Michael Dante DiMartino Interview


Mike DimartinoThis week on the Writers of Fantasy podcast my guest is Michael Dante DiMartino; he is a writer, artist, and perhaps most famously, the co-creator of Avatar the Last Airbender and The Legend of Korra!

He is also the author of a new fantasy series, Rebel Genius!

We talk about building characters, worlds, themes, and more besides. Check it out as we delve into Avatar and more!

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How Whittaker’s First Scene Mirrors Her Announcement

Jodie Banner

How Whittaker’s First Scene Mirrors Her Announcement

Like pretty much every other fan on the planet, I spent much of Christmas day eagerly awaiting the 13th Doctor’s first scene. When Whittaker appeared, it was a moment of joy for new things, and sadness at the passing of Capaldi. But also a chance to get a glimpse of what we might expect from Chris Chibnall’s vision of the series.

But what was most immediately interesting to me was the way in which Whittaker’s first scene mirrored her infamous ‘Meet the 13th Doctor‘ announcement video. Directed by Jamie Childs, the scene that told the world who the new Doctor would be came on just after the Wimbledon Men’s final in 2017.

For the purposes of clarity, I will be referring to the ‘Meet the Thirteenth Doctor‘ video as ‘The Introduction‘ and the regeneration scene from Twice Upon a Time as ‘The Episode‘.



Twice Upon A Time – Doctor Who Review

Not a Moment

Twice Upon A Time – Doctor Who Review

Steven Moffat has a long history of subverting expectations when it comes to Doctor Who. If there is any hallmark of his tenure as showrunner, I think that might be it. His greatest achievements as well as his greatest missteps have often come as a result of this, in my opinion. Twice Upon a Time is no exception.

For a regeneration story, many in the audience will be expecting grand excitement on an epic scale. Instead, Moffat delivers a somewhat subdued and introspective script. Performed brilliantly by Capaldi, Bradley and Mackie, no question. But how will it hold up in the legend of the show?

Spoilers to follow, obviously…

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Anna Smith-Spark Interview

court of broken knives

Anna Smith-Spark Interview

My guest this week is Anna Smith-Spark! She is the author of the Court of Broken Knives. She has previously been published in the Fortean Times and the poetry website greatworks.org.

We talk about gender in fantasy, writing, characters and world building. Also there are some jokes about Tony Blair.


anna-smith-spark-author-photo-1I first met Anna on a panel at FantasyCon2015. I believe it was gender and sexuality representation Sci-Fi and Fantasy. I remember a point being made that we hope to one day not have these panels because the issue will have become accepted as representation begets representation.

But we still do get them – I did one at BristolCon this year. We talk about what Anna thinks of the progress that’s been made since and how we may have taken backwards steps recently.

We also delve into the Court of Broken Knives as Anna gives us insights into how she wrote it and where her characters came from.

You can find Anna online here:





V. E. Schwab Interview

V. E. Schwab Interview

For this week’s episode of the Writers of Fantasy Podcast, I got to talk to Victoria Schwab, aka V.E. Schwab. She is an American fantasy author best known for her 2013 novel Vicious, the Shades of Magic series, and her children’s and young adult fiction.

We had a really good, long talk about world building, characters, writing, and gender issues in science fiction and fantasy. Listen here, and there are some key quotes! Check it out!

[Listen here]

On The Near Witch and How a Writer changes

I started out when I was quite young, and I wrote my first book when I was nineteen. The Near Witch was the second book I’d ever written, and I was twenty-one! And I’m now thirty! There’s some growth that happens, I’ve not got thirteen books published, and obviously you grow and change as a person.

I get asked often ‘do you go back and look at your previous work and think of things you would do differently?’ The honest truth is that I kind of look at each and every one of my books as a time capsule of who I was and what I was capable of doing. So, I never want to change any of them, as The Near Witch is a capsule of who I was in college and what I was studying and what excited me.

Whereas The Shades of Magic series and The Monsters of Verity series are just as much time capsules of who I was and what I was going through while doing a Masters Degree on depictions of monstrosity. And I was travelling a lot. So, they’re precious to me in different ways.

Monsters and Villains

Certainly with something like Vicious, which is about villains, and villainy. About the arbitrary labels that we apply to heroes and villains. It’s a book about personal vendettas, and who is a hero and who is a villain. Is it determined by where they fall on opposite sides of this argument? In that book, specifically, I wanted to play with the idea [of villains].

