeremy Wheeler from The Blue Box Alliance to talk about Doctor Who cosplay, fan-films, comic con and much more!

 
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#Interview with #author, @bawrites! #MattSmith #MG #steampunk #dystopian #DoctorWho #DrWho #doctorwhoislife

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Next up is author B.A. Williamson with an exciting middle grade book that is on my to-be-read list. He’ll be talking about how #DoctorWho and #MattSmith inspired his book — The Marvelous Adventures of Gwendolyn Gray!

Question 1) What part of the world do you come from?

interview1.pngI hail from a quaint little neighborhood on the east side of Indianapolis.

Question 2) When did you become a fan of Doctor Who?

I became a fan in college, when I went home on spring break and my Dad was watching this strange show. Some fat green Vogon-like aliens had just destroyed Big Ben, and they farted a lot, and came from a planet with a funny name. When he told me what it was, I remembered seeing a whole shelf of classic Doctor Who tapes at the local library while I was growing up, but I never touched them, a decision I now painfully regret. Tom Baker would have vastly improved my childhood. As it was, I watched a little with my Dad while I was home, but I didn’t become a fan in my own right until I saw David Tennant’s first episode with the Sycorax.

Question 3) What do you think makes a good story?

Desire+Obstacle. Your character has to want something, and want it badly, no matter how small it is. There needs to be things standing in the way, obstacles that match the character’s level of desire. If your character doesn’t have a clear driving goal, we lose interest. I also think a story should have something to say, beyond just beating the bad guys. Doctor Who has infinite storytelling possibility, but it touches on some of the deepest topics that any form of literature can approach, which is something science-fiction has always been particularly suited to.

Question 4) Congratulations on the publication of The Marvelous Adventures of Gwendolyn Gray! Tell me a little bit about your book.

interview5.pngGwendolyn Gray faces an overwhelming battle every day: keeping her imagination under control. It’s a struggle for a dreamer like Gwendolyn, in a city of identical gray skyscrapers, clouds that never clear, and grown-ups who never understand. She’s a plucky little redheaded outcast that would be perfectly at home in the TARDIS.

But when her daydreams come alive and run amok in The City, the struggle to control them becomes as real as the furry creatures infesting her bedroom. Worse yet, she’s drawn the attention of the Faceless Gentlemen, who want to preserve order in The City by erasing Gwendolyn and her troublesome creations.

With the help of two explorers from another world, Gwendolyn escapes and finds herself in a land of clockwork inventions and colorful creations. Now Gwendolyn must harness her powers and, with a gang of airship pirates, stop the Faceless Gentlemen from destroying the new world she loves and the home that never wanted her—before every world becomes gray and dull.

If that sounds like the plot of a Doctor Who episode, well, you wouldn’t be far off the mark.

Question 5) What was one of the most surprising things you learned in creating this book? 

interview6Seeing how your own characters can take on a life of your own, and do things that surprise you. When you’re writing, and you get really in the zone, stuff comes out that feels completely independent, and I have no idea where it comes from. Which then became a theme of the book in and of itself, and I spend a lot of time exploring the nature of imagination and creation, and how it can be a type of magic on its own.

Question 6) I understand that Doctor Who has played a significant role in your writing. Can you elaborate on that?

It tremendously influences the type of story I want to tell. Those are the stories I love, and I wanted to emulate those somehow, I wanted to tell a world-hopping portal fantasy. When I was looking at how to craft a tale of an imaginative kid bouncing between worlds and solving her problems with wits, not weapons, I went and studied some of the best Who episodes. I looked at their structure, how the Doctor eventually prevailed in spite of overwhelming obstacles. I looked at how the best episodes deliver a strong message, not in a preachy way, but one that was at the center of a fantastic adventure story and compelling characters. And of course, every adventure involves a lot of running.

Question 7) Turns out, our books both have something in common — Matt Smith! Any specific characteristics of him can be found in your characters?

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His short attention span and tendency to babble. His childishness comes through in Gwendolyn, because Gwendolyn is herself a child. But there’s also a weight of sadness there: these actions have consequences, and the characters have to feel those deeply, but always choose to go on.

Question 8) Who is your Doctor?

