With the 50th Anniversary of Doctor Who nearing the one-year mark, you may be feeling a tad deprived. We are just settling in to Peter Capaldi now, but wouldn’t it be nice to take another stroll down memory lane and revisit all of those magnificent and quirky characters?
Now you can! Prolific writer and poet James Wylder has just recently published An Eloquence of Time and Space for Doctor Who fans and aficionados. Wylder has written a poem FOR EVERY SINGLE EPISODE of Doctor Who in this volume. At over 500 pages, you will surely get your Doctor fix with this book.
Here’s an excerpt of what you will experience with Eloquence:
You were my saving grace
so many times, and so many lives
you sacrificed for me
and now I see why
in these children’s eyes and love
that life isn’t all jumping around and dodging danger
sometimes life is walking into death
for the sake of something worth never smiling again for
And you’ll get your Christmas goose and Christmas dinner
and pop your crackers with funny hats
and I’ll get a whole planet of Christmas
so don’t worry about me
Recently, I caught up with Wylder and inquired about some of the aspects of An Eloquence of Time and Space:
James, can you give us a brief description of what An Eloquence of Time and Space is about?
Sure! An Eloquence of Time and Space is an episode guide for the TV show Doctor Who in the form of poetry. Every single Serial from the original run of the show, and every episode from the new production has a poem about them up to “Time of the Doctor” (even the minisodes have poem. in the form of haikus) as well as every serial/episode of the Sarah Jane Adventures and Torchwood has a poem about it. Its a huge amount of poetry- and if you want you can watch through the whole show’s 50 years and use the book to reflect on each episode. Hopefully the poems can bring something new, or accentuate something good from every episode of the show!
The book also features a cookbook by caterer Taylor Elliott featuring some tasty whovian recipes, essays by myself and writer Andrew Gilbertson, and a short story in the spirit of Doctor Who I wrote for the book as well. Along with the poetry I wanted to give readers a real celebration of everything that makes Doctor Who fantastic, so expanding the book to be a giant extravaganza of love for the show beyond just poetry was really great. There’s really something for everyone in the book’s pages.
What was the genesis of this book? Where did the idea come from and how long did it take you to complete it?
It was a totally impromptu decision. I was trying to figure out what project I wanted to focus on next, I’d been working on a sequel to my most successful play “Cryptos” called “Maelificus” after I released my first book of poetry “Cascade”, until the idea suddenly hit me that I should write a book of Doctor Who poetry because the show’s 50th Anniversary was coming up. Doctor Who has a long tradition of episode guides and big thick books of critical analysis, and I thought the best way to pay homage to the obsessive love of the show that so many people had enjoyed for 50 years was to do something just as crazy and obsessive: create an episode guide in the form of poetry. It was a daunting task to consider doing, but 50th Anniversaries only come once.
You did a Kickstarter crowd-sourcing campaign for this book. Can you tell us more about that?
I had done a Kickstarter before for my first book, Cascade, and I quickly realized that the scope of this project meant there was no way I could afford to do it from my own pocket. It was all set up pretty fast, so I set it all up and hoped Doctor Who fans would jump onto the project. I set some extravagant goals for it, which no expectation they’d ever be reached. All of them were. Whovians supported this book an incredible amount, and I’m so incredibly grateful to the support I received in putting it all together. By the end of it I was both in awe of how much I’d be able to do writing the book, and slightly terrified about writing what became a 510 page volume! Since I’m thanking people: Kasterborus.com, Barebones Entertainment, The New York Daily News, and Media Bistro all covered the Kickstarter and promoted it, as well as tons of whovian facebook pages, and fans all over the world. You all made this book possible, so thank you again.
Fifty years is a considerable amount of time to capture in poetry. You take on the ambitious task of covering every Doctor Who episode in this book! While composing your verse, did you find yourself summarizing the particular show or did you focus on various aspects presented in the show?
I tried to focus on aspects or feelings from the episodes. I had a few guidelines I gave myself for writing the poems: the first was that I wasn’t going to write any poems that talked about how awful episodes were. I’ve known a lot of people who these episodes were incredibly important to in life changing ways, and for a book that was a celebration I didn’t want them to read it and have that joy spoiled by someone whining about how an episode of TV wasn’t too their fancy. There’s definitely a time and place for that sort of thing, and you can find a ton of Doctor Who books for that, but this wasn’t the place. Second, I decided I wouldn’t just write episode summaries in the form of poetry. I wanted to connect each poem with something else so that when you read it, it felt like you were getting more out of the episode by reading the poem. Some of the poems however are summary-like, but I think you’ll find when I chose to do them that way there was a reason, and there’s something more under the surface.
