Saturday, 1 June 2013

Interviews Interview with Joseph Lidster - Consequences

Interview with Joseph Lidster

‘Saving the planet, watching over the Rift, preparing the human race for the twenty-first century...Torchwood has been keeping Cardiff safe since the late 1800’s.  Small teams of heroes, working 24/7, encountering and containing the alien, the bizarre and the inexplicable. 
But Torchwood do not always see the effects of their actions.  What links the Rules and Regulations for replacing a Torchwood leader to the destruction of a supermarket?  How does a witness to an alien’s reprisals against Torchwood become caught up in a night of terror in a university library?  And why should Gwen and Ianto’s actions at a local publisher’s affect Torchwood more than a century earlier?
For Torchwood, the past will always catch up with them.  And sometimes the future will catch up with the past...’

Hi Joe

I loved the entire book Consequences, just like the game in the playground writing down the who did what with whom and where and what happened at the end. It was all beautifully put together although when I was reading through I couldn’t see how The Baby Farmers had linked the entire story until Consequences and it was down to that one clue at the end.   Was it a hard job piecing it all together as well as telling your own story and trying to get all the ends tied up?

Joseph: I received an email from Steve Tribe in December 2008 asking me to be involved. He'd come up with the idea of “Torchwood: Consequences, a short-story collection in which an element of each story is passed on to the writer of the next story.” He sold it to me as “The element passed on could be a character revisited, or it could be that Torchwood’s fix for one problem then unearths another. It could even stretch across the various decades to some extent – something Jack did in 1901 having an effect in 2006, or whenever. And it’ll probably all lead up to next year’s Children of Earth…” I just thought it was a brilliant idea. I'd loved how Torchwood, in quite a small space of time really, had created its own mythology and that was something we'd already done a bit in the books and audios (using Phil's SkyPoint building in other stories and so on).

I think it was Steve who came up with the character of Nina. I then proposed a story in which she was selling a book to a publisher based on these memories she had of being involved with Torchwood. That way I could get started on a standalone story and could then fit her encounters with Torchwood later – once the other writers had come up with their stories. Steve said that her first encounter with the gang would possibly be during the events of Everything Changes. Then, a couple of months later, I was sent exactly how and when she appeared in the other books so I was able to incorporate those previous appearances into my story.

The story of Nina was more about the other books and audios than specifically about the other stories in Consequences so it was really fun to be able to make it all into one big epic story. Once I had that, I wrote up a big document about what exactly Nina could have lived through – from all three TV series, audios and the appearances in the other novels which I'd been sent, so I could add even more to it.

The Life and Times of Nina Rogers by Joseph Lidster – 10.08.08
Assuming the books are in chronological order…
What the public knows…
The world has gone a bit mad over the last few years. It started when shop dummies seemed to come alive (DW: Rose) and a spaceship crashed into Big Ben (DW: Aliens of London). Most of these events were dismissed as either terrorist attacks or hoaxes. There’s been a couple of instances of ghosts appearing (TW: End of Days and DW: Army of Ghosts) and also Cybermen appearing in every home. The sun went out for a bit (SJA: Revenge of the Slitheen) and the moon came crashing down towards Earth (SJA: The Lost Boy). Then the Prime Minister murdered the American President on telly (DW: The Sound of Drums). Throughout all this, Cardiff has had the worst of it. There seems to be an abundance of serial killers (weevils, sex-alien in TW: Day One, the taxi driver in TW: In The Shadows, TW: From Out of the Rain) and strange mass hallucinations (TW: Everyone Says Hello, TW: Something In The Water). But generally, people have been getting on with their lives, as you do. Even a major terrorist attack on Cardiff (TW: Exit Wounds) didn’t disrupt life too much.

And then the Daleks invaded (DW: The Stolen Earth) and everyone had to finally and definitely accept the existence of aliens (confirmed in SJA: The Mark of the Berserker, DW: Planet of the Dead, TW: Children of Earth).

Following this, life has continued as normal… Cardiff singers are killed by some kind of maniac/serial killer during the Welsh Amateur Operatic Contest - most shocking is that famous Shirley Basseyesque singer Maria Bruno is one of the victims. An unspecified amount of time later, the city is besieged by zombies. There’s no hiding from it – this is a big thing with many deaths and with Jack later thinking that things have got too public recently. A few days later (at most – described as “the other day”) the events of The House That Jack Built happen with no major public effects. Then a giant blob arrives in Cardiff, gutting Skypoint (all plastic gone and all windows fall out), attacking a supermarket, and the general public are again witness to Big Alien Things. Haven’t got a copy of The Undertaker’s Gift but it looks like members of the public may see this mysterious funeral cortege. The radio plays, The Sin Eaters and the framing sequence of In The Shadows also happen here.
And then it’s Consequences…

Followed by Children of Earth which, again, features St Helen’s Hospital and the confirmation, from Rupesh, that the general public believe in alien life following the Dalek invasion.