David Tennant, always and forever. Particularly, The Christmas Invasion, Blink, The Shakespeare Code, Gridlock, The Beast, Tooth and Claw, the Cybermen invasion, and the Master’s Return. I don’t think the show has ever been better than his first two seasons.

Question 9) What is the most difficult part of your artistic process?

The beginning. Figuring out what the story is and where it’s going. And every time you start, you never completely know what’s going to happen or how it’s going to turn out. Starting a new story is like taking a leap off a cliff, and it’s just as terrifying. I always have an ending in mind, but parts of the journey are still huge blanks. You just have to trust yourself, your skills, your voice, and let it go where it will. But it’s never an easy step for me.

Question 10) What would you say is your interesting quirk?

I like to dress in costume for my book events. The narrator in the book is a bit of a character in and of itself, and I like to become something like that character. It comes from my theatre background, I suppose.

Question 11) Do you have an excerpt from the book you’d like to share?

Sure! Here’s one that’s particularly Who-vian. Gwendolyn lives in the City, a dystopian place where creativity and ideas simply don’t exist. It’s not “the way things are done.” Picture a mid-century modern future straight out of Mad Men with the social structure and values of Mr. Banks from Mary Poppins. Gwendolyn’s imagination just made one of her classmates grow actual rabbit ears, and while running from the consequences of that, she has just discovered a major secret and some strange artifacts on the Edge of the City, a place no one knew existed. Now she has her first run-in with the villains of our story. It’s a very Who sort of scene- creepy baddies, sudden rescues by mysterious new friends from other worlds, and plenty of running.

interview2.pngGwendolyn sprawled on the sidewalk, nose to toe with four polished black shoes. Above the shoes were crisp grey pants, and above that were twice-buttoned jackets with black ties pinned smartly to white shirts. The men both wore black bowler hats, and they had no faces.

Let me be clear: they had noses, yes, and mouths as well. Likewise eyes and ears, all in the right place and amount.

But Gwendolyn could not have told you what they looked like.

Looking at them was like trying to picture the face of a friend you haven’t seen in years. The men stood plain as day in front of her, but the faces underneath those bowler hats slipped from her mind like eels, as though her eyes saw something terrible, and refused to tell her brain what they had seen. Most people have never seen a man with no face, but let me assure you that it is a sight so unsettling that it puts goosebumps on your eyeballs.

A white-gloved hand reached down. Gwendolyn thought it meant to help her up, but it picked up the book instead. The man’s eyes examined the gleaming title, and the gloved hands flipped through the colorful illustrations.

Gwendolyn snatched up the gem and snuck it in her pocket.

The man turned to his comrade. “This is a very interesting book, Mister Five.” he said. His voice was a high-pitched whining monotone, crisp and proper. The voice she’d heard in the Headmaster’s office.

“Very interesting indeed, Mister Six,” replied the other, his voice identical to the first. He leaned in slightly, ever so slightly, to examine the book.

Gwendolyn got to her feet and put on her precious-little-girl voice, all sweetness and light, the kind you use when you want a second helping of dessert. “I’m terribly sorry, sirs. I wasn’t watching my way.”

Slowly, ever so slowly, the two men’s eyes turned from the book toward Gwendolyn. Their heads cocked to the side and stared at her, faces instantly dissolving in her memory.

Gwendolyn shuddered. “If you will accept my polite apologies, I will take my book and be on my way. Mother will be quite cross if I am late.”

The men ignored her. Carefully, ever so carefully, their hands flipped through the book as though the pages were covered in muck, and they didn’t wish to dirty their white gloves.

“Where did you get this book, my dear?” said Mister Five.

“Uhh…” Gwendolyn stammered, “it’s mine, and I would like it back now, please.”

“This is a very unique book, little girl. And my partner and I… collect… things such as this,” said one of the men.

Gwendolyn again felt the gut-wrenching sensation of being caught, as she felt earlier with the Centrals, but these gentlemen made Cecilia and her gang seem positively fluffy. “I’m sorry sir, but it is mine, and it is not for sale. I must insist that you give it back. Please?”

“What do you think, Mister Five?” one of the men whined eerily.

