THE UNMUTUAL - EXCLUSIVE WEB CHAT
With Jon Blum and Rupert Booth - Authors, "The Prisoner's Dilemma".
In 2003, The Unmutual Website announced news of a set of novels based on The Prisoner TV series. In January 2005 we were delighted to announce that the first of these, "The Prisoner's Dilemma" by Jonathan Blum and Rupert Booth, had been completed. For ordering details, and more info, visit http://www.powysmedia.com/ and for an in-depth review of the book, visit our reviews section.
On Friday February 11th 2005, Rick Davy of The Unmutual Website conducted an exclusive 2-hour web-chat with the authors. An edited transcript follows.
**Please note that the following interview includes some "spoilers" regarding the book.**
Rick began by asking how the authors got involved in writing:
As a fan, I started writing back in the '80s, for my local "Doctor Who"
club. As a pro, I got my break because of my then-wife-to-be Kate Orman, who
agreed to co-write a "Doctor Who" book with me.
RB: For me, it's just something i've always done. I think that the only way to be vaguely good at anything is lots of practice. the trick was then going pro with it all. I'd had one or two short stories published before this, had screened films (amateur) and so on.
JB: The thing is, I already knew Rupert by then.
RD: Did you meet through "Dr Who"?
RB: I'm an ex "Who" fan ;-)
JB: Yeah, because I'd seen him doing a "Doctor Who" fan video!
RD: That sounds interesting - what was the video like?
RB: I thought it was protey! Please say it was protey!
JB: The Who video came first, then you showed me one of your Protoverse films and then I was hooked.
Basically, our secret shame is that we each did some fan-video work in the mid-'90s. There's still video evidence of each of us playing the Doctor!
RD: So how did you get involved in writing your "Dr Who" novel?
JB: Again, my wife's to blame! She knew I was a writer from the video I'd done, I wrote some short stories which she liked, and then we worked out a novel plot together.
I believe it won an award?
JB: Our latest book did - we've done four "Who" books together. One won the DWM annual poll, one won the Aurealis Award for Best Australian SF Novel. Another was nominated for the Aurealis but was deservedly beaten.
Have you been tempted, Rupert, to write a full "Who" novel?
JB: I'd love him to!
RB: Hmmmm......not really! Unless the money was good!
JB: The money's better than the "Prisoner" books... so far, at least! (It all depends on sales. And with the new series, sales will go through the roof.)
RD: So who came up with the idea of doing a "Prisoner" novel?
RB: Over to you, Jon!
JB: It was because of Mateo Latosa, our editor. He took my wife and me to dinner to see if we wanted to write something original for Powys. He mentioned that they'd been offered the "Prisoner" franchise....I jumped at the chance.
RB: Next thing I know, Jon approaches me in a hotel room with a big grin on his face and says "Do you want to write a prisoner book with me?" Whereupon I ponder for a millisecond and say "Yeah".
JB: Just luck that Mateo mentioned it - lots of hard work after that! We had to do an outline, which he approved. Then they had to get the rights sorted out. Basically, Mateo hadn't been sure whether it was possible to do a good "Prisoner" novel, after the sixties efforts, but we came up with something which convinced him, so we got the gig!
Can we talk about the show? When did you each first see it?
RB: I first saw half of it in about 1989, when a mate bought some of the channel 5 vids whereupon I had to go out and buy Fall Out because I HAD to know how it ended.
RD: When did you first see The Prisoner, Jon?
JB: I first saw Priz in the mid '80s, probably about '84. I'd read about it in John Peel's articles in Fantasy Empire magazine in the States. It sounded amazing, and it was! It blew my thirteen-year-old head wide open.
RD: Better than Doctor Who? ;-)
JB: Different from Who, and so intense!
RB: Same sort of reaction here especially after seeing "Fall Out" without "Once upon A Time" preceding it. I assumed it would make more sense once i saw "Once Upon....".WRONG!!!
JB: No "OUAT"? You poor soul. Me, I missed "Arrival" the first time around, but knew what was happening from the articles.
RD: Do either of you have a favourite episode?
JB: Hmmm... Probably "Dance of the Dead", this week. But I love them all. Even "Do Not Forsake Me" has something about it.
