September 2016: Jackie
Q. Hi Jackie! So, how and when did you become a Doctor Who fan?
A. I had been familiar with Doctor Who for a while. I grew up spotting it on TV when I would be clicking through the dial. Tom Baker's crazy hair and striped scarf stuck in my mind, but the show seemed a bit spooky so I never stopped long enough to watch it properly. Fast forward to 2005, and the relaunch with Christopher Eccleston was everywhere! My husband who is from Reading, England, dived right in, watching from the first new episode. I didn't partake for quite some time. I'd dip in and out during the David Tennant years, but it wasn't until Matt Smith a few years ago that I really clued in and got with the program! At that point, I had to binge watch all of the eps from Christopher onwards.
Q. Who is your favourite Doctor and why?
A. I've struggled with this question for ages. David Tennant, or Matt Smith, but I think Matt wins it for me. I love his playfulness, his childlike quality. He's goofy yet sincere, and my favourite episodes all feature Matt. He's also a lovely person. I've been lucky to meet him a few times at cons, and he never disappoints. He's cheerful, into the whole fandom thing, and generous and patient with his fans. I also saw Matt on stage in 'Unreachable' at the Royal Court Theatre in London back in June. He's such a talent with great comedic timing, and watching him do his thing from only a few rows away was a treat.
Q. Which Doctor Who companion, past or present, would you say you relate to the most and why?
A. This one is a tough question! My favourite companions are Martha and Clara. I can relate to their determination, loyalty and how they both stand up for themselves. With Martha, I can also relate to walking away from something (or someone) when enough is enough. Sometimes, it really IS time to leave the party. The key is knowing when! I admire her problem-solving abilities and her medical know-how. If I was stuck on an alien planet, I would choose Martha to be by my side.
For Clara, I can relate to her closeness with her mother. I'm also onside with her resistence to change. She's a bit bossy and a control freak... yep, guilty as charged, I am, too. The storyline with her parents' leaf gets me every time.
Q. Your new novel 'London Belongs to Me' is published on October 14th 2016. Without giving too much away (no spoilers, sweetie!) what can you tell us a little about the story?
A. 'London Belongs to Me' is a fun, coming-of-age story featuring a diverse and likeable cast of characters obsessed with pop culture, comic cons and Doctor Who (the first mention of Doctor Who appears on the very first page). It's a story about finding your place when there's no where left to go. Twenty-something Alex Sinclair flees sunny Florida for the Britannia cool of London, a city she has loved from a far, but never visited. London is the home of her favourite TV shows, plays and fangirl heroes. She believes London is where she belongs, where she'll heal old wounds and chase her dream of writing for the theatre. But following her heart isn't easy. A jealous rival threatens to destroy Alex's new life, her fledging career and a romance, and makes her wonder if London is where she really belongs. LBTM is big on friendship, geekiness, pop culture and travel. I also had a blast writing comic con, cosplay and Forbidden Planet scenes and celebrating my love for Doctor Who Titan collectables. They feature quite heavily!
Q. Is the main character, Alex Sinclair, based on you or anybody else you know in real life?
A. Alex was inspired by several people, including myself. I think there's a part of me in every character I create. Like Alex, I am a huge Anglophile. I'm totally guilty of that. I even married a Brit! All my favourite TV shows, for the most part, are British. Doctor Who, Sherlock, Gavn & Stacey, Coronation Street, Downton Abbey, Who Do You Think You Are, and older series such as This Life, Cold Feet, The Office. I could go on for ages. I also share Alex's love of London and all things British, as well as her fondness for cons. And yeah, Matt Smith is her favourite Doctor, too! But I have never moved to London to start over, I'm Canadian, not American, and I don't want to be a playwright (at least not yet!).
Q. There's still time for that! What inspired you to write a story about a character who moves from Florida to London?
A. I've always dreamed about what it would be like to up sticks and move to London. It's my favourite place on the planet, one I've visited over twenty times. I just cannot get enough, so I thought it would be fun to write a story about a woman who takes that leap and makes the big life-changing move. In some ways, London is one of the novel's characters. I tried to give readers a vivid look at the city with plenty of detail. Most of the places (pubs, theatres, streets) the characters go to are real, and I've been to each and every one. I've walked the streets mentioned so many times, I could do it in my sleep.
