Saturday, 10 November 2007

O Superman

So, as I mentioned in my last entry, Paul Cornell held “An Audience With…” affair at our University last week, and—as a student on the Creative Writing degree—I received free tickets. Whoop!

A writer for TV (Dr Who, Robin Hood, and Holby City,) comics (Dr Who, 2000AD and Excalibur) and novels (Dr Who, Something More and British Summertime), Paul talked for just under two hours about—and this came as a surprise to me—how his work has been (mainly) influenced by two things: being bullied at school, and being an Anglican. Now, I don’t know why I was surprised that he was a bullied Anglican (why would you want to bully an Anglican? That’s like kicking a puppy!), but there y’go. He also talked at length about how almost all his work, at some stage or other, involves him rewriting Superman II—and he cited his Dr Who story Human nature/Family of Blood as a good example. Again, and it made sense. Superhuman become human, falls in love, sacrifices humanity to fight three baddies, three baddies get their asses kicked and imprisoned. It’s all there when you look at it. Except Dr Who doesn’t have Terrance Stamp or Sarah Douglas in it. Which is a shame.

I have to admit, I did leave the audience a little disappointed. I wanted to learn a little about his technique, about his work ethic, about how he tackles Show, Don’t Tell and dialogue. Instead most of the questions directed at him were mainly by geeks and included incisive gems like “Who’s your favourite Doctor?” (apparently it’s a toss-up between Peter Davidson and Sylvester Mc Coy, which, again, is a surprise because McCoy’s just sh… it doesn’t matter, let’s move on), “Having written for Dr Who and upcoming issues of the Marvel comic Excalibur, how does it feel writing established characters like the Doctor, Captain Britain et al?” (“It’s intimidating, but you have to be able to meet a challenge like that if you’re going to be a successful genre writer.”), and my personal favourite “Where do you get your ideas from?” (“A little shop in Croyden. They do mail-order.”) Oh, and he spent a bit of time plugging his new novel, British Summertime.

Anyway, slight disappointment or not, Paul was a lively, engaging and very genuine speaker, and—having been a fan of Excalibur when Claremount and Alan Davis were on the title—I find myself looking forward to a new issue for the first time since I left school. I can’t wait to see how he’ll work Superman II into it.


Stephen J. Anderson said...

Where do you get your ideas from?

Aaargh! There's always one. Asking a question like that is wearing a big sign: "Least Likely to Succeed as a Writer".

There's another exercise for class: what would your answer be?

Mine is "I steal them."

Paul L. Mathews said...

And mine would be "F**k knows. If I knew that, I'd grab more..."