Nina Rogers

We first meet Nina when she is walking down a road, past Cutler in his car. He assumes she is a student at Cardiff University. She is short and has long dark hair, tied back in an untidy ponytail. She’s wearing an Indian style chiffon scarf, a tatty denim jacket, and a Franz Ferdinand t-shirt. She’s listening to her iPod, possibly to U2, and is singing along – her voice isn’t too bad. When Cutler asks her to move along she is curious – asking him who he is then grinning cheekily and asking what’s going on. Cutler, who doesn’t like students, finds her engaging. She then gives a smile and a wave as she leaves.
At some point later, she’s in the once-more-invaded St Helen’s hospital. She’s slumped in a seat in reception. She’s in her early twenties, pretty face and with long dark hair. Again, she’s a bit cheeky/confident, asking the nurse Rianne if everything is okay. She’s wearing jeans. She was “a bit drunk” and put her leg through a plate-glass door. Her mates thought she might need stitches but didn’t come with her. She doesn’t seem concerned or in too much pain, she very matter-of-fact about it all – wryly smiling that her mates will have gone out clubbing. When smokers start running in, it’s Nina who suggests to Rianne that they go and take a look. When Rianne says she is going to take a look from the maternity ward, Nina says she will come with her. When she sees a zombie with no legs, her eyes go wide but her first response is that “he can’t survive like that” rather than screaming with fear. When they see more like him, she murmurs “What is this? Amputees’ outing.” She then lets out a shrieking sob and turns away as a man is ripped apart by the zombies and clings to Rianne, neither of them able to speak. When the hospital goes into lockdown, she and Rianne are drawn to the Reception area. She suggests that the zombies are waiting… waiting to attack. They then sit in the maternity ward, drinking tea. Nina has had her leg bandaged but didn’t need stitches. They then see the Torchwood SUV arrive and watch as Jack and Ianto fight zombies. Nina wonders who the people in the SUV were – noticing that they had guns. Rianne suggest the police but Nina says “They didn’t look like police. They looked like… I don’t know. Special agents or something.” After lots of shooting etc inside the hospital, Nina suggests that they go and investigate what happened, pointing out that they can’t stay hidden forever. She then sees four people (Jack, Gwen, Ianto and Rhys) – in the lead, a handsome man in a long coat.  They sweep past her quickly but Rhys stops when she asks what happened. He tells her the zombies are dead again.

A few days later, Nina is jogging down a street in the Penylan area. She doesn’t see Gwen who’s getting into the SUV (which she has seen before but doesn’t comment on) but she talks to Jack. She’s looking for a place that’s advertising rooms (Jackson Leave). She sticks out her hand for Jack to shake and tells him that she’s at the Uni. “You wouldn’t believe how difficult it is to find somewhere to stay. They’re all really expensive or really grotty, or both, I went to this one place, and I swear there were things living in the walls.” Jack is worried but she says that she means cockroaches – her eyes never leaving Jack’s face. She continues to babble on before Gwen says “and breathe” which forces Nina to stop babbling. She’s got a bag that she digs around in for the advert before, still looking at Jack, she says “I don’t know you, do I?” He says he doesn’t think so and Gwen says that Jack gets around. Jack tells her that Jackson Leaves is full and says he hopes she finds somewhere nice.

We then meet her in a Toys-R-Us-esque store called Toy Barn. She’s listening to her MP3 player and she’s always liked toy shops. She had a one night stand on Sunday, but he hasn’t called since. She’s in the middle of an essay crisis and has borrowed notes from a friend called Jean. She’s got another mate called Tess who’s a bit of a bitch. She’s currently living in student accommodation which is the home she wants to get back to (but she’s still flat-hunting so hasn’t found somewhere since she met Jack in Penylan). She knows the works of Jane Austen. She’s sure she recognises Jack from somewhere and thinks of him as Captain Cheese. As with the others in the store, she sees the blob attack and is locked up out the back. She’s very much part of the adventure. She thinks about texting her mum. She hands out chocolate – again, very pro-active and thinks of today as an ‘odd day’. Then, as a sweet old ladty turns into a monster, she and the others are rescued. We then next meet Nina in The Undertaker’s Gift…

We then meet her in Consequences… She has a friend called Jessica Montague. They’re shopping at the Happy Price (supermarket) shortly before it’s destroyed in an explosion. Nina and Jessica are interviewed for the television news reports, half-watched by Ianto, Gwen and Jack in the Hub though they don’t really pay attention to what’s on the TV. [Consequences: Virus by James Moran]

So in many ways, Nina is like a slightly-younger Gwen. From her rock band t-shirts to her cheeky confidence. People, such as Cutler and Rianne find her engaging. When she’s not being surrounded by zombies, she tends to babble. She gets drunk with her mates and, being in her early-twenties, is presumably a mature student. When she meets people, she confidently offers her hand and introduces herself.

(Oh, and I might say that Skypoint is being demolished as it’s really falling apart now. The Skypoint arc is over!!)

Steve replied, confirming a few dates and Nina's age and so on and we were all set to go.

There were a lot of Easter eggs in the last chapter, James pointed one out to me that I’d never picked up on, yet the name sounded familiar to me.  That of Nina, only I can’t think where I’d heard of her before.  
I like stories where you tie up a lot of loose ends and I liked how this one came together.  How long had it taken from start to finish to put this story together, were you on a deadline for this?

Joseph: It looks like I was first contacted in December 2008 and that I then sent the finished story off in April 2009. I think. I'm not very good with dates!

Psyche Gry Christoffersen asks: Writing a story from someone else's point of view was rather brilliant and works very well. How did you come up with the character of Nina? I liked her a lot.

Joseph: If you look at the document I wrote up, basically, that's how I did it. I went through all the other appearances, noting everything I could and then created the character from that, really. As you can see, I eventually settled on her being like a “younger Gwen”. I really grew to like Nina, by the way. Doing this interview has made me want to do all of Torchwood (including the books and audios) all over again.

Special thanks to Joseph Lidster for the interview

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