“She has seen the book, Mister Six, and would appear to have been reading it quite intently,” said the other, examining the edges of the pages. “And unless I’m very much mistaken, and I seldom am, Mister Six—”

“-No, indeed, Mister Five—”

“-this girl is not where she should be.”

“Most assuredly not, Mister Five. The Edge is not permissible to the citizenry; particularly children. Most particularly not to children so particularly… strange.” Gently, ever so gently, his gloved hand reached out and caressed a lock of Gwendolyn’s fiery hair.

Gwendolyn flinched. The man’s brief touch made her skin want to crawl off her bones, into bed, and under the blankets. She slapped his hand away, but Mister Six didn’t react.

“You are correct, Mister Six,” said Mister Five. “She has seen The Wall, and this book, and who knows what else. She is also certainly the one causing these unacceptable… changes. No, no, no, I’m afraid we really have no choice,” droned Mister Five.

Mister Six’s hand reached up slowly, ever so slowly, to his black bowler hat. “I agree completely, Mister Five. These changes simply must be dealt with.” His tone turned sweet, dripping more venom than honey: “Girl. Might I draw your attention here, to my lovely hat?”

He took off the hat and turned it toward her, like a magician showing that his hat is indeed empty. But instead of a rabbit, a pinpoint of light came out of the hat’s black interior. Gwendolyn’s gaze was locked in place.

Cold light poured out of the hat. It was just like a Lambent; but one more potent than any she had ever encountered. Her eyes burned but she could not look away. With an awful shock, she found she could no longer move. Any thoughts of running or escaping faded. She could feel her mind slipping away, drawn toward the light, drowning in it.

“Perfectly done, little girl. It doesn’t hurt.”

He was wrong. It did hurt. Her head felt like it would split in two. The searing pain brought her back to her senses. “No!” she shouted, and reached forward to knock the hat away.

Mister Six stepped easily out of reach. “The girl resists, Mister Five.”

“Indeed she does, Mister Six. She is stronger than anticipated. Increase the power.” The light doubled in brightness. She held up her hand to block it, but it didn’t help.

Her hand… she could see right through it. It was vanishing before her eyes, disappearing like a puddle on a hot day. She felt disconnected from her body, her arms and legs as far away as yesterday’s dream. She felt like a glass of water being poured into a swirling drain. Her thoughts, normally so fast she couldn’t control them, began to slow. She felt… less.

Mister Six’s mouth curved upward slightly, ever so slightly. “Yes, this will only take a mo—”

“Look out!”

Someone collided with the faceless man, and hard. Mister Six was knocked to the street, his hat rolling away, and the book skidded down the sidewalk. Senseless Gwendolyn was grabbed by a pair of rough hands and pulled down the street like a rag doll.

“Move your feet, or I’m leaving you!” came another voice, a girl’s. Gwendolyn shook her head as the volume on her senses was turned back up.

And for the third time that day, Gwendolyn Gray was running away.

She noticed several things all at once. She noticed a very peculiar looking boy, about her own age, running beside her. She noticed a bright red jacket and a long yellow scarf that fluttered behind him. He grinned recklessly, holding his flat and checkered newsboy cap. He held up a red book. “Here! You dropped this. Clumsy.”

Gwendolyn took it, noticing that her hand was solid and whole again. She noticed the girl pulling her other hand wore a complicated-looking set of goggles on her head, all dials and lenses. Her shimmering blouse was not quite green, not quite blue, but was somehow both at once underneath a coppery-orange vest. She looked back at Gwendolyn and gave her arm a fierce tug. “Quit staring at me and run!”

She did, pushing her feet as fast as they would go. They sprinted through the deserted streets. The Mister Men followed effortlessly, seeming almost to float over the ground.

Suddenly, Gwendolyn noticed some scattered pedestrians in shabby clothes. Gwendolyn must have run all the way to the beginning of the Outskirts. People gaped at the wild children who would dare run through The City’s streets, but the Mister Men passed by without so much as a glance from the Cityzens, and the sparse crowds moved mindlessly aside to let them through.

Gwendolyn turned to look behind, but the Mister Men never grew any closer or farther away. “I can’t… keep running… like this!” she gasped, her satchel banging against her side with every step.

“Quick! This way!” The boy shouted.

“Sparrow, wait!” the girl said, but the boy ducked into an alleyway. The girl groaned and pulled Gwendolyn in after him.