RB: I like all the weird ones. "Dance", "OUAT", "Fall Out".
RD: What other shows were you into at that time, apart from Doctor Who?
JB: God, all sorts of British stuff. "Blake's 7", "Sapphire and Steel"..... We had a great PBS station which got all the "cult" shows and aired them late at night.
RB: Oh the whole telefantasy genre ...."Blakes 7", "Sapphire", "Ace of Wands"...... lots of comedy shows also.
JB: Oh yeah, "The Goodies"!
RB: "The Goodies" rock.
JB: Ran for about thirteen weeks on Channel 26 in DC, and scarred me for life.
So. You got the gig for "The Prisoner" - what made you decide to write
the book together?
JB: Once I got the offer, I knew Rupe was a mad fan as well, and he was attending the same convention in LA as us.
RB: Well, I didn't so much decide as accept, delightedly!
JB: So I immediately came up to him with an evil grin.....
RB: It was evil, yeah.
JB: . ...and we had half the story worked out that night!
RD: Had you written "in tandem" on anything before?
RB: No, but we had talked about it
JB: Well, we sort of had. We'd done one film script which was very, very silly. Actually, "script" is a bit of an overstatement!
RD: What was it about?
RB: Oh, don't ask!
JB: Oh God. Rupe, do you want to explain "Mrs. Krill" to him?
RB: I don't know if I can!
JB: Let's say it was.....surreal. It involved toast.
RB: It's a simple love story. Boy exists, is destroyed by God, girl misses boy, girl gets boy back by reconstituting him from pieces of crumpled up paper, everyone dances, boy and girl both happen to be oversized anthropomorphic jumpers. It's all very poignant.
JB: We basically just did this film in a few days when I was visiting Rupert up in Newcastle. It was just for fun, it's never seen the light of day, but it was a joy just to be creative with nothing at stake! Kind of like "Fall Out" in a way. Like "Fall Out" because of the sheer sense of glee and anything-goes to it.
RB: I really must edit what there is of it someday....
RD: Sounds great!
RB: Bless you for saying that ;-)
RD: So as soon as you got the "Prisoner" gig, did you have a storyline already?
JB: We started work on the storyline that night.
RB: With beer.
JB: I think the first thought we had was "face the Prisoner with the Prisoner's Dilemma" - the whole logic-puzzle thing about cooperation or defection.
RB:I remember fairly early on coming up with the reality TV stuff, in a vague sort of way. Seemed to make sense with the constant surveillance aspect.
JB: Another early point was the idea of having Number 6's "opposite number" be a woman - someone who could be a lot like him, and that's what he can't stand about her!
How did you decide who would actually write what? How does dual-writing work?
RB: Both of us had certain bits we wanted to do, themes to explore and so on.
JB: The co-writing thing was a juggling act.
RB: Lots of phone calls.
JB: We'd each write scenes we'd picked out of the outline, and rewrite each others work.
RB: Lots of emails back and forth sorting out the skeleton of the story.
JB: Mostly me getting my grubby hands on Rupert's prose, I'm afraid! In the end I think I did the biggest share of the prose, because Rupert was also working on a TV pilot for a sketch comedy at the time.
RB: I always say that what would happen was that I would fret for a month and come up with three paragraphs, whereupon Jon would then send three finished chapters to me.
JB: Which is unusual for me, because I'm usually the slow one! That's why the book took more than a year to write.
RB: That's slow??? Jeezzz.....
JB: I'm terribly slow compared to Kate. She can do thousands of words a day, I can manage maybe 400-500.
RB: Kate is therefore evil.
RD: Who came up
with "The Irrationals"?
JB: The Irrationals were... God, I don't remember!
RB: No, I don't either!
JB: I do remember that at one point we thought about calling them the Unmutuals, but changed our mind because we thought the characters were turning into complete twits! No reflection intended on anyone real. :-)
RD: I believe some
are based on real people?
RB: Heh. Yeah. there's a description of them the first time we meet them and all of them are mates of mine in that bit.
JB: Hang on - who *were* you basing them on?
RD: Are any characters based on either of you two?
