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How was it to follow the great Michael Moorcock in the new series of novels?
Intimidating. But, I read a lot of Doctor Who novels when I was a child and a teenager, and I felt I had something so say, so I just concentrated on writing the book I wanted to write.
Why do you think they asked you to write this book? Moorcock, a sci-fi great, and Jonathan Morris, longtime writer of Doctor Who storylines and arcana, are obvious. Naomi Alderman — author of two novels, one about a rabbi’s daughter coming out as a lesbian and the other about a confused student at Oxford —is a less obvious choice, no?
I asked them! It is true that I am — as all of us are — a strange mixture of things. …I mean, I don’t only read one kind of book. I like Serious Literary Novels, but also sci-fi and detective fiction and great fantasy epics. So why would I only want to write one kind of book?
Your book is about people not having enough time. Does that come from personal experience, or is it a political allegory?
Both! Basically I think unregulated capitalism is evil. So, you know, sorry about that, America. I am a socialist. Thankfully, I will never run for president, so you don’t have to worry about me too much. I have had minor difficulties with credit cards in the past, and have a bit of a tendency, when stressed, to spend money on things I neither want nor need, in a self-soothing way, which is not very helpful. And a long time ago, when I started properly tackling it, I used to say to myself, “Charging something on a credit card is like borrowing hours of work from your future self.” Which is the way a sci-fi geek might look at it, I suppose, but also a good idea for a book. So it’s about how we tell ourselves we don’t have enough time, just like we tell ourselves we don’t have enough money and need to borrow more. Actually, apart from those in really dire financial straits, we have on average both more money and more potential leisure hours than our grandparents. Live on the time you have, that’s what I say.
Matt Smith’s doctor is the first one that the BBC has really been trying to sell to America. Why do you think that he’s appealing to an American audience?
Ah, he’s pretty, isn’t he? And charming. Plus, of course, you guys are enjoying “Torchwood” now, so I think probably it’s more that the BBC has seen the possibilities. Let us hope that they don’t Americanize the doctor too much, though.
Watch Matt Smith, the latest Doctor Who, encounter an old, and famous, foe of the Doctor — the Daleks.