The first obvious question: how did you come to write the novel for BBC Books? Did you approach them or vice versa?
John Barrowman: It was a bit of both actually. Carole and I thought it would be fun to write an episode of the series together and then the BBC came back and said how about a Torchwood novel?
Carole E. Barrowman: The more we thought about it the more we liked the idea of the novel and the broader canvas it would give us for our story.
Did you choose to set it after Miracle Day, or was that something you were asked to do?
CB: We began this process before Miracle Day aired so originally we thought we’d set it between Children of Earth and Miracle Day to explore what Jack might have been doing after C of E.
JB: One of the reasons it ended up being set after Miracle Day is that lots of people had to read and approve of the plot before we could begin. From Russell T Davies to the BBC and even Starz who still own a percentage of the rights.
CB: The delay ended up being a good thing because we could draw on some aspects of Jack’s character that we thought had been downplayed a bit in Miracle Day and bring them to the forefront in Exodus Code.
JB: Like Jack’s sense of humour.
JB: We have a different collaboration. We brainstorm together, we outline plot together and then Carole takes all our notes and ideas and goes off and does all the writing. I can do a lot of creative things but I’m not a writer.
CB: Which is great for me because I am. When I’m finished with a draft I’ll send it to John and we’ll have another round of discussion and feedback because during the actual writing process things in the plot change, and characters can do unexpected things.
The book heavily features a real medical condition (no spoilers!); was this something you were aware of before working on the book, and how did you research it? (i.e. talking to sufferers?)
JB: I’m so glad you asked about this because it turns out that Carole has a mild version of the condition that plays such a critical part in the story and I knew nothing about it. Can you believe that? A secret! From her brother! When I was reading a draft I’m thinking where did this come from because we hadn’t included it in the outline? But it got me thinking… it read so authentically.
CB: I never thought it was a big deal or any deal actually. It’s just the way my brain works so I don’t know anything different. I certainly don’t see myself as a ‘sufferer.’ In fact, I didn’t have a name for the condition until I was an adult and a friend who also has the condition said something about it and I realised, wow, not everyone is like this. I thought I was normal.
JB: Not! And not just because of that…
JB: There wasn’t much that was a challenge after we got through the whole process of getting our outline approved and we made the decision to give the story a global appeal.
CB: For me the hardest part was during the more erotic moments in the story not to imagine John the actor playing Jack the character. Does that make sense? As a TW fan, knowing Russell and having spent time on the set of TW I know Jack the character pretty well and I needed to draw on that when I was working on any of the sexy bits. Don’t want my brother in my head for those bits…
Torchwood has changed considerably from “Everything Changes”: what makes something a “Torchwood” story? What, for you both (with your different perspectives), is the ‘archetypal’ Torchwood story – if such a beast exists?
CB: No question in my mind there’s an archetypal TW story. TW has become such an important part of Sci-Fi’s zeitgeist and it’s obviously woven into the Doctor Who universe too. For me, an archetypal TW story has to feature Jack. No question. He’s our Byronic hero–set apart from the rest of us, flawed, rakish, romantic but willing to make sacrifices that we can’t and won’t make. Plus, I think there has to be an alien presence of some kind.
JB: Guess what? I agree with all of that. I’d also add that a TW story must have Gwen. She’s everyone. She’s us–the audience. I think Gwen is a critical point of view for every story to help the audience make sense of the TW world.
A lot of the fans are – still – very unhappy about the death of Ianto in Children of Earth; would you consider writing a story set prior to then (say between the end of series 2 and the start of Children of Earth)?
JB: Carole and I would be happy to write a Torchwood story set at any time in the canon.
Torchwood has been a bit of the “little engine that could”: do you think we’ll see the show back on screens?
CB: We structured this novel cinematically because we think it would make a good mini series or film.
JB: I love playing Jack. I’m ready whenever they want him back on screen.
CB: I think any good writer can make an intriguing story idea work for any format, but that said I do think there are lots of unique elements that only TW can do, one being Jack’s presence in both the human world and the alien.
JB: TW can also tell more adult stories with more controversial themes.
Thanks to Sally Wray at BBC Books for her assistance in setting up this interview