JB: On me? No.
RB: Just the physical descriptions! Equinox is me.
JB: I think you could say the whole book was based on Rupert's impression of Patrick McGoohan!
JB: Just giving him the fear. Equinox is Rupert at about 18, I think.
RD: So, the Number Two character.
JB: We went through a bunch of possible Number 2 images.
RB: He started out in my mind as being John Le Mesurier. Terribly diffident, you know.
JB: My first thought was to make him Yaphet Kotto! (Played very much against type.) Later on the idea was to make the general at the end Mr. Kotto, but that went by the wayside when we decided he should be Russian rather than a UN representative. (That's probably a spoiler, BTW!)
RB: We had pretty much the whole thing cast at various points., ust in case anyone wants to turn it into a film ;-)
JB: We never did decide on who Number 18 was though! Who decided to put in Alan Turing? Was that me?
RB: Turing was definitely you.
RD: Were there
any moments where you thought "bloody hell, how are we supposed to write
a Prisoner story"?
JB: The "bloody hell" moments came early on, and never really stopped!
JB: I ended up rewatching the whole series, and in that time I noticed just how many different bits of ground there were to cover, to try to get *everything* we thought was cool about the Prisoner into one hopefully-neat package.
RB: One thing I was very keen on was the gameshow in the middle and having nasty twists -"Many Happy Returns" esque kicks in the teeth.
RD: Had you read
other Prisoner fiction?
JB: I've read the three Sixties books, and the graphic novel, but that's about it.
RB: I'd read some. The only one that sticks in the mind was "Day in the life" - the message of which appeared to be "Cannabis is nice".
JB: I can sympathize tremendously with those authors - they've each got their own distinctive styles, but you miss out on the feel of the whole of the show.
RD: Did you think
"we've bitten off more than we can chew here"?
RB: Oh I frequently thought that
JB: Bitten off too much? Repeatedly!
JB: The biggest challenge was Number 6.
JB: There were bits where every line was a struggle to try to get across the feel of each line.
RD: So why go through with it? Seems like you're on a hiding to nothing.
JB: Why go through with it? Because I love the series.
RB: Well, at the end of the day.....damn, he just said it. It was nice to be able to look at the contemporary world through the medium of "The Prisoner".
JB: And I couldn't resist the chance to do something that *hadn't* been seen before with it. In some ways the whole "Prisoner" thing is infinitely more relevant now than it was then. A lot of my other writing has been in a similar vein of social satire - if "The Prisoner" hadn't been done already, I'd have been struggling to come up with something like that!
RD: Did you think about setting it post-escape? IE have a non-McGoohan lead character?
RB: Never, I think 6 IS "The Prisoner".
JB: I think the ending of the show is perfect as it stands.
RB: Agreed. It's not something that should be followed up on.
RD: So setting it mid-series - what problems did this create for you?
JB: The thing about 6 is, he was a hell of a challenge, but when we got him *right* - and I think we did, in some moments at least - it's just a joy. I think the secret to writing him is not to let him talk too much! If I ever got the chance to go back and revise the book, there are bits I'd try to shorten what he's saying.
RB: I think I said in this very chatroom a while back that one of the things you realise when trying to write 6 is how much of the character comes from the performance. Something that's very difficult to replicate in prose, simply because it's a completely different medium to TV.
RD: In a 300+ page book, he's going to have to talk, though. Was this the hardest thing?
RB: Well, we did consider him using mime throughout. But heroes don't mime.
JB: He has to talk, and more importantly - because it's a novel, the form demands that he have a bit more complexity as a character. The challenge there is dealing with someone who doesn't give anything away, and trying to suggest what it is he's not giving away! There are some bits where we deliberately went beyond what you'd expect from 6 - because part of the story demands that he realize that he's getting predictable. so he's going outside of his own comfort zone a bit.
RB: Also, he's a very closed down character. He gives very little away. So it was difficult to decide just how much to go inside his head.
RD: Did you think at times - "he's Number 6 - its impossible to write him in prose!"
JB: I never thought impossible. I thought "really, BLOODY hard".
RB: I thought impossible several times. ;-)
JB: We really didn't want him to be a caricature.