You also include illustrations in this book. Tell us more about your illustrator?
Olivia Hinkel has been a friend of mine for years, but I first learned about her artistic ability when I needed someone to help me use make up to make my beard look like that of the character Seneca Crane from the Hunger Games for a costume contest at a convention. I got second place, and her fantastic drawing skills made my costume way better than I ever intended it to be. We went to the same college, and she used to do little doodles of Doctor Who things on her papers, and sometimes she’d do one for me to cheer me up if I was down. I started thinking, “gosh, if I ever had a project that involved Doctor Who she’d really be the person I’d want to do the drawings for it. But that won’t happen.” Then it did, and she was the first person I asked. She did a better job than I expected even, the drawings in the book really make my poems look much better than they really are!
Toward the conclusion, you have some prose installments, such as commentary and essays. Can you expound more on what topics those essays cover?
As part of the Kickstarter, people who were patrons got to vote on two essay topics for the book. They chose the topics of the Doctor’s Name, and River Song’s Timeline. I also write an essay on Neil Gaiman, Stephan Moffat, Russel T. Davies, and Lawrence Miles, and the way their views of the nature of stories has shaped what Doctor Who is. I also included an essay I’d written earlier about how Romana is the greatest Doctor Who companion, just as a little bonus.
Andrew Gilbertson, a writer for Grail Quest Books, contributed two essays: one on classic Doctor Who series special effects, and another on Dalek History which is a truly monumental work and is really impressively thought out and researched. Its gotten a lot of compliments from people for how much they learned from it about the strange tangled history of those deadly pepper potts! Taylor Elliott, a caterer and writer, wrote up a cookbook. Not just any cookbook mind you, this isn’t just Doctor Who themed recipes that are barely recipes at all, but they’re really good things you can cook. “Martha’s Revenge” the Pear Upside Down Cake is frequently cited as a highlight, as is the whole cookbook. Frankly, she could have released it as its own book rather than having it be in the back of this one, its worth the cover price by itself. I’m honored she wanted it in this volume. Finally, there is a short story called “Never Go On Walks” which while it could be in the universe of Doctor Who, technically isn’t. It doesn’t contain any copyrighted material or anything, but its a fun science fiction romp inspired by the show, and heavily influenced (and lauding of) the many non-BBC Doctor Who spinoffs there have been throughout the years: Faction Paradox, Iris Wildthyme, the Stranger, Downtime, K-9… Fans have a proud tradition of expanding on Doctor Who without it being Doctor Who, and I wanted to both add to that, and salute it. Also there is a mug with a kitten on it in the story, if that is a selling point for anyone.
You have other works available. Tell us more about that and where these works can be purchased.
My first book of Poetry, Cascade, is available from amazon. Its my collected poems (including my most well known “Japan, Oh God, Japan” and the eponymous “Cascade”) as well as a play I wrote while I was sick and on pain medication that is truly strange and dark. There are plenty of nerdy poems in the book if you like “Eloquence” including some Doctor Who poems, Star Wars poems, one about Halo, Harry Potter… Its a good time. It also tackles deeper and darker topics, and if you enjoy my poetry you’ll find some really incredible stuff in it.
The big thing I’m working on right now is a Kickstarter to get my backlog into print, a huge project that contains five books including my most popular play “Cryptos” about a pair of Cryptozoologists looking for a monster that may or may not exist that has been robbing cradles in a cult town. It also includes another full play, a collection of my short plays, a collection of my short stories, and a novel. Whew! Its really exciting, and I’m hoping a lot of people come out to support getting these books into print! https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/arcbeatle/cryptos-in-print-and-other-works-to
So I must ask, who is your favorite Doctor and why?
My favorite Doctor is Patrick Troughton, the second Doctor! He was maybe my first Doctor, it’s hard to tell as I was so little when I started watching the show, but his performance of the Doctor was brilliant. Troughton wasn’t afraid to sit back and let other actors take center stage, and work in the background of scenes, always keenly aware of the nature of the scene itself but not grandstanding it until the climax of the story when he’d creep out of the shadows and practically devour the film he was being put on. His ability to work so subtly, with such finesse, makes even his worst stories more enjoyable then they should be. He was also just really fun- he wasn’t afraid to make a fool of himself, and I like that in a Doctor as well!
To order An Eloquence of Time and Space, click here!