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Writer's Notes: Alex in Wonderland



I figured I should write notes for my first Ashes to Ashes fic. Actually, technically, it's my second, but Dust to Dust was never really meant to be based on the spin off, it was just inspired by mentions of it.

This was me not taking writing seriously.

This was me shrugging my shoulders and saying, 'to hell with it. I'll play with you.'

This was me writing just to write, just for fun, no big cares or worries or anything. I approached it like I approach commentfic. Like I approach most things in my life. [So it's a wonder writing makes me so nuts.]

I've ended up with something that far, far exceeded my expectations, as a story. It actually is a story. It's a launch pad for other stories. I'm kind of insanely proud of it, which I'm sure is terribly immodest, but it's unintentionally clever and that gets to me. It's like it all fit into place, miraculously, as soon as my neuroses were turned. I didn't mean for it to happen, it was a happy accident. Yes, essentially, I am proud of myself for, uh, a lucky circumstance.

This view of the world Alex finds herself in makes perfect, logical sense within the canon the boys have given us - as long as we allow for coincidence and Sam as an unreliable narrator. And if this isn't the approach they're taking (and, you know, it's probably not), they're shooting themselves in the foot.

Of course, I already know they are, because Ray and Chris are still Mancunian in A2A, and in my mind, that's not necessarily so in this. (Of course, I could easily wangle it that Chris is the son of a friend of Gene's and that's why he's there in London. Coincidental, but not beyond the realms of possibility.)

Writing Alex was an amusing challenge, because, of course, we actually know very little about her. I didn't want her to be like Sam. I didn't want her to be perfect. I did want her to be likeable - which, you know, Sam kind of isn't at all, so that was another distinguishing feature. There are lots of ways Alex can go wrong, I think, especially in the hands of two male writers, so I hope they're keeping open minds and won't fall into most television writers' traps. [Ash is actually seriously awesome at writing female characters - as evidenced in a lot of his work and the way he handled Annie, so I am less worried in his direction. I can't go into how much I adore Annie in 2.04 right now because it will go on for pages, but I really, really do. I wish she'd been like that throughout the whole series, because then I'd be inclined to fic the hell out of her.]

I've always been a little worried by comments Matt made about Annie - about loving Liz's femininity and him originally seeing Annie as a more masculine type. It's like… I think he's aware that there are issues there, but perhaps not how to approach them. Alex is a single mother. And called 'intelligent and sexy' in the press release (which pinged my alarm system, and came in for light-hearted mocking, by Alex herself, no less.) And I thought it'd be fun if she could be a combination of all kinds of female/feminine role tropes - mother, cute klutz, ambitious career woman, jezebel/femme fatale, tomboy, girly girl. And I thought it would be most fun if she could be aware of all of this. And that, coupled with a surface-level joviality, is what really sets her apart from Sam. She's self-aware. She's asked those questions. She doesn't have the answers, but at least she's taken the time. (Apart from the lead in and once asking why he can't change the year, Sam never does actually ask what he's doing in 1973. Apart from, 'give my regards to the Id', he also never seems to think it's something he's constructed. This is where my "Sam's oblivious" belief comes from.)

ETA: I just read the words 'no-nonsense' in comments by Jane Featherstone at the bottom of the press release (and I've read that thing around ninety times, so how that escaped me, I've no idea.) This does not bode well for my vision of Alex. Damn. Oh well. The chances of me writing an Alex that was the same as their Alex were slim anyway. Which is a shame, because even if I do say so, she's kind of great. Hey, if Alex is no-nonsense in the same way Aeryn Sun of Farscape is, she'll still be kind of amazingly great.

… Sam was no-nonsense. Why would you do that again?

… No-nonsense doesn't necessarily mean devoid of humour, does it?

The having Molly-as-TCG construct was something I did for my own macabre amusement, but I think that if they did that in the real show they'd be making a mistake. Having Molly as a spectre would be rad, but dressed as TCG would be too "this is a LoM facsimile". We don't know if Molly's going to be with Alex, do we? That's something that's intrigued me - was Molly caught up in the accident that 'hurtles Alex back' or not? The press release suggests not - which does add this brilliant, awful, haunting conflict to the whole thing - and is certainly something I'd love to capitalise on.

Writing Gene was --- I think he's worse than I've written him in any other story. I don't know if it's because it was from Alex's point of view, or what, but I felt absolutely no fear in having him be obnoxious, sexist, racist and all in all, relatively repulsive in that 'but Gene's not repulsive at all!' kind of way. His calling Alex boys' names was another in-joke that I don't think would necessarily be a great idea on the show.

Finally - Gene + Sam = yay. 12 year old Sam is nearly as creepy as 4 year old Sam. [Also, you all picked up that in one version of reality, Alex is, in some way, an influence on Sam's construct of Annie? Psychology…]

Yeah. I can totally see why Matt and Ash are excited about this, now. Because - as long as you acknowledge that it isn't unique, that it is treading over familiar ground - I can see that you can still tell some really fantastic stories, some different stories. And that's what appeals to me. There are other layers of conflict, there will be a new atmosphere, there are the new characters to contend with. No, I'll probably never take it as seriously as I took Life on Mars, but I suspect that's a good thing.

This is me reconciling my initial objection with a hopeful anticipation.

Tags: a2a, writer's notes, writing
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