It was a dead end.

The boy spun around. “Oh. Never mind. What now, Starling?”

“What? Not again! This was your idea!” She groaned. “Fine. Take her! I’ll catch up.” She pointed at something down the alley, then pushed Gwendolyn at the boy and started patting the pockets of her pants. The girl was nothing but pockets from the waist down. Her black trousers were covered in them, and she wore crisscrossing belts full of dangling tools and gadgets. Gwendolyn wondered if she needed all those belts to hold up such heavily laden pants.

The older girl pulled a copper sphere from a pocket on her thigh and twisted the two halves, winding it up. She leaned out of the alleyway and tossed it into the air just as the Mister Men came around the corner. The sphere whirred, clicked, and then exploded with a loud SNAP!

The alley entrance was instantly filled with orange smoke. One of the men stumbled out of the cloud, but the girl shoved him back in. She pulled her goggles down over her eyes and flipped a lens into place. “Go! I’ll lead them away and circle back!” Then she plunged into the fog.

“Come on!” the boy said. He pulled Gwendolyn down the alleyway and studied the wall at the end. “Now, what was Starling pointing at?”

Gwendolyn noticed a fire escape above them, old iron ladders and walkways bolted to the side of the building. “Do you think she meant that?”

“Oh, yeah. Good call.” The boy shot her a toothy grin, one that was altogether too cocky for their present situation. He jumped up and pulled the ladder down. “Ladies first.”

Gwendolyn hesitated. “Uh… I’m not climbing over you in this skirt. I’ll thank the gentleman to go first.” It was a good excuse, but truthfully she just wanted to see if it would hold his weight.

The boy’s jaw dropped, taken aback. “I didn’t… That’s not… I would never…”

A loud crash came from the smoke behind them.

“Just climb!” Gwendolyn shouted, though she was glad to wipe that smug smile from his face. She had the presence of mind to stick the book in her bag.

He scrambled up the ladder, but was already grinning again, and gave her a wink. “Be careful, girlie. Wouldn’t want to tear that precious skirt of yours.”

“Just worry about yourself, little boy, and when you fall, try and avoid my head.” Teasing him was an easy way to hide how terrified she was.

The fire escape held, and they reached the roof. They crossed to the other side and looked down. The sheer drop to the street below made her eyes swirl. A twelve-story fall is not the sort of story you’ll ever get to tell.

“What now? There’s nowhere to go!” Gwendolyn said.

“Nowhere to go? Please. I have a plan. Well, we have a plan. Um . . . Starling will have a plan. Any trouble down there?” he asked the goggled girl, who was clambering over the edge of the roof.

“Yes. And all of it is your fault. But I bought us a few moments. Now take one of these.” The girl produced a collection of objects from another one of her pockets and tossed something to each of them.

Gwendolyn caught it. It was a miniature umbrella, bright pink with purple spirals on it, not much larger than her hand. It was the same sort of umbrella your parents might put into a tropical drink on the beach when they’ve left you and your sister at home with relatives. Gwendolyn frowned at it, but she opened it with a crinkly pop.

“When I say so, jump,” said the older girl, approaching the edge of the roof.

This was too much, even for Gwendolyn. “Jump? We’ll be smushed!” She glanced at the pitifully small umbrella in her hand.

The boy rolled his eyes. “You wanted a plan. Maybe you should ask them about it,” he cocked a thumb at the Faceless Gentlemen, who had just appeared on the roof.

“This is a most inappropriate way for young children to act, Mister Five.” said the man on the left, his face slipping from Gwendolyn’s mind like water through her fingers.

“Most inappropriate indeed, Mister Six. They will have to be dealt with immediately. These sorts of… intrusions… cannot be tolerated,” the other replied. They strode across the roof toward the children, each step in perfect unison.

Gwendolyn looked down at the punishingly solid sidewalk. She glanced at the boy, and got another infuriating wink. For someone saving her life, he was certainly not impressing her. “Isn’t there another way?”

“Of course there is another way…” droned Mister Five. His hand reached toward her in a gesture that absolutely failed to be comforting. “Come with us.” His voice took on the sickly sweetness of cough syrup. “Your parents must be worried sick about you. No little girl should be out this far. Just what would your mother think?”