I chose Florida instead of another location because it's so much different from London. All that sun, gorgeous sandy beaches and hot weather is as far from London as you can get. Plus, Alex being pale, blue-eyed, and blonde is one bad sunburn away from a disaster! She's not a sunbather, hates really hot weather, so she's a fish out of water in her native Florida, and feels that she will fit in better in London. I did toy with making Alex a Canadian, but Canada and Britain have a lot of cultural similarities (Canada is part of the Commonwealth, the Queen is on our money, she's our Head of State, and we get Corrie here on TV!), so I felt there would be more drama in having an American move to London than a Canadian.
Q. The novel sounds like it will particularly appeal to Doctor Who fans, as well as sci-fans in general. What can they expect from the story?
A. If you're a Whovian, adore collecting Titans and Pop Vinyls and attending comic cons, I think you'll enjoy the story. The geeky aspect of the story, however, is a sub-plot. It's not the main storyline, but their fandoms pop up continually through the story from the first chapter right through to the very last. The characters love of Doctor Who, Sherlock and their fandoms is the glue that brings them together. One of the main friendships began as an internet friendship as well, so if you've got fangirl or geek guy friends that you've made through social media, you will be able to relate. Several of my closest, best friendships began through Twitter or at cons. More and more people are connecting through their fandoms, in person and via the internet, so it's becoming the norm, so I wanted to celebrate these beautiful friendships.
Q. Do you think Doctor Who has a generally positive portrayal of women?
I do. It's funny. We just had FanExpo Canada here in Toronto. It's a four-day geekfest. It's amazing! I recommend it wholeheartedly! Every year, they invite Doctor Who actors. This year, we had John Barrowman, Freema Agyeman, Michelle Gomez and Alex Kingston. In Alex's Q&A, someone asked her if she would like to see a female Doctor. To paraphrase her response, she said that she always sees the Doctor as male, and one of the reasons is because it allows the writers to create deeply complicated and interesting female characters. They're all unique with different flaws and positive traits. I agree with her 100 percent. I think the companions are all strong in their own way. They aren't one-dimensional or simple, they are tough and go through great transitions during their story arcs. And they save the Doctor too many times to count. I think it's great that we can look at Rose, Martha, Donna, Amy, Clara and the others and see women who are curious, intelligent, loyal and brave. What's not to love? I know many other fans won't agree, and that's cool, but the debate is fun, and I think we should respect everyone's opinion. That's the great thing about fandoms. There is room for us to debate, disagree and still have a good time.
Q. What do you think it is about Doctor Who that continues to enthral audiences of all ages around the world?
Doctor Who has something for everyone. If you want adventure, you've got it. Aliens? They've nailed it. Suspense, travel, the fight for survival - you're covered. But what really hooks me? The friendships between the Doctor and his companions. Those relationships, the bonds they forge during their travels, are at the heart (hearts!?) of my love for the show. Some of my favourite quotes are from Doctor Who and I've cried too many times to mention.
Q. When did you first realise that you wanted to be an author?
A. Probably in grammar school, around grade five or so. I wanted to be a teacher first, then it switched to journalism. I've always wanted to write a book, but it's just so scary to start.
Q. Based on your own personal experiences, what advice would you give to any aspiring authors out there?
A. Just do it. I don't mean to sound like a Nike commerical, but if you want to write, just try it and see where that takes you. You'll never know unless you try.
Q. Finally, is there anything else you'd like to say before you go?
A. I love being a Whovian, and I'm so proud to be part of this community. During my travels to cons in the US, Canada and the UK, I've met so many wonderful fans of the show. They're always kind, friendly and keen to chat and share their experiences. I know that I'm not alone in anxiously awaiting the next season to see what Chris Chibnall has up his sleeve. I miss Peter Capaldi. I hope he doesn't stay away for too long.
Jacquelyn Middleton’s novel, 'London Belong to Me' is published worldwide on October 14th 2016, available for pre-order from all booksellers. For more info, please visit Jacquelyn's website at www.jacquelynmiddleton.com.