Friday, October 5, 2012

Interview with author Jonathan Morris about
Dark Shadows audio book, "Operation Victor"

Vortex, the magazine produced by Big Finish (the creators of the DARK SHADOWS audio dramas) has an interview with writer Jonathan Morris about the recent installment, OPERATION VICTOR. I've just purchased the recording and have not had a chance to listen to it, but expect a review soon. In the meantime, here's what Morris has to say about the tale:

The attraction of Dark Shadows, for me, is that it is pure melodrama. A television soap opera with ghosts, vampires, werewolves, gypsy curses, parallel universes, and time travel. It’s about larger-than-life characters facing larger-than-life crises. And in my second Dark Shadows audio play, Operation Victor, I wanted to celebrate that; where The Blind Painter had been quite intimate and character-based, this time I’d write the grandest, most Wagnerian story imaginable. It may only be an audio, but it has a plot on the scale of a major Hollywood blockbuster.

Whilst of course it was written to work as a standalone piece, Operation Victor is also the third part of a trilogy of stories about Quentin Collins’ activities during the Second World War, following on from London’s Burning and The Creeping Fog. Both of those audios were set in London during the Blitz, so to mark the changes, I decided to do something completely different and set my story in Nazi Germany, in a remote castle in the Bavarian alps, where an immoral scientist, Doctor Moloch, is conducting abominable experiments on vampires, werewolves and zombies. Only one man has what it takes to stop him – and that man is Quentin Collins.

Dark Shadows is a very self-aware show, with tongue-in-cheek dialogue and a keen sense of its own ridiculousness. So when writing Operation Victor I deliberately didn’t hold back; I don’t think the story remotely crosses the line in terms of bad taste but it does get fairly close to it. The Nazis in this story are comic-book Nazis fighting in a comic-book Second World War, and are intended to bear as much similarity to real life as the rest of Dark Shadows does (ie none whatsoever).

Where The Blind Painter took The Picture of Dorian Gray and gave it a Dark Shadows twist, Operation Victor does the same with Frankenstein, but not so much the book as the James Whale versions and all the exploitation B-movies of the Sixties. It’s a combination of traditional gothic horror and action movie; it’s taking Quentin Collins out of Collinwood and putting him in an entirely different situation, whilst remaining absolutely true to the Dark Shadows ethos in terms of style and tone.

After writing goodness-knows-how-many Doctor Who things, it’s refreshing to step away from that and enter an entirely different world where I don’t know all the continuity and characters backwards, to write in a different style and be a ‘newcomer’ rather than an ‘old hand’. I’m a little bit worried that Operation Victor may incite some Dark Shadows fans to hunt me down with flaming torches, but if that doesn’t happen, I look forward to making another return visit to Collinwood.


retzev said...

Sounds like a winner.

David Elijah Nahmod said...

the dramas that fill us in on Quentin's life between 1897-1970 are terrific!

Cousin Barnabas said...

Hell, yeah! I listened to this one last night, and it takes the character into 1940s pulp fiction territory. Expect a write up on Monday.

Melissa said...

"Dark Shadows is a very self-aware show, with tongue-in-cheek dialogue and a keen sense of its own ridiculousness."

Wow. I absolutely could NOT disagree more with this statement. What makes Dark Shadows work for me is its dead earnest sincerity.

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