Monday, December 9, 2019

For Reviewers and Podcasts: Get Your MASTER PIECES on!


Do you run a blog or podcast with a Doctor Who, sci-fi, or literary focus? Want to help us help a good charity? Get in touch with us about Master Pieces!

We're looking for review or news posts on the anthology to help signal boost the project. We want to raise as much as we can for the Stroke Association; but as a relatively small operation, there's only so much we can do on our own. Help from readers, reviewers, and other interested parties makes all the difference.

Your outlet doesn't have to be exclusively Doctor Who related to get in touch. If you want to help out and feel that your reader/listener base would enjoy the anthology, that's more than enough reason to get in touch. We can supply digital review copies if you would like to review the book, and have plenty of extra materials (and time to answer questions) if you'd like to go into more detail on the project.

At present, the best way to get in touch is via our Facebook or Twitter. We'll get back to you in a timely manner. If this is something that interests you, we recommend getting in touch soon, as this is a charity project and thus will have only a limited-time print run.

Additionally, if you're interested in being kept in the loop on future projects (such as upcoming charity projects and The Chronosmith Chronicles), be sure to drop us a line! We'll keep you posted as there's news to give.

Thanks again for all the support and orders we've received so far. We're so happy to be able to benefit yet another great charity with the help of amazing fans and talent.

Buy Master Pieces from Altrix Books

Monday, December 2, 2019

THE CHRONOSMITH CHRONICLES: Who Is Tor Fasa?


With the official announcement of The Chronosmith Chronicles out in the world, it's time to re-introduce our last returning player. We've met Mordicai the engineer, Savalia the soldier-poet, and Kendo the politician. All that's left is Tor Fasa; and of course, we've left the most complicated for last.

Who — or what — is Tor Fasa? In his life before the events of The Chronosmith Chronicles, he was a scholar and a pacifist. His methods were, however, a bit on the unorthodox side. Through connections in high and low places, he brought together the group we'll be following. He was indirectly responsible for Mordicai and Savalia meeting, and pulled strings to help Kendo gain certain favors in government... though what she did when she got there ended up being somewhat outside his control.

The Chronosmiths' arrival in our universe on the Time Winds has left him with what one might term "superpowers"... though what they are remains to be seen. He uses them sparingly, if at all, and they aren't always as helpful as one would hope. The one he turns to regularly is his access to the Altrix: the databank of the Chronosmiths' ship, containing truths of the universe. Though these truths don't always play out as they should.

Fasa holds the Chronosmiths to their mission by way of the Altrix... though what exactly that mission is, and how he does it, you'll have to find out on your own. As it happens, our heroes are still working that out for themselves, too.

Fasa is possibly the most enigmatic of the four Chronosmiths, with secrets about his past even he doesn't know. From the scar on his face to the dark corners of his own memories, there are some truths even our heroes may not be able to shed light on.

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Cover art and design is currently underway on book 1 of The Chronosmith Chronicles, After Vincent by Paul Driscoll. Book 2, Eleanor's Tears by Kara Dennison, will be entering the editing phase this month.

Wednesday, November 27, 2019

MASTER PIECES AUTHOR INTERVIEW - Mark McManus




Why did you decide to pitch a story for Master Pieces?

My friend Scott told me about his idea for the Master Pieces anthology, and that set me trying to think of an idea to pitch. It wasn't until a while later that he told me no-one had submitted an Anthony Ainley story that I zeroed in on the idea of picking up where the character left off at the end of a great episode from the 1980s.


What are you most proud of about your story?

To be honest I'm proud just to have my story in the collection; it's only the third short story I've written, and I'm delighted it was accepted alongside the work of so many writers I very much admire.


Can you give us a little taster of what the readers can expect from your piece?

Mark of the Rani meets Heaven Sent.


How did you find the writing process?

I really enjoyed the writing process. It's not an original approach, but I focussed on the Master's survival instinct, and, to a lesser extent, his self-defeating nature in betraying everyone he allies himself with. I think the biggest challenge was in trying to capture the characters' voices.


Where else we can find your work?

You can hear me on The Trap One Podcast ( @TrapOne_) - with different co-hosts each episode talking about anything and everything from the worlds of Doctor Who. You can download any episode, no need to listen in order.


What’s your favourite Master story?

I love Roger Delgado's Master in The Claws of Axos; it's wonderful to see him have fun in a story where the Master isn't behind the invasion of Earth, and I love the scenes that give an insight into what it might have been like if the Master had been exiled to Earth forced to work with UNIT.


Who do you think should play the next Master and why?

I'd rather see more of Michelle Gomez, but if they do re-cast then I think Ruth Wilson would be a fantastic choice - a fantastic actor who can be suitably charming and sinister.

Get your copy of Master Pieces from Altrix Books!

Tuesday, November 26, 2019

MASTER PIECES AUTHOR INTERVIEW - Paul Driscoll






Why did you decide to pitch a story for Master Pieces?

