interview banner


  • Be sure to read our review for Leviathans in the Clouds (Space: 1889 & Beyond, Season 2, Book #3) here at OBS.

david_parish_whittakerSammy: Where did the idea of those nasty shrimp come from? I won’t be looking at shrimp the same way for a long time if ever.

DP-W: I think I can blame Steve for the initial concept of moisture sucking as he had previously written about a “Hydrovore” for Doctor Who that would desiccate its victims.  Now this sounded like a wonderfully ironic way to kill off unfortunates on a planet of endless rain.  I was looking for an appropriately nasty prehistoric critter to fill the role when I came across a National Geographic article about a recently discovered meter long shrimp that prowled the seas of the Cambrian. Here, I mean, look at that cuddly little guy, who could you not fall in love?

SS: I’m happy to take the blame. Funny Dave mentions the hydrovore from my Who story, he’s one of my favorite critters. I am of course terrified of bodies of water so that helps, too.

Sammy: One of my all time favorite animals is a platypus. In the story there is a line, ” On the other hand, I think we can write off the platypus as a failed experiment.” How did it come about to add the platypus lines?

DP-W: Jokes about Australian wildlife are a bit hoary, of course.  But that didn’t stop me from tossing one out there.  Some of those critters are clear examples of biological weaponization!  But pity the poor platypus, he gets no respect.  After all, British scientists thought the platypus was a hoax when a pelt was brought back home for examination in 1798.  Our story takes place almost a century later, of course, but just because the existence of the platypus has been established doesn’t mean its utility.

SS: Blame him.

Sammy: In later stories (I’m hoping there will be many more) do we find out more about the Heart and why it is affecting  certain people.

DP-W: Yes.  Sorry, you won’t get more out of us there!

SS: Our lips are sealed. but if you read them they are saying ‘yes’… cant get rid of us that easily.

Sammy: Okay I have to ask because it was such a blast from my past. “Kraut” what was the reason behind using that term several times? 

DP-W: It’s how they talked.  There were times that we considered whether or not to use derogatory slang when it was authentic.  To take another example, one mildly unpleasant character calls New Guinea natives “wogs”, a term we all winced at to say the least.  That said, while there is a definite Anglo-Teutonic rivalry depicted we also wanted the Germans to come off as more than just “Krauts” bent on thwarting the aims of Queen and Country.  They’re explorers and fellow humans in a strange and dangerously alien world.

SS:  My favourite was always ‘Erics’ but given as Auf Weidersen Pet hadn’t screened in 1889 we had to go for the great Kraut… and it really is a cracker.

stevesavileSammy: Here is another quote from the book, “Just because something wasn’t traditionally beautiful didn’t mean it couldn’t stir one’s emotions.” Personally I have found this to be true in  life. Is this something you believe to be true and if so can you give an example?

DP-W: I don’t always believe everything my characters say (far from it), but yes, it’s true enough.  In my youth, I flew a rather squat and ugly jet for the US Navy (S3 Viking).  It hadn’t the movie star looks of a fighter jet, but you know, it was mine and it got me home every time.  Got a bit misty eyed when they retired them from service.  Perhaps not the most profound example of that truism, but there it is.

SS: Absolutely. There is beauty to be found in the strangest places. Look at the symmetry of a wasps nest, say, or the almost fractal growth of mould. Out in the garden we’ve got a dead tree. It is rotten. It’s also a beautiful feature so it stays.

Sammy: Are there other books are in the works? In this series or a whole different world? 

DP-W: Andy (Frankham-Allen, series editor) just finished the rough for the next book in the 1889 series, and there’s another season planned after this one.  So, a definite yes.  There may also be another side story set on Venus, perhaps with our lizard pal Thymon playing a larger role.  We’ll have to see.  But 1889 is a fun world setting, it has the definite potential for many more stories.

Sammy: Will you collaborate with each other again? I’m not sure how it works, but whatever or however you both did it, it worked out fabulous!

DP-W: Hope to!  Steve was a blast to work with.  Creativity oozes just off him.  I’m using the word “oozes” in a good way, for the record.

SS: I just gave Dave an idea to see how he tiffed off it… and boy did he! he’s mad. in the best possible way… It is tentatively called The Company Man. Demon assassins… beyond that… Spoilers.

Sammy: Your dedication was wonderful and touching. I for one certainly hope you will continue to write more wonderful stories. 

DP-W: Thank you.  I was truly touched when Andy asked me if I would write a dedication to Janet.  Her influence was very much part of the book.

SS: I leaned on Andy. I always knew I wanted Dave to write that afterword. Janet was he entire reason for the book. I’d very nearly turned down Andy’s invite because I was hideously overcommitted, then I remembered Dave had once said how he’d loved playing he game years ago with her. she’d died a few months earlier, which shocked the hell out of me. She was a wonderful person and pivotal to Dave and I becoming friends. I said to Andy okay I’ll do it, but only if I can co-write it with Dave because I wanted it to stand as a gift to her memory. It just felt right. Then I just had to convince him.

Sammy: Thank you for the opportunity to read this wonderful book. I hope there will be more stories, loved the  writing style and what a fantastic imagination that is open for anyone to see when reading this story. Once again many thanks.

DP-W: Glad you liked it, we had fun writing it.

Thank you to authors David Parish-Whittaker and Steven Savile for an amazing interview!