Exclusive Interview: John & Carole E. Barrowman
Things have been pretty quiet on the Torchwood front as of late, but luckily fans can now divulge in a brand new novel going by the name of Exodus Code…
If being reunited with Captain Jack wasn’t enough, the book has been written by John Barrowman and his sister Carole E. Barrowman, who very kindly took part in an exclusive interview with us to tell us more about the new adventure!
Check out our Q&A with them below.
Q. Take us back to the early days of Exodus Code. When and how did it come about, and what were both of your initial thoughts about the project?
Carole: The genesis of Exodus Code…
John: Nice place on words.
Carole: It’s what I do. Now stop interrupting. We’ve only just started the interview. Anyway, when I was on the set of Torchwood a few years ago, working with John on his autobiographies, we started talking about writing a script together for the show. John ran with the idea and we got agreement from Russell T Davies and the BBC was open to the idea.
John: But then things got busy for Carole and I a couple of years later…
Carole: 2009 to be exact.
John: Now you’re doing it.
Carole: Sorry, WhovianNet, this could be a long interview.
John: Long story short, BBC Books came to us when they heard our idea and they asked if we’d rather write a Torchwood novel instead.
Carole: We decided on a novel because it gives us a broader canvas to tell a story.
John: And we wanted the story to be epic.
Q. Without giving too much away (spoilers!), is there anything you can tell us about the novel in terms of its setting, characters, etc? Are there any new revelations about Captain Jack in store?
John: I think readers and fans are going to love that the old Jack is back. Carole’s captured his humour and his roguishness perfectly.
Q) This isn’t the first adventure you’ve created for Captain Jack. What was it like for you both to be writing for him again, but this time on a much greater scale?
Carole: I was writing Exodus Code between novels in our children’s Hollow Earth series, so for me it was great to be able to push the limits of character and to lift off the restraints of language and situations a bit more.
John: I loved that we go inside Jack’s head in some pretty cool ways and We’ve done our best to connect the story to the canon. We couldn’t really do that in our comic.
Q. As Carole mentioned, this year you’ve also released your first children’s novel, Hollow Earth, together. What was it like to then work on Exodus Code?
John: The idea for the Exodus Code pre-dated our children’s series, but the books ended up overlapping because of Carole’s schedule. She teaches at Alverno College full-time and does most of her series writing in the summer. It also takes a long time to get all the necessary approvals to write a book that’s part of such a popular franchise.
Q. What were the planning and eventual writing processes of the book like for both of you? Did you spend a lot of the time together, or was it more a case of exchanging frantic emails in the early hours of the morning?
John: We have a pretty unique partnership. As with all our books together, I don’t do any of the writing. That’s Carole. We spend time together early in the process and we outline together and brainstorm situations. Then Carole goes off to Milwaukee and writes.
Carole: I usually don’t send John anything until I have a decent draft, then he adds his suggestions. The biggest challenge for us was that lots of other eyes were on this manuscript during the process. When we finished our outline, it had to go to Russell, the BBC, and even Starz, who now hold some of the franchise rights. We had to do the same with the finished book. Oh, and there are a few late night calls, especially when I forget the time difference and I have to know something right away!
Q) John, obviously you portray Captain Jack on screen, so you know all the in’s and out’s of his character (and we’re sure there’s a lot of ‘em!). Did this make it easier for you to write for him, and ‘be in control of him’, so to speak, and what was it like to go from reading his lines to writing them for him?
John: Carole and I decided very early in the process that, as much as we enjoyed Miracle Day, we wanted to see the Jack from the earlier days – the Jack with burdens but less weighed down by them. We really wanted the funny sexy Jack to be in our pages, and so it really helped to have the history of Jack at my fingertips (and other bits). I think that Jack is back in Exodus Code.
Q) For Carole, what’s it like to be writing for a character who is played by your brother on screen? Is the fact you know the real John so well a help or a hindrance when it’s time to think of him solely as Captain Jack?
Carole: I’ve been a huge fan of the Doctor Who and Torchwood universe as long as John, so I tried to bring my fan side into play when I was writing. I worked to see ‘Jack’ and not John as much as I could, but it did get a bit icky when I was writing some of the more sexually charged scenes, or writing about those ‘bits’ John just alluded to. Ew!
Q) Are you both pleased with the finished product, and if you set out to create the same tone as the TV series, would you say you’ve achieved it?
John: I guess that will be up to the fans to decide, but I think we did.
Carole: I think so too.
Q) John, as far as the TV series goes, is there anything you can tell us about the future of Jack on TV, or is it still on hiatus? You’ve mentioned in a few interviews that you’d like to see a movie…
John: I would love to see Exodus Code as a mini-series or as a movie. I’m ready to put on the coat whenever they need me to, but I’m afraid I have no more information about any future on-screen plans.
Q) Finally, do you have any plans to write further Torchwood novels – or other forms of adventures featuring Captain Jack – together?
Carole: We’re ready for the next one. This is our fourth book together. I can’t see us stopping anytime soon.
John: What she said!
A huge thanks to them both for answering our questions – have you got Exodus Code?