Around three years ago, Scott Claringbold came up with the idea of an anthology starring the Master. I’d worked for Scott before, contributing stories for both Nine Lives and Relics (Red Ted Books) and was keen to be involved again. The Master, for all his and her many TV appearances, still has so much unwritten potential. Unlike any other Doctor Who baddie, the Master’s entire existence is wrapped up in his/her obsession with the Doctor. To remove his old adversary from the equation was a hugely enticing challenge.


What are you most proud of about your story?


Conversion Therapy was my original submission, and I’m still excited by the basic premise I came up with for the Peter Pratt, degenerate Master. I imagined that returning to Gallifrey in search of a new regeneration cycle (The Deadly Assassin) would have been a last, desperate resort. I asked myself the simple question, what if he had tried to find another way to save himself first - anything to avoid returning to the Time Lords for help. Then I thought to myself – Cyber conversion – would he, could he? That’s what the story explores, with a twist at the end. I’m no Steven Moffat, but I do like a good old fashioned twist in the tale.

Viva La Vera came out of a need to write a closing piece for the collection. There is no ongoing arc as such. What links all the stories together is the non-involvement of the Doctor. But I wanted to tie things together, to give a narrative reason behind this otherwise odd omission. I asked Chris McKeon to slightly change the ending to his story (which I’d placed first in the collection) to set up the scenario for the Doctor’s absence. Viva La Vera returns to that moment, and adds… yes, another twist. Again, I’m very happy with the premise behind this story and it was a delight to write a new and, hopefully, unexpected version of the Master.


Can you give us a little taster of what the readers can expect from your piece?


Conversion Therapy tells the origin story of another Cyber-race, one that is of special interest to the decaying and dying Master.

Viva La Vera, set in a post-Brexit England, is a redemption story gone wrong.


How did you find the writing and editing process?


It was honestly a joy to work with so many talented writers and they all rose to the challenge. I had to overcome that sense of inferiority that most writers will identify with. Suggesting edits to writers I hugely admire, many of whom are far more experienced that I am, wasn’t easy. To be fair, it was, for the most part, only little changes in the details, but everyone was gracious and kind about it. I learnt so much about writing from the other writers, and there was a lovely sense of camaraderie that took me back to my first experiences of writing fiction as part of the Seasons of War team.

As for the writing itself – well, my two stories were written three years apart, so coming back to edit the older one was a bit awkward and I probably overwrote it as a result.


Where else we can find your work?

After Vincent, the first novel in Altrix Books' Chronosmith Chronicles, has just completed the editing phase so more news on that to come. I’ve written a couple of Black Archive studies for Obverse Books , a line I’m hugely proud to be associated with. Also out now is Hidden Tiger's celebration of Catweazle - Tis Magic, edited by Alan Hayes, which includes amongst many fine pieces my recollections from childhood of the iconic character.Tis Magic - paperback edition


What’s your favourite Master story?


So many to choose from, but I would have to go for World Enough and Time/The Doctor Falls. The perfect, and only logical conclusion to the Master’s story. I know it was also meant to be Capaldi and Moffat’s last, but I’m glad it wasn’t. This was the Master’s moment. Their ending.


Who do you think should play the next Master and why?


Well, continuing my thoughts above, do we really need another Master? That was such a perfect send off. Need and want are different things entirely of course, and regardless of the rumours, I don’t doubt for a minute that the Master will be back. If Jodie Whittaker is still the Doctor, and Chibnall still at the reigns, I think their old friend Mark Strong (Broadchurch, Shazam) would be perfect. Sadly, the person I most wanted to see play the Master is no longer with us – Alan Rickman. God, I miss him.

Monday, November 25, 2019

MASTER PIECES AUTHOR INTERVIEW - Mike Morgan



Why did you decide to pitch a story for Master Pieces?

I was intrigued by the idea behind the collection. What does a villain do when no one's looking? With the Master, the answer to that question could be literally anything. The concept fired up my imagination. Then, once I was thinking about the Master I started to wonder what would make him happy or whether he ever could, truly be content with anything. I came up with one story synopsis, which turned out to be too similar to another story that was already in the collection, so then I took the same themes and created a different plot, which was accepted.


What are you most proud of about your story?

I hope I've captured the two sides of Delgado's characterisation: he seems a perfect gentleman, a true friend, the greatest chap you can think of and then - bam! - you see the contempt, the sheer loathing that seethes beneath that avuncular, charming veneer. I've always loved that about his portrayal; how the character can transform in an instant. I think, I pray, I've put that part of his nature down on the printed page in a faithful and true manner. 


Can you give us a little taster of what the readers can expect from your piece?

A few jokes, some heartbreak, a sense of the scale the Master operates on. Others plan to conquer nations. For the Master, entire planets are trifles fit only to be exploited as part of his greater quest.


How did you find the writing process?

The story planning stage was the trickiest. Coming up with an idea sufficiently different from everyone else's is a challenge in itself. But once the synopsis was approved, it was very easy to transform that detailed story map into the finished tale. I'd already imagined the story in my mind; from that point on, it was a process of finding the words to transfer those mental images onto the page. I knew the readers would already know the Master is capable of great evil, so I concentrated on having him be as charming as possible, really dialing  that side of him up, so everyone reading it would be mentally screaming, "No! Don't trust him! He'll turn on you!" Which he does, of course, because he's the Master and he can't help himself. There's something delicious in that moment of betrayal, though. And it's very Master-ish. The suspense in the story lies not in whether the Master will show his true colours, which we know he will, but rather in what precisely he's up to. The answer to that mystery provides the chilling resolution. It's something so grand in scale, the TV programme couldn't have afforded it in the 70s. Luckily, books have unlimited SFX budgets.


