John Barrowman's sister Carole Barrowman is the writing power behind the team's successful books. She talked to us about the sibling's novel EXODUS CODE and about writing in general.
Q: You are an English literature professor. Was it difficult to write about medical theories, geological and geophysiological science?
CB: I was trained as a journalist before I switched to the field of literature so I learned how to do research. I love that part of writing almost as much as the writing itself. When John and I decided on the basic plot, then I went off and did my homework. Also, I have a mild form of synesthesia and over the years I’ve read quite a bit on the subject… at least enough to find the spaces for fiction to fill.
Q: I love your homage to Sarah Jane Smith and the classical Doctor Who episodes! Has "The Masque of Mandragora" special meanings to you and/or John?
CB: The Doctor Who family was devastated when Elisabeth Sladen passed away and so John and I decided to find a couple of places in ‘Exodus Code’ where we could pay homage to her work and her legacy. I’m not sure any particular episode has special meaning. We just felt that as much as we could we wanted to connect our story with the DW and TW canons. Sarah Jane was the assistant that I watched most when I was growing up.
Q: As with Hollow Earth did you put some Easter Eggs in Exodus Code? I thought I saw a few familiar names. Would you give us a hint?
CB: Most of the extra layers in ‘Exodus Code’ had to do with things we thought that fans of Torchwood would recognize and appreciate. Like the scene with the SUV…
Q: And a more random question. How did Jack get his Webley back? I thought it was destroyed in Children of Earth? And he didn't have it in Miracle Day.
CB: Never underestimate Jack’s hoarding abilities.
Q: With all the work you do outside of writing novels (teaching, writing reviews for the press, The Morning Blend, etc) when do you find the time to write?
CB: First of all, my children no longer live at home and that has allowed me to expand the time I can give to my writing. When they were young, I wrote less but I never allowed myself to feel guilty about the choices I made. I don’t do guilt. I’m also a very disciplined and focused writer and again and I think that comes from training as a journalist. I try to write every day even if it’s only taking notes or creating a paragraph or two. I also draft a lot in my head when I’m not actually writing. Finally, I make sure I carve out extended writing time at least 3 or 4 times during the week. I think you need to give your imagination some warm up time if you really want to let it loose.
Q: What would be the one piece of advice that you would give an aspiring writer wanting to get published?
CB: Learn the craft. Writing is an art and a craft and both parts of that definition must be nurtured. The literary gods may have blessed you with talent, but that may not be enough to be published so learn the craft. That may mean writing a practice novel and having it critiqued, taking classes, joining workshops, reading books about writing, or simply talking to other writers. Either way, learn the craft.
A big Thank You to Carole for doing this Q&A with us. :-)
My review of EXODUS CODE can also be read on this blog: