Tuesday, July 6, 2021

Master Switches - An Interview with Matthew Kresal


Altrix talks to Matthew Kresal who revisits an old classic in his Master Switches story 'A Diplomatic Solution'...

Can you tell us a little bit about yourself?

Well, I was born, raised, and live in North Alabama, though I never quite developed the stereotypical southern accent. Most of my output is writing reviews, mainly over at Warped Factor these days, where I've written about everything from Doctor Who to James Bond and the Apple TV+ series For All Mankind. That said, I've written a book about the 1990s conspiracy thriller/alternate history TV series Dark Skies published by Obverse Books as part of their Silver Archive range. Fiction wise, I've had a slew of short fiction ranging from horror to historical fiction published. Most recently, my first novel, a Cold War thriller called Our Man on the Hill, premised on infamous red hunter Joe McCarthy working for the Soviets, was published in May by Sea Lion Press. 

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

I read Master Pieces in early 2020 (how long ago that seems now!) and thoroughly enjoyed it. As a Doctor Who fan and as a fiction writer, I was kind of jealous, as petty as that may sound! Discovering a second volume was in the works, and that I was right on the deadline to pitch was a "carpe diem" sort of moment. Thankfully, I had an idea that had been around in my head for years that could be adapted to fit the brief. To my surprise and delight, it got picked up.

How would you describe your story in a nutshell?

Remember the strange bits from Day of the Daleks like, say, the Doctor shooting an Ogron and a supporting character just vanishing out of the story? That was the Master's doing, but probably not the one you were expecting.

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

Because of Day of the Daleks, I knew it was going to be the Third Doctor from the get-go. The choice of Master was done for plot reasons, to an extent, but also being a big fan of Sir Derek Jacobi's War Master. I'd enjoyed those few minutes of him toward the end of Utopia on-screen and have been thrilled with his work over at Big Finish - to the point that I would seriously rank him as my favourite Master these days. So it was one of those happy accidents that I got to feature a favourite Doctor alongside my favourite Master.

How did you find the writing process?

I must confess that pitching the story and writing the first half or so of it was fairly easy. Then, about midway through writing it, there was a scene where I discovered that I had slightly misremembered the events on-screen. I got genuinely stuck for a long time, so I wandered off and worked on a couple of other projects before circling back around to it. Once I did, I figured out a solution and picked up work on the story again. It's incredible how something so small can become such a roadblock and how distance can offer up some much-needed perspective at times. 

What aspect of your story are you most proud of?

The way I was able to weave in and around events from Day of the Daleks. Writing this was a good excuse to revisit an underrated TV story a couple of times, figuring out how to get the Master involved in events, while also admiring how well crafted Louis Marks' original scripts were. I hope that's something that readers appreciate and maybe make them pull their DVDs off the shelf or look the story up on Britbox.

What’s your favourite line from your story?

'I am the Master. And you are going to die for me.' It felt like a classic Master line to write.



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