Tuesday, August 10, 2021

Master Switches - An Interview with Paul Driscoll

The editor of Master Switches, Paul Driscoll, takes us behind the scenes on the making of the collection and gives the inside track on his own story 'Your New Webmaster'.

Can you tell us a little bit about yourself?

Based in Leigh, Greater Manchester, I’m the editor of Master Pieces and Master Switches. Alongside running Altrix Books with Kara, I am one of the editors of Obverse Books’ Black Archive range. I’ve written several fiction and non-fiction works for various publishers, many of them set in the Doctor Who universe or one of its spin-off worlds.

Why did you want to organise a follow-up to Master Pieces?

To raise even more funds for The Stroke Association and to give our writers the chance to include the Doctor in a new Master focused story. One of the stipulations of the first collection was that the Doctor was mostly absent. I wanted to read and write stories where the old sparring partners were back in action together, but ones in which the usual rules of engagement were shaken up. I was also conscience that many gifted writers missed out on the chance to pitch for the first book.

How did you decide with Master/Doctor combo to run with?

I waited to see what was left after all the pitches had come in and been selected. While the Masters were well covered, we were short of ideas for Ninth Doctor stories – the one that we had accepted was superb, but sadly the writer had to pull out. I think, continuity-wise, this was one of the least obvious Doctors to pick since his whole persona is largely based on his identity as the last of the Time-Lords. For the Master, the idea of the suave and sophisticated Roger Delgado walking onto the Powell Estate was a hard one to resist.

Can you describe your story in a nutshell?

Jackie Tyler’s search for Rose leads her to the doorstep of Caroline Finch and an unlikely partnership with the grieving widow’s enigmatic therapist, Doctor Magister.

How did you find the writing process?

The story originally centred around Mickey Smith (the clue’s in the title which I haven’t changed), but after recent revelations concerning Noel Clarke, I felt that it would be unwise and insensitive to publish it at this time, which is not meant as a comment on the actor’s guilt or otherwise. The theme of the story just made it impossible to keep in the anthology. So it required a substantial rewrite or a replacement with another story. I didn’t want to lose the story and, hopefully, found a way of making it better than the original by switching Mickey’s role in the story with Jackie. It was a bit of a headache and a moral dilemma, but I think I made the right call. The worst part was losing some good jokes about bins and some social commentary on racism, but writing for Jackie instead was a lovely thing.

What aspect of your story are you most proud of?

Capturing the voices of the key players and the spirit of Doctor Who in 2005. Writing with someone else’s toys always feels like a huge responsibility, and I like to think I’ve done justice to Russell T Davies’ marvellous characters.

Do you have a favourite line from your story?

Not one involving the Master, surprisingly. I think it has to be this little exchange after a scene set in Mickey’s abandoned yellow beetle:

‘You were joking before, weren’t you?’ said Rose, following the Doctor down an alleyway back to the TARDIS.


‘About the yellow car?’

‘Bessie? Of course, not.’

‘You had a yellow car and you named it Bessie? Yeah – sure you did, Doctor. Blue is much more your colour.’


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