RB: No, absolutely.
JB: In fact the book is about 6 fighting against his own caricature-ness, in a way - the whole stereotype of him which the Village has developed.
RD: How about the
other characters? Were these easier to write because they didn't exist up until
RB: Oh, the other characters were a doddle compared to 6.
JB: Some of the others were easy.
RB: We could do pretty much what we liked with them.
JB: Number 18 was difficult in a similar way.
RB: Yeah, she was hard work sometimes. I think we discussed her more than anyone else bar 6.
JB: Like him, she's hard to get ahold of.
RD: Any particular favourites?
JB: Favorites? Number 101 was great for me. There are some bits with 2 I'm really happy with - you quoted a couple of them, in fact!
RB: The Irrationals. I had a lot of fun with them.
JB: Rupert's "salad sequence" is fab.
RB: Was that mine?
JB: And the confrontation in the square where 6 nearly kills him. 6 was much easier to write when he was really really angry. He becomes this towering icon.
RB: I remember we both chuckled at how 6 would react to a character that seemed completely uninterested in pushing him.
JB: The irresistible force meets the comfy chair!
RD: Did you draw anything from the series itself to inspire your characters?
JB: Hmm... I actually resisted drawing on the series itself too much - the frustrating bit was that our stuff kept looking like it was based on the series! EG, Number 101 seeming so much like the Professor.
RB: Not so much the characters, no, but the general...."Prisonerishness"
JB: With 101, the idea was "what if Alan Turing's suicide was faked", and he's been in the Village for twenty years pioneering new computer technology". But it sort of crept in the direction of looking like we were just doing "The General".
RD: I saw a bit of Nadia in Number 18, and Colin Gordon in Number Two.
RB: I saw a lot more of Annette Andre's character in 18 than Nadia.
JB: Interesting - I kept thinking of 18 as Bernice Summerfield! ("Doctor Who" books companion.)
RB: Oh you "Who" fan you ;-)
JB: Someone who would react to 6's intense seriousness by being frivolous, but could be intensely serious when it suited her.
RB: Whereupon he uses the same trick back at her!
RD: Did you find
yourself at times writing for Dr Who?
JB: Not really.
JB: The closest I got to a similarity is that 6 and the Doctor are each characters who you never see what they're actually thinking. We almost always get other characters' perceptions of the Doctor but no internal monologues. That's sort of the approach we took with 6 - it's either other characters' POV like 18, or just the narrator's POV. :-)
RD: You mentioned the gameshow, Rupert - without giving too many spoilers, did you get inspiration from "The Truman Show" for this?
RB: Mostly from "Big Brother" actually!
JB: "Big Brother" was the biggie.
RB: And the raft of reality gameshows that have swept the airwaves.
JB: In a way "Big Brother" was the sign that our civilization had become a self-parody.
RB: I was always interested in the fact that these shows are touted as "reality". I mean, how can they be? This is an artificial environment we're looking at.
RD: Did you feel it was tricky to get that Reality TV idea into The Village?
JB: It seemed right up their alley!
RB: No, it seemed to fit perfectly. Just the sort of thing they would do, especially to someone like 6 who is so intensely private.
JB: The only thing that's odd about the Village is that we never see what they run on TV. I wanted to have them showing "Gilligan's Island"!
RB: But I didn't know what "Gilligan's Island" was!
JB: I feel like such the ugly American.
RB: There were times when Jon would put in an Americanism that I would simply have no frame of reference for, but i'd just flag that up to him and it was usually replaced.
RD: Where did some of the other ideas come from? The war, for instance?
JB: The war was me in post-9/11 curmudgeon mode, I think.
RB: Where did the idea for the war come from? Hmmmm, let me think... ;-)
JB: It was Rupert's idea that the war would actually be part of the gameshow in some way.
RD: Did you think it was a bit of an outlandish idea, even for "The Prisoner"?
RB: Outlandish? Have you SEEN "Fall Out"?
RB: I think we both felt that we needed to up the ante a bit in the third part of the book.
JB: If we're playing with the idea of manufactured heroes then there's a sort of parallel between the reality TV and Fox News.
