Tansy Rayner Roberts offers an appreciation of the Doctor Who audio dramas by Big Finish, particularly with regard to how female characters are handled by an overwhelmingly male production team.
I have stated before that I’m not happy with the way that female characters are handled in the new Doctor Who. As for the Big Finish audio dramas, I listened to a couple of them back in the early 2000s after a friend introduced me to Doctor Who and I generally liked them. I stopped at some point, because there were so many of them and I am not an audio drama person (I have to concentrate very intensely on audio dramas or I’ll lose the thread) and besides, there was new Doctor Who on TV. But looking back, those audio dramas did handle the various female characters, both companions and guest cast, very well and in many ways better than the new series.
Diana Peterfreund has a blogpost on finding last names for your characters.
I have borrowed names from movie credits, by the way. The heroine of “the novel” choose her first name from rolling TV credits. Unfortunately, the show in question was Doctor Who or Torchwood, the name was Welsh and I wasn’t sure whether it was really a female name and how to pronounce it. Plus, the character wasn’t Welsh. Alas, that character had been extremely difficult to name and I was getting sick of always referring to her as XXX (which is my placeholder for characters that don’t yet have names), so I went with it and gave her a Welsh maternal grandmother after whom she was named.
For international surnames, I like the player roosters of football teams. Other sports would probably work as well, but football has a lot of players per team and is one of the few truly international sports. Obscure politicians aren’t bad as name sources either. In my still unfinished (but someday, I promise) SF novel Prisoners of Amaymon, several characters are named after German politicians who were embroiled in some sort of scandal, while the brandnames for vehicles, weapons, etc… were taken from largely forgotten 19th and early 20th century writers of adventure fiction.
Talking of German politics, the Northern state of Schleswig-Holstein always has the best political scandals. The Barschel affair is pretty much unforgettable. This one has it all, eavesdropping on political opponents, broken words of honour, dead politicians in bathtubs (warning: the photo is rather graphic, but iconic), illegal arms deals, possible Mossad involvement.
Compared to the Barschel affair, the latest political scandal in Schleswig-Holstein is very much a storm in the bathtub. It’s still juicy, though. Because Christian von Boetticher, the head of the Christian Democratic party (that’s Angela Merkel’s party) in Schleswig-Holstein and designated successor for the outgoing minister president (like a state governor in the US) Peter Harry Carstensen, was forced to resign from office today over a love affair with a sixteen-year-old girl. The affair is not illegal – the age of consent in Germany is 16 for relationships with people over 21 and 14 for relationships with people under 21*. However, Christian von Boetticher is 40, which makes the whole affair rather distasteful.
Talking of distasteful, can we please stop talking about Charlotte Roche?
Wasn’t Feuchtgebiete (Wetlands – hint: she’s not talking about swamps here) enough for anyone interested in the manufactured scandal of a possible autobiographic semi-novel/semi-memoir about sex and bodily fluids written by a young and fairly attractive woman? Do we really need to discuss Ms. Roche’s second strike – Schoßgebete (Prayers from the groin region – the title is a pun in German) in every cultural programme or newspaper review section in the country, especially as it promises to be more of the same with an added fictionalization of a personal tragedy in Ms. Roche’s life?
There is nothing wrong with erotica writing or even outright porn. But of all the women writing erotica, why exactly was Charlotte Roche singled out for bestseller status, if not for the fact that she had something of a media career interviewing celebrities (and she wasn’t even good at it – I still remember how her interview with Quentin Tarantino made me cringe when no one knew her name)?
*Basically, the idea is to prevent cases like they occasionally happen in the US, where an 18 or 19-year-old finds himself branded as a sex offender for life for having sex with a 16-year-old.