Where else we can find your work?

One of my recent sales was for NewCon Press's Best of British Science Fiction 2018, still on sale through all major sites, including Amazon. For updates on my published work, please take a gander at my site,  https://perpetualstateofmildpanic.wordpress.com/ or follow me on Twitter under @CultTVMike. You can also glance through my Amazon page.

I've had more than 20 short stories published professionally, plus a couple of comic scripts with the British comic Futurequake. At the moment I'm working with a publisher to put together a collection of my short stories, which I hope will be released in the next few months. I also have a handful of other stories already accepted for future publication where I'm just waiting to hear back on release dates.


What’s your favourite Master story?

I'm not sure it's the best story he's in, but The Sea Devils has some the greatest Master moments. Delgado clearly relishes his lines in that one.


Who do you think should play the next Master and why?

Charles Dance, if only so it would make years of fan rumours come true.


Get your copy of Master Pieces now from Altrix Books!

Friday, November 22, 2019

MASTER PIECES AUTHOR INTERVIEW: Daniel Tessier



Why did you decide to pitch a story for Master Pieces?

I'd been really impressed by Paul Driscoll's work on Seasons of War so was keen to be involved in a project with him. Plus, the idea of a collection of stories about the Master seemed like a brilliant idea, and it seemed odd that no one had done it before. Then the BBC went and brought out The Missy Chronicles, the cheeky so-and-so's.


What are you most proud of about your story?

I feel that I've managed to write a story that works on its own merits as a fun, spooky adventure, but also one that should be a lot of fans of classic Doctor Who and certain Big Finish releases.


Can you tell us a little bit about what we can expect from your story?

It's a twist on a fondly remembered Master serial from the 1970s, but taking place a few universes to the left. It features that old Doctor Who staple, the tremendous evil from the Dawn of Time - maybe more than one.


How did you find the writing process?

I always find writing fiction thoroughly challenging, but this story came easier than most. I suppose that's an advantage of spinning off from a well known story. The biggest challenge was not to make it too obvious to readers what was going to happen, but hopefully I managed to keep it surprising.


Where else can we find your work?

Currently I'm working on another Doctor Who-related story for a forthcoming anthology, but you can find most of my previous fiction on my blog, "Immaterial," at danieltessier.blogspot.com, along with lots of reviews of films, books, comics and TV.


What is your favourite Master story?

It might upset some purists, but I loved "Twice Upon a Time" and "The Doctor Falls." I thought it was a fascinating exploration of the different facets of the Master's character. It's easy for the Master to become a generic villain, but their incarnations are actually very different to one another, much more so than with the Doctor, even if the Simm Master was written there as a kind of combination version of the earlier Masters.


Who would you like to see cast as the next Master?

Everyone thinks he should play the Doctor, but Benedict Cumberbatch would make a fine Master. Alternatively, if we were to have another Missy, Tamsin Greig.

Thursday, November 21, 2019

MASTER PIECES AUTHOR INTERVIEW - Steve Hatcher




Why did you decide to pitch a story for Master Pieces?



It was an interesting exercise to see if the Master would work without the Doctor, (the two characters are so intertwined), without him/her becoming just a generic, moustache-twirling pantomime villain. Readers will judge, but I think we have absolutely succeeded, as have Big Finish, especially in their War Master and Missy ranges - which were launched after we embarked on this book.



What are you most proud of about your story?



That it exists. I originally pitched it when the project was first started by Scott, but it was (rightly) rejected. With Paul's help, I have adapted and refined my original idea and am now quite happy with it.



Can you give us a little taster of what the readers can expect from your piece?



Several Masters, some other familiar characters and hopefully a few surprises. I've probably pushed the boundaries of what was allowed a little bit.



How did you find the writing process? 



The most fun was catching the voices of the various Masters I was using. Once I knew where I was going with it, it all flowed out quite quickly, although the final twist was not what I was expecting when I began writing.



Where else we can find your work? 



My first published fiction was five stories in the Big Finish Short Trips books (no longer available). I've written for several of the Watching Books You and Who series and ATB's Outside In books on Star Trek and Buffy and Angel. Soon to be published, is a piece on Catweazle for Hidden Tiger's book Tis Magic; a piece on Goon Show books in Obverse Books' magazine From a Story By; and a crossover story featuring characters from a 90s and a 70s TV show, in a book that has yet to be announced.



What’s your favourite Master story?



Either The Dæmons or Terror of the Autons.



Who do you think should play the next Master and why?



No preference at all for which actor/actress - although I do wish they would move away from the near comedic psychosis of the Simm and Gomez versions and back to the smooth, calculated evil of the original Delgado Master.


Get your copy of Master Pieces from Altrix Books!