Sunday, June 27, 2021

Master Switches - An Interview with Rachel Redhead

In the latest in our series of Master Switches author interviews, Rachel Redhead talks about her Missy and Fifth Doctor story 'The Empress of Kolkata'. Written in the first person, Missy's reactions to meeting the Doctor with the 'feckless charm' are delightful... 

Can you tell us a little bit about yourself?

I'm an award-avoiding author, I normally write in a style that's a mix of urban fantasy, comedy sci-fi and horror.  I've written some self-published books which I put out via the Twisted Books brand.  I've got a few ideas for fiction books, but nothing has really gelled atm, and I have pitched an idea for a non-fiction book about one of my favourite bands to a publisher.

What made you want to write a story for Master Switches?

I wasn't going to pitch anything at first, but then I had this great idea for a Missy and 5th Doctor story, but one without a companion really involved, as Missy has a habit of killing the Doctor's friends, and 5thy and Turlough occupies a rather narrow gap in 5thy's timeline, which has been overlooked a little by some. 5thy at this point is very settled as a character and makes the perfect foil for the mercurial Missy.

How would you describe your story in a nutshell?

Deranged sociopath seeks celery enthusiast for co-dependant mayhem.

What made you decide which Master and Doctor combo to go with?

They're about as opposite as any iteration of these can be – the fifth Doctor is brave, confident and nice, while Missy is like a pendulum constantly but randomly swinging between hysterical gloating and maniacal murder spree.

How did you find the writing process?

I wanted to do something of a historical setting, as I think 5thy has this Edwardian feel not seen since 2ndy really, so he has this English gentleman abroad quality to his attire, and I love research, especially if it's sciency, so reading up on the geography of the region and the monsoon weather patterns was very rewarding, I knew there was a monsoon season for instance but I had no idea that there were actually several monsoon events within that season in different parts of the whole subcontinent area. I got the initial draft of my story written rather quickly as a result of being so inspired by these ideas, though I found it hard to get Missy right at first. I had to rewatch a few of her telly episodes (not going to complain about that) and find a way to bring her voice to my story, as she's got quite a lot of advantage over such a younger Doctor.

What aspect of your story are you most proud of?

Getting a lot of the research put into the story, I wanted to set the background as correct as I could in the exposition, as the show does have a certain educational element in its make-up and I wanted to put this information into the story but not have it get in the way of the story.

What’s your favourite line from your story?

‘The Rain also brings floods, death and disease but those wonderful things are hardly worth mentioning right now.  The suffocating heat is of course weeding out the weak.  Those tiny people outside my palace weep their little tears, and do go on ever so much.  Why can't they just go somewhere else and die quietly, like they're supposed to?’

(Missy at her sociopathic worst).


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