RB: Plus, it was nice to be able to do something that would have cost millions to do on screen - really open things out.
JB: At one point Mateo thought the war stuff could make a whole separate book - maybe we should have done that and gotten more money!
RD: Were you writing it as an "episode" of "The Prisoner"?
JB: I saw it as about four episodes!
RB: A feature length one.
JB: One of the things about the books is, you can have consequences from one bit into the next - it doesn't have to fit within 45 minutes, or even within one volume. There's a bit at the end which sets up Lance's book, and another which is hinting at book #3. By the way, the Minister will be coming back! The idea is that he's sort of a dark reflection of Number 6 - someone who's a self-motivated individual, but with no conscience or concern for others at all.
RD: Although relevant to "The Prisoner", a lot of the themes are for a "modern audience" - did you feel you might lose some of that "Prisonerishness"?
RB: We talked a lot about this. Eventually, we pretty much settled on trying to make the setting as timeless as possible. Of course, nowadays, everyone is a number and doesn't really care. That whole 60's psychosis wasn't really relevant anymore.
JB: About the themes....I don't know, because I think these themes are actually common to the Sixties experience. I mean, we're talking about social control, propaganda, manipulating the masses... the technology has shifted but the battle is the same. Even in the show, they were trying to make it timeless, most of the time. Look at the design of The Village - the Sixties bits are downplayed on the surface.
RB: See what i mean? Three chapters to three paragraphs ;-)
JB: The number thing was tricky to sell - part of what I wanted with The Irrationals was to show the dangers of accepting this stuff ironically, and not actually doing anything about it!
RD: Were you tempted to reference characters from the series more than you did?
JB: Hmm... I think most of the things we were tempted to include, we shoved in!
RB: I wasn't really tempted to ref existing characters much, no!
JB: The cat, the old Number 2 cameo, the mysterious twin technicians.
RB: Number 48....but they're all throwaways.
JB: Little things like that.
RB: We wanted to avoid fanw**k.
JB: But we hoped to keep them to the margins, and let the new stuff carry the story. The 48 gag was me! I loved the idea that he was too genuinely weird for the pseudo-weirdos.
RB: Rover, of course.
JB: Oh God, Rover was *fun* to write! I wanted to remind people of just how freakish and insane this thing is.
RB: You did all the best stuff with Rover.
JB: I also wanted to send up the "pointed stick" jokes, and have that come back to haunt them. Kind of like having a Dalek suddenly go up the stairs!
RB: Yeah, i loved the pointed stick bit.
RD: Without sounding
arrogant, do you expect people to like the book?
JB: Do I expect people to like it? I *hope* they will. I don't think the book is perfect; give me a bit more hindsight and I'll find things I wish I could fix, but on the whole I think there's a lot of good stuff in there.
RB: i'm expecting to be mobbed in the street by angry fans screaming "unworthy of the albertus typeface!!"
RD: Did you get any feedback from Patrick McGoohan?
JB: Not a sausage!
JB: We sent him the manuscript with a somewhat crawly letter, saying we wanted to make him proud - I suspect maybe we should have said "here we are, this is our individual take on the Prisoner, what do you think?" Then at least he would have had to respect our guts!
RD: Rupert, your
writing background is in comedy. Were you tempted to make the book a comedy
RB: No, but you have to have some humour in it otherwise you have this unremitting grimness going on.
JB: His comedy can get really dark at times - that's what I like about it! At its best "The Prisoner" is absurdism in the classic sense.
RD: Were there times when you thought "it's getting too silly "?
RB: There was one very silly sequence I rewrote which didn't make it. Where 6 needs to capture some ducks, for reasons that escape me, and eventually sets Rover on them.
JB: *Just* one very silly sequence??
RB: Well..one or two ;-)
JB: Oh wait, I remember the ducks. There was a reason for it, I'm sure. Oh yeah, it was an early draft of the "getting stuff for everyone" sequence. The bit with Number 35 the receptionist.
RB: But yes, as Jon says, the series is absurdism. It's one of the things I love about it. Throwaway bits of insanity - that's what the stenographer's about, for example.