I sat down and thought ‘wouldn’t it be a fun challenge to write a book without heroes?’ Could I write a book without heroes and make the reader strongly root for one of the villains? It was a craft exercise in learning it’s not what our characters do, it’s not what we do as people, but why we do it. Motivation Vs action.

Sometimes I do sit down and think. There’s always a seed. I gather ingredients for a story until I have enough to make a meal. But I think there’s always that one ingredient that’s the core, bonding thing.


“I haven’t seen it yet. Not with these eyes” – A New Doctor, A New Show.

Thirteen 2

The Thirteenth Doctor has arrived. Change, my dear, and it seems not a moment too soon. Jodie Whittaker is the Doctor, whether you like it or not.

Regeneration isn’t just about the Doctor extending their life. It’s about getting to experience everything afresh, with new eyes, and a new perspective. The Doctor has spent 12 (or 13, depending on how you count it) lifetimes in the body of a man. Now the Doctor will be a woman, giving them a new perspective, a fresh pair of eyes with which to consider the universe.

“It’s all waiting out there, and it’s brand new to me. All those planets, and creatures and horizons. I haven’t seem them yet! Not with these eyes. And it is going to be fantastic.”

– 10th Doctor, The Christmas Invasion

de3w6gowaaa00vyDoctor Who always changes. That’s how it stays around, and stays interesting. It changes its main character, changes its supporting characters, and changes its production team. Every new set of people brings a new approach, a new perspective, and a new focus. It has its peaks and troughs, good times and bad. At its base, it’s a fun, sci-fi/fantasy adventure for family audiences. But there are lots of ways it can and has been interpreted.

For example, in the early days it was envisioned as an educational show to teach children about history and science. Then, it became more about speculative fiction, high concept sci-fi. Then, more of a swashbuckling adventure. Then gothic horror inspired. Later it became more drama oriented. And so on.

Doctor Who changes its format. That’s how it survives.

The Doctor is a catalyst for much of this change, and is a window for the audience. Each new Doctor comes at it from different angle, spreading light in new and interesting angles, even on a familiar scene.

So, what can we expect from Jodie Whittaker as the Thirteenth Doctor? Having watched the teaser clip a few times now, there is one thing I’ve zeroed in on as a sign of hope. As the TARDIS materialises and we see her face for the first time, the Thirteenth Doctor gets a look of wonder on her face. It is a brief smile that says a lot. She looks hopeful, she looks almost in mild awed anticipation of what’s to come.


That sense of wonder has been lacking in Doctor Who of late. If it had been a constant presence I’m sure we’d all be bored of it by now, but I’ve missed it. Bringing back the heartache and the promise of adventure might be the shot in the arm the series needs.

Jodie Whittaker has a wonderful adventure ahead of her. Let’s join her, shall we?

About Time 2

Legend of Korra Comics: Irene Koh Interview


Legend of Korra Comics: Irene Koh Interview

The Legend of Korra is back! We spoke to Irene Koh, the artist behind Turf Wars, the upcoming graphic novel trilogy. The first graphic novel trilogy continuing the series, written by co-creator Michael Dante DiMartino, is coming out this month.

Irene Koh is an illustrator from Seoul, now living in Los angeles. She received her BFA in illustration from the Rhode Island School of Design and has worked for Dark Horse, DC, Marvel, IDW, Oni Press, and Stela.

If you read Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, or Batgirl, you might have seen her work before.

But we are here to talk about Korra! So let’s get started! Spirits, elements, martial arts, and maybe a bit of Korrasami?

lokturfw-4– For those who might not have heard yet, can you tell us a little bit about how you got the job on the Korra comics?

I’d been joking for years that I’d be a perfect fit for the comic, as a bisexual Asian martial artist and avid Avatar fan. After Brittney Williams dropped out of the project, a friend of mine was offered the gig, to which she referred me instead.

I drew a few test pages, and now here I am, almost done drawing Part Two.

– There have been a lot of artists who have worked on both Avatar and Korra, do you have any favourites that informed your own style? 

The key art people on staff (or at least the ones whose work I can readily find on the Internet) have been great to look at. Not necessarily for style’s sake, since I was asked to draw the book in my own style, but for movement.

Animation folks have totally different way of approaching movement and character acting, and there’s a lot of great tricks I picked up just studying their work. Specifically, I looked at Steve Ahn’s work for action, and Ki Hyun Ryu’s amazing, expressive faces.

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