THE AUTHOR SIGNINGS AT CAPTAIN BLUE HEN COMICS 11/07/2009
Opportunities to meet authors, chat with them and ask questions in relaxed and casual surroundings don’t occur often. So, it was a real treat to be introduced to three separate writers on the same day, at the same location.
I opted to ask all three writers (Greg Cox, Lance Parkin and Dave Thompson) the same opening question: At what point did you decide to pursue what you do as a career?
The early ambition of Lance Parkin was to be a journalist but he became disillusioned as he learned more about the position and didn’t pursue it. He was an early and forever fan of Doctor Who and loved the novelizations. At the age of 23 he thought to himself “I can do the same thing. I can write as well as this.”
At that time Virgin (the publisher) were putting out two Doctor Who novels per month and were looking for more writers. They were willing to accept unsolicited submittals and even made writers guidelines available. They would normally request the first three chapters as well as a summary/outline of the entire book. They accepted Parkin’s first submittal and went on to publish many more of his Doctor Who novels.
Currently Parkin is working on original material, searching for an agent and pursuing getting it published. His current work is described as “literary science fiction” entitled FIXING JESUS. He’s also working on a biography of a famous writer.
In addition to his Doctor Who tales he has written two years of soap opera scripts for the popular British television series EMMERDALE (on the air since 1972) and some novelizations of the series. His non-fiction work includes guides, critical essays and biographies on various writers and series, including Star Trek, Phillip Pullman’s novels, Alias and Alan Moore.
Lance finds the specifics of writing fiction for a particular genre, such as science fiction and soap operas, to have common elements. However, he prefers writing for the science fiction genre as Doctor Who fans are much more critical and responsive versus other types of readers, and they give great feedback. His best seller of some years ago (an Emmerdale book) isn’t mentioned or even talked about anymore, but his Doctor Who novels are still discussed and debated on fan websites and blogs.
Lance cautions genre writers (including popular comics series) to be aware of the dangers in popular culture. All too often he sees writers opting out to “stay safe” and within reach of the fan base in order to maintain a comfort level. Nothing ever changes and the series gets boring because the writers are no longer taking any chances, risks or tampering with the established characters.
Lance has no favorite Doctor Who actor to write about - - - and he sees a common template between the six doctors to date. He once heard a television producer say to an author to “just write the story. It doesn’t matter which actor is portraying the Doctor.” The only time he wrote for a specific Doctor Who persona was when he was scripting an audio book that he knew would be narrated by Colin Baker.
His favorite Doctor Who to watch is Tom Baker. He’s never written any scripts or books featuring Baker because he “kind of doesn’t want to tamper with my idol”. Lance says that every single Doctor Who is a very curious, imaginative, creative and clever individual - - - who always has an angle on a situation or a resolution to a problem that others didn’t see. Sometimes he finds it a challenge to create a clever and creative solution that only Doctor Who would think of.
Lance Parkin has been living in the Newark, Delaware area for the past eighteen months and loves it. He made the move from England when his wife enrolled in college here.
All three of the author interviews were initially featured on the Captain Blue Hen website. To read the “Meeting Greg Cox’ article, go to the archived materials at BC Refugees for November 27, 2009. I’m saving the Dave Thompson article for my very own blog, dedicated to music, which I hope to begin this month. Dave Thompson is a music writer, so it’s more appropriate that the article appear there rather than here. I’ll provide a link once the site is up and running . . . . . Mike