2007 Snapshot Archive: Jonathan Blum

Interviewed by Tansy Rayner Roberts

First published at ASiF!

Jonathan Blum is best known for his work in Doctor Who fiction, with many novels and short stories published in the Who Universe. He lives in Sydney, Australia with his wife & co-author, Kate Orman.

Q1 – You’re about to have a Bernice Summerfield novella published in the collection Nobody’s Children – what did you get to do with Benny in this book that you haven’t done before? And why do you think she has proved such a successful Doctor Who spin off, after so long?

Jon – Okay, well, background for everyone who doesn’t know – Kate and I, along with the impressive Phil Purser-Hallard, have just written Nobody’s Children, which is basically a novel told in three separate novella-length chunks. Think of us as an intercontinental Edwina Grey.

It’s been fun growing up with Benny – one of the points I actually make in The Loyal Left Hand (my third of Nobody’s Children) is that she’s changed so much without even thinking about it, over the years. There’s a lot that’s been constant about the character, but a lot of her old lines have gradually been crossed more and more. Plus she’s been dealing with very human matters like motherhood, and keeping a relationship going… and those are constantly changing challenges. The book was written while I was going through a sort of pre-midlife-crisis-y period of self-reflection, and really getting a grip on the fact that you don’t stop changing once you hit 35 (or in her case fortyish), you can still keep evolving.

So specifically in this story, I’ve got her dealing with the question of how much risk she can expose her son to, especially if there’s a greater good at stake, and stretching the boundaries of her relationship with Jason in ways that will hopefully surprise her a bit…

It was a weird piece for me, because while I’d worked out the broad strokes of the story, I did a lot of the writing on instinct, feeling my way. Which is a different way of working for me. See, I’m still stretching my boundaries too!

Q2 – There’s a whole lot of new Doctor Who (and spin offs such as Torchwood and Sarah Jane) out there right now. Which of the new characters would you love to get your hands on, as a writer? And in what medium?

I’m currently _desperate_ to break into TV, but I know that realistically it’ll be years before I even get a chance to pitch to Doctor Who, even if we could manage to do it from another continent. Personally I’d love to work on any of those shows – I know Kate and I could do a stonking Torchwood script, because Jack’s a character with a lot of material to get into, and writing for Sarah Jane Smith would just make my inner eleven-year-old bounce up and down with glee.

Q3 – You hinted that you have some current projects on the go – what are you working on, and what does your writing future hold?

Well, right at the moment I’m about to shoot a DVD extra for Zygon – the film I wrote about five or six years ago! Bill Baggs has finally finished it. My very own straight-to-DVD B-movie – stardom at last! But I’m getting to do an interview piece for the DVD, which my friend Andrew Shellshear is directing, talking about the twelve different drafts the script went through.

It’s really weird revisiting “Zygon” after all this time – I keep thinking I could do a better job on the script now, and I have no idea how Bill’s direction will look these days – but I’m grateful for the chance to finally get it done.

Anyway, after that, my priority is pitching to TV – I’ve already got a couple of pitches in to established shows down here, which may or may not go anywhere, and I’m working on a new spec script for something original. Plus there are the usual Torchwood novel proposals which are sitting on the editor’s desk…

Q4 – Do you read much in the way of Australian speculative fiction? What’s the best thing you’ve read this year? [and in keeping with the Doctor Who theme, which season 3 episode was your favourite so far?]

Normally I try to read more Australian stuff, but this past year I’ve been terribly slack – blame it on the midlife crisis! Aside from finishing Prismatic, which I found wonderfully disturbing, I’ve been too busy putting words out to take very many in, Australian or otherwise. But the best Doctor Who story is a toss-up between “Human Nature” and “Blink” – geniuses, the lot of them!

Q5 – and finally, if you had the chance to get it on with the fictional character you fancy most, who would it be?

Erm… this is going to take a bit of thought…!

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