JB: The show is a modern "Alice In Wonderland", in a way. "Pop Kafka", as Lloyd Rose said.
RD: Any other ideas which didn't make it into the final draft?
RB: Oh, there was tons of stuff that didn't make it.
JB: Other bits that didn't make it? Hmm.
RD: Enough for another book? ;-)
JB: If we do another book, it'll be seriously different and probably a lot shorter!
RB: I'd be up for writing another!
RD: Is it an option?
JB: It might be, but not for a while yet. They've commissioned the first four books, which takes it up till early 2007, and they've got plenty of candidates for 5 and 6. If there's a second batch of books, though. I'd also love to see a short story collection.
RB: Yes, me too. We need to relax first ;-)
JB: You can get far weirder in 5,000 words than 120,000! With that much story, people expect it to be more coherent on some levels!
RB: Do they? Oh hell!
JB: If I ever do a short story, I want to do one with the Mary Morris Number 2. She just blows my mind.
RB: Mine would probably be about training Rover.
RD: Was Mary Morris your favourite Number Two?
JB: Probably. I always wondered how *she'd* approach Degree Absolute. Imagine if we got to explore 6's mother issues.
RB: Heroes don't have mother issues.
JB: Heroes don't have mothers.
RB: Good point!
JB: Heroes certainly don't have mothers-in-law.
RD: I Wanted to ask you about Number 18. Being that Number 6 had already been betrayed by Nadia, Alison - lots of women in the series, did you wonder if another female ally would work?
JB: That was part of what we were playing with.
RB: Yeah, he's out to distrust right from the start.
JB: They've paired him up with female betrayers, and you have to wonder if it suits their purposes to have him completely mistrusting of everyone, so that if someone *does* come along, he won't trust them.
RB: Or rather HE has to wonder.
JB: Like the Watchmaker's daughter, at least at first. I didn't want him to be an easy mark, though. He does suspect a set-up from the word go, like he says in the interrogation. I think it's only when she actually gets her mind wiped that he really believes her.
RD: There seemed to be some sexual tension at times.
RB: Iwas keen on sexual tension. Did I just say that?
JB: I wanted to evoke the tension without actually showing anything physical - like with the maid in "Arrival" or the Observer in "Dance", where there's a sense of implied tension without even any contact.
RB: Well, apart from in the snake sequence.
JB: The snake sequence was you, wasn't it? Very phallic. I remember we had to get the right balance in that scene, so that it didn't seem too crass.
RB: Yes...I've actually only just realised the biblical implications of that bit! The final scene with them was a hell of a lot of hard work to get right. That one went back and forth between us for a long time.
JB: I worried about whether McGoohan would object to that bit, actually!
RB: Well at least it would make him notice it!
JB: But then I remembered Kathy bulging out of her Western outfit, and decided he can't have been *that* conservative. I think 6 is in many ways a perfect gentleman.
RB: Absolutely. He's terribly old fashioned and upright.
JB: I worried about putting him in an ungentlemanly situation, but I wanted to show him maintaining as much propriety as possible. There was never any question of 6 kissing her, or any actual advances on either side. I did want to get the sense that she was a potential kindred spirit, but they just couldn't connect.
RB: Plus of course,. any attraction would be ofset by the lack of trust.
JB: If I remember, I think we talked about how that sort of tension would have been carefully created for the reality show!
RB: Yeah, that's right. Just as in "Big Brother", the situation is engineered - which is why you have the edited highlights that he sees afterwards completely distorting their "relationship".
JB: Or the bit on the boat where she tells him her name. I wanted to show her reaching out in an emotional rather than a sexual way. and 6's response had to be deeply oblique. He's trying to communicate without actually giving anything away!
RD: Was it tricky, as 21st century guys, to write sixties-Prisoner-type dialogue?
RB: Tricky? Hey, get with it! I didn't find it tricky. We had the series there as a template.
JB: Nah, it was fab. The main tricky bit was like I said, stopping 6 from gassing on too much! If you can keep it terse, you can get a rhythm going.
RD: I must ask
JB: Ah, the roadrunner bit! That's one of the things I mentioned earlier - where 6 is going a bit outside his comfort zone. It seems to be a love-or-hate-it thing.