“What indeed, Mister Five. We will take care of you, girl, and see you home safe. We will explain everything to your parents, make all your problems… disappear. We might even allow you to keep that little book. The Status Quo will be preserved. All will be well. After all, you cannot trust such dreadful children as these.” His white gloved hand waved toward her brightly colored companions.

You and I might be able to spot the lie these men told, but we are not the one’s teetering over the edge of a fatal fall. Gwendolyn hesitated. What would Mother think? She would certainly not approve of any of this dashing about, nor of her two rescuers. But her parents had also never seen anything like these men, and she wasn’t certain they’d approve of them, either.

The boy put a hand on her shoulder. “It’s us or them. Now or never.”

She took a deep breath and looked over the side. She had to do it. She couldn’t turn back now. She would imagine she was brave, even if she felt like throwing up.

“Then I guess it’s now,” she whispered. She squeezed her eyes shut, gripped the umbrella, bent her knees-

“Sorry, girlie, time’s up!” The boy gave her a shove, and Gwendolyn fell with a shriek. The older girl followed, leaping from the roof.

“So long, chaps!” The boy tipped his cap to the Mister Men, showed them a very impolite finger, and jumped.

Question 12) What can we expect from you in the future?

More Gwendolyn! I’m currently working on The Fantastical Exploits of Gwendolyn Gray, and where the first one features a trip to a Steampunk world, this time she’ll find herself trapped in the land of the Fae.

Question 13) How can others find out more about you and your work?

The book itself is on Amazon and Goodreads. The website is gwendolyngray.com, but I’m probably most active on the Facebook page, facebook.com/gwendolyngraybook. Twitter is my social of choice, but you can find me pretty much anywhere @bawrites. I’m always happy to chat, particularly about the book!

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#Interview with #artist @bmax67! #Twelfthdoctor #Petercapaldi #DoctorWho #doctorwhoislife

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My next featured guest is Brenda Culver, who is not only a fan of Doctor Who, but creates amazing digital creations of Peter Capaldi and his Twelfth Doctor.

Welcome!!!

Brenda: Thank you, Mackenzie!!!

Question 1) What part of the world do you come from?

Brenda: I live in the western suburbs of Chicago and was born and raised in the Chicago area.  I’d love to move somewhere warm eventually.

Mackenzie: I’d love to move somewhere warmer, too! Though, to be honest, I really enjoy the city of Chicago. I find myself visiting there at least once a year. In fact, I’ll be there this upcoming August, making my debut at Wizard World Chicago!

Question 2) When did you become a fan of Doctor Who?

Brenda: This is a bit complicated. I remember watching the 4th Doctor late at night, really having no clue what it was! Then, it disappeared from American TV. My son started watching new Doctor Who probably around 2012-2013.  I started watching with him and really enjoyed it. Then, the 12th Doctor came along and I became a full-fledged Whovian. 

Question 3) Who is your Doctor and why?

thumbnail-7.jpegBrenda: For some reason I really connected with the Twelfth Doctor.  Why?  I’m not sure.  I think it was a combination of things.  I remember seeing the iconic Doctor pose and thinking, “Wow, who is that?” He just WAS the Doctor to me from the start.  I loved how the Doctor evolved and his character developed over those three years. Also, maybe because I’m closer in age with him than the other younger Doctors.  Of course, it helped that Peter Capaldi has been an incredible ambassador for the show and still loves it to this day.

Mackenzie: I found myself also really connecting with the Twelfth Doctor right from the start (and not just because I share a birthday with him).

Brenda: That’s so cool!  I love his Doctor so much.

Question 4) How exciting you and your son got to meet Peter! What was it like getting to meet him? 

thumbnail-11Brenda: Oh wow! Where do I start? That weekend was surreal!  My son loves Twelve as well, so I bought the VIP package and boy, was it worth it!  We were able to attend a private gathering of maybe 20 or so people and got to chat with Peter and ask questions in a very informal and relaxed atmosphere.  Peter was pleasant and smiled while he told us stories of his life and career. Then, we were escorted to the main auditorium where the panel was taking place.  During the Q and A, the moderator brought one other boy on stage who was cosplaying Twelve to show off his costume. Peter then spotted my son who was also cosplaying Twelve and invited him up on stage with them!  What an incredible moment! The boys each had a seat on the couch and spent the rest of the Q and A sitting with Peter and the moderator. It was incredible. A selfie was taken of all 4 of them from the stage when the panel was over. The next day, Peter met my son in line and remembered his name and treated him like a friend.  It’s a weekend my son will never forget. Peter Capaldi is one of the kindest people I’ve ever met. He goes above and beyond for his fans probably because he is a fan himself.

