TV episode and Big Finish writer Robert Shearman is responsible for one of the most memorable episodes of the last 5 years – Dalek reinvigorated the space fascists and repositioned them as a true force to be reckoned with in the Doctor Who universe.
We spoke to Robert recently about some of his best known work, and began with “Love Songs for the Shy and Cynical”, his recently-released book of short stories published by Big Finish.Â
Well let’s start with the present then – Love Songs for the Shy and Cynical is your new collection of short stories. It’s an interesting title – how does it relate to the tales within?
I like to pretend the new book is something of a self-help manual for the lovelorn! You know, so that anyone who has romantic problems can dip inside, and find the answers they need. So the collection is perfect if you need to know what to do in the event of your wife leaving you, and giving you your own heart back sealed in a Tupperware box. (And exactly what measures should be taken if every day after she’s left you find it’s growing knobbly specks of bone.) Or how you should react if your other half vanishes off the face of the earth, taking away an entire small landlocked European nation with him.
These are stories about love, rather than love stories themselves: the pig in the Garden of Eden composing the very first love song when he falls hopelessly for a woman, the Devil trying to write romantic fiction. There are ghost cats and mutant rabbits and strange succubi who do bizarre things to you when they kiss you.
My last collection, ‘Tiny Deaths’, was a comic meditation on mortality from lots of different angles – this time I’m putting that peculiar urge we all have to reach out for other people, to matter to someone else, under the microscope.
You’ve written for TV, radio and stage – do you have a particular favourite? Is there any medium you would like to write for or have any upcoming plans to do?
Well, there’s always opera! Seriously, I love opera – I had a girlfriend years ago who sung opera as a chorus member, and I devoted myself to Verdi and Mozart and Donizetti simply so I could chat her up! There was talk about me working on an opera back in the mid-nineties, but it came to nothing – I’d love to get my teeth with an interesting composer into something dark and modern. It all comes back to the stage for me, really.
For my first ten years as a full time writer I wanted nothing more than to be working in the theatre, both as writer and director. And my twentysomething self would be appalled, I know, at how I’ve tried to spread my wings subsequently, and try different media. But I still see myself really as a playwright, and feel most comfortable taking a theatrical space and trying to transform it into something else.
I’m writing my first stage play for some years very soon, and I’m very excited about it. And I’m going to be very clever (I hope), and do it alongside my new novel and new short story collection, and new work for radio and TV. I want to be very busy in 2010.