RD: But would Number 6 ever talk about "Roadrunner"? Sorry if I sound harsh.
JB: Lloyd Rose (Doctor Who author) loved it, other people think it's a step too far. It was a deliberate attempt to show him being humanized - whether that was him *actually* being humanized or just putting on a human act to fool her is another matter! (I think we pointed that out in the prose somewhere.) At the very least he's creating the *appearance* of relaxing around her. Maybe he really is relaxing and showing a new side, maybe it's a John Drake undercover act. Even I'm not quite sure. If you look at the "Roadrunner" line, we even put in the ellipses and italics to suggest a particular sort of McGoohan inflection. If you actually look at 6's lines in the scripts, you can't see McGoohan in them - they're surprisingly flat. So much of it is the performance finding nuances that aren't obvious in the words!
RD: Does that make it even harder for you as a writer? Being that you don't have McGoohan to give you the performance?
JB: Yeah, it does make it harder - the scriptwriters also didn't need to worry about replicating a pre-existing feel, they were creating something new, and that something new changed incredibly as the show went along. There's no way you can predict something that feels like "Fall Out" when you're doing "Arrival".
RD: Is this your main worry for people buying the book? That they won't see "your" Number 6 as McGoohan enough for them?
JB: We had to try to add in enough McGoohan-isms into the descriptions and phrasings to suggest his performance, without taking it over the line into caricature. It's definitely a worry that either 6 or the Village won't measure up to peoples' personal standards but at the end of the day, there's only so much you can do and peoples' individual standards are so idiosyncratic in many ways......like "Heroes don't birdwatch!" (That moment is in the book because 6 actually *does* birdwatch, briefly, in "A Change Of Mind")
RD: However good your book is, it's still going to be compared to the best TV series ever made. Is this unfair?
JB: I don't mind being *compared* - as long as the comparisons are reasonable ones. By reasonable, I mean
that they recognize the whole range of what "The Prisoner" is like. We may not be as good as the best, but we're better than the worst, I think!
RD: Should people view your book as part of the Prisoner "opus" or as something different?
JB: I don't think we have a prayer of being better than McGoohan/Markstein/etc when they were on peak form. But we can bring some things to the table which they couldn't (if only because we've got nearly 40 years of hindsight).....
RB: I wouldn't view it as "canon", no more than anything else produced outside the series.
JB: .....and hopefully that'll be enough to make the book worthy in its own right.
RB: I just hope it goes over okay and that people enjoy it.
JB: I don't really care about whether it's "canon" or not - what matters is the *idea* of "The Prisoner", which is astonishingly universal for such an individual work.
There then followed a brief conversation concerning the authors forthcoming projects, and their experiences of Portmeirion. Unfortunately, due to technical difficulties, this part of the webchat has been lost in the mists of time.
RD: Having spent
so much time on it, do you feel its all been worth it?
JB: The book is very much worth it.
RB: Oh, it's definitely been worth it!
JB: The only hard bit has been....
RB: The writing?
JB: ....the aftermath of writing it - trying to get the line launched successfully! The book has been a hell of a lot of work, but I wouldn't have missed it for the world. Oh, one footnote to the earlier story about starting work with Rupert - I did ask Kate first if she wanted to co-write a Prisoner book with me, but she said she didn't think she could pull it off!
JB: It was really flattering that she thought I could, though.
RB: Bless you, Kate!
JB: It's deeply weird to think about how all these things are resurfacing at once - new "Who", new "BSG", new "Sapphire and Steel" audios, and even new "Prisoner". All we'll need is new "Blake's 7" and we'll have the whole set of our childhood again!
RB: I tell you, the time is ripe for an "Ace Of Wands" revival!
RD: Thank-you both very much.
We would like to thank Rupert Booth and Jonathan Blum for their time, and their continued support of The Unmutual Website (including a link for the site in the rear of the book). To read an in-depth review of "The Prisoner's Dilemma", visit our reviews section. Visit http://www.powysmedia.com/ for more details on this Prisoner book series, and to order your copy. Thanks also to Jill Mills for allowing us to use The Chat and Mouse as the venue for the interview.
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