Oh! I forgot to include that he saw some of my art and signed a piece for me!  It was early in my digital art work. I feel like I’ve improved over the last year, but Peter was so sweet with his comments about it.

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Question 5) I absolutely adore your art piece of Peter Capaldi’s Doctor. Can you share a bit about what inspired you to create this?

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Brenda: I believe the piece you were talking about is “Scan Me”.  I picked that particular scene because of the emotion and power of that scene. I loved the Doctor’s pose and the lighting was so unique. It was a challenge but I did my best. 

Question 6) It is always so hard to say good-bye to an actor/actress playing the Doctor. What was your favorite episode featuring your Doctor?

Brenda: There were so many episodes I thumbnail-9.jpegloved with Twelve, but Heaven Sent will always have a special place in my heart.  Peter did such an incredible job in an episode where he was solely featured.  The soundtrack was beautiful and the cinematography and directing was spectacular.  I remember watching it the first time and realizing what had been happening.  Brilliant.  Just brilliant.

Question 7) I always find it intriguing to learn about an artist’s technique. Can you share a bit about what goes into drawing a piece like this? Time frame? Skill? Software used?

thumbnail-2.pngI use a Wacom draw tablet.  Less than 100 dollars and pretty basic. I’ve only been drawing for about 2 years so it’s still a learning curve for me. I use ArtRage software. I start by sketching out the general outline on the first layer then start filling in with a basic color to build upon. Then, there’s all the details that follow. I honestly don’t have a certain style since I’m so new, I still experiment with different techniques and try to constantly learn.

As far as time frame goes, some seem to come together quite easily, maybe a few hours or so.  Others may take 10 hours or more. I never really timed myself and just work on my pieces when I can. I’m also always open to suggestions and pointers.

Question 8) What would you say is your interesting quirk?

I’m 50 years old but my husband says I’m 12.  I say “thingy” a lot. I guess I just don’t want to grow up.  😀

Question 9) Is there something or someone you would love to draw that you haven’t yet?

Yes!  Hugh Laurie.  I need to pick a shot that shows off his blue eyes.

Question 10) What advice would you give to someone who wants a career in art?

I would say not to follow my path since I started drawing at 48 years old and work as a dental hygienist. 😀  But seriously, for years I’ve always said I can’t draw, I still have a hard time calling myself an “artist” because there is so much talent out there and I’m hard on myself. If art is something you want to pursue, then do it. Don’t wait 30 years like I did!

Question 11) How excited are you to see the Doctor being played by a woman for the first time?

To be honest, I’ve had a difficult time just accepting a new Doctor.  It’s tough when you lose your Doctor. But I’m warming up to the idea and I’m hoping they stay true to the Doctor’s character. 

Question 12) What can we expect from you in the future?  

I will probably continue to draw the 12th Doctor for quite a while until I either expand my horizons to include the other Doctors or just follow Peter’s career and draw any new characters he may play in the future. I also would like to attempt some landscapes and I’ve drawn one of my dogs so far.  My other one is feeling left out.

Question 13) How can others find out more about you and your work?

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I have a Deviant Art page under the name Doctorwithaspoon as well as Tumblr. I am also on Twitter as @bmax67, and usually post my art on those sites. I would also like to say thank you to all of my supporters who are always so kind and sweet with their comments about my art. It’s much appreciated, and I’m glad other Twelve/Peter Capaldi fans appreciate my work.

Here’s a link to my DA page: https://www.deviantart.com/doctorwithaspoon/gallery/

Mackenzie: I’ll be sure to bookmark your DA page! Thank you so much for joining me today, Brenda. I wish you luck in your future, and can’t wait to see more of your art of Peter Capaldi!

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