Demons Unleashed!

Festive greetings!

Over the last week, on and off, I've been working on a blog about My Writing Year. This will emerge in that glorious limbo between Boxing Day and New Year's Day. Right now, though, just wanted to stop by and issue the aforementioned greetings, while quacking about Doctor Who: The Demons Of Red Lodge And Other Stories.

While audio production company Big Finish's release date for this - and the one which remains on Amazon - was December 31, it transpired that both CD and download became available this week. This was a nicely surprisingly early Christmas present. So, what is The Demons Of Red Lodge...?

It's an audio anthology featuring four self-contained 25-minute stories. Each stars Peter Davison as the Doctor and Sarah Sutton as companion Nyssa, along with various supporting cast members. Due to the clever co-ordination of our brilliant script editor Alan Barnes, the tales enjoy the odd link while being completely and utterly different from each other. Why, the whole thing's like some kind of Christmas selection box.

The Demons Of Red Lodge...'s
beautiful Big Finish CD sleeve
I wrote The Demons Of Red Lodge itself. It sees the Doctor and Nyssa waking up in a woodshed in 17th Century Suffolk, terrified without knowing why or being able to remember how they got there.

The second story, The Entropy Composition, was written by Rick Briggs who won a Big Finish competition this year, and takes the novel approach of involving prog rock in the proceedings.

Doing Time was penned by my friend and fellow blogger William Gallagher (pictured above with some pointy bloke with a shiny ring, in the very depths of Big Finish HQ), who came up with the solid-gold genius idea of putting the Doctor in prison. For a year.

The collection is splendidly rounded out by lovely John Dorney's Special Features which takes the form of a faux DVD commentary in which the Doctor is one of the speakers. Remarkable, funny stuff. Dorney is annoyingly multi-talented: the man also acts in, I believe, three of the stories, including mine.

As I say in journo Dan Berry's preview piece in the current Christmas edition of Doctor Who Magazine, I was rather channelling The Blair Witch Project in my story. Mainly in terms of the atmosphere, of course - but also in terms of the rising panic of people in that situation.

Joshua Leonard in The Blair
Witch Project  (1999)
The Blair Witch Project is one of my favourite horror films. There, I’ve said it. Unfortunately, the 1999 delight really polarises people. This is largely, I reckon, because its US-based hype led to it becoming a glorified test of how tough people were in other territories: the cinematic equivalent of a vindaloo. Most folks then became determined not to let it burn them.

I also like combining things. So I wanted to see what would happen if I dropped the Fifth Doctor – the most fragile and vulnerable of them all – into Blair Witch territory, with scary woods, no compass, no short-term memory and no TARDIS. What if he woke up scared in darkness, in the middle of nowhere, alongside an even more petrified Nyssa? Without even a Blair Witch-esque legend to pin his imagination to, the Doctor would have no idea of the nature or magnitude of the threat he’s facing or even a recollection of where or when he is.

That’s the initial premise of The Demons Of Red Lodge. The Doctor, afraid in the dark, without even knowing why he’s afraid. He and Nyssa have nothing to fear but fear itself. Or do they? Little did I know, however, the extent to which Peter and Sarah seized that opportunity and made it all look so effortless in the studio, aided and abetted by top-notch director Ken Bentley. (Susan Kyd is also great in two roles here and it was also lovely to have a contribution from Duncan Wisbey - a great voice artist who starred in one of the sketches I wrote for Radio 4's Laurence & Gus: Hearts & Minds last year.)

On the day of recording, Peter had something of a gravelly throat from shoutingalot in the West End's Spamalot. This almost certainly helped him lend the Doctor's voice a nicely raw edge during the Demons sessions. I'm so happy with the results and proud to be a part of such a consistent release, which seems to be going down pretty well with fans. I'm especially prone to punching the air when someone refers to it as "scary" or even "terrifying" - that was very much the intention.

The Demons Of Red Lodge & Other Stories is my first Big Finish release. Will there be more? I don't think I'm breaking any confidences by saying yes. I'm writing two new things right now, for 2011. (Well, not right now. Right now, I'm lounging on a sofa with an iPad and a magically refilling glass of sherry, pootling around on Twitter and stuff. But you get the idea.) This pleases me a great deal - can't wait to tell you about this mad new stuff, hopefully in the first few months of the imminent new year.

I insist that you have the finest feasible Christmas! I'll back to babble about my 2010 and hopefully also list my Top 10 Writers' Apps/Games Of The Year.

Misletoeing you already...

Doctor Who: The Demons Of Red Lodge & Other Stories can be bought as a CD or download from Big Finish Productions here.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad (although I then had to use a netbook to get it just so...)


Stuart Kerrigan said...

Your story was very scary sir. Hope for more of these mini anthologies as they're very interesting. 5 & Nyssa are well served by them.

Have a good Xmas!

Stuart Kerrigan said...

Your story was very scary sir. Hope for more of these mini anthologies as they're very interesting. 5 & Nyssa are well served by them.

Have a good Xmas!