2007 Snapshot Archive: Kate Orman

Interviewed by Tansy Rayner Roberts

First published at ASiF!

Kate Orman has written or co-written more “Doctor Who” related novels, novellas, and short stories than she can count, even using her toes. She lives in Sydney, Australia with her husband and co-author Jonathan Blum.

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?

Benny’s parallel to the Doctor in a lot of ways – an adventurer and explorer with an academic background – so she provides plenty of story opportunities. Plus I think we recognise something of ourselves in Benny’s struggles to live a normal life at the same time as all these extraordinary things are going on in her world. She’s heroic, without being a Hero with a capital H – she’s fallible and even quotidian.

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 a prose writer – Jon is the script writer. Putting aside the Doctor, who I’d obviously surrender a limb to write for in any medium, I’d love to write a book involving next year’s Torchwood, whose efficiency will no doubt be much improved by the arrival of Ms Jones. I adore Captain Jack and Martha and I’m intrigued by Jack’s ambiguous relationship with Ianto.

Q3 – People have been wondering about a “Kate Orman original novel” since your early Virgin Adventures. Are you sick of people asking? (and, um, can I ask how it’s progressing?)

I first decided to write an original novel in 1995! In the last few years it’s become a serious project. In some ways it’s been like starting from scratch – the things you need to know to write a completely original novel are quite different from what you need to write a “Doctor Who” novel, where much of the work is done for you – the main characters come ready-made and you know the sort of lines the story will follow. I think I may have finally worked out how to plot a book now.

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?]

I don’t read nearly enough SF, let alone Australian SF (I have a boxful of Australian SF novels and anthologies under the house, mostly unread!). In fact – if you don’t count re-reading one my own Who novels and an abortive assault on Aldous Huxley’s Ape and Essence – the *only* SF novel I’ve read all year is Greg Bear’s Slant, which I enjoyed, although it sort of unwound at the end. I’ve just started Neil Stephenson’s Cryptonomicon (my Dad’s already read it!).

My favourite episode of this year’s “Doctor Who” – I’m going to cheat and say the three-part finale.

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

At this moment, it would be DCI Gene Hunt from “Life on Mars”, for whom I have developed an unexpected lust. Ask me again in a week, though, and it’ll be some other poor fellow.

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